"My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I,of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories, in all their particularity,as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally." -Frederick Buechner

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Living Intentionally

Today I am not original at all. This post is a copy from our friend Arlin Sorensen. He speaks our heart, so why re-word it. I'm just quoting him.

Had lunch with Pastor Dan and really enjoyed our conversation about church and leadership and life.  As I reflected on our conversation, there is one quality about him that really stands out.  He is a very focused and strong question asker (if that is a word).  That is a trait of a good leader.  Seek information, opinions, ideas and understand others before speaking your own.  It was very interesting when he shared the two words that God had been speaking to him about lately.  One was exactly the same as a word in the set of three words that God has put on my heart – that being the word intentional.  We need to live intentionally and on purpose.  Far too many days go by with little or no intention in them at all.  Life comes at us and passes us by without a response.  We just go through the motions and let it happen.  That should not be.  We should be very specific in how we use our 168 hours each week, how we interact in each relationship we have, how we invest the resources God has entrusted to us, and how we live each moment. Shouldn’t we?  Are you?  I am not always that intentional.  The meaning of intentional is “done on purpose”.  That should describe our lives.  We need to live on purpose and for a purpose.  That means we need to have an identified purpose so we know how to live.  It really is a key to being intentional.  In fact, without a clear and concise purpose you really can’t be intentional. 
Harvard Business Review had an interesting read from Clayton Christensen called “How Will You Measure Your Life?”  He really makes some great points as he talks about three questions every person needs to answer:
1.     How can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?
2.     How can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness?
3.     How can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?
These would not be the questions I might choose to measure life with, but Dr Christensen has some good thoughts around purpose.  Remember that this is an instructor who teaches MBA students at Harvard Business School, not some religious institution. How refreshing that before these folks enter the business field which is all about making money and working hard – someone is challenging them to slow down and figure out what the metrics should be to measure life.  He talks about many who have washed up in life.  The reason he gives – “they didn’t keep the purpose of their lives front and center as they decided how to spend their time, energy and talents”.  Did you catch that?  First, we need a clear purpose.  Second, we need to live by it which means we have to CHOOSE (there is that pesky word again) to use our resources on the things that matter and fulfill our purpose.  We have to be intentional about how we live.  I love what he says about folks who are too busy right now to define their purpose.  “If they think they’ll have more time and energy to reflect later, they’re nuts, because life only gets more demanding”.  Have you experienced that?  Life never gets slower and easier.  It just goes faster and we run harder all the time.  He goes on to say this about his life purpose: “It’s the single most useful thing I’ve ever learned”.  I couldn’t agree more.  Without it we live like a rudderless ship and float around unsure where we are trying to go.  Life just goes by.  “Without a purpose, life can become hollow”.  The good news is that God has a very specific and personal purpose for your life.  Find it!  And do it sooner than later.  It won’t get easier tomorrow.  There is no magic bucket of unused time coming then either.  Make it a priority and spend time with God and discover why He created you.  He knows – He drew the blueprint for your life.  He is the source of that info.

Tell us what this makes you think?  Do you need help discovering your life purpose? 


A lot of Life

Life is so interesting. It's been awhile since I've blogged. Mostly because I have this bad habit of thinking everything else has to be done before I can do "my thing." But also because there has been aLOT of life going on. Do you ever feel that way? It's been mostly good, challenging but good. A friend had a bad bike wreck and I encouraged others to send notes but I just never seemed to have the "right" words. So I haven't yet. Sorry Terry. We have been preparing for a teaching time. My mom fell and my family needed help. My husband and I were asked by our church to help with a ministry in a way we've never done before. That's LIFE. Living, waking up each day telling God "Good morning Lord. I trust You. Help me be what you want for me to be today" and then watching God work. It's been very freeing to watch God do His thing. It's taken away alot of anxiety but it's a choice. A daily, hourly and sometimes moment by moment choice.

"I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead." Phillipians 3:10 NLT

"Experience the mighty power" that takes action like being in the moment, soaking it in, feeling, doing, listening, asking questions, truly believing. I'm learning to day by day, bit by bit expect and watch for God in my life. Why? Because He loves me. I am one of His treasures. You are too. So I challenge you by referring you back to my very first post. And just in case you don't take the time to go there I'm sharing a bit of it below.

We are all valuable to God and to each other. And if we choose to live life with that in mind it could rock your world. There is a lot of talk of the complexity of life these days and the desire to simplify. We believe life really is pretty simple but we, "the people" make it complicated. We do an awful lot of talking and reading and thinking and sometimes I think that just paralyzes us. I'd like to live day by day learning to actually live the way God intended me to live. That in turn will free up those around me to live the way they were intended to live. I'd like to learn from you too. So follow along and let me know what you think, what you are learning and how it is effecting your life!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


So a word I've heard a lot in the past few months is legacy. What is a legacy? I don't know the Webster's dictionary meaning yet but to me it means what we leave behind when we're done. It doesn't have to be after we die. To me it is when you leave anything. When I left my full-time clinic nursing job, what are they remembering about me or what is better (or worse) there because I worked there. What "legacy" have I passed on to my kids? Why am I thinking about this? Because I believe we have to be intentional. What do you want to pass on to your kids? Deuteronomy tells us over and over to "remember". God says set stones and remember what the Lord did for you here. Or write in on your door posts, or hands.... He also says "tell your children" or the "next generation."

I feel like my generation got pretty caught up in "me". What do "I" want to do? What is convenient for "me"? We've lost some since of what relationships really are with all of this "me" thinking. Add in a dose of "convenient internet talk" which means you don't have to see someone's face, their laughter, anger or tears and you've got a pretty non-emotional relationship. We're missing out on the depth of love. No wonder we have a hard time accepting Christ's love for us.

So what legacy do I want to leave my family and friends? I'd like them to look for God in their lives and experience God's love through loving others. I'd like them to love to learn and try new things and oh, so much more. I do know the only way to start this is to do it myself, so they can see me "practicing what I preach." What about you? What legacy do you want to leave?

Sunday, July 11, 2010


We just came home from a great weekend. We spent it at a camp in central Iowa with about 25 other couples all interested in not only their own marriages but in helping others with their marriages. We met people of different nationalities and from different communities. We all had different life experiences but we all agreed on one thing. Marriage is important. We gain strength and stability by being married. While each wife and each husband are individuals, we are more well rounded with our partner.

We also agreed that God created marriage to be a life time commitment. Now don't get me wrong. I understand that we live in a broken world and good people get divorces. There are more than one in my own family. But that doesn't mean that I have to think "that's just the way it is." Many marriages could be saved but often people give up way too soon or never receive the help they really needed.

Marriage is a relationship. Relationships require that we live "beyond" ourselves. It can't always be "about me". In fact, when I make it about me, it never works out the way I was hoping. I'm never satisfied. But when I actually live my day realizing that I'm a part of my husband's team. I can make our day better by being a team player or worse by only looking out for myself. It's amazing what just that little shift of thinking can do for my attitude. It's a choice I can make.

What do you think? Is your marriage a team plan or two soloists living together?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Leadership or Lordship?

So after a couple of days of mulling over Nehemiah, watching life happen and comparing it to what we've been reading, I'm reminded again, there is nothing new under the sun. The things Nehemiah was confronted with are the same things we see in our daily lives. As I wind up this pondering leadership from Nehemiah with chapters 5 and 6 conflict has hit with full force. Nothing we haven't seen before. People are hungry, taxes are very high and they have overwhelming debt. It doesn't take a psychology degree to realize that is going to mean crabby people. They complained about their circumstances and the people causing these conditions, their fellow Jews. The injustice made Nehemiah very angry. (verse 6) But I first noticed he did something we often forget when we see injustice and get angry. He stopped and thought. Hmm, novel idea. Don't let "the heat of the moment" cause you to move ahead without thinking. After thinking it over, Nehemiah deemed it necessary to confront those who were "lording" over the others. He called a meeting and declared the injustice.
A phrase that was used at the Weekend On the Farm was "leadership does not mean lordship." Nehemiah was a leader.They called him a governor, but he didn't take financial advantage of that position. In fact, he used his finances to purchase back some Jews who had been sold into slavery for payment of a family debt! He fed all of his workers without extracting more food and money from the people because of his position. He just used what was fair and what he needed. He did not "lord" his position or authority over them. Why? Because he cared about the people he was leading. As leaders it's not about focusing on our own "rights" it about focusing on our "responsibilities." There is a huge difference. When we do it right, I believe it's because we care about what we are doing and who we are doing it for more than ourselves.
Leadership happens when we realize that it's about relationships with people. It's about doing what the Lord asks us to do, what He created us for - being a part of HIS story. Which leads me to the last challenging question. Where are you leading those around you? Are you leading towards the cross, a relationship with Jesus or are you driving them away? Wow, that's a sobering question.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


So I was talking with some women at work the other day. They were telling stories of their kids and peer problems at school. In my opinion there is no stage of life harder than Junior High for girls. They are so unsure of themselves, but they don't want anyone to know that. They live by the opinions of the people around them, the media and yes, their parents/family. But you know, it's really hard trying to "be" what all those different people think you should be. I remember being in Junior High. Going to a very small school everyone was involved with everyone. I was a "good girl", which was not always the popular status. I knew God as my Savior, which included knowing right from wrong and that definitely did not always go over well. I can remember the unkind names and ridiculing comments to this day. It hurt and those kinds actions can cause you to rethink your position or go about doing what you are doing a different way, perhaps trying to hide what you are doing.
That's not how Nehemiah handled the ridicule thrown his way. See here's the thing, ridicule is not an honest problem. It's someone saying I don't like what you are doing. It's negative, often silly comments just meant to degrade or humiliate the other person. It's not based in truth. Usually the opposition has not attempted to know the truth in any way. They are just talking to cause you a problem. Following Nehemiah's lead, don't legitimize their comments. His response was to go straight to God. He just prayed to God to take care of it and kept right on going because he knew there was no truth to their talk.
When ridicule didn't work the opposition organized a bit and came against Nehemiah and the workers physically. Verse 8 of chapter 4 says they "plotted" to "fight" and "stir up trouble". But Nehemiah and the gang "prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat." So now they added guards, watchmen to their defense. They were threatened so they prayed for God to protect them but they watched. I'm reminded of the verses where God tells us to "guard our hearts." That's what is going on here. God will handle the situation, like we know God is in charge of the world but that doesn't mean we just blindly stumble through our days. We need to have our eyes open, seeing what's around us. We need to make good choices.
The last kind of opposition noted in chapter 4 was the rumors or threats they were telling. Planting seeds of fear in the people. Fear is a powerful weapon. Nehemiah's response was to equip the people. They began working in pairs with weapons at their side. Throughout this entire story Nehemiah worked with other people. He did not attempt this project alone. True, God made him aware that it was time to do it but that did not mean he had to do it alone. Now when scary rumors were flying around the area, he paired the workers up. Nothing is quite as scary as it could be when you are with someone else. We were able to laugh when we were lost in Europe and didn't speak the language because their were 6 of us and we knew that together we'd figure it out.
My last notes of chapter 4 of Nehemiah talk about him encouraging his people, reminding them of whom they are serving. That's something I believe in strongly. We all need "cheerleaders" in our lives. Encouraging us to "hang in there", or go a little longer, further, or harder and why we are doing what we are doing. It's amazing how tired you can be but if someone tells you that you are doing a fantastic job you can give it that last bit of energy to finish well.
How do you respond to opposition? Rebuttal, fear, frustration or just endure until you wear out? Maybe it's time to go against that opposition looking at it honestly. Pray, set a guard, gather your team and speak the truth of why and for whom you are working. You'll be amazed at just how much you can get done. And by the way, who can you be a cheerleader for today?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Where are you leading to?

Moving on in our journey exploring life lessons in leadership from Nehemiah we finish chapter 3 seeing again how the different groups of people repairing the wall worked "outside their homes." Right at home, in their own neighborhood was where they chose to work. It makes sense. They are defending their own territory. Taking a stand to "better the neighborhood". They are making no attempt to hide what they are doing so their family and neighbors have to notice. When my husband stood up and said that this passage spoke to him I felt loved, cared for and protected. Does your family feel that way? It's so easy to give our best energy to our occupation or some community cause. Those are good things and worthy of our attention and effort but is your family cared for and protected? What would they say? When you build the "walls" of protection around your family others will benefit. As we cared for our children many times their friends received the benefit as well. One young man in our life had loving parents but they were divorced and weren't around much. He spent a lot of time in our home. He lived and learned in our home much like our own children did just because he was there. Neighbors are much the same. They are blessed or cursed by the way we live. We are all leading someone, somewhere. It could be your spouse, your children, their friends, neighbors, co-workers, somebody. The question is "where are you leading them, to the cross or away from it?"

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Eyes of Appreciation

So as I totally enjoy the most gorgeous weather ever on my deck I am engulfed in the love of God. Can you appreciate His love when you look out and see the blue sky, hear the birds, notice the green grass and colorful flowers? I challenge you to go through your day to day with appreciative eyes. We were barely out of bed this morning when I made a silly comment to my husband that was meant in fun but had an underlying demeaning tone. He heard the tone more than the fun. Ouch! When he graciously pointed it out I realized he was right and apologized. Now I'm not always that quick, but I really do appreciate my husband. He is a very hard worker and I had insinuated otherwise. That takes me back to the book of Nehemiah. Chapter three contains the names of people and/or groups of people who worked on the wall. Using someone's name is a way of recognizing them, honoring them. When you call someone by name rather than just saying "hey..." you acknowledge that they as an individual are there and that you want to communicate with them. It appears amongst other things Nehemiah was acknowledging all of the workers, appreciating that they joined in the work of the Lord.
It also just plain acknowledges who joined in and who did not. In our time together on the farm it was stated that there is a time to just let the non-working people go. We are to love all people but that doesn't mean that we have to try to bring people along against their will. We need to present the project or topic of discussion with clarity and respect for all people involved. But, we do not have "chase" people until they see things our way. Nehemiah acknowledges those who didn't join in but it doesn't appear he dwells there.
Noting all the groups and where they are working leads us to believe while Nehemiah is leading he is actively watching others take responsibility for sections of the wall. The words simplicity, delegation, participation, cooperation, administration and appreciation are all exemplified in this chapter.
This is not "rocket science". To get a big project done it takes multiple people each doing their own part. This means the leader, boss, coach, captain or whatever you call it needs to make the goal and plan clear and then let them work. He/She needs to see what they are doing and show appreciation for it. When this happens walls are built, projects are completed.
So today's "project" is to live with my appreciation glasses on. I wonder who I can encourage today?