Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Trip to Kansas in Pictures

Last Friday John and Noah and I went to Kansas. John went to a conference in Wichita and Noah and I travelled on to Baxter Springs to see my Aunt Carol Jo and my Uncle Henry. On the way, we stopped at something I'd heard about. The largest Prairie Dog in the World! Turned out to be a bit of a zoo, sort of.

Noah feeding the sheep

John kidding around  - :0)

John and Noah with Biggest Prairie Dog and baby

Me and Noah with the Prairie Dogs

In Baxter Springs, we visited with my aunt and uncle and my cousin and his family.

Noah, Henry and Carol Jo at the Rainbow Bridge, the
only remaining Marsh Bridge on Route 66

In Baxter Springs, we visited the #2 national cemetary and looked
at some Civil War soldier's graves.

Uncle Henry went around the cemetary teaching
Noah some history.

Noah, Carol Jo, Me, and Henry

One night we had dinner over at my cousin's house.
Wonderful food and laughter!
My cousin Bert, his daughter Kelsey, Henry,
Bert's wife Lory, Carol Jo and Noah

What a sweet time! :0)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tweaking Time

I'm in a season of tweaking. Not tweeting. Tweaking.

It's one of those periods where I look at my life through the microscope of purpose. I dissect my motivations and my goals. And then I tweak my calendar so that my life aligns with my purpose.

This takes time and often a lot of thought. I have created a ministry called Joy Dance. But what does that mean? What is my purpose and am I truly adhering to that? Takes time to figure it out.

In the midst of my tweak-age, I decided to talk to one of my favorite people, my big brother Phil. I admire
the way he lives his life for the Lord. Not perfectly, but definitely with purpose. So I called him up and made an appointment for coffee. I told him it wouldn't be the usual let's-just-hang-out-and-catch-up meeting. I was going to interview him about his ministry Caleb's Heart.

In interviewing Phil, I felt I'd get some substantial direction on how to tweak my own ministry, my own life.
And I wasn't disappointed.

My first question for Phil was "What is the best thing about your ministry, Phil?"

I expected answers like "Meeting men's needs" or "Relationships I've built" or "Watching God work in me and others." But that wasn't what he said.

Phil took no time at all and answered, "The King is pleased."

With his words, the Spirit grabbed my heart.

"I guess that's what it's about isn't it, Phil?"


We went on to discuss specifics and strategies and the lessons he's learned through trial and error. But after I left, the main thing that God kept bringing to mind was his first answer, "The King is pleased."

I know God loves me unconditionally and He gets a kick out of my life, just as I enjoy watching Noah grow.
But is He pleased with my actions? Is He pleased with the purposes and intentions of who I am?

This is the best tweak I could ever make. Looking at my life, my year, today and asking myself, "Are you pleased, my King?"

I'm still in the season. Tweak-age is still going on.

But I wanted to encourage you, the person who happens to be reading this right now. You. Is the King pleased with your purpose? If so, what a delightful sense of satisfaction to be able to say aloud with conviction "The King is pleased."

And if not, well, maybe it's time for your own season of tweaking.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Taking Care of Me - By Breathing

Yesterday morning, I attended a Tai Chi class. A few weeks ago I was at a writer's conference and sat next to a lady that seemed nice. (Not all writers do, you know. :0) ) So I started up a conversation and discovered that she teaches Tai Chi. So I decided to try it a couple of weeks ago.

I love it.

Tai Chi is that slow type of martial arts looking movement that you might see in China at the park each morning. A slew of folks line up, (it’s a regimented practice) and move. The movements are deliberate and beautiful. And definitely not as easy as they look.

My teacher Diedre encourages us to not compare ourselves with anyone else in class and to go at our own pace. I rely on this.

One of our routines is to practice deep breathing. I love this. My Pop, Walker, taught me to breathe deeply years ago. He noticed that his youngest was the most dramatic of his four and along with that, the most likely to stress out about every little thing that interrupted the course of my day. So, he taught me to breathe.

“Pretend that when you’re blowing out you’re making tunnels of air. See them in your mind and make ‘em as perfect as you can. You do this, Cotton Top, (I used to be white blond) and with each breath out you’ll make that stress leak out of you.”

At 48 years of age, I finally know that dealing with stress is an essential part of taking care of my health. The world is so much more joyful a place to be if I learn to just LET IT GO. Breathing helps. Tai Chi helps.

Yesterday morning, I had to mail two letters. I hate to go to the post office but it was on my way back after Tai Chi, so I told myself it wouldn’t take but a minute to slip them into the outside box. When I pulled up to the box, I discovered that my letters had no stamps. Darn!

I parked and went in to find a long line. Just let it go. No biggie. I’m in no hurry.

When I got up to the front of the line (this took a while) the post office experienced a momentary power outage. After the lights came on, we were informed that it would take a “little while” for the computers to boot up again. I looked behind me and observed the level of stress this brought about to each person. One woman huffed and left the line, making sure she let the employees know of her dissatisfaction in the system. Two strangers started talking about it, both laughed and then they started talking about something else. A cameraderie formed in the midst of the post office line struggle. A man made a phone call and said loudly to whoever, “Well, it may be a while.”

As for me, I looked at the lady behind me and grinned and shrugged my shoulders. This is an international symbol for letting it go.

And then I breathed. In and out. It occurred to me that this was one of those moments in which I can add to the health and joy of my life, or I can squeeze my heart with stress. It’s a choice.

The lady behind me said tersely, “I have to be outta here to get back to my job in three minutes.”

I replied, “Why don’t you go next?”

“No, no, that’s not why I said that.”

“Please let me do this. I’m not working.”

“Okay. Thank you!”

At this point one of the employees waved her over. Then his computer failed to reboot correctly and he told her it’d be a while. She huffed and left. Oh well.

I’m not saying I’m all Yoda or the Dalai Lama or Jesus about life. I get impatient. Plenty.

But yesterday, I took care of me. I did it by breathing. By extending kindness. By letting it go.

I feel great.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Want More out of Life? Try this ONE THING...

“Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Mark 6:31

Have you been alone with Christ this week? By that, I mean have you focused on God when no one else was around?

If not, then let me put it simply: You are missing out.

We get so busy with our lists of to-dos we forget to take time for the One who gives us guidance and strength to accomplish the to-do lists.

I’ve known Jesus since I was a young girl. My relationship with Him has had its ups and downs. I’ve ignored Him and adored Him. I’ve run to Him and away from Him. He’s let circumstances brought on by my actions humble me, sometimes painfully.

However, in the last five years my relationship with Jesus has changed dramatically. It’s deeper and richer and much more rewarding. Why?

It’s NOT because:

1) We joined a new church.

2) We moved to Colorado.

3) I joined a Bible Study.

4) I started writing Joyvotions.

5) I began speaking regularly.

6) John’s accident, the joys and trials of Noah or Scooby, my faithful dog.

7) Good or bad times in our marriage.

8) I have wonderful Christian friends.

So why has my relationship changed? It is because of ONE thing.

1) Time alone with my King

What used to be a quiet time of reading and praying has now become a lifestyle of making a PRIORITY to be with Jesus alone for an extended period of time. I regularly make an appointment to sit at Christ’s feet and listen to Him. Sometimes it’s for an afternoon; sometimes a day and sometimes I go to a cabin at a retreat center and seclude myself with Christ for a weekend. (These are called WAAGs – Weekends alone with God – a habit/behavior I learned from my brother Phil and his ministry Caleb’s Heart – )

It’s changed me. And why wouldn’t it? If we put aside the phone, internet, TV and people and hang out with God, of course, we will be changed for the better.

I encourage you to do this. MAKE TIME. If you need have no idea how to go about this, email me and I’ll give you the hints I’ve learned.

You want more from your life? Spend time alone with the King.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Have the blahs? How 'bout some Hope?

"Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant...
He's got high hopes! High apple pie in the sky hopes!"
Sammy Cahn from the song "High Hopes" sung by Frank Sinatra

Yesterday, my morning started like molasses dripping down the side of a jar. Slow. Sticky. Messy.

I woke up with that feeling many of us have from time to time. The blahs. One step away from slipping off the cliff into depression. Once my toe goes over that ledge, phrases like "Who cares? and Nothing matters anyway" slip out easily.

I recognized what was happening, but once in that particular state it's difficult to climb out of it. So I did what many of us would do. I went back to bed.

But then...

I prayed for God's strength to make my day count. Nothing wrong with naps. But I was more emotionally tired than physically drained. As I lay cocooned in a blankie, Scooby in a ball to my side, I heard a still, small voice: "Get up and go."

I chose to do it. I'm sure God's strength infused me. A Tai Chi class was starting and I'd told myself to try it. So off I went.

And you know what happened? Hope. Hope filled me up, followed closely by joy. When we choose to pray for His strength and then listen to His voice, wonderful things, supernatural things, happen.

My Tai Chi class was a blast. Energized by a bit of exercise and purpose, I made my day count as a day not wasted but one in which I lived and loved and laughed. And not lay in bed.

That little ant who tries to move the rubber tree plant? I betcha he asks God for strength before he starts moving ten times his weight. He prays. He listens. High hopes happen.

May you have a day of high hopes born of His strength! :0)