Monthly Archives: February 2012

Be Quiet and Back Off

“Be quiet and back off. You are getting in my way.”

Not exactly something I expected to hear from God. Now, I know what you’re thinking. That is crazy. Did you really hear it from God?

Yes, I did. I am learning to listen more closely when He speaks to me. This is not something I have always experienced, believe me! And it is something that is somewhat scary at first. Sometimes it is a gentle simple voice. And sometimes it is very clear. Like this time.

What was he talking to me about? My frustrations and impatience when it came to my husband’s faith walk. I had just gone through an incredible transformation and truly learning to find my own solid faith for the first time in a very long time. I was excited! I wanted everything to be perfect. (Why do we always think that way?) I wanted him to feel what I was feeling and to experience it together.

Is that a bad thing to want? I don’t think so. However, when I heard those words I realized something extremely important. His faith walk is different than mine. Everyone’s is. What speaks to me isn’t going to speak to him. What excites me isn’t going to excite him. Constantly nagging him or expecting him to immediately be where I was, was unfair.

So what did I do? The only thing you can do when you clearly hear an instruction from God.

I shut up.

I backed off.

I got out of the way.

I stopped trying to control something I had no control over.

Did I stop praying for him? Absolutely not.

Did I tell him that God said this to me? No. (Not at that moment. More on this later!)

Did I stop trying to control everything and trust God? Yes.

Which makes me wonder. Who was the lesson for in the first place?

My husband or me?

So my advice to anyone who is frustrated with a spouse or partner or child and their faith walk is to BACK OFF. Be a quiet example of what it means to have a relationship with God. But don’t try to fix them or expect their experience to be like yours. In most cases, that is the worst possible thing you could do.

I’d love to hear something that you’ve clearly heard God say to you, and what you did about it.

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Filed under Authenticity, Belief, Encouragement, Faith, Life lessons, Marriage

Little Thoughts

There’s a great line from a Seryn song that says “little thoughts have weighed your vision down.”

I love that line! It’s so true. We allow little thoughts to keep us from doing big things. Why do we do that?

I think it’s because we all have negative voices in our head. We think and think and think about all the ways something won’t work.

We compare ourselves to what others are doing and think we can never do it as well.

Or we think that our thoughts and dreams are not as meaningful (or neat or artistic – fill in the blank!) as theirs.

We talk ourselves out of so many things. Why? Because it’s easier. It’s an excuse. It’s so much simpler to do that than to actually work hard for something. It’s easier than stepping outside of our comfort zones and pursuing something different and unique.

Have you experienced this? What little thoughts are you letting weigh down your vision?

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Fear

Fear tries to isolate you ~ Jon Acuff

What is one of the first things we think of when we are afraid? I’m the only one who feels like this. Everybody else has it figured out. Nobody understands.

I felt this way when we were experiencing problems in our marriage. Nobody I knew would understand. They have it all together.

But do you know what I found as I opened up to close friends? Many of them were struggling. They just didn’t want to be the first one to admit it. But when I opened the door to the conversation, they walked right in.

What about that dream you have? The one you are afraid to say out loud. The one you think nobody will understand. Have you talked to anyone about it?

I think we have been conditioned to keep things in. To try to act like everything is fine (the “f” word, as Jon Acuff calls it).

I was talking with an old friend the other day who was amazed at how open I was about sharing things. She always feels like she has to keep it in. And that’s when I realized that I used to be like that, until I found a community of people who are living authentically. It has changed everything for me. I have learned that I can be myself and embrace living right where I am. I have also learned that I do have something to offer the world, and my dreams and passions matter.

So, do you feel isolated by fear? Most likely, there is someone near you who is feeling many of the same things.

Are you willing to open up about it? I think you may be surprised by what happens when you do.

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Filed under Authenticity, Comfort

Book Review – Going Deeper, Becoming a Person of Influence

This was my first Gordon McDonald book. He took a unique approach. It is a fictional book, but based on the real story of how he helped transform his church and cultivate a group of “deep people”.

I love the story, and the details about how they went about the process of investing in a core group of people. They realized that there were plenty of good, well-intentioned people, but not very many of them were deep people. They wanted to be examples of how to live a life centered around Jesus and share life together. They wanted to develop exceptional leaders who had spiritual maturity and who would know how to inspire others to grow deeper in their faith.

The book follows the process through which Gordon and his wife develop the idea of growing deep people, how they bring in others to join them, and how they present it to their church board. The decision to cultivate this group of people would require that he step back from some of his traditional duties. It is a great example of how an idea starts with a prompt, and then grows as you are more willing to talk about it and get the opinions of others.

This part from the preface encompasses the main idea of the book. “When you think about it, we do seem to know how to get unchurched people to visit our buildings and enjoy our programs. We even appear to know how to persuade many to acknowledge personal faith in Jesus. But some are saying that what we do not know is how to produce the deep people who are supposed to emerge after that. We do not produce them, at least, in the quantities that are necessary to the challenges of our times. The result is a growing scarcity in spiritual leadership. And the implication is that without an abundance of deep people- spiritual leaders – tomorrow’s organized church could be headed for irrelevance…..What might happen if a church made the development of deep people its highest priority?”

You learn about a core group of couples and singles who go on a journey with Gordon and his wife to spend one night per week for an entire year together. They focus on studying the bible, discussing leadership, and learning to care deeply for one another. They also go through some challenging and turbulent times, and learn the need to show grace and love to one of their members.

If you are looking for a great book that will challenge you to think differently, then this is it. It was an easy read, but the concepts presented are also very encouraging. I would highly recommend it.

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Music City introduction

When I was inNashville, Jon Acuff invited us to a Quitter after party. He and his wife Jenny were going to see a band called Seryn play at The Listening Café.

I had only heard of them from a post Jon had written after seeing them perform in someone’s living room.

A handful of us went to the show. It was fun to connect with other Quitter friends and have a night out inNashville. We had no idea what an amazing show we were in for. They were awesome!

They had just about every instrument imaginable with them. And they could all play the majority of them!

I love seeing bands that are so passionate about what they do. I have been listening to them nonstop and just love their unique sound and lyrics.

Check out their album release video on YouTube!

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Thoughts from a second time Quitter…

Last year, I went to the Quitter Conference. At this year’s conference, I was talking to a friend I had met there last year about our first Quitter experience. She had the best explanation for it. “We looked like deer in headlights.”

The ideas that Jon presents about following your dream, changing your life and fully living, can be overwhelming. Especially when you have NO idea what your dream is. That was me last year. I had completely stopped dreaming.

When Jon announced the second Quitter conference, I asked him if he recommended that people come for a second time. His response was yes! And, he said there would be more interaction with the attendees. This was something that excited me. There had not been much time to network last year. Finding others who are chasing dreams is not always easy. And being in a room full of 200+ others who are, is pretty rare.

For me, that was the best part of this year’s conference. Don’t get me wrong. Jon is still incredibly funny and motivating. And having more clarity on my own dream definitely helped. Am I excited about the changes I have made to date? Absolutely. But what I’ve also learned is that hearing other people talk about their dream and share it really excites me. Why? Because I’m an encourager. In some small way, I can hopefully support them or encourage them.

I met some incredible people at the conference. I look forward to following them, supporting them, and learning from them.

I love hearing people passionately talk about their dreams and providing hope to others. Jon does an amazing job at that. It never gets old. But what resonated with me this time were more practical things that I can apply.

So, what were my key learnings?

1. When you talk about your dream, it often makes people go deaf. Wow. That is so profound. When you say “I want to write a book”, they may hear, “What you’re doing is not good enough. Why aren’t you doing something more with your life? or I’m cooler than you.” Jon just wrote a great post about this.

This nugget has helped me realize so many things about people. It keeps going back to “It’s not about me.” People are often listening to the voices in their heads rather than to what you are saying. So don’t take it personally that they don’t understand your dream. Many times, their response has absolutely nothing to do with you. This advice can apply to SO many areas of our lives.

2. Approval is a terrible fuel for a dream. I struggle with this one for sure. I want people to like me and respond to what I am doing.  I like confirmation and acknowledgement for what I’ve done. I’ve gotten so much better at this over the years, but it is great to think of it in the context of dreaming.

Approval will fade. Many people won’t like what you’re doing. You have to be your own fuel.

3. I’m going to measure my obedience, not results. This one hit home for me. It’s exactly what I’ve been learning over the last few years. Learning to live in true faith and trust. To not have the plan all figured out. To simply obey when God leads. What does that mean for the future? I have no idea. What I do know is that I am being obedient. I am reaching out to people when I feel led. I am writing when I feel led. So for me, this is going to be my mantra moving forward.

4. If you want support, give support. I have always tried to do this, and have been more intentional about it lately. Having a support system has been immeasurable for me. But, I have learned that as I’ve supported others. This is something I think so many people miss.

So, if this was your first Quitter conference, should you go to the next one? My answer is definitely YES!  If you put into practice what you have learned at this one, you will be amazed at how much more clarity will come at the next one. And if you’ve never been, then you should definitely go!!

A big thank you to Jon Acuff, and the entire event team, for another great event. Also, remember to give your feedback. One of the things many of us responded with were that there was not enough time for networking. They took that feedback and improved it.

So, what were your learnings? I’d love to hear from you.

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Filed under Encouragement, Quitter Conference

Sun

sunrise

sunrise (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I have been traveling more lately. Being on airplanes is often somewhat therapeutic for me. I probably won’t be saying that after the next month of crazy travel that I have! But, I wrote more about that here.

But, something has been causing me to think lately. No matter what the weather or the situation is when you take off (rain, snow, sleet) – the sun is always shining when you get up over the clouds. We don’t always think about that, do we?

We are always focused on what is right in front of us. Stress, anxiety, problems, and rainy days.

It gives me hope.

It reminds me that we can always count on that. As long as we are alive, the sun will always shine. It will always come up tomorrow, even if we can’t see it.

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Filed under Beauty, Encouragement, Uncategorized

What did your Dad say?

Did your Dad have a saying that you always remember? My Dad had a few.

One that sticks out was a simple one. In his quiet manner, when my mom would be upset and couldn’t get us under control, he would walk in and calmy say “You guys, settle down.”

Did it work every time? Almost! He had such a gentle way about him that it calmed us instantly it seemed.

The other was during our morning routine. If he was having a hard time waking us up, he would burst into our room and jump on our bed and tickle us, yelling “here comes the tiger!” I would always groan about it, but looking back, it makes me smile. I never knew why he used that phrase or where it came from. But, I’ll always remember it.

So what kind of phrases do you remember your Dad saying?

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day has always been interesting since I’ve known Rick. We went on our first date on February 10th (over 21 years ago – WOW!). He remembers wondering “Should I send her a card? We only went on a first date!” He did. And it was very sweet.

Happy Valentine's Day...

Happy Valentine's Day... (Photo credit: Јerry)

It also falls two days after the day that my Dad passed away. He passed away on my parents’ wedding anniversary. I know that had to be so hard for my Mom. They would have been married 47 years this year. But, I guess I can’t really say that anymore, since she was remarried to my StepDad for the last 10 years. But, I like to think my parents would still be married at this time if my Dad was still alive. Things to ponder, I guess!

I say all of this to say that I’ve never put a big emphasis on Valentine’s Day. Rick and I decided a long time ago to only celebrate our first date anniversary instead of Valentine’s Day. This year, we both forgot. Oops!

But, we’re learning to celebrate each other on a continual basis, rather than just on specific holidays.

What do you think about Valentine’s Day?

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The real deal

I have posted about Jon Acuff before. I follow his blog, read his books, and attended his Quitter Conference last year.  His advice has had a huge influence on my life this past year.

He’s help me realize that it’s never too late to chase your dreams. And that you can be an influence right where you are. No matter what you are doing. It definitely doesn’t always involve actually quitting your job.

Tonight was the first night of this year’s Quitter conference. It was excellent! Particularly because he is so incredibly funny, and also because he is the real deal. He is honest, open, and willing to share his mistakes. He is also incredibly down to earth and nice.

He did a great job after the first conference of following people and supporting them. One of those people was me. He linked to my blog and has been incredibly supportive. He knew who I was when we met, and thanked me for an email I had sent him.

For anyone who might be skeptical that Jon is just doing this to sell more books or get famous, I can tell you that is truly not the case. His passion is to share his ideas with others and help them.

Thank you, Jon, for showing us how to follow our dreams, and for being willing to help others follow theirs. You are truly an inspiration.

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