What I’m leaving behind.

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Looking at some old pictures recently I was struck by the fact that there are generations behind me that have influenced my life who I don’t know.

Many of them I’ve never met. I’m acquainted by stories and studying their faded faces in yellow-edged photo albums. There are faint images of others that I remember in my mind as I scroll back through memories of years past.

My sweet grandparents who were very little and cute that I only met a couple times. I loved their house, and staring through the glass into the room we weren’t allowed to play in. I remember finding a box of romance books under a bed and sneaking a couple away to read. I have memories of visiting the church they served for years and walking around the streets where my dad grew up. 

I think of my great- grandfather who had a drawer full of candy in his room. We didn’t really know him well and were a little nervous, but we’d tentatively go up the creaky stairs with our mom when we visited our other Grandma’s house and get a treat and a sweet hug.

So many others, going even farther back. Family. Friends of family. Known only by stories and recollections. 

All part of who I am. Shaping so many parts of me. Faith. Family Values. Work Ethic. Relationships. Priorities. Parts of me that I don’t even know, trickling from generation to generation. 

It’s not just DNA that we pass along. 

Recently came the realization that as much as I love and adore my own family – a few generations away there will be those that are part of my legacy that won’t know me.

Referring to me from a distance. 

Remember great-grandmother Shelly?

Who was that crazy great-aunt you had?

What was your great- great-grandma’s name again?

I’ll be honest. I can’t dwell on that too much. It breaks my heart. I think of how much I love my kids, but what we have right now won’t be forever. I think of my extended family and friends. I think of those I mentor and lead. I can’t be part of the next 5 generations that come after me. They will go on and live their lives. And their kids will live their lives, and on it goes. I’ll have some influence for sure, I totally plan on being the coolest woman ever in the seniors facility and living all my minutes to the fullest.

But I won’t live forever. 

Legacy?

Legacy will go on.

Who I am right now becomes that legacy.

How I live each day is that legacy. 

I always thought legacy was what you left behind, and it is. But legacy is also something that you can intentionally create and shape in the present. It doesn’t have to be a passive part of your life. You can decide what you want your legacy to be. Each choice you make, the words you say, the way you treat people are what lives on. You can do a lifetime of good, and one bad decision or life choice can alter your legacy forever. It affects your family, it affects your friends, those you mentor, those you influence. Legacy matters and is far reaching. 

That’s a startling thought.

So what legacy are we living?

Legacy lived becomes legacy left. 

I don’t just want to be remembered for my absentmindedness, or the terrific ability I have to lose keys. I also accidentally put Mr. Clean in the fridge today, and I really don’t want to be remembered for that either. I know that I make bad choices, I have ugly moments, I react in anger, and I don’t always treat people the way I should.

I know my legacy will not be one of perfection. 

But I want it to be one of goodness.  

How to face disappointment with hope.

Being brave in times of fear. 

Persevering when it’s hard.

Saying sorry.

Living out authentic faith.

Being kind.

Pursuing crazy dreams. 

Serving others.

Showing forgiveness.

All this matters because legacy lived becomes legacy left. Pass on the best parts of you, and see those parts grow and be stronger in generations to come. How we live matters because who we are to those behind us, ultimately shapes who they become too. Family and stretching beyond. Legacy is far-reaching. 

So live the legacy you want to leave.

Live out your best replicable self. 

Sometimes I think of the future, and I imagine this sweet family looking at some old pictures, likely on technology that is ancient to them. There I am on an old digital photo. Likely taking a weird selfie with a donut wall. And some sweet child that I’ve never met but that is part of my family in generations to come is looking at my face. 

“Tell me about her,” they will ask.

“What will they say about me?” is what I think.

So I live with legacy purpose now, so that the good parts of me live on in them.

Legacy lived becomes legacy left. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find your small

Find your small

Today I drove by the public school in our neighbourhood and I saw a huge group of kindergarten students all gathered at the fence in their play area. I was wondering what could be going down in the schoolyard that could possibly be causing so much excitement. I noticed that they were all standing with their sweet little faces looking through the cold and frozen metal barrier to watch the big recycling truck picking up the recycling.

It was adorable. 

It looked like the most exciting day of their life.

Watching a truck picking up plastic and paper.

The man working, he must have felt like a rockstar with all those adoring eyes on him as he hoisted the contents of the bins and then hit the crush button. (recycling is pretty cool!) 

To those little kids, that was a big moment. What I take for granted, was a source of joy and excitement for them. 

I loved the reminder.

I needed the reminder.

There is so much joy to be found in the small things. And often, the small things are so much more than we realize.

In a world of large and loud we can lose sight of the small things. We look for and go after big, when small is really what fills our heart.

Small is where we find our joy.

I’ve struggled the last weeks with feelings of not being enough, wondering what else I should do, if I’ll ever reach the goals I constantly feel I need to set for myself. Isn’t it all about the hustle? But in those quiet reflective moments when everything is stripped away, all I’m really left with is emptiness. But I can’t stop. I keep going and I strive and strive for more, often missing what’s happening in my real-time life moments. 

Then, I saw those little kids in awe of a recycling truck.

I thought about my moments this past week, that likely seemed small as I lived them and the more I thought about them, the more I realized that small is where my heart is happiest. Reminding me of what I know, but often forget. 

What’s small, is actually what matters to me most.

I’d even say small isn’t small at all.

Making soup for my family on a cold winter’s day.

Having a schedule that allows me to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.

Living close to water and being able to drive to the lake to get inspiration.

Sharing a hug with a couple dear friends. 

New worship song on repeat.

An adorable picture from a sweet girl. 

Sitting at my desk writing.

An encouraging note. 

Taking my son grocery shopping before he goes back to school.

My star lights that I plug in every night when it starts to get dark.

A sweet husband picking me up a coffee.

Talking to my parents on the phone. 

When you start to add up all the small, you realize that the small makes the big. All our little moments are the ones that matter. I’m not talking about giving up on plans and purpose. Just remembering. Bright lights and big dreams are all good, but they can never replace the everyday things we do in our life that fills our hearts.

I love most in the small.

I thrive most in the small.

Small isn’t small at all. All the small rolled together, it’s actually gigantic.

So, go stand at your frozen chain-linked fences.

Embrace your moments like a 4-year old thrilled by a garbage truck.

Capture and hold onto all the joy,

Find your small.

 

Revealing Words.

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On a recent Netflix binge session over the holidays, I discovered a fascinating series called Manhunt : Unabomber. It’s not the normal thing I’d usually watch but I thought I’d give it a try, and soon I was hooked and the binge started. (binges are ok on Christmas break with holiday chocolate by your side.) 

In short, this series is a re-telling of the story of “unabomber” Ted Kaczynski who remained at large for over 17 years. During that time, he mailed or delivered a series of bombs that killed 3 American people, and injured many more. He started in 1979 and it wasn’t until 1995 that the real first break came in the case. It’s a fascinating and complex story – with many components.

The most interesting thing to me was how ultimately Kaczynski was caught because of his words. Every letter he sent was studied, an essay he wrote was published and eventually he was identified by the words he had used. His style, his prose, the way he expressed his thoughts were recognized by someone who knew him. For years, investigators went down the wrong path and initially didn’t think they was any merit to this new way of “linguistic forensics” but in the end it led to his arrest and conviction. (you really need to watch the series to get the full scope)

I couldn’t stop thinking about this for days. It’s pretty incredible. Imagine in a country of millions of people, you were identified precisely because of the way you expressed yourself through your words. 

It’s pretty simple.

Words reveal who you are. 

As a writer and communicator words make up so much of my life. When you think about it – words are an important part of everyone’s life.

That’s a staggering and sobering thought in our current climate. The past weeks I’ve observed and watched and read words on so many issues and situations happening around the globe.

Words of accusation. Words of retractions. Words of hate. Words of denial. Words of divisiveness. Words of pride. 

Words. Words. Words.

I keep thinking how much our words reveal who we are. I’ve observed how it’s easy to toss words over screens and on walls and in tweets, and how online “living” creates fake spaces where we feel brave and bold. We’re free to throw out daggers without fear of any consequences because after all, it’s only words. It’s just our opinion. It’s what we believe. We have the right to express ourselves.

And of course we do.   

But your words.

They reveal who you are.

Whether you are the most powerful leader in the world, or living your best life in the place where you’ve been planted – your words matter so much.

It’s said that actions speak louder than words. But words used as weapons shout so loud that even kindness can be drowned out. Good can be lost. Hope can be destroyed because the noise that surrounds suffocates and puts out the small lights of change trying to ignite.

I’m sure there have been words of love spoken out recently. There are many incredible voices in our culture that are believing for hope and for change. But I’m finding it hard to remember, those voices aren’t as clear. Hate shouts and tries to silence what love wants to do. 

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find words of kindness in a world where words of hate spread like fire. 

So let’s work on that. Every word we say. The way in which we conduct ourselves and express the things we are passionate about. There’s a way to do that without hate. There’s a way to stand up against the wrongs in the world in a way that doesn’t create more wrong. There’s a way to care about things that matter without destroying everyone who doesn’t agree with what you think.

Choose your words carefully.

They reveal who you are.

No one is changing the world with a word war. 

Maybe I simplify things. Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I need a stronger backbone and to be more confrontational. But I don’t see how that will change any of the things I care about. 

I can do more good in this word, and care about the things that matter to me by using words that don’t divide. I can make a different by going out and doing instead of sitting and yelling through a keyboard. 

Responding to hate with hate doesn’t change the world

Showing love changes the world.

Being love changes the world. 

I’m not saying it’s easy. There’s a lot of work to be done. 

I love words, but I want my actions to be louder. 

It’s a really weird thing to learn a lesson from a unabomber on Christmas break. 

But I did.

Our words matter.

Our words identify who we are.

Choose them with care. 

 

 

 

 

My #worstnine

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I’ve spent most of New Year’s Day looking at all the wonderful collages of everyone’s #bestnine memories. Some clever app developer, putting together all of our most favoured pictures in one quick glance. Brilliant! We hold our breath to see what comes out, and “poof!” we have a collection of the best parts of our year. (I downloaded an app, just for that.) 

But then cynical, realist me had a thought. (after I gushed over my #bestnine)

I wonder what my #worstnine would look like?

Is there an app for that?

To be honest, I’m formulating the grid right now in my mind. What I wear when I drive my child to school would likely be in the centre. My attempts at cooking dinner that no one likes. The random burn-like allergic reaction I had in the summer. More seriously – some heartbreak and confusion I’ve wrestled through this year. Messes and stress I’ve found myself in.

My perfectly-manicured life unhinged and real.

What you don’t see behind my perfect-posed, much-loved and filtered #bestnine pictures.

I love my #bestnine.

But I know a #worstnine exists too.

You can’t have a best without the worst. 

But here’s the thing, when I look at the best it amazes me that no matter the circumstances, there is always something to be thankful for. Alternately, in the worst moments, there’s been a faith and grace that has always carried through. Making what is worse, an opportunity for best. 

Maybe there should be a #middlenine?

In the middle of the best and the worst, is the even plane of real life. Where you have to learn to balance, where you go up the hills and down the valleys and you try to find that place where there’s a stability and a hope to make it through each day.

Where the worst doesn’t take you down in one swoop.

And the best doesn’t make you think your an invincible superhero.

Life in either extreme isn’t healthy.

We have the worst days.

We have the best days.

And what makes up the rest of the time are the days in between. 

Those are the days that I want to make count this year. Those are the days where I do most of my living. 

I’ll live aiming for best, but determined to make it through whatever the worst throws at me.

Walking with joy through the middle of it all. When I look at my #bestnine I remember each moment, and what was happening during those days and hours that engulf those memories. I’m reminded that some of those best moments came out of some of the hardest. In the background of some of the #bestnine were some of the circumstances of the #worstnine. Each perfectly-posed picture has a story that surrounds it. A reminder that joy comes in the morning, and steps of dancing can come after seasons of tears.

No matter the season, I’ve never been forgotten or alone on either side. 

Our best and our worst are part of each other. 

My best days, are made better when I’ve come through the worse. 

My worst days have hope because I believe for the best. 

Every valley and mountain a part of the journey.

So, this year I’ll embrace it all.

#bestnine

#worstnine

Everything in between. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the gift you need for Christmas is forgiveness.

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It’s the first snowfall of the year tonight and as I look outside, it’s a picture of perfection. All that white pure snow, blanketing the streets and lawns. Not a blemish in site. I could just hold my breath and watch in wonder.

If it stayed that way forever it would make me happy.

The perfectly captured view from my window.

But I know it won’t. Fresh fallen snow eventually turns a little brown, it gets rocks and sand mixed in, and soon its a muddy mess all over the floors. You wonder what you ever loved about it in the first place. It wasn’t what it seemed, and its now all rather inconvenient. 

And I think a little about life, and how we wish it were perfect too. Like the picture outside my window. But it’s not.

It’s messy. The rocks and the sand, it’s all there. 

And this time of year, when so many are rejoicing and preparing – there are equal who are retreating and hurting.

And I think of those hearts in a muddy mess, even my own at times. In the middle of it all, the word that keeps coming back to me in this season, is an unusual one. It’s not what I usually think about at Christmas, but I can’t get it out of my thoughts. It’s following me around, wherever I go. 

Forgiveness.

I think about it so often, and then one day it came out another way in my mind. 

For-gift-ness.

It seems a little corny when I say it like that, and I never want to be corny but I think of all the gifts of the season. And I think that the giving and receiving of forgiveness is one that we forget about, but it’s one that is attached to so much of our mud and mess. 

Maybe we all need to give it. 

In some way. 

You know, and I know. We all know. Those pangs, the physical reaction that actually hurts when we are in our deep places and heart spaces when we cry out in the night. We long to be rid of it all, but it just seems so hard. 

It’s easier to hold on.

But grudges don’t make good gifts.

Bitterness loves to dig deep. 

Maybe it time to give ourselves a gift.

To let go of the wrongs against us.

The things we hold that bring us pain. 

Even if we’re never been asked, granted or considered.

Even if we are in the wrong, even if we are not.

That’s why forgiveness is a gift. 

You give it without expecting anything in return.

Sorry may never come and explanations never uttered but the releasing that washes over when you let go, is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

Forgiveness brings freedom.

Which also was the ultimate purpose of the gift of the first Christmas.

So this Christmas, forgive yourself of the things that you hold onto that are hard to let go. Forgive those who have hurt you, even if they never ask or admit their wrongs. Seek forgiveness if you need to make things right. 

Given, received and offered.

Life’s never going to be perfect, there’s always going to be mess. But look for the moment of freshly fallen snow.

Let forgiveness cover you like a blanket.

Let it rest on your life. 

A gift to yourself this season. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to shine this Christmas.

How to Shine Blog

Tomorrow for a Christmas picture at work, I have to decide what brings me joy. Someone already picked family, so I can’t use that. (I need to be original) So, I was trying to come up with something else. Coffee is too lame, and “unique cheese boards” would make me look weird. 

So, I was thinking.

What about sparkle?

Would that work?

Sparkle DOES brings me joy. (Office picture problem solved) 

It sounds a little frivolous but I love sparkly things. If sparkle was a colour, it would be my favourite. If sparkle was a job, I’d do it. If sparkle was a place, I’d go there on vacation. If it were socially acceptable for me, in this stage of my life, to wear sparkle from head to toe – I would. 

SPARKLE MAKES ME HAPPY. 

I especially love sparkly light that shines while I’m in the dark. In pretty much every room of our house during the holidays, I have something that lights up. I’d never just go sit in a dark room for no reason, but put a little light in there and soon it’s my favourite place. 

I’m drawn to light in darkness.

Beauty doesn’t shine in the dark, but light brings beauty to dark places.

I’ll be honest though, if I look around me it sometimes feels as though darkness is overcoming. It gets discouraging and often there is fear, pain, worry and hopelessness. Its like we’re all sitting in a big dark room, and we need some life to illuminate through. We can’t shuffle blindly for much longer, trying to find our way in the night. We’re getting too battered and bruised up.

We need help. 

We need light in dark places.

The light that shines through, is the light that we long to see.

The light we need to see. 

So, be that light.

Love others who don’t show love to you.

Forgive people who have hurt you. 

Let go of bitterness and replace it with peace.

Encourage those who are in pain. 

Extend grace when you least feel like it. 

You can help shine the greatest light this Christmas. 

I can’t help but remember what came out of the darkness when the world first began. God-spoken light. And later, a baby who carried that light.

The true light that gives light. 

In times of darkness He can shine through us as we serve, as we accept each other, as we open our arms in welcome, as we give to see change, as we speak words of love, as we live out kindness and as we work together to see light fill our world. 

So.

Sparkle away. 

Let your life be a message board for light. 

Darkness won’t win.

Light shines bright. 

Christmas doesn’t own you.

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There’s always a little bit of anxiety that comes on each year when the Christmas season approaches. I feel it late November as I pull out my holiday ornament boxes, reminding myself that I committed to only add one new decoration each year. I worry a little as I plan my shopping and hope that I can get the perfect item for everyone, because I love giving gifts. I think about all the gatherings and get togethers and I just pray that it all works out.

Can all the expectations placed on me be met? 

Will our budget carry me through the season?

Is it possible to navigate all the complexities of relationship dynamics to make everyone happy?

There have been times when these thoughts have kept me up at night. Perhaps I had the wrong ideas about what mattered. Maybe I just overthink everything. But finally I’ve realized that I can make choices and work hard to make sure that the Christmas season ahead for our family is one that doesn’t get out of hand.

We want to have joy in this season.

We want the true light that brings light to shine through.

Christmas can be simple and meaningful. 

Christmas is not in control.

Christmas doesn’t own you.

Christmas is what you decide to make it.  

Here are a few simple thoughts (ones I’m still working on myself) to help make the season more meaningful and to make room for joy and light. 

Make Christmas about others. It’s so easy to focus inward at Christmas. Christmas lists, an incredibly decorated home and Pinterest-perfect ideas are not what should measure your Christmas success. Lift up your eyes this season, and take a minute to look around you. How can you show some love and care to those that need it? Share yourself this season. Be a bright light in the life of someone who needs you. There are people alone, hurting and suffering. Be Christmas for them. 

Keep things simple. Make your holiday plans easy. Easy doesn’t mean lazy, easy means smart. This year, our extended family has decided to shake things up and do catered Italian for our Christmas Day meal. Different circumstances have made pulling off a turkey dinner really challenging and stressful, so we are making a switch. That simple decision has already taken Christmas stress down a level for everyone, and we are excited to be able to focus on spending time together as family. (I’m also happy I don’t have to have pre-Christmas nightmares about the inevitable lumps in my gravy) Being together is what matters and it’s ok to make that easier. 

Create special moments. Moments are what we remember, moments are what make up our life. There are tons of moment-making opportunities all around at Christmas. Often, you don’t even have to think them up because they are already happening. Look for events in your community, special places to visit and choose a couple activities that you know will be significant. Go to a festival, volunteer at Christmas event, take a walk in your neighbourhood and look at Christmas lights. Creating moments doesn’t have to cost any money, and often provide the best parts of our holiday experience.  

Take time to reflect. Whether you do advent, or a Christmas countdown – take time to celebrate what Christmas means to you. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voscamp is my favourite Christmas reading. A chapter each day takes me on a beautiful and significant journey right to the manger on Christmas Day, I seriously can’t hold back my tears when I do the last reading on the morning of the 25th. This part of my Christmas is so meaningful each year, and I can’t wait for it to begin. Whatever makes Christmas special to you, take time for those moments of reflection. 

Christmas will never be perfect. Things will not always go as planned. But we do have the opportunity to set our season up and focus on the things that will bring joy into our lives.

This year slow down, look around and remember that joy can be found in the simple.

The memories and moments of Christmas and how you share that joy with others is what will remain in your heart. 

Reflect on the light that has come on Christmas.

The true light. 

Christmas doesn’t own you.

You can decide how to make this your most meaningful Christmas yet.  

 

 

 

 

 

When the world needs a leadership lesson.

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You only have to go to Twitter, turn on the news and read any feed of your choice to come to the conclusion that the world is in a state of disarray. In recent weeks, we’ve seen world leaders name-calling and threatening, learned of horrible abuses by those in powerful positions and almost daily we hear of a new scandal or situation that takes the world again by storm. 

Day in, day out. 

In the middle of this I can’t stop thinking about the responsibility that we have when we are a leader.

Not just a world leader.

Or a Hollywood producer.

All of us.

We need to be better. 

The world needs leaders right now. 

Mentors, parents, coaches, teachers, pastors, executives. We could make a long list of those who lead in some way every single day because leadership touches every facet of our life. If you’re not leading, chances are that you’re being led. And if you are leading, you have a responsibility to those in your care. 

When abuses of leadership run rampant, it’s a good time to take a breath and think about what a good leader does. When the lines in our culture are making it harder and harder to identify good leaders around us, it’s time to remember what it means to lead with purpose and integrity. It’s time to remind ourselves what those who lead well do.

The world needs a leadership lesson. We need to be a leadership movement.

Here’s a few thoughts – 

Leaders should be more concerned about the people that they lead than about themselves. Leaders don’t wave their own flags, they don’t beg for attention, they don’t ask to be praised and recognized. A strong leader is about those that they lead. They want to see others grow and succeed, always turning the spotlight away from themselves. If you are begging for attention as a leader, you have made yourself the most important part of the equation. 

Leaders don’t take advantage of people. Strength in leadership doesn’t equal power. A strong leader is one that is followed out of respect and loyalty, not because of position and fear. Your leadership doesn’t give you power, it means you have assumed responsibility. That responsibility needs to be taken seriously.

Leaders know that the way they treat people matters. A leader who thinks they can bully, intimidate, manipulate and mistreat others is not a leader. The word for that is abuser and there is no place in true leadership for that kind of behaviour. If you don’t value people, you have no right to lead them. 

Leaders live without reproach. Leaders know that they have a responsibility in how they act, how they live and what they do. A leader who is constantly covering their tracks, hiding truth, scheming and manipulating situations for their own good and protection doesn’t deserve to lead. You can’t live in the dark, and be a leadership light. Perfection is never possible, but integrity is something that any leader can choose. 

We work on many things in life. Our health, our careers, goals and future. Let’s also work on our leadership.

How you lead matters. 

Wherever you lead, choose to lead well.

Our world needs leaders right now.

 

  

 

Waiting for perfect.

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There’s this list in my mind of goals that are really important to me. While I’m not quite structured enough to map out a 5-year plan, I can tell you without hesitation the top 3 or 4 things that I want to accomplish in the next couple years.

I think about them a lot.

I daydream. 

Go big, they say. 

So I do.

However, I’ve noticed that while I do tons of dreaming, I don’t always do much doing. 

Why?

I’m waiting for perfect. 

You know the drill. When money is good, when bills are all paid, when schedules are clear, kids are older, relationships are good, Netflix series bingeing is done, the dream job appears, etc.  When everything is perfect, the time will be right. 

And guess what?

Perfect never comes.

I’ve been waiting a long time. 

Currently, I have some writing that I know I need to do but I’m waiting for the perfect little writing spot in my house to completely come together. I have it cleared it out. I have some of the decor already. I have a plan. But, I’ve convinced myself that nothing can happen until I am sitting in the creative spot of my dreams (with my non-existent budget). No words can flow from my imagination in any other space. In the meantime, I’m wrapped up waiting for perfect and it’s so comfortable. I watch incredible storytelling, and read great books and get inspired and think – oh that’s part of my dream too. But I don’t move.

The quilt of procrastination is just so warm and snuggly.

But on the other hand…  

Waiting is getting boring.
I want to be about pursuing.
Who wants to be cozy all the time?

Pursuing our dreams is all about activating what is inside of us. It is taking that step into the unknown. It is trusting in our Maker, and in ourselves. It involves sacrifice, it involves determination, it requires us to work hard, it’s not always cozy and warm. It doesn’t wait for perfection, it makes the most of reality.

Pursuing is living with faith even when things look less than perfect.

I’ve decided that I’m no longer waiting for perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist. So, I’m breaking the self-inflicted pressure off of myself. Waiting for my Pinterest-inspired office space can’t control my creativity. The perfect temperature outside no longer determine my health. The perfect schedule won’t affect my relationships. The mess in my house shouldn’t rule my hospitality. The struggles in my life won’t change my goals. I’m throwing off the cozy quilts.

I don’t need to be perfect.
You don’t need to be perfect.
Perfect is over-rated.

When we wait for perfection, we accomplish nothing.
What we pursue in reality, we are planting in faith.
Sow in the wind.
Reap in the rain.
Stop waiting for perfect.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 (TLB)
If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.

Remember the Qualifier.

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You know those judges at sporting events? The ones that look to see if anyone starts too quickly, or cheats and breaks the rules? Their job is to disqualify. To tell people they didn’t make the cut – for whatever reason.

I would be SO great at that job.

I am the greatest disqualifier ever.

Of myself.

A couple of weeks ago I had a huge disappointment. Something I had been working towards that I really wanted, part of a dream that I am continually pursuing. I put in the effort and I thought that I had a chance. Maybe this would be the breakthrough that I have been waiting for, perhaps this would be the person that believed in me.

Then I got the email.

I didn’t make the cut. I wasn’t chosen. Try again next time.

I usually take things as they come, I’m a go-with-the-flow type of girl but for some reason this really devastated me. I immediately retreated into the deep unhealthy spaces of myself, and quickly took on the role of disqualifier.

And then, I just went for it. 

I was crazy to think I could do that.

I’m not good enough.

I’ll never attain that goal.

I shouldn’t be doing what I am doing.

I have nothing to contribute .

I’m a big joke.

My dreams are ridiculous. 

I kept going. Before long I had disqualified myself out of pretty much everything in my life. My parenting, my marriage, my friendships, my goals, my job and all the things I love. It’s a slippery-slope when you start down that path. Negative thoughts can spiral into questioning every good and perfect gift that has been given.

So often, through the journey of identity that I have been on through life – I face situations that try to erase my memory of who I am. If I’m not careful, I get pulled back so easily into those lies that try to hold me down. To throw me out of the race.

Then, I remember the qualifier.

Right there at the starting line.

The one who says, “On your mark, Get Set, Go!” Standing there and cheering as we run our race. Handing us nourishment when we don’t think we can go any further, speaking words of life into our hearts when we want to give up. Most of all, standing at the finish line of each race – ready to help train for the next part of the story-journey.

Colossians 1:9-12 talks about this qualifier.

“We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” (The Message)

Learn how He works, so that we can learn how to do our work.

Have strength to stick it out.

Not grim strength but GLORY-STRENGTH.

Be strong, take part in everything bright and beautiful that He has for us.

Run your race and don’t look back.

Stay on course.

We are qualified because we have a qualifier.