Love It or List It

In my last post, I wrote about the different kinds of lists we have. Whether they’re written down on paper or just floating around in our heads, we all have them. Our daily tasks and weekend projects. Our work assignments, the household chores, yard work, and the bucket list. The things we have to do and the things we want to do.

I love lists. I’ve been a listmaker since I could write my ABCs. They help me remember and keep me focused. And then, of course, there’s the ultimate joy of crossing off the things that are done.

Lists are good, but we can’t be bound by them. Our lists can’t be our driving force.

The main thing about our lists is not the doing, but the loving of the people around us while we’re getting them done. Love is the point. Loving the people God gave you or the people He gave you to. Loving those you’ve known for years and the ones you’ll meet next week. Loving your family and co-workers and friends. And the nice neighbors across the street and the ones two houses down you wish weren’t your neighbors. Loving your kid’s good teachers and the ones jaded from years of teaching.

Love compels us. Loving everyone who comes in and out of our lives. Even the most brief encounter is an opportunity to show love in some way.

Life is not the lists we make, no matter how grand the lists. If at the end of my life I’ve accomplished every single thing on my bucket list but have no one to share it with, it means nothing. The joy comes with shared experiences and memories. Not checking off the items. 

Let us make our lists, especially the ones of the places we want to see and the dreams we want fulfilled. And let’s pursue those things. Just not at the expense of the most important thing – the people in our lives.

Enjoy them. Share with them. Love them.

Because at the end of our lives, it won’t matter what we’ve crossed off our lists. What will matter is how well we’ve loved the people in our lives.

 

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

 

 

With a Friend

With a friend…..

You can be yourself, but if you’re not she notices.

You can share the deepest parts of you.

Sad or mad or glad. It’s all the same to her because she loves you no matter what.

She knows your story and you know hers.

With her, it’s okay to not be okay.

She listens because she cares.

She’ll let you be scared but help you be brave.

Your laugh makes her laugh. Her tears break your heart.

It always feels like yesterday even when it’s been a while.

She makes you better because she lifts you up.

It’s easy with her because she loves you just the way you are, whenever you are.

And you do the same.

My friends have walked with me through the happiest and darkest of days.

A friend taught me to listen because I watched her listen.

One of them taught me how to give a good hug. Another how to make the best homemade bread you’ve ever tasted.

One taught me how to lead and follow, one how to forgive again and again.

And some have given me the confidence to do what I thought I could never do.

That’s what friends do.

I’m better because I have the best kind of friends.

Friend

Together Again

IMG_5264I raced in my 2nd Spartan Sprint at Fort Benning, Georgia this weekend.

Before you’re tempted to think I’m a hard core athlete or a fitness guru, let me tell you, I am not. I’m a 40-something wife and mother of three who ran my first 5K two years ago in honor of my mother and to support the local hospice organization that helped care for her.

Something changed when I trained for and finished my first race though. I wrote about my journey from believing I could never run to finishing my first 5K in a post called Run.

I continued to train for other races on my own but then joined a group of women training for our first Spartan Race last summer. It was incredible. I wrote about that too in my post Together and here we are together again.

Something special happens when you join a group of people working toward running a hard race. You show up to the workouts when you’d rather not. You work harder because you see the others working harder. You cheer for one another and learn from each other. Then it becomes something more than working out together. You talk and laugh and get to know each other. You conquer fears together. You share life stuff and you care about these people. You want to do your best in the race and you want them to do their best too.

I realize this race wasn’t my race….it was our race. Each one of the ladies in our group made me better in some way. I run better. I’m stronger. I’m more confident. I have more fun. All because of these amazing women! 17862733_625164908415_649471229968310966_n

As part of my Live Like It Matters Challenge, I challenge you to do the same. Gather a group of people…..friends, co-workers, family, whoever and set a goal to do something hard. Find a local 5K and train for it together. Pick a Relay for Life event and raise a certain amount of money together then participate. Gather a team and train to compete in dragon boat races. Do a Warrior Dash or a fun run with your kids.

There are one hundred creative ways to do something hard with a group of people.

Because the thing is:  we are better together.

Always have been.

Now go. Gather. Train. And live like it matters.

Satisfaction

The 2016 Rundown

I look forward to 2017 with even greater anticipation than I did 2016. And 2016 didn’t disappoint. It was a wonderful year of growth and I did a lot of new things. In one of my January posts, titled Rising, I reflected on the amazing things I saw because I made a change and decided to do something new.

Some of the “first evers” for me in 2016:

  • Ate the Paleo Diet for 12 weeks
  • Ran an 8K in May
  • Ran the Spartan Race in Nashville in August
  • Ran a 10K in October

I chose to take on these physical challenges and have learned from all of them. Mostly I learned the importance of training and doing it with others. There’s something special about being part of a group working together toward a tough common goal. I wrote about it in my post Together.

There were more new things for my family in 2016. In February we moved from our home of 13 years into my newly renovated childhood home. Our home is beautiful but there were some adjustments for us. We are no longer in a rural area and it interfered with my morning runs. I lost my running groove…..or so I thought. I just had to embrace the new and wrote about it in Embrace the New.

Throughout the year I continued issuing my Live Like it Matters Challenges but I wrote more than ever about my childhood and the legacy my parents left. Living in my childhood home has brought a flood of memories and it’s been a wonderful gift of healing, new perspective and renewed gratefulness. Some of those posts are Memory, Groundwork, Quitting, and Mama.

We went on our annual trip to the beach with many of our favorite people. It’s a special place and does our hearts good to be there. I highlighted it in my post This Place.

My son moving to Texas last year for a job, then moving to Colorado this year provided a lot of inspiration. His courage to take bold steps into the unknown is fascinating. We visited him in October and it was one of the best trips ever. I wrote several posts as a result of the trip: Possibility and Shine are two of them.

I was finally able to put into words some of the difficulties of 2013, 2014 and part of 2015. I’d start the posts, then stop. Try to start again, but no words. They just wouldn’t come. More times than not, something is worked out within me when I write and I knew I needed to write about these things. At last something broke inside of me and the words came for the first post called Linger. It took months for the other healing posts to happen but I found the words. I’ve received more comments on those posts than others because everyone has experienced loss, grief and heaviness. Those posts are called Gone and The Dark .

We had a great holiday season. We gathered with family and friends several times. On Thanksgiving I ran my 2nd Turkey Trot and significantly improved my time. Our son came home the first week of December so we celebrated Christmas with the extended family early. Christmas gets more and more special with each passing year.

God is good and 2016 has been full of blessings. But what God did within my own heart in 2016 is the most momentous. He has given me a clearer view of what’s important. I want to love extravagantly because that’s the way He loves me.

Now I will let Him teach me how to do it.

All-Time Favorites

Attention

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.      Simone Weil

Today  – give someone your undivided attention.

Put down your phone. Step away from the computer. Turn off the TV……turn down the music.

Look them in the eyes and listen to each word said. Fully.

Converse.

Seek to understand.

Connect.

Learn their hearts.

Love your people.

Live Like it Matters.

 

Immerse

Pace

After my awful run last Saturday I was truly discouraged. Instead of staying in that gloomy state I went back out there on Monday and ran my longest distance to date.

And I felt great!

The problem on Saturday was that I was trying to run at a faster pace. I was trying to push myself at a pace that my body couldn’t handle. It made all the difference on Monday when I ran at my regular pace. I just ran. One foot in front of the other…….my pace at my best.

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Photo from greatist.com

I make the same mistake with my schedule. Some weeknights are filled with meetings and appointments and classes. Those happen and are needed, but I’ve learned that I need open spaces in my calendar. I need evenings at home with no plan, no agenda…..just time at home with my family.

When I crowd my calendar with too much I become stressed out, irritable, overtired and if I go that way for too long, eventually I’ll become non-productive. I rush around from one place to the next without noticing the people around me. Missing opportunities.

NOT living like it matters.

I function best at a certain pace.

Not her pace. Not his pace. But my pace.

When I try to do life at a faster pace, I don’t take the time to say hello to the stranger behind me at Target. I won’t ask the single young mom at church if she needs help getting her three pre-schoolers to the car. I’ll ignore the waiter’s small talk. And my family’s needs are the first to go unmet.

When I’m going at a faster pace, I’ll get the task done. The meetings and appointments behind me. Items checked off the list.

But my creativity is stifled. Compassion is eclipsed by drivenness. And my relationships suffer.

There are fast paced seasons. We all have those. But we can’t keep the fast pace for long. It’s not good for me or you or the people around us.

So I am learning to go at my pace. Even better……God’s pace.

Because my pace matters. Yours does too.

Live like it matters.

We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.     Romans 3:28 (MSG)

Quicken

See it Through

In the mid 90s I watched my dad learn a total new way of doing his work. The company he worked for did what most companies did at that time and upgraded the way of doing things to computers and software and transmitting data through the Internet. He’d always used his mechanical pencils, triangular ruler, other items I never knew the names of and his calculator to get the numbers. And he was good at it too. Dad was just fine with his old school ways of estimating.  img_4352

But the bulky computer came anyway. It sat on a hand-built shelf atop Dad’s drafting table. He built the shelf after he accepted the new way.

But it took a while. A long while.

This computer stuff and the email and the downloading files and working out the glitches frustrated my dad. A lot. He thought he was too old to learn the new ways. He thought about quitting. He wanted to give up.

But he didn’t. He stuck with it even when he couldn’t see how it would ever work. And he had that job until the day he died. That job enabled him to work from his home office for years while he cared for Mom. The frustrating technology and new way of doing things that Dad resisted so much at first was the exact blessing he needed later.

Dad stayed the course. He persevered. He stuck it out.

My parents were “see it through” kind of people.

My dad beat his addiction to alcohol. That doesn’t happen if you give up.

Mom stayed with Dad through a lot of painful years of marriage. Fifty-one years don’t happen unless you see it through.

Thank God I have some of that grit too.

Have you hit hard times? Don’t know how you’re going to make it through another day?

Want to give up, give in or quit the whole thing?

See it through my weary friend!  See it through!

“But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”      Hebrews 10:39  NIV 

Together

After months of training for a race like I’ve never run before…..I ran the course and finished.

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Photo by Pam Barksdale

And I finished well.

The race was 4.22 miles with 22 obstacles and it was amazing.

It was the teamwork. The encouragement. The ability to do more than I thought I could. It was strangers offering a hand or a knee to help and me offering one in return. It was how I pushed myself. It was conquering fears and obstacles and it was watching others conquer fears and obstacles. It was hard and eye-opening. It was humbling and heart-opening too.

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Photo by Pam Barksdale

Running a Spartan Sprint was a good thing to do on a Saturday morning.

I almost missed it though. In short, a wrong map took us to the wrong place. We turned around and took the right map to the right place and finally arrived at the military base where the race was held. But 100,000 slow moving vehicles were between me and where I needed to be (not really that many but it seemed like it). I jumped out of my husband’s truck, sprinted a mile to the registration tent, picked up my racer’s pack and made it to the starting line in time.

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Photo by Pam Barksdale

This race was more than just a race for me. I learned a great deal about myself and others. I learned the importance of doing new things and taking on challenges but two things really stand out.

Training made a significant difference in my race. And not only my race……but getting to the race in time. I ran the mile to make the race with no problem because I was prepared. I trained with other women every Saturday morning for months leading up to the race but I worked out on my own 5 times a week. Our Saturdays were great but not enough to prepare me adequately. I was consistent and disciplined in my own preparation and it made all the difference in my race…..in my confidence going into it and in how I performed.

The other major lesson learned is that we are better together. The women I trained with were a constant source of encouragement as we prepared for the race. We lifted each other up on our bad days, cheered our victories, and talked down our fears. We held each other accountable.

I made it to the starting line on time because two friends helped me get my gear and chip timer on and made sure I was hydrated before we started.

And  I could not have finished the race well without my racing partners. We stayed together throughout the entire race. 57b90c27a0898a9211ffdb19-oThey pushed me and lifted me (they literally lifted me at one point). We laughed. We strained. We cheered and helped each other. We cheered and helped other racers. We joked at all the mud and we raced with all our hearts.

Together.

The encouragement from these women…..the help, the drive, the smiles and laughter were vital to my race.

Life’s that way, too.

We are better together. We just are.

And being prepared is better than not being prepared. It just is.

Now go.

Try something new and do something hard. And help others do it.

And let them help you.

Because it matters. Live like it matters.

 “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?  A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”       Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT

Train

In three weeks I’ll do something I’ve never done before. I will run my first Spartan Race. Six months ago I didn’t even know about a Spartan Race. All I know now is that my race is called a Sprint and that it’s a 3 to 5 mile obstacle race. Not only will I be running but I’ll be overcoming some crazy obstacles. We won’t know the obstacles until we run into them.

imageI’ve trained for the last two months with a group of women called Spartan Chicks, a small group formed at my church. A few of the women have run a Spartan Race but the majority of us have never done anything like it.

I’m excited because I’ve dedicated myself to the training and I feel prepared. I’m nervous because it’s new and there are a lot of unknowns.

I won’t bore you with all the “what ifs” in my head, but as nervous as the unknowns make me, the things I do know give me confidence I will finish the race well.

First, I have a team of women that have worked together, pushed one another to be better, and lifted each other. We’ve lifted each other not only with encouraging words but literally lifted each other up, helping each other conquer obstacles and fears. We’ll cheer each other on and help each other during the race if needed.

Second, I have prepared for the race. This is going to be hard. Really hard. But I’ve done things that I never thought I could do. My mind knows my body can do this. When it hurts I’ll remind myself of that. When I think I can’t go another step, I’ll remember the feeling of crossing the finish line of my first 5K. For so long I believed I couldn’t run but then I started to run. I found out I could run…..I just needed to train. I’ve trained for this and I can do this race.

I’ve made a decision to continue training………for something……..all the time. After the Spartan I plan to train for a 10K that I’ll run with my niece in the fall. Having a goal helps keep me motivated to eat “good for me” foods and exercise consistently.

I don’t stay fit to look a certain way or so that I can wear a particular dress size. I want to be as healthy as I can be because God gave me this one body and I want to care for it. I should care for it. I want to honor him with my life….my body and health included. That doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy a cinnamon crunch scone or eat a plateful of fettuccine Alfredo on occasion. Just in moderation.

I urge you to think about ways you can train for better health. Make one change…….keep at it until it becomes a healthy habit, then make another change. The point is for you to take better care of the one body you’ve been given. We can all make a healthy change. Get informed and find out what works for you. There is no perfect weight or size so don’t measure your progress with a scale. Measure it by how you feel.

Because your health matters.

Live like it matters.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.   1 Corinthians 6:19-20