What’s This All About?

The new website is coming along and we’re almost there. In the meantime, I’ll share the reason I’m doing this in the first place.

Fifteen years ago I was a young mother at the end of another exhausting day, and I wondered, is this it?

I graduated college, worked years at a great company, and quit a promising career to be home with my children to wipe counters, noses and bottoms all day?

Today, I’m sitting in my office with piles of paper scattered across my desk, emails to answer, phone calls to make, and numbers to crunch. And I wonder, is this it?

I know I’m not the only one. You feel the same way. The restlessness, the divine discontent, a desire within your heart to make a difference. We all want to know our lives count.

I was in my 20s when I read John Maxwell’s book “Developing the Leader Within You”. The most important words of the entire book were these:

Sociologists tell us that even the most introverted person will influence 10,000 people in his or her lifetime.

I was astounded. To think that I would impact 10,000 or more people in my lifetime was amazing and humbling.

The 10,000 statistic is a pre-social media number. It’s not a stretch to guess that the most introverted person will impact an exponentially greater number of people in his or her lifetime. Fifty thousand, maybe even 100,000 with Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and all the other ways of connecting with others.

The statistic might have changed but the main point of John Maxwell’s book is a timeless truth: at its most basic, leadership is influence.

In other words, you matter. I matter. And what we do matters. 

That’s why I’m passionate about Live Like it Matters.

A couple of years ago, I issued Live Like It Matters challenges on my blog to remind myself and others of the significance of our day-to-day interactions. The challenges connect our desire to make a difference with our everyday lives. The challenges include:

  • say hello to a stranger
  • write a note to a coworker.
  • give a 40% tip the next time you eat at a restaurant
  • volunteer at a local charity for a day/a week/regularly

The challenges prompt us to look for opportunities to live like it matters right where we are.

Because some of the thousands we’ll reach are the people we meet day in and day out. One of yours may be the tired unnamed waitress that served you lunch on Sunday, a young man in your daughter’s class struggling with his identity, the homeless couple who sit on the curb near the mall you drive past each day, or the flustered UPS guy hauling heavy boxes inside your office building each morning.

We don’t have to be entertainers, politicians, professional athletes or authors to touch thousands. We don’t need Twitter followers, websites, or Facebook pages. It’s those of us in our workplaces, at the schools, and in lines at the grocery store checkouts who make the difference. We can live like it matters at the bank, the park, or the gym.

We live like it matters when we change diapers, wipe snotty noses, and wash dishes. Take heart, tired young parent, take heart. Home is the best place to live like it matters.

When we live like it matters our routines are rich with opportunity, the mundane is meaningful, and our lives turn from ordinary to extraordinary.

My writing, my blog, my website….all of it is about learning to live like it matters and encouraging us in it.

I’ll issue challenges occasionally and continue the regular features, like Monday School and Beauty Break.

I’ll still write just to write, too. I hope it will give you hope, make you ponder a thought you never have before, unlock a memory, see someone in a new way, or make you feel less alone.

Anne Lamott puts it this way, “a writer always tries, I think, to be part of the solution, to understand a little about life and to pass it on”.

This is me passing it on.

When the new website launches, this website will eventually redirect to the new site, but I’m not sure if new posts will show up in the WP reader. I’m still learning about this.

If you want to be sure to catch the new site, new challenges and all my new stuff please leave a comment and tell me you want to subscribe to the new site and I’ll add you to my email followers. 

Photo by Mr Cup / Fabien Barral on Unsplash

Courage Giver

I received the best kind of text this morning. A spontaneous one from a friend who thought about me, then texted me to let me know she thought about me. That would have been enough to make me smile but she sent a powerful message of encouragement and some verses for me to think about throughout the week.

Her encouragement turned a manic Monday into a happy one.

Another friend and I are wrapping up our study of Ephesians this week, so I was reading the final verses of chapter 6. Paul ends the letter telling the believers at Ephesus he is sending Tychicus to them.

Ever heard of Tychicus? I’ve read his name several times, but I skimmed right over it without a second thought. His name is found in Acts and other letters and it’s obvious Tychicus was close with Paul and an important part of the ministry. Paul called him a beloved brother and a faithful minister and sent the man to update them on what’s happening with everything. What makes me wonder about this guy, Tychicus, is what Paul says about why he is sending him.

I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.   Ephesians 6:22

He says the exact same thing in Colossians 4:7-8. He sent Tychicus to encourage their hearts.

Paul knew what it was to be discouraged and feel weighed down with doubt and worry. He knew the pain of loneliness and fear and remembered how words of truth and encouragement were vital during his darkest seasons.

When Paul couldn’t do it himself, he sent Tychicus to give courage to weary hearts. To strengthen weakened faith. To uplift downcast faces. To give hope and light and love.

We are told to encourage one another too. (2 Corinthians 13:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:11) And do it daily, as long as it’s called today. (Hebrews 3:13)

Because every one of us needs courage.

We don’t know what each person is facing each day, but we can guess from personal experience it’s hard a lot of times. A kind word from a friend can bring a moment of sweetness in the most terrible day. Someone cheering us on can give us the extra push we need to keep at it. A note reminding us of God’s promises can lift us from sadness and help us keep believing the promises.

My friend sent a text. Paul sent Tychicus. Both were courage givers and God only knows what good happened because hearts were encouraged.

 

For more information about Monday School, visit the Monday School page.

 

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

 

Making Headway

I’ve been running for over three years now. I went from believing I could never run to…….well……running. I’m not sure I’m any good at it. I’ve never experienced the “runner’s high” I hear about unless you count how I feel when I’m finished with a run. I’m elated after a run. Because it’s over.

And on my last runs, I felt as if I’ve never ran in my life. It was awful the entire time. Maybe it was because I woke up late and skipped parts of my routine. I rushed out the door before I finished my first cup of coffee because I was determined to get the run in before I had to be in the office. Within the first quarter mile I knew. My legs ached and my lungs burned more than usual, so I slowed my pace. The slower pace only prolonged the misery. The run never got better. I almost quit halfway through my goal, then I thought about quitting the rest of the time. But I finished.

When I read what Jesus thought when he saw his disciples in a boat on the sea it reminded me of my run and our lives.

“And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them.”  Mark 6:48

I can think of no better words to describe the hard parts of my journey. My running journey, the married one, the parenting one, my working and writing ones and the most important journey – the following Jesus one.

Making headway painfully.

Of course, it’s not always like that. There are days when it’s easy. Or easier. Good run days happen. I don’t let the bad run days stop me from working to get better at it.

It’s the same way on the other journeys. I can’t let the hard days of my marriage make me forget the good days. I don’t let the days when I feel uninspired to write any words prevent me from continuing my blog or steal my dream of publishing a book. On the days my parental decision making is less than wise I try to remember all the times it wasn’t.

And on the journey that matters the most…the one that affects all my other ones, I’m learning as I go. There are days I’ve let pride rule my heart, or acted selfishly. I’ve ignored what Jesus said about loving my neighbor or failed to do something good I know I should have done. But it happens less than it used to. I’m learning. Slowly at times. Painfully sometimes. But I’m moving forward and I’m never alone.

Jesus said, “Take heart, it is I”.  Mark 6:50

He sees. He knows when it’s painful and slow. And He’s there giving me the courage to keep at it.

I stumble…..but I’m making headway.

 

 

Embrace the New

When I began this post, I didn’t realize this was going to be another installment in my Live Like it Matters Challenge. But it is.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the challenge of getting back to my running routine since we’ve moved to our new home in a post called My Groove. There are no long quiet country roads like in our previous place. To get to any roads that would work for me, I’d have to cross a busy highway. A few times I ran on our little road without crossing the highway…..back and forth and back and forth, to the highway and back down…..again and again. It wasn’t terrible but it was terribly boring.

My husband reminded me of the park in town but I wouldn’t think of it. I like to walk out my front door and start running. I don’t want to drive to the park to run.

But last week, I drove to the park to run. And I did it again two days later. And I’ve done it again a couple of times since.

So I guess the park is part of my new groove and I’m glad it is.image

First, it’s forced me to rethink my fitness. I still run, but not daily. I’ve included other things into my fitness and I needed to do that anyway.

Second, I’ve met some really cool people at the park. Like Mark. He’s an older gentlemen with 3 dogs and a disability. He doesn’t work. His wife passed away several years ago with cancer. In the only conversation we’ve ever had, he told me about his father, his wife, his disability, his dogs, the mission trips his father took, and some other things about his life. I listened.

I think he needed someone to listen.

I also met Adam. I saw his t-shirt when he ran passed me in the opposite direction and I made a comment. When I saw him again he was running in my direction and slowed down to speak. He and his family live near the park. He loves to run and has recently competed in a Spartan Race, which is where he got the t-shirt. I’ve heard about the Spartan Races and thought about doing one. I found out more information and…..who knows. I may see him at a Spartan Race one day.

Now I understand that this “new” thing, this new groove of mine, is another opportunity to Live Like it Matters.

There’a always going to be something new in our lives. Some new things are big. Some are small. A new job, a changed job description, or a layoff. A different house, another kid, a friend moves away, your dog dies or your water heater bursts and ruins every floor in your house.

New is different and sometimes it hurts. But any new thing in your life can be an opportunity.

There’s really no other option but to embrace it and make the best out of it if you want to be a happy person.

Because you matter and what you do matters.

 

Cheer

Have you ever been doing something difficult and almost quit but didn’t because someone was cheering you on? I have. A lot.

It could be anything…..your first 5K, a new way of eating, a college course, your marriage, a new business proposal, volunteer work, staying organized, learning how to play the piano.

When you start something new, you’re excited and motivated. You can easily envision the benefits of taking it on.  You see the dream job, the business flourishing, the smiling kids at the community center, and the audience enjoying your rendition of Beethoven’s Fur Elise.

go-team-clipart-go---
from clipartpanda.com

Then it gets hard. The college course requires more time than you thought. Your spouse isn’t living up to your expectations. The healthier way of eating means no more spontaneous Krispy Kreme runs. The bank wants more information about your new business idea. It takes a lot of practice to play the piano well.

The excitement has worn off. You’re tired and stressed. You forget the dream.

But then a friend reminds you of why you started it in the first place. She gives you the vision again. She says, “You’ve got this! Keep at it.”  She cheers you on.

You have the dream back. The tiredness isn’t that bad. You learn to manage your time to minimize stress. You keep practicing or you communicate better with your spouse or you find new healthier sweet treats to enjoy.

You think to yourself, “I CAN do this.”

Now you try it! Cheer someone on. Your frustrated co-worker could really use an encouraging word. Your teenager needs to hear you say you believe in him. Your friend needs to know she’s going to get through this tough season.

Look for opportunities to be a cheerleader.

Help someone see beyond today, beyond the frustrations and the pain.

You will be cheered on in the process.