2016: Year in Review

There have been times in my life when I’ve had an overwhelming sense to do everything I can to remember the moment. Sometimes the moments have been big, life altering events like my children’s births or the death of a loved one. Other times the moments are found among mundane everyday tasks. Moments that stand out as special, holy gifts. In good and bad moments, I have commanded myself to stop, take a good look around, listen, and pay attention to the people who are with me. Then I pray. I pray my careful observations will become a memory or a lasting impression on my heart in which I can always feel.

Over Christmas break, we traveled to my brother’s house where we gathered with my family. Our family lives in several different states making times when we are all together very rare and special. It was loud and crazy. There was food, a lot of food. There was dancing, singing, praying, and playing with the kids. And food, more food. There was a whole lot of talking and a whole lot of love.

While we were together, I couldn’t help but think about what it was like for my Grandma, Mom and Dad, to be surrounded by a family they started. A bittersweet mix of the golden memories of the past and forging new ones in the present to be remembered for a future time. Missing loved ones and celebrating life in their children and grandchildren. A job well done, children reared, overcoming hard times and celebrating the good times. All this wrapped up in this thing called life.

One night my brother-in-law called us into the living room to watch a video he put together of clips he had taken of his family throughout the year. He captured the big moments and the small ones and masterly put them together complete with touching music. With my family, I watched a year fly by in about three minutes. I was struck with how much of our daily worries and what we think is big stuff, really isn’t and how the small touches, details, and love in life are really what mean the most. All those little moments collected together to mean something very big. It is not the things or even the places, it’s the people that make life worthwhile and meaningful.

My brother-in-law’s video inspired me to reflect back on my year. I went through hundreds and hundreds of pictures and picked out the most meaningful captures. When I look at these pictures, I see a common theme. My word for 2016 was community. These pictures represent so many of the special communities I am part of. God has richly blessed me through this word and my heart is so full thinking of His kindness and His gift to me in people. I was going to add captions but then changed my mind. For those of you who were with me, I hope these pictures spark a special memory or a special moment for you. Thank you, thank you all for being a part of my life, praying for me, and inspiring me to be the best woman, mother, and leader I can be. I love you dearly!  Happy New Year! ❤

January- Subways and Skiing

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February- School, Snow, Sunsets

 

March- Family

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Road trip to my brother’s house where we met up with my sister, my parents, and Gammy. We do not get to see each other often so these trips are important and special time.

April- Wonder and Discoveries

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May- New Friends and Callings

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June- Overcoming Fears and Heights

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July- Gammy on the Go

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August- ADVENTURE

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September- New Beginnings

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October- Incredible Opportunities with Incredible Women

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November-SHINE…Together

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December- Home is Where the Heart Is

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Here’s to 2017….

2017


Where Is the Love?

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Where is the love? Where is the grace?

Two years ago, I helped manage a book signing line for a well-known and very popular Christian author at a leadership conference. This author had collected a large following of “fangirls” who started lining up for her meet and greet about two hours in advance of her arrival time.

As the author walked to her meet and greet spot and picked up her Sharpie markers, women went C-R-A-Z-Y. The best way I can describe the scene was something similar to the Beatles arriving in the 60s or a scene from a 1990s New Kids on the Block concert. There was pushing and shoving and squealing. There may have been crying and fainting (okay, maybe not fainting, but you get the point….)

As the line moved, I tried to keep up with the book purchases but I was mesmerized by the women and their praises, compliments, and stories of how their lives were changed by the author and reading her books. You might have thought Jesus Christ himself was standing there. (And when we get to heaven we better have way MORE enthusiasm, praises, and compliments of how our lives were changed because of OUR Lord Jesus…just saying.)

With every woman, the author was gracious and welcoming and smiley…very smiley. I wondered if her cheeks hurt from all the smiling and I wondered what was going through her mind as she listened and listened. Was she tired? Did you she need a Starbucks? Did she want to go back to her hotel room and watch reruns of Gilmore Girls? Did she think this was a lot to do about nothing? Did she hope these women could see her as a just another woman trying to walk out her faith and live her life?

When the time came for this beloved author to leave, women still stood filed in line with anxious faces and praying for a miracle to meet their word-wielding hero. Women had to be turned away. Sad, disappointed women reluctantly left the line sulky and teary-eyed with their unsigned books clutched in their hand. I packed up the unpurchased books, tried to process all that had happened, all that I witnessed, and all I could think of was “for the love.”

Fast forward to this week, the same author, and her fans. Things are different. Some of the women who have loved, adored and been devoted to this author, are now crucifying her for comments and HER opinions published in recent articles. These women (and some men) are questioning her faith, her integrity, her intentions, and her abilities as a Christian leader.

Let me make sure we get this straight. These women and men are not Muslims, Jews, or atheists they are Christians against other Christians. Comments have been flying through cyber space and landing hotly in notification boxes. Our very own sisters and brothers taken up in arms against each other. If you think the world is not watching, you are wrong. If you think the Devil is not having a hay day, kicking back with a martini, legs stretched out, smiling as he is watching this situation turn into a train-wreck like a bad reality TV show….you are wrong!

While I fully believe there needs to be accountability and responsibility if you are in a place of leadership, and especially if you have been entrusted with a very large sphere of influence, I also believe that there are right and wrong ways to go about disagreeing. I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinions. I believe we are all on a journey of faith and it is healthy to wrestle with God and each other over questions of faith. I believe those in leadership should have mentors and advisers to talk things out and pray through tough issues.

Disagreements are going to happen BUT there is a proper place and certain time to work them out. Public arenas with millions of eyes watching and ears listening lead to greater separation and move us further away from the unity God designed for His people. People who are not Christians (or even Christians that have stepped away from their faith) are watching and listening. And some Christians are on holy crusades of righteousness using Pharisaical phrases and speech, throwing darts and fiery opinions out from behind the safety of a computer screen.

All the while, the world is rotting away. People are starving from hunger. Some are thirsty from lack of clean water. There are prisoners of addiction and self-sabotaging ways.  Lost and lonely people have been wandering for far too long. People are without hope and we have a gift to share. If our arguments, our very public arguments are distracting people and drawing attention to ourselves instead of drawing attention to the One, the gospel, the only One who can bring satisfaction, light, life,  freedom, and peace, then shame on us!

I can only imagine what it might feel like to be the author this week. The real live person behind the interviews and articles. A human who claims to love Jesus and others and has shown it through many good works, written words and the thoughts she has shared.  Keep her in your prayers!

Let this is also be a reminder why we must not put each other on pedestals and remember people are just that….people, imperfect people. As God extends His grace to us, we must extend grace to others especially our sisters and brothers. That includes grace in our words, our social media postings, and even in our thoughts. It also means addressing disagreements in a Biblical way.

There is enough chatter and noise in the world. In fact, I am adding more to it by writing this blog post. I would like to encourage you, if you are a follower of Jesus, to be wise to distractions and splits, consider using some self-control with your opinions, and immediately run to Jesus in prayer and read your Bible. In the meantime, I am going to shut my mouth and go put my words into action. Pray, love well and live faithfully!

(If you are still reading….enjoy this video…think about the words… be inspired….and keep praying and living out your faith. )


Peacocks and Nuns

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One of the reasons why I love walking is the interesting things that I might see or the unique people I might come across. There are routes and roads that I have been down a million times before but I always manage to find something new to discover.  I make it my mission to keep my eyes open, searching for a sort of keepsake or souvenir from the day. I collect these mental images and memories like snapshots filling an imaginary photo album that documents all of my “journeys.”

There have been many interesting encounters. A lot of them involving birds. I have quietly ducked under a perched hawk, followed an Eastern blue bird off the road and into the woods, and one time I met a handsome peacock.

I was living on a small island then. The quiet island roads and spectacular ocean views made walking a gift and a treat. It was a glorious, sunny day. The sea breeze was salty, cool and refreshing. I did not have a care in the world or any particular place to be.

As I walked along,  I started to hear this strange click-clacking sound coming from behind me. There was nothing else on the road. No people, no houses, no cars. I turned around to see what it was. Coming up behind me was a power-walking peacock. One big, beautiful, blue peacock shimmering in the sun. As the peacock came up to me, it did not slow its pace but looked me squarely in the face and straight into my eyes as if to say, “Excuse me! You are blocking my way!”

A little taken back, that a bird could display such arrogant behavior, I moved out of its way  to watch that proud peacock pass me and continue his walk with his beautiful tail swaying behind him. I have always wondered what that peacock was doing or where he has heading. Even though I never came across him again, our chance meeting has left me with a lasting impression of peacocks.

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Then there are the people I meet. A skull-cap motorcycle rider, the UPS guy, groups of teenagers, and the three cheerful, preppy, older ladies who all look the same and walk their dogs together.

Yesterday morning was abnormally warm and the sun was peaking out from an overcast sky.  I laced up my sneakers, secured my ear buds in place and pumped up Toby Mac on my phone. Dance-walking down my driveway, I turned on to the side walk. The beat of the music took over my steps and provided rhythm to my thoughts.

I was about twenty minutes into my walk when something caught my attention. I noticed two people gracefully making their way down a side street. Their long, black clothing and head coverings looked out of place in my empty, quiet neighborhood. I stopped to “check” my phone, very intrigued to see two nuns quietly walking and talking in the middle of the street.  Maybe they were visiting friends? Maybe they were praying through the neighborhood?  Regardless of the reason, their presence provided peace. It made me happy to see them and I purposely stalled to say hello and tell them what a beautiful morning it was. After they went by (and I snapped a picture), I continued on my way with a smile and my heart full with gratitude that we live in such a diverse world that still contains hope and good things.

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All these encounters makes me wonder what lasting impression do I leave on people. How do I impact someone’s day?  Am I leaving a lasting impression of cheerfulness, friendliness or peace? Or is it one of pride and arrogance like my peacock friend?  Am I like the hawk? Are people ducking to get out of my way and avoid my talons? Or am I more like a blue bird leading others to new discoveries and encouraging people to take a new and braver path? Oh, I so hope that I am more like a blue bird or a peaceful nun.

Our world is full of beauty and adventure. It is filled with good people and people who may need and desire more goodness in their life. Open your eyes to see the beauty and the adventure. Open your eyes to see the people who need a lasting impression of love and hope. Discover what makes your heart sing and search your heart to find ways to bypass paths that should be avoided. Discover ways that your heart can lead you to help other people. Bravely explore and move forward. And help others do the same.