Heart Wrecked

Have you ever pondered what kind of soul jerking, reality wrecking experiences twelve men must have had that would cause them to run, not walk into a life filled with persecution, pain and ultimately brutal death, simply because they refused to deny what they experienced and were compelled to share it with all.

Sure, they saw miracles, so did thousands of other people while Jesus was alive. But when they watched the life drain out of him as he hung between two grimy criminals in what would have seemed a shameful display of defeat, why didn’t they go back to life as usual and save their own skin?

What about those like the apostle Paul who didn’t know Jesus in life, but who after having a killing spree interrupted by a dramatic encounter with Jesus Spirit, immediately went from being king of the Christian killers to being a man permanently punch drunk in love with Jesus and desperate to declare His identity as God and savior to all of mankind until his gruesome death because of it?

What did these people feel? What did they see? What did they encounter that galvanized their resolve and flooded their soul with such unrelenting truth that  often death was welcomed over denying the one they called Lord?

I’ve had dreams that shook me to my core and then as the reality of the day wears on, the lasting impression of the dream that seemed so real fades to the corners of my mind without much afterthought. In the same way I’ve heard inspiring teachings, even moving sermons that I would describe as life changing, that once I’ve left the building, seem to leave me.  That’s human nature. When the emotions wear off and life is present in all its urgency, we focus on that and big ideas can often stay… ideas.

There was a reality that demanded more from the fathers of our faith, those misfits who became the mouthpiece of God to their world. It must have been a haunting reality. His words would have rung in their ears. The image of his face, etched permanently before their eyes. They. Saw. Him. They saw Him. They saw him in life. They saw him in death and they saw him live again. They encountered him. They knew him. Like a wife knows her husband, they knew him. They felt their souls shake. They buckled under the supreme pressure of what they expressed was irresistible love, wreckless forgiveness and utterly undeserved grace by a God they tangibly encountered. Their hearts were branded by the hot iron of his fiery touch. They could not ignore him. They could not forget him. They could never be the same.

What these people saw with their eyes and felt with their hands, millions more for two thousand years have been disrupted in their souls by with such gripping reality, that they can’t refuse it. What love is this? What grace is this? What truth is this? What God is this that apprehends the mind, the will, the heart and the purpose of those who encounter him, so completely that all other pleasures in life become filthy rags compared to the joy of knowing him?

His life was holy, his love scandalous and unrelenting. His sacrifice was real. He lives today and he is searching for the next heart to wreck, the next past to heal and the next purpose to give.

This is Jesus.

The Beginning and End… Your story

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Author and finisher, Alpha and Omega. He who began… will be faithful to complete. He started your story, but that’s not all. He wrote a glorious ending and He is eternally determined to bring it to pass. He decided you would be their mother, their wife, their child, their sister, their friend. Not the universe, which He made, not the choices which you made and not the circumstances that happened that you thought were beyond His reach.

Sure, you or others who affected you may have been living life floundering with little sense of direction- but don’t mistake the circumstances that life began in, with the One who began life. You were the person He chose to pray, to love, to dream and to partner with Him to bring plans to pass. The middle part is hard because of free will. You get to make choices, you get to write a lot of the story and you can make the path to His end crooked. He will make it straight in time. You may be picturing your mistakes; the marriage that ended, the promises you failed to keep, the things you  or others did to you that made life harder. He said “no weapon formed against you will prosper”. He has declared the end of the story and the story ends in victory. He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it… it was His beginning and He owns the ending.

Don’t think for a moment that He didn’t anticipate the season you are in or the choices you and others who affect you would make, for better or worse. He made provision for that. “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross…” The joy was seeing you cross the finish line HE drew. Yes he has made a way for you to run the race of faith with endurance, not always with ease, but always with access to power. However, don’t be afraid that if you or the people you love and pray for wander off, that HE won’t leave the 99 and go after the 1 to finish His story. It’s HIS. The end belongs to Him. With His last breath on earth, He declared, “IT IS FINISHED.”  He rose again and is seated now as the One victorious over death, hell and the grave. His book ends with Victory. The middle included pain, some brought by others but the greatest chosen by Him as He endured the cross. The end was written from day 1 and when He said it is finished, He said “My end is triumph”.

When you look to Him, you look at the Alpha, the Author, the Beginning of your story. Be reminded that while you or others who affect you may muddle through the middle; He who not only wrote the word, but is The Word, said this word, “It is finished” and the ending is victory. If you are discouraged, remember this: He is the bookends of your story. He chose when to start the story that is you and the end of your story is themed like His. He is on a throne, He wears a crown. Your last page says:

She won.

If you win- do you not think that the things and people that your Author and Finisher put in your heart to believe for, to stand for, to pray for and trust for… do you not believe that He has chosen those endings also? He has. You win and so does your faith. Do not stop believing.

Turn Around

scales-of-justice-ladyHave you ever been in an argument with someone who is a master turn around artist? You know what I mean; you start to share your grievance or “concern” and as if by some dark miracle of master trickery, by the end of the conversation, they have woven a web of conversation trails that all lead back to what YOU have done wrong?  As frustrating as that is, it’s not the turn around  I want to talk about. However, the idea of turning our own pointing finger around, is.

When I told my husband my “word” for the year (others), he gave me a little feedback and then shared his word with me. His word was “me”. Simple. Putting the focus on himself to be the best “he” that he can be.

Not that his word is for me to judge, but that is a concept I can buy into. On that note, I dedicate this blog to him.

What if more often, when we feel the need to point out how someone else is falling short, we develop the discipline of turning the pointing finger around at ourselves… at least before, we broach the subject of their “need to change” list. I’m not claiming this is a particularly original idea, I have to give credit where credit is due. “Hypocrite, take the plank out of your own eye, then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brothers.” sound familiar? Jesus said it. Moreover, if He took the time to shape the concept into a lesson, I think it makes sense to embrace it as a practice central in relationship dynamics.

I know if I’m honest, I typically speak first, reflect later, especially when I recognize a supreme breach in someone else’s character… uh hem, they did something I didn’t like. It bugged me. It made me mad. It was wrong. It was stupid. It was selfish. It shouldn’t have happened. That gives me the right to avail them to all my corrective knowledge, right?  Perhaps if I found out that I too had actually been the product of a mysterious virgin birth and in a pinch, could turn my Ozarka bottles contents into a crowd pleasing vintage vino, THEN I could get away with that. Probably not so much if I’m just pretty irritated. The funny thing is that the more I jump other people’s case for doing dumb things, the more irritated I become. It’s like a cosmic , “ I’m annoyed at everyone feedback loop” and I become the authoritative corrector of all.

Here is what I want to work on and maybe,  it would be beneficial for us all to try more often; making my annoyance with others, become my cue to self reflect. We are all afraid of losing, all the time. It’s human nature and it causes us to make fear based decisions and to forcefully attempt to change other people, more aggressively than we want to change ourselves. It makes us controlling, reactionary and much less self-reflective. Yuck.

I wrote this “look at myself first” creed to help this practice to sink in more deeply:

“I will live by the law of grace. I do not behave perfectly. I will not expect from others, what I cannot give in return. When I feel angry, I will not speak. When I feel wronged, I will not assume. I will examine myself first. I will not be a hypocrite. I will not judge others for things I know I myself have done. I will not condemn or punish others for mistakes I know I have made as well. I will believe the best of others. I will openly admit my shortcomings  and be humble. I will pay much more attention to what I can change within than what others could do differently, to make me happier. I will love others, encourage others and pray for others even when my instinct is to simply protect myself.”

I find it very compelling that Jesus called our faults, planks and everyone elses, specks. Fascinating. It’s as if the more we get honest and reflect on what we need to change, the less marred we view others and perhaps the less we feel they need to change and who knows??… It may just make us better at loving people and happier all around.  I wonder how many marriages would be saved, friendships reconciled, family problems resolved and general forgiveness and healing would happen, if we were all more focused on fixing “me”.

I’m going to try to find out…

A Health Creed

I won’t be sick. I won’t  feel bad. I won’t ache. I won’t be lethargic. I won’t be moody. I won’t have cancer. I won’t have headaches.  I won’t have diabetes. I won’t have high blood pressure. I won’t have a stroke. I won’t have thyroid problems. I won’t have constant symptoms that drain me.  I will not be another disease statistic. I won’t be a prisoner in my own body.

I want energy.  I want to be alert. I want to be happy. I want great sleep. I want to feel attractive in my clothes and out of them. I want to have great skin. I want to feel connected to life. I want to be up for anything. I want to feel young. I want to bounce out of bed to face the day. I want to attract healthy people.  I want to feel so good that I can take on any project or adventure I choose.  I want to experience life to the fullest and I will. Because my body is healthy and fit for all the purposes God has for me.

I am not a victim to circumstances, or weak will. I have the power of choice. I have a strong mind, a powerful spirit and a loving heart and I act as such by making choices that reflect the highest purpose for my body, temporary though it may be; I respect the fact that God gave it to me as a tool to accomplish my greatest dreams and His highest calling.

I eat food full of the best nutrition I have access to, in order to fuel my body to its fullest potential and seeing as how I was made in the image of God, that’s a lot of potential. Moderation means something different to me than it does to others. I don’t moderately poison myself with processed or fatty foods and sugar on a daily basis; simply because it tastes good- I’m smarter than that. I take full responsibility for my health, because it’s my happiness and my future.

I am powerful and full of promise. I owe it to myself to see what I am truly capable of, when I give myself the kind of nurturing I deserve.  I don’t make excuses for making bad decisions. I head them off at the pass, by being prepared and having a plan for every situation, every day. I continually educate myself about health and wellness, so that my self care can evolve daily and I can defy age expectations and thwart illness and disease, forever.

I do not eat for comfort, because I am comforted by a loving God and the knowledge that I am in control of this body. I do not eat from boredom, because I am excited by the prospects of the future I have planned. I do not eat poorly for fun, because I am entertained by feeling good and enjoying the people around me. When I have time to myself, I plan for a successful tomorrow or I enjoy pampering myself with things that are good for me and will make me better.

I am not tempted by others poor choices. They are not my example; I am theirs, because I am a leader and a strong one. This life was made for me and I was made to conquer this life, in this healthy body, with this strong mind, this heart and this spirit. No one will keep from me what is rightfully mine.

Victory is mine.

Three steps to change the world

I regularly have moments of discontent when I reflect on what I want my life’s legacy to be once I relocate to heaven and my life on earth is complete. It’s a burden that grows the older I get, because I feel a sense of personal earthly purpose that has an expiration date. I have had a purpose filled life but I never want yesterdays meal to be what fills me today. It’s been my experience that most other people also have a sense of yearning for more. “More” can be more influence, more creativity, more discoveries, more meaningful relationships, more impact or simply a vague craving for more fulfillment. I believe that yearning is intentionally placed and meant to keep us awake to our destiny and alert to our Creator, who paved a personal path for us. Our yearnings are as diverse as our fingerprints and telling of the individual impact we were designed to make in this world.

The most unsatisfying station in life and I speak from experience, is to lack direction and flounder without true knowledge of how to create the impact on your world that you believe you were born to have. While there are seasons we all brave that can muddy our vision of ourselves; divorce, troubled teens, job loss, death of a loved one, illness, failure etc., there comes a time that we must all wake up to the deep callings that life circumstances shouldn’t smother, so that our life isn’t living us. Here are a few guideposts  that can help anyone recalibrate their inner compass and aid in decisions that can lead  to the world changing lives we all long for.

1. Drill down to what drives you. Forget what your life has been defined by thus far, whether that is soaring success, miserable failure or the dreaded in-between. Lose any labels you’ve been given,  forget former accomplishments and failures and what you’ve been “doing” for a paycheck.  Think only of the things you’ve done, read, seen or heard of that have made your heart throb and left you hungry for more of it’s kind. When I see a powerful movie, listen to a moving speaker or read a book that changes me, I tear up and say to myself and to God, I want to inspire others. That’s what moves me. Reduce down the memories you have of your life, including your childhood to what deeply satisfied your soul and made you feel powerful. Write those memories down and expose the “theme” of what moves you. This could be defined as the essence of your drive.

2. Find a Hero in the realm of your passion. We could consider it the blueprint God gave us to reach our potential. Teacher and student, Master and disciple are ancient but relevant concepts. Only pride drives us to do it alone, or have to invent “the way”. Past or present, living or dead, find one or several heroes who’s lives you envy for all the right reasons and become their student. As lofty as it sounds, if their life inspires you so deeply, embrace the possibility that it is because you were designed with a similar purpose as them.  Study all there methods, read their books, watch their videos, speeches, biographies or build a relationship with them if you can. Imagine the entire human experience as a relay race of legacies and you need to find the person/people who’s baton’s are passing to you.

3. Make a brave, decisive move. We are all dreamers. Many are called, few are chosen. The few, I believe are the ones who choose to run when the “call” gun goes off. If the gun for your passion has fired and you’re still looking around for permission to take off, someone else could claim your impact. I heard a quote today “Everyone shows up to the battlefield with fear, but can you overcome that fear to go on to victory, that’s the question”. Fear often accompanies our most important battles. Ask yourself, what would my hero do next? What does my heart tell me, but I fear is too hard? That still small voice is quite possibly the voice of your Creator, quietly nudging you on to the next step of your intention filled life. BANG. Take the next step, pray for guidance, thank God for the outcome and realize you were born with every ounce of equipping to complete your biggest dream or you wouldn’t have been given that dream. Do you need to submit something to a publisher, apply for a different job, start or join a non-profit, submit an invention, jump off a new business, donate to a charity, apply to adopt a child, start a publication or any other world changing step to get going? The world needs you to be brave and decisive. Today.

I would love to hear people share the bold, world impacting  decisions they are making. Please feel free to post responses to my Facebook or twitter that may inspire someone else to take a deeper look and do something brave, purpose filled and fulfilling.

Happy world changing!

Three Confidence Killers

Helping people regain their confidence in one form or another has been my profession and my passion for over 10 years. The “job” has taken different forms at different times. Some have yielded paychecks, others made me wealthy in spirit but the theme has been consistent and  the truths I have learned on the journey are universal.

Looking bad, feeling bad, being bad. Bad, bad, bad. These are the three confidence killers I have found at the root of many peoples low self esteem. When any one of these parts of  self are out of whack, our confidence sinks like the great Titanic. The good news is that even when we hit an iceberg of ugly or sick or sin, we can still patch things up and continue our voyage, just as strong as ever.

Let me first establish that the confidence killers I will talk about and the methods for changing them are based on the understanding that each of us have a personal best. It is not other peoples measure of our best or their expectation of what our best should be; it is ours alone, and thus serves as a frame of reference we can only measure within.

Looking bad. Working with weight loss and hair restoration clients has taught me that when someone doesn’t like the way they look, it gives them shame and shame robs confidence.  This goes for every appearance frustration someone can have: missing a tooth, hair, bad skin, overweight or a general feeling of frumpyness. It is NOT vanity to want to look as good as you believe you can. If anything outward improvements reflect a sense of personal value. Others sense that and put their confidence in you as well.

  • Pay attention to the little things: manicure your nails, whiten your teeth, put on lotion, freshly shave and smell good
  • Commit to fix that one nagging outward insecurity- that scar, tattoo mistake, missing tooth, whatever distracts you!
  • If it’s not a 10 get rid of it. If you feel stylish and handsome/pretty when you put it on, it’s a keeper. If you make excuses for why you keep that outfit, like a bad boyfriend… get rid of it. You’re better than that.
  • Get professional advice. Not sure what to wear for your body type or how to style your hair, what colors you look good in, how to clear up your skin or get your hair back? Ask someone who does.
  • Decide to find, love and accentuate your best features
  • Be willing to invest in yourself.  Sometimes change costs money… decide how much you value your confidence and the investment should make sense

Feeling bad. It’s hard to focus on heaven when you feel like hell. In other words, it’s very difficult to pursue ambitious goals or take risks when you feel tired, sick or have painful symptoms. When I have energy, mental stamina and feel fit, my confidence is through the roof.  Life can be a battle in many ways and feeling sick or tired is like showing up to a gun fight with a dull knife. When I managed weight loss clinics, I saw first hand how diet effects mental sharpness, creativity, mood, overall health/healing and energy/stamina, sex drive, which ALL in turn give us the fuel to conquer our giants and enjoy life to the fullest. I firmly believe our body is the equipment we have been given to carry out our God given purpose. If it’s broken,  then naturally our confidence in our ability to win our personal races takes a hit. Get fit. You’re better than those big pants and tired mind. Even a few steps in the right direction will perk your confidence, as your inner man says “yes! I’m doing the right thing!”.

  • Read books on health/weight loss/healing
  • Start some form of exercise
  • Get more sleep, eat more vegetables and “fast” from fast food
  • Quit fad diets and make it a goal to be strong and healthy
  • Make yourself accountable to someone who cares about you who can support your commitment
  • Join others on this journey somehow to create a support system that will nurture success

Being Bad. About that shame thing. As polar opposites, shame and confidence just can’t co-exist. They will duke it out in your head until one of them gets knocked out! A conscience is a terrible thing to waste. Sometimes we don’t feel like holding our head up and can’t pin down why. There are two types of “being bad” that will rock even the most successful, fit, geniuses world. 1. Actually doing bad things that your conscience tells you not to and 2. Believing bad things about yourself that aren’t justified. If we are “being bad” then how can we expect our inner man to stand up and walk tall as if we know we are good? The “bad” can range from simply being negative and thinking judgmentally about others to lying, cheating, breaking laws or hurting people in word or deed.

  • Gut check- let that still small voice have a moment on the floor and really really listen and refuse to make excuses
  • Confess- to yourself, to those that matter and even to God and ask for forgiveness
  • Promise-yourself and others to be better
  • Act differently- now. Don’t wait. Change. The way you think, the things you do or the way you treat others

Now, on believing bad things about yourself that aren’t justified.  As a women’s counselor, it was obvious that when someone believed they were bad, it was  a wall between them and their potential.  Only the truth could break it down. Find the source of the negative voice in your head. Who told you, you were bad? Do they deserve to define you? What trauma happened that broke you? Does that event deserve to write your future? You must discover the truth about yourself in order to confidently step into your dreams.

  • Read books that renew your mind, renew your outlook and renew your faith
  • Spend time with people who renew your mind, your outlook and your faith
  • Settle on the truth that you were born for greatness and forgive those who’ve held you back. Choose to take that power back.
  • Act in a new direction and feelings often follow… Decide to let yourself look your best and feel your best so that the new you is expressed

Look better, feel better and be better. You were born for unique greatness. Confidence is your birthright!

“Self confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings”

~Samuel Johnson

HI, my name is Purpose, how can I help you?

Having trouble getting going in the morning? Do you feel like you are peeling your eyelids off of eyeballs that just want more sleeeeep?

As I read my sisters post on Facebook this morning about how she wouldn’t get to stay in bed and enjoy the sludgy rainy cold from under her cozy covers, because she had clinicals, I made a note.  This girl has been in school while simultaneously raising two beautiful little girls for longer than most doctors are in med school. Ten years she’s been at it. She juggled mothering, being a wife and making a home every day, while inching her way through all her basics to finally get to nursing school. She still has two years left.

I wanted to cry as I started to post a sarcastic, yet encouraging message to her, as sisters do. My heart swelled with admiration as I considered what her main motivators must be. I know her well and I understand that she wants a better living for her family, she wants to be a good example to the girls and she wants to like what she does. But those are all what I call “fringe motivators”. Kind of like “fringe benefits”. They aren’t the main reason you do something, they are extras.

Sophia dreams of making a difference. She imagines meeting nervous moms, about to bring new life into the world and becoming their coach, their friend and one of the first faces their new baby will see. I know that when she is exhausted and sick to tears of reading one more chapter about dosing, she must imagine the exhilaration of making a pivotal moment in a women’s life, better than she ever thought possible. It’s this that sweetens the goodbye to her little ones, every day.

When the bed is warm and the vision of the back of your eyelids is more comforting than the vision of your “work”, think with purpose. Imagine meeting someone today through your “job” who needs you. They don’t just need what you “do”, they need YOU. Imagine they come in contact with you and they see your warmth, your genuine interest in them, your concern for making their life better. Think on the impact this will have on those who encounter you. What can you give them, that they can’t get every day, from others in your line of work? Decide what you will offer that is unique to you, unique to your understanding of your purpose and your character.

Choose to be big today. Choose to be unforgettable. Choose to make a difference. Your imprint on others by caring about the details, caring about their experience and imparting something priceless, is what  brings a deep sense of purpose to any day, any job and any person. We were “made” to make a difference.

It’s death to feel a lack of purpose, punching a clock to fill your day with “must dos” at a J-O-B. It’s life to know how you impact others. Choose life and love your work!