Archive | June 2012

6/12/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – Zip your lip.

This is another post inspired by Pastor Becky and is related to this post about discernment.

There are times when I feel compelled to share the truth with someone.  My compulsion to share may not be at all related to the other person’s need or readiness to know.  When that happens, I am often quite surprised that the other person reacts so negatively.  I can accuse them of defensiveness or irrational reactions, or I may think they can’t face the truth, or that they don’t like me or my words just because I don’t agree with them.  In fact, often they are just reacting to my delivery, or my timing, or my lack of understanding about the whole picture.  Over time, I have learned to listen more, watch for queues and practice a soft delivery.  When I speak truth, I try to do it in a way that would be welcome to my ears if I was on the receiving end.  I am a work in progress, but I have gotten better.

I have learned that sometimes the best truth I can share is none.  Sometimes I just need to zip my lip.  There is a time and a place for truth.  Just because I believe it to be truth, doesn’t mean that I should share it.

So today, my advice to you is to learn to zip your lip.

Ask, Seek, Knock.

It is important to ask what is going on in someone’s life (understand the “truth” from a different perspective, or at least with additional color), seek perspective from their point of view, knock on the doors of their heart.  And if they open the door, if they invite you in, your truth will not only be more credible, but more welcome.

This will be frustrating.  You will mess up.  Sometimes you won’t ever get to say what is on your mind.  All of those things are ok.

What is important is that you always respect the place the other person comes from.  Recognize that your truth is not going to be their truth, and that nobody likes to hear that they need to be fixed.  Relationships are more important than your opinions…and you have to know that your “truth” is actually just your opinion and it is no more or no less important than someone else’s.

If you find yourself wondering why people don’t want to listen to you, why they don’t like what you have to say, and sometimes don’t like you, ask yourself, “Should I just zip my lip?”  I think you will find that more often than not, the answer may be yes.

And yes, I recognize that you may think  that I need to practice this one some more.  And you are probably right.  Maybe we can work on it together.

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A letter to my daughter on her graduation day…

(This is shared with permission from the graduate.)

My beautiful precious Katie girl,

It seems like only yesterday that I was dropping you off on your first day of kindergarten. One of the moms said, “Well, this is it. We had our chance.” I cried all the way home, because you were growing up too fast. Little did I know that was just the beginning. (And by the way…that mom was a fruitcake. I had LOTS more opportunities to mess up after that!)

On this milestone day, know that I am so proud of you. Every day, I am in awe that I get the privilege of being your mom.

Do you remember when you learned to ride a bike without training wheels? I thought you would NEVER learn. And you were so stubborn. You just didn’t want to do it. You couldn’t get past your fear of falling down, and nothing I said could convince you that knowing how to ride a bike was worth a few bumps and scrapes. I begged, cajoled, and probably even yelled. I told you that learning to ride a bike was a necessary life skill and EVERYONE needs to learn it. I told you that you would be left out of lots of fun things. And like so many other things when you were that age, you just weren’t going to hear it.

Then one day, we put the bike in the car and went to the school. The intention was to use the parking lot as a wide open space. But the parking lot was too fast, and you were afraid. For some reason, we went onto the baseball diamond to try it on grass. You couldn’t get going on the grass, but the dirt provided just enough resistance that you were able to get some speed but not feel out of control. In no time, you were riding around the bases while I stood in the middle yelling and jumping up and down that you were DOING IT!!! I don’t know which one of us was more excited. What I learned that day is that you really wanted to learn to ride but fear was holding you back. You needed a soft place to land. The grass and dirt of that baseball diamond were more forgiving than the pavement and that soft place gave you all the courage you needed.

The stubbornness that you displayed about riding a bike was not atypical for you. From the day you were born, you knew what you wanted and you weren’t afraid to let the whole world know if you weren’t getting it. On the night you were born, you were screaming so much that the nurses insisted on taking you to the nursery so I could rest a little. I could hear you yelling all the way down the hall (so of course I didn’t rest). When they brought you back, they said, “This one is gonna be a lawyer. She has a lot to say. ” That didn’t end at infancy. Oh the tantrums you would throw in your toddler and preschool years! I’ve never seen such persistence. When I was completely at my wits end in those particularly headstrong days, I remember thinking, “That girl has balls. Nobody is going to mess with her.” Even though I wanted to refine that stubborn streak in you, I never wanted you to lose it, because I knew it would be that determination that would make you lead instead of follow. It would give you the courage to speak up. It would give you the strength to stand up for yourself. And if you could get past your fear, it would give you the stick to it-ness that would catapult you into a successful future.

Today, as you take ride off on another kind of journey, with your refined determination, this is my advice to you. It seems so inadequate, but it comes from my heart.

Take chances. Be willing to risk bumps and bruises to go after the things that you really want. When fear is holding you back, and you need an extra dose of courage, know that I will always be there cheering you on, and I will always give you a soft place to land. Stand up. Speak out. Try. Fail. Try again. Always remember who you are and where you came from. Love. Live. Fly.

I love you more than I could ever express. I will be the one in the audience who starts crying when I hear the first note of Pomp and Circumstance. They will be tears of pride and joy. Congratulations baby girl. Today is the first day of the best of your life. (And don’t worry. I’ll stop crying eventually…but maybe not until tomorrow.)

6/2/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – Believe

Faith really can move mountains.

A little over two years ago, my dear friend Kristen was given unimaginable news.  She was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon cancer that had spread to her liver.  It is hard for me to even imagine how she and her family processed this news.  As her friends, we were shocked, scared, stunned really.

This is Kristen today:
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Today, we celebrate her battle and her victory.  Friends and family joined her to walk in the area’s first 5K in support of colorectal cancer research and funding, “Get Your Rear in Gear”.  The team shirts say, “Rump Shakers – Never fear. We are here for Kristen’s rear.”

I don’t know how much you know about color cancer, but a stage IV diagnosis is about as bad of news as you can get.  To many, it is a death sentence.  But not Kristen.  I could tell you what the odds were.  Kristen doesn’t know this (until now) but I researched the odds.  I did what you aren’t supposed to do researched on the internet to try to determine her chances.  I cried my eyes out that day.  I was devastated.  I won’t mention the numbers I found because they didn’t mean anything to Kristen.  Numbers are just averages, and she isn’t average.  She was young, otherwise healthy and had the kind of faith that really can move a mountain.  She decided that she was going to kick cancer’s ass, and that is just what she did.  She had two MAJOR operations to remove the infected part of her colon and part of her liver, had setbacks with infection and healing, spent a combined several weeks in the hospital, and went through two separate rounds of chemo.   During that time, she never stopped smiling, never stopped believing.   The prevailing joke was that she made the whole “cancer” thing up for attention…that is how good she looked throughout.

She taught me that faith is everything.  Believing is everything.  The love and faith of family and friends is everything.  I’m no dummy.  I know there were times when she got discouraged and had doubts, but she had this massive contagious faith thing that she had spread to all the people around her.  That faith grew in all of us, and I hope there were times that our belief carried her when hers was feeling shaky.

Sometimes when things seem absolutely impossible, you just have to believe.  Believe in a truth that doesn’t make sense and defies conventional wisdom.  Believe in the faith that sustains you and believe that you can spread that faith around.  Miracles happen every day.  Not only is Kristen my hero, but she is a walking talking SMILING miracle, not just because she beat this terrible thing, but because she inspired us, made us believe, increased our faith…and that gift IS one of life’s miracles.
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6/1/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – Make room for others.

This post is inspired by a message delivered by the amazing Pastor Becky last Sunday…a message that I needed to hear.

Life is full of lots of roads.  There are the regular city roads, with just enough room (most of the time) for free flowing traffic in either direction.  There are super-highways with multiple lanes of speeding cars and there are the small winding roads and paths, the narrow ones with just enough room for one.

It is on the narrow paths that we really have to pay attention.  We have to take turns, look for ways to let others get by, and even lend a hand to get over a particularly bumpy, steep or difficult part.  It is on the small narrow paths, the ones that can seem treacherous and scary, that we learn to make room for others.  We can’t just speed through oblivious to who might be walking or riding beside us.  We have to pay attention, be mindful, share the space.

When  you find yourself on a narrow path, turn down the music and turn off the distractions and just pay attention.  Pay attention to the people around you.  See who needs help and who needs a little extra room.  Step aside to let someone pass.  Lend a hand to someone who needs a boost.  Look around to see the hand outstretched in help to you.  These paths are narrow, but they don’t need to be traveled alone.

When you are frustrated by the slowness, the bumpiness and the general difficulty of the narrow paths, ask God to give you the feet for the path.  Instead of impatiently asking for the path to be cleared, ask instead that you be equipped to handle it.  Because the narrow paths really do have the best views and you don’t want to miss out.  So make room for others, and enjoy the beauty together.

The last picture is taken on a path in Hocking Hills, OH.  This particular path is on the property where Mark and I got married.  It is a beautiful place.  And this particular path is the perfect metaphor for the paths that are best when shared.  The views have been pretty good so far!