Reading and Hope

There’s a little girl who comes to Thursday Night Lights who has captured my heart. 

We’ve talked about Joan before (I’ve changed her name) but seeing her this week gave me an idea…

She’s out of school for the summer, so I know Joan spends most of her time alone. 

Several weeks ago, I was given some books by a friend who moved back to Shreveport, Louisiana. Many of them were young adult fiction books. 

I asked Joan if she likes to read and she does! Next Thursday I’m bringing her a few books. 

Joan’s 11, which is around the time my own love of reading took off. I bet Joan will have the same experience. 

No matter how bleak the circumstances, the settings of a good book draw you in.

 I’m not recommending reading as a method of escapism, but more as a method of seeing that there’s a world beyond your circumstances. 

Imagination is a powerful force. 

My hope for Joan is that she doesn’t look at her circumstances and think, “This is it.”

Obviously, a relationship with Jesus is what Joan really needs. And I plan on talking with her more about that. 

I just remember how much reading impacted my life as a child. 

If you live in the Tulsa area and have some books you’d like to see go to a good cause, I have some friends who would greatly appreciate your generosity. 

Be a thought catcher

I surround myself with paper:

  • I carry a planner because using my phone’s calendar has never stuck with me.
  • My desk is covered in sticky notes and scrap pages and memo pads with scribbled out notes to myself.
  • I even use Evernote, which is a digital notebook.

If I don’t grab catch a thought immediately, it’s a goner.

Do you know how many times I’ve written a great blog post in my head and planned on writing it down once I got home?

Whether you’re the most organized thought catcher that ever lived or you have 10 notebooks and scrap paper falls around your feet when you walk, just write things down!

Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets…”

The Lord was giving instructions and the first words out of his mouth were, “Write this down!”

The point of writing things down is to use that information to teach and encourage others.

None of us lack ideas.

If you’ve ever sat in a meeting, you know that everyone has great ideas–and they normally all come about the time the meeting is supposed to be over.

We just don’t catch the inspiration when the Holy Spirit gives it to us.

Grab your thoughts!

Write them down!

And then go do something with them.

 

 

 

 

The hope of a new year

2016 New Year

2016 is just hours away. The hope of a new year is upon us.

I know there are naysayers out there.

Can you hear them?

“New Year’s is just another day. If you can’t change today, you’ll never change in a new year.”

They’re not incorrect….just a little too cynical for my taste.

January 1, 2016 will be another day. Nothing magical will happen to make change any easier.

But the new year is special.

The possibilities are endless and you will change in 2016 because it’s impossible to remain alive and not change in one way or another.

The choice is up to you: Will you use the new year to change for the better or for the worse?

I looked in the mirror today and didn’t recognize myself. I have been changing so much and so fast that it surprised me.

Who is this chick looking back at me?

I’m moving 11 hours away to follow God into the adventure of a lifetime.

2015 changed me and I am better for it.

My emotions are all over the place.

I’ve been fighting back tears and waxing nostalgia and bubbling with excitement all at the same time.

Dad tells me I’m normal, but I feel a little bit crazy. I’ve never felt this much emotion at one time before. (At least, not in a healthy way.)

Take some time this New Year’s Eve to feel things out.

Count your blessings.

Set some goals.

Look in the mirror.

I bet you won’t recognize yourself in 2017.

 

 

Open doors

I know we all want to have conversations about more than the weather, celebrity gossip, and sports.

Deeper.

More meaningful.

Heart matters.

All of these phrases are used to describe the genuine, intimate relationships we desire with our friends and family.

I have some bad news though….

Small talk about the “trivial” things of life leads to open doors into the lives of others.

I’m speaking from experience–and if that doesn’t convince you then I’ll appeal to your reasoning.

Small talk helps you gain trust with others.

Trust comes with time.

Trust comes in small moments (or conversations).

Because there’s nothing worse than sharing something with an untrustworthy person.

Trust is like the roller coaster ride where you shoot straight up into the air and then the ride stops at the tip-top. You don’t know when it going to drop…..and then it does!

Whoosh!

As you drop back down, your stomach comes up into your throat.

The experience splits in two at this point:

  1. You get off the ride feeling a bit dizzy, but you’re still standing.
  2. You get off the ride and immediately hurl everywhere.

(You’re smart enough to see which situation involves a trustworthy and untrustworthy person.)

And this is the best illustration I have about trust, which leads me back to conversations.

Don’t give up on small talk. It’s a crucial part of seeing who is trustworthy and who is not.

I look at small talk as the opportunity to spot open doors.

Get to know someone, build up trust via small talk, and they will open the door for you to talk with them about the things that matter.

Don’t forget your manners either.

Busting the door down means you might not get another invitation.

Why don’t you try knocking first?

 

 

The gift of empathy

7-christmas-tree-backgroundI bumped into a bad memory last night. It happens from time to time….

I allowed myself to think back to the people involved, the events of the evening, and the décor of the room.

The emotions were strong and I found myself gasping for breath. I was choking–trapped–in the moment and all I wanted to do was run out the door.

I’m sharing this story with you because I learned something in the process:

You can deconstruct the past, face the truth, and then move on.

The reason people remain stuck in the past is that they never learn how to see it from a place of freedom.

I am free from the pain, shame, and guilt of my past. (Notice that I didn’t say sadness of my past. It’s not possible to remove the sadness.)

With time and a year of counseling, I stopped seeing my past as a bully that’s holding my present hostage and casting a shadow over my future.

I can now face up to the memories instead of running from them.

Christmas will be here in 3 days and Facebook posts are already warning us to be sensitive to the hurts and pains of others.

No one can have a good Christmas (and don’t even think of sharing your joy online) because hurting people will be scrolling through their newsfeeds.

This kind of attitude is detrimental.

Even if everyone didn’t share about their holidays, there would still be hurt in the world.

There is nothing sympathetic about making others feel guilty. Likewise, there is nothing empathetic about walking around on eggshells.

Why don’t we comfort our hurting friends and family?

Take hold of their hands, give them a hug, and sit with them through the tears.

This is genuine empathy and it leads to healing.

There’s no magic formula for grief and sadness, but genuine empathy is the greatest gift you can give this Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fences versus Prisons

“I’m cool with whatever. You decide.”

My friend looked at me with gracious (and patient) eyes as I sidestepped her question.

“I wish you’d tell me what you’re really thinking.”

The comment took me aback.

I am terrible at telling people what’s really going on inside of my head.

Never giving your input isn’t the ultimate form of humility and self-sacrifice.

You’re really hiding by slamming the door of trust and connection in someone’s face.

And you’re driving the people you love crazy.

I don’t care.

It doesn’t matter to me.

If that’s what you want to do.

We say these things, but deep down we do care and it does matter and you have wants.

It’s impossible to not care about everything.

(Can all of the exasperated people on the receiving end of these comments say, “Amen!“?)

I’m the world’s worst person at being an overly passive, peace loving person….

This is a real struggle for me.

My (un)natural tendency is to keep things buried deep down inside.

Another friend recently told me that standoffish nature in college held me back in many ways–and it’s true.

I kept people at arm’s length.

She expressed her thankfulness when I became a more open person. The change opened a lot of doors of opportunity that remained shut in years past.

Let me be very clear:

We all need to have boundaries and to guard our hearts. Prison bars and barbed wire fences, though, are a bit much.

Now, I’m building a nice fence that looks less like a maximum security prison and more like a simple property marker.

My challenge to you is to honestly answer the next question asked of you.

Can I get your opinion?

What do you prefer?

Is this something you want to do?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To whom much is given

7-christmas-tree-backgroundChristmas time is here.

Gifts will be filling up living rooms across the country. Kids are writing out lists for their families. Parents are working extra shifts to pay for these gifts.

The Christmas spirit is taking over our brains as we speak.

But what about those of us who won’t have any presents under the tree?

Whose parents are working hard just to feed their families with no money left to spare?

Kids who wish for new clothes as much as they do for a new toy?

Every Christmas, these questions bombard my mind.

I can’t help but think of the verse that says, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48).

The needs are great this Christmas–as they are all throughout the year. Something about the season of giving, though, make the needs more evident.

In other words, we’re paying attention.

What can we commit to doing this year to help others?

One of the goals for this blog is to help others. That’s my aim every time I share with you. I want this community to become a place that recognizes and meets needs.

I plan on giving money to the Big Oak Ranch, a local children’s home, to buy presents for the children in their care.

If this is something you’d be interested in doing, here’s the link:

Big Oak Ranch Christmas

Let me know what you plan on doing to give back.

Remember: To whom much is given, much is required.