Open doors

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


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!


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?



Wrestling with the Truth

IMG_1694Who doesn’t love stories about go-getters who look adversity in the eyes and say, “I know you don’t believe in me, but I’m going to do it anyway”?

I know that I love to read about the tenacious efforts of other people.

Their lives are filled with adventure and learning. No amount of barriers or persecution will keep them from achieving their goals.

Are you excited yet? Can I get a hip, hip, hooray?

But there’s one person you don’t cheer loud enough for. One person who you think is limited or needs to be limited. One person who must not try unless success is guaranteed.

Yourself. Or, in my case, myself.

I’m not talking about becoming a pompous jerk who is self-absorbed.

I’m not talking about getting angry when others do well.

So what am I talking about then?

  • Allowing yourself to believe that you are talented, equipped, and able to do all the things God puts in your heart to do.
  • Allowing yourself to believe that now is the time to live your life.
  • Allowing yourself to try–even if you fail–and knowing that your efforts are not in vain.

Maybe I should just stick a Dear Audra at the front of this post and call it a day……

I struggle with these truths.

In the face of a great adventure with a greater purpose, I want to throw up. Knowing that all of the risk and work will result in a beautiful story, a God story, doesn’t make it any easier.

Remember what we talked about yesterday?

Following the voice of God does not always leave you comfortable.

But I would rather have holy discomfort than stay in any comfort zone I build for myself.

I want to be tenacious, but I need some help. Help from the Holy Spirit and help from you too.

Karaoke and Creativity

I am a BIG fan of karaoke.

Ask my friends.

There’s no “I’m only going to sing one song” with me. I put 5 songs in the hat and ask that the Dr. Peppers keep coming.

I enjoy karaoke because no one is concerned with perfection.

You will not sound just like Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift. And that’s okay!

Of course, being able to carry a tune helps, but no one is disappointed if you can’t.

Ready to sing?

Ready to sing?

I know there are other karaoke lovers out there.

Even for those of who wouldn’t sing karaoke for a million dollars, I know you sing in the shower or in the car.

We all need a creative outlet and that’s why everyone loves music.

There’s a reason bands have the biggest tribes in the world.

“Look at them,” we think, “they get to do what they love for a living.”

I wish school and work was more like karaoke night at the local greasy spoon. More people would be willing to be creative, to put themselves out there.

Everyone is creative. There is no exception.

But many of us are afraid to write, to sing, to dance, to paint–whatever it is you do.

Maybe someone laughed at you.

Maybe your parents discouraged you.

Maybe a teacher called you dumb.

Critics are everywhere and they want you to stay small. Most of the time, though, it has nothing to do with you. They want you to stay small because their dreams were crushed or they’re jealous.

I want to encourage you to stop hiding. Don’t be afraid to show up.

Take some advice from a karaoke lover: Sing your hardest. Quit trying to be perfect.

Things left unsaid

Many times I’ve felt bad because I needed to shut up and I didn’t.

Why did I say that?

Why can’t I keep my big mouth shut?

If you want to meet a connoisseur of crow, look no further. It goes great with a big slice of humble pie.

But, more often than not, my regret comes from a different place:

Why didn’t I say anything?

When I look back, there’s a lot of things I wanted to say. The words died on my tongue.

I wish now that I still had my childhood journals because I wrote down all of my rebuttals–after the fact.On paper, I was the most self-confident, well spoken person.

My battle with rejection kept me from saying much. It was easier, I believed, to not say anything at all than to lose a relationship–even if the relationship was unhealthy.

This obsession with not being rejected didn’t lead to greater acceptance. It only led to more loneliness.

I honestly believed that being a doormat was my best choice.

Each time a muddy boot plowed over me, I took that pain and buried it deep, but you can only bury things for so long.

Stuffing emotions is a lot like taking trash to a landfill. The hole is deep but it fills up to overflowing fast. No matter how much you pack the trash down, there comes a time when full is full.

I encourage you to not remain silent. I understand that confrontation is not easy. Not standing up for yourself, though, only leads to frustration and regret.

What you have to say is important.

You are important.

It’s time to take off your “Wipe Your Paws” t-shirt.

One Uppers and Comparisons

We’ve all told a story and had someone pull a one up.

I’ve told a one up story or two or twenty….

It’s something that I am more conscious of now as I hang out with friends because there’s nothing worse than being one upped.

No one likes a One Upper either.

Here’s an example:

My first bass

My first bass

I went fishing this summer and caught two (small) large mouth bass–my first–along with a few brim and trash fish. It was a big deal for me! I was excited. Pictures were taken and hoorahs were shared with my family.

A few days later, I told an acquaintance about the trip.

“That’s nothing. I’ve caught 25 fish during one trip.”

My first catfish

My first catfish (It was a baby)

I had to admit their story was better.

Fishing is something I enjoy, but I’m not very good at it. I could’ve caught a lot of fish that day. However, my dead cat like reflexes, combined with being distracted by the beauty of the scene around me, meant that many fish passed me by (after eating my bait, of course).

I was still proud, though, of my two fish.

My conversation ended like this:

“Wow. It sounds like you had a great time. I’m pretty sure I haven’t caught 25 fish in my lifetime. But I am proud of my haul. I had fun too.”

Remember how I told you perfectionism is the enemy?

Comparison is an enemy too.

Someone will always be bigger, better, prettier, more talented, and smarter than you.

But what the world needs is for you to show up.

There’s only one ____________ (insert your name here).

You are special.

I know it’s easy to forget–I do it all the time!

Some days it feels like I’m the most average, boring person in the world.

But that is not true.

Put your measuring stick away.

You are special.

You are enough.

Go to Hell, Michigan

I’m sure you’re familiar with the expression “There must be a special kind of hell for ________.”

It’s a saying that we use when people are so mean, so evil that we think there’s no hope of redemption for them.

Did you know that hell is a part of our vernacular?

  • I’d go to hell and back for him/her.
  • Our world’s going to hell in a hand basket.
  • They’ve been through hell.
  • I’m trapped in a living hell.
  • Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.

The list goes on and on….

Seriously, I googled “colloquial expressions about hell” and found over 50! (Link below)

But my favorite use of hell is when we spell it out–for the children’s sake, of course.

“I told Bob he could go to h-e-double l.” 

Which leads me to wonder why the people of Hell, Michigan don’t use this phrase as a tourism tag line?

The forecast in Hell is...

The forecast in Hell is…

Go to Hell, Michigan today!

I find it ironic that a large majority of people claim to not believe in hell, and yet never question their vernacular.

This is a subject that needs to be discussed more.

As a Christian, I believe that hell is a real place.

I knew a boy years ago that joked around about partying in hell with the demons.

Trust me. There will be no party there. That’s one invitation you need to decline.

Why do we talk about hell so much?

I think it’s because, deep down, we all know sin is at the root of every evil committed.

Everyone’s looking for hope, for a reason to live beyond themselves.

Our early heritage of faith might be outlawed in courtrooms and classrooms, but it’s present in our vernacular.

It’s time to talk about the final destination.

For your investigation:

Necessary pit stops

I’m a sucker when it comes to good lyrics.

Every song has a meaning–no matter what folks say otherwise. I’m much more forgiving about the music if the lyrics are compelling.

If a song is stuck in my head, I pull up the lyrics and read through them. Many times there’s a lesson I need to learn.

I know that meditation is a five dollar word, but it’s important.

Meditate means:

  • to focus one’s thoughts
  • to engage in contemplation or reflection

Many of us meditate all the time without realizing it.

IMG_1694Ever sat down and thought of a problem from every possible angle? Ever intensely studied a passage of scripture or literature?

That’s meditation.

I spent today meditating on song lyrics because I had a song stuck in my head.

We all need to meditate, to focus, on the important aspects of our life.

The best seasons of growth come from times of serious meditation.

Our fast paced society, though, doesn’t want you to slow down, to think.

Be impulsive! Make a rash decision!

I’ve never met anyone whose said: The key to a successful life is never slowing down, never stopping to think things through.

My meditation face...

My meditation face…

I’m learning that maintaining a fast paced lifestyle doesn’t mean I’m successful or even fulfilled. All it means is that I know how to fill up my calendar with activities.

Some people say that meditation is a waste of time, but a schedule with no margin, no breathing room, costs you double the time.

I’ve never regretted the time I’ve taken to figure things out, to explore the whys.

There’s nothing wrong with pulling off the road to check your map. Stopping for a minute is better than needlessly going 100 miles off course.

And that’s all meditation is: a necessary pit stop.

Trophy collecting is a bad hobby

I played Little League baseball as a kid and I was terrible.

Right field was where I belonged because that’s what you do with a seven year old girl with no athletic ability whose stepdad happened to be the coach.

Every season I got a trophy–even though I didn’t deserve one.

TrophyMy skills didn’t improve the one year I played softball either.

Every game my coach told me the same thing when it was my turn to bat: Take one for the team. 

So I would stand at the plate, let the softball hit me, and then walk to first base.

My only prayer was that the ball wouldn’t hit me in the spot that was bruised from the week before.

As terrible as I was, I still received a trophy…

And don’t get me started about my one year of girl’s basketball.

My only contribution to the team was scoring the winning shot for the other team, but I still received a trophy…

It would be foolish for me to display all of those trophies today, wouldn’t it? And yet that’s exactly what we do with our lives.

We are so proud of accomplishments that mean absolutely nothing.

I kill it at Candy Crush. I’m the top scorer in the Game Center! That has to count for something, right?

If you really want a trophy, go to a garage sale. They’re a dime a dozen.

If it’s a life of meaning you’re after, that requires a bit more effort.

Find something you love and get to work.

Quit flirting with mediocrity at the water cooler.

Get busy!

Yes, seasons of hard work–and even failure–will come as a result.

But I promise you that the rewards you do receive won’t end up in a garage sale.

A fugitive’s life

I went to school with a boy who never talked. It’s not that he couldn’t talk because I know that he could (a few times in class he would answer a question). He just didn’t want to talk.

He also never ate lunch.

I sat across from him everyday and watched him do homework as I ate my federally mandated portions. A friend of mine made it her personal mission to get him to talk. It never worked. He did, though, laugh at her jokes. She was quite funny.

I asked him to sign my yearbook and, to my surprise, he did!

“I shall maintain my silence.”

That’s all he wrote.

Everything about him was a mystery to me.

He was a genius who won a full paid ride to college….

He was an artist who wouldn’t participate in the senior art show….

He didn’t even come to graduation….

So many things to not know.

My biggest question is why.

Why was he hiding?

When you boil his actions down, that’s all he was doing.

He was full of potential; He had no reason to hide.

I have to ask myself the same question too.

Why am I hiding?

We all need to answer this question.

Why do we hide our dreams?

Why do we play it safe?

Why do we stay small?

I always wanted to ask that boy why, but I never wanted to ask myself.

And that’s because the answers reveal the fears I never wanted to face.

Until now.

I used to be a fugitive, running away from my own life….

I’m tired of hiding.

I am answering the questions–even when it’s painful–and slowly finding my way.

What about you?

It’s time to stop hiding, to stop living a fugitive’s life.

Answer the hard questions.

Stop running and start living.