Ordinary Hamburgers

 “This is just an ordinary hamburger. Is that okay with you?” 

I was invited to eat lunch with a few friends and they were bringing the food.

“Of course, I love ordinary hamburgers–I love all hamburgers!” 

And it’s true. I was not lying to my friends, blowing happiness and sunshine their way to be nice.

Ask anyone who knows me well: I’ve never met a hamburger that I haven’t liked. If I had to choose between a salad and a hamburger, a hamburger will win every time.

What got me thinking was the phrase “ordinary hamburger.”

My friends and I had a great conversation over ordinary hamburgers.

I loved every minute of it because I was secretly thrilled to be invited to eat an ordinary hamburger on an ordinary day for the sake of connecting with someone else.

I am a big fan of ordinary. 

If I had to choose between big, magical, once-in-a-lifetime moments and small, ordinary, yet repeatable moments, that choice is a no brainer to me. Ordinary wins every time.

Because 95% of life is ordinary. Chasing the extraordinary 5% is costing us big time. 

So, please, invite someone over for an ordinary experience, like coffee or dinner, and have some fun!

Happy Father’s Day

If your dad is still around, be sure to visit or call. 

It’s weird to think about my parents and grandparents passing away…

As a young adult, I have a hard time picturing life without my family around, but I know one day it will happen. 

Several of my friends have already lost their fathers. They don’t talk about the difficult times and their differences. 

What they talk about is how much one more day would mean. 

Nothing else matters. 

This Father’s Day I’m reminded again about the power of forgiveness, reconciliation, and love.

Hard times come–disagreements happen–but do what you can to make amends. 

Decide to forgive instead of holding a grudge. None of us knows if today is our last. 

When the end comes–for you or your loved ones–wouldn’t you rather know that you’ve done everything you can? 

Regret is a bully. 

You don’t want that hanging over you head. 

 

Cultivating friendship

My friend Michelle and I set out to visit a deaf church tonight. 

Another friend, a fellow Rhema student, told me about this church a few weeks ago, but it was during the week of Winter Bible Seminar. 

We drove around for 30 minutes looking for the church and when we finally found it, no one was there!

After our wild goose chase, Michelle and I decided to get a pizza at Mazzio’s. 

It was the first time we’ve had a chance to really talk off the clock (we work together) and there was so much I didn’t know about her. 
One of my goals for 2016 is to make time for important relationships. 

How do you do that?

Intentionality. 

Go out to dinner, grab a coffee, go for a walk…

What you do doesn’t matter. Just spend time with people. 

Developing friendships–or any relationship for that matter–will not happen without time and intentionality. 

And here’s another key: don’t spend half the time on your phone! 

Pay attention. 

Nothing will shut down a good conversation like fiddling with your phone. 

The goal is not to be BFFs with everyone. But if you never hang out with others, close friendships will not happen. 

A life with no strings

unityPeople know when you’re a phony.

I know that I can tell when someone’s treating me more like a project or a prospect. It’s the fastest way to shut me down.

And it’s also an area where I have to be careful…

One time, my friend Holly Beth called me out on my general distrust:

Not everyone is out to get you, Audra.

Her comment helped me see that I was approaching situations all wrong. I had allowed things from my past to warp my perception of others.

The change wasn’t overnight, but it got me going down the right path. In fact, my problem with perception was something I discussed with my counselor last year. Her suggestions helped me even more to change my view.

I used to only see the strings attached to what others were saying or asking of me. My counselor wanted me to identify every string that I saw in a conversation.

The assignment was to give a name to each string. Then I had to examine it and see if there was any truth to it.

I saw a lot of strings that week and many of them were only my perceptions. The other person’s motives were pure! It was me with the problem.

 No matter the filters you have to set up to protect against faulty judgments, sincerity is easy to pinpoint. Finding out you’re nothing but a project or prospect is the quickest way to lose what little influence you may have in someone’s life.

In a world of posers, you don’t get many do overs.

This is why it’s important to be yourself. Period. When you’re okay with you are, you won’t get caught playing pretend.

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace and Restoration, Part 1

The video project has begun! 

My dad was able to edit and upload the first video of our project today. 

I’m including the link below:

Grace over Abandonment Series, Part 1
We still have two more videos to record, so let me know of any questions you’d like for us to answer. 

Also, I plan to type out the transcripts soon. I’ll post them here on my site when I share the second video. 

Shortcuts and Backroads

  Who doesn’t like a shortcut?

Winding country roads, jaunts through neighborhoods, an alleyway….

The GPS gives us the fastest route first. Our friends know all the best back ways. 

Shaving off travel time is important, but you can’t take shortcuts in relationships. 

A lot of people think that the restoration journey between my dad and I took place overnight. 

Let me be the first to answer that assumption with a hearty no. 

It’s been 5 years and counting. Yes, we’ve come a long way, but we still have quite the journey in front of us. 

I encourage you to be intentional in your relationships. Good relationships don’t just happen by chance. They take work. 

This is probably not news to most of you, but knowing something and still choosing the romantized version is the norm. 

In today’s world of social media friends, it’s easy to forget that you actually have to hang out with your friend offline in order for  that person to be a real friend. 

I’m not dissing the use of social media to keep up with friends and family that live far away either. 

Many people, though, only have online friends–far away or otherwise. 

There are no shortcuts to meaningful relationships. You have to put miles on your tires and wear out some shoe leather. 

You won’t regret the extra miles. 

Unity is better

There are 7 billion people on this planet and no one is just alike.

This should be as common knowledge as the fact we all need oxygen to breathe. And yet, the way we talk about differences online makes it sound like scientists just figured it out.

Fighting over differences makes no sense when you understand that humans are created for relationship.

God said to Adam, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

The church is called a body and we are to work together for the growth of the kingdom by spreading the gospel.

unityAll of these things point to relationships, so why are we struggling?

I could list a million reasons, but the crux of it all comes down to the issue of unity. We have forgotten what connects us all.

In the absence of this knowledge, division is rampant. It’s blinding and leads to disconnection.

Looking back to Genesis, this is what connects us: All humans are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27)

I do not believe “all ways lead to Heaven” and “we’re all God’s children”.

There is only one way to Heaven (Jesus) and while we are all created in the image of God, only those who accept the one way (once again, Jesus) become children of God.

Here’s what makes the gospel so powerful: Jesus came to redeem all humanity. No one is left out. We can all have a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ.

In all of our wonderful, God given differences, may we never forget what unites us: We are the most precious of God’s creation.

Everything God did in Genesis 1 and 2 was done for man and woman. Provision and shelter, safety and rest, family and friendship all started in the Garden of Eden.

Even when we messed up, God’s redemptive plan was to give it all back.

Let’s agree to unite around the gospel.

Let’s agree to unite around the fact that people are important.

Differences are wonderful, but unity is even better.

Surviving an emotional hangover

Have you ever had an emotional hangover?

You share something really personal and the next day you think:

“Why did I do that?!? I should’ve kept my mouth shut.”

I’m a pretty private person, which might seem like a strange statement since I blog every day. We share 200-300 words a day, right? Daily blogging has been a stretching experience for me.

Allowing people into my head space every single day is scary. I’m like a Puritan when it comes to my emotions. If my ankles are showing that’s just too much!

There have been many times I’ve shared with you guys and felt sick to my stomach.

“Did I say too much? What did I just do?”

I only bring this up now because I’m working on a project with my dad and stepmom. You’ll get to hear more about my reconciliation journey. For those who are unfamiliar with my story, this series would be a good one to follow. (And that’s all I’m going to say for now.)

This project will be a BIG stretch for me…

I need to find a nice rock to rent and a stash of brown paper bags.

I realize this post is a bit melodramatic. (Aren’t hyperboles fun?)

No one likes vulnerability, but we all crave it. We’re constantly watching and testing those around us to see if they’re genuine.

And yet, many of us are so scared to share.

Dear friend, I’m right there with you!

Fight the urge to hide, okay?

Hiding helps no one.

Find an outlet to share your gifts and stories with others.

Know that I’m here to help you however I can.