Fumes and a prayer

Prayers start going up fast when I’m sitting on empty, which happens about once a week because I still haven’t learned my lesson. 

Waiting until the last possible second to buy gas is not a good idea. 

  • No matter how cheap gas is on the other side of town. 
  • No matter if you have to make a U-turn to get into the station. 
  • No matter how cold or hot it is outside. 

Stop and buy the gas!

Russian roulette is a bad game to play late at night on the freeway. 

Driving on fumes and a prayer can only get you so far. 

I made it home safely tonight, but my procrastination almost landed me in the dog house. 

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.

The biggest lie in the whole wide (business) world

“The customer is always right.”

This is the biggest lie in the business world.

It’s also the biggest reason why most employees do not like customers.

These are the game rules:

A disgruntled customer complains to a manager. The customer was, in fact, wrong. The manager turns around and berates the employee for not appeasing the customer. The employee then quietly loathes all customers.

Everyone loses.

If the customer is always right, then the employees are always wrong….

And that can’t be right either.

So where’s the truth?

As usual, it’s somewhere in the middle, hiding in plain sight.

A few weeks ago, I talked about how everyone is in the people business.

It’s in this universal truth that we find the answer to the question.

Sometimes the customer is right, sometimes the employee is right, and sometimes they’re both wrong.

Each circumstance is unique.

That’s why it’s wrong to wrap the core of a business model around a faulty truth.

Good managers understand this point. If given the freedom to lead with discernment, these managers create happy environments for both customers and employees.

Unfortunately, a lot of good managers are trapped by red tape. There’s nothing they can do without getting themselves into trouble.

And so “the customer is always right” comes back like a bad dream….

Not everything can be about the bottom line. Statistics–pie charts, sales goals, projected profits–can only measure so much.

The entrepreneurial spirit is spreading like wildfire for a reason.

I’m so excited that our society is breaking out of the Big Box and returning to cottage industries.

Cottage industries focus on people, on a bigger picture where dollar signs aren’t everything.

I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but relationships matter. Even in business.

You’ll only get so far using people as rungs because the corporate ladder is falling down.

But you don’t have to go down with it.   

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.

Transitional daydreams

Ever been so lost in thought that it’s hard to come back to reality?

It’s a lot like daydreaming. You see all of these things happening around you, but it’s more like you’re watching instead of participating.

Maybe you’ve been there or maybe you think I’m a lunatic. (I won’t be offended if you think that.)

Either way, I think we’ve all faced times of transition and decision.

That’s where I am right now.

And, for me, it’s hard to know where to go when everything is colliding, when the past, present, and future are duking it out for time and attention.

How do you stay centered?

I find three things helpful:

1. Journaling

2. Reading

3. Praying

I journal a lot about my thoughts, feelings, etc.

It helps to capture my thoughts so they don’t end up controlling me.

Then I read.

I read my Bible, I read books, I read articles and blogs because that helps me gain perspective and see the bigger picture. Reading shows me that I am not alone in my struggles and that there are answers to my questions.

Lastly, I pray.

I talk to God about what’s happening in my life. A few weeks ago I wrote on the importance of prayer and how God is truly interested in our day-to-day lives. Nothing proves that to me more than in these moments of transition. The coolest part is that I’m not talking up to a ceiling, hoping that God is listening. I am confident that God not only hears me but also talks to me.

Without these three things, I would be one confused girl. That’s the truth.

I encourage you, my friend, to recognize what helps you in moments of transition and decision. Don’t wait until the pressure is on to figure it out either.

If you feel brave, share with me what helps you.

Relational poker and icebergs

I would be a terrible professional poker player because my ability to bluff is nonexistent.

Within two hands I would be slap broke.

But emotionally? Now that’s a different story.

You will probably find it hard to believe, but I am a very private person. Yes, me, the girl who is posting a blog every day for an entire year. But, really and truly, it’s only about 300 words a day. That’s not a lot when you think about it.

If you’re familiar with the writings of Ernest Hemingway, you know about the Iceberg theory.

icebergtheoryHe only shows readers the tip of the iceberg while the rest is submerged underwater.

And maybe, if you’re like me, your first thought goes to the Titanic.

It’s dangerous to think that there’s this whole other level to relationships, a part that you can’t see by only hanging out with someone at work or church or school.

Relationships take a lot of time to build. It’s really not that far fetched to think that you have to navigate relationships like the Titanic should have navigated the waters–with caution.

You can’t stay surface level and expect to have deep, meaningful relationships.

I can’t play games of relational poker, always bluffing and keeping my cards close, and expect to find myself surrounded by a community of relationally minded people.

And you can’t either.

At some point we all need to share our stories–the good times and the bad times–because that’s where hope lives, the places where darkness turned to light.

Not everyone is like the person(s) who hurt you so deeply. Give others a chance to prove that to you.

No more poker face, okay?

You and I can’t exist outside of a community, so let people in.

Character friction

Coming face to face  with your character flaws stinks, especially when someone is giving you a compliment.

In the last few weeks, I have been praised for my patience and self-discipline…

I wish that it were true.

I wish that I could easily accept the compliment.

But all I see are the many, many times that I lose my temper or decide to eat a doughnut when I need to eat a salad.

What are you supposed to do with that information?

It challenges me.

On the one hand, I appreciate the positive affirmation. Truly I do. People pay attention when you’re headed down the right path.

On the other hand, I know there’s still a lot of road ahead of me. I have not arrived.

This friction is natural. The rub is real. (I can go on and on with friction clichés, but I’ll stop now. You’re welcome.)

In life, this struggle is the ultimate checks and balances system.

Remember several posts ago when I talked about the voices that scream out your flaws?

They are constantly reminding you of all the reasons you’ll never measure up.

But agreeing with their cries will not help you. Trust me. I spent many years covering my ears and running for cover.

That’s no way to live.

Knowing your areas of strengths and weaknesses is important.

You can’t be too boastful about your strengths or too ashamed about your weaknesses.

Stay focused on where you are headed in life. Keep moving in that direction.

Work on your strengths and weaknesses accordingly.

Maybe this isn’t a struggle for you.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Duh, Audra, everyone knows that!”

But I can get stuck in the rut of introspection and miss out on the fun of the journey.

I want to loosen up a little and have some fun. Want to join me?

Who’s Watching You?

I’m getting a baby brother in September! Isn’t that awesome?

My day gets a little brighter each time I think of this precious, perfect little person who is a part of my family. Every human life is important and full of potential. There’s just something about babies though. Can you think of anything more innocent than a baby? Untouched by the evils of the world, seeing only opportunity, full of trust—babies are the purest of vessels.

I’m sounding like the narrator of a documentary…moving on.

So I’m getting a new baby brother and it has me thinking: What role do I play in his life? Because I don’t believe that the normal, stereotypical roles of big and little siblings are okay.

There’s a big age difference between us—twenty-three years—but that doesn’t matter. We can still have a good relationship.

In an attempt to mimic self-help gurus, I’ve come up with an acronym of sibling to describe the role I hope to play in my little brother’s life (don’t all barf at once):

Supportive at all times
Interested in his life and hobbies
Believer in his dreams
Loving through the good and bad
Invested in his future
Nonstop encourager
Gracious to forgive his mistakes

Maybe you’re an awesome role model and need few reminders to stay on track. But I find myself needing to be reminded of all the little eyes who are watching me. It’s often the people in our inner circles who suffer the most when we struggle.

This conversation is not meant to be a reprimand but an encouragement.

Think about where you’re falling short and make some improvements. Think about where you’re excelling and take notes.  Because someone is following in your footsteps.

My question for you today is simple.

Who’s watching you?

Will You Survive?

I read a lot of self-help books. It’s an addiction and I’m sure the teller at the thrift store thinks I need to see a counselor. Anyway, there is one thought that seems to make its way into every book:

You will never change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain needed to make a change.

Isn’t that what every self-help book is about?

Apathy is the biggest hindrance to change because it takes a lot of strength to face up to our monsters. And, often times, we merely wound our enemy—whatever it may be—instead of properly killing it the first time. For example, the other day I was driving down the road listening to “I Will Survive.” It was probably the first time I stopped grooving long enough to listen to the lyrics. The entire song is about this lady kicking her loser boyfriend to the curb and then coming home one day to find him sitting on her couch.

When I heard the words, “I should have changed that stupid lock! I should have made you leave your key! If I had known for just one second that you’d be back to bother me,” it’s like I was struck by lightning!

The easiest part of making a change is the radical, “get out of my life” phase.

Many people find it exciting because they enjoy throwing all the junk food in the garbage, bashing the computer with a sledge hammer, and cutting up all the credit cards. In all this extremism, however, it’s easy to forget that if you don’t deal with the root of the problem, sooner or later, you’ll come home to find it sitting on your couch.

Will you survive?

If you’re anything like Gloria Gaynor, you not only survive, but also do so while looking really hip in a sparkly, glittery dress. (Watch the music video and you’ll see what I mean.)