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FORTY is such a liberating number for me. I’ve started this blog. I am the absolute healthiest I have every been in my adult life. (My kids have taken complete control of my bed – but that’s another topic for another time…) A friend got me started thinking – why now, why am I so much more comfortable in my own skin now….and it’s a lot things. So,

Here are forty of my life truths:

1. People don’t spend hardly anytime thinking about you – they do, however, want you to think of them. This is a good thing to know because it makes meeting and getting to know people easy. Just be interested in them – that makes you interesting.

2. Parenting is hard. Of course it’s great. That doesn’t make it easy.

3. Making friends as an adult is hard – especially while parenting.

4. Do things that make you scared – do them! Go, now, go do them!

5. Public speaking is much easier when you know that of which you speak, but even then it takes a lot of practice to get remotely comfortable. Unless your a weirdo and it just comes naturally.

6. Root for people to succeed – all people. People’s success is what got us here today. (Don’t call them weirdo’s either.)

7. At the macro level the world may look like a disaster – your impact need only be at the micro level. If your space is not a disaster, it helps.

8. The world is an amazing place – look to be amazed and you will be. Look to be disappointed and you will be.

9. I got this one from an Andy Stanley podcast – “Do for one what you wish you could do for many.” No, you can’t save every orphan in Africa. Yes, you can save one. Find an organization to support in even a small way for whatever you find burdening your heart and overwhelming you.

10. Humility and Empathy are two traits worth pursuing passionately your entire life. They are the key to success in business, in relationships, and in life. Help you children build these traits and the world will be a better place.

11. Learn something new, all the time. This doesn’t mean go to class – only some of us would enjoy that – but find a way to learn something new.

12. Never become so important that you lose your sense of humor.

13. Always know, no matter how important you are, the person you are talking to trumps you with their friends and family. You are never the most important person in the room to every person in the room.

14. Don’t underestimate your value – you really are the most important person to someone. God loves you especially.

15. Plan your funeral – and make it fun. Funerals are just depressing. Can’t we do something different with funerals? I am looking for a life celebration business that turns the industry on it’s ear….but in a tasteful way.

16. If you think someone else is incredibly selfish – know that they probably feel the same way about you. You may both be right about your particular relationship – but you both may be incredibly giving to other people. Hand out Grace and leave Judgement to Someone Else.

17. Your life is important – but so is everyone else’s. Be sure you raise your head up often to see what others are going through.

18. Never underestimate your ability to influence a situation.

19. From a movie I watched recently – most of the time you just need 20 seconds of unbridled bravery to do anthing. I went rappelling and the beginning and the end were fine – but there was about 20 seconds in the middle, when you have to leap over the edge…I used all 20 seconds.

20. Be courageous and let your voice be heard. What you think matters. You matter.

The next 20 in an upcoming entry…

Can you add to my list? What are some of your life truths that have made all the difference? Leave them in the comments section on facebook or here…I might use some for the next 20!

Acts 1:4 “….don’t leave until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Lately – in the last year or so – I’ve been wrestling with some challenging questions about the Holy Spirit. Who is the Holy Spirit to me? Do I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit? How much time and thought have I given to the Holy Spirit? Do I really understand and appreciate the Holy Spirit?

I don’t know if it’s the terminology of Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit that made it harder for me to grasp – perhaps. For some reason, though, I’ve really sidelined the Holy Spirit. I pray to God, in the name of the Son – but I rarely say or think about the Holy Spirit. In my head or otherwise…even typing the words out so many times has made me feel…weird. Spirits make me feel weird.

It’s not a lack of faith – I don’t question the inexplicable trinity thing, I can take that on faith. I just didn’t give the Holy Spirit the attention deserved. It was an etheral otherness part of God – something in me, but less concrete than the concepts of God and Jesus.

Then one day reading Romans, I came across a verse that made me sit up and pay attention:

Romans 8:26 “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”

The Holy Spirit does this for me? Oh how comforting I find this, in the times when I am broken hearted and confused by this broken and pain-filled world. I just cry out and trust the Spirit to transform my worries and fears into the right request. Sometimes I suspect the cry ends up being a plea to give me a way to help, sometimes the plea is for some temporary relief from the brokenness, sometimes the cry is just groaning at the pain of this broken world….the Spirit, It groans with me.

But who is groaning with me? Why, the very God of the universe. The Spirit is God – within me. That was the awe moment for me – the moment I grasped, fleetingly, the implications of the Spirit, as God, inside me. The more I pondered this idea of God and the Spirit being one and the same, the more I began to trust God. The more I began to trust God, the more I began to trust myself.

You see, I get these promptings in my heart. I get these nudges – to call a friend, to give money to the beggar, to take the time to compliment. I get these little nudges ALL the time. Most of my life I have stuffed them down – or I have followed through with them but with a heavy heart. You see, I would question my motives – I would question whether I could trust what was driving those acts. Was I wanting something from them, was I just trying to get some good credits – a gem in the crown if you will. And not understanding what drives us, can cause us to put on the brakes. A lack of clear motive inherently results in caution.

Once I began seeing the Spirit as God within me though, I started trying to trust it a little bit more. I started with the hypothesis that all these nudges were God, via the Spirit inside me, asking me to do His will. And, under that hypothesis, I started following through. Every time.

A friend popped into my head and I sent her a text with a piece of scripture only to learn that she was going through something in that VERY moment and the scripture fit it perfectly. She said she felt like God had just reached out to her directly.

A beggar asked for money for a meal, I had no cash and the kids with me so I said, I’m sorry, I cannot. But then I reconsidered and offered to by a meal at the fast food place across the parking lot. You know – I explained to the kids that we were buying food for the man because he was hungry and didn’t have anywhere to eat – and they didn’t ask me to buy them anything. (Parents of young kids may see the miracle in this more rapidly than others.)

The point is – the results of following the promptings made it very clear that they were motivated by a power beyond me. They helped me to start to trust the nudges. They helped me to trust God more.

Sometimes it is embarrassing – sometimes I’m prompted to speak up about things I would rather keep to myself – in church or small group settings – but I’m leaning into the Spirit more and more often in those moments and trusting that there is a big reason every single time. It’s my opportunity to be used for His glory even though I may never see the end result.

And the more tuned in I am to God – the more promptings I get. As a matter of fact – one of the ways I know that my attention is wandering is the sudden realization that I’ve not had any nudges for awhile. Come to find out – if you aren’t listening for God you can’t hear Him very well.

2 Corinthians 13 says, “May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Fellowship can be defined as the state of sharing mutual interests and companionship. What a lovely thought to be ‘in the state of sharing mutual interests’ with our God.

I just want to encourage everyone to lean into this mutual interest thing. Trust those promptings – recognize and value that God will lead you to people and places for a reason. May the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, always.

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I have had a busy few weeks. Two weeks of back to back travel, followed by some time away from work and home for personal reasons, and added in there was Memorial Day weekend. Life has thrown a lot at me lately – a lot of fodder for those still moments in life that seem to grow fewer and fewer. I like coming here, each Wednesday, to think. That is basically what this blog is – it is setting aside time and holding myself accountable to think about more than what’s for dinner and when is the next deadline. It’s my time to be fully human.

Here are three unrelated things that have been on my mind…

Safe:

Over the Memorial Day weekend Grace and I were saying her bedtime prayers, and I prayed for the safety of all of our soldiers. I hadn’t given it a lot of thought – it was something on my mind and it came naturally – but the response was one of those defining moments. Grace listened and added in her prayers and after the ‘amen’ she asked me, “What are soldiers?” I cocked my head to the side like a puppy and thought, really hard and kinda panicky. “Well,” I said, “they are the policemen for our country and they keep us all safe.” Whew I thought, good save. Simple, age appropriate, high fi… “What is safe?” she asked. And my heart dropped into my stomach and I couldn’t breathe…

In a matter of miliseconds I realized that in order to define safe, one needs to understand what is not safe. In that brief moment I experienced a profound gratitude. Profound. My daughter has no experiences to draw from – how thankful was I that there was no way to explain ‘safe’ to my daughter for she had no reference of it’s opposite. I had recently read a book set in the slums of India and I saw those children – living in the slums with danger in the forms of hunger, rats, cold, disease. I can define humbling – but I had never been quite so humbled as I sat and realized how incredibly ‘safe’ my daughter is.

“Being safe is like being happy, honey.” That’s what I told her. She smiled because she understood. My girl, she knows happy.

What is Family:

I spent some time with a family recently that really just blew me away. You see, this is not your traditionally ‘built’ family – these folks are a family because they chose to be a family. There is a lot of uncertainty in their situation and sometimes uncertainty can tear relationships apart. Sometimes though, sometimes, you get to see a couple who God brought together, face adversity and uncertainty, and it is a thing of wonder.

These two parents are one – they are a single, loving, living organism. They love one another, they support one another and they love this little one that they picked out especially to be a part of their family. What they have done is incredibly selfless and loving, but if you say that they respond with, “What else would anyone do?”

And that got me to thinking, “What else would anyone do?” Most would do the same thing, the right thing, right? Most would step in and try to be there for a child, wouldn’t they? I would argue that not everyone would do the same thing, but many would. I will concede, many would. I guess it is the way they do it, because when you see them together, it is heroic. Their love IS heroic.

What is heroic, is the fullness of the love in spite of uncertainty. The fullness and totality of the commitment in spite of uncertaintity. What is heroic, is the fact that they have made a family out of sheer will, love, and desire. There is no sense of obligation, no resentment. There is just an overwhelming gratitude for the blessing of what they are to one another.

Families can choose to exist where there was no family. Love and commitment can create a family as surely as biology. Of course it can, I’ve witnessed it. Love can do anything.

The body as a temple:

I got a massage this afternoon and it was the first time that it really became an act of worship for me. I think any other time I’ve been self conscious about my body, or felt self indulgent. Today I just really felt good about it. It was a gift for my 40th birthday so that alleviated any financial guilt. I have had a really busy few weeks and had spend a lot of time focused outwardly so I was ok with a little ‘me’ time. It actually started with an hour long facial (a first) and then an hour long massage. So for two hours I was tended to. In the beginning my inner critic did rise up and remind me what an indecent indulgence this would be to some people. I told her to hush.

Then I started praying for the woman doing the tending. She uses all organic products, sources locally, and makes many of the scrubs and cleansers that she used – it was obvious that this occupation was one she took seriously. What a blessing, I thought, to bring such luxury to people and to do it with such care. My skin has never, to my memory, felt as soft as it did when she was done with the facial.

By the time the massage began, I was reciting the Lord’s Prayer as a kind of mantra in my mind and then the thought came to me: My body is a temple. I realized that I was simply appreciating, and caring for, what was a temporary gift to me. As long as my time is spent focused on the outside more than it is focused on the inside – it is ok to focus on the inside on occasion. It is not only ok, it is required. A temple needs tending.

As the massage went along I thanked God for the legs and feet that carry me to my friends and chase my children, and exercise each day. I thanked Him for my arms that hug my husband and cradle my children, and reach out to hold the hand of my friends when they are in need. I thanked him for a strong back that allows me to work and play and live with joy. I thanked him for healthy skin and strong bones and a healthy heart.

Our bodies are a temple and I forget that. Today was a good reminder that my body had seen me through a lot these last few weeks and it was more than ok to say: Thank you body, well done.

Now – go book you a massage.

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