Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

| January 7th, 2017 | No Comments »
My husband found this and shared it on Facebook – I thought it was definitely worthy of sharing with you!

“Complaining and brain science. Confirmed by ancient wisdom of Christ’s apostles!

Do all things without grumbling…that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish….Philippians 2:13”

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/13634470?

THE BLOG How Complaining Rewires Your Brain For Negativity 12/26/2016 05:31 pm ET | Updated 6 days ago Dr. Travis Bradberry Author of #1…
M.HUFFPOST.COM

Beauty from Ashes

| December 7th, 2016 | No Comments »

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This morning as I start the day in prayer, my gaze is drawn to our Christmas tree so beautifully adorned with lights and ornaments. One particular ornament catches my eye, the one you see above. This one is made from volcanic ash. When I bought this ornament, my husband and I were in Seattle, WA visiting a group of Korean-Americans who wanted us to speak into the development of their church. I remembered how dazzled I was by the beauty of the area, how I understood why people from the Pacific Northwest always pine away for the beauty of this place if they move away to someplace like Kansas where I’m from! Snow-capped Mount Ranier rises majestically on the horizon above the other mountains of the Cascade range surrounded by evergreen forests. Also among the volcanic mountains in the state of WA is the now famous Mt. Saint Helens. I remember the devastating eruption of Mt. Saint Helens in 1980, It caused more deaths and damage than any other volcanic eruption in the mainland USA. How does this relate to the ornament on the Christmas tree, you may be wondering? This work of art is made from the volcanic ash of Mt. Saint Helens. It amazes me this morning that someone saw in those ashes the raw materials of something incredibly beautiful, that they went to all the trouble of gathering those ashes, melting them down into glass, adding beautiful color and crafting a beautiful Christmas ornament to sell in “Made in Washington” gift shops all over the state. First of all, this speaks to me of the Messiah who is “the reason for this season” of Christmas we are now celebrating. “To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3 NLT. That God saw in the “ashes of humanity” something beautiful in the making, then came to earth Himself to make sure that the transformation happened is in my eyes, the greatest miracle of all time. As I think of this parable in light of the difficult and damaging events in our lives that regularly happen to us and those around us, it gives me hope for everyone. No matter what happens to us, in the aftermath of those events, the ashes can become the raw materials of a beautiful re-creation. When we are able to envision the beauty we might possibly create with “ingredients” that seem unlikely candidates for  “beauty”, an amazing transformation begins. The essential elements for creating a beautiful life are present everywhere in our lives if we have eyes to see them, patience to distill them, and creativity to add the color and design that is our unique contribution to this world. We can powerfully serve others with beauty created from the ashes if we dare to hope, dare to believe, dare to see and to do the hard work it takes to recreate life. This to me is real beauty, beauty that endures, beauty that never fades. Beauty from ashes is stunning me this morning. It makes me want to see the potential in each of you and encourage you to ponder how the ashes in your life might be transformed into something incredibly beautiful this next year.

Sustainable Change for a Sustainable Life

| September 21st, 2016 | No Comments »

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There’s a lot of talk these days about “sustainability” particularly in regards to environmental issues. It occurs to me that there’s a similar dynamic in a person’s life – there are important conditions to cultivate in our lives which make them “sustainable”. Here’s one description for sustainability I found online: “Sustainability strives to balance our environmental, economic and social goals to produce more resilient systems that will endure into the future.” In other words, if we want to have a really good quality of life that endures for a long time, even down into the generations that come after us, we want to look at balancing all areas of life, making sure each area has the quality we want it to have and that all areas have an equally good quality of life – the whole is the sum total of the parts!

When one area of life suffers, it effects the other areas as well, for example – if a person is going through marital troubles, it takes a toll on their work, their children, their physical health, their social life, etc. To use a financial analogy, if these areas have been well cultivated and have built up “equity”, when “withdrawals” are made they will still have reserves in them. If these areas are not well cared for, i.e. enough “deposits” haven’t been made, then those “accounts” can be depleted or “overdrawn”, resulting in damage that could have been prevented.

The phrase “sustainable change for a sustainable life” has been rolling around in my head a lot lately. Making changes that actually last long-term is the key to gaining and maintaining a “sustainable life”. There are several factors that add up to what I’d call “sustainable change” – intentionality, accountability, follow-though actions, extinguishing limiting beliefs and replacing them with empowering beliefs, relational connectedness to God and people – are a few of the factors that help a person make and sustain change. I see miracles on a regular basis as a life coach with the people I am privileged to work with. Consider where you are today – do you have a “sustainable life”? What changes would you like to make to gain that kind of life? If you want to “go for it”, I’d be delighted to work with you!

Welcome

| August 2nd, 2016 | No Comments »

Please feel free to browse Fully Alive’s website. We’d love to hear from you and get your feedback! For more information please visit the Contact drop down menu and fill out the information form[s].

Transition

| July 2nd, 2016 | No Comments »

 

Have you noticed that most people, when you ask them what they are doing currently, will say “Well, I’m in transition…” Love that word. It brings up all sorts of questions and remembrances of your own experiences. It’s always about being “in between”, having left one shore and being in transit between there and somewhere else. Or between where you were and who-knows-where.

One thing’s for certain, life is full of transitions. In the world we live in, there are more and more of them, and they are more frequent than ever. Change can be good, it just isn’t always easy.

It all begins when we are born. We transition from infancy to toddler-hood, then childhood, then pre-adolscence, then adolescence, then young adulthood-middle age-old age and ripe old age. We transition from school to work, then from one job to another, sometimes completely changing careers along the way. We can move from one location to another, change socio-economic circumstances, go from good to great, from favor to disfavor, from unknown to known, from bad to worse, from unhealthy to health or vice versa, weak to strong, happy to unhappy, the list goes on and on. Relationships also transition from one season to another, sometimes continuing and deepening, sometimes parting ways. There are lots of relational transitions – child, parent, peer, boss, co-worker, single, married, widowed/widower, guardian, caregiver, dependent, independent, on and on. The deck of cards is shuffled and re-shuffled regularly in our lifetime.  Apparently, we must become very adept at navigating transition if we are to succeed in life.

Catalytic

| June 2nd, 2016 | No Comments »

Yesterday I was thinking about Ben Franklin for some reason, probably because I had just seen a bolt of lightening in the midst of the rain. What on earth was he thinking when he decided to tie a key on a string from a kite? He was thinking about how much power there was in a lightening bolt and what might happen if it could somehow be harnessed and used to benefit people. Sure enough, he did that experiment and successfully conducted electricity from the kite to the string to the key into a glass jar. There it was – the key to unlocking the power and potential of electricity, right there in a small glass jar. The rest is history!

The word “catalytic” comes to mind. A catalyst speeds up a reaction without being consumed by that reaction. Ben’s kite, string and key were not consumed in the process, nor was Ben himself, thank goodness! When I think of life coaching, I think about being a catalyst for positive change in a person’s life. I think of how many times another person or circumstance has been used in my life to ignite something in me that led to positive change. Might it be possible to become a conductor for a “bolt of lightening” in a person’s life – an “aha” moment – a time of self awareness and realization of dreams? If you are anything like me, you might need someone to help you see how the obstacles in your life can become opportunities. I think of our lives as a cycle of “deaths and resurrections”, constantly moving from one season to the next, leaving some things behind and gaining some new ones. To have a deliberate strategy to maximize those times of “reinventing” might be like harnessing the enormous potential within your being, like that lightening bolt, to empower you to be your best and give your best to others. Others have inspired me to believe that my life can be a bright light to others. I think yours can be too if you dare to look forward to see what might become a reality and are willing to make a plan to go for it. Having someone walk beside you helps you stay accountable and motivated. That’s what life coaching is about and what I’m hoping to do as I embark on this new adventure. Who knows where it might lead? Look at the ripple effect of Ben Franklin’s willingness to try something new!

Distilling the Essence

| May 2nd, 2016 | No Comments »

Here are a couple of definitions from the dictionary that have been rolling around my head for some time.

The first is “distill”, which means: 1) “to subject to a process of vaporization and subsequent condensation, as for purification or concentration”, 2) “to extract the volatile components of by distillation; transform by distillation”.

The second is “essence”, which means: 1) “the basic, real and unvariable nature of a thing or it’s significant individual feature or features, 2) “a substance obtained from a plant, drug, or the like, by distillation, infusion, etc. and containing its’ characteristic properties in concentrated form, 3) “(philos.) the inward nature, true substance, or constitution of anything, as opposed to what is accidental, phenomenal, illusory, etc., 4) “something that exists, especially a spiritual or immaterial entity.”

As a mother of 5 children, ages 31 to 19, I’ve now had the up-close and personal view of the innate “essence” of each one of them in several seasons of life. From birth, each is a unique combination of ‘ingredients’ that you will see from infancy to adulthood manifested over and over again in new and greater ways. I still have “flashbacks” every time I see the “flash of light” that is in them in a new and more mature way. My mind goes back to the very first time I saw the “glimmers” of that special light within them as an infant, then like a video, reruns the drama of their lives in living color from then to now. As a parent, this video is permanently and indelibly imprinted in your mind, there to keep as a perpetual memory of their unique “blueprint”. There is a destiny locked up in each one, ready to be released if the proper measures are taken to nurture and distill that essence.

Likewise, each of us were all born with that same inalienable essence, with the potential to enrich and change the world we live in for the better, just by being who we were made to be. The balance between nurturing and developing our strengths and seeking to shed our weaknesses is not an easy one to achieve. Focusing on strengthening our strengths is the primary strategy for developing to full potential, the foot we need to lead with in walking out the process of maturing. Aligning your life with your strengths is the way you will flourish in life. But what about those pesky weaknesses that trip us up and constantly buffet us, possibly leading us off course into becoming someone we aren’t and don’t want to be? If we ignore them long enough will they just go away? Most of us who have lived a couple of decades or more can vouch for the fact that they don’t!

Back to the definition of the word “distill”. Sounds like you simply subject yourself to a process of “vaporization”, “subsequent condensation”, “purification”, “extraction of the volatile components” and subsequently “transformation” somehow happens. Sounds fairly brutal, doesn’t it?

The easy part is that you won’t have to seek out the things that will cause you to be “vaporized, condensed, purified, and perhaps transformed”! Life will provide an abundance of those kind of opportunities to facilitate this process in you. All you have to do is respond in character with your God-given design, respond from the best part of yourself rather than the worst. With each opportunity you have the priviledge of choice – you get to choose whether to let it bring out the best or the worst in you.

Back to the word “essence”. In one sense, we are all born with a unique “essence” that does not change. I grew up hearing Shakespeare’s saying, “To thine own self be true”. One of the most powerful tools and weapons we have to navigate life with is the profound and clear understanding of what is “changeless” about ourselves. The more true we are to that revelation, the more authentic we will be. Knowing what is changeless about you gives you the “plumbline” that pulls you back to center when you get “hit” by whatever life throws at you, whatever threatens to make you lose your balance.

But in the #2 part of the definition above, there is a sense of “obtaining an essence” after going through a long process of distilling. This is the other half of the equation. We get to CHOOSE who we will become over and over again with every opportunity life throws our way, for better or for worse. Wow – that’s a lot of power! We get to choose “how” or even “if” we will live out the destiny we are born with. Sometimes that feels scary to me, sometimes it fuels and motivates me greatly.

Today I’m reminding myself that I get to choose my way – choose how to better live according to my own blueprint, choose how to redirect myself when my weaknesses appear and live in the strengths I have been given. I think maybe this is one way to describe what it means to live “fully alive”.

The famous words of St. Irenaeus have been around for centuries now, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Maybe God smiles like a proud parent when the “glimmers” of the dreams He had for our lives in the beginning emerge as “flashes of light” through us as mature people.

Finding Your Face

| April 5th, 2016 | No Comments »

In the course of your lifetime you many have several different faces, i.e.ways of presenting yourself visibly to the rest of the world. The same basic ‘look’ will always be there, meaning your inherent identity and value will remain the same regardless of how you feel. You may wear several masks to sort of ‘try on’ a face to see if it fits. When seasons change and circumstances rock your world in some way, there is a sense of ‘losing face’ that often occurs, eroding our confidence and security, making us feel. In my perspective, we are all trying to navigate life and preserve our dignity, our sense of value and to somehow lay hold of the kind of hope that never dies – hope that floats and will keep us afloat.
C.S. Lewis wrote a book called “Til We Have Faces”, not as well known as some of h is writings, but a very profound book nonetheless. It is his attempt to rewrite the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, which takes a look at all the different types of ‘love’ and makes many observations about which is superior to all the rest.

After reading the book and letting it settle a few years, I came back to it and internalized some of the poignant phrases contained in it. Here is a quote that jumped out at me the first time I read it. It is spoken by one of the main characters,
simply called “The Fox”, who is an exile from his native country and has served most of his life serving in the court of a foreign king. He is a very wise advisor and instructor for the king’s daughters. He says this, “No man can be in exile if he remembers that all the world is one city and everything is as good or bad as our opinion makes it.”

As I think a bit about the source of this statement, I begin to see a powerful truth that has formed in this man’s life in the midst of enormous change and disruption. You can imagine what it must have been like to have been taken forcibly out of your culture to spend the rest of your life speaking a foreign language, adapting to a new land. He was always aware of his heritage and aware that the land he was now living in was not his own .

I apply that to my own life and think of all the ways that change, disruption and difficulty have ‘rattled my cage’ and forced me to adapt in ways I wouldn’t have chosen. Each time you are shaken in this way, you can choose to react and resist or to accept and adapt. Each time you go through a big change, you have to ‘find a new face’ so to speak.

Grieving Well

| February 24th, 2016 | No Comments »

The 10 years between 2004 and 2014 were a time of adversity that eclipsed all the difficulties of the former years of my life. To survive it all I had to learn how to grieve well. As long as we live we will experience many sorrows (as well as joys!) and therefore we must learn to grieve well.

 

Taking my cues from a description of the Messiah in Isaiah 53:3, I began to understand something. It is this: the key to healing well from all the sorrows and loss we experience is to become well acquainted with the full grief process and to master it. As I agreed to commit myself to understanding the stages of grief and practicing them with each and every sorrow and loss, I have truly been able to heal without getting stuck forever in incomplete grief. There are several valid models for grieving, the most well-known is the Kubler-Ross model. In that paradigm there are 5 stages of grief: shock and denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These are all necessary stages we must go through, and we help ourselves if we commit ourselves to cooperating with the process. When we finish, we are free to move on in life.

 

I personally believe that there is one more stage at the end that needs to be added to complete the process, that is “engaging a new reality”. There is a necessary disengagement from the past reality because it is either lost to us (no longer exists) or it is detrimental to us to reengage that reality. So, I believe that engaging a new and healthy reality is essential to completing the grief process so we can fully heal.  Until the other 5 steps have been completed, though, it doesn’t work to try to jump straight to this one or to jump to it too early.

 

These are the pitfalls of getting stuck in the grief cycle, as I see them, as well as the victories possible when you refuse to get stuck:

 

1. Shock/denial. If you get stuck here, you simply stuff the grief in a closet and hope it goes away. Sometimes this happens at such a young age that we are not equipped to handle it. So our soul puts it in a closet to deal with later, hopefully when we can comprehend how to let it out and how to heal it. In any case, you may deny the power of it, minimize it, rationalize it, then close the door on it and tell yourself it’s not really there any more. If and when you take it out of the closet, letting yourself come out of denial/shock, then you free yourself to feel the pain. Shock/denial has a numbing effect, therefore when it is removed, you inevitably feel pain, then anger.

 

2.) Anger. When you finally wake up to the pain of what has happened to you, as you snap out of shock and denial, then you are angry. It’s a natural response to the pain of injustice and loss that we all will experience regularly in life. If we don’t allow ourselves to feel it fully and “exhale” it, it can smolder inside us and become bitterness. Bitterness happens when we decide to be the judge and jury and take the job of penalizing the perceived (or real) offender(s) ourselves rather than forgiving and leaving all that to the Supreme Judge. I think of it as “exhaling” – letting it out appropriately without injuring anyone and without putting yourself in the judge’s seat. I talk it out with God, my husband, and a few close friends who are mature enough to handle it and who will remind me to make the right choice. It’s like crossing a rushing river, when you are in it it can sometimes be furious, threatening to take you down. If you resolutely cross to the other side and step out of the current, you are free to move unhindered by the pull of that current. Usually you need more people than just yourself to get all the way to the riverbank on the other side.

 

3.) Bargaining. When you are through most of the anger, maybe dipping in and out of it a bit, the bargaining begins. It seems to be the first attempt to begin resolving the issue(s). It can include blaming others or self, negotiating deals with God or others (“if you’ll do this I’ll do that”), thoughts of “if only” or “what if”. The symbol used for the judicial system is an old-fashioned scales with 2 pans, one on either side of center. In an attempt to arrive at some sense of justice, we add and subtract weights from one side or the other to balance things out. Some things we may be able to resolve, others, maybe not. If you get stuck here, you will forever be looking for a way to resolve the situation on your own, to rectify every injustice, to recover every loss, never able to just let it go. A famous quote from pastor Reinhold Neibuhr  speaks to this issue: “God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” When you have done what you can to change the situation, accepted what you can’t change and are at peace with the results of that struggle, you are free to just “let go”, or more accurately, “let down”.

 

4.)Depression – When our efforts at seeking to resolve the injustice/painful situation have been exhausted, we are forced to realize that, in fact, no more avenues of recourse are available to us. That is disappointing and requires the acknowledgement of the pain of loss – a real “let down”. It requires feeling the pain of the loss and letting it hurt, letting it “take it’s course”, somehow finding the courage to “let it bleed”. “You have to feel it to heal it” is a sentence that comes to mind. You may be in a low place for a time as you embrace the reality of the loss and “own it”. If you don’t allow yourself to go through this valley, you are forever stuck on the embankment of it, or in the middle of it, unable to move on to acceptance. The “let down” of loss and disappointment is like a desert that you must cross to reach a place of flourishing. On the other side of the desert there is a fruitful, green, life-giving place for you. There will be oases in the middle of the desert to keep you going, but don’t give up – there is a fruitful land waiting for you on the other side of it.

 

  1. Acceptance-

Once you have “owned it” and let the pain take its’ course, you come up out of that valley of depression into acceptance. The loss is now incorporated into your story and it can become an asset to you in the next part of your journey. “What is” can now become a springboard and part of “what will be”. Now life can begin again. If you stop here with mere acceptance, however, you may never move forward into a new reality. This kind of acceptance is not a “resignation” to an inferior quality of life, it is an acceptance of what has been with a hopeful expectation of better things to come if we choose to engage a new reality.

 

6). Engaging a new reality – I believe this is the final destination of the grief process,the place of overcoming and “moving on” – the key words here are, “moving on” and “engaging”. When you arrive here and really do this, you have completed the cycle of grief, you are free to live from a heart unburdened from grief.  Becoming a person who knows these paths well and can navigate them skillfully makes you a more mature, hopeful and resilient person. You can smile at the future, no matter what it brings because you know that everything you experience can, in the end, become an asset to you and many others. Instead of being disabled, you are enabled to be more powerful and unsinkable, more the person you were intended to be all along.

 

I’ve found within myself an innate resistance to the grief process, probably because I want a quicker fix, am in denial of my need for it, or am reluctant to let myself feel the full impact of loss. Courage is required to agree to becoming “a man/woman of sorrows, well acquainted with grief.” If we will muster up the courage to go the distance with the grief process, we can end up with a new and enduring peace, empowerment and greater compassion towards others as they, too, find themselves in need of walking down this road.

 

The Hope of Your Calling

| January 7th, 2016 | No Comments »

UnknownThe world we currently live in is full of surprises, isn’t it? It seems that change is happening more rapidly than most people are equipped to handle. Whether positive or negative, all change creates disruption in our lives. It’s easy to feel like we’ve lost our balance and perspective. Questions like these often come up : What now? Who am I now? How will I ever rise above this challenge?

When we want to build a home, what do we use to achieve the results we want?  Would you have answered, “the blueprint”? That would be my best guess.  When we arrived on earth, we came with our own unique “blueprint”, one that will never be duplicated. With that blueprint came a “calling”, the significant purpose we were born for, the meaning and value we would bring to the lives of others. I personally believe that this “calling” or “life-purpose” is God-given and that it’s essence does not change. It may change in the form it takes but we are still essentially the same person with the same powerful calling our whole life long.

When it’s time to remodel or rebuild a home, what would you look to as “the plan” for  doing so?  Myself? I would pull out the original blueprint and make sure that the original structure was up to “code”. Then I would remodel some things, add on a wing or other features that would improve the value of the home.  When we go through changes in our lives, we have to become resourceful and adept at recreating our lives and improving them just as we would a valuable home. Our lives are so much more valuable than a physical dwelling!  Why is it that sometimes we “resign” ourselves to a life that we just don’t remodel and improve when hard things “hit” us?

I have come to realize that of all the essential elements for prosperity  in our lives, hope takes the hardest beating.  Discouragement can rob us of the motivation and energy we need to seize the opportunity for the “upgrade” that all change offers us. All change really can be hopeful if we choose to see it as an opportunity for an upgrade vs a downgrade!

I’ve heard people ask, “What would you do and who would you be if you knew you could not fail?” That’s a really powerful question and most of us find it a bit of a stretch to answer it. Is that because we interpret “failure” as something that disqualifies us?  It seems that  “failing” or the fact that things simply don’t always go well often causes us to lose hope.   Certainly we must own up to the things we ourselves or others have done that are damaging and to the fact that there are tragedies in life that bring a lot of grief. But that said, what if we decided that those things were not powerful enough to stop us from getting back up and choosing to do life again? What if we even decided to believe that on the heels of even the worst circumstance, we have the power choose to become the best version of ourselves yet?

Hope is most simply defined as “a strong and confident expectation of good things to come”. It is like a lifeline that drops down from heaven and invites us to grab it, hold on tight and let it carry us upward. Several years ago there was a movie called “Hope Floats”. In it, at a poignant moment,  a balloon floated across the scene, symbolizing hope and its’ ability to cause us to “float”, to be buoyant when the gravitational pull threatens to bring us down. In contrast, another symbol of hope is an anchor.  It comes from the Bible verse in Hebrews 6:18,19. In this analogy, hope “anchors” us when we feel like we are being “blown away” in a storm, keeps the waves from taking us under.

As I think about it, the idea that each of us has a “calling”, a significant, powerful and indestructible purpose in life that only we can fulfill, is a huge source of hope. It’s like the air that fills the balloon or the weight that the anchor wields. It is entirely possible for us to choose to be unsinkable, refuse to be deflated and to maintain a “strong and confident expectation of good things to come.”  As long as we live, there is hope that we will yet fulfill the calling we were born with. That blueprint has no expiration date!