Tag Archives: leadership

“Ceilings, Values, and How to be anything you want to be”

I am nothing if not a personal growth and development junkie. Even as a child, I asked for books on topics that even some hard working professionals have to force themselves to read.  For whatever reason, I distinctly remember in 1998 waiting with baited breath for the latest John Maxwell title “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” to be published so I could get my hands on it. It still, to this day, rocks my world. I definitely recommend that if you have not yet read the book, you owe it to yourself and everyone around you to do so.

The memory of receiving that specific book at that time is so vivid to me because my dad was a member of Maxwell’s VHS and cassette tape club much of my childhood and to me there was no one smarter, determined, or loved by others than my dad was. I know those words expose my age even though my youthful glow does not.

VHS and Cassettes! What excuse do we have now with the capabilities of all the audio files and knowledge in the world in the palm of our hands?

All of that being said, the principal that stands out most to me is

Law #1: The Law of the Lid – Leadership Ability Determines a Person’s Level of Effectiveness. To reach the highest level of effectiveness, you have to raise your leadership lid.

Essentially, you are your own worst enemy or biggest asset.

What are you doing right now, today, at this very moment, at this very hour (outside of reading my amazing words of inspiration and gleaning from my deep wells of knowledge) to improve upon yourself so that you can go further?

We love to think that the things that hold us back are outside of ourselves. This way we can blame people, places, and things for our inability to produce rather than take a cold hard look in the mirror.

Like children, sometimes we can’t move beyond the slight discomforts of action and execution to gain the bigger prize of accomplishment and achievement.

My sons would often rather lose a privilege and be disciplined then to admit their mistakes. They have more invested in the arguments, nitpicking, and faultfinding than they do in just getting their rear in gear and just do what I have asked them. “I can’t put the leg of the recliner down. I’m not the one who put it up.” “I can’t take the dog to the bathroom. I did it last time.” “It’s ______ fault I have poop on my shoe. He didn’t scoop it off the ground.” (Never mind the fact that you could have just watched where you were walking, especially since you already knew that he didn’t clean it up! Instead of letting me know it needs cleaned up, or just cleaning it up himself, it is much more fun to drag poop into the house to prove some epic point and tattle.)

I have amazing sons, but this competitive and argumentative list of excuses  could go on for eternity when all of the disagreements and conflicts just boil down to the fact that no one wants to accept responsibility and just move forward. Even when I say, “You aren’t in trouble. I just need to know”, the human experience dictates that self-preservation is preferable to self-awareness.

At the end of the day what does this mean to you and me?

We need to:

  • Immediately stop telling ourselves false narratives. While other people, places, situations, scenarios, and things inform our daily life and decisions, they are not in control of them and they do not hold the keys to our success and destiny.
  • Identify where the ceiling is. What is truly holding you down? Once you identify your ceiling, the things that you once thought were ceilings will become floors to your next level of personal growth and development.
  • Establish personal responsibility and growth as a core value from which you make all of your decisions. Core values are constant. They are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ, they are just simply the basic elements of every day of our lives.

In 2010 when I started my fitness and weight loss journey, physical health and being in shape started to become a core value of who I am.

  • I don’t run. I am a runner.
  • I don’t just fit in exercise. I am a physically fit person.

See how that wording shifts the conversation?

If you just say, “I run”, you can easily dismiss the act of running if you don’t fit into your day. However, if “I am a runner”, it is the essence of who I am and I make it happen. I don’t just “mother” my children. I am their mother. There is actually a big difference. Anyone can “mother/nurture” them in a pinch or for a moment in time (School teachers. Babysitters. Grandparents.), but nobody else in this world can be their mother. It flows from my essence.

To begin exploring your own values and begin taking the limits off what you are capable of, think about your life and all of its components and begin rating them.

  1. Things I value very much: These are the things that are your very ESSENCE. An example for me is my physical fitness. Most people don’t value this as much as I do and therefore make excuses about why they can’t or won’t engage in daily exercise.
  2. Things I value: An example of this for me is financial gain. I do value financial gain and I want to be a wise steward of my family’s income and spend with frugality, however, money is not a top priority for me. I don’t value it enough to chase it over something I value very much.
  3. Things I don’t value very much: An example of this for me is a jam packed extracurricular social schedule. Every aspect of my daily life and work is to be surrounded by people and in relational and social settings, as well as run like wild, dragging kids between sporting events, hangouts, and practices full of even more people to socialize with. Because of this, I oftentimes neglect getting into social settings that aren’t work/ministry/leadership/parenting related because I value a little silence here and there. This can be a slippery slope because I know I need my relational cup filled instead of always being the one pouring, so I’m working on balance, but the point is, you most likely won’t find me at a RAVE until 2-3AM every Friday and Saturday craving a party.

I will continue to write about personal development, growth, and life changing transformation, as it is my sweet spot, I have experience in and with it, and I think it is fun to be encouraged and challenged. That said, Are there any particular topics or avenues in this space you would want me to cover?

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Silent Saturday

We use our powerful God-tools for fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.-2Corinthians10:5-6 MSG

Recently I have been learning the art of becoming a steward of my thoughts and words. Perhaps, to a degree, this is a learned behavior that comes with age, but realistically I’ve discovered the power of controlling your thoughts and actions is more of a habit that you have to actively pursue and develop. You don’t wake up one day with complete alignment in your thoughts, dreams, goals, daily tasks, priorities, and relationships. Rather, you have to  consciously reflect on the ways that you have been sabotaging both yourself and others.

On Silent Saturday, I challenge you to begin noticing, and if necessary, changing your words. The words that you speak inevitably impact the actions that you take and once that takes over your brain (holding your thoughts hostage), you have to work double time to conqueror something. The same is true in reverse. When you speak life with positive declarations and mantras and push through the dead zones, your words will change your thoughts and you will start believing that anything is possible. When you clear the obstructions of faulty thinking, your actions start to line up with your hope filled words. Before you know it, you’re accomplishing things you couldn’t have seen yourself doing under your old thought patterns.

We have the power to create whatever world that we want to live in. Do I want to live in a world where I let doubt and fear dictate my future, or do I want to live in a world where nothing is impossible? Do I want to live in a world where things out of my control determine my emotional trajectory, or a world where I realize I choose my response even if the circumstance was out of my control?

Anything I could ask or think or dream of, if my motivations are healthy, centered, and guided by mind, body, and spirit alignment, could become my reality. A simple clearing of my mental cache and  my actions are released to take me where I need to go.

I called this silent Saturday because perhaps there are some voices in our heads that need to shut up. It’s possible that we have heard these voices for so long that we no longer recognize them. At moments, the voices in my head have taken over my vocal chords and created a martyr or victim scenario, which take my power away leading to behaviors that drain and diminish the life force that I am.

 I can guarantee that there have been moments in your life where loose thoughts and emotions invade your world obstructing opportunity and maturity. Today is the day that we tell our thoughts and emotions who is boss. We will shut them up on this silent Saturday when they try to plant seeds that won’t result in the harvest we are looking for. We will replace them not only with more life-giving words and emotions, but with forward ACTION. I will control what I can control, which is my thought life, my speech, and my activity.

Disclaimer: Sometimes we struggle with inflated self thoughts and that is just as toxic as being a downer. Grandiose thinking needs to be taking captive too.

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Sidebar: We had to practice some thought captivity this morning. My sons basketball league  lost in a BIG way. We had to pep them up.

Stray Saturday

Train — like an athlete. Eat — like a nutritionist. Sleep — like a baby. WIN — like a champion.

I like the above quote, however, those of us that have raised babies realize that this is not realistic for an adult. Babies snooze a lot and snooze deeply, but they sleep according to their own whims and at their own discretion. I may feel like crying from 2 AM-4:30 AM as an adult like a baby would, but it doesn’t work out too well for my schedule.

  • (I have totally felt like crying all night long lately as my allergies have been out of control and keeping me awake. I have even gleefully plotted the methods I could use to remove my eyeballs from their sockets.  I am taking Claritin daily, but it is struggling to keep up with the reality that my neighborhood looks like a winter wonderland, and no, it’s not from snow but from extreme pollen.)

I have a lot of stray and random thoughts today, so while I desire to change your life,  motivate you, and elevate you holistically, I’ve been taught a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Therefore, I decided to just let the stray mental bullets fly.  Mind, Body, and Spirit are all at work today. Hopefully you’ll catch something!

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From the rosebush on the side of my house. I’m pretty proud of the fact we didn’t kill them all, just most of them 🙂 What I looked like after a hot 8 mile run the other day vs. What I imagined I looked and smelled like. We won’t have a visual for what I actually smelled like.
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What I looked like after my 8 mile run this morning, and proof that I completed it despite the mental gymnastics. My pace was not great  because I did not get up and run at 5 AM before the sun came out with guns blazing.Don’t be jealous of how gorgeous I am here.

I completed day 565 of my #Runstreak today.

  • (You can join a temporary #runstreak by aligning with Runner’s World and their Summer Streak. Check out #rwrunstreak. One of their holiday challenges is how I got started on my streak and I had so much fun streaking that I have just never stopped!)

My question is how did 8 miles feel like 3 miles just a couple of weeks ago but feel like an ultra marathon today? Thankfully I’ve been in the running game long enough to know that the weather, sleep patterns, stress levels, eating habits, and numerous other factors all go together to decide if a run is going to be easy mentally and physically, or if it is going to be a struggle in one of those areas. The good news is that no matter how bad a run is mentally or physically, the endorphins produced do not discriminate and flow footloose and fancy free through your mind, body, and spirit and make you very happy that you did what you did and that you are accomplishing your goals one step/one run at a time.

We have been having a heat wave (I’m actually loving it. I’ve been so ready for this long winter to end), so this week between the heat wave, the high winds, the humidity, and all of the thunderstorms, topped off by my tight hamstrings, I have really been working hard at running smart. I am thrilled to report that my sever hamstring issues were obviously from the weed pulling (my theory was correct), and are not some super long term running injury. I have run three 5K distances, a 6 mile run, and two 8 mile runs this week that will be capped off by my weekly short “rest day” run of only 2 pre-dawn miles early on Sunday morning, which could be a soaker because there is a 90% chance of storms, but I don’t have treadmill at home and it builds character and the mental prowess you need to complete marathon training and actually finishing races. (If you would like to purchase me a treadmill,I will be your new best friend.)

20130601-135323.jpgProof that the meteorological reports in Cleveland are inaccurate a majority of the time. Left shows the forecast (0% chance of precipitation) and right shows the reality out my windshield (monsoon).

20130530-215335.jpgI’m not sure how healthy this snack is exactly in terms of pure/clean eating, but it has been a go to favorite of mine lately when I want “junk” food. It’s not junky at all in reality, and it is sweet. There is quite a bit of fiber in each serving, as well as protein and it is decently low calorie. If you want a sweet crunch, check these out. They are a little on the pricey side, but too horrific. They cost about the same as a pack of Oreos, and if you eat the whole bag  it will  cost you much less calorically than a binge eating episode of cookies.

20130527-143501.jpgI’ve been spending a good majority of my life in Costco lately. I am seriously considering a move into the store. Our church is in a huge Summer Serve Initiative and I have been feeding just about everyone and their brother on the west side of Cleveland. I figure that a majority of Jesus’ ministry was spent around a table in fellowship with others, building common ground, and even showed us that the greatest thing we can do to honor is death on the cross is have communion, which involves the breaking of bread, I can model this and show my community appreciation with all of the goodness Costco has to offer. This is where we fed all of the teachers breakfast at the school we are holding our services at for no reason other than to show them kindness and let them know we are praying for them. I am loving our summer serve and can’t wait for all of the awesome things that will come of it.

20130601-135337.jpgMy husband getting ready to do an adopt a business summer serve project. With a pastor this hot, I don’t know why the entire population of Cleveland isn’t already a member of the Bridge Church.

20130527-143525.jpg20130527-143512.jpg20130527-143506.jpgLiving the mom life, raising intellectual super heroes poised for world domination. Here we are at an early morning school assembly to cheer Reese on and watch him get an award for Academic All Star.

20130530-215342.jpg20130601-135420.jpgIf moving to Costco doesn’t work out for me, I have pitching a tent at ball fields as a great alternative living arrangement. I have been spending numerous hours running all around creation at various baseball practices and games. Of course the boys would be on two different teams and in two separate age groups. That’s what being a boy in summer is all about though.

20130530-215350.jpgThings have been moving at warp speed lately, so thankfully, my work and church life piggy back with my mom life (Not that you can ever separate yourself into categories. You have to be all things at all times, but you get the point). I’m doing summer serves while earning mom points. The Bridge Church tee-ball team.

Where are you spending most of your time lately?

Any hot weather running tips to share? I will be sharing some of my tips this week as well as what I like to pack in my fuel belt. Liquids are a must for me in these temperatures as I sweat like a 765 pound couch potato. I guess I just have an efficient internal cooling system.

Necessary Tension

As a warning to those of you that follow me mainly for my life changing running stories and saliva inducing food pictures, this blog is going to be more along the lines of SEEDING and LEADING. Running, Eating, and Repeating will definitely take front and center stage again next.

20130512-153650.jpgAs you may or may not know, I am planting a church with my husband and basically I run the whole show. I do, however, allow him to show up on Sundays looking snazzy and allow him to take credit for all of my hard behind the scenes work……..:) In any worthy endeavor in life there is going to be an element of tension. Whether you are training for a marathon, fighting off a craving for a 3rd consecutive gallon of ice cream, or trying to keep your kids from running in front of on coming traffic. This blog speaks to the tension of the great commission (going into the world, preaching the gospel, teaching people, and baptizing people in Jesus name). I hope you enjoy it and if you are not a Christian or not in leadership at your church or another charitable non-profit, you will still get some great information from this. Entrepreneurs, business people, leaders in the marketplace, and even the neighborhood Mom PTA president all have to deal with tension.

Most of life is navigating tension. Not all tension is bad. Tension is good. Tension is what helps a rubber band stretch and as a result of that stretch, it hold things together. The tension reveals its purpose. Tension is what causes your muscles to function and grow within a healthy body. The thing about tension is that without it, nothing grows or is held together, but with too much, things snap. As a church whose mission is to reach those far from God and those that have never known God, we must learn to navigate the tension of seeing people come to Christ and experience new life, while letting God do his work in His time. We want people to come as they are, no perfect people allowed, but we trust that God won’t leave them in the same condition that they came. The tension in this is that as human beings, we feel a need to change people and situations too quickly. It is hard for us to relinquish the control of life change to God. We know that if people will just lay aside every weight and sin and surrender to God that they can run the race with greater ease and efficiency, but they don’t know that yet. Habits, hurts, and hang ups plague people and only the Spirit of God can lead to transformation and break through. We cannot speed up that process. Because of this, we will see many people stumble and fall along the way if we are truly reaching un-churched and de-churched people. In fact, even the most seasoned among us will trip from time to time.

Navigating church life with a vision beyond ourselves, a vision into our community, and a vision focused on those outside of our “religious” community will require moments that we have to sink into and embrace tension. It is like raising a child. You, as a parent, provide a loving and nurturing home and show your kids how to function, but you can’t ultimately decide what path they will choose. As a parent, you can’t force your child into the next developmental stage prematurely or you can cause harm. For example, I fully intended that at some point Reese will have a job and pay his own bills, however, it would not be wisdom of me to expect this right now. He is still growing, developing, and maturing. He still says things about me that aren’t true like “you never let me have any fun all you want me to do is work on homework”. My responsibility to nurture and guide him is not removed by the fact that he is choosing to create tension and spread falsehoods throughout the house rather than just surrender to what is best for him developmentally in that moment.

I thought Reese would never potty train. It was getting down right ridiculous at one point. I was frustrated. We were in a power struggle, and, there was at least one occasion that he looked right at me and pooped on the floor of our living room instead of heeding my call to the toilet. If he had Facebook he probably would’ve posted something like “I showed my mom who was boss. I don’t have to listen to this.” He has no recollection of this now because he is growing into maturity. He is slowly learning that what mom and dad say is for his own good. The power struggles haven’t even really begun, but I’m geared up for the rebellious years because I’m praying for my children and I also know that conflict and tension are not always bad. They are what make us grow and move onto new developmental stages.

As leaders and children of God, our job is obedience. Our job is a faithful heart. Our job is action. Our job is to move forward with what God has called us to do, and not get distracted along the way when the rubber band gets pulled tightly.

In a 21st century setting, we will be dealing with a lot of insecurities and attention seeking behaviors from some people using social media to become the center of the world. We will see this from the “churched” “de-churched” and apathetic toward church.

My advice to such people is straight from the word of God:
1 Timothy 4:12, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

     We can’t control decisions made and words spoken by other people, but we can control ourselves. This scripture was advice from Paul to Timothy. Remember Timothy was a preacher of the gospel and was still getting attacked from people in and outside of the church. Paul’s reaction to Timothy was not to go publicly defend yourself, but to allow his life, fruits, and actions speak for themselves. If Timothy had Facebook, he wouldn’t have gone to Facebook to garner commentary and “likes” for his plight or to prove something about his character. He would’ve continued to use his Facebook to edify, build up, encourage, or just to keep in touch with people like it was intended.

The bottom line is that tall trees catch the most wind. When you are flowing with the wind of the Spirit and you are moving in a God given direction, there will be windbags and people with hot air to take the wind out of your sails. There will be storms that come and go, but I know that the identity of the Bridge Church and my personal identity come from Christ, not what other people say or do. I’m not IN-secure because I don’t look IN-side myself or to others for affirmation. I am in Christ, so therefore I am SECURE.

There will be people who say and do things along the way that shock us or hurt our feelings. This is actually GOOD news. A growing church, a growing body of believers, and people united in UNITY are a target for the enemy. If you aren’t being criticized it is because nothing is happening.

Stagnant ponds don’t attract surfers. There are no waves to ride on. Only oceans that bring in the tide and are moving with the WIND create waves.

Let’s be honest… sometimes, the church is the LEAST safest place for a human being, but this is NOT going to be said of the Bridge Church. We will rise with respect and honor and integrity for all people.

Speaking of Jesus, the book of Isaiah says, “He was despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised.” It looks like false accusations and pain are sometimes part and parcel of pursuing Jesus.

Some people will USE the church at some point for whatever they can get from it and are not truly desiring life change from God. Whether it be money, attention, affection, or a whole host of other things they are seeking we shouldn’t be surprised. We can only pray that while their motives and intentions are not pure, that God can move on them and change their hearts. Only God can. We can’t. All we can do is create a space that allows people to grow. A space that allows people to throw tantrums during spiritual potty training (some people drop their CRAP everywhere they go because it is all they have ever known). We will teach them to go to leadership and talk things out. We will teach people who have been around God for a long time to have grace in dealing with people that are just learning to breathe. We will hold our tongues and not let our IN-securities as leaders make us jump to defend things that don’t need defended. We will hold our peace and let the Lord fight our battles.

Proverbs tells us that too many words stir up strife and the tongue of the wicked is the tongue wagging the loudest and brashest. The Pastor will deal with wolves that are trying to prowl on baby sheep and devour them, but know that sometimes baby sheep are learning to walk and learning to breathe and they will trip and fall on themselves over and over again. Sometimes there is no wolf and it is self sabotaging that is going on. Sometimes people just don’t want to take responsibility for their own behavior. They may break legs in the process. They may get cut. However, ultimately as a hospital and nursery, the church has to be a place of grace and healing and mercy.

Let God steer the ship and provide the correct amount of tension for our sails. Tension is necessary and forces us to grow and advance forward. Tension makes us stronger and wiser. We trust that tension in our lives means that God is working.

I Peter 4 Speaks to this tension far more perfectly than anything I could come up with.
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
18 And,“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Let’s make the Church the safest place for the most broken of souls.
Let’s be the most accepting to the most unacceptable.
Let’s extend radical grace in ways that are foreign to all but Christ.
Let’s BE the Church.

The tension of the springs on a trampoline keep it together for maximum FUN! What other things in life are more fun with a little tension? (Hint: FULL BODY MASSAGE)

SuperMom

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Today is a very special day. I look at it as a day to say “Happy female empowerment”. While not all women are mothers, and while mother’s day does not conjure up warm fuzzies for everyone, we can celebrate that care giving spirit that God put into women today. I am thankful that for me today is a “Happy Mother’s Day” type of day. I was raised by a virtuous, faithful loving woman and I am privileged to be raising children of my own. I have a Godly, praying Mother in Law, and I’m praying circles around the future wives of my sons. We will not be the statistic.

As the mother of boys only, I am praying that this statement will not apply to my future “A daughter is a daughter all of her life, but a son is only a son until he takes a wife”. NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

20130512-153639.jpgAfter I got up at 5:30 and did my short Sunday morning run (The pace of each mile was expedited by the fact a pack of deer were chasing me), I came home to these 2 amazing snuggly little guys bouncing off walls, filled with excitement to hug and kiss me while singing “Happy Mother’s Day to you” to the tune of the birthday song. I’m thinking that these moments are part of the riches of my inheritance in Christ.

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Just a few of the ladies, all of whom mean the world to me, willing to pose with their carnations today.

The Bridge Church was wonderful today. I was so blessed by the “Life Change” story shared by a friend of mine today at the opening of church of the power of God working in her life through the Bridge Church. This is what my life is all about. Chains be broken…..Lives be Healed….Hearts be opened….as Christ is revealed. The sermon was a glimpse into the life and mind of Mary, the mother of Christ. First, it wasn’t odd to her at all to be confronted with angelic visitation and the voice of God. Secondly, we choose which voices we want to have guide our lives and Mary chose to go with the voice of the angel and the voice/promise of God over the pressures and voices on the outside and over her own comfort. Even though my husband preached today with a male perspective instead of me with a female perspective, he’s a super mother lover and said I was his visiting angel, so it was amazing.

20130512-160213.jpgRocking the sermon

20130512-153620.jpgI knew you would be super disappointed and not able to live one more day if you didn’t see a picture of my food. I had the most amazing strawberry, pecan, feta cheese, and other random various fruits and onions salad as my appetizer. I wish I could have someone deliver me this awesomeness on a daily basis. I’m glad I was able to be with my mom and my boys at lunch today. There is nothing sweeter than generations attending church together and then eating lots of good celebratory food with each other.

(Repentance followed by gluttony followed by repentance. Gotta love the cycle)

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A passel of both purchased and homemade cards from my men. Be still my heart!

20130512-153553.jpgPeeking through all of my mother’s day flowers at the boys who call me “Mom”. (Eventually every kid in the neighborhood was in my yard. I hope their moms got some rest while I corralled all of their kids 🙂 )

20130512-153559.jpgA glimpse at a page in the book Reese wrote to and about me for Mother’s Day. I love his artistic rendition of my appearance and his views on my fashion choices.

20130512-153605.jpgThe card Reese picked for me. It plays a hilarious song. His perception of me totally cracks me up. I guess I’m pretty obvious! No more hiding my stealth type “A” get on top of everything skills.

20130512-153611.jpg20130512-153615.jpgCoffee with my favorite NBA stars, and a game of “Who loves mom?”.

20130512-153644.jpgThe grand finale of the SuperMom post is a picture of me exactly 8 years ago, 7 days before Reese entered the world and became the first to call me mother. He was born on May 8, 2005, which was Mother’s Day that year.

  • Do you ever wonder how in the world your belly, or your wife or mother’s belly, ever got that ginormous and then eventually returned to normal? The miracle of life is astounding!
  • What was the best thing that you have eaten so far today?
  • What is your idea of a fabulous mother’s day?

Deep Thoughts

What good is starting tomorrow when you can stop being lazy and start today?

Since this blog is in part a leadership blog (Isn’t that obvious from all of my food pictures I post?), I thought that I would spend today sharing with you some of the deep thoughts I have been thinking over the course of my last several runs. Spending hours alone with nothing but the birds, the pollen, your tennis shoes, and a little bit of concrete separating you from your brain creates a magical place where genius is born.

Workout Review:

Yesterday I ran 3.25 miles followed by strength training and weights (The Kettle Bell DOMS never kicked in so I ramped it up even more. I’m in total post half marathon beast mode), and today I did a nice, breezy 6 mile run.

Food Review:

I’m feeling like my glycogen stores are stocked up adequately for a coast to coast non stop run. I even said no to cake at a community event I attended Thursday night because at some point the party has to stop. It is always a delicate balance to eat enough to build and maintain muscle, keep a healthy metabolism, fight off the scary runners appetite from increased mileage, and maintain weight loss. My weight hovers in a 3-4 pound range that I like to keep it at to feel strong, fit, and healthy. On any given week I will hit both the bottom and top of the range and this is perfectly normal based on hydration, digestion, activity, hormones, and a whole host of other things like if I ate an entire gallon of ice cream or not the night before or whether I ran 18 miles or 8 the previous day. (I don’t see how it is possible to keep your weight identical, so I have established a range and I WORK to stay within it. It does not just magically happen. I established a range so 1-2 pounds of water weight or life issues won’t freak me out. It is when I get out of that little perfect range that I freak out and do an intervention.)

Deep Thought #1:

  • The weather in Cleveland is not like the weather in Southern California

In typical Cleveland fashion, we got amnesia about what it is really like here and got too comfortable with the amazing weather spell we have had. I stepped outside this morning almost regretting my short sleeves when I noticed the sun was not coming out today and that we were sitting in the 40 degree Fahrenheit range. It’s a good thing that I’m such a salty runner. I managed to get in a good sweat even in short sleeves today. I need to quit following running bloggers in LA. It is just depressing to see the sunshine they “endure” on a daily basis.

Deep thought #2

  • Know your strength zone and stay in that zone.

Reese wanted Chick Fil A as the last stop on his birthday week tour today. The birthday week has to end because tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and therefore, the party is all about me again. (Who am I kidding? It’s about my mom. Nobody cares about me. Once you reach 60+ I guess you’ve earned the right to pick the restaurant.) Our local Chick Fil A has updated their menu to include the nutritional information right on the board in compliance with all these new Anti-Obesity laws Michelle Obama has been pushing. The greatest thing to come from these new menus is the realization that it is better for me to eat 2 Spicy Chicken Sandwiches instead of having a milkshake. Jonathan and I were extra starving today for some reason and so we both caved and ate a second sandwich. I am only admitting this publicly because I was able to get my vegetable servings in with the extra pickles I ordered on BOTH of my sandwiches. I guess it’s a good thing I have eaten numerous super foods today as well and that I ran 6 miles.

20130511-133113.jpgSide Note: Truett Cathy knew his strength zone. Instead of a career in modeling, he pursued business ownership. Think of how different the world would’ve been if he had chased a dream out of his skill set.

Deep Thought #3:

  • Not all diet books are good for you

I’m a pretty big fan of Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper, and the mission of the Biggest Loser Crowd. In fact, I have read numerous Jillian books and Bob Harper’s book “Skinny Rules” really impacted me. I now drink my coffee black because that is a skinny rule (I don’t even know how I stomached cream before. Now that I’ve gone black I’ll never go back) However, I do not recommend Bob’s new book “Jumpstart to Skinny”. I got it at the library excited to learn a few new tips for my arsenal and was completely off put by it. He advocates full blown dieting and we all know that does not work. It is just a temporary fix. The only thing in that book that will change your life is to increase your water intake. Oftentimes dehydration masks itself as false hunger. Guzzle water all day long and just taper back some near bed time so you don’t have a miserable night clubbing in the WC. In fact, I just stopped mid sentence and got a glass of water just so I could practice what I preach. you will never find me being hypocritical on water intake. I have always been a huge drinker. I come from a long line of super thirsty folks, but I never paid attention to how different my body felt and looked when I drank lots of water versus when I was drinking illegal amounts of Diet Soda, Crystal Light, and any other zero calorie beverage. (If it has zero calories it must be healthy in ocean size doses correct?) So now, especially in light of the runstreak, I make an effort to get most of my liquid intake from water (with or without lemon, but preferably ice cold).

As a weight loss success story myself, I can’t even imagine following his advice of eating only 800 calories a day. I eat that for one snack (joking). I do realize that with my runstreak and various races that I exercise more than your average gal. In fact, I have to have a take no prisoners approach to stay fitting my size 6’s, but I feel drastically better eating a clean, balanced, hearty diet combined with exercise. I have done calorie restriction and it was a losing battle for me. It never lasted, I always felt lethargic, and I would gain the weight back in the form of fat. Even when I was “dieting” in a sense to lose my 55 pounds to get where I’m at now, I still ate around 1,800 calories a day because I was changing my lifestyle, not “jumpstarting” myself to being skinny for 5 minutes just to yo-yo back. Bob, I know you mention exercise and I know you emphasize fruits and veggies and water and all of that is good, but other aspects of this book should be titled “Jumpstart to Starvation and Anger”.

Deep Thought #4:

  • Running is a great way to multi-task

Many people do not exercise because they don’t have time for it. I propose that if you have even 20 minutes to watch TV, read this blog, check your twitter/Facebook, or get a second helping of dinner, you have time to break a sweat. Now, it may be true that you don’t want to make time to workout 7 days a week, so just start with 3. Regardless, before you know it, you will crave exercise and you will start sacrificing other things in life to make time for it.

I do a lot of my personal growth and development when I run. I listen to leadership podcasts, sermons, lengthy passages of bible reading (the YouVersion app will read to you), and I get to work on our worship songs for Sunday. I know our Worship/Creative guy probably won’t read this, so I will tell you that he’s quite the vigilante on getting everything just so. I am sure my neighbors appreciate hearing me practice all the lyrics and my alto part loudly while I run. This is good training for my lungs too. I can do speedwork, memorize lyrics, bust out a crazy praise, and work on harmonies all at the same time.

In full disclosure, sometimes I like to run with no iPhone/ear buds and sometimes I have to have tunes that really pump me up, so I need some Pop Fitness Radio. I don’t suppose you can fit my habits in a box. I like to spice it up.

20130511-131112.jpgWhile these songs are not in the Pop Fitness category and are a tad on the slow side for an epic run, I do appreciate the mind, body, spirit fuel that they provide for a great workout and I’m going to be prepared like a boss for worship service tomorrow.

Deep Thought #5:

  • I found a dollar on the ground on my run

Very few things will get me to slow down or come to a near halt on a run. Once I lose my rhythm, it takes me a while to get back into it and it is like starting all over again. However, I found a dollar on the ground covered in ants and stopped to pick it up and blow all the ants of. If a penny saved is a penny earned, then I just saved 100 cents! This my friends, is deep. Who says it doesn’t pay to run?

20130511-131129.jpgDeep Thought: This kid just played some killer Tee-Ball and is unbelievably attractive. I can’t believe I’m a mom and raising such a handsome, well-adjusted child. This is proof of God’s grace.

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My mom, me, and my boys earlier this week. Happy Mother’s Day!

20130511-133924.jpgDeep Thought: My mom is really lucky that she was able to give birth to, mother, and raise my brother and I. Not all moms are privileged to be in the presence of such greatness.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the ladies out there this weekend. Mother’s Day can be a mixed bag for a lot of people. Grief, death, betrayal, loneliness, insecurities, abuse, abandonment, abortion, adoption, dysfunction, and unmet expectations can cloud the day, but remember there is healing and hope!

What are you doing to celebrate mother’s day?

What are some of the deep things of life that have been heavy on your mind?

What do you listen to when you run?

Who is my neighbor?

The difference between who you are now and who you want to be is the work you put in.

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I am super proud of my husband. You have to admit that he is a rock star. When we first started dating, he told me that his dream was to be a rock star. Although I’m pretty sure this was tongue in cheek, when you decide to plant a church you have to be willing to wear many, many hats and Jonathan has been totally owning the drummer hat. We are, however, accepting applications for the Bridge Church drummer position in case you were wondering. Jonathan would give up that seat in 3.2 seconds if somebody able AND talented wanted it.

On Sunday, after playing with mad skill, Jonathan continued our Parables Sermon Series at the Bridge Church with the parable of the Good Samaritan. (Luke Chapter 10 is where you can read the parable).  This parable speaks to me every single time. I think we have all been guilty of being so busy, even busy with good things, that we neglect the greatest calling that we have, and that is to serve, bless, and minister to those around us. Too many people are more interested in getting people to COME to them that they fail to GO and tell or GO and show or GO and share.

An individual who is more interested in building barriers rather than bridges has missed the heart of the GOSPEL!

Barriers can be big or small. Sometimes barriers aren’t even spiritual, but they are cultural. We don’t want to step outside of our comfort zone or interrupt our schedules. We are inherently selfish. I know this to be true because you have to TEACH your children to share. They aren’t born wanting their sibling to have a turn on the swings, they have to be taught that. We must learn to teach ourselves to share of our time, talent, and treasure and look at people with the same compassion that Jesus looked at us. Jesus came to save the entire world and his mission on earth was only 33 years long and his ministry was only 3 years long and yet he was never too busy to be interrupted. He didn’t hang out with “church” people or religious elites all the time, he focused on the least of these. My challenge this week is to ask myself who I can serve and to focus less on my to do list and my ministry and my mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health and see who I can pour into. Not that I don’t already do this, but we could all be significantly better at being intentional in every interaction we have on a daily basis. You may think you know somebody, but it could be what you don’t know that could cause you to miss a God given opportunity. You don’t know their hurts, fears, failures, private lives, or prayers. Lend a hand!

When I went on my run this morning, because the morning was nice, there were lots of people in their yards trying to get a few things done before work, or people walking to their cars to leave and I tuned myself into my surroundings. Do you know that I heard 5 different languages spoken just around my subdivision on that one run? Literally portions of the entire globe are residing in my neighborhood. By reaching out to one neighbor, you could affect not only individuals, but families, networks, regions, and nations. There is no time to not live your life on mission. You can’t keep your distance and make a difference!

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We practice Meatless Mondays as part of our routine. This was last nights dinner. Besides the hours spent gathering a super fancy plate and place mat, this “Taco Salad” meal is super delicious and quick. A HUGE bed of Spinach with Tasty Bite Madras Lentils on Top (Purchased at Costco. They also sell this brand at Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Trader Joe’s and other places but it is way more expensive there than Costco). You top the lentils off with organic salsa (Costco brand Kirkland of course), and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or fat-free sour cream. This is filling, amazing and less than 400 calories.

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Could my life be filled with anymore cuteness or greatness? I think this picture is evidence that it could not be.

Have you ever heard of part-time vegetarianism or Meatless Monday’s? Do you practice it?

What can you do today to serve your community, starting with your neighborhood?

Have you  noticed most pastors wish they were rock stars? Their favorite move is to sing loudly into the microphone at the end of service, even if that’s not their gift. I have observed this 87% of contemporary churches.