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Gentle Reminders for Moms with little ones.

We have had Maya for 3 1/2 weeks. 3 1/2 weeks is long enough to be reminded of what parenting "littles" is like. Lots of interruptions--worthwhile interruptions, but still breaks in routine. Diapers, potty training, crying for no apparent reason, nursings and feedings... all worthwhile, and yet energy depleting and emotional draining. Moms, that ma...
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How can meditation be good for you?

In the ninth grade, I remember the first time I moved into a yoga pose. Pretending to be meditating, I closed my eyes, crossed my legs and brought my thumbs and middle fingers to touch. I was in the school cafeteria. I had no concept of yoga except this—and I was quickly reprimanded by my concerned christian friend—that Christians can't meditate. It is against God to do such a thing … And for many years, when I heard the words mediate and/or yoga, that was the experience that came to mind.

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I love the benefits of living an active lifestyle.  I am not a competitive person, but I find an incredible amount of joy in finding my edge. Most of the time. But, it's not always easy to stay motivated.

There have been seasons, where training for an event was just what I needed. There have also been seasons when training for an event or setting too many expectations and goals became more stressful then helpful.

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“The highest reward for man’s toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it.”
- John Suskin

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Years ago, our pastor was teaching from Genesis.  He made a comment that I don’t think I will ever forget. "Short-cuts in life never get you to where you really want to go.” 
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Pumpkin spice lattes, a few cozy pieces added to my wardrobe, we have a series of birthdays to celebrate—ahh—some of my favorites things...

Do me a quick favor: take a few moments to think through your September calendar. As you mentally go the activities, special events, work projects and celebrations—did you make sure to include a few lines for yourself?

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How are you?
I mean, really, how are you doing?
If I were lucky enough to be sitting across the table from you, would you give me the abbreviated version, or would you share a bit more honestly? 
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 "Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?"from the book by Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Most of us listen with just 25% efficiency. Chances are that even when we are not speaking or on our smart phones, we are thinking about what we will say, rather then being present and truly listening to what is being said to us. This week we will dive into some practical ways to practice how to listen, love and lead well.

Whether we are talking about raising our children; who we work or volunteer with; and/or anyone of in our sphere of influence; are we the person that we want them to intimidate? Or are we still hoping someone else is going to rise to the challenge and take on the work of making a positive difference?

Active listening and being present is a lot of work. By nature, we think of ourselves first. So putting anyone before ourselves takes mindful effort—but so is anything worth having. So how do we make this a reality when we already feel pulled in so many directions?

3 practical ways:Routine. I realize that many of your schedules have to be flexible. I know my own does. So, set up a schedule with several blocks of time that will be specifically for the to-dos that have to be done for you to function. If you know that you have scheduled them into your day, it helps remove the immediate burdon of not getting some things done as quickly as you like—leaving some mind space to listen. I know that if I don't start my day off with time alone for meditating on God's Word and silence, then I will not listen to anyone else well.  So, whether I end up with 2 minutes or 20 minutes, that is always in my routine. Another one for me is an empty sink before I go to bed. I know that before I lock the doors and turn off the lights, the dishes are done. So, when someone needs me to tune in and engage before then, I really work at listening to what they are saying to me.Breathe. Some days it is just hard to not try to blaze through the day. Slow your breath down and your nervous system will help with the rest. Use these moments to remind yourself of your favorite mantras or scripture verses to re-shift your focus.Expectations. When we stress ourselves out, it is because we think we are not getting what we wanted. Sometimes our short term wants or goals really aren't that important. Think long term here. Goals and intentions are great. Expectations and perspectives have the power to derail us—don't cave to the want of the moment, live the moment. I know that sounds really silly, but give it a go, you'll understand what I mean.

Learning to listen well will make ours far richer then only focusing on ourselves. I think most of us want to listen, love and lead well. I also think we tend to give up when we allow ourselves the excuse that "we just aren't wired that way" or we are too busy today, maybe tomorrow...

I also know that somedays I fail at listening. I have went through the motions, but could not truthfully tell you how the people that matter most to me really are doing. Even if they tried to tell me! When those days are over, maybe I made it through a few more items on my to-do list, but I am far less content with how I spent my time. When this happens, it is always a reminder that my short term desires are not worth living my life for, but the people God allows me to get know and share life with are.

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Trail running… my first real introduction to meditation. The biggest difference being if you happen to follow a rabbit trail of thoughts—there is a really strong chance you will bite it and hit the ground.

I can’t even remember why I wanted to start running trails. However, I will never forget the miles of running on jagged rock and mud—and aide stations that have Nutella pita sandwiches and M&Ms—and the necessary focus to what was in front of your feet.

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My heart goes out to the families affected by recent events.

Racism is real. Just as real as slavery, and human and sex trafficking--modern day oppression...

I think this is a really good time to ask the question Joe (our local church pastor) asked on Sunday. “Are we living our lives to create a better life, or a better world?” From my vantage point, more people, including Americans, have been choosing the better life. Whenever we care more about ourselves then those around us—then we have been choosing selfishly.

Everyday we we make small and big decisions regarding what we believe and what we value, regarding ourselves and others. All our decisions add up and shape who we are.

I believe our nation is where it is, because as a collective, we have been choosing “us vs. them”—ourselves verses everyone else. When we value our own comforts more then what God values-the orphan, the widow, the captive, the weak and oppressed-then eventually, our actions will catch up to us. God never pushes Himself on us, but He does desire we choose His way over our own. If we choose to go our own way, then He will continue to love us—all the same—but His values and His love will not be evident because He will leave us to our own ways.

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