Friday, April 28, 2017

Chasing Unicorns

A door from my daughter's preschool. Used with permission.
You are currently chasing Unicorns my friend. The mythical creature resembling a horse with a single horn in the center of its forehead was a recent topic of discussion here in the U.S. The buzz happened because of Starbucks’ brilliant marketing campaign to get a bump in sales. The strategy worked. They ran out of Unicorn Fraps and people left with 76 extra grams of sugar in their blood stream. When chasing Unicorns, it's wise to know which one to chase.

During the same time of the Starbucks Marketing success, long distance runners turned their eyes to the Unicorn in the center of the Boston Marathon’s logo. Running Boston is very much like chasing Unicorns. You need to qualify to get in that race and qualifying is difficult. Someone like me must run a marathon in less than 3 hours and 40 minutes. The best I’ve done so far was 5 hours and 14 minutes. Do you see why qualifying for Boston is very much like chasing Unicorns? It can be done but oh, it’s difficult.

Driving to the nearest Starbucks and paying for a Unicorn Frap is very easy. Qualifying to wear the Boston Unicorn in my chest can be very difficult but it is possible.

The road less traveled is supposed to be challenging. The issue is, which Unicorn are you chasing?

This morning I spoke to a young lady chasing a Unicorn of her own. She’s a bank teller who is struggling in school and who has a passion to do makeup professionally. She told me her GPA was low and she wanted to work hard to bring it up. I encouraged her to stay the course, finish what she started and believe that as she chooses the narrow way, it will lead to incredible possibilities.

I look at my own life and the choices I have before me. I am choosing to "chase the Unicorn" as I invest in my health. The small steps I take today will make a difference in my later years. There’s nothing easy about getting up at dark o’clock, reading my Bible and exercising. I do know that it will pay off if I stay the course.

I recently had the crazy dream to pursue further education in Bible Study Methods. God opened doors and that was the easy part. The 12 weeks I took the class were hard. I chose to stay the course and God blessed me at the end. The grade was not the blessing, what I learned about God's character was my reward.

Stay the course my friend. It's hard, no doubt about it. Be sure to chase the Unicorn that will lead you to your wildest dreams.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Teaching Kids to Win when they Lose

The kids and I in May of 2014
If Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, awards for things I know my kids won’t win is the worse time of the year. Let me fully explain.
We are an awards obsessed culture. If I sign up for a race and I don’t get a medal, the race director certainly gets the side eye. I even feel that I need awards for doing simple things such as cleaning my toilets. I am doing a great job reflecting the culture I live in. I’m human and I’m very good at it. Back to the kids.
I am all for kids earning awards that make a difference. Honor roll means my kid did their homework and mastered the material. I also have been the kid who did not master the material and had to repeat a grade. I didn’t cry about not having awards back then because I was old enough to understand what I got myself into. I also did not come from a family/culture that was awards obsessed. Back to the kids again.
I get sad when my kids cry because they did not get an awards that in their 3-year-old mind, makes an immediate difference. I’ve been through this so many times that I decided that if talking doesn’t work, I was going for the “Listenbee Company Incentive Plan.” Here’s how the plan worked:

Year 1: the 3-year-old balled her eyes out. I told her we’d try harder next year. We did try harder that following year.
Year 2: the 4-year-old still didn’t win and she balled her eyes out again. I affirmed her efforts and I introduced our Company’s Incentive Plan.
Year 3: the 5 year-old no longer cried but the whole Incentive Plan backfires because the youngest Company member who was now 3 balled her little eyes out. She quickly composed herself when she heard there was a great Company Incentive Plan on the table.

You and I know that there is very little that 3-year-olds do for themselves. The real people winning awards are parents. I respect a parent’s eagerness and competitiveness as well as their own Company Incentive Plans. I decided after Year 1 that I was not going to lose my peace and joy because of such temporary awards. I still want my child to be a great participant. I remind my little ones each year that the greatest lesson we learn is how to be truly happy for others. The richest lessons in life my friends are learned in these vexatious circumstances. Can you truly be happy when you lose?

Living in an award obsessed culture has taught me to be creative when parenting my children. I teach that the only reward we want to attain comes from a God who one day will say “well done.” I hope my kids and I hear “well done feeling happy in your heart for that person who won the award you wanted so much.” If strength of character is what we get from this experience, I’m okay with that. Oh, let’s not forget that Listenbee Company Incentive Plan that totally rocks. The plan is to celebrate their year of hard work at Chickfila. We hardly go out to eat, so you can imagine their joy when they hear this Company Incentive is on the table.  

How do you help your kids navigate through the reality of not winning?

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Twig

The orthopedic surgeon’s office is a buzzing place. There are elderly people in wheelchairs. There are children of different ages with casts in slings running around. There are entire families that come to support one solitary child and there’s me, all alone with my son.
I often feel tempted to feel sorry for myself. That was until I noticed a woman with twin babies looking frazzled. My son and I found a sit next to her and I kept observing her. One twin was wiggling in her lap (they seem to be 4 months) the other one was happy in the car seat. My heart felt that familiar twig of compassion because I have had that frazzled look in my face due to the estate of my heart. I make conversation.
“Are these your first kids or do you have more?” I ask with a smile.
“No, these are my first kids,” she politely answers.
“You’re a super mom! Great job handling two all by yourself!” She replies,
“My caretaker called me at the last minute and told me she couldn’t come, so here I am by myself.” I still feel her pain but a little deeper. No one likes those last minutes let downs. I offer help.
“If you need a hand, any mom would help you. I know I certainly would.” She says thank you as she returns to caring for the wiggly baby in her lap. Three minutes later she gives me the firm nod. I quickly sanitize my hands and I get baby number two out of her car seat. She started to feel unhappy and a simple change of position totally satisfied her.
I got to help super mom better not because I’m better, but because of that twig of compassion in my heart. I learned from my family that compassion should move me to action and those actions are a blessing to others.

Have you ever felt a twig of compassion in your heart? Don’t ignore it my friend.

I have learned that we all have chances to show compassion to others. We just have to be attentive to that twigy feeling in our heart.

I always wondered how my grandmothers and my mother always embraced others as their own. It was because of the twig of compassion. My mother had a chance to spend 6 hours with a woman my age who is a missionary and who told her “I miss my mother so much, would you be my mom?” to which she promptly responded “yes my daughter.” Those 6 hours were precious and refreshing for both my mother and the young missionary. That act of compassion and mutual Christian love made a mark in my life. I learned that a mother of 5 children and more than a dozen grandchildren still has time and capacity to extend her arm to embrace another child.

During a recent field trip I learned that one of my daughter’s classmates lost her mom in the Fall. My heart ached big time. I know I can’t save her world and I perceived she was in good care with family but for that field trip, I extended my arm to embrace another child.

I know you wonder if you have time. Yes you do. I know you wonder if you have the capacity. Yes you do. God is not asking you to starve your family emotionally. I do believe He is expecting that like Jesus, your heart is moved with compassion and that as a response, you extend your arm to embrace another.

Who can you embrace this week? Open your heart and wait for that twig in your heart.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Secret Life of a Pastor’s Wife

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6

Got you. You thought I was going to give you the juicy stuff right? I can still do that! Let’s see… Easter Sunday was an awesome time for us. As a Worship Pastor’s wife, I got really smart and started preparing ahead of time: outfits for the kids, everyone’s hair was done, shoes were ready to go and oh, the food! I cooked the kids’ breakfast and got started on our lunch. I was super tired by the kids’ bedtime so I fell asleep just to wake up at 4 a.m. We were all in church ready for the 6 a.m. sunrise service. The kids enjoyed their experience and I’m glad we all were together to greet the day and to celebrate Jesus’ victory on the cross. Four services later we were back home where I finished lunch, washed a bunch of dishes and prayed that the kids would sleep that afternoon so I could rest too.

This Pastor’s wife does a lot of things out of sight and my secret life fuels my public life. Matthew 6:6 speaks about being seen in secret. I understand that’s challenging because nowadays our sense of self-importance is in an all time high. I know some doctors who are less available than the ordinary person with a cell phone. Those little screens give us the impression that we should be available 24/7 and there are no restraints on what we show. I must remind you that I’m a social media user and I love the benefits of different platforms but I also believe in balance and self-control. God sees in secret. If my phone is there, I’m open to the public. I also understand that some of my readers pray with others believers through phone groups and on Facebook Live. If that’s the only time you pray, we have a problem my friend. There’s a place for praying with other people but we should prioritize praying in secret by ourselves. I believe that there’s where refreshment happens.

The secret of life of this pastor’s wife is fueled by prayer to the Father in secret. I become closer to God because that prayer life increases my intimacy with God. I know that might sound funny but I wouldn’t exchange that for 1 million followers on my favorite social media platform.

I wonder how your secret life of prayer to the Father is going. Can you increase the frequency of your connection with Him? Jesus gave us full access to the Father and trust me, there’s not a person on earth that has more magic when it comes to prayer. Use the access Jesus died to give you. Develop a secret life of prayer that will fuel your public life.

More on this Series:
5 years of Houston: Stuff I can say
4 years of Houston: Reflections
3 things you may not know about people in ministry
Pastor's Wife: Purpose and Security

Monday, April 17, 2017

Green 6.2 Recap 2017

 My 5th year running the Green 6.2 race might have been the most fun year ever! We took the whole family this year. While my husband and I ran, our dear church friends took care of the kids.
The race had a new course this year, which was lovely. Instead of going through a major road, we took second loop through a neighborhood. It was nice to enjoy that shade for a second time.
The water stations were great and the water was COLD! Oh my word, that helped a lot and I was super thankful.
I haven't raced since January so the goal was to cover the distance and to have fun. I took pictures along the way, I went on Facebook Live and at the end, I couldn't believe how much fun I had. I knew I loved this race for a reason. My time was 1:13:52, which I am okay with because I had so much fun!
 I am super grateful for another opportunity to participate in the Green 6.2 and I want to encourage my friends to sign up for next year. They also have a 5K option and this race is for runners and walkers.
I loved running the Green 6.2 and diving deep into our Easter celebrations as a family. You bet I'll run this race again!

Green 6.2 over the years:
2016 recap
2015 recap
• 2014 recap
• 2013 recap