a shout out

March 8th is International Women’s Day! You may not have known that. It is not a high-profile holiday here in the US, maybe it is where you live.

You may not have planned any extra activities or special menu items for the day. If you forgot to invite your family and friends over for the celebration, that’s OK. I thought we could celebrate here!

shouting-for-joy

Since living almost 20 years in Latin America, I know that you do not need an official reason to have a party. It can always be fiesta time! When I read that March 8th is International Women’s Day, I immediately began to have a party in my heart as I reflected on the amazing women who have been on my life journey with me.

I began thinking about family first… My brave Mom who is battling cancer and just lost her husband but continues on loving me and others. My sisters who have each fought their own personal battles through the years, but are growing and learning and giving sacrificially to others. My daughters who make me so proud as they become thoughtful, generous, sensitive, creative, strong, caring women.

shout Newsbie

I could never list all the special women who have been friends, coaches, mentors, and inspirational examples for me, but as their faces flashed through my mind, I remember life-changing conversations and experiences together, and my soul feels refreshed and ready for any challenge life may bring.

Friends also came to mind… friends from all stages of life and all parts of the globe. How they have brought laughter, adventure, comfort and challenge to my world! We have talked for hours, worked side by side on eternally valued projects, and cried and hugged through pain. I am a better person because of their investment in my life.

Jimmy Jack Kane / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

I thought, too, of the women I have never met, but I have read about them or read their books or blogs. Women leaders and those who have suffered great tragedies. Women who advocate for women to find their place in powerful divine alliance with men for good and change and hope in our world.

And speaking of men, I cannot forget to mention the ones who have believed in me, sponsored me, and always ensured that I found the stairs to the unique platform God designed for me. My incredible husband, Steve, is the first one on this list.

I have written about some of these special people through the years, but I can never do them all justice. Their influence is engraved in my mind, heart, and soul. So this week, I am taking advantage of International Women’s Day to give a shout out to these special ones. I am so grateful for paths that crossed and lives that intersected.

Will you join my fiesta? Who would you like to honor on this International Women’s Day? Name your special people in the comments… I’d love to celebrate with you!

when holidays hurt

broken ornamentMy husband’s family lost both mom and dad in the last year. Christmas will feel empty at times, like something is missing… because they are gone. There will be a longing in our hearts, tears in our eyes, and arms aching to hug someone who is not there.

My friends have not had any contact with their daughter for 10 years. They can not see or communicate with their grandchildren. They don’t know what they did. They also lost a younger son to cancer over five years ago. Family gatherings are not easy for them. Pain is always there.

Special friends are terminally ill. My mom is battling cancer. I am so very grateful she is with us this year – we did not dare to hope that a year ago, but treatments make celebrations difficult: energy is low, appetite is gone, fears of the future lurk in the corners of our mind.

My sister’s son lives far away. He is making life choices that are not the best. She worries about him and struggles with how to respond and relate to him – words chosen carefully, trying to show more love and less disapproval, but it is hard. Even a phone call takes more emotional energy than is available at times.

Lack of money stresses others. How to explain to the pleading eyes of a child that “Santa” will not bring that new toy? How to help a teenager understand that the new trendy phone is not in your budget, and they do not “need” what “all” their friends already have?

Even inner battles over how to celebrate can plague us. How many presents do we buy? How much do we spend on (more!) decorations? How many parties do we attend? How much food do we eat? … when we know others around the world have no clean water, or food, or shelter… How do we reconcile marketing pressures with message focus?

Tears and laughter are both part of our life-long journey. No one is exempt. A very wise man once said…  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

I have a burden on my heart to pray for those who hurt this year – that they will have someone near to share a shoulder to cry on and hold them in a hug that says that they are loved. Maybe in some cases, that someone will be me.

I also want to delight in the sweet and happy moments of this year and live them to the fullest – not let petty, insignificant things steal my joy or lose my focus… savor every decoration, Christmas carol, and special flavor, and store them as deposits in my soul… because one day I will need to draw from them… or share them with others.

Is there pain in your heart this year?

How do you help others when they are hurting?

in tune with CHRISTmas

starOther people started a long time ago… singing, shopping, decorating.

I’ve been trying very hard to avoid it. I haven’t thought about it much at all. I have been focusing on the present.

But now it’s right around the corner.

I felt stressed this morning.  

No more pretending.

No more ignoring.

No more procrastinating.

It’s CHRISTmas!

I so often wish that Thanksgiving and CHRISTmas were separated by various months in the calendar instead of back-to-back with only weeks in between. I actually enjoy both holidays very much, but I don’t like feeling that either one overshadows the other.

So I did my best to focus on Thanksgiving until we had celebrated completely… and now I need to re-focus. This year, I have a great desire to spend more time in tune with the Person of the season and less time tuned in to the commercialism and the consumerism that bombards me from all angles.

So far I have thought of a few things I can do…

Daily Reflection – I have already downloaded two new free Advent resources, and I am sure there will be others available. Starting each day with my mind and my heart on the right track will help me remember what is most important during these weeks.

Personal Focus – I greatly prefer experiences and memories over gifts, so rather than shopping alone, I plan to spend more time with the people I love. There are many special activities available during this season. I hope to revisit some old favorites and discover some new ones too.

Say “NO” to Stress – So much of my stress is self-imposed, because I don’t schedule well or I take on too many things without leaving any margin. I’m going to try to choose well according to my priorities and say NO when I feel like I need “down time”.

Take Care of Myself – I have already found that the cold and festivities are wreaking havoc on my exercise, sleep, and diet habits. I know I need to rest, work out, and control my calorie input in order to fight off seasonal “bugs” and have energy for all the extra fun and people.

Practice Grace and Forgiveness – Speaking of people, I often spend time with lots of people during this holiday… some are dear, cherished family and friends… some are more difficult for me. In addition, there is something about the high expectations of special activities or once-a-year visits that set me up for frustrations and hurt feelings. This year I am going in with the expectation that I will most likely have to give and ask for grace and forgiveness numerous times.

What do you do to make CHRISTmas more meaningful for you or your family?

a 30-year celebration

fireworks digitalphoto KeeratiWhere did the time go? How did I get here? Am I really that old? Did I ever imagine when I was first starting out that I would arrive to this point? Has it been worth it?

This year I celebrate 30 years working with the organization known as cruI started out 30+ years ago with enthusiasm, belief, energy, a bit of trepidation and the support of family and friends. I stepped out of my comfort zone, moved to a new state (and eventually new countries), and I took on challenges that I wasn’t sure I could actually accomplish.

I believed that I could help change the world.

I learned a new language, developed my strengths, grew in weak areas, tried new experiences, tasted new flavors, and worked with some of the most incredible people in the world. Sometimes I made mistakes and poor decisions. I loved working with others, dreaming dreams, and creating something new.

I believed that – even with my weaknesses – I could make a difference.

I trusted strangers. I loved those who were lost; I helped others grow. I changed because they taught me new ways. I asked for forgiveness and forgave those who hurt me. I shared my time, my home, and my heart with many who became life-long friends. I said good-bye too many times.

I believed that people can change.

I laughed. I cried. I mourned. I celebrated.

30 years have gone by, but the adventure continues.

I still believe…

_______________

Are you following your dreams? What do you believe?

realization of a dream

Do you have a dream? Something you long for? Want to see happen? Wish you could change?

I have lots of dreams… personal growth milestones, work goals, hopes for my children, my friends, my community, my world.

Not every dream comes true, but they come true more often if I have given my best effort to make the dream a reality.

We enjoy visiting local coffee shops whenever we travel. We met Dazbog Coffee Co. in Denver, Colorado, and I love the history behind the dream they made come true. Certain elements of their story helped make their dream a reality…

Vision – Leonid and Anatoly Yuffa had a dream. They envisioned a better life – freedom, democracy, opportunity – a new way. On a cold, quiet evening in Russia they were pensive, reflective, talking together… and a dream was born. I am often too busy to slow down and think, but new creative visions don’t come to my mind when I am running from one thing to another. I need to take time to think, process, and dream…

Do you take time to discover your dreams?

Values –  Successful organizations, families, and people know their key values; they carry them around or post them on the wall as a constant reminder. The Yuffa family chose to combine old world heritage and tradition with new technology. They committed to a quality, rich cup of coffee, and these values permeate all that they do. Sometimes desperation to make something happen tempts me to drop my standards or set aside my values, but that will only detour my dream. Consistent values are the bedrock and the decision filter for any new venture.

Do you know and live by your values?

Unique style Red, black and yellow details are on everything: coffee cups, bags of beans, clothing line, and posters on the wall. They name their coffee blends based on the history and character of their homeland. When you walk into a Dazbog café, the Russian influence is obvious. I am often guilty of trying to live someone’s dream rather than my own – trying to look like, act like or produce like another. That’s not a good strategy (!), so I am learning to live comfortably in my own skin… and pursue my unique dreams.

Are you comfortable with your unique style?

Celebration Turning dreams into reality requires hard work, perseverance, focus, wise choices, the right people, …and God’s blessing! When I go after a vision, I can focus so much on achieving the dream that I forget to celebrate the steps along the way. The Dazbog way “celebrates life itself in each and every cup”. From their profits they give back to community projects to help make the world a better place. I want to remember to celebrate progress and process and not just a finished product. I have a sense there will be many more realized dreams that way.

How do you celebrate on the way to your dream?