Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Decorating Doctor Is In

I had all the usual symptoms:  rash (of new ideas), eye strain (from the old color) and fatigue (tired of the same old thing).  I called my Decorating Doctor.  She was quick to diagnosis the problem and give me the prescription I needed.  A room make over!

She is your typical Decorating Doctor.  She brings the wonderful ideas, colors, textures, window treatment ideas and furniture arrangement.  And she also uses your credit card, leaves you with more work to do than you have time and calls repeatedly to see if you’re finished yet so she can come see the finished product. She gets all the fun and I get all the work.  In order to get over this I have a long to do list for the next few days, or weeks.

Craigslist added a “new” chair yesterday and tomorrow I’ll get the paint.

Little does my son know, but the cure involves him as well.

It’s a good thing I only get this once a year.

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Why I love to read the newspaper

The early morning walk to the curb gets me out of the house. (I miss our first dog Wiz, who would actually go retrieve the paper for us each day)

There are enough sections for everyone who wants to read.  No waiting.

It goes great with coffee.

I love to be exposed to and read about things I would never choose to or even know to “google”.  I may not read every article, but I can read a little about a lot.  I like that.  And when something really catches my eye – I’m hooked and I didn’t even know I was interested when I was walking to the curb!  And that’s the main reason I really love to read the newspaper.

Today was no exception.  Nicholas D. Kristof wrote a compelling review of a book that is already on its way to my house, The Power of Half. It’s an intriguing story of a teenager who convinced her family to sell their large (oversized for their family) house and give half the money away to someone in need.  You can read the entire article here.   Did they miss their big house?  Nope, they said that the smaller house actually encouraged them to spend more time around each other because there was less space.  A benefit to giving they never expected.

I grew up in a very small 2 bedroom house, 1 bathroom, 1 living room, 1 kitchen, no basement.  When my brother and I grew too old to share a room my dad converted the 1 car garage into a bedroom.  Three steps down from the living room and I told everyone at school we now had a 2 story house!  It was tiny.  But my mom always said, love grows best in little houses.  She loved the song by Doug Stone, Little Houses.

But you know, love grows best in little houses,
With fewer walls to separate,
Where you eat and sleep so close together.
You can’t help but communicate,
Oh, and if we had more room between us, think of all we’d miss.

So today the newspaper brought me nostalgia, a new book to read and yes, that brisk walk to the curb before sunrise.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s brings.

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The Rear View Mirror

My outside temperature gauge was hovering between 30 and 32 with a light drizzle falling as I was cruising through the hills of Pennsylvania on Rt.380.  The wipers began to make a scrapping noise and I noticed a little ice build up on the windshield but kept moving along without too much notice.  As I approached a car creeping along the highway their hazard lights flashing I quickly changed lanes and zipped around to pass.   I looked in the rear view mirror and watched the dozen cars behind me do the same. Except for one big difference, they all began to slide, slip and careen off the roadway on the thin layer of ice that had formed.  Without that glance in the rear view mirror I would not have adjusted my speed and no doubt wound up in the same ditch.  Lesson learned from the rear view mirror.

When things are going according to plan I seldom look back, review or evaluate.  If things are going along status quo, ho-hum,  it’s even hard for me to remember those days. I don’t look back when things are going well, because, well, things are going well.  Full steam ahead.  I just keep moving forward.  It’s the times that are  difficult, unexpected, painful and even scary that I remember the clearest.  I’ve learned my best leadership and parenting lessons from those experiences.  And it’s then that if I pause long enough to take a look in the rear view mirror, there’s a lesson to be learned.

I’m in a bit of a difficult patch right now, things are not cruising along as planned and I’m not enjoying it one bit, in fact I’ve been whining.  My daughter reminded me of something I wrote her a few months ago on her birthday.

“My advice for [you – and me too] for the next [forever – not 24 years] is enjoy the moment, everyone of them, right where you are, one moment at a time. Even the ones that seem like you’d like to forget them. Those are the ones that you learn from and someday will turn out to be the ones that you lead from, give you wisdom to share and eventually laugh at as you remember them” – you (that would be me)

She reminded me that this is one of those times that, down the road, will be where I lead/parent from, where I gain needed wisdom and eventually might even laugh about.  (I’m not so sure I like it when my kids quote me back to me)

Are your cruising along no need to look back or are you hitting a difficult patch too?  Those are the times where I usually learn the most.

Keeping an eye on the rear view mirror.

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Jantsen’s Gift

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.  The Presidential Proclamation states:

… we acknowledge that forms of slavery still exist in the modern era, and we recommit ourselves to stopping the human traffickers who ply this horrific trade.

This month, I urge all Americans to educate themselves about all forms of modern slavery and the signs and consequences of human trafficking. Together, we can and must end this most serious, ongoing criminal civil rights violation.  – Barack Obama

How can you take part?  I’d like to suggest you read Jantsen’s Gift by Pam Cope to educate yourself about the child trafficking that is going on today in Ghana, West Africa.  Jantsen’s Gift  is a true story of Pam Cope and her journey through  grief, rescue and grace.  I’ll warn you now you’ll need a box of tissues.  It chronicles the steps that led her to the small town of Kete Krachi, Ghana where George Achibra Sr. leads a family effort to find, rescue, educate and rehabilitate trafficked children off of Lake Volta.

I read this book a few weeks before I traveled to Ghana, West Africa last year to take a similar journey to Lake Volta and see the work  being done to rescue children trafficked on the lake into the fishing industry. It is a sad reality that is as sobering in real life as the book portrays.  You can read about my trip here.

This was my third trip to Ghana in the last 2 years.  I had no idea when I said yes to that first trip where it would lead.  I just knew that the first step was to go.  The next step would not come until after I took the first one. And 2 years later I found myself on a boat in a lake in the middle of Ghana staring into the eyes of a child with no hope, no sorrow, no emotion of any kind.  Empty. A slave.   At that moment, I knew there would be more next steps for me to take.

I’m back home now and past the business of holidays, college students home on break, vacation and re-entry to work.  And the next steps are making themselves clear.  I’ll be attending the Women of Vision Conference in March.  I’ll take part in a day of lobbying with my congressman to encourage him to co-sponsor HR 2737, “The Child Protection Compact Act”,  which will help enforce anti-trafficking laws by creating partnerships between the United States, countries trying to combat child slavery, and organizations such as World Vision that continue to lead the fight to end child trafficking and slavery.

And another opportunity is presenting itself for April that just might include an invitation for you to join me.  More on that to come.  Keep reading and checking back for more information.

Next steps.  Take one.

Read the book

Check out the organization Touch a Life

Join me at Women of Vision Conference and Lobby Day

Join the conversation here and tell me about your step

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Perhaps

What a great word – perhaps.  It’s never really been apart of my vocabulary before.  Being from Oklahoma I tend to use alot of simple words. (there’s one right there, alot)  This past week I spent 2 days in strategic planning meetings and a new colleague (now that’s a biggie for me) joined us.  Several times he introduced his ideas or thoughts beginning with,  ‘Perhaps…..’.  This is my new word for the week, perhaps.

I love the way that sounds and what it implies, respect.  You’re not telling me what to do or what to think, you’re asking me to ponder, to open myself up to a new idea, consider a new possibility.  It’s a gentle way of asking me to listen to another point of view or new information with an open mind and put aside the preconceived judgement I might have already made.  It’s asking me to consider again before I make a decision.

I’d never been in a meeting with this new colleague before this past week.  But if I’d had any defensive guards up, his ‘perhaps’ disarmed them. At the end of the day I may not have changed my position on the topic at hand even though his argument or point was prefaced with ‘perhaps’.  But it might be a better decision or position now because it’s been reexamined, discussed anew and challenged.  And he demonstrated how to be gentle, respectful and yet challenge others thinking at the same time.

Perhaps you might want to try my new word this week too.

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Haiti and Helping Your Children Cope

This week’s disaster in Haiti has brought grief, tragedy and death into our homes.  If you have children they are discussing this disaster at school and among themselves and you as a parent need to enter that conversation.  I remember the tragedy of the Oklahoma City bombings (where I grew up), 9/11 and the Katrina hurricane and the questions that those world events brought to our dinner table and bed time routine when my children were younger.  In the midst of our own emotions we are modeling how to cope, think and respond to our children.

Take a moment to read the following article from LifeWay.  It has some great reminders for parents.  Little eyes and ears are watching and listening to you.  Be intentional about your parenting during this disaster.

From time to time I read a blog by a children’s pastor in Canada, Henry Zonio. He recently started a parenting blog that has peaked my interest.  He addresses the age-old question “why did this bad thing happen” in his recent post.

I think we get so caught up sometimes in trying to explain why bad things happen. We forget that question is more of a distraction sometimes. The real question is, “How can we help God’s Kingdom come in the midst of pain and disaster and darkness?” We need to empower kids to take a look at the world around them and all that is broken around them and ask, “God, how can I be light? How can I be a part of your Story of redemption in this situation? How can I love you and love others in this?”

Those are two great question to ask ourselves and our children this week.  How can I love God and love the people of Haiti during this?  And while you’re at it, love on your kids too.


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New Wheels

We pick up my new set of wheels today.  When I dreamed of life without a van I pictured myself in a sporty little car, stick shift and a moon roof that was perpetually open with sunshine pouring in.  Zoom Zoom.  (I guess I really do have a little of my Dad’s Nascar dna after all)

And I really liked my friends suggestion of a nice classic 57 Chevy but I’d hate to ruin that beauty with road salt.  Did they even make seat belts in cars back then?

We’ve settled on a Honda Pilot that presented itself as an offer too good to refuse.  Clean, good in the snow, half the miles of the van I was driving last week, checked out with the mechanic and a price we couldn’t beat.  It’s not the sporty little thing I was thinking of but that’s ok.  The only regret is giving up the moon roof with that Syracuse sunshine pouring in everyday.  And if you live up here you know – that really was a dream.

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