Identity

Identity

Just a few short years ago I went through a massive personal crisis. I had given up my life career to take on another dream. Motherhood. I loved it. I had prayed for it. I was living it the absolute best way too. I mean, I knew my kids sleep schedules, I faithfully read to them, and created boundaries for proper development. I was loosing myself. But, as I said before, I loved it. After all, didn’t Christ say “to lose was to gain?”

What I didn’t expect was to meet someone a few years ahead of me and that to see her wondering around in her existence would rock me influentially. She had done something similar to her life as I had. Yet being a few year ahead of me, now that her children were in a different place and no longer needed her, she was “lost.”

What now?

For someone who loves this question (I am an excellence coach after all) the fear that gripped me was a new one! Instead of seeing her dilemma as an opportunity to grow, I saw her situation and panicked. Like a deer in headlights. Like a kid on halloween night. Like my toddler when he thought there was a real tooth fair and had a screaming meltdown that he didn’t want sissy to put her tooth under the pillow because no one should come sneaking in to his sisters room in the middle of the night! Not even fairies! That is the kind of panic I had.

I would question my value, and my identity for close to four straight months after this incident. What was I doing? What would I do?

Push forward to a new season and goal setting and I had absolutely no motivation. “My role could be replaced. My job, millions do. My value, only God knows.” I was not in a good spot, and my husband was worried. Right in the middle of this, someone else shared a story with me.

What they said at the end of their story brought me to a huge “aha moment” and as you plan out your 2020, I hope it can help you create magical moments for your self.

“My Identity had been centered on what I did, what I could create, make better, and do. The problem is that changes. What is my true value if I can shift it or not do it and it doesn’t matter? What I didn’t realize is that I needed to ground myself in what doesn’t change. My value doesn’t change just because my role does.”  — quote from anonymous friend

However so often this is what society tells us.

Example:

  • If your good at something, you get more notice and possibly more money. Therefore my value is worth more.

This is where my role shift started to create fear. I was not being noticed, I was not making more money, and my job would be nonexistent in a little over 13 years.

But wait…

“My value doesn’t change just because my role does.” 

Do not create your identity on things that can shift! Ok. So what doesn’t shift? I mean, the whole world shifts!

The son doesn’t….Wait I meant sun. But actually….The Son doesn’t!

If you are a believer than you know,

“…living life with Jesus makes you better at living life.”  – Andy Stanley

And this is probably the biggest reason it does. He grounds you. When the world is spinning, when the stock market goes up or down, or your phone need updates and crashes, and your roles shifts at home. You are still His!

Your are:

John 15: 15.      Christ’s friend.

Gal.4:  6-7.         An heir of God.

Col.3: 12.            Chosen of God, holy, and dearly beloved.

1Pet.2: 5.           One of God’s living stones and being built up, in Christ, as a spiritual house.

1Pet.2: 9-10.     A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession

This does not change!

Goal setting and even the formation of certain lifestyles without knowing who you are creates a lack of motivation. Worse than that, it creates fear. One of the biggest enemies in life is fear and it is on the rise.

Anxiety is one of the leading diagnosis right now, and 95% of teens say they are worried every day.  Could it be we are struggling to see who we are? If you are struggling with motivation could it possibly be that you have stepped into the trap? The trap of believing you are what you achieve or do.

Once you know who you are, no matter what circumstance comes your way you can meet it with confidence and peace. Sure footed and grounded in the knowledge that you are loved, important, valued, and royal! That is a great place to start for creating the formations of ones life and the goals for ones year.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 

16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.

Celebrate Now!

Celebrate Now!

Life can be so hard at times. Things can be thrown at you that you are unprepared for, and that knocks the wind right out of you. Things that despite your best efforts you have no control over.

I have a saying personally about this.

“We don’t get to write our stories. God does that. But it is what we do with our story that matters!”

I know from experience that it is said every third sentence is negative in some way. And as I become more and more aware of it I am in awe with how often people focus on what is missing versus what they have.

Examples:

  • Complains about wanting a new car, even though they have three.
  • So sad and focused on the fact that someone is missing a family gathering and not focusing on the people that did get to come.
  • Complaining about being sick in pregnancy, failing to see the beauty of growing life!
  • Saying that the next year they will have a lot to celebrate but have nothing to celebrate right now.
  • A lack of health is a hard one because someone was complaining about being sick the other day and I felt like maybe they had a “right” to be negative. And then I thought about the joy in my niece right now despite chemo therapy and being very sick. She loves life so much! Everything is an adventure in her eyes. She is doing hard things right now and still she smiles more than all the rest!

We get to choose our attitude and how we are going to walk out our stories in life. We can either be sad or we can be joyful in all circumstances. We can find things to complain about in almost every single thing in life. Or we can choose to see the silver lining in it and celebrate! Do not wait till it is perfect or till everyone can finally show up. Because it won’t happen and you will walk around waiting your entire life to celebrate!

We have a New Years party every year and whoever shows up, whoever joins in, we meet them right where we are and we celebrate! We eat pizza, we drink Champagne, and we laugh. We ring in the next season with joy of where we are and the possibilities of where we are going.

As you step into 2020, Are you going to choose to celebrate this season? Where you are right now! Can you see beauty in where you find yourself? Are you missing out on some of the wonderful things amidst the trials and struggles and hustle?

Life is so unbelievably beautiful. Sensing the beauty is the biggest healer of negativity. Let us all start appreciating the things which we find ourselves in, instead of crying over things which aren’t. START MEDITATING. START CELEBRATING! Bring in some “Happy Realizations.” Do not allow others negativity to start a running contest of who “has it worst.”

Brene Brown says it perfectly. “Don’y get me wrong — we all take turns being frustrated and exhausted. We’re human. Our motto is “you’re free to piss and moan — just do it with a little perspective.” Works like a charm!”

Romans 15: 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Psalms 47:1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

This New Years I am focusing on purging negativity in my life. Part of that is seeing the beauty in everything and experiencing joy in the ordinary. A normal life can be pretty extraordinary. Happy 2020!

 

Playing in the Rain

Playing in the Rain

I was meeting one of my good buddies early one morning this week at a coffee shop to catch up on life and sharpen iron before the days activities began.  The alarm woke me up a little before 6AM and as I rolled out of bed I heard the rain hitting the roof.  When rain hits Atlanta you might as well double your commute time… never fails.  I hurried my morning routine, pulled out of the neighborhood and headed to the interestate.  Not a mile down interstate 400 did I see the sea of red across all 6 lanes as commuters begain tapping their brakes.  Frustration settled in a little but I turned on some music to help pass the time.

Breakfast was at one of my favorite spots in the Perimeter area, a French-style restaurant called La Madeleine.  I’ve been going here for close to 12 years.  A mentor of mine invited me there for the first time in my final semester of college as I was looking for my first job.  Before 7:30 in the morning it is filled with the movers and shakers of the business world.  As I left the restaurant I was surprised to hear a piano being played and looked next to the front doors.  There was a young girl wearing headphones and was completely lost in the music as her fingers danced over the keys.  Unbeknownst to me, there was a piano donated to the restaurant and sat outside for anyone’s use.  I chuckled at how long that must have been sitting there without me knowing.

I got in my car and rolled down the windows so I could hear her play – it was beautiful.  I wished I hadn’t had to jet for another meeting.  It would’ve been nice to sit there and listen to her a little longer while the rain came down on my windshield.  As I drove away I started thinking about her playing that piano in the middle of the rain and was really encouraged.  It was 8AM on a Tuesday morning.  Wet, rainy, drab, and grey.  Most of us (myself included) can begin to look at the day through a negative lens when the weather is unfavorable.  Not for this girl.  She was lighting up that parking lot with music and probably touching a lot of lives.  I have no idea who she was but I’m grateful she was playing that piano.

It reminded me to create beauty even when situations and circumstances are unfavorable.  It doesn’t take much most of the time… just a little creativity and having the right positive mental attitude.  I don’t know what season you find yourself in as we head into the holidays but maybe we can all take a little lesson from this girl.  Go play in the rain and inspire beauty and joy despite what might be going on around you.  It’s silly, now that I think about it.  That piano may have been there for years and I’ve walked right past it.  I can’t play a lick but now that I know it’s there, I might have to go play a few keys the next time I go to breakfast.  Is there a “piano” you need to play over the holidays?  Don’t forget to play in the rain.  And the great thing is, the sun always comes back out again.

-SD-

Do You Have Room for Me?

Do You Have Room for Me?

Recently I had someone I wanted to try and meet up with and they couldn’t. It got me thinking about how much we max out our lives and then can’t find time for people. So as not to confuse you that this was a one time ask and during the end of the year, I was asking this person back in August for a get together they couldn’t make until January.

I had another person recently tell me; “You want us to be friends, but we just aren’t.” Ouch. That one stung. Hard.

As I jump into the holiday season of busy schedules and with more excess but not enough bandwidth I was reminded of another person who possibly was so busy, (even serving people) that he failed to see what really matters. The person I am talking about is the inn keeper in the Christmas story. I believe not having room, is one of our generations biggest struggles. So as I thought on this I did a study. What I found was fascinating.

I knew that in Jewish culture hospitality is one of the utmost and highly important aspects of their lives. I had always been in awe of how the children’s version of this story shows a mean person shouting “no room!” at poor pregnant Mary. How could someone do this to a pregnant woman? Most especially someone who is from such a culture of hospitality.

I personally would have offered her my own bed. I would have! And then I got to thinking about last years Thanksgiving where I housed 17 people in my home for four straight days. I had air mattress everywhere and we had blow ups literally in closets. I spent so much money on food we had to cut back for three months after that. Then I hosted an extended family potluck gathering on the Friday after thanksgiving for over 32 people. Whew! I was so busy I failed to really see anything past what was physically right in front of me. I also didn’t really get to enjoy it either. Is this how the inn keeper was when Mary and Joseph arrived?

It was census time, so he was already hosting and probably had been for a while. The scripture clearly states there was no room. I wonder if there was just emotionally no more room. Tired, exhausted, and in need himself his capacity for one more thing was not possible. One more thing was just not in his wheel house.

Luke 2:7:

and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

I found out that the Greek word, used here is kataluma, which means “lodging place”not “inn”. For example, in Mark 14:14, Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples in an “kataluma”.

Joseph wasn’t turned away necessarily however, the “inn” was probably someones home more than it was a hotel. The inn keeper’s upper room was already full. I don’t believe this person was being mean on purpose. They just didn’t have any more physical or emotional space. Oh my, does this speak to our “first world” problems!

How true is this during the holiday season. We have room for stuffing and turkey and Christmas presents but have no capacity to help feed the forty-million people who die annually from starvation and malnutrition, (roughly 7 Jewish holocausts).

Who in your life is begging for room in your heart and you are already so busy and so full that you can’t see it? A question I often give to my clients when they are looking for mentors is:

“Do they have the time and energy to invest in you?”

It might sound harsh but so many people do not have the capacity anymore, whether by choice or circumstance. Sickness, trauma, and job loss are all circumstance that steal our time from relationships. But so does watching six different TV shows, keeping up with social media platforms, online shopping for things we do not need, and playing gaming systems for hours on end. In this dilemma we find many of us are missing out on something really extraordinary when it comes to relationships. Our capacity to love and to see need is being COMPLETELY wiped out.

Back to the story we find something else. There wasn’t any space in the upper room. But what about the family room? What about where the inn keeper slept? Did this person even ask the other guests if they minded sitting on the pillow cushions in the main room for a little while so the woman could deliver her baby? My guess is no.

Mary ended up giving birth in the “garage area,” of the then Jewish home. This is where people kept their animals. The Savior of the world was right in front of this particular individual and due to being so maxed out, exhausted, and full of his own life he fails to see. The feeding trough in those day’s was not the pretty little baby bassinets we make in our manger scene these days. They were dug out dirt holes in the center. The feeding area that was built into the floor of his home ended up holding his King. The very king this inn keeper and his ancestors have been praying for, for generations was lying in his personal dirt hole for his animals.

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Who are you giving the bottom hole in your home too? The last dirt and grimy place you have? Jesus was born in the middle of lowly, busy, hectic, everyday life and that is so very beautiful! But, what isn’t beautiful is the detail of who missed it. The irony is not lost on me. Are you and I missing the real life people in front of us because we have allowed ourselves to have no room?

An exert from our book An Exceptional Romance

“When we are spinning out of control like this we will never have the bandwidth for what God has laid out for us as the greatest gift…

My husband and I say it often when we speak.

“Busyness will ALWAYS be the death of romance.” – Kate Dahlin

We are missing out on the biggest romantic story in all of eternity when we are so full we fail to see God’s people right in front of us. As we step into the holidays my question is…

Do you have room?

 

+ statistics found in book by Jen Hatmaker 

Believe

Believe

The Holidays roll around and with it a word. Sometimes whispered sometimes punched out on a Polar Express Ticket and sometimes shouted out by a toddler. The word is “Believe”. It is suppose too evoke a kind of magical awe in the individual saying it and encourage them.

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But what if it is hard to Believe? What if you’re scared? What if you are going through something really hard? What if you don’t like the way the belief is playing out? What if stepping out of the boat and being brave causes you to sink, to never recover? Fear is the enemy of trust and belief. When we choose this over faith we will always miss out on the magic of the season God has called forward for.

My Daughter said something the other day. When she said it I could see fear rising up. She was thinking about getting old just like her Great-Grandma. She was grappling with belief. She is six years old.

“Mommy, when you die will you be buried in the ground or in Heaven?” 

“Daddy, How can Jesus be in heaven and in our hearts at the same time?”

Belief is beautiful. Faith is trust. And as we come into the holidays it seems everyone has an abundance of it. But sometimes believing is hard. It carries weight. In the Bible, there is a story about a man who had incredible faith and obedience. But he also grappled with fear. Let’s take a look at the story of Abraham.

Abraham wanted a son. He had begged God for one and had even tried to manifest it in his own way. Apparently, patience was not a virtue for him. Yet, in the middle of all of this we are told Abraham was suddenly overcome by fear.

I love this part of the story because anytime I feel lead to step out in a “new way” or a “big way” or in a “trust way” fear comes knocking! This story helps me realize that this is not a new thing but a very old one that all of us face.

Genesis 15: 1

The Lord’s Covenant With Abram

1After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.

I am your shield, a

 

Here we see that God instructs him to not be fearful. To walk boldly because He is his shield. He is protecting him. He literally is a piece of armor infont of him. God was telling Abraham that he was covering him in all the right places and that He would survive this and not only that but that Abraham would thrive!

Proverbs 30:5

5“Every word of God is flawless;

he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Are you in place in your life where you don’t think you’ll make it? Has life’s battle field caused you to be beaten down. Are you questioning if you are bleeding out spiritually, emotionally or physically? Do you feel like you are laid bare before the battle field?

God told Abraham that he was covered in all the right places and that he was in a vital spot to survive.

Genesis 15: 4-6

…your very great reward. b

5He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring d be.”

6Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

He was a credited in righteousness because He believed! He trusted God’s hand was at work and that He would accomplish what He said He would, period the end. That is it, nothing else. If you have a battle going on and you are hustling so very diligently are you trusting in God that he has you covered in this season? Have you picked up your shield? Your war may not end but you will be protected by God himself!

As you think about the nativity, Jesus, faith and Mary’s trust, this season I hope it gives you courage. That you remember that in your season you too can be credited in Righteousness. All you have to do is, Believe! He is able!

Romans 4:20-24

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

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How To Pack Perfectly So You Can Have A Perfect Trip!

How To Pack Perfectly So You Can Have A Perfect Trip!

 

In the last year and a half we have been to Africa, Colorado, Italy, Canada, California, Scotland, Kentucky, Disney World, New York City and the Beach five times. I am not saying this to boast but to explain how much washing, laundry, and packing I have done!

To learn how to do this efficiently and well for each trip is a feat! Each location is different, so different things must be brought.

I have a system that is fail proof! I believe in this system so much. I believe in it even more after a trip where my sisters gigantic suitcase was siting next to mine. I realized that my little carry on had brought triple the amount of shoes as her case had and it was for the same trip. So without any further fluff here is my system.

#1. I start with the weather. What is it going to be and for how long? I usually don’t pack a lot of extra because I am of the mindset if I need something extra I can usually buy it, (Unless I am camping). For the most part when I travel I usually like to save space for souvenirs and shopping.

#2. Always invest in good luggage. If you travel a ton it is worth it!

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#3. Shoes!!! This might seem backwards but I start with shoes. If I am headed to New York and walking but want to look good I know that is diffrent than the beach or to the horse track. I create my outfits from my shoes first.

#4. Lay out all outfits. Visually this helps coordinate and make sure you’re not bringing all one color but that you can over lap shoes or a hat. I Always bring workout gear and a swimsuit; no matter what!

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#5. Toiletries are key. I usually pack my flat iron, downy wrinkle spray, bra stickies, detox foot pads, a hair mask, an eye mask and fiber supplements along with ibuprofen. This is my travel stuff not my everyday. I also always carry roller balls of “peace and calming” or “stress away” because you never know what smells or issues you will run into!

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#6. I repeat this process for every single person and then if you have the kids in the picture I allow each one to pick one toy and one book to bring.

Happy Travels Everyone!! Enjoy your holiday season to its fullest!

Season Change

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“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”  -2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)

 

I’m sitting in my office today watching the last of the rain pass and admiring the beautiful bursts of color in the trees that seems to have manifested overnight.  The cloudy weather has only amplified the colors and made them more exquisite.  Yellows, hints of orange and burgundy, deep maroons, and brilliant reds.  Make no mistake, there is still a lot of green out there.  The transformation has started earlier for some than others, but they’ll all get there eventually.

What season of change do you find yourself in today?  Is it a good one?  Are you waking up with a bounce in your step and refreshed energy because things seem to be going your way?  Maybe you acheived a big goal, paid off some debt, closed that large deal, found some news friends, got some great news from a doctor, or seem to be excelling in work and ministry?  Or have you been caught off guard and find yourself defeated, exhausted, and frazzled?  Financial woes, a job loss, family dissension, marital strife, a sudden illness or health setback, spiritual exhaustion/fatigue, moving and loss of friendships can have a significant impact on our outlook.

Here’s the good news.  Everyone goes through change – no one is immune.  It may be easy to look around at everyone’s “perfect life” and wonder why you’ve been dealt all the bad cards.  But you know as well as I do, that is all a lie.  The book of Ecclesiastes talks about this alot.  The author, Solomon, came to the conclusion that there is nothing new under the sun and that everyone is impacted both positively and negatively.  This isn’t very comforting when are are in the valley.  It’s also not very comforting when you are on the mountain top either.  Kate and I have had to deal with thoughts of fear during the times when things are just going our way.  Afraid that we are one phone call or email away from something going awefully wrong.  We kept wondering, “how long is this season going to last before the bottom drops out”?

We need to be reminded and take comfort in knowing that our point of reference and “hope” is not in what we see around us.  Our achor is Christ.  He will use these season changes, if we allow Him, to mold, shape, and transform us into His glorious image.  What does that mean?  We will begin to reflect the attributes of God more in our life, despite what is going on.  Instead of FEAR, we will be prone to PEACE and rest.  Instead of WORRY, we will TRUST His goodness and timing.  Instead of ANGER, we will sense JOY welling up within us – even when there is not natural reason why it should be there.  Instead of JEALOUSY, we will find ourselves CONTENT with all things.

God’s image is much more glorious than anything we could ever possibly create on our own.  Yielding to his Spirit’s power will not only empower us to walk through whatever season of change we find ourselves in, but will also radiate beautiful colors to those around around us.  I sometimes think about God in heaven looking down on His children.  I wonder… might he possibly see all of us, in our various stages of change and transformation, like the autumn leaves that we see in the midst of fall?  A glorious and beautiful bouquet of all shapes, colors, and sizes.  He’s smiling at you, and he wants to radiate through you.  All you have to do is let Him.

 

-SD