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.

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.

pexels-photo-1652555

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 

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

 

No Longer Legal

No Longer Legal

On one particular “girl nights” this past summer I played one of those question games where you get to know people better. Things like, “If you were a unicorn what would you do?” or “If we were all in a fire who would be best equipped to handle the exit strategy?” All of these questions were really funny but the answers made them even funnier! This little game however led my husband and I to use one of the questions in a very different capacity.

As most of you know, we speak, write and encourage couples on relationship success, lifestyle, and high performance living.  One of the questions on that specific night loaned itself to some incredible insight.

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“If you could make one legal thing no longer legal what would it be?” 

The answers on the night of that ladies trip were broad and humorous. What was interesting was that this particular question sat in my mind for a while. It kept coming back up for me but in totally different ways. It caused me to think further and more profoundly on the matter of what we choose to allow to dictate space and ideas as ok in our lives.

The thought that I kept coming back to was, what we allow to be “legal” in our lives that shouldn’t be. Things we absorb and the things we deem ok. These ideas and concepts that  for whatever reason we just take as fact and acceptable. They are not good, right, or beneficial in any way. Things  and phrases like “marriage is hard,” verbal assault under the blanket of “constructive feedback,” violence in any form, hate, malnutrition. All of these things are things we should deem “No Longer Legal.”

When I rattle off this list most of us would say we would love to have all of those things eradicated from our lives.  Yet, personally we malnourish ourselves all the time, we hate any and every single opinion that is different from our own, and we orally assault ourselves with negativity that we would never ever let anyone else say.

So I ask again, What legal thing should you make no longer legal in your life? Not in any way should you accept this, not from others or from your self. Choose to say enough.

Things like:

  • verbal assault
  • hate
  • negative venting
  • gossip
  • malnutrition
  • substance medicating
  • rudeness
  • judgement
  • unhealthy thoughts that don’t serve you
  • negative feedback
  • arrogance

None of these things are loving. And like Carrie Underwood says: “We believe that in the end love wins!”

Creating Exceptional standards for what we are going to allow in our lives will help us to live more fully! So what standards are you making for yourself and for your relationships?

Galatians 5: 22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
+++ If you enjoy these concepts and would like to have Steve and Kate as special guests on a podcast, blog, or to speak at an event near you go checkout An Exceptional Romance for further information on how to engage with these authors!

Dear Journal

Dear Journal

Fall 2019

I have a head cold. I’ll be honest I’m happy about it. I can cancel on obligations and stay home from church. I can let me husband take charge without feeling like I am leaving him to do all the heavy lifting. I can exhale. No guilt involved. I can stay in my pj’s and drink tea all day without feeling like I am being lazy. I instead can give myself the thoughts that I am giving myself the gift of health and recovery.

I am learning the art of “being”. As I work on this, I realize I have been in a season where it’s not ok to do this. That in our world, “being” is considered irresponsibility with one’s time. However, my body, mind, and emotions are screaming for nothingness. I have been in a season of serving. A season where if I sit I must also be doing. Example. I sit down on the couch. If I do this, I must be watching something, texting someone, listening to or encouraging of…  But guess what? It is O.K. to not. To be proactive and to be doing constantly is exhausting. Exhausting to a level you can’t describe. You only know you have it.

But the world says:

“Create the things you wish existed.”

“I’ve got a dream worth more than my sleep.”

“Success is not owned it’s rented and the rent is due everyday.”

My head was killing me yesterday and so I stood in the kitchen dazed. With an ache that went far beyond my head. And for 10 solid blissful minutes I sipped my tea and watched my kids play “puppies”. (This is where one child gets down on all fours and pretends to be the puppy, running around playing and throwing my fall pillows everywhere, while the other child play’s the role of owner, taking care of the puppy and telling the puppy “No, NO! and sit”.)

As I stood there. Just stood, I could feel myself becoming rejuvenated. It was utter delight. 10 mintues of NOTHING. No emails. No texting. No instagram scrolling. No list making or menu planning. When was the last time I did that? When in my life have I taken the time and just received it? Where I didn’t try and push back or fill the space with something.

I read a quote a few days ago that said, “Less Hustle, More Grace.”  – Hilary Rushford. It spoke to my core. I am choosing this. More reading, less technology. More home time, less child extra curricular. More cooking, less running. More puzzles, less productive projects. More being, less doing.

I have piles and piles of blogs and posts and writings on doing, productivity, time managment and going the distance. After all, I am a personal coach. My job is all about motivation! But so often we fail. I fail. We fail to see, that in a world that screams “Go! Go! Do! Do!” God has been wispering to our hearts “You just have to be. Be Grateful. Be kind. Be Mine!”

This fall I am focusing on less. Less mess, chaos, and deadlines. Less exhaustion. The interesting fact is, that as I do this I gain more. More rhythm, more peace, more inspiration, more energy, more authenticity, more joy.

What are you focusing on this Fall?

 

10 Weeks of Summer and What You Should be Doing

10 Weeks of Summer and What You Should be Doing

Summer is only about 10 to 12 weeks here in the south. Before we can blink the lazy mornings and pool days turn into school shopping and cramming your reading list into the last two weeks before football season starts back up. So what should we be doing with this time? How do we maximize it with out it maximizing us? There have been many  a summer that I have gone back into fall with exhaustion and sunburn, wondering how I allowed my most precious and favorite time to be eaten up with things that just didn’t seem to fulfill my potential. This sunny joyous time is irreplaceable. To help us all out, I have decide to give you the questions that I use to help encourage growth. This is for focusing on what really matters during the beautiful summer months of iced tea and water life.

 

  • What 3 goals do you want to achieve within the next 3 months?
  • If anything was possible what would you wish for?
  • What have been your 3 greatest successes to date? 
  • Are there people that you’d love to spend more time with? If so whom and why?
  • Is there a hobby you’ve wanted to spend more time on? If so what?
  • Is there a class or workshop you’ve been meaning to take?
  • What else have you always wanted to do?
  • What are you struggling with right now?
  • What makes you feel tired?
  • What is one thing you can do today to move you forward?
  • Who are most important to you in your life – what do they provide you with?
  • On a scale of 1 -10 how happy are you with your life right now? What are the things that make you happy?
  • On a scale of 1-10 how motivated are you in your work/personal life? What motivates you?
  • On a scale of 1 -10 how stressed do you feel right now – what are your key stressors? List 5 things that you feel you are ‘putting up with’ right now? 
  • In a weekly report write out how you did with Chill Time, Sleep, Exercise, Drinking Water, Reading, and Focusing on personal development.
  • What skill do you need to personally develop over the next three months?
  • What are the top 10-15 goals and tasks you are going to focus on for the next 10 weeks?