3 Ways to Live A {Remarkably} Average Life

Unsplash - Deck on Water

There seems to be a lie floating around that says that if you’re not famous, you’re not really that interesting. You’re a nobody. An average joe, living an average life that nobody cares about.

Ignore it.   3WaysToRALife

Because it is my belief that you can be downright remarkable in your “average” (or ordinary or normal or mundane or usual or whatever-other-synonym-you-prefer) life. And, the people that you touch while living that {remarkably} average life are enthralled with you.

Now, I don’t pretend to know how to go from average to {remarkably} average. In fact, I’m just starting the journey to figure that out. BUT! I do think the steps I list below are solid contenders for the foundations of living a {remarkably} average life.


1. Discover Who You Are

Several years ago, I had the privilege of listening to a man named Ray Vander Laan (RVL) do a full day teaching seminar on the differences between Eastern and Western thinking, particularly in how they relate to understanding the Bible. It was fascinating. It was also recorded so, every so often, I pull out the recording to listen to the teaching again. RVL starts the day off by relaying a story of a Rabbi long ago that was walking to a nearby city and, as he came to the walls of the city, a centurion called out to him, “Who are you?!” “What are you doing here?!” This made the Rabbi stop and ask the centurion if the Rabbi could hire him to stand outside the Rabbi’s door and ask him those same two questions every morning.

There’s a scene in the 1984 movie, The Never Ending Story, between Atreyu and Gmork where Atreyu is learning about Fantasia – what it is, why it’s dying and what’s killing it. Atreyu has already asked Gmork’s identity but, as Gmork’s revelations settle in to Atreyu’s mind, Atreyu realizes there is more to this creature than he has said. And, as Fantasia continues to break apart, Atreyu asks this final question to Gmork, “who are you, really?”

Here’s my point.

Knowing who you are and what you’re doing is vital to living a remarkable life (click to Tweet)

Knowing who you are and what you’re doing is vital to living a remarkable life (even if it is also an average one). But you have to know who you really are – right now, today – to be the most effective. Knowing who you want to be is great and there is value in working to become that person. But trying to be that person now, when you haven’t had the life experience necessary to support it, will leave you feeling exhausted and will make it impossible to be anything except ordinary.

You can’t give what you don’t have.
You can’t teach what you don’t know.
You can’t sell what you don’t own.
You can’t create what you don’t see.
You can’t be who you’re not.

…so find who you are and be that person.

2. Be Who You Are

It’s not enough to know who you are, you also have to be who you are. You have to live your life according to the way God made you. Not him. Not her. Not that person right there or those people back there. Not your mom or dad, your brother or sister, not anyone else in this world. You.

And the reason for that is simple.

The world needs you. It needs your unique gifts, talents, smarts, questions, mistakes, hopes, dreams, successes and everything else that makes you you.

Don’t believe me? Then take your Bible (or find it on the internet), stand in front of a mirror, locate Jeremiah 29:11-13 and read it aloud (not out loud because that’s actually bad grammar) over and over and over until you start to believe the words. Read all of it and, if you’ve been a Christian most of your life like me, take extra care to read every word and not gloss over any of it because you “know it already.”

See? God doesn’t do anything without purpose, including creating you.

3. Challenge Who You Are

Don’t be ok with status quo. Even if it’s your status quo. I’m not saying to constantly be looking to change who you are, I’m just saying to challenge who you are. Make sure that you are the best person you can be. Line yourself up next to a mentor or Scripture or a role model or an expert in your field or whatever you need to in order to encourage yourself to keep growing.


So, there you have it. That’s what I know so far. And the basic point is this: living a remarkably average life starts with who you are. What you do will come later and will flow out of who you are. Sort yourself out first and you set yourself up to be the most remarkable person in your average life.

What are some other ways to ensure living a remarkably average life? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

It’s Not About Guns, It’s About Hate

#stopthehate

My husband is kind of a shy guy. He doesn’t feel the need to talk (unless it’s in the car with me). He has opinions, but doesn’t feel the need to share them and when he does speak, it is usually to make a joke or say something witty or funny. He’s a serious guy, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Which is one of the things I love the most about him.

Which is why, when earlier today he was typing away on his phone, I asked him what he was doing.  My curiosity was piqued even more when he replied, “ranting.”

Last night, 50 people were murdered. Fifty. Five. Zero.

And why were they murdered?   

…one word.

Hatred.

My husband’s “rant” was posted on Facebook and centered around this ugly, heavy, ridiculous word. In it, he says,

I’m absolutely DISGUSTED to see people ON BOTH SIDES of the 2nd Amendment using the tragedy in Orlando to push their agenda. It hasn’t even been 24-hours since FIFTY people were MURDERED and yet all you can do is salivate at the mouth to say, “told you so.” Whether or not you believe this country has a gun problem or a mental health problem, this country DOES have a hate problem. Until that is solved it doesn’t matter how folks will hurt and kill others, they’ll find a way.

And I’m not just talking about the killer hating homosexuals. Folks hating him not for killing these innocent people but because he’s a radical Muslim. Pro gun hating the anti’s and visa-versa.

What if I told you you could disagree with someone, with their values, with their religion, but not hate them???! What if I told you that when people who disagree with your opinions it doesn’t mean they hate you??!

Guess what, I don’t agree with gay marriage. But guess what, I don’t hate homosexuals. I love them. I am privileged call many of them friends. We just happen to disagree on an issue that’s very important to them. Guess what? I don’t agree with how Muslims practice religion, because I am a Christian. But I don’t hate them, I love them. I have several Muslim friends, we just disagree on how we practice religion. Continue on and on with anyone who is different than or thinks different than me. GREAT. They have an opinion and a belief just like I do. I’m not perfect, but it’s how I strive to live.

Those differences of ideas and opinions SHOULD be what makes this thing we call humanity great, but instead we chose to hate and use them to bring humanity where it has come to today.

Jesus said the second greatest command is to love your neighbor. Excuse the language but he never said to hurt people or be an asshole to them because they think differently than you.

So in the wake of today’s tragedy, I say this. Shut up about your ideas and feelings on Guns, homosexuals and Muslims. Leave your hate at home. Go hug someone you love and be thankful you still can. Today, thanks to hate, the families and friends of more than FIFTY people can never hug that special someone again. Think about that for a minute. Let it sink in.

If you pray – pray for the families and friends of those killed in this senseless act. Pray for those that witnessed it and will face trauma for the rest of their lives. Pray for the physicians treating the many wounded. Pray for the family and friends of the killer as they wrestle with what he did. Pray for this country and this generation to turn from a people of hate into a country of love where people can express different ideas back and forth and be ok with someone else disagreeing with them.

If you’re still reading this, whether we disagree on issues or not, I love you and respect you.

Rant over.

This isn’t about guns, people. It’s not about guns or words or knives or bombs or gas or rope or scissors or pencils or cars or fire or anything else that is used as a weapon against another human being.

This is about hatred.

And until we can snuff out hatred, innocent lives will continue to be snuffed out by hatred-fueled violence.

And until we can snuff out hatred, innocent lives will continue to be snuffed out by hatred-fueled violence. (click to Tweet)

You wanna stop senseless killings?

You wanna make the world a safer place?

You wanna raise your children in a world with less violence?

Stop the hate.

Learn to love people who are different than you. Learn to disagree with people who are different than you (without getting angry about it). Get over yourself, take responsibility for yourself and learn to get along with others.

You don’t have to like everyone in the world, but what’s the harm in loving them?

The Safety Net of Truth

Unsplash - Tulips

“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” Isaiah 49:16a (ESV)

A few years ago, while on an eleven month long mission trip, I was walking a field in the Philippines. It was a makeshift soccer – or, should I say, fútbol – field and my squad was clearing out rocks and debris that would make it difficult for the kids at the children’s home to play. A squadmate of mine and I were having a conversation. She was asking a little bit about my life – my family, my childhood, siblings, parents, pets, college, work – basically all of the normal conversation topics that might come up after four months of traveling the world with the same 60+ plus people.

I remember voicing something to her in that conversation that I’d never really voiced before. Something that surprised me as I said it but was undeniably true once I heard it.

Even though I had experienced a chaotic childhood and had continued to care for an unpredictable mother until her suicide the year before, I had never hit the proverbial “rock bottom.” There had never been a time when I had felt completely helpless with nowhere to go. I had managed to keep from using destructive things like drugs, alcohol and sex to numb pain or escape the chaos or calm the confusion. And I had never even entertained the thought of ending my life.

My friend asked me why I thought I’d managed to handle things so well. And, as we walked a few more paces in silence, stooped over so we could pick up the rocks and put them in our buckets to clear them from the field, a quiet but confident thought stirred in my soul.

 Because of the Lord.

Because He has always been my safety net.

It was a sweet, sweet revelation and one that I was humbled to admit. My God had never left me. He had never forsaken me. He had always been there to catch me.

Ironically, in the three years that would immediately follow my return from that mission trip, I would finally find myself in the deep, dark places of depression. And the memory of that conversation would fade away leaving me to feel completely alone, fully helpless and not at all safe.

But, just as the Lord was my safety net through childhood and early adulthood, so was He three years later and still on through today. My feelings don’t change Truth; they just may make it harder to believe.

My feelings don’t change Truth; they just may make it harder to believe.

Friend, what are you struggling to believe today?

If it is that God is for you and not against you. If it is that He has a plan for you, one to prosper and not to harm you. If it is that He will never leave you or forsake you. If it is that God has not forgotten you. …then let go and fall safely in to the waiting arms of God.

He is there.

And He will catch you.

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I am thrilled to be featured in Sweet to the Soul’s #GodsMasterpiece series today! Go on over there and check out all the great posts!

A Message Laced with Grace

19 James 4 6

When I was growing up, my mom would often say to me, “I’m about to knock you off that pedestal you’ve put yourself on.” It was her way of telling me that I had crossed a line and become “too big for my britches,” acting like and believing that I was something special. More special than someone else because of a talent that I had or how well I was doing in school or how athletic I was when it came to running. She didn’t want me to think of myself as being better than anyone for any reason. And, though her methods in teaching me were a bit rough and her words were harsh, it was a good lesson for me to learn. To this day, I hear her message anytime I feel like I might be better than another person.

But, I also hear another message.

I hear my Father’s message. And His message sounds a little bit different than Mom’s. His message still warns of His disapproval, His dislike, His opposition to prideful people, but it also reminds me that He will not cast me aside, tear me down or knock me off of my proverbial pedestal. Instead, He will extend grace to me, that I may see my faults and run to Him in repentance.

It is a message laced with grace.

A prideful heart cannot accept this grace because it will not accept that it is sinful. (click to tweet) 

A prideful heart cannot accept this grace because it will not accept that it is sinful. And the Lord will not force His grace upon anyone. But a humble heart can – even when tempted with pride – welcome the gift of grace that He extends and walk through that temptation with His help.

I pray, today, that you and I are always humble enough to accept the Father’s grace, whether we think we need it or not.

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I am thrilled to be featured in Sweet to the Soul’s #Grace series today! Go on over there and check out all the great posts!

Love God. Love People.

18 Matthew 22 37 (1)

A few years ago, while managing a local coffee shop, I sat down to put together the schedule for the upcoming pay period. I was in my late 20s and had just moved back to my hometown after living in a different state for a year. I had no idea why I’d moved home, honestly, except that I felt like it was what the Lord had led me to do.

In those days, I often wondered what the purpose of my life was.
Frequently, I would ask myself two questions:

Who am I?
What am I doing here?

To say that those two questions haunted my early twenties would be an understatement. I could not get away from them. In my waking and my sleeping. In my resting and my working. In my crying and my laughing. In my everything, they were there.

Nudging me. Poking me. Pestering me. Perhaps not every day, but a few times a week and multiple times each month, I would sense theses questions lingering on the edges of my mind.

That day in the coffee shop was no different.

Except that it was.

On that day, I felt an answer come in reply to the questions. It was one of those out-of-the-blue, you-know-it-didn’t-come-from-you type answers. I wasn’t praying. I wasn’t worshiping. I wasn’t even reading the Bible. I was working. I was just doing “life” and, still, my Father chose to meet with me and speak to me. He said, “…love the Lord your God with all your heart…” and “…love your neighbor as yourself….”

“…love the Lord your God with all your heart…” and “…love your neighbor as yourself…” (Matt. 22:37-40, ESV)

I’ve been a Christian all of my life. I’d heard this verse many, many, many times before that day, but I’d never heard it directly from Him. And when I did, I understood three things. I am His (otherwise, I would not be bound to follow His commands). And my purpose here is to love Him and love others.

That’s it. That’s all I am ultimately here for. And if I can focus on those three truths when life doesn’t make sense, I can find myself and my direction again.

As you go through your life, I hope that you can find comfort in those same truths as well.

You are His. Love Him and love others.


18 Matthew 22 37 (1)

I am thrilled to be featured in Sweet to the Soul’s #LoveIs series today! Go on over there and check out all the great posts!

#write31days: cheating

Temples & Palaces-19

I’m cheating today.

It’s been a really long and full four days here in Cambodia! I am pretty pooped and tomorrow Scott and I are hopping on a bus for a six hour ride to another city called Siem Reap. There, we will continue capturing “B-Roll” footage of Cambodia by capturing some shots of Angkor Wat and some of the other surrounding temples! …all that to say, I’m going to redirect you to the blog I wrote for Kaleidoscope today and use it as today’s post. 🙂

Don’t hate me.

#write31days: serving

A few years ago, I went on an eleven month long mission trip.

I think I’ve mentioned it before. It was a really difficult experience for me. One that I’m still not sure I can see purpose in. It was a few weeks before leaving for the Race that I realized I no longer wanted to do it. My heart was not in it anymore and I was backpedaling. Fast. But I really felt that the Lord was calling me to the Race. It was just an option He was laying before me. He was inviting me, beckoning me to join Him on this particular journey. So…I launched. Strictly out of obedience. And I stayed out of obedience.

I had several raw, honest conversations with the Lord during that eleven month period and remember praying every day that He help me see Him in some way that I wouldn’t be able to if I were at home. I’m still not sure that He really did that, but I do know that He let me see myself in some ways that I wouldn’t have if I were at home.

And it was not a pretty sight.

One of the things I saw was that I like to serve. …but I like to serve on my own terms. When schedules change and communication is lacking, I get frustrated. When it’s hot and humid and sticky and I am hot and sweaty and stinky, I get grumpy. When I don’t see the point in what I’m doing, I become indifferent. When I know where I am but my sending organization has no clue, I get angry. These (among others) are things that I saw in myself as the Lord led me along the Race but, to be honest, I kinda just left it at that.

It wasn’t until Scott and I went on our first Kaleidoscope trip to Ghana that I began to try and sift through the emotions and engage the Lord in conversations about why I only like to serve on my own terms. That Ghana trip was a year-and-a-half ago. I’m not really much further in my understanding of the selfishness that is within me, but I do know that I am making progress.

How?

Because I’m in Cambodia right now and all I really, truly want to do is serve as I can while I’m here. Yes, I still don’t enjoy being hot, sweaty and stinky or not really knowing what my day is going to look like (though, we have a much better idea of our days here than I did most of my time on the Race), but those things aren’t negating my desire to serve. I still want to in spite of them. Five years ago, I might have helped but I would not have served. There’s a heart component to serving in any ministry capacity, I think. And I am finally beginning to see some of it in my heart.

 

#write31days: travel

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This is us right now.

Ok, well, it’s not a picture of our plane and we’re not even on the plane…yet. But, it is a perfect representation of wheat we’ll be doing very shortly.

Scott and I are sitting in the Houston airport less than half an hour away from boarding a flight to Moscow. Our ultimate destination, though, is Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We’re headed there to do some work for our nonprofit ministry, Kaleidoscope Media Ministries, and are so excited!

We love to travel. We also love to serve. So putting travel and serving together is a match made in heaven for us.

I intend to continue my #write31days challenge while we’re across the world, but may have to post several blogs at the same time depending on how easily we can find internet. 🙂

#write31days: zentangles

https://unsplash.com/photos/8z2Q6XWLYa4

I doodle.

My mom used to get mad at me for doodling during church. Not really when I was a child, but as soon as I moved up to my tweens and teenage years doodling became disrespectful and no longer allowed. I learned to cope with my wandering mind in other ways during the sermons and such, but I never really stopped doodling in other areas of my life that required long attention spans.

Like school, for example.

I did pretty well in high school. Graduated in the top 10% of my class with a solid GPA. I carried that on through college, though my work load also picked up in college so my GPA wasn’t quite as stellar. But, I never stopped doodling during the lecture classes. All of my notes are filled with random drawings (nothing spectacular, truly just doodles) in amongst the important pieces of information from the talking head at the front of the class. Still, doodling in church remained a no-no in my brain and I never did it.

Until recently.

It happened slowly at first. I’d doodle, but not throughout the entire message. Just here and there when I felt my mind wandering. And what I discovered was that the doodles helped me to stay focused on the message so much better. I think it’s because it helps reign my wandering thoughts in and focus them in one direction which, interestingly enough, opens me up to being able to retain more of what I’m hearing.

Anyway, I decided to embrace the doodling and let it be a tool for me when I need to focus or when I just want to pass some time doing something (sort of) artistic. Around the same time, I happened to stumble upon something called “Zentangles” and I thought I’d just been handed an “Ok” from God to keep doodling.  …ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration…but, I was pretty happy to find out about this art form by happenstance.

Zentangles are structured patterns that can be combined to create images. The images can be abstract or concrete, but multiple tangles are generally used to create one image (see pic below of some I’ve done). I’m just starting my Zentangle journey so I’ve got a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I love being able to create something, from scratch, using simple patterns.

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And I plan to keep doing them for a long time to come. Even in church.

#write31days: just me

Tea & Words

I sense that you restrain yourself a lot, because there is so much hidden emotional under current. Yes, we can feel it ; ) I know that it’s hard to tap into those feelings all the way sometimes as you may feel like they will suck you under and you will drown. But you won’t. Don’t be afraid to go there, a little deeper.

This was part of a comment that a friend and reader of my blog left on my post from yesterday. She’s a consistent source of encouragement for me here, on my little space of the internet, but she can also challenge me. Just as she did with that comment.

The truth is that I do restrain a bit. Yes, for the reasons she mentions, but also because I’m just not convinced that sharing those feelings and stories and other things about my life and experiences is of any use, interest or encouragement to anyone else. I mean, what’s the point of it? I can see a point if I am able to tie the stories, feelings, etc. in to some nugget of truth or wisdom but…when I can’t?…what does the reader walk away with (besides learning something about me)?

I guess I’d just like for what I write to matter; to make a difference or impact someone’s life other than my own. I suppose that’s what every (hopeful) writer wants. And I can’t see how the writing that I’ve been doing lately does any of those things. Sure, I share something about myself, but I don’t lead the reader anywhere. There’s no take away. It’s just information.

I do wonder, sometimes, if maybe I’m just in a certain season of my writing. One that is a training ground for the kind of writing I hope to do one day. In fact, if I’m being honest, I hope that it’s a season and that as I become more faithful in the writing, I will begin to see it transform into something more than just about me.

Until then, it seems that “me” is all I have to share with y’all. Hope that’s ok.

 

 

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