strength, or weakness?

To begin this post I am searching my memory for a time that I can remember only focusing on simply one task. It's difficult to do. I sorta pride myself on being a good multi-tasker. Both in my work and in my "play" I am usually doing more than one thing at a time.

If I'm doing housework- I'm not just cleaning; I'm also listening to music, probably singing and going down memory lane at the same time as I come across items that need to be put away.

If I'm working at my desk- I'm not just doing one task at a time; I'm on the phone and checking my email. I'm posting on Facebook (yeah, that's part of my job) and running a webinar, I'm filing and running reports- simultaneously.

If I'm watching TV- I'm not just watching TV; I'm also on my phone, checking emails, or playing mindless games like Candy Crush or Angry Birds or Bejeweled.

If I'm reading a book- I'm not just reading; I'm looking for impactful, favorite sections of the book to highlight and talk (or blog) about later!

If I'm having my "quiet time"- I'm not just being with the Lord; I'm also journaling, worshiping along with whatever music I've chosen for that morning, and holding back the tidal wave of other "to do" lists in my mind. I might also be stopping the dog from chewing the cat, or stopping the cat from scratching the dog!

Even when I'm hiking and enjoying nature- I'm not just enjoying nature; I'm also taking pictures!

Lots of people tell me that it's a gift, and a talent, to be able to multitask the way I do. It's such an effecient use of my time... a time saver, one could say. I get more work done in less time than most people do.

Or do I?

This "strength" of mine helped me take care of my kids while still getting the laundry done, the bills paid and the house cleaned. It helps me organize and run events for work. As a photographer it was crucial, to pay attention to my clients expressions, the angle of the light, the wind and noticing any distracting details that might show up in the photo. At my old job- it was an absolute necessity.... we called it "Daniel Dancing"... and I was a pro at it. I was teaching, planning, monitoring anxiety and attention levels of my students, defusing extreme behaviors before they got out of control, shuffling students between the classroom, therapy sessions, music lessons, computer room, etc. Without multi-tasking I would not have survived. I NEEDED my brain to be able to "take it all in" at all times.

But, what am I giving up when I pursue this constant "busyness"? What am I missing out on by being so driven to do more than one thing at a time? Am I getting more "done" in a minute or losing a minute of joy?

I'm now reading a book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and I'm starting to recognize that this "strength" of mine might actually be a weakness. It's got me thinking- in a much slower way than usual.

What if time really could stand still like the way I can capture it in an image. I am keenly aware of the sound of the ticking on this particular clock when I wake up before everyone else and sit in my chair by the window with my coffee, journal and Bible. But in this picture, it is still and quiet.


And I love to look at it. Perhaps that's what I like about photography so much. Photography stops time for a moment and allows me to take it all in. I can see the second hand stopped permanently hanging in the balance between the 25th and 30th second of that exact minute. I see the glare of the light pouring through my window, bouncing off the reflective edges of the metal frame. The rest of the image is bathed in that light- bright white, soothing light. It's the light that truly makes the picture. It's the light that makes me feel warm and at peace when I look at this picture.

Maybe when I'm multi-tasking- I'm missing out appreciating the beauty of the moment.
The here and now.

Ann Voskamp writes, "Time is a relentless river. It rages on, a respecter of no one. And this, this is the only way to slow time: When I fully enter time's swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here. I can slow the torrent by being all here. I only live the full life when I live fully in the moment. And when I'm always looking for the next glimpse of glory, I slow and enter. And time slows. Weigh down this moment in time with attention full, and the whole of time's river slows, slows, slows."
Her words scream at my busy mind "SLOW DOWN!"
and they whisper,
"appreciate, savor, eucharisteo{a}~ this is where God is".

And I'm inspired to do just one thing: 

Be Here.

"Wherever you are, be all there" ~Ann Voskamp

And so I begin, the search for my 1000 gifts- one moment at a time.

1. the sunlight as it falls across my garden in the morning.

{a}  Eucharisteo is something that Ann Voskamp is talking about A LOT in the book One Thousand Gifts. It means literally: "thanksgiving, to give thanks". The actual Greek word is made up of the words "grace and joy". It's a word I'm SAVORING as I learn about it!


the big picture

Last weekend I escaped up into the mountains with my husband to celebrate our 20th anniversary. After hiking a bit through the woods, we came to one of my favorite destinations: the Black Rock on Grandfather Mountain. You have to climb up a rope ladder to get to the top, but the view is amazing...

every time I see it.

Up there on that rock..... you are completely alone. No one else is usually there, and you can just sit and admire the panoramic view.

This time, I sat, and couldn't help but think about how expansive it all was. As I kept slowly turning around to take in the entire panorama, my eyes couldn't even focus on the distances I was seeing. I thought again about the "big picture" and how perspective is everything. I mean ALL THIS... together... in one view.... is so gorgeous!

And then the Lord dropped an idea in my head. This giant panoramic view that HE MADE, is made up of bazillions of tiny minute details. And He is involved in placing each one in its place.  He is involved in every leaf on every tree. He knows of every animal taking shelter in the forests and every bug that crawls by unaware of the role it plays in the entire system. He cares deeply about each tiny detail, and He knows how important each detail is in making up the "big picture". I saw glimpses of so many of these little details, like I was using a telescope to zoom in as I surveyed the view. And I heard Him saying, "I've got that", and "I put that there", and "look at this flower!" I felt His heart and His joy at His creation.

and I felt shalom. ~everything was together in the right place, the right amount, at the right time.

Have you ever taken the time to really think about how special that makes us? How much more does the Father care for us, His children, than he does for these things He places in our paths to enjoy? There, on top of a giant rock in the mountains, He takes the time to rest with me and share His thoughts. He comes down from the "big picture" of all the earth, and enjoys spending time with just one of His most important details:


His presence and shared thoughts with me up on that mountain top were so peaceful. If He's capable of creating and maintaining something like this.... I don't have a single thing to worry about in my own life. He's more than capable of paying attention to the details in my life just as well.

I know, like I know the seasons will change the way "the big picture" looks, that He's got me, and He's got my family.

and YOU too!



I must confess, I've been boomeranged. 

 It's not an easy thing to admit either. In fact, writing about it in a public place is quite humbling.

This morning as I journaled my heart out to Immanuel, I discovered something about myself that I wasn't proud of.

I've been married 20 years (this upcoming Wednesday). 20 years is a long time, but it's only a fraction of how long I hope to be married. However, lately I've noticed that I've become less than loving in the way I respond to my husband when he's grumpy. And he's been kinda stressed for quite a while now.....

excerpt from my journal:
"Lord, help me change the picture and feelings I get when I think of my husband. I want to find my appreciation for him, I want to rediscover my love for him. Sadly, when I think of him I feel disrespected, unappreciated, blamed and shamed.....as I sit and talk with you Lord, I am suddenly aware that the way I "feel" is also a description for how I've responded to him lately. Forgive me Lord! I don't want to be a reflection of him, I want to be a reflection of YOU"
 I almost cringe at putting this out here, but it's the best way for me to express what the Lord taught me this morning.

My husband has weaknesses and failures. So do I. So does everyone. Many times I have cried out to the Lord about my hurt feelings based on my husbands weaknesses, and he has comforted me. He doesn't want my husband to hurt me with his words and the way he treats me. But this morning, he also showed me that he doesn't want me to hurt my husband. The "hardness" I complain about in my husband, has boomeranged and I've become hard towards him as well.

This awareness made my heart ache. I don't want to continue responding this way to my husband. I want to learn to have a tender response to his weaknesses... instead of "jumping on his failures and criticizing his faults" I want to love him and help him .

I asked Jesus to show me a picture of what a tender response to weakness would look like, because in my pain I have been unable to find it on my own. He showed me an image of how I responded to my students when I was a teacher. My students had plenty of weaknesses; they were in residential treatment for behavioral and psychological issues; but my reaction to them was to come along side them and help them quiet their anger, frustration, or fear. I would become quieter myself, I would look them in the eye and give them support while setting clear limits and boundaries for what they could and could not do when they were in this state of mind. I would give them "escape routes" for getting back within those boundaries when they messed up.... not lock them out forever for making a mistake.

After seeing this and remembering this, I now have a model for how to respond to my husband's weaknesses.

And I'm so grateful for the grace of God to teach me this instead of "jumping on me for my failures and criticizing me for my faults". That's the kind of boomerang I want to experience. That's also the kind of grace I want to extend to my husband.

I am sharing this for 2 reasons. 1- that perhaps it will speak to one of you and be just what you needed to hear, and 2- for those that know me personally, to ask for accountability! That I would respond with grace instead of hardness, tenderness instead of disrespect, gentleness instead of blaming and shaming.



"We are to let God's shalom be the referee and every time shalom is gone, we must stop the game and get it back before we can do anything else!"             ~Joy Starts Here pg 152

I am currently reading a book that my Dad and a few of his friends have written called Joy Starts Here. One of the many things that is jumping out to me as an "aha" moment is based upon a deeper understanding of this verse:
"And let the peace {shalom} of God rule {"brabeuo" to be a referee} in your hearts....."  

(Col 3:15)

Peace is the first word I think I need to more deeply explain because it's much more than just peace. The Jewish word Shalom, could be described as an "inner peace" in mainstream dictionaries. However, the authors of this book take it much further. Shalom, goes hand in hand with joy. God offers Shalom as a reward almost every time Joy is mentioned. (pg 9) Shalom is that deep "knowing" within us that everything is going to be okay. Shalom is that quiet response to knowing that God is with us, and that God is glad to be with us. We were created to experience Shalom as our "normal". Yet so many of us only have moments where we experience shalom. We can get so caught up in life and circumstances that we go months without noticing that we haven't experienced shalom. Our bodies get stressed out and tensions become a drain on our resources. Sometimes we seek out moments of shalom as an escape from our reality.
But God actually designed us to experience shalom as normal.... His design was for us to always be in shalom. We are supposed to notice when shalom is missing IMMEDIATELY. Why? So we can do what we need to do to get it back! Sadly, this isn't the case for many of us.

To continue in this verse, I'm drawn to the word Rule.

The word used here in greek is "brabeuo" which means to be a referee. As a football fan, I am intrigued by this understanding of the word. What does a referee do anyway? The first thing that came to mind was that a referee throws the flag and stops the game when something has gone wrong. This verse seems to be saying that shalom should be our referee.... so doesn't that mean that shalom is the flag thrower, the whistle blower telling us to stop?!!
If Shalom is the referee, what else might it do? Shalom can "call a touchdown" and point out things for us to be thankful for! Shalom can walk out ahead of us, show us what to look for, stay with us in the middle of a massive pileup, intervene when our temples flare, run along with us at full speed towards our favorite destination!
Allowing Shalom to be our referee, as instructed in scripture, means we don't "play the game of life" without it.

It's so important for us to get back to how we were designed. I want to encourage you, and myself as well, to start checking if your referee is on the field throughout the day. Remember, shalom comes from knowing that God is with us and glad to be with us. The more you check in with Him, the more you'll get shalom!

Change your opinion about the referee..... shalom is the perfect referee, and won't make bad calls! :) We need the referee, we need to notice when the referee is gone... because when that happens, we can get hurt. We might end up hitting too hard, playing dirty, losing our sportsmanship, getting into fights, running to long and too hard,  & forgetting to take timeouts and water breaks.