accepting you're exceptional

A Right Response is What We've Got to Give

Last week I arrived at the library with my return books but no wallet. I started to drive back home, but then I remembered that the new and improved library app on my phone had a virtual library card. I picked out four books quickly, took them to the counter, and pulled up the library card on my phone. The librarian looked at me like I was from Mars. She had not seen the new and improved library app. She gave scanning the bar code on my phone a try. Nothing. She consulted the librarian next to her. He belted out the rule of needing either the physical card or photo ID without even looking in our direction.

I could have argued. Mostly because the doe-eyed librarian who was choosing to actually converse with me seemed very kind. I responded, “Hold these for me. I’ll be back.”

I jumped in my car. I thought about how I could stew and steam about the twenty minutes that would be wasted in my day or I could turn on Spotify and listen to that new album I’ve been wanting to play all the way through.

That day I responded well to others and for myself. That isn’t always the case, especially those inward responses.

responding to God and others.JPG

I’ve been thinking about why listening to what God says about you and me is important. Why does it matter that he loved us first and we are beloved, that he chose us and we are chosen, that he called us and commissioned us?

I think it matters because we are responders to His moving in our lives. Our whole life as a Child of God is choosing how to respond to Him and others.

When He loves us, will we love back?

When He speaks to our heart, will we take time for silent listening?

When He allows hurt, will we turn to Him for healing?

When He allows hurt in the lives of others, do we sit alongside them in their pain?

When He sets the wind blowing on our physical life, will we focus inward to the spiritual?

When He puts people who bear His image in our life, will we show them grace, mercy, forgiveness, truth, and love?

When He shows us people, who bear His image, that are physically far away from us and suffering, will we take a moment to show love through prayer — even when they might disrupt our physical lives, prosperity, or safety?

When we experience joy, will we praise Him?

When we experience loss, will we praise Him?

It is all a response.

We like to think that we are navigating this life we are living, and we are to an extent. We hate to admit how little control we actually have in our lives.

We have no control over the family, country, or time we were born into. Just this small fact about us determines so much of our possible future.

We have no control over others. This may seem obvious but how easily we can be deceived into thinking we do. We could try to control or manipulate others, but that ruins relationships.

We have no control over circumstances. If we did, our house wouldn’t still be on the market. You probably have a thing in your life you have been actively seeking to change only to see stagnant results.

We have some choices in our lives, but we have many, many more responses in our deck of cards to play.

This lack of control does not mean we are off the hook and we can just sit back and respond. We are to be actively engaging in love toward others, connecting in relationships. We are also called and commissioned. This requires planning, working well with others, following through with commitments, stewarding resources, making decisions, and acting on those decisions.

As we play those cards of choices and actions, we will be interrupted by all the things out of our control. This is where our responses will dictate your spiritual maturity, and your spiritual maturity will dictate your responses.

Will you respond to the world around you by trying to manipulate people and circumstances to give you the best seat possible? Or will you respond with a willing heart that wants to serve and shepherd others with love, no matter the result — personally or spiritually?

Will you respond with trust, even when the circumstances seem bleak?

Will you respond with compassion and empathy when you see others choosing wrong responses?

Will you take two minutes out of the rush of trying to control and quietly listen for the One who actually has control?

We have to accept our hands are empty to respond correctly. We have to accept we are seen, known, beloved, liked, chosen, included, friended, called, commissioned, and kept to believe that we can hope and trust the God who feels all of this for each one of us.

The constant question in your life every day, all day is what is your response to this moment.

Can’t wait to see the ocean later this month.

Encouraging You With My Walking Habit Results

I’ve been thinking about habits. Probably because I read two really great books about habits last week.

A few months ago, I posted a blog about my goal for this year of taking 200 walks and reading 200 books. I pointed out that I was having an easy time adding in more reading because it was already familiar to me. I'm not a brain scientist, but my guess is that the brain paths for reading are already built. I had somewhere to begin. It wasn’t the same story as walking. That was a brand new habit I was beginning, and it was hard.

April ends today, and I’m seeing progress.

I took my 50th walk yesterday. I find myself naturally wanting to walk at certain times of the day. On weekdays, I try to walk around four in the afternoon. On the weekend, I try to walk after lunch. I obviously don’t walk every day, but it is easier to take a day off when I’m not feeling it if I’m at least trying to go every day.

The book Atomic Habits talks about the idea of a habit loop: cue, craving, response, reward. My son getting home from high school at 4:15 has been a great cue for starting my walk. This cue has lead to craving — wanting to take my walk.

My reward is checking off a box. I learned in The Four Tendencies that this is a reward for me because I am an Upholder. I love checking boxes and seeing I am not letting myself down.

My husband is of a different tendency. He is an Obliger. He’s actually been going on a lot of walks with me, and he feels like spending that time with me and supporting my goal is his reward.

I hope my habit check-in will encourage you to set some measurable goals and track them. You don’t have to have an expensive planner. Grab an index card, write May at the top of it, and start tallying that habit you want to change. If marking a box or a card will feel like a reward to you, do that. If not, come up with a reward that helps your habit along.

I’ve been using my expensive planner that I won in an Instagram giveaway to track my walking and reading goal, but I’ve been using an inexpensive notepad on my fridge to keep track of some goals I’ve made around snacking.

You might need a buddy to keep you on track, there is no shame in that. The Four Tendencies says that over 40% of people are Obligers who would benefit from accountability. Ask a friend if you can text a picture of your index card every week.

Having a camera on our phones is a great motivation tool. Taking pictures has kept me excited about my walks.

Accept you’re exceptional. You are unique in how you think. It may take a while to figure out what works. Keep trying, and you’ll begin to see change.

walking habit 1.jpg
walking habit 2.JPG
walking habit 3.jpg

What habits are you working on? I’d love to know!

Change is the Place Where Joy and Grief Mingle

Here are some things I’ve learned about change.

Sometimes you don’t choose the change.

When my father-in-law had a high count of white blood cells, it was a change that we didn’t choose. It would take a few weeks before the doctors confirmed his leukemia diagnosis. It would be only a few weeks before we said goodbye to him. This wasn’t a change anyone would have chosen.

When my dad woke me up with a phone call to tell me my brother was gone. Tragically, my brother chose this change, but I didn’t. I would never have.

When someone’s bad choices throw our life into a tailspin, we have no choice but to adjust. Sometimes people make a choice that isn’t necessarily bad but it causes ripples of change to your life too.

Change brings grief.

It is obvious when the change we are considering is a death of a loved one that grief would be involved. What about when it is a different change that isn’t death? Sorrow comes in every change.

Change can also include trauma.

My adopted son’s life had traumatic changes that were out of his hands. His little brain and heart hold those experiences deeply. Last week we had a good change in our life. An extremely kind friend gave us a van. It’s a hand-me-down, but it feels like we won the lotto because it’s so comfy and nice.

new van.JPG

Having nice seats for you and your people to ride in around town is really delightful. I am thankful for this new car, people who enjoy blessing others, and these silly boys who think it’s cool that the back seats can swivel and face backwards, “limo-style.”

limo seating minivan.JPG

We were all having fun taking the car for our first spin. We drove my husband back to work to drop him off. After we got back home, I was getting my youngest out of his car seat, and he busted out crying — not whining — heartwrenching tears. “I want daddy,” he said. I knew instantly the source of his anxiety and grief wasn’t dropping off daddy eight minutes earlier. The grief was the change. Change is scary when a change has undercurrents of past trauma. I reassured him the best I could that he was safe in his family even with the new car. We talked about the new car and hugged for a long time.

I know this feeling. After my brother’s death, I panicked every time I heard a phone ring. If that phone ring was late at night or early in the morning, I was on edge for hours. It took me years to get past that reaction. It has been almost 9 years, and I still catch my body tensing at a ringing phone.

Sometimes you choose the change.

Not all change is bad, like the new van. Sometimes we choose the change. We decide to change homes, schools, churches, friendships, food intake, habits, clothes, hobbies, or hairstyles. The change might be new, exciting, and fun. That doesn’t mean there isn’t something lost.

Even when you choose the change, grief still exists in the change.

Every change big or small, good or bad, brings a measure of grief. We lose things. Even when the change is your choice, you still are allowed to let yourself grieve explicit and implicit losses. Comparison has no function in this grieving because grief does not follow reasoning. It is not kind or healthy to shame yourself for your feelings. God is good. The gifts of the change are good. Our feelings cannot change that.

We are complex, and grief does not steal my gratitude. Ingratitude can definitely steal my joy, but I can hold my joy, sadness, and thankfulness up to God in shameless honesty without worry that He will not get it. God is much more complex than me. My complexity isn’t confusing to Him. I’m thankful He joins me in the place where mourning and celebration mingle without hesitation. I have this stupid habit of letting my brain blurt out silver linings like they will outshine the grey. Only The Light can push the darkness away. Silver linings are just circumstances that get put in the pro column. I am not loved and liked by the pro column. I am loved and liked by the Son. You are too.

We all have some measure of change in this life or we are not alive. This is what I’ve learned about change: changes are sometimes chosen and sometimes not, but all change brings grief.

What are you learning about change?



I like to include a song for you every now & again. Here’s a new one. I might like the acoustic version better.

Lie #4: What You Do Is Who You Are

I easily fall into the trap of achieving. In my flesh, I strive for approval through achievement.

Accomplisher is not my identity. Writer is not my identity. Mom is not my identity. Teaching is not my identity. Wife is not my identity. Podcaster is not my identity. Friend is not my identity. My local church is not my identity. Homeschool mom is not my identity. My IQ is not my identity. My bank account is not my identity. My hobbies are not my identity. My home is not my identity. How I look is not my identity.

What we do is not who we are.

It can get confusing because we get introduced as or called these things, but this is not who we are.

Our identity is established in eternal facts about us. Who we will be in Heaven should be how we define ourselves now. How God sees us is how we should train our brain to see ourselves.

A beloved daughter of God through faith is my identity. Covered by His blood because of grace and mercy is my identity. Who I was created to be at my soul level is my identity. Being seen, known, loved and liked by God is my identity. Disciple of Christ is my identity. Being called friend of Jesus is my identity. Adopted heir to the kingdom is my identity. Chosen by God is my identity.

What we do is good, but what the Lord has done is who we are.

You are not what you do.

But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
— Galatians 3:25-29 ESV

Need help fighting lies?

Subscribe to my email newsletter & get this helpful worksheet today.

A song for you today.

Lie #2: "You're Too Quiet" = Something Is Wrong With Me

I heard it again today. A woman leaned over to me and whispered, “You’re too quiet.” I had tried to interject a thought during a discussion, but the group leader who was leading the discussion moved on without hearing my comment.

I want to make it clear that the leader and woman didn’t mean any harm, and I didn’t take offense.

When I heard, “You’re too quiet,” I physically shook my head “no” and I was honestly surprised to find myself refuting her words with my head shaking back and forth. My body had responded before my brain knew what was happening.

The next thought I had was to see the humor in hearing these exact words today when I knew I was writing this Write 31 Days Series.

And then my next thought was that I realized I wasn’t disagreeing that I was not quiet, I was disagreeing that I’m too quiet.

That little word — too — changes so much.

I’ve heard it all my life, and I know the words were often spoke to fill awkward silence. I can’t know the intention of the words, but I know the message my heart received every time I heard them.

I heard, you should change because the way you are is wrong.

I am quiet. If you met me in person and then had to try to describe me to someone else, I think you would probably use the word “quiet” in your description. I know I could not change this fact about myself if I tried.

The other thought I had as I was shaking my head “no” this morning was, what I’m hearing does not mean that something is wrong with me.

As I’ve worked hard to fight negative self-talk this year, I’ve learned that the other side of this spiritual battle is liking myself by embracing the exceptional way God made me.

Embracing this quality, quietness, in myself was a fight because I didn’t know how to see the positive attributes around my quietness when I had focused on the wrongness of my quietness for so long.

Here’s what I learned to appreciate about my quietness. I know my quiet allows my soul to dig deep, ask difficult questions without fear, observe my world, and notice the other quiet humans who often go unnoticed.

I’m not sure I would choose quietness if I could change myself because outspokenness is applauded in our culture, but loving myself requires I appreciate this quality.

What quality to you struggle to appreciate about yourself and what does that attribute allow you to accomplish in life?

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.
— Exodus 14:14 ESV

Need help fighting lies?

Subscribe to my email newsletter & get this helpful worksheet today.

Here’s a song for you today. I hope I didn’t shake my head this crazy this morning. Ha!