Why am I so emotional at graduations?

Why am I so emotional at graduations and end of the year awards ceremonies?  Because I am a mom.  Because I know the blood, sweat, and tears that it took for that child to walk in the cap and gown or to receive that award.  I know that a large part of my heart is fully invested in that moment and of course, my whole heart is invested in that child as well.  But, my child is not able to get it when he/she looks over and sees mom crying again!  And, they won’t fully understand until they are a parent themselves.

I find myself tearing up when I see graduation pictures of other friends’ kids as well.  I know some of the back stories, I know the miracle in the fact that the child walked across the podium.  And, it makes me cry tears of joy.

I see a lot of posts for new moms on the internet and all of the things they need to do to take care of their new baby.  But, no one can give you your script of the journey that lies before you with each child.  No one can tell you that it will be a bit like an exhilarating roller coaster ride when you finally pull back into the station.

My high school friend, Shelley, woke up to this cup beside her bed after her son returned early in the morning from grad nite.  And, you guessed it…it made me cry!

 

Love this!

Love this!

Never Ever Give Up (NEGU)!

My husband and I were fortunate enough to recently be able to attend the NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) Gala, sponsored by the Jessie Rees Foundation.  Jessie Rees was a darling, beautiful twelve year old girl who lost her fight to a brain tumor a couple of years ago.  Erik and Stacey Rees, Jessie’s parents have done phenomenal job of putting together this foundation so that children with cancer can be encouraged by Jessie’s Joy Jars.

Joy Jars were something that Jessie created so that other kids would not feel alone, but they would feel loved by receiving a Joy Jar.  Over 85,000 Joy Jars have been distributed to hospitals throughout the world.  One of the main purposes of the Foundation is to provide encouragement to these children.

Over 400 people attended the Gala which was held at the Newport Marriott.  Attendees were encouraged to give $1000 for the year.  When this amount was broken down, it came out to less than $3 a day or one less Starbucks every day.

My favorite part of the evening, though, was when they held a live auction with a live auctioneer. There were numerous donations such as a trip to Bora Bora, beautiful jewelry, and dinner at Hanna’s. The show stopper was when they auctioned an eleven week old chocolate lab puppy. The bidding reached $9,000!  But the best part was when the family who bid this amount announced they were GIVING the puppy to a family with a child who had cancer who was sitting on the opposite side of the ballroom.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the ballroom.

American Airlines was also just announced as a corporate sponsor for NEGU.  AA will fly these children who have cancer to whatever hospital they need to get to.  Amazing.  So, if your company is looking for something where your employees can volunteer in south Orange County, please contact the Jessie Rees Foundation.  They are currently looking for donations, as well as individuals who want to work in the “Joy Factory” and put together Joy Jars.

I love the power of one twelve year old little girl’s life and how she continues to touch so many of us. Thank you, Jessie.  May we leave such a legacy with our own lives.

A Flying Trapeze and The Catcher

My husband and I recently finished a book called, With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God by Skye Jethani.  The author beautifully explains to the reader four different “incorrect” ways we often relate to God.  I thought I would share it with you, hoping that you might benefit as much as we have in Jethani’s analysis of how we experience God.

Maybe you can relate to how we can sometimes live in a relationship UNDER God. (We get upset when we do things the “righteous” way and God doesn’t perform the way we think He should).  This is like the movie, Bruce Almighty, where Bruce finally gives up and takes all of his aggression out on God because God is not coming through for him.

Or, we can choose to live OVER God. (We think that God basically started the universe in motion and now it’s up to us to discover and use the life principles He established to be successful – without any additional relationship with Him necessary.)  Think of Thomas Jefferson and his “watchmaker” philosophy….God basically created the giant watch, wound it up and is letting it run.

Or, we can opt to live FROM God.  (We live in an age of massive consumerism and we expect that by following God we can get all our material desires met FROM God.)  We act like entitled children, thinking that He will meet our every desire, rather than our needs – kind of like a vending machine God.

Or, finally we live FOR God. (We feel like we are put on Earth to serve God’s great cause – glorifying Him through our dedication of giving up everything FOR Him – and that we must sacrifice everything to be worthy of His favor. We become defeated because we can’t measure up, or there is always a sin besetting us.)  This is exhausting and never fulfilling.

Instead, of the four incorrect ways listed above, Jethani argues that all God really desires is a relationship WITH us.   He uses the analogy that we are like the trapeze artist who lets go with the hope that someone will be there to catch him.  The trapeze artist does this with the hope that the other trapeze artist is competent and knows what he is doing.  The trapeze artist starts flying through the air in faith that someone will be there to catch him.  And, in the end, the trapeze artist is caught because of the love of the Catcher, God, who catches the flying artist.  The trapeze artist could not perform if he was not WITH the Catcher.  It’s when he is caught that we burst into cheers because of the Catcher.

Remember when your toddler was learning to swim?  I remember being in the pool and trying to coax my kids when they were little to jump to me.  I would say, “It’s ok, I will catch you.  You can trust me. I am right here for you.  I’m not going anywhere.”   They would think about it, I would say it again and suddenly they would jump, and I would ALWAYS catch them.

Perhaps, you like me as an adult, quite often feel like you have let go, and you are desperately hoping He will be there to catch you.  He will.  It is His nature to be faithful, to be kind, to be loving…why? Because He loves you and me and wants to experience life together WITH you.  I’ve talked to people who have experienced great hardship, desperate situations regarding children, husbands, wives, jobs, finances.  When we go through these times our paradigm is radically different when we rest in the truth that He is WITH us and He will catch us.

During the season of Lent, we are reminded that He sent His only Son to die for us due to His great love.  He wants our very best and yet He asks that we live by FAITH, and not by sight.  He asks that we put our HOPE and TRUST in Him to catch us.  The rewards are great but we must let go of the trapeze bar in order to let Him catch us.

The next time you are in a valley or in a tough spot, will you let go and start to fly?  Will you trust in His love that He will catch you?  Try it, you won’t be disappointed and you’ll sense His great love for you in the arms of the Catcher.  None of us will know unless we try, right?

Let it Go, Let it Go, Don’t Hold it Back Anymore!


I thought it appropriate to post this African version of Frozen, now that my teenager has returned from Rwanda! This song has been playing a lot in our house. In fact the words keep playing like a soundtrack in the back of my mind.

“Let it go, let it go…don’t hold it back anymore….I don’t care what the people say….the cold never bothered me anyways.”

It was hard to let go of Alexandra and let her go on a 26 hour journey clear across the world.  We definitely had to let her go.  This is our baby of four, our fourteen year old. This was her dream, something she felt she REALLY wanted to do.  In fact, my husband and I were talking to some other parents of the eighth graders who were on the trip.  They said the same thing.  Their kids kept bringing it up, as if this was what they needed and wanted to do.  And, in the end, we all felt the same way…who were we to stand in their way?

Each of the kids had to raise their own money to go.  They had to trust that God would provide and use birthday money, Christmas money, and lots of generous friends’ and families’ money to make it possible.  They had to get Yellow Fever shots and take Malaria medication.  They had to make sacrifices and get all of their homework done for the six days of school they would be missing.  Her teachers were amazing.  One of her favorite teachers told her that he was so glad she was able to experience Rwanda and realize there is a much bigger world out there.  The teachers even graciously allowed her to stand up and tell about her journey upon her return.

I think we all live so much more freely when we “let it go,” don’t you?  I’m not saying it is easy at all. Perhaps there is some part of your life where you need to let it go? “Don’t hold it back anymore.”  I know as a parent it seems like it is always a daily process of letting go…kids as adults to kids in college to kids as teenagers to kids when they were babies and toddlers.  I think ultimately when we let it go, we truly become who we were made to be and we allow our kids to do the same.  You might have heard the expression from Rick Warren, “Hurting people hurt others.”  A popular women’s speaker recently said, “Free people, free people.”  Love that.

Here is some comic relief for you of a dad who is a weatherman who decides to put Frozen to his weather newscast.  He thinks his son might be ashamed…but the cold never bothered him anyway!

Enjoy and let it go!

This is Your Moment

Every four years, for about two weeks during the month of February, I barely get anything done when the Winter Olympics rolls around.  How inspiring is it to watch these athletes who have basically given up years of their lives in the hopes of medaling at the Olympics?!!  While watching figure skating, I sit on my couch and watch these incredible athletes give EVERYTHING they have to their teammates and to their sport.  While watching ski jumping, I feel guilty and think I need to exercise more, train harder…for what, I don’t know.  And while watching all of the other events, I just might be eating something like frozen yogurt while watching these unbelievable humans perform.   This all occurs while I sit in the comfort of my home, on my comfy (Craigslist) couch.

As usual, Ralph Lauren was the creative fashion designer for the USA team uniforms for the Opening Ceremonies.  However, these jackets for the US Skater team were made by Nike and they are awesome.  Not only are they silver but they say USA on the back which changes color.  The coolest part though is what is hidden within the jacket.  Take a peak inside the pocket:

The best part of the jacket is on the inside where it says, “THIS IS YOUR MOMENT”.  I love that.  I think that it is their moment.  But, I also think it is our moment as well.  We could wear those jackets, well, maybe….not.  But, it does make me wonder about the rest of us.

  • What will you do with your moment, your day that you have been given, your job opportunity, your chance to love your toddler, your child, your husband, or your college student?
  • This is my moment….I am going to leave my comfy couch and take a spin class tomorrow morning.
  •  We are so blessed to be Americans.  What will you do with your freedom?  What will you do to make your next moment matter?

 

“The only true disability in life is a bad attitude.”  Scott Hamilton, Olympic Gold Medalist

This is Your Moment.

IF: Gathering


Favorite theme song of the conference…Oceans Rise….

 

 

 

I was supposed to be on a plane to Europe and my husband and I changed our plans at the last minute.  We had frequent flier tickets, a free hotel stay, and yet the timing for this trip seemed off.  So, instead, Carl flew to Florida for a conference and I was able to attend the IF: Gathering at the last minute.  The strange thing was I had seen this conference advertised on the web the very first day it was made public.  I knew I wanted to go to Austin, TX to be there to attend.  The registration was flooded with entries as women from all walks of life wanted to attend.  As a result, they decided to make satellite locations all around the world.  So, in the end I was able to drive fifteen minutes and attend here with some girlfriends in Mission Viejo…and I am so glad I did.  It even made it ok that I wasn’t in Europe…maybe God wanted me to be here more.  I kind of think so.There were so many things I loved about the gathering.  I love variety.  Are you like me where you are the kind of person who orders as many flavors as they allow at the local yogurt shop?  This conference featured about fifteen women mainly in their late thirties to early forties casually dressed in jeans and cowboy boots. I loved the different personalities, and different styles of teaching.   The music was phenomenal. These women love the Lord with all of their hearts and they desire to be used by Him to make a difference in this world.  One woman had been a prostitute and now heads up a ministry called Hookers for Jesus.  These women are tired of the Christian culture of defending our faith and doing nothing about loving the poor, helping the sick, and feeding the homeless.

 

It was so encouraging to see the Lord raising up the next generation of women leaders.  These women want to be free, free to live, and free to love the people God brings across their path.  And their message was for every woman in the crowd to just play the one note God has given them to play.  We also had breakout sessions that encouraged women to go deep quickly…which everyone loved to do.  We were an army of women mobilized and released around the world to allow God to work through each one of us.

 

One of the most meaningful stories was hearing from Kristin Armstrong, former wife of Lance Armstrong.  She talked about the pain and how hard it was to watch her teenage children have to suffer the consequences of their dad’s behavior.  One day she was standing in her kitchen when Lance approached her and said that he had gotten his new girlfriend pregnant.  Because of all of Kristin’s work for the past decade on forgiveness, getting rid of bitterness, and allowing God to work in her life, she was able to ask Lance how she could best love him at that time.  In answer to her own question, she ended up taking nine months to knit a baby blanket for the new baby.  She taught her own children that this is how we welcome a new baby into the world, and show love.  Wow.

 

 

Every Life Has a Story…the Client or Customer Experience

I am fortunate to be a part of an AMAZING real estate team.  We get together and share information that helps us to better serve our clients.  This past week, we talked about the “experience” of a buyer of real estate or a seller of real estate who chooses to work with us.  We talked about the details from the very beginning of a transaction to the close of escrow, and the relationship after the sale has been completed.  Our goal is to create for the client an UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE….one that they will have fond memories of and want to share with their friends and family.

It made me think of the above video that I had seen, produced by Chick Fil’A.  This fast food restaurant has done a marvelous job of analyzing every detail that goes into the customer “experience”.  It begins with the advertising that pulls you into the restaurant.  You will always receive a cheerful voice when you place your order into the speaker.  Why?  Because every detail adds up to your OVERALL EXPERIENCE and ultimately the feeling that you have when the experience is over.  And, every life has a story.  Chick Fil’A’s employees are trained to see the value in every human life and to treat their customers with the respect each person deserves.

If you are like me, perhaps you have not always had a wonderful experience in prior customer service situations.  It amazes me when the first person who greets me makes me feel as if I am bothering him/her to do his/her job.  I feel sorry for them and I immediately think they are in the WRONG job.  But then I try to remember that every life has a story and this video comes to mind.

I went to pick up some additional business cards today.  The guy presented the cards to me as if there was nothing wrong.  As soon as I looked at them I noticed the color of my hair was almost completely orange.  I told him that I thought I looked orange.  He nonchalantly replied, “Yeah, I kind of thought so too.”  HELLO.  Not a great experience.  Not a company I will recommend.  A company I am blogging about but not in a good way.  (He offered to reprint them for free…after the picture reminded me of the guy in Colorado with the orange hair.)  Not a good association for a real estate business!

Try to think back on your customer service experiences…remember those where you were treated unexpectedly in amazing ways.  It was such a pleasant surprise, wasn’t it?  My friend, Cathy, and I were at the fabric store today.  The gal at the register kept searching and searching for Cathy’s fabric because the California store was out of stock.  Sure enough, because of her tenacity and persistence, and great attitude, the fabric was located in Florida…for only $8.99 a yard.  Yay. Cathy is now going to buy the entire bolt of fabric.  It’s a win-win for both the customer and the business.

Anyways, I encourage you to look at your experiences as a customer or client and to identify what the excellent companies are doing to make your experience unforgettable.  It is often quite Biblical.  “Love your neighbor as yourself…Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…Recognizing the value of human life, because every life has a story”.   I would venture to guess that when you have an amazing customer experience, you are telling ten of your friends, because it is not the norm.  I’d love to hear from you about which companies you have found that have left you with an unforgettable experience!

I think APPLE is one of those companies creating an unforgettable experience.  I want my business to be like that, don’t you?

Have a blessed weekend!