be present

waterfall at LAMGood Friday morning to you!

One of the challenges that I have is that I am often thinking about the future or evaluating the past. Too seldom am I present in the moment. As a result, I have missed too many important moments, I have too often not fully engaged in good conversations with people who are dear to me. I have passed by the small and beautiful things of God’s creation without noticing them.

Realizing this about myself, my two words for 2014 are “Be Present”. I am finding that to be difficult as I am dealing with my personality type as well as many years of habit. However, when I find myself actually being present with others and in the moment, I am seeing a richness of life that I have often missed. I see a decline in anxiety.

Most of all, those that matter most to me feel more loved and cared for, which is hugely important.

Do you struggle with “being present”? Think about it – all we have is this very moment. The past is past and we don’t know what the future holds, but we do have now, we do have those precious moments with our family and friends. Let’s don’t waste those moments with people by not being present with them.

A thought for you – practice being present with people today and see what you think. You might just enjoy it and maybe even relax a bit more today.

Have a great weekend!


jealously and ambition

blue sky Lauren AUG 2013Good morning! Looks like it’s going to be a great week working with the AWANA leadership team at their leadership retreat!

Jealousy and ambition! Ever had those two things intrude upon the workings of your leadership team? They will destroy the effectiveness of a team as quickly and more thoroughly than most anything else.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” – James 3:16

In contrast, teams that truly collaborate, where leaders operate with wisdom, then there is harmony – peace.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17

So, which of these two verses describe the operations of your leadership team? Are people competing with a self-centered view, or are they seeking the wisdom from above? Are people open to reason? Are they sincere – authentic?

If verse 16 describes your leadership team – maybe it is time to have some frank discussions about how to move to a team that reflects verse 17.

Blessings on your week!

art from a barista

Ken SandeRelational Wisdom is important and Ken Sande has a great website called surprisingly – Relational Wisdom. If you desire to improve your emotional intelligence and to become more effective in working with others, you need to check out this site.

I particularly liked his blog post “Serving a Barista“. In that post he talks bout how to bless others using SERVE:

“SERVE every person you meet”

  • Smile (At home, in the office, at the store; even on the phone, a smile changes the sound of your voice and sends a message of warmth and friendliness)
  • Explore and Empathize (Observe others, ask questions, and show interest and compassion)
  • Reconcile (Be a peacemaker, always ready to reconcile others to you, one another, and to God through the gospel of Christ)
  • Value (Express appreciation and admiration for what others do)
  • Encourage (Give courage and inspire, always leaving others with more “wind under their wings”)

So, I encourage you to check out his site if you want to become more effective in your relationships.


are your words “fitly spoken”?

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.”

Proverbs 25:11-12

Are your words like “like apples of gold”? Are you blessing others and building them up with your words? Do you reprove others wisely and with their good in mind?

Words are powerful – use them wisely.


a chat with my father

Good morning – we are back in the Midwest after almost a week in the much warmer South. Our primary reason for going was to Daddy and Mama - honeymoon in NOattend the wedding of my sister’s son, but it also gave us time to visit with my parents as well.

During these past days, I had the opportunity to visit with my 84 year old father whose health is not so good and he is beginning to have some challenges with his memory. He sleeps a lot of the time now, but we had some great conversations.

For some reason, much of our conversation centered around his time in the service. Too young to serve in the military in World War II (his two older brothers did – one a bomber pilot and the other an infantryman), he joined as soon as he could which was just shortly after the war ended. He joined the US Army’s Air Forces which later became the US Air Force. He was a radio technician responsible for repairing the radios on the B-29 Superfortress and even once worked on the Enola Gay.

He told me about the fights he got into, how he loved to dance the “two-step”, how beautiful my mother was when they married and about how they loved to dance. He talked about his work and he was proud of his craftsmanship. He was a Class A Repairman for some huge pumping engines at a natural gas pipeline pumping station in Mississippi. We talked some about the things he did, but mostly we talked about the people in his past. He talked about how bad bosses made his work miserable and how good bosses made his work enjoyable. He especially enjoyed his last years as he was treated with respect by his boss and allowed to do his job.

He talked about how different people impacted his life. He talked about relationships. And that’s my point – at 84 years old he most remembers the relationships. Not the tasks he accomplished or the things he had, but it was about the people – the relationships.

So some questions for you – are you working more on the relationships or more on the tasks with people being an annoyance? When people look back on their lives and share their stories, how will they remember you? Will you be that boss or co-worker that made their jobs miserable? Or will you be the one that made their work a joy?

How will people you touch remember you in 30 years?

If you are blessed to still have your parents alive, then go sit down with them and ask a lots of questions – you will be blessed.


One Major Mistake In Evaluating People

Good morning, I hope you had a good day yesterday. It was a spectacular day here yesterday although a tough time for others in the Midwest.Blue Skies Lauren 2013

Have you ever heard someone say that size someone up with a glance? How often have you heard that first appearances are everything? Think about those statements for a bit. Is that really sound thinking?

This weekend I was talking with one of our daughters about the wonderful complexity of people. We were discussing how even after many, many years of marriage or friendship that you continued to discover new aspects of the other person. People have so many facets to them and are ever changing due to so many different things.

However, as individuals that are so busy, we don’t seem to want to take the time to understand others, so we use “boxes”. We want to size someone up quickly and place them into one of our own predetermined categories so that we keep our thinking and our relationships in a nice and neat system. This is really shallow and lazy thinking, is most often wrong, and robs us and them of something important. Think about the following quote:

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.” Jesus – John 7:24

Jesus says to use right judgement, but most often we do judge by appearances. Some of us also have the foolhardy notion that some how we are good at doing so. So the question for you is are you judging people quickly by appearances and placing them into one of your boxes (categories) or are you taking the time to appreciate the depth and wonderful complexity of who they are?

It takes more time and is messier, but it is oh so worth doing. Take some time today and get to know the people you do life with a little better today. Go get a cup of coffee and hear their story. YOu will be amazed at what you learn.

Hope your week gets off to a great start!

4 Very Powerful Things to Say

Good morning!garage window 2013

As leaders, there are some things that we just forget to say or that we somehow don’t think we need to or should say. That’s a mistake. In her article on the Inc. site Maria Tabaka lists four statements that she has found to be powerful and necessary.

1. I’m sorry

2. I was wrong

3. I need help

4. I don’t know

These seem pretty simple and obvious right? Yet, somehow they are difficult for us to use sometimes, especially when we are the leader.

If you are not using these simple words on a regular basis, maybe it’s time to find out why and then to start using them. They are powerful.


Five Ways to Manage Relationships

Good morning! Our family had a great weekend – hope you did as well. Hey, here is a great quote for you from someone I follow on Spring Flower 2013 LaurenFacebook – Marshall Ramsey, “. . . worry is the tragic misuse of a perfectly good imagination.”

Last week, someone was asking a group of people how to manage their many new professional relationships. There were several experienced people there with some good ideas. While the context of the question was not personal relationships, I found many of the recommendations would apply. So here are a few things you can do to manage the relationship.

1. Try to discover the person’s “love language” – learn what it is that communicates care to them and utilize that “language” in your dealings with them.

2. Learn their preferred method of communication – phone call, email, letter, text, video chat, or a visit over a cup of coffee. Use what works best for them – not what works best for you.

3. Learn their preferred frequency of contact. Some people require, and often want, less frequent contact. Others will want a “touch” much more frequently.

4. Record what you learn in whatever contact system you use. In your contact form keep their picture, their love language, their personality type if you know it, their preferred method of communication, and other important pieces of information that will help you to relate to them better.

5. Now schedule your contact with them. Go into whatever calendar system you use and schedule when and how you are going to contact them. I have found that if I don’t get it on my calendar – even personal relationships – I will often let way too much time go by before I contact someone.

These were just a few of the suggestions that were helpful to me and I hope they are helpful to you.

Have a great week!

Questions About Relationships

Good morning – it’s a crisp beautiful morning! The sunrise is beautiful. Spring is a wonderful time of the year.spring tree by Lauren

When it is all said and done, the thing that really matters the most to us, the thing that causes us the most hurt and joy in our lives, and the thing that most impacts our legacy is our relationships – especially those critical relationships. Our relationship with God, our spouse, our children, our extended family, and those close friends.

Relationships, for most of us, are actually the most important things in our lives. Yet for some reason for many of us, our relationships are what we are least intentional about in our lives. Somehow we just expect them to happen; we expect them to somehow stay strong and to grow with little or no intentional planning and action on our part. So often, the most important thing in our lives receives the least amount of our attention. Maybe that is something that needs to change?

Here are a few questions for you to ask about your key relationships:

– What is their love language and do I communicate with them in their love language or in mine?

– What is their personality type and how does that affect how I interact with them?

– What is their preferred method of communication? Do they like calls, texts, Facebook messages, letters?

– How often do I need to be connecting with them? Some relationships require frequent contact and some not so much.

– What are their hopes and fears? What are some of their favorite things?

– What is going on in their lives right now?

– How could I be a blessing to them right now?

– Am I intentionally scheduling time on my calendar to call them / visit them / write them / or ???

Our relationships are vital – so start being intentional about nurturing them.

Question for you – how do you ensure you are caring for those critical relationships in your life?

Have a great weekend!

A Fundamental Error You Often Make

Good morning! It is cold and getting colder up here in northeastern Indiana! Below zero temperatures are on the way according to the weather reports.MI Sunset by Lauren

You know, being a leader and a good team member is hard work – even when everything is going right! But because we are flawed human beings, there are things that get in the way and make effective teamwork even more difficult. The frustrating thing for me is that most often, the problem is with me – and you.

One of the common issues we have to overcome is what called the fundamental attribution error. Basically we have a tendency to attribute the negative, irritating, and frustrating behaviors of others to their intentions, their personalities or their character while attributing our own negative behaviors simply to environmental factors. Another sort of way I have heard this said is that we judge others by their actions and judge ourselves by our intentions.

Do you see the problem there? We assume the worst about others, but give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. When you are part of a leadership team what do you think that does to trust? It breaks down trust or prevents it from being built in the first place.

We have to learn how to assume the best about others and their intentions. We need to learn the habit of first seeking to understand others rather than seeking to be understood. At the root of this really is are we self-centered or God and others centered?

Today, before judging and assuming the worst about someone, try seeking to understand them and their situation.

Hope you have a great day today!