Finding Sanctuary



When I first started this blog the title was Losing Sanctuary.  One of the definitions listed in the dictionary under “sanctuary”reads,

A place where wildlife, especially those hunted for sport,
can take refuge and grow in safety from hunters”.

I have several sanctuaries.  One is my home.  I love my home,  simply because it’s so homey.  Another is my shower – that borders on TMI but I have some of my best conversations with God in there.  Another is my car.  My car is like my prayer closet.  Your sanctuary might be a friend, or maybe your marriage.  Your sanctuary might even be your children.  It could be a place – like the ocean or the mountains – wherever you might run for renewal.

One of my favorite sanctuaries is where I first observed grace in real life.  It was offered to me and many others like me. I was given immunity from who I really was; loved and well cared for despite my wobbly faith. I reveled in my first taste of grace and grew in its sweet balm, and I watched others do the same.  We still wobbled now and then, but my sanctuary and its people would come alongside and lift us up, offering us the encouragement we needed to live in the righteousness already in us, based on who we carried with us  – not the punishment we were entitled to.  It was there that I learned to listen for the dove’s voice.

Much like wildlife,  many of us came wounded to this sanctuary.  We were battered and bruised, we were  hunted by the world where some find sport in pointing a condemning finger at you, judging your actions, misunderstanding your motives, and laughing at your expense.  It was there that we found safety.  It was there that we were trusted.  It was there that we were given life-giving safety and we watched grace being lived out.  The caretaker of this sanctuary cared for us in ways we would never find again.  It wasn’t perfection, but there was beauty, and grace, and new life here.

And then it happened.  This strong sanctuary that I thought would withstand any strong wind was hit by a doozy – a storm bigger than I had ever experienced in my safe little world.  Could the foundation of grace within us hold this sanctuary together?  My naivety thought it would because I thought this sanctuary was immune to the divisiveness that can hide a coming storm.

The tricky part was that it was hard to recognize the storm at first.  It came disguised in little droplets of rain that wouldn’t arose anyone’s suspicions.  The caretaker moved on to care for another sanctuary and ours was soon wearing different shoes and caring for the sanctuary in foreign ways.  A change was made here.  A new sign there.  Doors were locked that we were use to walking through.  A nifty new emblem was designed to remind us that we were no longer who we were.  Changes that, in of themselves might not rattle the windows.  Soon an air of secrecy seeped in.

It’s hard to discern the line between different and messy.  I’m really OK with different – I actually do pretty well with change.  It’s good for you to change things up now and then. But before we knew it the winds howled and the shutters slammed against the sanctuary, and soon it seemed way beyond different.  Waters soon began leaking into the safe walls of the sanctuary and began to flood it’s foundation.

What I’ve learned is that the best environment for great accomplishment is an environment of trust, safety, and authenticity.  If you try to accomplish anything outside of that kind of environment, you will fail miserably and miss the authenticity of relationship that is needed to remember why you do what you do in the first place.  Then you go from a sanctuary of grace to a sanctuary of law, rules and regulations.

How the heck did this happen?  How could God allow this? I mean really….if sanctuary is where He is, how could He allow this to happen?  I was certain that God had been the center of this sanctuary, so would He not protect my place of refuge and grace?  Surely He would protect this sanctuary from this calamity, and come to our aid!

But He didn’t.  He sat on His hands and allowed pain and suffering to refine us.  Soon there were reactions, hurt feelings, then a spirit of mistrust fell over the sanctuary.  Hearts were broken, including mine.  Friends left the sanctuary to find a safer place, and I fought against the losses with all I had in me.  Did I play any part in this hard?  I wanted to fix it and seek justice, but a wise man once told me not to fight other people’s battles.  So I withdrew and tried to continue to pursue the grace that I knew had to still be there…somewhere hidden beneath the floorboards.  I became emotionally and spiritually stuck.

I ended up getting lost in what the sanctuary had been, and not what God might be doing to make it better.  I focused on the place and it kept me from remembering who I was in Christ – who was actually in me. And I started to believe that if I were more spiritually diligent and devoted, then I’d feel OK about the sanctuary.  I did and it didn’t help.  I felt the flood waters rising.  But God, as He always does, met me in my pain.  He whispered to me that I would never find sanctuary in anything apart from Him.  Big giant duh!

So I’m learning new and exciting things about grace and maneuvering through the hard.  Here is what I’m learning in this sanctuary in the midst of the flood:

  • God is less interested in sanctuaries than He is in BEING your sanctuary.
  • I am the most important sanctuary I need to be focusing on because He lives within me.
  • God is not absent in our suffering.
  • There is great spiritual growth and maturity that comes from hardship and trials (BGD!).
  • My ability to deal with the hard has more to do with my relationship with God, than it does with the hardship.
  • I need to focus on what my responsibility is to those who live within this sanctuary to help them heal and grow through the hard (thanks CP).
  • If I am going to blog about grace, I had darn well better be willing to give it and be a part of it, and experience it in community here in this ever-changing sanctuary.
  • I am much better at writing about the truths I love so much than I am at living them.

How’s that for honesty?  Yikes.  A precious friend of this sanctuary said to me recently… “God must love [your sanctuary] SO much that He would allow it to go through this refining”.  So I struggle to be brave in the midst of the hard.  It’s uncomfortable.  I don’t like it.  I don’t understand it….but that’s OK.  It’s not my job to understand.  Once again God is teaching me about trusting Him.  Dang I wish I’d get this trust thing right.

So the truth of the matter is that I really haven’t lost this sanctuary – Christ is in me.  He is my sanctuary, and maybe I was making this one somewhat of an idol.  I dunno.  There’s a lot I don’t know.  All I know is that I’m walking through the hard with the help of the One who sees all and knows all and is walking me through the pain step by step.  So I’m finding new possibilities in this sanctuary.  And maybe new sanctuaries.

Once again, the hard is cloaked in love and grace.


I have this nasty habit.  I tend to retreat when I’m overwhelmed by life.  Whether it be from my husband, my friends, and even from God – I retreat into my little world and try to figure out myself how I’m going to survive whatever the latest hardship is.  Mind you, I don’t do this often, or even consciously, but when I’m overwhelmed I tend to withdraw.  But the fact of the matter is that by retreating I am saying that I doubt that God knows what is best for me, or that He sees my need, or that He has my back.  And whether or not I do it on purpose, my withdrawl tells the real story.  The bottom line is that I just am not that great at trusting God.

One of the biggest events that I put on at the church where I work is called Summerfest – our version of VBS.  A few years back we had 600 kids coming to this three day event, with 400 volunteers, and it was the highlight of everyone’s summer.  Everyone but me.


I was asked to be the Director of Summerfest twice in years past and I turned it down both times because I wanted to reduce the stress in my life.  Well, the third year it was “assigned” to me and I was not a happy camper.  This thing takes months to plan, and the stress can be overwhelming.   Are you kidding?…you must be smokin’ crack!

The first steps of planning Summerfest begin with choosing a theme and picking a Bible verse to go with that theme.  Then you have to find lead coordinators for various aspects of Summerfest next, followed by overseeing the planning of activities, and program content for the PK-K program, the Gr. 1-5 program, and the Middle School program.  My predecessor (also the pastor’s wife who was like the pied piper of volunteers) could simply mention a need casually and she’d have people falling at her feet to help.  Me, not so much.

After that there is the coordination of various meetings, constant email communications, and more meetings.  In the midst of all that there is the planning of food for hundreds of volunteers, as well as the pulling together of buses and the pickup of over 60 kids from four different kids outreach programs in the city.  Do you see why I might be a little anxious?  In the midst of all of this I am supposed to be praying fervently for everyone and everything Summerfest.  Oops….I may have fallen a bit short in that area with my eyes focused on my stress.

Then there’s the coordination of a jabillion documents and signage that we use with an endeavor like this, and just that makes my eyes roll back in my head.  We even have a POD that we rent yearly that is packed full of Summerfest supplies that gives me anxiety every year it’s delivered.  Finally, you have to enlist the help of about 300 volunteers to run activities, fill security roles, be group leaders, and feed people.  That also involves writing and rewriting job descriptions over and over again.  This is not my favorite time of year.

But in March for the past two years I’ve half-heartedly thrown myself into the planning of Summerfest – kicking and screaming the whole way.  Not a great testimony of doing something to the glory of God, right?  With dwindling numbers at my church in recent years, I made some program and format changes since it’s been harder and harder to find volunteers and our number of kids has also dropped.  I began to stress and wonder if I was going to be able to pull this off. As if I am the driving force behind this whole schtick.  Summerfest is God’s baby, so whose voice to you suppose I’m listening to?  When I’m looking at the hardships more than God’s abilitiy to overcome them, you know I’ve taken my eyes off Jesus and they’re more on me and my abilities.

I braced myself for what I thought was going to be the worst Summerfest of all time. I was sure the new format would bomb.  I thought I’d get plenty of complaints about changes that didn’t work.  The lower number of kids would surely make things noticeably awkward.  I wish I could say that I was a better example of trust.

By stressing and being anxious (leading to losing sleep and poor health) am I not really telling God that I don’t trust Him to handle my problems?  When the hardships come – and they will – we sometimes think we’re justified in doing our own thing and relying on our own strength.  We spend less time praying and more time trying to fix things.  Then we’re overwhelmed and retreat from people and God, and hope that even in  our disobedience that God will cut us some slack because He certainly knows how stressed we are.  We go our own way, and the stress gets worse.  We shut ourselves inside our refusal to allow God to handle the problem and go into fix-it mode.  But despite our disobedience, if we stop for a moment and invite Him into the equation, God’s quiet voice whispers to us “be still….I’ve got this.”

The good news is that Summerfest 2016 is over.  Praise Jesus!  I’m exhausted and suffering from what I like to call S.F.P.T.S.D….Summerfest Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder.  I need a glass of wine, a good massage and a week on a beach somewhere.  But despite my best efforts to jump on the fix-it train….God, in His grace, has allowed me to seee His work despite myself, and He’s quietly waited for me to catch up with His plans.

All those things I thought would go wrong – not one of them happened.  Instead I heard things like “this is the best Summerfest we’ve had in years”, and “I love the new format”, and “I like Summerfest with less kids – it’s less crowded.”  Well I’ll be doggone.  I wish my faith matched my words more often.

If I ever have to do this again (and that’s a big IF) I hope that I do a better job of keeping my eyes on Jesus more than myself.  If I can do that, then hopefully I’ll be less stressed and more able to point others to Jesus.  That way I’ll be a a better example of His faithfulness, and I feel like I’ll come  out the other side with a stronger faith.  This is lesson worth learning.

Pass me that glass of wine, would you?


Auntie Olive

I adored my Aunt Olive.  She was the first person that I encountered as a child that when I was near her, I felt like I was at home.  There was something in her spirit that was familiar to me, and I was drawn to her.  We were alike, and the things that I valued, she valued.  It felt so comfortable and safe to be with her.  As a young girl I would suggest reasons to my parents why we should get together so that we could travel the 40 minutes to her home so that I could just be there and feel the warmth of her.  Although I loved my older cousins and looked up to them, because I was the baby of the clan and they were busy finding their own way in the world, it was Auntie Olive who I longed to spend time with.  She validated who I was. 

Growing up, my wiring was so different than anyone else’s under our roof that I knew at a young age that I carried a different gene.  Auntie Olive had that same gene.  We had the same temperaments – although as a young girl I knew nothing about personality traits or God-given gifts.  Auntie Olive’s gift was making people feel loved and welcome.  Where I was told that the fun inside me was wrong and needed to be tamed, she nourished it and made me feel like I was blessed to love life.  I like to say that love is in the details…and she knew how to go the extra mile in the little details of life to show her family that they were loved.  From the extra time she took to hand-crumble the tuna for her tuna sandwiches, to the little notes she wrote, to her willingness to take me go-karting and to sleep under the stars of our outdoor fort, to the big smile and open outstretched arms when she greeted you at the door, to the smiley face that was part of her signature – she was the queen of showing love in the little details.

One of my favorite things about going to Auntie Olive’s house (besides the Nestle’s Quik that we never had in our house) was when you stayed the night there you would always find a “pillow present” under your pillow.  Just a little token to say you’re welcome here and valued.  It’s something that I’ve adopted now for guests that stay at my house.  It’s just a thread of the fun gene that still shows up that reminds me of Auntie Olive.

 And Christmas at her house was magical.  People with that fun gene tend to decorate their homes to the max for holidays, and Auntie Olive was no exception.  That’s probably why there are now ten Christmas boxes up in the rafters of my garage.   From the music playing from the stereo, to the candles brightly lit, to the delicious appetizers (this is also where I got my love for onion dip and potato chips)….these are the memories that I cherish and miss the most about Christmas. Our home was bigger and considered nicer than hers, but I would have much prefered Christmas Eve at her house over mine because of how inviting it was.  Don’t get me wrong – I loved my home and my family…but Auntie Olive wasn’t there to make me feel like being who I was created to be was OK.

And camping trips were turned into a party, where we would perform plays for our parents on huge boulders, and sing songs for their entertainment.  And she made the best guacamole!  Half the fun of a camping trip was waiting around for “happy hour” where the appetizers were brought out with our special lemonade and we would husk corn and recount the moments of the day by the water.  Fourth of July meant hand-cranked homemade ice cream, and Thanksgiving meant the smell of delicious food she was preparing in the kitchen. I can still see her now with her frilly apron on and her beautiful smile.  These were all favorite moments that are forever etched into my memory.  Love was in the details. 

And boy howdy did she have a sense of humor and a great giggle!  During one of my over-night visits Aunt Olive and Uncle Rex served me pancakes at their little kitchen table the next morning.  Since my uncle was from the Ozarks, sorghum was a staple in their home and so Auntie Olive slipped some sorghum into the syrup pitcher and laughed so hard when I tasted it for the first time.  It was something akin to biting into a lemon for me.  Ugh!

There is another profound way that Auntie Olive and I are alike.  She was flawed and broken…just as I am.   People with our gene, if not plugged in to the Holy Spirit think their wisdom needs to be shared with everyone around them.  They tend to let words flow out of their mouths without the Holy Spirit’s filter.  You get the picture?  We can be annoying.  But in the best way she knew how she pursued God.  She pursued him by loving his people.  She didn’t always get it right.  She made mistakes.  She was prejudiced and judgemental.  She could be bossy and overbearing.  Sounds a bit like me when I’m not plugged in to the source of grace.  But the saving grace and good news is that there’s redemption to her story. 

Because I watched and learned from both the good and the bad of her story, I made adjustments in my gene where I knew they needed to be made, and I capitalized on the stuff that blessed others – all because of her example to me. Often we learn more from our mentors and loved ones from their mistakes than we do from their successes.  But that doesn’t make them any less valued or loved – it only makes them human.  But because God offers me his unconditional love and grace, I offer and hold on to the same for her.  

After I married and moved away from the area, I would send Auntie Olive cards to remind her how special she was to me  That was the kind of thing she did for others.  I’m glad I learned that from her.  The last card I sent her was an Easter card in 2008 thanking her for the part she played in my life.  Shortly after, my husband and I went away to celebrate our anniversary in Mendocino.  I got the call from my brother on April 19th, our 27th Anniversary – Auntie Olive had died.  She died while we rode horses on the beach and as I loped my horse across the sand and the bitter cold wind blew in my face, I let the tears come.  I cried for what I had lost.  One of the few people who made me most feel at home on this earth was gone.  I missed her warmth and I wish I could have been there to say goodbye.  To remind her what she meant to me, and to assure her that because she had put her trust in the one who put the fun gene within her, she was going to join the biggest and best party E.V.E.R.  But I suspect she knew.  And I suspect she knows I still have a mad crush on her.

Love is in the details.  But don’t forget that grace also shows up with it.  They go hand-in-hand.  So party-on, Auntie Olive.  But save some guacamole for me!

Gift be with you

giftWow!  A new year is here.  Christmas has come and gone and the gifts have been opened, some returned, and the gift-giving has subsided…unless you’re like me who has a daughter with a January birthday.  How did you do with receiving gifts this Christmas?

In my line of work, I often hear conversations end with the phrase  “grace be with you”.  It sounds so spiritual, doesn’t it?  So Christianese.  I even sign my emails that way sometimes…mostly because I want people to think I’ve got it all together in the giving out of grace to those around me.  Ha!  Well, I recently heard someone describe grace this way….”take the word grace and replace it with the word gift…that’s another way to understand grace”.   Maybe I should end my emails with “gift be with you”.

We are nothing more than daily recipients of the gift.  The gift of grace.  We often don’t deserve gifts.  We never deserve grace.  For that reason I want to be a grateful recipient of it.  I blog because I want to orient my life around the gift….make it the theme of my life….no matter how I may bumble and stumble through it.   I’m right there with you.  Trying to figure it out.  I’ll be the first to admit that just because I blog about it doesn’t mean I’m great at it…but if I can point others to that pure gift – His pure grace – well then I can lay my head on my pillow at night content in the transfer.  That’s pure Jesus.

If we focus our lives on flaunting what we know…what we do….what we don’t do…that’s not what Christianity is supposed to be about.  It’s about knowing Jesus, and if its not, then we’re orienting our lives around our abilities and works.

With any gift…there is a giver involved.   I think when people say “grace be with you” they are saying “may you experience the life transforming gift of God – the giver – that will keep and sustain you.”  You’re nothing more than a recipient of the gift.  Daily.  365 days a year.  Be a grateful one.

So here’s to the anticipation of another 365 days of new possibilities and new opportunities for grace sightings and receiving.  Happy New Year!

Christmas Lists

Xmas list

I’m such a list person.  I make lists for everything; it gives me a sense of being organized.  Hah!…who am I kidding?   In reality…lists keep me sane. There’s something spiritual about making lists with little boxes and then checking them off when you accomplish something.  No, actually, that might actually fall under the “works” category.  Anyway, I find great fulfillment when I can check off my boxes and cross off a list.  Now that the holidays are here I’ve started making all sorts of lists; gift lists, Christmas card lists, party lists, cleaning lists, dinner lists, and event lists.  I’m in list heaven.

As far as gift lists are concerned, I’ve made my gift giving list, checked it once or twice, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more blessed to give than to receive.  Not only more blessed, but more fun and way cooler.  And way more rewarding.  I didn’t always think this way, since one of my “love languages” is the receiving of gifts. I like presents….a lot!  I’m not ashamed to admit it.  It use to make me feel loved, but as I’ve let Christ take center stage in my life the need for affirmation through others gifts has faded.  Lately, I’m beginning to enjoy it backwards.  When I think of the favorite gift I give this year, and then compare it to the favorite gift I will receive I’m quite sure the one I give will bring me greater joy.

I think giving is one of the things that gives purpose to our lives.  A certain carpenter reminds us that it might be really great if we were to carry over some of the giving that we experience this holiday season in His honor, and see how we can incorporate more of that purpose and thought into our daily lives – keeping in mind that giving is an attitude.  It doesn’t always have to be a material gift with a price tag on it.  It can be the gift of our time or talents, sometimes our grace and forgiveness…even our thoughts and prayers.

If there were any value in the commercialism of Christmas it would be this – that giving far outweighs receiving.  It’s spiritual!  It gets us thinking about what someone else might like for a change, and it gets us into the selfless giving mode. We spend our money on someone else.  We take the time to make something special for them from our heart. We step into someone else’s life.  We make someone else important. Whenever we give we are taking part in the very nature of God.  It isn’t natural for us as humans to give; rather it is completely God-like.  After all, God was the first gift giver.  I know…that sounds very Christianese…but I just can’t help it.  It’s CHRISTmas for crying out loud!

Being reminded every year of the joy and value of unselfish giving is a great gift in-of-itself to all of us.  It’s the heart of the Christmas season that’s well worth carrying on into next year.  Our nature tells us that the more we hold onto, the more we will have but its really the opposite that is true.  Whether it’s money, or time, or love, or forgiveness…the more we give away the fuller and richer our lives will be.  That’s grace for you…getting something wonderful back that you never expected by giving something (and sometimes it’s undeserved) to someone else.  Do you know someone who needs something from you that they don’t deserve?

Wouldn’t it be just revolutionary if we could think about the joy that giving brings this Christmas and look for ways we can carry that spirit on into the New Year?  Maybe we shouldn’t stop making lists.  It might keep us thinking along the lines of what others need…maybe forgiveness.  Maybe grace.

Knowing that I love gifts, here’s what I want for Christmas:…more reems of paper!  I’m gonna need a lot more of it for all my lists next year!  Either that…or maybe an iPad (hint hint).

Happy list making!


I knew I’d have to write about this someday.  In thinking about this title I thought about calling it The Always Distracted Dane (cuz I’m Danish).  Or A Disturbing Dilemma.  Or Another Distracted Dynamo.  Some clever and catchy acronym for what I would consider to be the painful thorn in my flesh that I believe the One who created me has graciously allowed me to walk this life with.

“So to keep me from becoming proud, God allowed me to be given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from the evil one to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.”

~ 2 Corinthians 12:7

 However you want to describe it, all those titles describe one of the most frustrating issues that I have had to deal with in my life. But on the flip side it also has been the most eye-opening into who I am as a person, and it has been a rich blessing for which I am grateful for as it has helped shape my life and had much to do with the person God has molded me into today.

It’s medical diagnosis is A.D.D. or more accurately Attention Deficit Disorder.  I’m not sure how I feel about having a “condition”…or a “disorder”…but if it helps others learn to walk through life with it I’m all on board!

I love a good story.  The interesting part of my story is that I didn’t get a diagnosis until I was in my 50’s – for which I am thankful – when I thought my son had ADD and was I doing research and trying to find a way to break it to him that he was “special”.  A dear distant cousin (who is also an RN and wouldn’t just jump on the ADD bandwagon at the drop of the hat) shared with me her journey with ADD and how it affected her children, and little by little it began to dawn on me that in reality, I was actually the one who had the disorder as well.  I am so grateful to her for helping me come to that place.  Now I know that I’m special.  🙂

Growing up I was labeled “the dreamer” in the family – never really coming down to earth.  Some in my family might have attributed my faith as falling under that dreamer heading – believing in something intangible – being so optimistic about life when I was expected to be mature and realize that life wasn’t a rose garden and how could there be a God who created us and yet allowed so much pain.  I actually really like being optimistic – I think it has kept me young.  But I was also the goofball – looking for validation through humor and fun because I couldn’t really settle down and focus on anything else.

Very few people even knew what ADD was in the 70’s when I was finishing high school and heading off to college, and I think had I known about “it” I might have used “it” as an excuse to live a less driven life.  What did happen was that “it” ticked me off so much that I took on the attitude that I wasn’t going to let “it” (whatever “it” was) define my life so I strove to teach myself skills that would help me function well in life.  I drove myself to be the best I could be – yet knowing I had limitations, and to be happy with the results.  I guess you might call it making the most of what I had.

During high school I did well in school – keeping a 3.6 gpa but having to work harder than most.  I had tutors when I needed them, and I was a visual learner.  Once I entered college and had bigger responsibilities “it” came crashing down over me.  “It” was like the elephant in the room – knowing something was there and wrong with me but that couldn’t be identified, which by the way made me feel like my elevator wasn’t going all the way to the top floor.  The best way I can describe “it” is to say my life was fuzzy….out of focus….and unclear. “It” was a shame that I carried with me all of my adult life and one that I didn’t talk about to many people.  I didn’t want to admit that there was something wrong with me and because I couldn’t identify “it” I tried to ignore “it” and pretend that “it” wasn’t there.  The effects of “it” forced me to drop out of college and I returned home with my tail between my legs.

Knowing I would eventually have to write about this, I recently went back and looked through my journals from my college+ years and found that, unbeknownst to me at the time I was very aware of my condition and referred to “it” many times in my journals as a cloud that I felt hanging over my head.  And just to clarify…I’m not talking about the kind of cloud where you store all your digital information somewhere akin to Heaven.  No…it was more like a cloud that settled around my head that I couldn’t see through.  It would be 30 years before I would find out what that cloud was.

Had there been a diagnosis for ADD back in the 70″s I probably wouldn’t have wanted to be labeled with it either, or I might have used it as a crutch or excuse for my lack of motivation.  So I see God’s providence in His timing in revealing it to me as a gracious gift….notice the root word comes from a place of  grace.  God holding off with the truth until I was best ready to receive it.

Depression was “its” partner – how could it not be when you are constantly doubting yourself – trying to figure out what the heck is wrong with you – paddling like crazy beneath the surface trying to appear like you have it all together when you know you really don’t.  But because of my tenacity and faith in God I chose not to let “it” rule my life.  I taught myself skills to survive and excel in life, and people never knew of the shame that part of my life carried with it.  I learned to compensate for areas where I was weakest and learned to use my strengths to my advantage. That’s not to say there weren’t huge identity and personality things to figure out…but that was all a part of my journey.  I’m not gonna lie – it did affect my life in so many ways, as I recognize when I occasionally play back the movie reel of my life now and then since my diagnosis.

The good news is that it has been absolutely freeing to find out “its” name a few years ago as it signaled – at least to my own heart – that I was not a failure, that there had been a reason for my struggles.  Most of all it validated what I knew all along – that I wasn’t crazy. Well, at least not medically.  If you know me at all you know I definitely have a little of crazy in me, but I’m proud that I’ve actually been quite successful in life walking hand-in-hand with ADD.  Uh oh….there’s that pride thing again – the reason God allowed me to have ADD so that I wouldn’t become prideful!  Ugh….its a vicious cycle!  I still have so much to learn.

One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve gotten since being diagnosed is whether I take medication.  The first few years after learning I had ADD my answer was “no…but if I were going back to school and had to read textbooks without feeling the crippling pressure to focus and take in a huge textbook in a short amount of time, maybe.”   In the past year my answer has changed to “yes…I do take medication“.

Just over a year ago I began to experience some of the same symptoms I felt overwhelming me in college.  Besides the basic distractive nature of ADD, the typical demands of life can be overwhelming.  18 months ago I started noticing that with all the balls I was trying to keep in the air with work, being a wife and mom, running a household, and the greater the demand on my abilities to organize, focus, and remain calm….I was beginning to feel panicky.  It reminded me of the feelings I had in college and it frightened me.

After a little research, I realized that being an athlete is like self-medicating your condition.  Exercise is one of the best medicines for ADD and I had always remained very active as an adult playing competitive softball, biking, golfing and walking.  However, the overwhelming feelings that had resurfaced coincided with the time in my life where I had begun to slow down a bit and wasn’t quite as active with my sports.  In essence, my  dosage of self-medication was now dwindling and so the overwhelming emotions began to return.  So in conjunction with my doctor I now take a low dose of medication that seems to work for me.  I describe it’s result as taking a camera lens and bringing everything into focus – and I’m able to keep those feelings and emotions in check.

My story has a very happy ending…but its not without it’s critics.  Not everyone wants to embrace my diagnosis and have (as my mom use to say) “poo poo’d” it and have said to me “you don’t have ADD…everyone is distracted”.  I’ll admit that hurts.  I agree that it’s good not to jump on the ADD bandwagon and use it as an easy way out for laziness or for a lack of motivation.  It’s true that everyone is distracted at some point – especially with the world of technology that we live in today – and it’s good to be discerning about the latest diagnosis that comes down the pike.  But my encouragement to you if you have a loved one that either has, or might have ADD is to learn all you can about the condition.  Don’t make them feel less than validated as a person because of your lack of knowledge.

(For some suggestions of books that helped me understand ADD better, check out the “Good Reads” section of my blog).

So “it” has shaped who I am – but it doesn’t define who I am.  God does that for me.  His grace is enough for me for today – His grace was enough for me 30 years ago.  His grace in the diagnosis – His grace in the truth – His grace for my sweet parents who had trouble understanding their little girl ~ His grace for my husband as he has walked through a distracted marriage not always feeling he had all my attention – His grace for my sweet son as he tries to figure out the part ADD plays in his life – His grace for my family and friends as they love me and all my whacky ways – His grace for people who ridicule me – His grace for tomorrow.  Maybe His grace is enough for you and what the “it” is in your life?


Here are a few myths and facts about ADD that might help you understand and encourage those around you who might have ADD:

ADD myths

The ROOTing of All Evil

It’s here!  It’s here!….it’s finally here!  I’ve waited eight months for it. What am I talking about?  Well, football season, of course!

I’m not your typical chick, nor your typical middle-aged church lady for that matter.  I’m a HUGE football fan and if you take it one step further….I love me my San Francisco 49ers.  I go to as many games as I can find wealthy friends that have tickets, and I watch faithfully every Sunday afternoon.   Since Salsa guy and I are polar opposites he is the one in the kitchen making something yummy and I’m the one planted in front of the TV with my cold beverage and Lil’ Smokies by my side.  If I can’t watch, I record the game and turn off the ESPN updates on my phone and I make my friends and family promise they won’t text me any updates on the game.  That happened once….ugh!

I am sinfully proud of the red and gold, and this time of year I change my Facebook page photo to the one of me with the black under my eyes and my 49er jersey on and my No. 1 Fan finger.

Niner Fan

I love a good wager on a game – usually chocolate chip cookies or fresh salsa.   A little ridiculous, huh?  I once bet a friend up in Seattle that the Niners would whoop the Seahawks and the wager was that the loser had to take a picture of themselves in the opposing team’s jersey and post it on Facebook.  I looked pretty awful in Seattle’s colors.

My new boss Matt (a pastor mind you) says that he can fully embrace and support whatever local team represents the city he’s living in.  I find that disturbing.  It’s so Christian…. so “I can love anyone because of the love of Jesus“.  Really?  Where is your loyalty, man?  That’s akin to rooting for Goliath just because you’re from Gath.  Goliath was a bad dude and the Seahawks had to cheat to win the SuperBowl…so can you really say you’d root for them if you lived in the Pacific Northwest?  I think not!

As you can see my competiveness can get me into trouble.  I already can tell I’m going to have to apologize to Matt and I hate apologizing.  So I’ve learned that I have to keep a tight lid on my enthusiasm with rooting and try not to be too over zealous for the Niners because people get a little snarky about their football teams.  One wrong comment and you’re back in “Relationship 101” class where you’re reminded about the importance of nourishing and encouraging others around you.  Sigh. So I have to be careful how I navigate through relationships with those other fans around me….especially now that the Niners are doing so sucky lately.  Throw some egos and attitudes in the pot and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a team that’s tanking royally.  Come on Niners – you can do better than this!

My old pastor, DAG was a Green Bay Packers fan.  He came from Wisconsin and when he started this church in California he brought his team loyalty with him.  I can respect that.  He had a Packers football in his office (which I liked to switch out with a Niner ball) and we liked to tease each other about games over the years when they played one another.  I even bought him a Packers poncho when I was in Mexico on a Mission trip.  I actually really like Aaron Rodgers as a man of character and he makes funny commercials.  Plus the Packers are owned by their fans, I like their team colors (same as my college team) and the cheese heads make me laugh – its such a good visual to identify with.  But now I’m faced with a conundrum because I actually really like Seattle’s quarterback, Russell Wilson (oh, say it isn’t so!!) and as much as I hate that Seattle has more “W”s than “L”s when we go up against them….they have a QB who is a great leader on and off the field, and has a great testimony for Christ.  And plus…Seattle does have the coolest uniforms in the NFL – don’t judge me – I’m still a chick.  What am I to do?

As shocking as it is, I think I’ve figured out that for me football and rooting for a team is a great tool to build relationship with the people around me. It’s a great way to bring people together. We have people over to watch football all the time, and we feed them and that builds relationship with them. Great conversations happen in front of the TV while throwing back your favorite beverage and some chips and dip.  In fact, our Youth Group meets every other Monday during football season at different homes to watch Monday Night Football – sort of a football small group.  And my brother and I talk on the phone or text about the game every week which gives us a common thread and starts great conversations together.  Then there’s the neighbor across the street who will taunt us with his Dallas banner, and we’ll taunt back with our Niner banner.  Now those are the things that build relationship!  And even worse….I’ll often wager on a Niner game even when I know the Niners are going to get spanked all because its part of the relationship building process.  I guess I’m not above hanging my head when it’s to build relationship.  Is that a part of grace?

Growing up in So. California I was a loyal LA Rams fan (which tells you how old I am since they haven’t been in LA for 20 years) and I rooted like crazy for them.  I was also a Dodger fan…with a few Angel inklings and guess who I root for now?  Yep….the Giants and the A’s.  So I think if I moved to San Diego or Phoenix…I might just be able to embrace the Chargers or the Cardinals for the sake of relationship.  What?  Blasphemy! Does that mean that I’m not the loyal Niner fan that I thought I was?  Naw….I think I’ll always love the Niners, but grace tells me that I can be a hometown fan and root for the team where my family and friends are so that I can develop deeper relationships with them.

So as much as I hate to admit it…I think Matt has it right.  I think I too can be loyal to the local team because for me relationship is more important than if my team wins.  Grace for the team and grace for me and grace for other fans.  But between you and me, I think God might be a 49er fan.

The Pace of Grace

I have three friends named Cindy.  Cindy One I’ve known for 28 years and is one of my dearest friends.  She probably has the most dirt on me.  Our kids were more like cousins,  grew up together and were in each others weddings.  Cindy Two I’ve known for 8 years and we’re family now since our kids recently got married.  She’s become way more than just an “in law”….more like a sister.  Cindy Three I met about 5 years ago in Bible Study and we just clicked.  You know the type.  There’s something familiar in them and you just enjoy one another.  We love to hang out together in Youth Group, birthday lunch groups, and we generally support and encourage one another.

Cindy Three is a dynamo – a true “go getter”.  She is always pushing herself, always gathering knowledge, sometimes too hard on herself, always pursuing being better, hard working, talented, always asking questions, and always inquisitive about everything.  She is amazing!  We once went to Disneyland together on a girls weekend and we would often misplace her.  “Where’s Cindy?” was a common phrase used that weekend but we’d usually find her off ahead of us looking at the flowers, or the architecture…walking at marathon speed at least 20 paces in front of us….on a mission to take it all in, never all that interested in idle chit-chat or what ride we were heading to next, but rather enjoying the beauty around her and not satisfied to meander at our snails pace.  Fully engaged and actively pursuing new ideas.  Her husband Nick says she has two speeds…full speed and off.

I can be like that when it comes to living life.   Out in front, paddling like crazy, making things happen, bringing people together, asking questions, pursuing grace….but truth be told it can wear me out.  So why am I always functioning at warp speed? I think it’s because so much of my life was spent living for ME and now that grace is beginning to dawn and make sense to me I want to make up for lost time.  I find myself way too busy sometimes – filling my days with ministry and relationship building and community and loving on those around me.  My friends think I’m crazy – always organizing something or going someplace or caring for someone.  But I’m at that place in life where there are probably a lot more days behind me than there are ahead of me, and I think what motivates that pace is that I don’t want to waste one more day on myself.  Throw my love languages in there too (acts of service and gift giving) and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a burnt-out penniless Sista!  But there’s been this still-small-voice in my head of late that is whispering that I need to slow down and learn how to find balance.

So after ducking the subject and trying to ignore the dove’s voice, God got creative and spoke to me at Cheesecake Factory last week when I had dinner with two dear friends that I taught school with a few years back.  My friend Mags used a phrase that I haven’t been able to shake.  “Going at the pace of grace“.  It’s stuck with me more than the 5 lbs. from the Mocha Chocolate Cheesecake.  It’s been digging under my skin and peeling open scabs that I’ve known are there but have ignored, all pertaining to why I push myself, my schedule, my life at the pace I do.  I understand that nothing I do (works) earns me anything, so how do I manage grace and my pace in this tangible way?  Not that all these other things I do don’t hold value, but if I’m running at break-neck speed I’ll most certainly miss the scenery.  Or have a heart attack.  Well, I think it starts with taking off your track shoes and taking time to be still.

In my search for more going at the pace of grace input, I found that Scotty Smith tweets on the subject of what grace looks like (He’s a Pastor, author, blogger and tweeter, but his credentials on his Facebook say “Husband, dad, friend, big sinner enjoying an even bigger grace, unlikely pastor, wanna-be-musician, writer-at-times, a guy with an odd sense of humor”).  I like him already.  He blogs daily prayers that are so real, and just like the old phrase “You might be a redneck if….”his tweets often start with “A sign you’re growing in grace:…..”.   I just love it.  Simple.  Easy.  Grace.

Here’s the tweet that hit me between the eyes:

 “A sign you’re growing in grace: 
People don’t experience you being as busy, hurried or restless. 
You’re learning the pace of grace.”

Ouch.  That’s the opposite of me.  I’m always busy – I’m always hurrying to accomplish something – put on another event – bring more people together – write one more blog (this is actually very therapeutic and a form of worship for me, as God and I work through some things together) – and the stress that I put myself through causes me to be restless.  Yikes.  I think if I were living less busy and more in collaboration with God I would probably accomplish more and it wouldn’t be just about checking boxes off my TO DO list.  I’d be letting God walk those 20 paces ahead of me, leading, and watching to see what He wants me to pursue.  I have so much to learn still about this grace thing.

Hmmm….this is something I’m going to have to look into further.  For now I know I need to slow the pace down a bit. For now I’m going to be a better student of learning to go at the pace of grace.  And I give my three Cindy’s and my Youth Group (see my post dated 5/30/2014) permission to hold me accountable.  Uh oh….I’m in trouble!

Pleasure in the Process

I often get inspiration from other people – whether it comes from a conversation, a book I’ve read, a podcast I’ve listened to, a video I’ve seen, a sermon I’ve heard, or a song that strikes a chord with me and I feel so touched that I have to write about what it means to me.  I come up with plenty of original and creative thoughts, but I’m so grateful for the ideas that come to me because of someone else’s touch on my life, and most of the time I don’t even know these people.  For instance, Sara Groves will write a song like Hello Lord, or Going Home and I’ll be so undone by the words and wonder how she got into my head and heart, lived my life and knew exactly how I felt!  Those words she wrote are MY exact same thoughts….I just didn’t know how to put them together in that way.

Today’s blog is inspired by an interview I saw recently by a young singer named Steffany Gretzinger who spoke about her inspiration for a new album she had recorded.  It was an amazing interview and hit right at the heart of where I believe I am in life.  The interview was about our “undoing“.  That’s where I am these days….in the process of being undone.  Undone of me, myself and I.  It doesn’t happen all at once simply because I like to hold on to all three of those very important people….at least in my own mind they’re pretty important.  There’s “me” again. Ugh.  How does “me” walk hand in hand with grace?  That, too, is part of the undoing.

You may have heard me say that this life of mine is a journey….a process.  Part of that journey is God’s process of undoing us until we are one day reunited with the One who created us – when all the scales have fallen off, the cords and knots wrapping us up have come untangled, and we are undone of ourselves.  Undone of our selfishness.  Undone of our brokenness. Undone of me, myself and I.  Undone of anything that gets in the way putting others first and glorifying the One who created me.  I assumed that would come at the end of my life but Steffany helped me realized that it’s an ongoing un-doneness – it doesn’t just happen when you come sliding in cleats up in the Promise Land.

Learning grace is part of my undoing.  I’ve learned that life lived is an undoing and life lived has seasons.  There will be seasons of brokenness, seasons of joy, seasons of despair, seasons of growth, seasons of being misunderstood, seasons of pleasure, seasons of transformation, and seasons of truth.  And during each season it will hurt when the BandAid peels away those ugly ME scabs with the undoing.  OUCH.  But God will lead us through this sometimes painful process of getting rid of all the things that constipate our life, and when we walk out the other side we will be rid of the ugliness that holds us back from great relationships and being great people, serving and blessing those around us.

Be patient with me – the stuff in this life that trips me up is just temporary.  The flaws you see in me will one day be undone…some sooner than others depending on how “me-ish” I am on a particular day.  At first the unraveling is hidden, but as God goes about the business of working all the kinks out gracefully and I’m being gently unwound all those temporary things will disappear and the eternal things that were born to be most apparent to others will be the only thing left in me after the undoing.

So there you have it.  I’m in the process of being unwound and undone.  If you see me spinning like a top and ugly things flying off – duck and get out of the way….and then throw your arms around me and whisper in my ear “there’s beauty in the process, Kris“.  And just that idea brings me great pleasure for the process that I’m in.  And thanks Steffany for showing me that the Promise Land is found IN the process…not at the end of it.