Resolutions? By: Lynn Kirkbride

From site creator Charlie Westerman: This is a blog post my mom did on her blog.  I’m gonna start featuring her to guest write for Play Onward when she can.  She’s a good writer when she is communicating about something she is passionate about (and has the time to write about it!).  And I don’t know many people more passionate about their faith than my mother.  She challenges and encourages daily.  Here’s what she has to say about embracing the unexpected…

A New Year is upon us…

But before we we say “out with the old” I want to do what my husband often encourages our family to do and simply reflect. I think I might reflect a bit better on paper than just in my head so here goes.
A theme emerged from the events of this year:
Unexpected Changes
As the kids know I like to have a plan. I always believe that after the plan is executed then there will be a lull in the action and I will actually have a chance to relax and do some those things that I never get to do. Never happens. (You have to just take the time to do those things because peace and relaxation is not the natural order) This year was no different. Maybe actually worse because I did truly believe that is was going to be different.
The Lowe’s outreach training project for people with disabilities that I was directing looked like it was going to continue for another year and in April I believed, that since the foundation had been laid, it was going to be easier. Instead, unexpectedly the money was found to hire my coordinator. Quickly it went from corporate sponsored to corporate owned (hooray) but it left me unemployed unexpectedly. Ok…. maybe some days off and less stress. Not to be… Out of the blue, after a conference call, I got hired as the Director of Affiliate Relations for the USBLN. (I never could have dreamed that one up) A big hooray and an amazing opportunity for this girl from Wyoming to work on the national level helping to build BLN’s on the local level! Score for the Lynnester….God certainly surprised me with that turn of events.
Second unexpected… our BLN Director, and long time friend, Marla Lewis resigned to move to New Mexico and take a position as the Director for the Ruidiso Chamber of Commerce. A great chance for her but sad personally for me to lose my dear friend and the one staff person closest to me on our WBLN team. I found myself doing a lot of training with our new staff director to help ramp him up quickly our huge fall BLN event schedule.
A third unplanned event was Dad’s colon cancer in July. That wasn’t in the 2011 plan either and caught us all off guard. Dad has hardly had a health issue in his entire life so this was BIG. I went to Wisconsin three times in four months. Hard to care from a 1,000 miles away but I did my best and am happy to say that my Dad is on the mend fairly well at 87 and he and Mom are still living in their house at 240 Woodland Drive but the implications for me in terms of time and energy were big this year.
The final unexpected change was Hannah’s marriage to Tom in October. At this time last year she wasn’t even dating Tom so upon reflection this is a stand out. We added a significant member to our family this year…. hooray, again, for that. A wonderful partner for Hannah and friend for all of us in Tom Kraner. Who would have thought up this good gift?!?!
Additionally there were some fun little gifts that God threw my way and some looming on the horizon of 2012. The most prominent one is the eminent birth of our first grandchild! Big woo….I can’t really count that as part of 2011 but it will soon stand up and be counted! Everyone that is a grandparent tries to tell Dan and I how great and is and how it will change our lives like no other…. can’t wait to try it on, try to out, take on this most esteemed role. Thanks, Jeremy and Tara for all we have to look forward to!
God gave Dan and I some new friends this year as well that we didn’t expect. Several came through Dan’s Leadership Wyoming group which will continue through April this year. A couple that we met at a friend’s party on the Fourth of July have turned out to be wonderful additions to our lives! God has some new tricks up His sleeve that completely take my breath away. Last year at Christmas time the kids did a sort of family intervention with us to see if they could encourage us empty nesters in some new directions. We must have appeared alarmingly pathetic. The area of friends was one of those weak places in our lives. Look at us now. Dan has 45 new friends who he is writing about for Leadership Wyoming, we have a supper club, I have a whole bunch of new co-workers and friends on a national level and a couple new really close friends that have been cultivated this year in Gretchen and Dana.
Through Gretchen I learned of Ann Voskamp and her 1,000 Gifts book (check out:http://www.aholyexperience.com) and was challenged to look at all of life through the lens ofeucharisteo (grace, thanksgiving, joy). Not to see things through the lens of ingratitude…. the sin of ingratitude which was the first sin of all humanity back in the garden with the crafty serpent hissing that somehow God wasn’t enough….that what He gives is somehow inadequate and that we should have something more. Shame on me… that is often my lens.
But rather to have a sense of gratitude for all that comes my way…. that God is indeed in it whether it appears at the onset to be bad or good…. to see that the holes that God allows into your life are really just peep holes into the beyond where He dwells. “Open places to the see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. The God whom we endlessly crave.” (Ann Voskamp) So I have been trying to see through this lens just this fall. I take this new lens into the New Year. I had many times of doubt this year. I had many times of pity for myself and others around facing more than difficult losses… times where I resent what is dealt to me, question God’s wisdom… really I know a better way, don’t I? Can 2012 be different? Will I have 1,000 gifts by this time next year? Will it change and shape me?
So what sense do I make of all this unexpected change in my reflection at the close of 2011? Have I seen through the God-holes to more of who He is? Lowe’s unexpected led to the USBLN position, Marla’s leaving led us to some new energy for our WBLN, Hannah’s time at home led to a marriage partner and unexpected time with my parents was good and some things gotten taken care of and things were discussed that needed talking through. Holes for sure but God was on the other side….all along.
I have already began my list of 1,000 gifts and am up to 86. I am practicing so when the big stuff comes I am ready. What will next year look like? Will the unexpected changes that are bound to come have me less rattled? Will the thanksgiving keep me more grounded and able to accept the changes in my life? Will I be calmer and more able to cope trusting better that it is all a gift from God? Will I trust that He really knows what He is doing? Will I know in my knower He does have my best interests at heart. Will I know Him better, live more fully, love others more deeply?
That might be the best unexpected change of all… don’t you think?
I have enlisted others to join me on this journey of eucharisteo. Anyone is welcome…. will you come along too and try to see the “holes” as God holes…. chances to see Him more fully? Chances to see His glory despite what the circumstances appear?
May the New Year be blest for all of us with new eyes… eucharisteo… thanksgiving, seeing His grace…. leading to JOY….Thanks for being there….

Journey with me,
Yours Trewly
P.S. My dear friend Joy has been on a journey of cancer for six long years now. She is lives in eucharisteo…. I see it more and more the longer this has gone on what a witness she is for us in 2012….wow….
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Donald Miller often says it best…

The Best Writing Advice I’ve Ever Received

I’ve a shelf at home devoted to books about writing. I’d say I might even have two shelves devoted to those books now. I’ve read most of them and some are better than others. But the best writing advice I’ve ever received didn’t come from a book. It actually occurred to me one morning when I was lying in bed, not wanting to get up and do my job. Maybe it came from heaven, I don’t know. But the advice was this: Love your reader.

It sounds simple, but it isn’t so easy, actually.

Writing is something most of us do alone. We might collaborate on a screenplay or something, but with a book or a blog, we are alone in front of our computers, tapping out our thoughts. It’s not like the reader is sitting behind us, looking over our shoulder making comments. We’re pretty disconnected from whoever it might be who will ultimately be benefited by our work. For this reason, it’s hard to remember that, well, people will actually be benefited by our work.

Add to this, most writers don’t think there work really matters. I’ve met writers who have sold thousands of books and still don’t think anybody’s life has been changed by their efforts. There’s an enemy whispering in their ear, I think.

I wrote four books and sold millions before I realized I was helping anybody. Sure I knew people were reading my stuff, but I didn’t realize they were making better decisions because we’d sat down for a few hours and I shared my heart.

But these days, that’s about all that’s keeping me going. Just the thought that somebody out there might not leave their spouse, or quit on that book they’re writing, or change their career or find God. In all those books about writing filled with tips and tricks, I think loving the reader is the best motivator I’ve found. And it keeps the quality up, too. We do tend to put our best foot forward when we care about somebody.

So the next time you sit down to write a blog, just remember somebody is going to read it and be encouraged.

— From Donald Miller’s Blog.

This is the kind of writing I want this blog to produce. Thank you to Brendon Mount for showing this article to me.

Bill Simmons on Freshman Year of College

This is an article about the NFL season starting so late.  This is exactly what happens to an average college student at a state school from the time your parents drop you off at the dorm to the time you see them at Thanksgiving break. And it captures the difference between freshman year and sophomore year.

“For the 2011 season? Everything basically started on July 26 … and I mean, EVERYTHING. For a team without any continuity from 2010, you’d think this experience would be like moving into a college dorm freshman year — those first few weeks are going to fly by, you’re going to make a few mistakes, you might be a little homesick, you’ll make at least one friend whom you’ll drop by October once you realize he or she sucks, you’ll definitely get too drunk at least twice, and by Thanksgiving weekend, you’ll look back and be happy you survived without failing out or running out of money. For the teams with continuity, you’d think it would be more like sophomore year: Yeah, there are some new faces on the floor, but you know your friends, know where to go, and know what to do. It’s a different level of confidence. It just is.”

— Bill Simmons… culture genius