Letter #680: Work Despite Greatness

Christin

Dear moments,

We live for you. The Super Bowl, World Series and NBA Finals. Graduation, wedding day, childbirth. The next date party, conference or vacation. We love to live our lives highlighting and longing for you.

What I’m learning is that life’s a lot less about you and much more about everything else.

Life seems to be much more about daily alarm clocks, laundry, the 8-5, fighting for community and paying bills. The normal, every day occurrences.

This might seem boring, but I would argue that the way the average tasks are approached matters. That these are what makes or breaks an individual and ultimately the moments.

We celebrate the moments of greatness. The playoff games, the speaking engagements in front of thousands, the promotions. But rarely do we celebrate the daily sacrifices it takes to get to the moment. The weight room, the 5am wake ups, the quiet of study and prayer nobody will ever see. We tend to long for the spotlight without wanting to pay our dues backstage.

Last month I had the chance to go to Catalyst Conference in Dallas (great conference, highly recommend!). While at the conference, this idea hit me afresh. It’s not rocket science, but it’s also not a concept I naturally want to accept.

My takeaway wasn’t one of the speaker’s topics, but as I sat in a sea of people the moment was sucking me in. It’s so easy to see the speakers who’ve sold thousands of books and get paid to travel and speak and be consumed by their success. Envy. Jealousy. Appreciation. Reverence. The way we view ‘celebrities’ varies, but more often than not our view is similar. Incorrect.

We long for what they have or maybe we quiver even thinking about the responsibility that comes with it, but either way we rarely stop and think about what sacrifices had to happen before their moment of greatness. And even when we do realize it, we rarely want to work on our own.

But even when we are willing to work, when we do wake up early, fight against complacency and press into eternity, we have to be ok with the fact that we still may never achieve greatness. At least in the world’s eyes. We may spend our entire lives going unnoticed by the masses, but this doesn’t mean we are in the wrong or that we aren’t serving faithfully.

Work hard. Invest well. See people. Live purposefully. Not because you’re waiting for your moment of fame or greatness to come, but because there’s no other way worth living. Work despite greatness.

While at Catalyst, I was reminded not to live idolizing the success of others. Celebrate their highlights, but live my own moments…no matter the size. Serve. Work. Love. Live well in the dailies because they are filled with some of the most important moments we’ll ever have.

On the daily grind,

Lindsay

Letter #679: The Power of Influence

Dear influence,

You fascinate me.

Louie Zamperini. Katniss Everdeen. Meghan Trainor. Amal Alamuddin.

Names most of us had never heard of a year ago. Now, names that have changed culture.

A World War II veteran whose story was brought to life on the big screen by Angelina Jolie.

A literary hero bringing hope to a nation as the Mockingjay in Hunger Games and fame to Jennifer Lawrence.

The girl who left everyone wondering how does one become “All About that Base.”

A name you’re still unsure of, but let’s cut to the chase…she’s Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating Person of 2014 and mostly famous because she married George Clooney.

All four have fallen into the public eye in America, maybe even the world, for different reasons. But the thing they have in common: you.

2014 looked different because of the impact those individuals had on it. Sure, they’ve had books written about them, TV segments centered on them and have made millions of dollars. Yes, they’re famous and their voices and impact seem to have great reach.

But when I really step back and think about you, these aren’t the people who’ve directly impacted my life the most. Hair styles, musical choices and box offices might look different because of them, but direct life change seems to actually come from every day you and me types.

And this is what fascinates me. You can happen on giant scales or individual. You can be vast or small. Expensive or free. But you always hold power.

The power of influence is real. We all have it, some more than others but we’re all influencing and being influenced in some capacity. The question is what kind? For the good or the bad?

What if we allowed you to be used for something greater, something bigger than fame, power, money or success? What if we built into and encouraged people? What if people started believing in themselves because we believed in them first?

Influence, you are fascinating, impactful and have the ability to change the trajectory of entire lives. Celebrity status is great and all, but we each must choose in the moments and measure you with one word: How?

Striving for more positive than negative influence even without being on Barbara’s list,

Influencer of the average, normal and daily…and so are you

Letter #678: New Year, Same Life.

Top of the Rock

Dear new year,

New number, same life.

I wouldn’t say I’m a cynic, but I am definitely a realist. You’re the holiday of high expectations yet readily under-deliver. We make our resolutions and quickly revert back to our old ways only to do it all over again the next year. Amount of Blue Bell purchased decreases. Gym attendance rises. Read more. Be a jerk less.

It’s crazy to me how many eggs our culture puts into your basket.

True confession: you’re my least favorite holiday.

Maybe it’s because you’re more fun if you’re dating someone or married. Maybe it’s because I really am more cynical than I like to admit. Maybe I’m just doing you all wrong, but I’d choose any holiday of the year before you.

However, in the midst of being the holiday of unmet expectation, you also do have a certain allure to you I just can’t deny.

It’s as if rolling one number at the end of the year gives us a sense of power and belief. You allow us to really believe we can accomplish, overcome and start new.

It’s all a mental game. A choice. The same decisions and life changes can be made in August, but there’s just something about you that makes it different.

You bring us the holiday of anticipation, excitement and renewed hope. While you aren’t my favorite holiday, I do love how you bring renewed energy and hope to people.

I haven’t made a bunch of goals or resolutions for this year. Instead, I’ve chosen two words I will fight to keep central to my year. Purpose and discipline. So much is entailed in these two words. So many things I believe will make me more than any resolution ever could.

New number and year, same life. My life. The one I only get once. The one I pray I will choose to live with more purpose and more discipline than ever that will then overflow into every area of my life from physical health to sleeping habits to simply how my time is spent.

More content, kind, loving, patient, forgiving, joyful, passionate, faithful, eternally focused.

Less self-centered, discontent, envious, materialistic, controlling, temporary-minded.

New year, same life.

Here we go 2015,

Realist with a side of cynic

Letter #677: Emerson’s “Shake It Off”

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Dear Emerson,

Hey buddy, it’s me Lindsay, your aunt. You won’t understand this now, but I’m writing this because I know one day you will.

About 32 months ago, I received the news I’d be an aunt again. I’m not sure there’s a more exciting role in life that requires as little responsibility! I get to love on you and laugh with you any time I want, but at the end of the day when you’re dirty, tired, sick and cranky, you’re not mine to handle. I get to share in most of the highlights of your world, but I miss most of the hard work. Not a bad gig if you ask me!

As you were growing in your mom’s belly, I prayed for you often. For your health and development, but probably even more for your salvation. About 5 months in, you mom’s belly was really starting to turn into a basketball. I received a call at camp in the middle of the summer telling me you had Down’s Syndrome.

Not the call I was expecting about you. If anything I thought the fam was going to tell me you were the girl they still don’t have. Instead, this news ensued doubt, fear, questioning and more. We all know people who birth “abnormal’ babies, but nobody expects it to be them. We didn’t expect it to be you.

Born 6 weeks early. 4 months in the NICU. Open-heart surgery. Near death. Miraculous recovery. Growing strength and ability daily. A smile that takes over a room and is rarely absent. Reaching for and befriending all you come in contact with because you don’t know a stranger. Love pats on faces and heads. Two and a half years later, the boy who is changing the lives of those near and far.

I don’t understand all the whys of life. It’d be easy to question why you aren’t “normal.’ But what is normal? Normal is easy. Normal is boring. Instead, in your extra chromosome, your ‘abnormalities’, you bring perspective to life like “normal’ never could. Instead, you are making each of us better, more compassionate, less concerned with the status quo. Instead, you are teaching those around you that God truly does have the ability to work all things together for good.

Thanks for teaching us in a unique way to “Shake It Off” and not allow culture’s view of normal to define us. Whether it’s a physical limitation, acceptance of wrong as right or pressures to look a certain way, your joy reminds me that my reaction to things dictate their affect on me. If I choose joy like I see in you, those things can’t define me.

Thanks for softening me. Thanks for bringing us more laughs than you know and for your latest obsession with Taylor Swift. I’m sorry your parents torment you during your naps, but your dance moves are just so cute! I won’t be shocked if the “Shake It Off” lyrics are your first words!

{Seriously, you have to go watch these videos of Emerson and Shake It Off! He’s on EllenTube and YouTube! Feel free to share these and bring joy to others!}

Buddy, know you are loved and still being prayed for.

Love,

Aunt Lindsay

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Here are other posts for the rest of the story:

Letter #676: Don’t Miss Your Nows.

Dear purpose,

Most say they want to live a life centered on you, but few ever actually put feet to it. Intentions start right, then busyness, laziness and life happen. Most start the race; very few finish. The beginning is exciting and easy, but I want to be someone who fights through the hard of the middle. One who chooses daily so the sum of my life might be purposeful.

As I navigate how to dream, pray and believe big while remaining faithful in the little, I keep coming back to the overarching banner to simply live purposefully.

If I can achieve this, everything else falls into place. The little. The big. The significant. The insignificant. The easy. And the hard. If I can’t live purposefully with what’s right in front of me, I’ll never be able to with the things that come in the future.

But there’s great tension that comes with this. You can’t just show up daily and never think and dream about what’s coming next. I guess you could, and maybe we’d all be more healthy and engaged if we did, but I would argue that rather than it being either or, it has to be both and.

Show up daily and be fully present but also position self in a way to prepare for future as well.

I refuse to miss my nows because I’m so caught up and consumed by my nexts. However, I’m also not going to foolishly miss my nexts because I don’t forward think and dream. And there’s the tension.

So here’s the way I’ve been able to articulate this tension of living in the present without missing the future. “Live with purpose today so you can live with vision tomorrow.”

When I live my nows purposefully, it allows me to have clarity in my nexts. If I live with you in the daily, it leads me to living my life with vision.

May we not miss what’s right in front of us because we’re consumed with the future, but may we not miss our futures because we never pray and ask God to guide and direct us.

As busyness and the tyranny of the urgent continue to take over lives, I’m fighting against it. It seems as if life just happens while people settle living purposelessly because they don’t know how to regain control of the crazy.

Life isn’t going to just happen to me. No I can’t control things, but I can choose to live with great purpose. I can choose to make the most of the moments right in front of me. I can choose to dream, pray and believe for great vision concerning my future.

I’m not settling to let life just happen to me. Instead, I’m going to “live with purpose today so I can live with vision tomorrow.” My race has started and I fail often, but I’m choosing to press into the hard of the middle. I long for the sum of my life to be purposeful, thus I must choose every single day. In the little and the big. It’s not easy, but I’m learning it’s worth it.

Press on and choose daily,

Lindsay

Letter #675: The Little

Dream Big

Dear being grounded,

Growing up, you were a negative. Two words I probably knew a little too well. Now that I’m an adult, you’re something I actually long to always remain.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a season of life quite like I’m in now. I feel like the lessons I’m learning are more frequent than ever. Purposeful living is something I can’t shake. There’s nothing I want more than to live a life filled with purpose. This has caused me to wake up each morning with more fervor than ever. Every day matters. Moments count. I’m choosing to live with purpose more than ever and it’s SO worth it.

I believe in a God who is able to do immeasurably more than all I could ever ask or imagine, and I’m committed to living my life believing this. If you’ve spent any time with me in the last 10 months, then you’ve heard me talk about one of the lessons I’m learning”…Dream big. Pray big. Believe big. I’m dreaming, praying and believing big. Not necessarily big in the world’s eyes, but big concerning things that matter, eternal things.

But in the midst of praying through the layers God is stirring in me, you’re the one thing I can’t get away from. Oh I’m dreaming big, but over and over two words continue to come to mind. ‘The little.’ These are probably the last words I would’ve expected to think of. I’m praying and dreaming outside the box. I’m willing and open to anything. Safe is secondary.

Yet you are where my mind goes”…to the epitome of safe!

But is it?

The little is hard. The little is quiet and unnoticed. The little is everything.

In the midst of believing big for my life, I must be quick to remember the importance of the little. If I can’t be faithful in the little, the big will never happen. If I’m not faithfully executing the little, my life will unravel.

In a society fascinated by big, I’m reminded of the little. Living my life with integrity in the smallest areas is just as significant as starting a non-profit. Valuing a person who gives me zero personal gain the same way I would a celebrity or rich person matters. Sharing the hope of the Gospel to one person is just as important, maybe more so, as being on a microphone in front of thousands.

I am praying and dreaming big, but the little matters. The little is hard. Living with purpose is a daily choice and commitment, one I’m learning is worth it.

I long to be grounded and to live purposefully. I long for my days to echo this: “Live with purpose today so you can live with vision tomorrow.” I believe this starts by boldly and intentionally living the little.

I think I’m more grounded than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m convinced it’s because I’m learning more each day that the little matters.

Fighting to remain grounded,

Lindsay

Letter #674: When I Want to Go…

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Dear questions,

There are a handful of you I’m consistently asked. One is “Lindsay, are you going back to Africa this year?”

A year ago an opportunity opened up where I attended and helped put on Family Legacy’s Dream Camp in Zambia (recap of what I did). Words will never fully describe my time there.

Eye-opening. Fun. Life-giving. Refreshing. Incredible. I’m not sure I’ll ever do anything again in my life quite like going to Africa for the first time. The unknown. The excitement. The hesitancy. The lack of expectations.

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My girls, Esther and Mercy!

Anytime the subject of Africa comes up, I’m overjoyed. I love talking about it. The people. The kids. The joy they exude despite circumstances. The simplicity. The genuine faith. The depth of knowledge. The scripture they know.

Sure I was able to love on some kids for a week and laugh lots with them while I was there, but the impact Africa and the kids at Tree of Life Village had on me was and continues to be far greater (my one Africa Takeaway). My life, perspective and prayers will never be the same.

So we’re back to the question. There’s nothing I’d rather do more with 9 days of my winter than hang with the Tree of Life kids. I have been able to tell my story of Africa more in the last 15 days than ever. New and even more passion, thankfulness and excitement have been discovered.

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All the kids in the house I was paired up with, Mercy House!

Everything in me wants to go back. Everything. And I don’t even think choosing to go could be a negative. But the thing I’m learning is that sometimes the answer can be no to even a good thing. Even when yes makes sense, sometimes my answer has to be no.

I can’t explain it. A sea hasn’t parted and a voice hasn’t bellowed from the sky, but as sure as I was the answer was yes a year ago, I am that it’s no now. This is harder for me to type and ultimately embrace than going ever would be. I want to go, but I am not to go right now. So we’re back to obedience matters. Even when it doesn’t make sense, it matters.

So there you have it, the really long answer to a pretty short one of you. No, I’m not going to Africa this year. And while I may never fully understand why, I am choosing to trust this is best.

Lord, you know best,

Lindsay

Have you ever been told no even if yes sounded like a good thing? What’d you learn?

Letter #673: Reckless Surrender

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Dear conferences,

I’ve had the chance to attend many of you. Passion. Catalyst. Designed for Life in Springfield just last weekend.

I enjoy you, especially in this season of life where my job is filled with outpouring, organizing and making decisions. It’s refreshing every once in awhile to just sit back, listen, be still and be taught.

While I thoroughly enjoy my time at you and actually think I’m a fan of you, I also find myself consistently arriving at the same thoughts.

“What happens when this is over?”

“What do the thousands of lives present here look like at home, school and work?”

“What would our world look like if just 10% left here truly sold out?”

I find myself stepping back in the middle of the worship set, scanning the room, three things going through my mind. First, emotions of thankfulness, humility, reverence and excitement of being part of something bigger than myself. Second, I quickly find myself caught up in the moment. Lastly, I shut off the emotion and begin thinking about what happens when you’re over. I begin to wonder what Monday morning looks like.

Call me the cynic, but this is where my mind goes. You see, it’s easy to sing at the top of your lungs, recklessly abandoned, when there are thousands surrounding you and emotion is at its peak. And we live in an emotion driven society.

But what happens when emotions change? When you’re alone, walking through the hard of life?

I fear we show up at you, laugh at satirical comedians, sing with trendy musicians, hear some neat ways to impact the world and maybe even give some money, and listen to some exciting teaching, then leave with intentions we never follow through with.

I fear we sing lyrics of reckless abandon without living lives of reckless surrender.

I attended one of you this weekend. My heart was stirred and truth was communicated. I’m very thankful for what happened in my own world. But I can’t shake the moments I was able to step back and take in the room as a whole, the moments I prayed for complete surrender for those in attendance.

I can’t help but continue to pray for complete surrender to the Lord rather than for simple attendance of an event.

But it’s not my job to worry about everyone else. I’ll continue to pray for those present. For the daily tasks to be viewed with purpose, for difference makers to be raised up because of truth that resonated.

I can’t worry about or control the thousands, but I can choose for myself.

Reckless surrender. May I be so consumed with truth that my life overflows to the place where the only thing that makes sense is complete surrender to the Lord. Reckless abandon is not what I want my life to be defined by. My actions and ultimately my life will align with the words I say and sing.

While my mind often wonders about everybody else in the room, I start with me. I take responsibility for my actions. My life. My sphere of influence.

Praying for complete surrender in lives rather than just event attendance,

Conference Appreciator

Letter #672: Travel Schedule

Photo contest

Dear travel,

So we meet again. The slowness and calm of September are no more and your storm has arrived.

After a quick vacation in Seattle (p.s. I loved it and highly recommend!), here’s where the Kanakuk trail is taking me this year:

  • Sept. 30-Oct. 2 Oklahoma State University (nothing like starting at the alma!)
  • Oct. 5-7 Texas A&M
  • Oct. 7-9 Baylor
  • Oct. 19-24 Home Shows…Birmingham!
  • Nov. 2-4 Auburn
  • Nov. 4 Georgia
  • Nov. 5 Samford
  • Nov. 6 Bama
  • Nov. 10 Mississippi College
  • Nov. 11 Mississippi State
  • Nov. 12 Ole Miss
  • Nov. 13 Oxford Families

Yes, your storm has arrived, but the thing about me is I like storms. Storms create adrenaline, excitement and urgency. I love seasons like this. Adventure is upon me, waiting at every turn. I’m excited for all what lies ahead.

Here’s to living out of a suitcase and 15 passenger van,

Road ready

*Readers, give me a shout if you’re in any of these areas.

*There’s also a photo competition which creates an even more fun element to my journey. Categories and rules above. Last year I won 3 of 5 categories…and I’m in it to win it again! Friends, let’s make some memories and knock this out of the park!

Letter #671: Obedience Matters

Dear life,

Talk in class out of turn as a 3rd grader…change your color.

Come home after curfew as a teenager”…grounded.

Miss a defensive assignment on the court”…benched or at least loudly informed of your failure.

Drive 70 mph in a 55 mph zone”…nice conversation with a cop and a whopping ticket.

Our whole lives we’re told to obey. In every facet of life. School. Sports. The law. Our parents.

From the beginning we’re told. I never once had to be taught to disobey. As you can tell from my examples, I’ve had my fair share of moments (and these are my minor ones!). Moments where I disobeyed. Moments, that because I did, I then had to walk in and reap the consequences.

But the examples I used are no brainers. We’ve all broken a rule in school or been disciplined by our parents at some point.

What happens when it’s a bigger deal? When it’s not so clear of what’s right? When it’s clear of what’s right, but doing it means walking in hard consequences? Then what?

The thing I’ve learned about obedience is that it always matters. In the little and in the big. When consequences are minor and when they’re major. When people agree with you and when they don’t.

Obedience matters.

We studied the book of 1st John this summer at camp, and if I had to boil down what I learned from it in two words those would be it. John says that if we know the Lord, then we are to live like Him. It’s not good enough to claim Christ, then turn around and disobey. John goes as far as saying that our actions are how we can know we know Christ.

In a culture where right is wrong while wrong is right and integrity can be appreciated but isn’t expected, I cannot shake these two words.

Obedience matters. In every facet of life. Even when it’s hard. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when you want to throw in the towel. It matters, and it’s a choice. A daily”…let’s be honest, a moment by moment choice. Choose wisely.

Obedience matters. Period. End of story.

Lindsay

“By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:6