Author: Beth Walker
17 years into marriage, 2 kids and several jobs later, I’m finally finding my voice. My prayer is that this blog will be a place where lessons on life, both on and off the football field can be explored. Thanks for reading!

Favorite Podcasts

Favorite Podcasts

favorite podcasts

These days I’m finding audiobooks and podcasts way more interesting than what I can pull up on TV! Whether I’m in the car, on a walk or working there is something playing in the background. This summer I’ve discovered several new podcasts that have quickly become new favorites.

Here are My Favorite Podcasts:

Personal Growth

Lisa Whittle  Jesus Over Everything Join Lisa every Tuesday and Thursday for short devotional teachings and great interviews.

Your Enneagram Coach: The Podcast  The mission of the podcast is to help individuals and couples dive deeper into the Enneagram from a Biblical perspective. Leading the way in teaching the Gospel-centered Enneagram, Hosts Beth and Jeff McCord want to make personal awareness and growth accessible to everyone, everywhere so they can experience freedom in every area of their lives. 

Holy Post Podcast  Phil Vischer who is best known as the creator of Veggie Tales and the voice of Bob the Tomato and Skye Jethani who is an author, editor, speaker, consultant, and pastor have teamed up to produce one of the most culturally relevant podcasts of our time. Their conversations are blunt, nuanced, and honest but they will always keep Christ at the center and that’s the most important point.

 

Current Events

Armchair Expert with Dax Shephard: Dax Shephard is humble and kind. He swears a lot, so this one might not be for everyone, but besides that, I have appreciated how open Dax is about why he thinks the way he thinks. Dax says this is “a podcast that celebrates the messiness of being human.”

Pantsuit Politics: They say “We’re Beth and Sarah of Pantsuit Politics, a podcast for real conversations that help us understand politics, democracy, and the news – while still treating each other like thoughtful human beings. We’re here to create an informative and grace-filled space by respecting each other as people who are sharing insights into the issues and our hearts. Grace is something that everyone deserves, and it allows for greater depth in our conversations and connections.”

The Daily  by The New York Times They say:  This is what the news should sound like. The biggest stories of our time, told by the best journalists in the world. Hosted by Michael Barbaro. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, ready by 6 a.m.

Content Marketing (My Day Job)

Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin Seth speaks on a subject from his years of experience and then also answers listener questions. For me, this podcast is the chance to sit under an industry expert and just glean wise ideas.

Mixtus Media – They say: “Book Marketing Simplified is a podcast to help authors save time with their marketing so they can spend more valuable time writing.” Their methods aren’t just for book marketing though. Are you launching a podcast or small business? Totally transferable.

Bonus Listens

The Next Right Thing– This is another short podcast that is packed with a thoughtful perspective focusing on decision making. 

That Sounds Fun– Annie Downs is all about fun and her podcast reflects this every week. Her laugh is contagious, but I also appreciate how vulnerable Annie gets with her guests. She asks unique questions other hosts don’t think to ask because she’s willing to be vulnerable and transparent.

Unlocking Us with Brene Brown– Brene says her podcast is about “Conversations that unlock the deeply human part of who we are, so that we can live, love, parent, and lead with more courage and heart.”

Football season is just around the corner and you know what that means…road trips! Download some of my favorite podcasts to keep you company this fall.

 

This post was originally published on 6/17/18. It was updated for relevancy and freshness 6/24/2020.

Athletes Who Choose

Athletes Who Choose

athletes who choose

An educator made a comment recently as we discussed the transition to e-learning and the impact on older students. It’s one I hadn’t considered before. She said past a certain point in a child’s education teachers do not educate, students choose to learn. Her point was that a teacher can stand and give a lecture, require as many assignments as necessary for a concept to become second nature, and even if a student completes the assignments correctly that doesn’t ensure they’re learning.

We Absorb What We Want to Retain

Think about how many songs you know the lyrics to and how quickly you can recall the melody to sing along when you hear the song on the radio. Do you pause to consider the story of the lyrics? Are the words sinking in as you’re singing them? Or are you enjoying the melody? Depending on the genre of music you prefer this may not be a big deal. However, I’ll pause with me to imagine a room full of elementary age summer camp children singing the latest Justin Bieber hit Yummy. (Or can we say Yucky?)

This same principle applies to athletics. It’s always an athlete’s choice to listen. Coaches can have players watch film, repeat plays until they become second nature, run them through drills, and try to show them the bigger picture of the game plan. But if an athlete only focuses on how the play will impact them at that moment the team will find themselves in a disappointing or shall we say yucky situation.

Athletes Who Choose to Engage

Athletes who choose to engage in the process of learning the why and how will find themselves at a much greater advantage than those who simply memorize the plays, call signs, or running routes.

Athletes who choose to stay in the weight room to encourage their teammates after their lifting session rather than hanging off or stepping out to of the room keeping their attention focused on themselves will build team connections. Relationships are built over time. Leaders establish themselves as they build teammates up rather than tearing them down.

Athletes who choose to engage in the classroom let themselves up for success. Students with higher GPAs will find college much more affordable. This extends the opportunity to continue their sport after high school.

Athletes who choose to engage will find themselves enjoying the journey. Sure, the daily grind of practice is rarely defined as fun every day. However, the people who are more than teammates, those who become brothers, they make the experience memorable.

Athletes Who Choose to Be Coachable

Athletes have the opportunity to engage with their coaches and continue to learn about their sports rather than deciding they know enough to get through the game. Coachable athletes aren’t satisfied with their technique or speed. Rather, they know that with the help of an outside perspective there are adjustments that can be made to improve their abilities.

Coaches see the big picture, they have more experience to lend to the the big picture on the field or court. They understand the physical, mental, and emotional game. They also understand the strategies necessary to compete. When athletes choose to believe their coaches voices are ones to engage with beyond absorbing the information great things happen.

Just like my educator friend explained about students, at some point an athlete must choose to continue to grow. This isn’t a decision anyone else can make. However, athletes who choose to engage will thrive.

Share Four Somethings May 2020

Share Four Somethings May 2020

share four somethings

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of May and we’re still dealing with quarantine rules in Illinois. While hopeful news trickles out randomly, it’s challenging to keep the days straight. Regardless there are some great things to reflect on this month for May 2020 Share Four Somethings.

Something Loved

In May I loved getting out and enjoying the fresh air. I was able to use my new camera lens for the first time and took some nature photos. Even though the lens is for football games I need to start practicing some time! Fingers crossed I’ll be out of the field in a few months snapping pictures of my favorite team in orange and black.

Something Read

For work we’re reading Seth Godin’s book This is Marketing. I adore Seth’s perspective on marketing. It’s about serving your ideal buyer to the best of your ability rather than hustling or selling. Here’s an excerpt:

No matter what your product or service, this book will help you reframe how it’s presented to the world, in order to meaningfully connect with people who want it. Seth employs his signature blend of insight, observation, and memorable examples to teach you:

* How to build trust and permission with your target market.
* The art of positioning–deciding not only who it’s for, but who it’s not for.
* Why the best way to achieve your goals is to help others become who they want to be.
* Why the old approaches to advertising and branding no longer work.  
* The surprising role of tension in any decision to buy (or not).
* How marketing is at its core about the stories we tell ourselves about our social status.

You can do work that matters for people who care. This book shows you the way.

If you have a business or side hustle of any size this is a must read.

Something Treasured

We celebrated our son’s 15th birthday this month. It’s hard to believe it’s already been 15 years, that is until I stand next to him and he towers over me. While it wasn’t the birthday I’d hoped to celebrate with him, I’m thankful he’s healthy. It’s amazing to reflect on the past fifteen years and think about all the funny moments we’ve had together.

Something Ahead

Early in May I submitted my first manuscript for publication! I’m so excited to finally move forward with this project that I’ve worked on for over two years. If it wasn’t for my monthly Mastermind meetings as well as some amazing support from friends and family this dream would still be floating in abyss.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll reveal my book cover, announce my preorder giveaways (which are awesome), and share a lot more about this book that has been one of the most difficult things I’ve completed. Because of that, I’m so proud of the final product and I can’t wait to put the finishing touches on it!

What are you up to this month? I’m linking up with Heather Gerwing for another month of Share Four Somethings. Join us over on her blog!

Are You Engaging an Active Faith?

Are You Engaging an Active Faith?

I’m writing over at The Glorious Table today. Here’s a Preview:

The disciples spent three years with Jesus watching him preach, heal people, and interact with the Pharisees. They also observed many memorable encounters, like the healing of the blind man.

John 9:1-7 says, “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. ‘Go,’ he told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (this word means ‘Sent’). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing” (NIV).

It’s okay to acknowledge that this is weird. Jesus was powerful enough to heal the man with a word, but he smears mud on the blind man’s eyes and tells him to walk to the Pool of Siloam to wash.

We don’t know how far the group was standing from the pool, but archeologists recently uncovered the pool, discovering steep stairs to enter the water.

Photograph ©Bible Places with permission

I admit this image didn’t match the picture in my mind. The steps are steep and narrow. Even someone with clear vision could easily slip on the rocks.

I think there are as few reasons Jesus engaged the man as an active participant in his healing.

First, consider how John 9 begins. The disciples notice the blind man and ask Jesus who had sinned and thereby caused his blindness. This man had likely spent his entire life hearing people debate his sin status. Was he the sinner, his parents, or someone else in their family tree? The belief that an ailment such as blindness was a result of sin was justified through Scriptures such as Exodus 20:5 and Ezekiel 18:20.

But Jesus said the blind man wasn’t a sinner. His life had purpose, and his blindness was present “so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

The second reason I think Jesus had the blind man actively participate in his own healing is because he didn’t know who Jesus was before their encounter.

Read the rest over at The Glorious Table

Authentically Coaching Gen Z

Authentically Coaching Gen Z

Authentically Coaching Gen Z

According to Business Insider Generation Z is the youngest, largest, and most ethnically-diverse, generation in American history. They currently comprise 27% of the US population. Pew Research defines Gen Z as anyone born after 1997. Gen Z grew up with access to technology, the internet, and social media, which has earned them the stereotypes of tech-addicted, anti-social, or “social justice warriors.”

Just like every generation, we can’t summarize Gen Z with one label or box them into a summary that’s a few sentences long. In many ways, their preferences are as diverse as their racial makeup. This makes understanding how to rally this generation around a common cause challenging at times in particular team sports.

Who Is Gen-Z?

  • 88% of Gen-Z is optimistic about their personal future. – Vision Critical
  • 42% of Gen-Z says they are happy. – Vision Critical
  • Gen-Z is expected to make up 30% of the U.S. workforce by 2030. – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • The average Gen-Z attention span is eight seconds, four seconds less than Millennials. – Vision Critical

What Matters To Gen-Z?

Winning and feedback rank first on the list of 10 things a 16-year-old thinks everyone believes adults need to know about Generation Z. Josh Miller explains that the generation of elite sports with stereotypical bleacher parents yelling at refs in the stands carries their competitive nature to their debate and robotics competitions as well. Josh says:

“We carry the mindset that we are not necessarily at school just to learn but to get good grades that will secure our place in the best colleges. Generation Z has been thrown into perhaps the most competitive educational environment in history. Right or wrong, we sometimes view someone else’s success as our own failure or failure as our success.

We are also accustomed to getting immediate feedback. A great example is the online grading portals where we can get frequent updates on our academic performance. In the past, students sometimes had to wait weeks or longer to receive a test grade. Now, we get frustrated if we can’t access our scores within hours of finishing an exam—and sometimes our parents do, too.”

Why this Matters in Athletics:

The country watched Operation Varsity Blues play out with fake athletic scholarships funding collegiate programs and in some cases, college coaches savings accounts. The parents who yell at referees during elite sports are going to also yell at the refs during high school athletic events. Parents and athletes who express frustration, when feedback isn’t immediate, is something coaches will need to manage or consider how to preemptive strike.

Players who are used to feedback will expect that to continue, however that doesn’t mean that coaches should make up inaccurate details about an athlete’s performance to appease them. Coaches must figure out ways to accurately communicate where players stand performance-wise and how to motivate them to keep working. While Josh feels that Generation Z brings competition to every aspect of their lives, the reality is, they aren’t great at self-assessing their performance against other athletes. Very few hold the skill to accurately self-assess, it takes maturity and life experience to hone this discernment.

Here are a few other things that matter to Gen Z:

  • 66% of Gen-Z says that product quality matters most to them when making a purchase. – IBM Institute for Business Value
  • 65% of Gen-Z sees value in discounts and rewards programs. – IBM Institute for Business Value
  • 71% of Gen-Z wants to see more diversity in advertising. – Facebook IQ
  • 68% of Gen-Z expects brands to contribute to society. – Facebook IQ
  • 61% of Gen-Z is willing to pay more for products that are produced ethically and sustainably. – Facebook IQ
  • 77% of Gen-Z feels more positive about brands that promote gender equality on social media. – Facebook IQ

Gen Z is Cell Phone Addicted

  • 55% of Gen-Z uses their smartphones for five or more hours a day. – Pew Research Center
  • 26% of Gen-Z uses their smartphones for 10 or more hours a day. – Pew Research Center
  • 73% of Gen-Z uses internet-connected devices to communicate with friends and family, followed by entertainment (59%) and gaming (58%). – IBM Institute for Business Value
  • 61% of Gen-Z has purchased a product via mobile in the last month. – Global Web Index

The Connected Generation

  • 74% of Gen-Z spends its free time online. – IBM Institute for Business Value
  • 66% of Gen-Z uses more than one internet-connected device at a time. – IBM Institute for Business Value
  • Gen-Z streams an average of 23 hours of video each week. – Criteo

The Power Of Influencers

Generation Z wants to be influencers just as much as they are swayed by them. Josh Miller says, “Given how socially aware and concerned its members are, Generation Z seeks jobs that provide opportunities to contribute, create, lead and learn.” 

“One of the best ways I have seen leaders engage with Gen Z is to ask them how they would build a product or service or design a process,” Carney says. “Gen Z has some amazing abilities to bring together information, process it and take action. When we do allow them to share ideas, great things happen.”

Contribute, lead, take action; these are all excellent descriptors of team players. The types of athletes coaches can depend on to step up and rally teams. But the players most eager to lead aren’t always the ones who other players are willing to follow. Coaches may need to help players develop discernment around leadership communication.

Consider these stats about Gen Z and Influencers:

  • 4 in 10 Gen-Z-ers say they are easily swayed by other people’s opinions. – Global Web Index
  • 54% of Gen-Z says social media influences them more than any other marketing channel. – CMO Council
  • 52% of Gen-Z trusts social media influencers for product or brand advice. – McKinsey & Company
  • 82% of Gen-Z trusts their family and friends for advice on products more than any other source. – McKinsey & Company
  • One in three Gen-Z-ers follows brands on social media they are thinking of buying from. – Global Web Index
  • 76% of Gen-Z follows an influencer on social media. – Morning Consult
  • 45% of Gen-Z follows more than 10 social media influencers. – The Center for Generational Kinetics
  • 73% of Gen Z-ers use their internet-connected devices primarily for texting and chatting. (Source: IBM)
  • 71% of Gen Z-ers watch more than three hours of online videos every day.
  • 75% of Gen Z-ers don’t consider college the only path to a strong education.
  • 89% of them also say that they aren’t keen on taking on debt to cover the costs of higher education. (Source: Forbes)
  • 77% of Gen Z-ers say a company’s diversity would be a deciding factor when they look for jobs. (Source: Forbes)

Authenticity

Above all Generation Z values authenticity. Kudos says, “Gen Z workers value authenticity over aesthetics. They respect companies that steer clear of gimmicks. Instead, they appreciate those that provide unpretentious and thoughtfully designed physical spaces.”

Authenticity applies to the products they buy and the people they listen to for advice. The best way to authentically coach Generation Z is by striving for authenticity.

How does this translate onto the athletic field? Coaches must have a consistent message and be willing to practice what they preach. For example, if a coach insists the team shouldn’t swear then the coach shouldn’t use any swear words. If the coach demands players are on time for practice and games then they should also be on time.

These small examples are just two of thousands of ways that coaches can portray authenticity.

Eight Weeks Sheltering in Place

Eight Weeks Sheltering in Place

eight weeks sheltering in place

On March 12 David Brooks published a column in the New York Times titled Pandemics Kill Compassion Too, You may not like who you’re about to become. I have a lot of respect for David Brooks. He’s spent a lot more time studying character than I have and his book The Road to Character is well worth your time. Brooks warned “Fear drives people in these moments, but so does shame, caused by the brutal things that have to be done to slow the spread of the disease. In all pandemics people are forced to make the decisions that doctors in Italy are now forced to make — withholding care from some of those who are suffering and leaving them to their fate.”

In the weeks since that column Americans have proven David Brooks’s prediction right and wrong. Immediately the distinction between selfLESS and selfish leadership has stood out at local, state, and federal levels. I’m deeply thankful for the way our church has stepped up to partner with a city wide initiative locally called CU Better Together. I cannot think of a better example of living out what Jesus defined as the greatest commandments.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40 NIV

On the selfISH side, the repercussions of teaching a generation the rules don’t apply to them had a deadly impact on thousands. Spring breakers in Ft. Lauderdale spread the virus across the country while shelter in place orders where extended in cities with rapidly rising numbers. In the weeks since our death total in the US has passed 50,000 and millions of people are out of work. Certainly not all because of Spring Break, but most definitely because of the thinking behind the privilege surrounding similar choices.

This privilege, along with years of the divisive “fake news” narrative also combined to give people like the woman in this photo the courage to scream “Go back to China” at medical workers rather than complying with her state’s stay at home orders. It also prolonged the requirement for the country to quarantine by weeks. But don’t worry, Senators like Richard Burr are still very rich because when they were briefed about this deadly virus they sold their stocks, warned their richest donors, and then wrote op-eds telling the country it was perfectly safe to be out and about.

I’ve never assumed I know the full story after reading an op-ed however another thing 8 weeks sheltering in place has shined a spotlight on is that I need to listen to experts and work harder to educate myself rather than trusting a narrative. While the most recent example may be Lysol and Clorox having to release statements begging people not to swallow or inject themselves with dangerous chemicals after a Presidental news conference I think Judy Woodruff said it best.

The news media, while trying to tell people what they need to hear, must compete for ears, eyes, and clicks, and so are also forced to ask them what they’d like to hear.

And even if we manage to avoid the intellectual saboteurs of the Internet, we’re still all too likely to get our news and views from social media, where a silly meme from your aunt Rose in Schenectady competes for your attention with actual information.

We need to find our way back from this ego-driven wilderness. Historically, people return to valuing expert views in times of trouble or distress. We’re all willing to argue with our doctors until our fever is out of control.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. But that’s where we’re headed. And unless we start accepting the limitations of our own knowledge, then each of us is failing in our obligation to participate in our democracy as involved, but informed citizens.

Judy Woodruff

Conspiracy Theories

For work required reading these days includes Seth Godin’s book This is Marketing. The timing has been helpful for work, but one section has been incredibly insightful regarding the pandemic. Seth writes about conspiracy theorists. I share this because it’s made me more compassionate and less frustrated with the hurtful posts I constantly see these days.

I’ve pulled out a section and linked the original work Seth writes:

Professor Roland Imhoff of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, wanted to understand what makes some people choose their beliefs. In particular, he’s been studying a particular kind of outlier: the conspiracy theorist. Since we know that conspiracy theories aren’t factual, why are they so appealing to some people? And which people? In one study he cited, it was found that many people who believe that Lady Diana is still alive, having faked her own death, also believe that she was murdered.

And in a similar study, people who believe that Osama bin Laden was dead before the Navy Seals arrived at his compound are also likely to report that he’s still alive. The facts aren’t at issue here; they can’t be. What’s happening is that these theorists are taking comfort in their standing as outliers and they’re searching for a feeling, not a logical truth. Imhoff writes, “Adherence to conspiracy theory might not always be the result of some perceived lack of control, but rather a deep-seated need for uniqueness.” In Imhoff’s study, he presented American conspiracy theorists with made-up “facts” about a conspiracy regarding smoke detectors in Germany.

When he told this group that 81 percent of the German population believed the theory of the conspiracy, they weren’t nearly as interested or enthusiastic as when they heard that only 19 percent of the population supported the theory. By rooting for the overlooked underdog, the conspiracy theorist engages with his desired emotion, that of feeling unique, a brave truth-teller, the outsider. This group doesn’t see themselves as kooks. Each member doesn’t have a unique theory, all alone in a field. Instead, they seek to be part of a small group, a minority group, an outspoken group that can take solace in each other while the outside world ignores them. They can find this feeling every time they hang out with the other reptile-spotters.

Things I Want to Continue

Sabbath

John Mark Comer says, “The goal of Sabbath is to become a restful person who lives day to day in awareness of and connection to God’s presence and year over year becoming a more joyful, loving, and peaceful person.”

Prioritizing Loving My Neighbors

I’m really thankful for the opportunities we’ve had to chat with our neighbors over the last several weeks. Our block is unique and we’ve hit the jackpot with kind and thoughtful people surrounding our home. One day when cleaning the gutters Ordell looked up to see 2 neighbors running over with tools to make his job easier. We’ve had surprise cookies delivered multiple times. And everyone is eager to chat and get to know us better. We’re happy to reciprocate as well. The young kids have kept us entertained on nice days and we’re thankful for kind conversation to break up the monotony.

Self-Care

I can’t wait to get out for a hair cut, a pedicure, and a nice long walk in nature without the concern of whether I need to wear a mask! At the same time, I’m going to continue to work to prioritize my schedule in a way that leaves space for self-care including intentional time with God, exercise, meal prep, and time to rest without anytime to do. I think we forget that we don’t need to fill our moments.

Some Good News

While there are certainly terrible leadership examples out there, some amazing things have come out of this horrible time. John Krasinski launched Some Good News on YouTube and has us all laughing and smiling weekly. I don’t know about you, but I can’t get through an episode without tears either.

Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman are nuts with their public feud but it’s great that everything they do raises money for charities.

Jimmy Fallon is doing an awesome job of showing what real life a work-at-home dad looks like these days. His daughters are terribly uninterested in his job but at the same time want to be around him while he’s trying to film. It’s great to see his wife on camera occasionally too. His song about starting to crack summarized my feelings perfectly the same day I was starting to crack.

What I’m Excited to Have Back

Date Night – I’m ready for time with my favorite coach where neither of us has to cook or clean up!

Corporate Worship – I really miss worshiping with our church in person.

Coffee Shops – I’m ready to meet up with my girlfriends for coffee to chat about the latest things our kids did, how we’re getting through the weeks, and the books we’re reading. I’m thankful for phones and video conferencing, but nothing replaces in-person communication.

Reading Hours – I know I haven’t said much yet, but I just sent in my manuscript yesterday! This has been a consuming project for over two years and now it’s with my publisher. I’m so excited to have the hours that I’ve spent on this project writing and editing reallocated to other things!!

Life continues even when it seems like we’re frozen in time. That’s the biggest lesson about 8 weeks sheltering in place, isn’t it? But there are so many other things that are important to remember from this difficult season. What are you learning?

Happy 15th Birthday Elijah

Happy 15th Birthday Elijah

Oh kid, this is not what fifteen was supposed to look like. I had high hopes we’d be able to celebrate you with some sort of restaurant excursion and movie in the theater. But instead, we’ll shelter in place, order food from your restaurant of choice, and reserve your birthday shopping spree (your request) for later this year.

You’ve handled the recent changes with so much maturity. I know you’ve missed youth group. I know you were disappointed that Alpha was canceled as well as your summer trip to Kansas City for year two of leadership training. You’re accepting each disappointment with calm understanding, looking to the future for the times when things will be different. You aren’t wallowing, rather you’re focused on finishing the school year well. Elijah, I’m proud of your resilience.

Before the chaos of this season started we wrapped up the 3rd quarter with parent/teacher conferences. Your teachers made a point to speak about your character. They spoke about how thoughtful you are when you offer input with classmates as well as assignments. Your speech teacher mentioned how impressed she has been with your willingness to share your faith openly in class and how attentive the other students were each time you gave a presentation.

Your creativity continues to impress us and it’s great to see you take the time to focus on developing your interests. You’ve invested in music, saving allowance, and gifts to purchase equipment and software which reveals your dedication. You’re spending time learning how to use everything now and it’s fun to see your previous discipline with saving to buy the right tools and current hard work pay off as your creativity expands.

Your interests go beyond music. You’re also exploring theology and apologetics. You don’t shy away from hard conversations with your friends and your willingness to listen and speak respectfully as they express their thoughts earns you the right to be heard in each discussion.

In one year you’ll be eligible to drive. In three years you’ll graduate from high school. As you race toward adulthood, we pray you will continue to press into your faith. You’re uniquely designed by God and we’re cheering you on as you pursue your calling. We’re so proud of you Elijah. Not just today, but every day. Happy 15th Birthday!

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mothers Day Gifts

Well here in Illinois we’re still sheltering in place until the end of May so this year I’m focusing on Mother’s Day gifts for around the home.

Home Decor

What about a beautiful new print to spruce up a room? These pick and paint prints are garden fresh from Claudia b design

Fresh flowers or a plant from a local garden store a great way to brighten up someone’s day! Our Farmer’s Market is slowly opening again and many farmers sell flowers at their stands.

I love the simplicity of the Hearth & Hand With Magnolia line at Target as well. The faux plants, dish towels, and little dishes will go with any kitchen.

Backyard Comfort

If you don’t have a Propane Fire Pit or a wood-burning fire pit this seems like the year to get one. I know I’m looking forward to spending more time in the backyard and I love the idea of turning on a fire! (Yes you read that correctly, I said turning on the fire)

A Patio Set

Pair your new fire pit with comfortable seating for the whole family. At some point, Netflix is going to get old. You may even be running out of things to watch! Why not grab a book and read outside for a while? Grab the sunscreen and a water bottle for an extended time out in the sun, or pop open an umbrella.

A Subscription Box for Relaxing

Does your wife knit and crochet, embroider, cook, or paint to relax? Consider signing her up for a monthly subscription where she can receive a kit of some sort. Even the best crafters have a hard time figuring out the planning part of the projects. It’s relaxing to have that aspect prepared in advance.

Check out these options:

Gift Cards for Take Out

Let’s be honest, we’ve all been cooking a lot more than we’re used to and it’s getting old. Give your wife permission to take a few days off by giving her a stash of gift cards to cash in when she’s ready for a break. Pick her favorite restaurants so you know she’ll be eager to use them rather than save them for later like moms tend to do.

Books and Bible Studies

There are so many great books that have released in recent months!

Anne Rulo released her second Bible Study. And Lisa Whittle recently released Jesus Over Everything which also includes a Bible Study. I’m LOVING the Beholding and Becoming set.

Here a few books to consider:

Don’t forget those acts of service gifts!

Clean the house for your Mama! Really get the grime out of the corners that’s built up over the last few weeks and purge all the yuck out of the house. Let’s turn the corner on these weeks of chaos with clean cabinets, shelves, and storage areas.

Give mom a break and let her go for a nice long walk while you clean. This will help her avoid the temptation to pitch in and take over.

You’ve got this! You can do an amazing job of honoring your mom even while sheltering in place.

Four Months on Pursue

Four Months on Pursue

One Word 2020 Pursue

Well, it’s been four months since I started focusing on Purse as my OneWord for 2020. I think we all looked at 2020 with optimism. A new year is always a hopeful time to turn the page on a new opportunity and coupling that with the start of a new decade somehow felt even more optimistic. How could I have predicted what 2020 would really hold? No one could have explained how vital pursuing God and striving to keep my soul close to his heart would become as the world would slide into chaos.

The news mainly revolves around numbers and statistics related to the global pandemic, social distancing, COVID-19, a looming global financial depression, and so many conspiracy theories I know our grandchildren will someday wonder if we all took advantage of Illinois legalizing marijuana January 1st, 2020.

As state and federal leaders now weigh economic decisions with life and death ones the realization that our lives are in the hands of imperfect humans feels like the only truth where Americans find agreement although which ones are imperfect is likely up for debate. It’s easy to succumb to fear or lean into hopelessness. However, God has always been in control of the resurrection and redemption stories and he’s even shared the ending of the last battle on Earth as well as the playbook of how to live eternally in heaven with him.

When we trust that God is who he says he is, we can have a relationship with our Creator on earth and in heaven. God draws us to him because he loves us and wants to have a personal relationship with each of us. He knows us well, after all, we’re his children. But he also wants us to know him well.

I knew my focus on Purse would start with Psalm 63:8 but I didn’t realize how vital the discipline of keeping my soul close to God’s heart would be in 2020.

With-passion-I-pursue-and-cling-to-you.-Because-I-feel-your-grip-on-my-life-I-keep-my-soul-close-to-your-heart.

In January, I assumed 2020 was going to be a busy year. I shared that with you and also shared that I believed there were several reasons God was asking me to focus on the discipline of pursuing him to keep my soul close to his heart.

Here’s what I featured:

  • Understand that the years ahead would be hard, but success was possible with obedience.
  • That obedience would require the Israelites to take courageous steps of faith previous generations weren’t willing to take.
  • Reminder from Joshua to “Be careful to obey the law”, 
  • Reminder from Matthew “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
  • Understand that as we pursue God we seek the truth even when it’s not the popular opinion. 

It turns out that all of the things God was bringing to my attention for me to study and shore up my convictions around would soon face testing. Not in the way I imagined, and certainly I wouldn’t be the only one tested. Since March everyone’s faith and convictions have been tested along with our resolve and our ability to reflect Jesus well. Churches have shifted to virtual services, and the definition of what it means to love your neighbor has taken on a whole new meaning. Ed Stetzer summarized things clearly in a recent article for Christianity Today “On Christians Spreading Corona Conspiracies: Gullibility is not a Spiritual Gift” Ed wrote:

As Austin Jones tweeted, “Last week my Facebook feed was full of people posting crazy Covid conspiracy theories, followed by posts about evidence for the resurrection. I don’t think they realize the message they are actually sending.” Indeed.

Jesus last earthly words in Acts 1:8 promised us that we would receive the Spirit’s power and we would bear witness to Jesus. You don’t need the power of the Holy Spirit to be undiscerning, and you aren’t bearing witness to the saving work of our Lord by spreading conspiracies.

I’m grateful that many, many pastors and church leaders and their churches have used this unusual time not to spread conspiracy theories but to proclaim Christ, not to feed their fears but to serve their community.

Let’s continue to provoke one another to good works, hold to what is true, and refuse that which is false.

It’s become even more vital to pursue God’s truth rather than to rely on man’s words in 2020.

Other Ways I’ve Focused On Pursue

I’ve spent time reviewing my Bible study methods which I’ve updated and republished.

Adoration Devotions

Priscilla Shirer’s 5 P’s

Additionally, I focused on 40 Days of Decrease for Lent devotions and was able to see again how Jesus pursued the disciples until the very last moments they were together in the Garden of Gethsemane

One of the highlights of the year so far was the Purse Coaches’ Wives Retreat

which was a huge blessing.

Purse Worship Song that’s Hitting Home

Goodness of God Lyrics:

Verse 1
I love You Lord
Oh Your mercy never fails me
All my days
I’ve been held in Your hands
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
I will sing of the goodness of God

Chorus
All my life You have been faithful
All my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
I will sing of the goodness of God

Verse 2
I love Your voice
You have led me through the fire
In darkest nights

You are close like no other
I’ve known You as a father

I’ve known You as a friend
I have lived in the goodness of God

Bridge
Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me

Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me

With my life laid down, I’m surrendered now, I give You everything

Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me

After four months of focusing on my OneWord for 2020 Pursue I’m still learning a lot about God and how I can apply the discipline of drawing my heart and soul closer to him. How are you doing with your OneWord for 2020?

Share Four Somethings April 2020

Share Four Somethings April 2020

Share Four Somethings April 2020

It feels like it’s been a really long month here in Central IL. We’ve gone from temperatures in the 70’s to the 30’s and back up to the 60’s with some days in between. We’ve watched a beautiful tree in our front yard bloom, the first cardinals appear in our backyard and a LOT of TV. I’m linking up for April 2020’s Share Four Somethings with Heather Gerwing! You can read what I shared last month here.

Something Loved

This month I started leading a weekly Zoom Bible Study for Coaches’ Wives Ministry and I have absolutely loved our Tuesday night meetings! Long before the chaos of this past several weeks, founder Candace Lane planned for members to go through Sharon Hodde Miller’s Nice Study in the month of May using our Right Now Media at Work video access and questions from the CWM magazine. It’s been SO great connecting with new coaches’ wives around the country, and it’s certainly been timely to focus on the Fruit of the Spirit!

Nice by Sharon Hodde Miller

Something Read

Paul Smith is a storytelling coach. His book Lead with a Story was once I read for my work goals. We choose personal and professional goals each quarter and this book fell into both categories. From the book: “This how-to guidebook shows readers how powerful stories can help define culture and values, engender creativity and innovation, foster collaboration, build relationships, provide coaching and feedback, and lead change. Whether in a speech or a memo, communicated to one person or a thousand, storytelling is an essential skill for today’s leaders.” 

If you’re a writer or blogger this is a really helpful book for multiple reasons. Smith offers various examples of ways to implement stories with presentations. He presents several creative styles that fit the personalities of the CEO’s and different teams he has led. The last part of the book walks through story structure in detail.

Something Treasured

While I don’t love the circumstances, I have loved many parts of these slower days. I miss some key parts of our weeks, but it’s been really nice to get out for longer walks on the weekends without competing agendas. We’ve experimented in the kitchen more and our boys have learned to use the grill and smoker. It’s nice to have this gap in time where we can prioritize focusing on some things we may have missed during the crazy years when the boys were younger.

Something Ahead

As much as I’m happy having slower days, I’m really missing time with my girlfriends and date nights. I miss corporate worship with our church and trying on clothes before buying them. I miss walking past someone and not holding my breath nervously. I’m looking forward to the days when we can embrace a new normal where our country and global experts have a deeper understanding of this horrible virus and masks (hopefully) aren’t necessary.

I’m linking up with Heather Gerwing for another month of Share Four Somethings! Head to her blog to see what others are sharing this month.