Are You Living On Empty or Passion?

How often have you heard the following conversation?

“What do you want to do in life?”

“I don’t know!”

“Well, if you had a million dollars, what would you do?”

How did we make that leap? If the purpose of the above conversation is to find our passion, the very activity we live for, we’re asking the wrong question. Let me show you why!

moneyLast week I asked my friends this question and within a very short time, already had 28 responses AND someone called me to respond because they didn’t want to text and drive! Hilarious!

Some people did not read into the question at all. “I’d thank the person who gave it to me… I’d cry!… I’d be overwhelmed!”

Others were very methodical of what bills they would pay, and how they would use the money. Pay off homes, cars, credit cards, go shopping, debt, invest.

Others went a different direction and wanted to give their money to different non-profits, ministries, and missions.

Instead of just giving, 3 people said they would go DO something. Adopt, build a ministry for disabled children.

Only 1.5 people said, “Just more of what i’m doing right now!”

If the intent of the million dollar question is to find out what you would do in life if money were not an issue, this question totally missed the mark for 83% of my friends. For most, this question sparked dreams, not passion.

The next day I asked:

If I gave you $1,000,000 for your family to be “financially free”, what would you do with your time?

I added a qualifier to now find out what people would DO if money were no longer a barrier. What I found was that many of the same people, who just the day before were willing to give their money to different organizations, were now placing themselves into that organization and spending their time doing their passions!

Volunteer. Rescue animals. Pursue dreams. Go on missions trip. Comfort hurting people. Spend quality time with family. Educate. Travel. Build youth camps for disabled, military, foster, adoptive, underprivileged, or hurting children. Learn new cultures. Foster children. Teach. Become a pilot. Fundraise for organizations. Ministry. Invest in youth. Service Projects. Acts of Kindness. Start a business. Be a missionary. Set up counseling foundation. Become a Pastor. Be more involved in children’s schools. Give more. Help!

As my newsfeed blew up, it was obvious people were getting excited about their passions.

Why is finding our passion important?

When we are not doing something we are passionate about, it is easy to succumb to survival mode. We feel empty, discouraged, even depressed. In the seasons of my life where I had to place my passions on the back-burner, I found myself feeling like I was just marking time and losing myself, clawing my way out of sinking sand. This happens because our passion feeds our soul and gives us purpose. When we feel purpose in life, the challenges, and sometimes those things we just have to do become more bearable.

When we are passionate about something, we will do it for free. Because I’m passionate about families spending time together, I’ve given away over 25,000 copies of my second book! In our ministry, my go-to is to give things away because the purpose of why I write and speak to change lives, not to make money.

How do we find our passion?

I believe we can find our passion; the activity (or two or three) in life that fulfill, energize, and help us feel purpose by asking the right question:

If you could work for free, what would you do?

What prevents us from doing our passion?

We often believe we need to have a certain financial stability in order to pursue that which excites us most or brings us joy.  This is where the million dollar question misleads: to pursue our passion, we don’t need $1,000,000. We don’t even need to have $1,000 sitting in our bank account.

If you want to feed the homeless, feed the homeless. If you want to go on a missions trip, raise money and GO. If you want spend quality time with your family, cancel cable and do it! If you want to help rescue animals, volunteer! If you want to write a book. Start writing. If you want to be an astronaut, take steps to work towards that goal. If you want to run an ultra-marathon, start running. If your passion is to help men, women, youth, or children, find an organization near you that is already serving in the capacity of your passion and volunteer. Life it too short not to invest in what makes you happy.

The only commodity we can never get more of is time. Once it is spent, it is gone. We can always make more money, buy more clothes, and fill our homes with more clutter and dust bunnies. So friends, let’s not waste any more time living on empty, but let’s pursue our passions and live out our purpose!

Q. What is your passion, and how can you invest in it today?

365 Days of Kindness

DSC_0555As many of you know, our family motto is, “Love God, Love Others”. While very imperfect at it, this is what we strive for! As our family commits to daily Bible reading this year, we also want to commit to one, JUST ONE act of kindness each day.

Our hope is to share the love of Jesus Christ as “We love because HE first loved us.” 1 John 4:19.

If you want to join us, please hop over to my Facebook page where I will be sharing one suggestion of how we can love just ONE person every day in 2014!

12 Days of Christmas for The Hurting

Meet my beautiful friend Rachel…

rachel

Rachel is a mom to 7 children, blogger, writer, and speaker who loves Jesus and whose desire is “to inspire (others) to live out extraordinary faith in Christ by providing everyday real-life solutions.” After I published my post yesterday, 10 Ways to Love the Broken-Hearted this Christmas, I asked her if I could re-post her blog from yesterday and share with you an incredible book she wrote:

While Christmas is a wonderful time of year for many, hurting hearts at Christmas deepen with difficulty. Friends and family have suffered loss and grieve for loved ones. Memories from easier times or better yesterdays dance vividly in imaginations around the holidays.

The most High God chases after us, pursuing our hurting hearts to heal. I have to remind myself of that occasionally. Oh, the depth of His love.

He loves us so much that He came down from Heaven to provide the sacrifice that would deliver forgiveness. And He never stops loving us, even when our hearts ache and we’re most tempted to turn away from Him…or at best, ignore His love.

Two years ago, my first ebook, 12 Days of Christmas for the Hurting, released just about this time of year. This 12 day devotional is a reminder of the gifts from our One True Love, the God of Heaven who desperately desires a personal relationship with His children.

christmas-cover-new-on-sale

Until midnight today, this ebook is just $.99 on Amazon. I would love it if you’d take a moment to download it and take the next 12 days to unwrap the gifts God has graciously given to us.

You can download Rachel’s book here at Amazon.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Rom. 15:13

You can also find Rachel’s blog here and her twitter handle here!

10 Ways to Love the Broken-Hearted This Christmas

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Baugher

The holiday season can be difficult for many people. I’ve spent a few seasons absolutely dreading the near-30 days from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Whether it was the loneliness I felt while my husband was deployed, wondering if I was celebrating my last Christmas after my cancer returned, or the multiple years holding back tears while decorating, knowing there should be more stockings hung by the chimney with care.

The other week a dear friend was tagged in a picture on Facebook. She and seven other beautiful women helped decorate the house of their friend whose husband went to be with Jesus this year. This amazing display of love still gets me choked up every time I think about it. During a time when most people are scrambling to get all of their own Christmas shopping and errands done, these eight women came together to make this time of year a little easier for someone they cherish. This is what doing life together looks like. This is what carrying someone’s burden looks like. This is loving others well!

This love inspired me to share more ways of how we can come alongside the broken-hearted this Christmas.

  1. Be available to talk! Many people want someone to talk to about their grief during the holiday season, but few people will ask. Every conversation does not need to be about their pain, but know they are already thinking about the death of their loved one, their miscarriage, the scary illness or diagnosis, their broken family, and their grieving hearts. By bringing up the topic, you are not reminding them of something they have forgotten. Let your loved ones know their heartache is not going unnoticed by you, even if it is uncomfortable for you.
  2. Make a donation or send a gift (ornament, memory box, etc) to honor the reason they are hurting. For instance, if someone has just recently been diagnosed with cancer, you can make a donation in their honor to the American Cancer Society, or a Research Institute dedicated to their type of cancer.
  3. Offer to babysit children to enable your loved one to plan for Christmas Day, do their Christmas shopping, to take a breather, or to grieve without anyone else around.
  4. Ladies, arrange childcare (if needed) and get your girlfriend out of her house one night. Grab some snacks and have a non-Christmas Movie Night. Your favorite comic, or comedy show may be just what she needs. Know it’s okay to laugh with your loved one; her laughter may be a great release of emotions right now.
  5. Men, arrange childcare (if needed) and have a Guy’s Night Out! Hit some golf balls or go to a batting cage, have a poker night, watch a game, or invest in one of his hobbies. While men have an incredible ability to compartmentalize, if they have gone through something traumatic this year, they are still grieving, even if they don’t look like it.
  6. Invite your loved ones to join your family for a Christmas Eve Church Service and/or a Christmas meal.
  7. Contact your loved one, both on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. While many people will not think of it, Christmas Eve can be just as painful, if not more painful than Christmas Day. Your loved one has just spent an exhaustive 4-6 weeks anticipating what they may or may not feel when they wake up on Christmas morning. And, many of their emotions are likely to come to head on Christmas Eve; when the house is still and The Day is just hours away.
  8. Pray: Do not underestimate the power of prayer. When you pray for your loved one, send him/her a message letting them know you are thinking of and praying for them!
  9. Understand their grief is an unpredictable journey they are unprepared to travel. Each day may be different; sometimes each hour is different. Stay consistent through the next few weeks, gently reminding your loved one that you love them, you care for them, and you remember what they are going through. You may not understand their pain, and you don’t have to. Knowing someone remembers they are hurting right now will help them not feel alone!
  10. THINK before you speak and avoid Christian Cliché’s or platitudes. Is what you are about to say:

Thoughtful

Helpful

Investing

Necessary

Kind

Q. What is the best way someone showed they cared for your family during a Holiday Season when you were hurting?

The Un-Happy Mother’s Day

Kylie 6.11.2007 052 - Version 2As Mother’s Day approached, our family was closing in on the one-year anniversary of our daughter’s birth and death day. My emotions were all over the place. Even though I still had a living child, my heart ached for Kylie. My grieving process was still very real and highly unpredictable. Before church, my husband reminded me of the annual Baby Dedication at our church that morning. As instant nausea set in I froze.

“I’m not ready God!”

I was filled with uneasy anticipation, not knowing what I may or may not feel. When the dedication began, it took everything in me to remain seated, while tears streamed down my face. While I was genuinely happy for my friends celebrating their children, my heart was raw and broken.

I was a Mother living two extremes. Celebrating one child on Earth, while grieving one child in Heaven. Did that make me ungrateful for what I could still hold in my arms? No way! This was where I was in my stage of grief.

This Sunday, churches will be filled with sweet mementos of motherhood. Pastors will call upon mom’s to stand, receive a flower, a gift, or a picture drawn from their children. Unfortunately, on this same day women all over this country will suffer, often times in silence. They will force their smile and hold back tears.

These are women who:

Miscarried.

Chose an abortion.

Chose an adoption plan.

Experienced pre-term delivery leading to infant death.

Gave birth to a child still-born.

Are in a custody battle.

Have had children removed from their custody.

Are in the process of adopting.

Experienced a failed adoption.

Struggle with infertility.

Have a missing child.

Woke up one morning to find their child lifeless.

Have a wayward child.

Are currently watching their son or daughter die due to cancer, disease, abnormality, or infection.

Are grieving the death of their own mother.

As a church community, do we stop celebrating Mother’s Day in churches to avoid upsetting women who fall into the above (non-exhaustive) categories? No! These women are already upset and ignoring their hurt can cause further pain.

With a little compromise, we can still make the non-traditional mom feel special on Mother’s Day by following these two suggestions:

1) Pastors: As you lead services this Sunday, PLEASE be mindful of the women who might be hurting. If you recognize moms on Mother’s Day, please consider recognizing the non-traditional mom as well. Perhaps you could say: “On this Mother’s Day, there are many women here who are hurting. Some of you may have children in Heaven, are unable to be with your children today, or are struggling with infertility. Know that we love you, and are so glad you joined us this morning!”

2) Family and Friends: Call, text, Facebook, email, write a card, or find a tangible action to reach out to the women in your life who are hurting. Let her know you love her, are thinking about her, and are praying for her. Acknowledge her pain, even if it is uncomfortable for you. Allow her to talk about her thoughts and feelings if she wants to. You may be one of few, or perhaps the only person who recognizes her today.

Q. Are you a Non-Traditional Mom? If so, what can someone do this Mother’s Day to make YOU feel special?