Your Voice

[The theme of Voice has been dancing about in my head for several weeks. I ran into this post, written by me three years ago. It is so timely for today! I’d love to hear your thoughts – do you feel you have found your voice, or (like many of us) are you “in process”?]

This post is about your voice. And your seasons.

I am going through a season change… are you? Time to get more involved in some things, and less in others. Can you relate? Thinking through priorities and proportions. This is especially challenging because I am, at heart, both an activist and an artist.

Just what is voice?  It can be a somewhat intangible concept, but by voice I mean the free expression of that unique set of attributes that makes you, you! There is your voice, my voice, God’s voice…

We each have a purpose.  God gives us our voice so we can fulfill that purpose.

I enjoy the gradual unveiling of my children’s voices. And every day I pray that they will learn to hear God’s voice… to love and trust it, to navigate through life guided by it, much as the sailors of old relied on the stars in the heavens.

But the aspect of navigating that has taken me years to learn involves my own voice, and a question (you may find yourself asking the same question): Is my voice effective?

We need to look at all our areas of involvement – at relationships and organizations in our spheres of influence – and ask a fundamental question: Does my voice make a difference? Does anybody hear me? Do they want to hear me?

If I am committed, doing my part, and carefully listening to the voices of others, but having no impact and finding no reciprocity, then that is not a fruitful involvement. It may be time for change. There are likely needs or opportunities elsewhere, just waiting!

Or, it may be time to speak more loudly. But no one likes a shouting match. If you’re in a relationship and have had “the talk” multiple times, to be comforted by a “you’re right” and no change, reconsider that relationship. If you have a friendship with someone who has taken advantage of you repeatedly, and you’ve confronted and received an “I’m sorry” only to be misused again, evaluate if it is truly a friendship. If you’re on a board or team and have expressed the same serious concerns multiple times, to be greeted by “great input” and no action, then reality check. Why force others to listen to you, when somewhere else there is a person praying precisely to hear a voice such as yours? Keep the peace, spread the love… and move on!

Of course, I am not talking about giving up when things get tough… Healthy relationships and organizations will always involve dynamic tension. Love and loyalty are key to managing that tension. But even if you are fighting a fierce battle for social justice, or to grow a business or fulfill a dream, you still have to ask yourself the questions above. Time is short. Before you know it, five years will have passed… and your dreams for tomorrow may have become distant bittersweet memories.

Bottom line today – your voice is invaluable, and there is a predetermined place where it is needed and where there is grace abounding for it to be heard. Relax in that knowledge. Listen, think, pray, speak, be thoughtful about your season change. Then watch that last leaf fall and welcome the new season. And as your senses soak in the change, listen for God’s voice and remember – He is listening for yours!

The Gift Within You


I love campfires. We were gearing up for the day. I was making coffee on the Coleman.

The night before we’d had a roaring campfire in the fire ring, and had watched it burn out. Now the kids were poking around in the remains with some sticks. To their astonishment, the ashes started smoking.

Peter went over, and showed them how to blow into the embers that were deep inside the ashes – quickly flames erupted. With just a bit more kindling, once again we had a roaring fire.

I told the kids how cool it is that God helps us do the same. We all have gifts within us, and we are supposed to “fan the flame of the gift of God that is within you…” (that is in the Bible, in 2 Timothy 1:6).

You have some very unique abilities and perspectives. You might be feeling insecure, or be afraid that it is too late for you…

It’s not!

Make a plan, share your dream, take a class, break out the study books, do whatever it takes, but blow on what looks like ashes! It’s up to you, and no one else. Put some kindling in there, and just watch – the embers are still hot, they are just hidden!

You can do it. The gift is within you. The world needs to see your fire.

Steve Jobs: Creative or Savvy?

Hey Mac peeps – is Jobs really creative on same level as Mozart – or just a savvy businessman?

Here’s what happened: I was listening to classical music on my drive yesterday morning, and heard the story of Paganini. So many of the masters died penniless, often without recognition in their lifetimes. Or having risen and fallen dramatically.

So I was pondering true creativity when I twittered this question: “Paganini died a pauper. what is it w creative geniuses & money or lack thereof?!! lack of apprciation, $management, priorities, risk tkg??”

Got this response from a Twitter follower: “Steve jobs is pretty darn creative an ain’t a pauper…:)”

My reply: “He’s a good manager of other people’s creativity. I think he’s an innovative businessman, but wouldn’t put him in same categ. as Mozart, Paganini or VanGogh.”

Just chewing on it… What do you think?

(I suppose my questions about artists and their ability to maintain healthy long term relationships will wait for another day! LOL – these posts come from someone who is a poet at heart, comes from a creative family and works with creatives).

Da Vinci Notebook

I came across this quote from Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks. Da Vinci was a genius. He started life in a simple way, as the illegitimate son of a peasant woman and a notary. He painted the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, and many other works of art.

But above all he was an astounding thinker. He is responsible for advances in architecture, botany, engineering, science, mathematics, anatomy… and more. This is what he said:

While I thought I was learning to live,
I have been learning how to die.

Hmm. I am going to be chewing on that one for a while. What do you think he meant?

The List – Vote Now!

Here is what we have all been waiting for!

The List
  1. Book reviews (The Shack is the latest)
  2. Family misadventures
  3. Family life, child rearing, etc.
  4. Marriage (next month it’ll be 23 fresh adventurous years!)
  5. Thoughts on class distinctions/inequities
  6. Remembering Simplicity – what really matters?
  7. Hearing the voice of God
  8. Gems and devotionals from Scripture
  9. Our story – a love story started in Chile, carried on to Brazil, nurtured on a ship…
  10. My story. “I was born during the ash rain…”
  11. God’s faithfulness
  12. Ministry challenges – as a couple, as a family, as an individual
  13. Leadership development
  14. Opportunities to help around the world
  15. Race relations
  16. Social justice issues
  17. Women’s issues
  18. Heroes and people making an impact today
  19. Random pictures with simple lessons learned!

These are topics from my Journals. With so many, they might seem scattered – but there is always a common thread. In everything I write, I ask God to help me communicate my Personal Passion Statement (a work in progress). May my writing always encourage others to know and believe:

  • That every human life on this planet, no matter race or creed, is cherished by God.
  • That a life passionately committed to God has explosive potential.
  • That God expects us to use every gift He has given us, by living out these two truths, so we can help fix a broken world.

It’s up to you! Which top three topics from this List are you interested in? (Okay, more than three if you like… and you can add your own!).

Diving with Crocodiles

On our last trip to South Africa we were given the opportunity to go cage diving with crocodiles.
True to temperament, Linda and I jumped at the chance for some mother-daughter bonding amidst reptilians…

Why? Because we didn’t want to miss doing something so unique! What would you do?

If swimming with reptiles isn’t your secret desire, is there something else you are just itching to try? A wish, hidden inside, that whispers at you, asking for release?

A new skill you want to learn, a long abandoned childhood dream of travel or adventure, a relationship you want to start?

This Christmas I challenge you to be brave. Be brave in a big way. If you’ve been longing for a life change, make it happen.

Here are some bold ideas:

Try out for that local theatre group! Get yourself in gear and actually map out the itinerary for that long-desired trip. Re-establish contact with the person from whom you’ve been estranged. Begin a friendship with an aloof neighbor. Begin a ministry.

Believe in yourself again. Believe in all the potential God has placed inside of you. Believe in the possibilities. It’s not too late.

If you need help being brave, ask God to help you. And share your ideas with us. We would love the privilege of being your cheerleaders!

On Pursuing… a Reminder Re-Post

(I feel I should offer this as a reminder for all of us… Perhaps someone out there can use the encouragement!)
I just heard a message that had as one of its points the importance of perseverance. Pastor Troy used as an example that, sometimes, the thought of running for many miles can seem daunting. But, when you focus on finishing only the lap you happen to be on, suddenly you find you can accomplish far more than you thought.

Which made me think of many times in my life when I absolutely did not have any strength left… I remember when I was 19, working with an NGO and living on a ship – collapsing on the very small bathroom floor and crying from exhaustion, thinking I simply couldn’t go on… then having to get up and go on. Times in ballet class with my legs drained and trembling, ready to betray me – and somehow my brain forcing them just a little higher, just a little longer… Emotional challenges our family has had to face, where it seemed one day more – even one hour more – was too long to endure.

Philippians 3:6,10 & 14 have one particular Greek word in common: in vs. 6 it’s translated “persecute,” vs. 10 “follow after,” and vs. 14 “press” toward. The word in essence means “to pursue.” Paul says (my paraphrase), “forgetting what lies behind, I am reaching toward the future… I aggressively pursue… my greater vocation…”

Don’t stop pursuing your greater vocation… your higher calling. Sometimes that pursuit is painful – a young person I was talking to commented on the need for people to know how to make tough decisions despite the personal pain they may cause. She inspired me. Sometimes that pursuit is scary – as with little crippled Much Afraid, in Hind’s Feet on High Places, the family of Fearings will attack and try to make us turn back with whispers and lies. Like Much Afraid, we will find that the Shepherd gives us the strength we need if only we ask.

I once heard Luis Palau ask, “How do you eat an elephant?” His answer – “One bite at a time.” If you are tempted to give up, just make it this one hour longer, and then the next, and the next… You will find your hours turn into days, then weeks… and before you know it, you will not only have endured, you will have overcome! You will be stronger, and you will be able to turn and extend your arms, to help fellow pilgrims pursue their greater vocations.