Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How Well Are You Running Your Race?

A year ago I agreed to write several posts for Diane Bailey and The Consilium. You could not have convinced me at that time I would end up stepping away from the computer for almost nine months. Outside of meeting a few deadlines I have not written. Unless you count composing words in my head space as writing. It's been a season of upheaval and change, full of hard and beautiful days. Stepping back has allowed a natural shift in pace, priorities, and routine. 

I've enjoyed the quiet. Almost too much. 

It has made space for incremental change as well as quantum leaps in areas that may forever go unnoticed others. If you know much about writing, it's social suicide to stop doing all the things that blogging professionals say should be done more. You know the message. To get bigger you need to keep the pace. To have an on-line presence there needs to be more. Write more. Post more. Tweet more. Capture more of every precious moment of your life on Instagram, even if it is staged. 

I've missed you. I've pressed down feeling of guilt for the silence. But all of this doing less, being smaller, and living simpler have resulted in more. 

More energy. More time outdoors. More time reading. More time with my husband, children, grand-kids, friends and neighbors. More peace. More energy. More of the things that make me feel alive. Perhaps it isn't true for you, but for me, the on-line clamor was messing with my in-real-life calm.

So I've been running my life-race.... quietly off the on-line grid. 

It has untangled some things for me. 

It's helped me recharge and reset my focus. Thank you for the grace of letting me step back so I can move forward with more intentionality. 

Would you like to join me today over at Diane's? I'd love to hear how you are running your race.

- - - - - - - 

The cinder track was bold red with freshly painted lines of white and numbers to mark out each lane. The spring-like day with blue sky was a welcome relief from cold and rainy days that had preceded my first track meet. Jogging in place my new running shoes made a squeak and the new leather pressed against the bridge of my right foot and back of my heel. Pushing wisps of wild blond hair behind my ears, I reset the thick ponytail and rested sweaty hands on hips pretending to focus on my feet jogging in place.

Mine was the least desirable lane six. I tried to breathe in deep enough to exhale some confidence and glanced around to size up my completion. They each looked thinner, more athletic and stared me down with fierce confidence. It felt as if I was a fraud, thinking I could somehow be a runner.

A man’s voice thundered for runners to “get set.” Pushing back into the blocks sweat rolled down the sides of my face. The gun signaled the start and I stumbled out of the blocks losing time as I fought to regain balance and find my stride.

I kept looking to see how close the other runners were. I was sprinting hard, arms pumping, fingers poised for momentum. There was a glimmer of hope in my ability. That faded as my feet became more like concrete blocks and my legs melted and became hard to control.

By the finish line, I was throwing up. Drenched in sweat, embarrassment, and humiliation. Instead of cheers and fist pumps of victory, I heard mocking whispers as I stumbled toward the school bus and found a back seat to lay down with knees pulled into my chest and head buried.

This wasn’t how I had written the script in my head.

I’ve re-run this grueling, ugly race in my mind too many times. For years, it ranked as one of my most embarrassing moments.

The failure of one race often framed how I lived my life race.

That was until one day the Lord used it to teach me about my heart.

(Read the whole article here)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

To Live A Flourishing Life

This week I'm grateful for a bed that seems to wrap it's arms around me when I'm finally able to free-fall into it.

I'm grateful for the shower that pours over me in the dark hours of dawn on each new day.

I'm grateful for a husband that is living this wild journey right alongside me.

I'm grateful for my daughters who prove that God extends lavish grace. And these seven grandkids? It is beyond me how life can be this good.

Can you stand one quote from a five-year-old?  She was singing and paused to tell me this, "I love you more than 79 and 2000 pieces of french toast."

Friends, that's a lot of love.

It's a season of upheaval and I'm trying to embrace the complete shakeout of these days without allowing my soul to be crushed under the hustle of it.

Recently I spoke on: "Fierce Flourishing."

For weeks, I prepared.

The irony isn't lost on me that "flourish" is my One Word for 2016 .

I gathered enough material to file a college level dissertation with my research and findings.

Complete with metaphors, analogies, quotes, verses and personal stories.

The speaking was of course, uncomfortable in its own ways, but I felt like I was able to share something meaningful from my heart.

As it usually works in things like this, I was learning more than I could share.

And one of my main takeaways is this: to flourish is a soulish thing.

Farming and ranching were once the biggest demands in my life, so naturally that picture of planting and tending and cultivating is so applicable to illustrate flourishing.

Flourishing plants have deep strong root systems that provide support and help withstand the winds and storms.

And the goal is to plant with the hope of the long view in mind.

We plant with the expectancy of a harvest.

I emphasized the need to learn a wise "Yes," but perhaps even more important to learn a firm, "No."

Because busyness can be a religion that keeps us from the deeper things of flourishing.

Flourishing isn't a point that we arrive, it is the way we travel. 

And as I fell into bed at the end of another exhausting day, I had to ask myself the hard question, "Am I really living a life that cultivates flourishing?"

I just talked to a group of women about it, but for months, I've felt like I need to do some soul-tending and pruning myself.

It is important to me to love well, forgive quickly, remain, stay, and continue in the things I've been given to do. Of all people, I should be able to live within the boundaries of a day, because our days have a limited capacity with expiration dates.

My level of busy has weakened my level of abiding.

Carl Sandburg was speaking about the impact of the life of Abraham Lincoln when he said this: "A tree is best measured after it has fallen. That is when we are able to capture the breadth and length and width of its girth. The rings of life experience speak volumes to our friends and family. They give us proof of a flourishing tree or one that was suffering through rot and disease. A flourishing tree impacts generations; the rotting tree barely survives its own life span."

I don't want to barely survive my own life span, I want my life to be a flourishing tree that impacts generations to come. Yet for some time, I've been surviving instead of thriving.

If 2016 is the year that I'm to embrace a deeper life of flourishing, I'm going to have to move past just surviving.


I've decided to rest from writing on the blog for a time.

My thought is to take the summer off. In five years I haven't taken a break here, so it seems good to quiet the noise in my head. I'm not sure what this break will look like, but I'm excited to just freefall into it along with all the other things going on.

I don't want to let anyone down. I adore you all. Your messages, e-mails, and comments are priceless to me. I value each one of you so deeply.

"I love you more than 79 and 2000 pieces of french toast."

If I could encourage you with one thing for your days ahead.... I'd tell you to spend more time with Jesus. That's what I hope to do.

© Rhonda Quaney