Category Archives: Challenge

Beauty through Photography

Taking photos is a great way to see the Beauty around you in a new way. In fact, it’s a great way to catch beauty in some of the places you least expect. Give it a try… you don’t have to have a fancy camera or a lot of training to get some great shots. Just grab your camera, shoot A LOT, and see what you get.

Here are some of my recent favorites.


Worship Song Wednesday… and a Challenge

1. Watch this video of a Chris Tomlin song:
2. Watch it again, this time writing down some of the attributes of God the song mentions … or others God brings to mind as you watch/listen
3. Take your list of attributes: (ie. God is strength. Refuge. A Fortress for the Weak. Shows his love deeper than the sea) and write 1 at the top of a new journal page.
4. Think back over the course of your ENTIRE life … as far back as you can remember & as recent as right now … and record AS MANY WAYS AS YOU CAN that God has been this in your life. (For example… God was my refuge when… I was scared of the dark as a little girl; when I moved alone to Arizona; when my heart was broken by a college boyfriend; when I didn’t get a job a wanted; when we had to leave our house in Arizona…)
5. Repeat for additional attributes. Here are some you might consider but do WHATEVER the Holy Spirit says YOU need to reflect on…
  • God as my provider
  • Friend
  • Redeemer
  • Healer
  • Lord
  • Lifter of my Head
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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Challenge, Worship Song Wednesday


Something to Write About

As you learn to become more aware of the Gifts all around you, sometimes those gifts come to you as quotes, scripture, song lyrics, even dialogue in movies or TV. When I hear something that inspires me, I like to write it down at the top of a blank journal page. Then, even if I don’t have time to explore it now, I have provided a space — AND AN EXPECTATION — that I will come back to it.

Still not sure where to start? Ask yourself, “Why do I like this?” And just start writing your answer and see where it goes. Check out the Inspiration Station  page; grab a favorite quote/lyric/verse; start writing!

Here’s one of mine:

Be not afraid of growing slowly. Be afraid only of standing still. -Chinese Proverb

I do get so afraid of not seeing progress quickly sometimes. I like the instant gratification. At least that’s what I tell myself. But if I look back on experience, maybe that’s not really true. There is something extra special about the sucess that did not come quickly and easily. The one where all the blood, sweat and tears just makes the finish line that much sweeter.

Moments of moving – no matter how small are still progress. Stop camping out half way to the summit, Beth!


Be an Explorer!!

Yesterday, I introduced the idea of Bullet-Point Journaling, a rapid-fire, no stress way to clear a lot of information out of your head by putting it on paper. That is helpful and healthy in many situations. Sometimes, in fact, it’s all you need — just to download your brain to paper ro make room for something else.

But I have often found that my Bullet Points on any given subject great moments of A-Ha that need to be explored a little more fully. This is Exploratory or Layered Journaling.

I recently did a Bullet-Point Journaling session on the topic of God. (Note: I often limit these bullet-point sessions to 2 minutes, but I have also found it cleansing to keep going for as long as I can think of something new. Until a list feels substantial — or until I have hit something that signals me that I need to Explore it more.)

In about 100 seconds, my God is… list was this:

  • amazing
  • love me in new ways every day
  • the lifter of my head
  • my Abba father
  • trustworthy
  • faithful
  • the ultimate friend
  • not hidden
  • ready to show himself
  • always in control
  • always at the top of his game
  • my defender

Then, as I read my list again, I knew I wanted to say more about God’s character as trustworthy and faithful. So I wrote “God is trustworthy and faithful” at the top of the page to Explore. Peel back another Layer.

Have you not proven yourself so, Lord? So many times I have stepped into the seemingly nothingness of faith and you have provided a bridge that holds. Each & Every time! Oh, I have been bruised. I have scraped knees, battle scars, and there have been broken hearts. At times I’ve felt like I had to scramble along a tiny ledge — but there, too, you are — with a cleft in the rock, an escape plan I never could have imagined.

I have prayed recently to see your glory — have the privilege of watching you live and breathe and have your being in me & others around me. Why did I think those moments would come anywhere but on a precipice — or a potter’s wheel — or a refiner’s fire? For your greatest treasures, your strongest champions have been forged in flames.

Oh the story to tell on the other side. Surely then I will know even more deeply what I already know to be true. You ARE trustworthy. You ARE faithful.

Now read your entry again. Slowly and WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. If a word or phrase grabs you, circle it, write it at the top of a new page and go with that topic. More exploring. Another layer.

Your turn!


Don’t Be Afraid of Journaling

I am convinced that the reason a lot of people don’t journal is for one or more of the following reasons…

  • They think they aren’t a “writer” and worry about spelling and grammar and style
  • They think they don’t have time
  • They don’t know what to write about

Journaling is NOT about the perfect expression of anything. It’s about clearing the crud out of your brain so it has room to think a new thought. When the junk is on paper, you don’t need it in your head anymore.

So here’s a quick way to make that happen. It takes no time at all, and I’ll tell you exactly what to write about. I call it Bulletpoint Journaling.

You can learn this technique most easily with a topic you have neutral feelings about. Start with a color, for example. Write “Purple is…” at the top of a page. Set the timer for 2 minutes. Now make a list of EVERYTHING that comes to mind that can complete that sentence. No editing. No stopping. Just whatever comes to mind. Don’t let your brain say, “No, it’s not.” … if you think it, write it down!

Ready? Go.

Purple is…

  • regal
  • the color of grapes
  • happy
  • a bright
  • the color of iris & pansies
  • unique
  • the mix of blue and red
  • the surprise bloom on my Morning Glory
  • the color of my walls
  • my Massey’s favorite color
  • majestic
  • Barney the dinosaur

Now try it with an animal, a feeling, a flower, a favorite place.

I think you’ll find that the action of not pressuring yourself to write more than one word or a short phrase makes this accessible and easy. It also creates an environment where your mind is allowed ANY thought. Then the ones that surprise you can be explored more carefully. While Bullet Journaling can be fun and interesting just to see what you get when you think on a color or object or place, this topic is most effective for me when I have to work out something I’m not sure I fully understand yet.

  • The reason I feel sad is…
  • My family is…
  • I wish I could…
  • My home is…
  • My work is…
  • I am frustrated with…
  • My God is…

Try it. And let me know how it works for you. Then come back tomorrow to see how to use this list to pull back another layer in your journaling path to self-discovery and finding beauty in unexpected places.


Posted by on October 13, 2011 in Abundant Life Small Group, Challenge


Why THIS one is better than the NEXT one


I admit it. I’ve done it more than once. Frankly, probably more than hundreds of times, I have taken a single bite of something delicious and immediately think, “I can’t wait to have another one!” To which my mind than hurries me through the cookie, the piece of cake, the whatever so I can get to the NEXT one as quickly as possible.

It reminds me of something I once read from a woman whose friend would comment in the middle of a vacation, “I can’t wait to come back here.”

What about the NOW?! What about THIS one?!? I want to learn to savor what I have instead of hurrying to the thing in the future.

In our Abundant Life group at Manna Church this week, we did a couple of exercises to help us learn to live more in the now. I encourage you to try them, too.

CHALLENGE 1: Get 3 bites of anything you love … peanuts, Hershey kisses, chips, raisins. You know what you like. Eat the first one as you normally would, briefly record in your journal anything you notice about the bite.

For Bite 2: Pause first. Consider the bite with all your senses. What does it look like (from all sides)? What does it feel like? Smell like? Maybe even sound like, if you have a crunch or wrapper, etc. Record these observations before taking a bite. Then eat … SLOWLY … even nibble it, perhaps. Consider the texture. Where does the flavor hit your tongue? Can you distinguish different tastes, textures, ingredients, etc. Think about how your body reacts to what you are eating. Pleasure? Warmth? Relaxed? Record these thoughts and observations.

For Bite 3: As you again savor it and eat it slowly, consider this time the hands that prepared your treat. All the ingredients. Who grew them? Gathered? Processed? Shipped to the store? Cared for them at the store? How did they make it? Give thanks for all the things involved in bringing this bite to your table. Record these thoughts and observations as well.

Now consider this… how does this exercise help you appreciate something you already loved even more?

CHALLENGE 2: Grab a flower, leaf, branch, pine cone — any living thing and lay it in front of you.

Now draw it. Yes, that’s right. I said, draw it. Pencil, crayons, pen, chalk, finger paints — whatever. But I want you to draw it as close to the original as possible.

When you are done, reflect on this… what did you notice in your object that you never would have except for the task of recreating it? How did you see this thing, in some way, for the first time? What detail of it have you missed before — maybe even for your entire life?

What if you got more deliberate and slow and aware of other things in your life. The ones that seem so ordinary. Just how much magic can you find in a single moment?



On my way to 1000 Things to be Thankful For. See the complete list here.

  • A church choir
  • “You do not faint. You won’t grow weary.”
  • My Redeemer lives!
  • The raised hands, fist pumps, and tears of the freshly baptized
  • Holding Thom’s hand in prayer
  • Grandpa Zimmerman’s birthday
  • Celebrating with his pancake recipe
  • Baby dedications
  • Life lessons from Legos
  • Fresh perspective
  • Happy “Accidents”
  • That God’s yoke is easy and his burden light
  • That Jesus is the All in All. “There is no need for a super-sized Jesus”
  • Leaders with character
  • Movies worth watching over and over
  • Conquering the dreaded sock basket
  • A great night of baseball
  • A $10million golf purse that comes down to the last putt
  • Humble winners
  • The moment when winners get to hug their wives in the crowd
  • Homemade bread
  • Old photos
  • Childhood friends
  • Rain that brings cool weather
  • All the laundry clean
  • Ignoring that the laundry will just get dirty again
  • A clean house
  • Empty trash cans
  • Thom’s birthday
  • Christian — the excellent gift giver
  • Blown glass
  • Bookstores
  • Friends who give great fashion advice
  • Shoes that are cute AND comfortable
  • Sleeping with the windows open
  • Mums in bloom
  • Feeling inspired
  • Pandora radio
  • An empty dishwasher
  • Learning new options on my camera
  • Fixing my camera myself
  • Google
  • Golf dates with Thom
  • Feeling helpful to a friend
  • Your Alma Mater on National TV
  • Roller Coasters
  • Jeff Dunham comedy
  • High fives
  • Drinking through a straw
  • Chips & Salsa
  • Free refills
  • Going to the movies
  • Finding the right size batteries when you need them
  • Fresh-cut grass
  • Tire swings
  • Rain boots
  • How Facebook has made it a Small World afterall
  • A postcard from your teacher when she’s out of town
  • Mail with your name on it … in actual handwriting
  • Filling the last page of a journal
  • The first page of a new journal
  • Cardinal Red
  • October baseball
  • Great smelling shampoo
  • Pinball machines
  • County fairs
  • Family night
  • Improv Comedy done well
  • Apples with Peanut Butter
  • Watching Christian sleep
  • Butterflies in unexpected places
  • Photo treasure hunts
  • Great photography
  • Great public speakers
  • The hour before sunset and how it makes everything look magical
  • A surprise text message
  • Catching up with my sister
  • Getting our CDs on an MP3 player
  • Tigers
  • The Seventh Inning Stretch
  • Ballparks
  • Take me out to the Ballgame
  • Pre-game fly-overs
  • Girlfriends in gratitude
  • How the Internet links all our journeys and stories in ways never before imagined
  • “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love.” Psalm 143.8
  • Morning runs followed by long stretching sessions
  • An afternoon to relax because the house is already clean
  • A windows wide open kind of day
  • The way a camera lens makes you see things your eyes don’t
  • Over-sized sweatshirts
  • Needing a blanket on the couch
  • Your love, oh Lord, reaches to the heavens.
  • College game day at a Sports Bar
  • French Fries worth the calories
  • A great deal
  • Putting on pants instead of shaving your legs
  • Good neighbors
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Posted by on October 1, 2011 in Challenge, One Thousand Gifts

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