Saturday, January 6, 2018

Recap of 2017 and An Idea

If you had to put a title on 2017, what might it be called? For me, I believe I'd call it Transition.

Germany rang in 2017 with the usual conviviality and merriment, fireworks on nearly every street and in the cobbled town squares. The carousing begins at midnight and carries into the wee hours of the morning.

Across Europe, the first day of the year begins with a day of rest. Businesses are closed, including grocery markets, making the next twenty-four hours conducive to contemplation and scheduling of the 364 days ahead.

For us, plans included a short visit back to the States sometime in the late summer or autumn. But that was eight or nine months away.

In the short-term, the coming months meant finishing the book I was writing, seeing many friends pack household goods and attending their "until later" parties as they moved to the next assignment, and preparing a two-week holiday with friends arriving in the springtime.

We did what we've always done. Settled into the new year, we carried on with work, education,  church activities and time with friends. Nothing happened too out of the ordinary except for the occasional cause for celebration like a friend's promotion at work. Or Ezekiel's 18th birthday on January 13th, celebrated on a men's ski trip in the Swiss Alps.

Yet, the environment at LeRoy's job grew increasingly difficult. Bureaucratic minutiae and poor management wore on him. And while his love for the actual work never waned, the thought of being surrounded by less than ideal attitudes and perspectives took their toll. Toward the end of January, he suggested we cancel our two-year extension and return to Spokane, Washington in six months.

So, maybe I'd title the year, Pivot. Over the next several weeks, the subject of moving filled the bulk of our dialogues. To be honest, I tried everything I could think of to try to change the situation. (Ha! In my book, Living Your Legacy, I talk about change. About the ability to accept what is while moving the story forward through skillful improvisation.) I didn't want to leave Germany and (selfishly) I thought there might be a solution that would allow us to stay for two more years. (I also wrote about how life is too short to stay stuck in a rut with no vision and little impact.)

Then one evening in February, LeRoy made a phone call to his friend, mentor, and previous boss at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane. And when he hung up, he turned to me and said, "We're canceling our extension and returning to Spokane this summer." And all the frustration and angst of the previous weeks and months dissolved into perfect peace.

The extension was canceled the next day. We'd fly out on August 20th.

Over the next four months, I finished my book, Living Your Legacy, we enjoyed exploring Europe with our friends, Larry and Sherry Templeton, and we said, "Until later," to many families. The movers arrived on a Monday morning in mid-July and we transitioned into temporary housing. (Over the course of the next three months, we'd live in six different places.)

A highlight in the middle of our move was our holiday to the Belgium countryside with our friends, the Johnson Family. Over a weekend that went way too fast, we stayed in a rustic French Gite just south of Dinant.

Exploration highlights comprised of a tour of the Citadel, beer tasting at the Maison Leffe, and kayaking on the River Meuse. Of course, there was the elegant and delicious Charcuterie Platter prepared by our friends, Warren and Jasmine, who paired our cuisine with a perfect French wine.

Then, a few weeks later, on Saturday afternoon, August 19th, we visited with friends-who-had-become-family one last time at Trattoria da Salvatore in Landstuhl. And at 3 o'clock the next morning, we left for the Frankfurt International Airport, arriving in Spokane, Washington that same afternoon.

That evening we had dinner with the Stone Family, and enjoyed a surprise visit from the Eva's. We spent the week "in-processing" which is military-speak for a small mountain of paperwork and checklists. LeRoy started work the following week. We searched for a place to live. Ezekiel searched for a job. Israel and I attended Women's Bible Study at Life Center.

Over the next few months, things fell into place. LeRoy thoroughly enjoys not only his work but the camaraderie and teamwork at Fairchild. We rented a townhouse on the outskirts of Spokane toward the airport and Airway Heights. Ezekiel got hired at the Starbucks only a seven-minute walk from our home.

Outwardly, it looks as though, for the most part, we've picked up where we left off. But things are different.


The last three years brimmed with the richness of relationships. (That's not the part that's different. We've experienced that everywhere we've lived.) :)  But the friends we met while living in Ramstein, Germany, are dreamers. They're action-takers who chase after audacious goals with purpose and unwavering faith and hope. Their lifestyles demonstrate anything is possible. 

They dream outside the lines, intimately connected to the One Who plants the seeds of what's possible in their hearts. For three years, we lived alongside people who live large... in faith, love, hope... adventure. People who poured encouragement and optimism over everyone they encountered because they were always up to something. (So much so, that I'll have to save that for another post.) 

This isn't to say everything always went well. We held one another up and prayed each other through difficult marriage, health, and parenting seasons. But it was a steadfast and intense community. One couldn't be in their presence without having Christ's love and joy splashed onto them.

Which brings me to my flash of insight. 

There's so much talk in our world these days about how we can 3X, 10X, or 100X our focus and efforts. Sure, I track with what they're saying. I mean, we spent the last three years with folks who live 10X and 100X lives. But somewhere along the way, I grew weary and being all in has started to feel... intangible. Until now.

My business coach and mentor, Steve Roller, wrote something recently that stirred inspiration and restored my vision for what's possible. He wrote about how he doesn't set an alarm to wake up. He allows himself to awaken to ideas. 

It's the second time within the last five days that I've heard one of my mentors talk about this. Earlier in the week, I heard John Maxwell relate a similar story from his own life. 

How often I've woken in the middle of the night or in the early morning hours with ideas that could have produced fruit. However, I didn't so much as write them down and then when I finally woke up "for real"... they were gone. 

So, I'm excited to test this theory that we can multiply our efforts -- that we can 100X our lives? (That wasn't the way Steve Roller or John Maxwell put it. That's just my own mashing of two ideas together.) :)  That taking action on ideas -- or at least writing them down -- as they present themselves, might be an organic, rhythmic way to multiply the fruit in our lives. 

I'll keep you posted. 

*I'm curious, did you think of what you would title 2017? Hit reply to this email and let me know. I'd love to hear your title. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

How To Inspire

So, there we were, returning from running errands and having a big conversation about "what we're made of." Silly notions volleyed between our family and our two young friends, Micah, age four and Josiah, age six, who were spending the day with us.

Someone suggested, "What if our skin was stretchy like rubber?" 

And then someone else, "Or if we were made out of rocks?"

I turned to look at Josiah and Micah, "Maybe we're all made out of plastic."

And the response? Classic. 

I can still see Micah with his head thrown back in a full on belly laugh as he proclaimed, "Not the Johnson's! We're made of skin!" 


Several months later I was in a conversation with another friend. She relayed to me the hectic pace of their previous weekend, listing off the birthday parties of her children's friends, family get togethers, a church service and other commitments carefully scheduled into time slots and met in quick succession. 

She went on to tell me about their friends who had called at the last minute on Friday night to ask if our friends could care for their children throughout the weekend while they went on a spontaneous getaway. She said yes, figuring the three extra children would simply get swooped into the flurry of activities and be along for the adventure. 

As she came to the end of her story, she paused and then, reluctance lacing her tone, "I hope we didn't overwhelm their children. It was a lot. I started to apologize to them for the craziness, but then I love what my daughter said. She just laughed and told them, 'This is what it means to be an Eva!'" 

I love both of those stories. I love when the people we lead can declare with confidence, "This is what we're made of! This is what it means to be a part of this culture!" 

As we embark on the new year, I'm taking stock of who we are and where we want to go. I'm asking myself hard questions and ensuring that priorities and actions align with our values and beliefs and move us closer to our goals. 

Not just move closer to goals for the sake of achievement. That's so cliché and, quite frankly, blasé. But because as image-bearers of the King of Kings, we have this exhilarating and redemptive narrative to steward. 

And as leaders, it's our profound responsibility to inspire those we lead to steward their stories with an eternal perspective. To rally a team of champions who will build cultures of honor wherever they are. To know, anything is possible. I'm dreaming big because of Whose image I bear. I'm all in. I'm living an "it is finished" victorious legacy. 

When my friend finished her story with her daughter's declaration, I heard, being an Eva means able to adapt, be flexible, have fun, be present. Even four-year old Micah knows his identity as a Johnson means (at the least) that they're not made of plastic. :) 

It's inspiring. 

How about you and the people in your family or others you influence? What are you doing to inspire those around you? 

Let me know if there's anything we can do to help or encourage you. We'd love to meet with you in person or get on a call to talk about the legacy you're living and your big dreams. Just hit reply to this email.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Cue the Curtain

It's 4:18 in the afternoon. Less than eight hours until we close our calendars on 2017. The curtain will close momentarily and a cacophony of celebration will ring in the next act. Of course, some will sleep through the event and others will whisper prayers.

A couple of days ago, an acquaintance sent me a copy of his list of declarations, goals and dreams for 2018. Twelve pages, single-spaced. It's powerful. And it got me thinking.

I used to dream bigger. I used to set audacious goals.

Then somewhere along the way, amidst the day-to-day routines and rigmarole, dreams shrunk. They went from epic to... manageable. Doable.

Perhaps vision got a little fuzzy in the transition of moving back to the States from Germany this last year. The sudden change in plans from a five-year stay in Germany to the new plan of returning after only three years. The adventure of living in six different places in the span of three months. Maybe pulling inward and purposing not to be idealistic gave me the illusion of control.

However, we're not designed to play small. Really, it doesn't benefit anyone if we shrink back. We're made to live into our purpose, to chase ridiculous dreams with wild, reckless abandon.   

I want my life to be a movie I'd want to watch with my children and grandchildren one day.

You know, sometimes you have to reflect on where the plot line of the story is going. And if it doesn't align with who you are, if it isn't congruent with your vision, then revise the script.

I talk about this in my book, Living Your Legacy. How it's important to slow down, ask the right questions, pivot where necessary.

During this brief intermission, I'm taking the opportunity to review the story line. To edit to epic, love-based, solution oriented, idealistic scenes.

This is going to be fun.

*How about you? Hit reply to this email and let me know what's in your story line for 2018. And let me know if there's anything I might help you with.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Book Launch Party! With a FREE Download

Yay for Book Launch parties! Virtual ones, too.

What an adventure it is to write and publish a book. I've learned a ton in this process, but most of all, (and best of all), going through this process has changed me.

Kind of like when I knew so much about marriage -- before I got married.

And when I planned out all my perfect parenting strategies -- before I became a parent.

I think I know so much -- until I actually step out of my comfort zone.

It's easy to wax eloquent about showing up for our lives and chasing our dreams. It's a whole different story to step out in faith and take action. Anyone?

We don't know what we don't know. How grateful I am that we can be leading learners!

Someone asked me the other day what prompted me to write a book. Great question.

I wasn't sure how to answer at first and then after some thought, I said, "You know, when we do the thing we're made for, it inspires people around us to show up for their lives, too. I've learned from and been inspired by so many people who consistently show up for life, I want to be more like them."

Living Your Legacy is my contribution to inspiring, motivating, and helping leaders recognize their impact and intentionally build cultures of honor. At work. At home. In life.

CLICK HERE to download your FREE copy of Living Your Legacy.

Make sure you download the free Kindle version as soon as possible. It's only free until midnight tonight.

*Be generous and share this LINK with your tribe. :)

**And if you read anything inspiring or helpful, will you do a favor for me? Will you click on this link HERE and leave an honest one or two sentence review? It will help the book stay at the top of the rankings. That way, others can easily find the book, too.

And, one more thing, click reply to this post and tell me what dream you have brewing inside you that might require you to step out of your comfort zone and be a leading learner.