Unlike Anything Else

boat2After reconciling himself to the actual ocean crossing and seeking ore to make tools, Nephi’s next step was to commence building the worthy vessel that would convey his entire family across the deep water to an entirely different life.  In moments of uncertainty it is nice to fall back on the familiar but Nephi’s way forward would be anything but familiar.  He says that as he began building the ship he did not build it “after the manner of men” but rather was instructed by the Lord on how it should be pieced together.  I think this part of the story strikes at the heart of the living that we all do each day.  When we realize that we are on the shores of an ocean  we’d like some sort of blueprint for the boat that will take us safely across foreign waters but often God asks us to trust Him as He helps us to build our own curious ship.  Like Nephi’s, your vessel may not look anything like ships you’ve see and you may not understand why certain things need be a part of it but oftentimes the wisdom of the form is revealed over time.   As Nephi’s boat took shape he was ridiculed by his brothers for the unfamiliar design of his ship.  In those moments where doubt was flung at him from many angles, he was invited to dive into deeper attunement with heaven and trust the revelation that he was receiving.  Those, my friends, are the formative moments, where we own our own architecture with God.  And the potential result of those brave moments, if we stick with the building, is a kind of soul-deep knowing that influences everything else we create with Him.

Take Action: If, in your occasions of forward progress, you have times where the deafening voices around you crowd out the whisperings of intuition and inspiration, take note and find a few quiet moments to re-align with Heaven and then tuck those moments of connection deep in your soul, stand tall and walk confidently forward knowing that you and God are building something that is strong and seaworthy to carry you purposefully across the oceans you face.

Overwhelming Ocean Crossings

ocean wave

There was a man named Nephi (pronounced Knee-Fye) who was working to take his family to a safe place where they could live peacefully and worship God.  He sought heaven’s guidance as he journeyed toward this place and God promised him that he would find it.  At one point, after wandering with both his immediate and extended family for quite some time he came to water.  Not just a small bit of water but an ocean.  Like many of us do when faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to our forward progress, Nephi stops for a while, camping at the side of this ocean.  When Nephi comes to terms with the reality that an ocean crossing is in his future he does what faithful people do, he asks God to help him figure out how to make it happen.  He’s not a boater or shipbuilder, he hasn’t brought tools or sails or anything to make this job the least bit easier. But he is a believer and in this instance, like in any instance, that is enough.  He shows his willing (maybe resigned belief) in the next question he asks God which is “Where can I go to find ore to make tools?”  Note that he didn’t ask for a boat.  So often I ask God to deliver a boat to get me across the oceans I face.  But the more oceans I cross with His guidance the more I treasure the grace-full way He teaches me to build boats.  In my experience He is always willing to answer prayers for tools once we cultivate a willingness to build the boat.

Take Action: Are there any tools you need to get somewhere in your life?  Tools that will help you face a daunting obstacle?  Tools that will enable you to move out of a stuck place?   I know God loves us and wants to bless us.  With that in mind, identify what it is you need in order to make forward progress and then ask him to help you find the tools (people, resources, education, wisdom, experience) to make it happen.  Then look earnestly for those things and you will find them.

Things I learned my first week in business

So it turns out when you accidentally start a business there are quite a few things you have to learn really quickly.  Here are a few tidbits I picked up this week:

Important Acronyms to know: 

FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number)

LLC (Limited Liability Company)

JSN (Just say no…especially important when people ask you to do something you REALLY don’t know how to do-like remove a tree)

TAGQ (Pronounced tah-gque, “That’s a good question”….turns out there are quite a few of these coming my way)

Live & Learn

Don’t apply for your Federal EIN number before your LLC paperwork confirmation comes back.  Because maybe the name you wanted is taken (it turns out checking domain names and the federal EIN site isn’t the same thing as checking in with the State Comptroller.  Who doesn’t buy their domain name when they file their business paperwork!?) and then you have to file a bunch more paperwork to make your EIN Number match your LLC name.

Applying for insurance when your previous experience is a volunteer apprenticeship and the person you worked with is now deceased (but lives on in everything you put in the ground) presents an interesting series of hoops to jump through.  Additionally, submitting a resume, payroll estimates and gross revenue estimates is challenging when you’ve been in business for 2.5 weeks.  But having insurance to bring in jobs and earn that revenue seems like the responsible way to operate.  So much for the advice in $100 Startup to just try something out and see if it works, write the business plan later.

Sometimes things work out and fall into place.  Sometimes they don’t.  Ritchie and I have been trying to figure out a way to create a revenue stream that we could use for humanitarian endeavors.  We’ve sorted through and planned a few different things now but kept hitting roadblocks.  Then this opportunity just kind of opened up and I feel hopeful and confident that Esteban, our newly-sponsored high school student training to be an Agricultural Technician will give this whole endeavor added meaning, motivation and success.   It’s a blessing to use our freedom, gifts, experiences, time and opportunities to empower others.  Until next time, happy landscaping!

The Accidental Entrepreneur or The time I tried to buy an ink cartridge and ended up starting a business.

img_6381A week and a half ago, after setting the intention to be more budget-conscious I found myself needing a black ink cartridge.  Those things are expensive and I didn’t have enough left in my weekly home management budget to buy one.  I could’ve used money from another account or my savings and it would’ve been fine but I tend to do that a lot so I decided to stick to my budget and get creative.  I printed everything in blue ink instead of black for a while but as the week wore on this strategy got increasingly frustrating and I found myself with a list of “things to print when I get an ink cartridge.”  I needed a black ink cartridge to live efficiently.  I decided I could try to earn one.  Now I’m a little rusty when it comes to earning money since I’ve been staying home with Jessica (and preparing for Jessica and trying to conceive Jessica) for the past 11 years and I’m particular about the time I commit outside our home.  So I decided to post a message on my community Facebook group offering to cut back the myriad brown and crunchy frozen plants in people’s front yards.  I listed my qualifications (Master Gardener Training, Landscape Design practice/consulting) as well as my availability (3 spots on Thursday) and price ($20).  I hoped 3 people would want to take me up on my offer so I could buy my ink cartridge and get on with my life.  In less than 3 minutes I had 3 customers and I was elated.  Within 8 minutes I had 5 customers so I said I could do 2 front yards on Friday too (Hey, I thought, I can also buy the essential oil I’ve been needing to replenish).  By the end of the night I had about 20 messages and by the next morning I was up to 30.  The following week saw an additional 10 people added to my list, each wanting a different service (tree pruning, lawn consultation, landscape design, winter clean-up).  As I met with different neighbors I realized that I inadvertently stumbled into a ready market for my landscape love.  I’ve worked hard, I’ve made some mistakes, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve gotten dirty, I bought a hedge-trimmer and wielded it with pride (because I spent 60 hand-cramping minutes cutting back ornamental grass with hand pruners and that hedge trimmer gets the job done in less than a minute!).  So this past week I filed papers with the Texas State Comptroller to officially establish Beautiful Village Landscaping LLC.  Now proudly (and humbly) operating in Bulverde Village.

“His Hand is Stretched Out Still”

Yesterday I had the chance to go ice skating with Jessica.  Having only been a few times in her 7 years she’s still a bit unsteady on the ice.  She enthusiastically donned her skates and  I watched her stumble through the door to the rink and wait with anxious anticipation for the Zamboni to finish it’s job so she could begin skating.  Her initial enthusiasm quickly channeled itself into focused determination as she gripped the wall and unsteadily made her way slowly around the rink.  After a few minutes, I followed her out onto the ice, watching her strong little legs jerkily move along as she tried to master the feel of balancing her entire body on two very narrow blades and gliding on a very unforgiving surface.  When she was ready to leave the wall she took my hand and held tight, scooting one leg and then the other shuffling herself around the rink again and again.  After a while she began to let go at intervals.  Feeling increasing confidence in her steadiness, she would move a few feet from me, sometimes falling, sometimes skating and inevitably looking back to see if I was watching.  After a few laps of back and forth hand-holding, I began skating close to her holding my arm out.  I opened my hand and flexed my arm muscles so that my arm was strong and available to her.  I imagine watching me skate was pretty comical, partly stooped with one arm bent at the elbow.  It didn’t matter though, I wanted to serve as firm support for her when she needed it.  She grabbed on quite a bit but increasingly she could balance on her own.  A few times she skated farther from me and someone would come between us.  Other times she’d fall and look up at me with the tears that come from pain (knees+ice=hurt) and question why I wasn’t right next to her, why I’d left when she needed me.  I told her it was because she had skated on her own, she’d quickened her pace.  I thought about God, as I always do in my contemplative parenting moments, and how his support for us is the same.  He tells us his arm is extended, and that for all our faltering moments, His hand is stretched out still.  Just like I held my arm firm and steady, He offers his strength, support and solidarity as we learn new things, as we stumble, as we venture out and gain confidence in this thing called living.  And when we stumble and fall and look up blaming Him for His absence, he simply holds out His arm, helps us up and reminds us He’s never been far and that He’ll skate with us as long as we want Him there.  I love that about Him.

Take Action: Nourish your soul with a prayer today, gratefully acknowledge one blessing and ask to have the eyes to see His hand in your life.

Experience Joy

Each day we breathe we’re invited to increase our capacity for experiencing life, for really living.  We can choose to use our experiences to support this goal of being vibrantly and fully alive.  Many times we notice this invitation when we feel sadness, grief, guilt or sorrow.  We may shy away from these experiences or cover the emotions and avoid processing them because they are uncomfortable.   In the thick of a challenging moment it can be soothing to remember that you are simultaneously deepinging your channels for feeling joy and peace.   So navigate your way through struggle with as much grace and support as you can access and then look for the deeper joy and peace that are now inherently yours as well.

The Nature of Growth

You wouldn’t know it by looking at cotton, but like any fruitful creation, it’s seeds are carefully housed inside it.  With the fluff peeled back you can see the seed just waiting for the protective seasonal covering to fade away so it can grow.  Sometimes our personal protective coverings are hard to give up but it’s essential to the process of growth.  The decay of one gives rise to the other.  So the next time one of your protective walls comes down (in mind, experience or emotion) look for what is uncovered and thus able to grow.  Then nurture that thing by your thoughts and actions with a curiosity toward what fruit will come of it.

Abundance is everywhere…

if that’s what you’re seeking.  There was a time when I would focus on all that was missing from a picture like this.  That view was usually wrapped around a desire for more carefree cartwheeling children.  Life is so much richer now that I have eyes to see all that is there.  There is one beautiful joyful child and I get to mother her. There are cartwheeeling children the world over.  They don’t need to be mine for me to appreciate the hope, love and meaning that they represent.  The overflowing love I have for this one can fill her and then spread wherever it’s needed.  

 Whenever I need a reminder about what abundance feels like, I look at the never-ending sky and feel gratitude for the chance to experience life below it each day.  And then I do a cartwheel.

What is Family Council? (Agenda attached)

Coordinate & Cooperate @ Family Council(1)

Family council is a quick weekly meeting with everyone in the household.  It’s best to have it regularly but even if you just do it once a month your family will learn to communicate, coordinate and cooperate with more ease.  The most basic meeting would include a schedule review and a discussion of individual/family needs.  As you practice meeting together you might find that you’d like to incorporate some other topics into the practice. I recommend starting small and firming up the habit before adding more items to the agenda.  Just practice being together, talking openly and being as patient with each other as you can. This week’s agenda will help you have a well-rounded meeting in just a few minutes.  Holding the space for family council each week breathes life into the home and gives the family and its members room to heal, grow, and become a strong team.

Family Council Quick Start Agenda & Notes

When beginning a new habit it’s important to start small, be consistent and build some incentive into it.  This Family Council Quick Start Agenda covers the basics and allows you to easily begin your first family council meeting this week. Use this agenda until meeting together weekly is an established routine (at least 1 month).

To your spouse you can say “Hey babe, I’d really love your feedback and input on some family stuff and I’d like to have a brief family council meeting.  I’ll take care of the agenda.”  People rarely say no when you ask for their opinion.

To your kids you can say “Hey guys, I want to know what’s going on with you, we’re going to have a quick team meeting after dinner on Sunday.” You may get grumbling but you can smile and offer to let them choose the game.

Expect to hear “How long is this going to take?” from all parties.  Smile and respond with “Not long, and it’ll be fun.”

Print 1 Family Council Quick Start Agenda copy for each member of the family and provide each person with a colorful pen which makes their random doodling all over your painstakingly-prepared agenda look especially nice.  Feel free to review the agenda with notes but if your family sees that many words on a page at your first meeting they may run for cover so tuck it under your copy of the Quick Start Agenda and refer to it as needed.  Start with the gratitude and make sure each person receives some because that sets a tone of love and appreciation for the whole meeting.  Ending with a game leaves everyone feeling like there was at least something fun that came out of it.

In our house my role is to manage our growth and experiences so I create the family council agenda each week.  In the coming weeks I’ll share ideas on how to evolve your agenda as your family acclimates and embraces the meeting.  So much of it is in the presentation and like Ritchie said, when the agenda shows up, we have family council.

Good luck!

Lindsay 2.0

p.s. I welcome your feedback and I’d love to hear how it goes for you!