family

What Brand Are You?

As children we tend to absorb labels. Our parents should be the ones who brand us with good words, calling us up into our destinies. In many cases our parents carried negative labels themselves and had no clue how to brand us or that it was even part of their job description.

Some common labels are:

  • scatterbrained

  • shy

  • dumb

  • lazy

  • below average

  • dramatic

  • stubborn

  • clumsy

  • accident prone

Maybe a doctor or other "professional" labeled you with:

  • ADHD

  • DID

  • PTSD or some other series of letters

These labels do not have the power to define you forever unless you let them.

  • You can move beyond your childhood and be a powerful adult.

  • You were a child then. You are not now. You are an adult.

  • You really can throw off all of those old labels from when you were a child and embrace new labels.

  • You have generations of ancestors cheering you on!

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.  (Hebrews 12:1 NASB)

Key idea: You do not have to be who you have always been.

Key strategy: Who do you need to be in order to do what you want to do? Put it into one sentence. Put it in your reminders in your phone and set the alarm to go off at a certain time each day. Read it out loud each day. Do it until it feels true and natural.

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.  (1 Corinthians 13:11)

Do You Think It's Ever Ok To Judge?

When you hear the phrase, "You are different than everyone else," what tone do you hear it in? Is it a positive thing or a negative one?

If you hear it from the loving voice of your Father, you will be strengthened to stand firm in your arena.

If you hear it through the lens of your own insecurities, you will be tempted to agree with the accuser and back off from taking your place in the world. Don't let your internal disqualifications hold you back.

Have you ever heard anyone say that comparison is bad?

Look at these two glasses. One is a mug, and the other a glass....obviously. Oops! We just compared them!

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Did our comparing them make one of them better or more valuable than the other? Of course not. They were each made for a different purpose. If you are craving a cup of coffee you will want the mug, but if iced tea is your heart's desire you will go for the glass.

If we never compare ourselves to each other, how will we recognize and honor the unique gift mix that each person carries?

I would like to propose the idea that comparison is not bad at all. Where we get into trouble is when we turn our comparison into unrighteous judgement.

  • When we judge other people's weaknesses against our strengths we side with the accuser and fall into pride.
  • When we judge our weaknesses against other people's strengths we also side with the accuser and fall into condemnation and insecurity.

People talk about not judging, the fact is we judge all the time. Judging in and of itself isn’t bad. People don’t get upset when you judge them positively. It’s when you confront their sin that they get tend to say, "Don't judge me!"

How can you compare without judging ?

  • Believe the best.
  • Recognize the need for diversity in the body of Christ
  • Celebrate the fact that we all have different gifts, styles, and anointings
  • Remember that every position has value and importance

The word diversity has come to mean a lot of things in our culture today. Sadly people use it to affirm sinful lifestyles, but God really is a God of diversity. He doesn’t approve of sin, but He is the author of different personalities and gift mixes.

We are all different, and that's a good thing. God is not looking for clones.

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body? 1 Cor 12:14-15

Which part of the body are YOU?

This post was co-written with my husband, Christopher Olson. An audio version is now available.

Don't Spew On the Ones You Love

I bet that if you had a stomach virus, you would never intentionally walk up to your loved ones and puke in their faces. Gross! Who would ever do that to anyone, much less than to the people who really matter to them.

Reasonable people try to stay away from others when they're sick. They do it out of mercy and kindness. They stay away until they are well, and no longer contagious. If the sickness doesn't seem to be passing, they get to a doctor to do their best to resolve the situation. Being sick is no fun for the one who is sick or for the rest of the family.

Why is it that we let emotional issues go unsorted for years and years? When the emotional pain buttons in our lives get pushed, the fallout hurts the people around us at least as much it hurts us.

You know the secret areas of pain that you keep hidden and hope that no one ever finds out about? I have news for you, people may not know the specifics, but they certainly feel the painful symptoms.

If you aren't willing to get healthy for your sake, at least do the hard work of getting yourself sorted out for the sake of the people you love. You really don't want people around you to feel like they have to spend their whole lives walking on eggshells.

Don't delay. Get the help you need. Make an appointment with a counselor or reach out to get with a mature, trusted mentor.

Action point: I recommend you follow Danny Silk - Loving on Purpose

If you don't deal with your issues, everyone around you will have to.


Get a copy  here

Get a copy here

Christmas Night with Syrian Refugees

Have you ever felt love for people you've never met? Christopher has had a burden for Syrian refugees for a few years now.  He had the great idea to bless a family with Christmas gifts. We found a family to reach out to through our friends David and Ashley. My heart joined with Christopher's as I spent time and money shopping for the family.  

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.

Matthew 6:21

I sincerely enjoyed shopping for and spending money on a family I've never met. I didn't even know their names. As I shopped for and carefully wrapped each gift, I felt a love grow in my heart for boy age 17, boy age 15, boy age 13, girl age 11, girl age 8, twin boy and girl age 4, mom and dad. 

Maybe it's a tiny taste of the way God says, "Before you were born I knew you, and I loved you."

Our whole family took the gifts to the refugee family on Christmas night. It was especially fun to watch the 4 year olds with their brand new bikes. They were so excited. The little boy fell off his bike three times while we were there, but that didn't diminish his ear to ear smile one bit. 

As we sipped tea and ate unleavened bread, we spoke to each other in broken English. They told us a little about their journey including how their house in Syria had been bombed to the ground one month after they had fled to Jordan.

Before we said goodbye, Christopher prayed a blessing over the family. We released peace and love, and we left with full hearts.

We didn't even make it home before we found out that the father had posted this on his facebook. 

It truly is more blessed to give than to receive!

My Creepy To Do List

The other day Christopher invited me to go somewhere with him in a few days. When he asked me, my mind was in task mode, and it was hard for me to switch over to relational mode. My reply was delivered with a sigh in my voice. My poor husband was disappointed by my unenthusiastic response.

The fact of the matter is that I was feeling a little overwhelmed because I didn't have my to do list straight in my head. I was tired and thinking about all the stuff I wanted to work on, even though I wasn't planning on working on it that same day.

The next day's to do list was creeping into my evening.

Solutions I am exploring for this repeated problem are:

  • make a to do list so that my head feels clear
  • set the list aside
  • realize that I don't need to worry about tomorrow's tasks today
  • be present
  • focus more on the important people in my life and my connection with them, than on being productive

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,

for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34

Will you join me in saying no to creepy lists?

Need a Little Peace?

I don't know about you, but I've had to fight for peace lately. I have had a lot of irons in the fire, and some unexpected hiccups.

Peace is not the absence of a fight, it is something we can access intentionally even in the midst of pressure and struggle.

I have two new videos for you today. They are very short (I respect your time). Please check them out and have a great day!

Is Someone Undermining Your Influence?

I am concerned that a lot of influencers lose their platform of trust by not following through on their promises. It's kind of like shooting yourself in the foot when you don't mean what you say.

Can the people in your life really trust you? Do your spouse, kids, and friends believe you when you talk to them?

Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. Don't leave room for confusion. When you say something, mean it, and follow through.

Remember what the Centurion in Luke 7 said? It was amazing enough that it impressed Jesus!

For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Luke 7:8

When the people under your care trust you, it makes it much easier for them to follow your instructions.

Sticking to your word means that you will need to take a moment to think before you speak. Don't let words and promises just fly out of your mouth, or your promises will be empty.

Empty words are a sure way to undermine your influence. Make a choice today to strengthen your influence by being a person of your word.

Find out more about my newly released book  here.

Find out more about my newly released book here.

Don't Spew on the Ones You Love

I bet that if you had a stomach virus, you would never intentionally walk up to your loved ones and puke in their faces. Gross! Who would ever do that to anyone, much less than to the people who really matter to them.

Reasonable people try to stay away from others when they're sick. They do it out of mercy and kindness. They stay away until they are well, and no longer contagious. If the sickness doesn't seem to be passing, they get to a doctor to do their best to resolve the situation. Being sick is no fun for the one who is sick or for the rest of the family.

Why is it that we let emotional issues go unsorted for years and years? When the emotional pain buttons in our lives get pushed, the fallout hurts the people around us at least as much it hurts us.

You know the secret areas of pain that you keep hidden and hope that no one ever finds out about? I have news for you, people may not know the specifics, but they certainly feel the painful symptoms.

If you aren't willing to get healthy for your sake, at least do the hard work of getting yourself sorted out for the sake of the people you love. You really don't want people around you to feel like they have to spend their whole lives walking on eggshells.

Don't delay. Get the help you need. Make an appointment with a counselor or reach out to get with a mature, trusted mentor.

Action point: I recommend you follow Danny Silk - Loving on Purpose and considering joining a small group with The Ultimate Journey.

If you don't deal with your issues, everyone around you will have to.


Keep up your creativity with the July News from Fireflies Aglow!

How the Hunger Games affected my Family Trip to D.C.

Our family started family vacation off with a bang. Before school was officially over, I had my older kids take their finals early, so we could hit the road. We had to get to Chattanooga for a 3 day series of meetings, and nothing could hold us back.

We left home on a Monday morning and drove half-way to Chattanooga. We stayed the night at a Drury Inn & Suites in Mt. Vernon, IL. The hotel was brand new and had the perfect set up for a family of our size. We got a room with two separate areas with two beds and a sofa bed. Not only was a hot breakfast included, but they also included a hot dinner!

Day 2: After eating delicious waffles, we hit the road. We had to drive through Nashville, so we made a stop to meet our newest nephew, Mason, and to visit our niece Jocelyn, and sister-in-law Elicia. 

Judah Olson & Mason Goff #cousins

Judah Olson & Mason Goff #cousins

We made it to Chattanooga just in time for Christopher and Judah to get to their 9pm sound check. The meetings would start the next morning.

Day 3, 4, & 5: We had three wonderful days of ministering to Teen Challenge Chattanooga staff and students. This was our 11th and final year doing this series of meetings. The executive director, Roger Helle, will be handing over the reigns of the ministry at the end of this year, so this time was like a big final party.

This year the meetings started off strong right from the start. There didn't seem to be as big of a wall to break through with the students as there had been other years. They were ready to worship and receive right from the start. There were numerous physical and emotional healings. For a play by play of the meetings, you can check out Heartland's twitter at @heartlandankeny.

Judah and Christopher #fatherandson

Judah and Christopher #fatherandson

Day 6: We took off for our longest stretch of driving. We drove from Chattanooga directly to the heart of our nation's capital. We parked our van on the street right between the Lincoln memorial and the Roosevelt memorial.

The structure that the monument sits in is possibly even more impressive than the statue itself. The ornate ceiling is so very high, and the columns are huge.

The structure that the monument sits in is possibly even more impressive than the statue itself. The ornate ceiling is so very high, and the columns are huge.

I was so excited! I had been dreaming for years about taking a family trip to DC before the kids leave home. Judah will be a junior this fall, so it seemed like the right time.

My mom had warned me that visiting DC = a whole lot of walking. Boy! Was she right. We must've walked a minimum of 3 miles a day, each day we were there. Now, three miles isn't really that much, but when it's really hot and you're dragging four kids around, it feels like a whole lot. We had a lot of pop up memories from our 3 months of life in the big city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The sidewalks are definitely cleaner in D.C. 

Judah, Zoe, and Christopher during our long walk to see the monuments.

Judah, Zoe, and Christopher during our long walk to see the monuments.

I also have been having really bad pain in my left foot from tarsal tunnel issues. I'm scheduled to have surgery to fix the problem on June 28th. I was determined not to let the pain stop me from this long planned for trip. It definitely slowed me down, but I just kept pressing forward.

Besides visiting 4 monuments, we went to:

  1. Smithsonian Air & Space Museum
  2. Smithsonian Castle
  3. Spy Museum
  4. Pentagon

We could've gone to museums and historical buildings there every day for a month and still not have seen everything.

Day 9: Exhausted, we drove to my parents' home in Newark, OH. The area they live in is very scenic and peaceful. We spent a couple of days resting and visiting with friends.

Christopher, Zoe, and Elijah with Sophia and Olivia Canamar #family4life

Christopher, Zoe, and Elijah with Sophia and Olivia Canamar #family4life

We finally made it home on Day 11. The whole family was thrilled to get back to Iowa.

What this has to do with the Hunger Games you ask.....

Somehow I had it in my head that the closer we got to the capital, the roads, signs, and buildings would be nicer. I think I got that idea from watching the Hunger Games! The boys and I had just re-watched the movies. (We skipped a couple of the ridiculously violent scenes. I just can't bear to watch a couple parts.)

In reality, our nation's capital wasn't fancy or gaudy at all, though I did see some VERY oddly dressed people there. I did not see one bit of opulence, but I did see a whole lot of interesting historical sites.

After driving through 11 states, I learned that Iowa is a really nice place. No wonder people are moving to Ankeny in droves.

I hope that you will be able to travel somewhere this summer too. A change of scenery does something for your imagination and vision.

To get a free copy of the prologue to my soon to be released book Diary of a Missionary Kid: Filled with Strategy to Unlock Your Destiny, click here. If you are already on my email list and would like a copy, you can request one by emailing me at emailme@bethlolson.com.

I Want to Be a Tree Part 3

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He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,

Which yields its fruit in its season

And its leaf does not wither;

And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:3

I love trees, but I’m not a tree hugger in the environmental sense. Trees are a poetic inspiration for me. I love to look at them in pictures and in real life.

One of my spiritual daughters has heard me talk about my love for trees so many times, that she has started to tease me about it. She suggests that when I die, I should be cremated and planted with a young tree so that I can physically become a tree!

Consider Psalm 1:3.

  • He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Firmly planted makes me think that someone took the care to plan where the tree was placed. Being close to streams means that the tree’s root system has underground access to life giving water.
  • Which yields its fruit in season At the right time fruit happens. The tree doesn’t have to strain to produce fruit.
  • And its leaf does not wither; Because this tree is planted in fertile soil and in a strategic location, it stays healthy all the way to its tips.
  • And in whatever he does, he prospers. The person whose life is rooted like this tree will have success in whatever he does. Everything he touches will prosper.

Take time to consider your root system today. Ask Holy Spirit if there is any gardening He wants to do in your life. He knows exactly which nutrients and which environment you need so that you can stand firmly planted.

click here to receive your weekly dose of peace by email

click here to visit my spiritual daughter's blog

You've Got Mail

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There are two questions I can be sure my husband will ask me every day: #1 Has anyone checked the mail yet?

#2 Is there any chocolate in the house?

I generally have a confused feeling when he asks me these questions, because neither thought is naturally on my radar.

#1 Sorting through mail feels like a chore to me, so I tend to put off checking the mail.

#2 Chocolate is not very high on my list of favorites. Carbs are my weakness.

Today I want to focus on question #1.

Why does Christopher have such an interest in the mail.....

I decided to ask him about it. His reasons were:

  • maybe we will get an unexpected card
  • maybe we will get an unexpected gift
  • maybe a package that we forgot we ordered will arrive

All of his reasons had to do with the hope of getting a fun surprise!

This reminded me of one of the ways that Christopher and I are opposites.

I like to plan and check things off my list. I tend to live in task mode.  I really don't care for surprises, even good ones.

Christopher likes a plan too, but a good surprise puts a big smile on his face!

Overall I think that his tendency to expect something good to come to us is a much more joyful way to live than my tendency to view all mail as work.

Can you picture how excited he would be if someone sent him a surprise gift of chocolate:

IN THE MAIL!

Maybe there is someone in your life that you could send an old school surprise to this week. Even a scrap of paper with a few encouraging words written on it would make sorting the mail a little more fun.

click here to receive your weekly dose of peace by email

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Help Me Name My Book

On my recent trip to Cuba I spent many hours traveling the countryside on a bus. There were moments where I sat gazing peacefully at the scenery outside. There were moments where I gave in to exhaustion and fell asleep. There were also many moments of wonderful conversation with the other team members sitting around me. In one of the moments of swapping stories, my friend Kristi pointed out that I had a lot of unusual stories to tell. Honestly, my stories are my stories, and they have always just felt normal to me. The longer we talked I started to realize that my life has not been an ordinary one.

I decided to write a book. I have poured out my heart and soul onto the written page. I am in the final stages of editing, and now I need YOUR help.

Would you please help me name my book.

Click below to vote on your favorite title:

Click here to Vote

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The Story Behind Harry and Larry

My daughter Zoe wrote a book a couple months ago. She is ten years old. Knock me over with a feather! I knew she was a bit addicted to typing on her computer, but when she told me she had written a whole book I was quite surprised. Having a creative child is really exciting, but it can also be a lot of work. When my daughter told me her news I could not just sit back and say, “Oh, that’s nice, Zoe.”

What’s a mom to do? I had to take action.

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Get Your Copy Now

While Zoe’s story was very fun and well thought out, it needed a lot of editing to be put into book format.

I started off by editing the book myself.  I spent several hours over several days on this part.

Next I passed the manuscript on to my dad for proofreading. I asked my mom, who is a self-published author a few times over, to help me format the text into the correct page sizes.

Zoe drew a picture for the book cover.  She had very definite ideas about the way she wanted it to look.  Next, my spiritual daughter Ashley went to the drawing board to give the canaries the animated personality that Zoe envisioned.

Overall the process of turning a manuscript into a real book turned out to be a wonderful collaboration with family.

What fun!

Don’t let your dreams just be dreams.

Do your homework and make your ideas come to life!

 Click here to visit Zoe's Blog

Click here to visit our Children's Creativity site Fireflies Aglow

Click here to visit Ashley's Blog

 

It's a Bad Moment When You Wreck Both of Your Vehicles at the Same Time

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I have no idea how I can drive through a messy snowstorm and make it home unscathed, only to wreck both of my vehicles in my own driveway a couple days later when the weather is totally fine.
I do have a few lame excuses for how it happened:
  1. Our car had been at the mechanic shop for a couple days and I got very used to it being gone,
  2. I was in a hurry to get all the kids and all of our stuff into the van and to church on time,
  3. It was pitch dark outside so when I glanced at the driveway all I saw was black,
  4. Normally on Wednesday nights Christopher would have taken the car and headed to church by this time, but he was in Brazil preaching in a bunch of different churches.
None of these excuses make what happened much easier to bear. The fact of the matter is I just plain forgot that the car was in the driveway. I put my van into reverse, slowly backed up, and crunch! I paused. I was puzzled.  What in the world was that? Crap, oh yeah. 
Judah and I both got out of the van and looked around, but it was so dark out that we couldn't really tell how much damage had been done. We got back into the van and headed to church.
The fact of the matter is no matter how much damage was done it just wasn't worth losing my peace. I knew it was an important moment for my kids too. They needed to see mom not freak out over something that was clearly not a fun situation.
It may cost money to have the vehicles repaired, but money is just money. God provides what we need, and we use what He provides to take care of our needs.
Of course I would prefer not to spend money on repairing both of my vehicles, but hey, it is what it is.
The fact that this is the third time in my life that I have backed into a parked car should be laughable. I may not be laughing at it yet, but I am choosing to let it go.
Life is too short to stress over things that are not a matter of life and death.
Word to the wise: don't park your car behind me!

Cuba Update

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I had a wonderful time on my trip to Cuba. This was my second visit to the island, and it was everything I expected it to be and more. The first time I went I felt such joy the moment I stepped off the plane and into the immigrations area of the airport. It is like there is something in the atmosphere in Cuba that my spirit connects with.

As I spent time walking along the ocean and riding a bus throughout the island my spirit came alive more and more. The only way I can explain it is to say that the airways feel different there.

Each time I have gone to Cuba I have returned with fresh clarity and vision for my life and my family. It is amazing what getting away to a different location can do for your focus.

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One of the very best parts of my most recent trip was that I was able to take a few people with me. I absolutely loved seeing my team members come alive as God stirred up old and new things in their hearts.

One of the greatest joys of my life is to see people prosper in their souls. I love to see them living life to the fullest. Life is too short to sit back and wait for something interesting to happen.

We have to happen to life!

If you have ever considered going on a mission's trip, please do it!

Here are some links for ministries that you can join up with in your adventure:

Leanne Goff Ministries

Heartland Breakthrough to the Nations

Randy Clark Global Awakening

 

"Just Pray I Don't Die"

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It was the first day back to school after Christmas break. The kids were dragging. As I dropped my son off at his school I said, "Elijah, remember that the kingdom of God is in your hands. You have power in your hands."

I know my son, and I could tell that he internalized what I said and was in agreement.

Then, as he got out of the car he said, "Just pray I don't die."

What the heck?! Why is that phrase even a part of his vocabulary.

Now, he was not worried about school shootings. He was simply referring to the drudgery of math class!

"God help me to just make it through this boring class one more time."

Two mindsets were crashing against each other in his head: the possibilities of going on a supernatural adventure and the process of living the everyday mundane.

This battle in the mind happens to us all. The struggle is real. The question is which line of thought are we going to choose to run with?

Many times over the years I have had to remind myself of who I really am in the midst of the mundane.

Running errands is not one of my favorite things to do by far. I much prefer to be at home. I have developed a habit while driving around town of praying and reminding myself that I am not a mere human. Even my presence in a public place, my smile, or a kind word holds power to shift the atmosphere wherever I go.

Here is a song I sometimes listen to in the car as I am headed out:  Supernatural by Mark Snider

When we give our lives to Christ and Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us we are not just normal humans anymore. The trick is to get your mind wrapped around that concept. Let's believe and grow in this together!

 

What if You Were to Become a Celebrity...

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Social media seems to be a free for all where you can sling slander however much you like. I read a tweet by Candace Cameron Bure the other day where she asked people to please send encouraging comments and tweets to her.  She mentioned that she was getting an onslaught of mean reactions, and that it was really discouraging.

Imagine being a public figure and having everyone pick apart your clothing style choices for your big event right where you and God and everyone else can read it.

Imagine having to never get online because you never know what horrible thing someone spewed about you and trying to stay positive in the midst of all that is too overwhelming.

Imagine truly trying to make a difference in the world and having people from all areas of society picking you to pieces.

Imagine accidentally becoming famous and having the whole world scrutinize your children every moment of every day.

Well known people are still people:

They are real.  

They have real spouses.

They have real children.

They have real feelings.

Spreading gossip and rumors about a well-known person is still wrong. Being famous does not make someone a fair target. Be kind, rewind....or better yet think before you speak.

You might just become well known yourself one day.....

Please comment which boundaries would you set to protect yourself and your family if you suddenly became famous?