When I first moved into my new LifeLines office space not quite a year ago, I gave you a look “behind the screen.” At that time I had nothing hanging on the walls—I was still enjoying the blank canvas of clean, fresh paint.

Throughout the year, I’ve gradually allowed the paint to become a backdrop for other sources of inspiration, and I thought LifeLines readers might appreciate an update:

inspiring - view
I still love my green walls, and I find that my view out the window is more inspiring than distracting.
inspiring - exploring
The wall I look at most often is now covered with this piece I found in a furniture store. The painted beach is textured with actual stones and sand, and I love the three-dimensional effect. The scene reminds me of family vacations in Florida, where I spent long childhood days exploring and discovering and learning from my grandparents.
inspiring - family
To my right are these smaller framed works, including a series of poems I wrote as a child. My young sister illustrated them and my proud grandmother had them framed. Of course, they are not terribly impressive writings, but I kept them after my grandmother and grandfather died because it meant so much to me that they meant so much to her.
inspiring - tragedy
Behind me, where I can’t see them all the time, are these photographs from 9/11/01. For no particular reason, I was deeply impacted by this national tragedy. I had never been to New York City, and I suffered no personal loss during those days, but I was intrigued by our national response and the national mood—immediately and in the months following. There are things about those days that I never want to forget.
inspiring - art
I have just begun filling this wall with masterpieces from people who are an inspiring part of my everyday life: a woman from my church who used to teach art, a neighbor who was willing to part with “Heart to Heart,” my young niece who seems to have some natural talent, and my mother who refuses to believe she is talented and will probably be annoyed that I’ve included her work on my wall as well as in my blog. All of these people teach me something different about art and work and talent and inspiration. I like having them behind me.

I also like having some room on my walls for new inspirations. The thing about inspiration is, it fades. We get used to it, and then we become immune to it. We need a fresh inspiring from time to time. But the new inspirations don’t have to replace the old ones. Instead, those old relics can be polished and brightened and given new meaning as we carry them into the present and build on them for the future.


My neighbor is trying
to convert me

feet_150My neighbor is trying to convert me. She wants me to go walking with her. At the park she likes to go to. At the times when she’s available.

She’s told me how much she loves walking there. She testifies about how good she feels when she walks. In fact, she wasn’t always a walker, but she was saved from a sedentary, nutrition-less existence. She didn’t realize how much better life could be when you’re healthy and active and out in the sunshine and fresh breezes.

Walking has changed her life, and she wants it to change mine too. She’s trying to convert me.

But I don’t want to be converted

I don’t feel the need. In fact, I’ve told my neighbor that I already walk. I walk at least once a day. I’ve been walking for years, all over the place. I walk around the neighborhood. I walk to the store. I take the stairs instead of the elevator. I park away from the door so I will have farther to walk. I walk alone, I walk my dog, I walk with friends and family. Walking is already a lifestyle for me. And I’m pretty happy with it. I don’t really need to add another walk—her walk—to my life. I’m not trying to make excuses, but walking at her time and place would really be kind of inconvenient for me.

Is she really concerned about me?

She says she’s concerned about my health, though she’s never asked if I’m healthy or not. She’s so excited about her message that she’s unable to really hear me or see me or get to know me. “You should walk—it’s so good to be out in the fresh air!” —she tells me this while I’ve stopped to chat with her on my way home after tennis (in the fresh air). She can see my rackets slung over my shoulder. But when she nods at them and asks, “You play tennis?” her interest feels insincere. “That’s good,” she says, and then she segues into the spiel I’ve heard before: “I like to walk—have you ever walked the trail over at the park? You should. It’s really good for you. It’s so good to be out in the fresh air!…” I listen for a while, and nod, and smile, and agree. But the next time I see her, I think about hiding. I don’t want to be cornered and preached to.

Enthusiasm and evangelism

Now, I can’t really fault my neighbor for being enthusiastic. I’m glad she’s seen the light and found the way. I’m glad her life has been transformed, and I wouldn’t want her to keep that good news to herself. Good news is for sharing!

And I do believe that on some level she does care about me. She wants what’s best for me, and that’s nice. I appreciate that.

Still, somewhere in my interactions with her is a lesson for Christians and churches and how we practice evangelism. Don’t ya think?



An appeal for Independence [Day]

Independence Day

Almost exactly 10 years ago, I was asked to write a fundraising appeal for a foundation that was raising money for healthcare for seniors. And they wanted this appeal to arrive in American donors’ homes around July 4, Independence Day.

It was an interesting request, and, frankly, I thought I did a nice job of tying together the ask with the theme of the upcoming holiday. See if you agree:

IndependenceDear Friend and Partner,

I’m thinking of Independence Day in a different way this year. The thought first came to me when I saw the words “Independent Living” on some of our organization’s ministry materials. “Independent Living.” That’s what we’re about. Not just independence, but also dignity, purpose, and real freedom.

Isn’t that what our forefathers were fighting for? True, they probably weren’t thinking of defending their right to live in a Christian retirement community, but that’s part of the beauty of their sacrifice — we have a lot of rights today that they never realized they were fighting for!

The word “independence” is meaningful on a lot of different levels, particularly around July 4. Originally, Americans wanted independence from tyranny, from unfairness, from oppressive authorities. But having won our war, we learned that independence is not just freedom from something; it’s freedom to. Freedom to make our own decisions. Freedom to grow. Freedom to worship. Freedom to help others.

James H. Douglas, once governor of Vermont, said, “Our forbears worked hard this difficult land, and their reward was the freedom and independence of self-sufficiency.” I like that. “Independence of selfsufficiency” implies a certain dignity and empowerment. And maybe that’s what brought the ideas of Independence Day and Independent Living together so powerfully for me. I believe this ministry brings freedom and independence to people who might not otherwise have it.

The tyrants that threaten independence today are not kings and nations, but high costs and limited resources. We stretch our resources as far as they will go, but I fear they will not go far enough.

Will you join the battle? Will you add your resources to ours, so that our fathers and grandfathers can continue to enjoy independent living?

Happy Independence Day,


Unknown appeal

Now, to be honest, I have no idea how effective this appeal was. The client did not supply me with any measured results.

But I still like the wording.

If you do too, maybe consider LifeLines to help with your next fundraising campaign.

In the meantime, Happy Fourth!

Revisiting Why (do I) blog?

why blog

why blogAlthough I first posted this blog five years ago, I believe it remains true and relevant today. If you’re still not sure what a “blog” is, this blog’s for you!

Why (do I) blog?

originally published October 20, 2010

Many of you who subscribe to this LifeLines blog are rather new to blogging. You’re not sure what “blogs” are, or why you need them, or how to engage with them. So when I saw this video in a social media class, I thought, “Cool. I want to share this with my subscribers.” (The good people at Common Craft put together this video—and they gave me permission to use it here. Check out the other “in plain English” videos they’ve created to explain a variety of topics!)

Helping you share your story

The tagline for my blog (and my business) is “helping you share your story.” Those five words are what this blog is all about. My story is that I help other people share their stories—in books, on business cards, through fundraising letters, on their own blogs or websites, however that story-telling will be most appropriate and most effective. Throughout the process, I’m both discovering and living out my part in God’s larger story.

As this little video says, there are millions of stories to share. And many of them are worth sharing! But people often need help with the sharing.

I like being in a position where I can provide that help.

What do you think? Did this little video help? Which questions did it answer for you? Which questions remain unanswered?