Are You Looking For Excuses Or Solutions (We Find What We Search For)

Excuses are like pennies you find on the floor. Easy to spot and pretty much anywhere, but not really helpful in the grand scheme of things. 

In the stressful world we live in there is always a reason not to do something. Just read any self-care quote or article and you are given permission, even encouraged, to not push yourself. Not get overwhelmed. It’s ok to relax. 

And, yes, it is good to relax. And self-care is important. But it’s easy to use those phrases to justify giving up too soon, not trying one more time, or hiding away from your problems while renaming it a sabbatical. 

It is often in the middle of the hardest times where the best ideas or motivation form if you are willing to be open to it and actually look for it. 

And if I seem harsh today, just know I’m looking at myself in the mirror while I type. 

I have made finding excuses an artform. But I was raised with a better example than that. Let me tell you about my father; Olie Suis. 

His entire life, along with that of my mom) is worthy of an entire book. One I should have already written, if not for the excuses I’ve made along the way. But I want to focus on two seemingly insignificant moments in time that I’m hoping will drive my point home. 

My father had diabetes and due to complications, he lost his right leg above the knee. Now that’s a devastating loss at any age, but he was already in the later years of his life. This could have been a sign for him to slow down, and practice some self-care. But that wasn’t quite his way. 

His first obstacle was driving. He had a small Ford truck that he used to get around town. He didn’t travel far at that age, but he did enjoy the short trip into town or visiting with fellow farmers in the area. 

But it’s hard to press the gas without a right foot. So my dad could have given up driving. He could have told his friends there would be no more visits and sent me or my mom to run his errands. 

But he didn’t say “I can’t drive without a leg”; he asked instead, “How can I drive without a leg?” 

And the answer was his cane. Now I will go on record as saying this was probably not the safest idea he ever had. I never said my dad wasn’t stubborn or a risk taker. But he did look for solutions. And his solution was to use his cane to press the gas pedal. 

And thankfully he never got caught or caused any damage to himself or others. But he did continue to drive for as long as he could. His independence and freedom (and stubbornness) were important to him. He found a way. 

Then he lost his left leg about the knee. To be sure now he would just give up. Who would expect a double amputee senior citizen to do much of anything, right? Except he expected a lot from himself. 

So every morning, after breakfast he would put on both artificial legs and go out to the barn or the field or the garden and find something to do. 

Then my roof needed fixing. And we could have hired someone to do it. Because my dad could have easily said “I can’t get on the roof with two artificial legs.” Instead, he asked, “How can I get on the roof with artificial legs?” 

And the answer was to carefully climb up the ladder and just do it. There are days when I don’t think I can take one more ‘weary’ step and then I picture him up there, alone, fixing my roof. 

He never looked for excuses, he only looked for solutions. 

I’ve grown soft over the years. From too much convenience. Probably from too much self-care. Shoot, I actually had my groceries delivered yesterday for the first time in my life. In my defense, I had a coupon and I was sick, but still. What would my parents think of that? Most likely that I’d lost my good sense and cents. 

I am 100% sure many of us over-extend ourselves. With family. WIth work. Even with social commitments. It is ok to say no sometimes. 

But it takes discipline and honesty to tell the difference between using an excuse to get out of accomplishing something and looking for a solution to get it done even if it’s hard. 

Because the bottom line is, you can get away with doing less. If you want. You can excuse your life away. But what do you have to show for it? What legacy are you leaving for those behind you? 

I’m not suggesting you do something dangerous or reckless. And I know some days it takes all our strength just to get the basics done. 

But I do believe we find what we are looking for. Search is a verb. It requires action, imagination, and intuition. If we diligently look for ways to make our lives better, complete our tasks, and pursue our goals, we will find ways. 

If we are looking for excuses they are a dime a dozen of pennies on the floor. 

What are you willing to search for? What are you willing to risk? 

What great invention or solution or life hack is just around the corner because YOU didn’t give up? 

What am I able to accomplish if I stop making excuses? 

What kind of world could we live in if we all learned to: 

Hope WIth Abandon

Hope Out

Is Your Phone A Third Wheel In Your Relationship?

Have you ever gone out with a couple friend? Just to avoid going somewhere alone? 

I have. My best friend and her boyfriend have let me tag along numerous times. Graciously too I might add. 

And even though I know I’m welcomed, I still feel like a third wheel some of the time. 

Two is a nice round even number. It’s intimate. It’s connected. And an outside influence can sometimes interrupt the flow. 

Enter your cell phone. 

Yes, I know it’s important. MasterCard was ahead of its time with their “Don’t leave home without it” ad. Not that we need to be reminded to take our phones. 

You don’t turn around and go back to work or home for a drink left on the counter, or a light left on in the hallway, BUT a cell phone left on the bed THAT’S cause for an illegal u-turn and a race against time to retrieve it. 

It has become our lifeline to the world. And I get it. I carry mine with me too. But for the purpose of this article, I want to talk about the right ways and the wrong ways to use your phone in a relationship. 

It can work for you, and unfortunately, if you are not careful, it can work against you. And you don’t want to wake up and discover your phone is the third wheel in the relationship that has gone off track.

The 3 Don'ts For Cell Phone Use In Your Relationship

1. Don't Use It To Stalk Your Partner

Your partner has gone to pick up dinner. And left their phone on the table.

Don't do it! I know you want to. I know it is so tempting just to take a peek. But don't.

It's crazy when you think about it, but so many of us put our entire lives on a machine that can not only crash or be lost but can easily be accessed.

But even within the confines of a relationship, there is still an expectation of privacy when it comes to our phones. Every couple is different, and I'm not suggesting you make everything surrounding your phone secretive (that's coming up later), but if you have to look at their phone when they are not around, then it's wrong.

First of all, without the proper context, innocent things can look sketchy. And just the thought that you need to look at all says one of two things: You already suspect something. Or, there is something in your past that you brought into this relationship.

If you truly can't trust your partner, then you need to re-evaluate why you want to be together. And if you are bringing yesterday's trash to today's buffet, you need to do the work to let it go.

And even though you tell yourself it will help build trust every time you look and don't find anything, it can easily turn into an addiction and a vicious cycle. You will find yourself needing a 'trust fix' that will one day catch up with you and most likely backfire and burn the relationship.

2. Don't Use It For Inappropriate Behavior

I don't feel called to judge what anyone does on their own time, but I just have one thing to say:

Whatever goes in the cloud, stays in the cloud.

I just watched a documentary on a guy who started a website dedicated to revenge porn. Simply put, it was a place where heartbroken or resentful exs could post private pictures once intended to be 'just for fun'.

A lot of personal and even professional damage can be done if your private, intimate times are on display for the world to see.

And I understand there are apps that promise security and encryption, but just don't say you weren't warned. It's a very risky thing.

3. Don't Use It As A Distraction From Problems

How often do you go out and see a couple eating a nice meal with both of their heads buried in their phones? How romantic is that? Zero!

Do you sit on the couch at night each scrolling and scrolling mindlessly and end the evening with no meaningful conversation?

Cultivating a relationship means working through difficult times or a difference of opinion. And yes, that's hard. And for those of you who were never taught conflict resolution skills, avoidance becomes the favored option.

You can't fight if you're watching Instagram reels, right? Well, you might not fight, but you won't grow either.

Relationships require responsibility and commitment. When an issue pops up, meet it head one. Be kind. Listen. Talk it out.

Don't hide behind your phone thinking the problem will go away. It won't.

But your partner might.

The 3 Dos For Cell Phone Use In A Relationship

1. Do Turn It Off On Date Night

There should be an agreement from the beginning that phones are turned off on date night. No interruptions from the outside world.

No notifications popping up in the middle of a conversation.

No random text about your prescription pick up to spoil the mood.

Just turn it off.

Now, I get it. Sometimes people need to be reached. Family issues might come up. A babysitter might need to reach out. So be fair and reasonable.

But do your best to reserve date night as a time just for the two of you. To reconnect. Remember why you love each other. Share your dreams and plans for the future.

THEN download the app to track all those dreams and plans when the date is over.

2. Do Be Open About Other Contacts

So I mentioned above that it's not cool to go through your partner's phone. But here's the thing:

Don't do anything to make them doubt you.

Don't ALWAYS have your phone on silent. Don't walk away from them when it rings. Don't turn it over and pretend you didn't just hear the text tone.

And don't have 2 Moms and 3 BFFs in your contacts.

Sure, you might have been a player in the day. And we all have someone in our past that pops up randomly to say high, ask for money, or even beg for another chance. You can't help who contacts you, but you can be open with your partner.

If someone is contacting you and you feel the need to lie or hide it, then your relationship is not being built on trust and is probably not very stable.

3. Do Use It For Its Intended Purpose

Communication! Today our cell phones are micro-computers that can run almost every aspect of our lives. But its primary function was intended to be a source of communication.

And that's what relationships thrive on.

Call your partner. Text them good morning. Or good night. Send funny memes. Use it to stay in contact and let them know how special they are to you.

And answer when they reach out to you. There is no time for cat and mouse games where you wait for ten minutes or 24 hours, or pretend you are too busy to answer. That's childish and mean.

If you can't take their call or answer their text, respond when you can. Don't leave them hanging just to make them miss you more.

And on the flip side, just because someone doesn't answer your text in five minutes doesn't mean something is wrong with the relationship or that they are on the phone talking with someone else. Things come up. Work. Traffic. Family.

Yes, phones can provide immediate contact, but life doesn't always allow for it. Don't freak out every time. Don't sound desperate and needy for attention.

Communication is easier now than it ever was. So utilize this tool to strengthen and establish your relationship.

No One Likes Being The Third Wheel

People have been falling in love and making commitments for centuries. Long before online dating apps, text messages, and TikTok.

In the right context, your phone can be a helpful tool in keeping your relationship fresh and growing.

But never forget it is not a substitute for YOU.

My Hopefuls, human interaction is harder to come by these days. We can do everything online and mostly without looking each other in the eye.

Let's not lose our humanity for the sake of convenience.

And always remember to:

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out

Build Your Boat And They Will Come (AKA Noah's Field of Rain)

So today's blog is a collaboration between Noah's Ark and Field Of Dreams. 

One is a true story and the other is a pretty good movie. But they both share a similar theme that we can use as motivation and encouragement. 

Kevin Costner's character in Field of Dreams was a corn farmer. He is troubled by regret over the strained relationship he had with his late father; who was an avid baseball fan. 

Through a series of events, he was compelled to turn his cornfield into a baseball field. The mantra of the movie was 'if you build it, they will come'. 

So he set about to build a baseball field before any baseball players showed up. He believed in his cause and had faith in the right outcome. 

And not to give away the spoiler, they did come. 

Noah's predicament was a little more serious. His life and those of his family depended on him getting it right. 

Now, I'll be honest, I'm not a geographical or Bible historian, but from everything I've read and heard, Noah pretty much started his mini-wooden titanic without a body of water in sight. There was no boat launch nearby. And he certainly didn't have a truck and fifth wheel trailer to haul it to the lake. 

But God told him to build a boat. Told him how to build it, the materials to use, the size. He provided everything except the water. To begin with. 

Now we know how the story ends, but at the first swing of the hammer, Noah did not. Neither did his nosey neighbors. This wasn't a small backyard project he could keep to himself. This was a huge undertaking. And everyone for miles around heard about crazy Noah and his boat with nothing to float on. 

And honestly his family probably gave him a hard time too, at least occasionally. He had to cancel date nights. He missed a few ball games. Forgot to take out the trash. He was laser focused on this task that God had told him would be the only thing to save his family and the animals. 

So what's my not-so-subtle point?

Whatever you want to build. Build it! 

You don't have to have all the answers. You don't have to know the end result. You don't need the approval of those around you. 

If you believe in your dream or cause, have faith and build your boat or ball field. 

I struggle with this very thing almost daily. I want to take Hope Boulevard to the next level, but I'm not even sure what that level is. I doubt my influence. I fear rejection. Or even worse; silence. 

But my dreams, our dreams, are not coming to us until we prepare for them. 

You don't buy furniture for your new house and place it on the empty lot. You build the home first.  

You don't just show up on the last day of class and take the exam. You have to study, research, prepare. 

And that's the hard stuff most of us don't want to do. 

Sure, we want a baseball stadium with cheering fans and a winning ball team. 

We want the status of hero, master boat architect and rescuer of every single animal. 

But what sacrifices are we willing to make? 

The ridicule of others? The financial investment? Sleepless nights? Anxiety? The ever present whispering of "is it all worth it"? 

And truly only you can answer that question. But I dare say if you are even reading this, then you believe it is worth it. And you, like me, seek encouragement and motivation to take one more step in the right direction. 

So this blog is my one step. My home base.  Another board on my boat deck. 

Because I'm just crazy enough to believe that if I build my boat, the rain will come. 

Are you? 

If you are, then we all need to just:

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out

Stay On The Wall - A Lesson In Distractions

Full Disclosure:

This is my loose interpretation of a sermon I heard. (So no plagiarism intended.) But a good lesson overall. 

Have you ever had a good intention? Maybe even a plan. You were so going to DO this. Whatever THIS was. And then out of nowhere, you feel like Dori in Finding Nemo and your attention is pulled in a dozen different directions. 

If you didn't get that movie reference, you are missing out!

So let me tell you about this guy in the Old Testament named Nehemiah. 

Now don't go all glazy eyes on me. The Bible is full of some pretty cool, flawed, dedicated, crazy and wonderful people. 

So this Nehemiah guy was a pretty normal dude. Nothing flashy. No great outwardly skills. He didn't walk on water or kill a giant. 

In fact, his life was pretty expendable. He was the cupbearer for the king. Which meant he had to take a drink of every glass before the king did. Just to make sure it wasn't poisoned. 

How does one explain that on a resume??

Anyway, Nehemiah's hometown people (The Jews) had been exiled, but were released to go home. Only their home had pretty much been destroyed and the walls around the city were torn down. 

Nehemiah felt really bad about that. He wasn't a leader or a priest, but he wanted to help. And he knew he could help build the wall back. 

So he did a scary thing and asked the king for some time off. The vacation plan for a cupbearer was not that great. In face, the benefits package was pretty slim anyway. Mostly death benefits. 

Anyway, God moved the heart of the king and he granted him the time to go build the wall. 

Sounds simple enough, right? 

Well not everyone was in favor of that wall being built. And that's where the distractions came in. One delay after another. People forming Facebook groups to oppose. TikTok videos protesting. Zoning issues. 

Even a group of so-called friends who tried to lure him off the wall to talk about the progress, but they really wanted to stall the process. 

It would have been easy for him to give up. Or decide to take a break. I'm sure there were days when coming off that wall sounded great. 

But he didn't. He chose to stay on the wall. To finish what he started. To do what he felt was the right thing to do. Despite the distractions. 

So let me ask you this. 

What is your wall? 

What do you feel strongly that you need to do? How can you make a difference? It doesn't have to be as large as a fortress around a city. It can be helping one person. Or fulfilling a dream. Or completing a goal. 

And you have to know, that as soon as you truly commit to your 'wall', the distractions will come. 

Things and people and circumstances will try to stop you. Now, you still have to be responsible and reliable. You can't forsake the rest of your life for one cause. But you can learn to limit the distractions. 

Turn off the phone (or the ringer). 

Limit the mindless activities that waste your time. 

Don't take on so many extra curricular obligations.

Learn the power of saying no. Without excuses. 

Don't be influenced by so-called friends who don't truly believe in you or your 'wall'. 

My Hopefuls, walls are not built in a day. They take dedication and preserverance. And you can't keep coming down!

I believe in you. In your abilities. In the drive to do something meaningful. You don't have to be powerful or famous or rich to make a difference. Even ordinary people like us can make an impact. 

You just have to STAY ON THE WALL!

And always

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out


Permission To Forgive Yourself Mom - A Mother's Day Gift To You

What do you want/need for Mother's Day?

Flowers are sweet. Dinners are special. Cards and calls are endearing.

A day at the spa, or the lake, or in bed (or fill in the blank for wherever you want to spend your day) is refreshing.

But my gift for you on this Mother’s Day is not tangible, frame-able, or even hash-tag-able.

It is, however, priceless. It can also be difficult, because it’s a gift you have to give yourself, and some of us are truly bad at that concept.

I'm talking about the gift of forgiving yourself. 

Do you know what I’m guilty of? Scrolling through social media and comparing my life to someone else. What? You mean, you don’t?? Well, good for you. (Even if I don’t quite believe that.)

I compare my social life. I compare my relationship (or lack thereof). I compare my contentment/happiness. I sometimes even compare my struggles.

And before you judge me too harshly, you know what many of you do? 

Compare your parenting style/skill/scorecard with the ‘other moms’ out there. And if you do that too long doubts will begin to form and guilt will soon follow.

You will start to ask; “Are my kids happy?” “Do I do enough with my kids?” “Should I enroll them in this/that/the other?” “Do they stay inside too much?” “Do they stay outside too much?” “What do they think of me?” “How can I buy them that outfit/phone/game that everyone else has?”

Stop already!

Are you a perfect parent? Probably not. Are the people you compare yourself to the perfect parent? No to that as well.

Here’s the truth. We make mistakes with our kids. I did. I did when they were small children and I still do today even though they are adults. I made the wrong choice. I was selfish at times. I just simply had no idea what to do in some cases. And that’s ok. Because I know I did the best I could, with what I had at the time.

And that’s really the key. Children are not fragile pieces of china that will break under the slightest of pressure. They are tough. They are resilient. They bounce back. And up. And down. Bouncing is literally something they do best.

The biggest thing your child needs to know is that they are safe with you, you have their back, and you love them unconditionally. The other highs and lows they work through.

Now, it is true, that kids will often push back. They will rebel, complain, pressure, use guilt tactics, and play one parent against the other. They are human, after all, and they want their way. They will be upset and angry with things that happen. It is ok for them to have those feelings.

What’s not ok is for you to take on the weight of all those feelings. If you specifically know of a mistake you made, and you feel it is important to own up to that, tell your child. It is a learning tool for when they have to admit when they are wrong and it will build trust because they will know you are being fair.

They will forgive you if you are sincere with them. You then have to learn to forgive yourself.                    

You are not responsible for every little thing that happens in their life. And you are not obligated to provide them with the life someone else photoshops onto social media or splashes across Tik-Tok.

You are only required to love completely and do the best you can.

Parenting is not a competition. Either with your neighbor or your partner. It’s a marathon that starts with the first cry and doesn’t end until your last breath.

Enjoy all the moments. The big ones and the little ones.

Celebrate the victories. Comfort each other in the losses.

And most of all: Forgive Yourself.

For being human. For being imperfect. For learning as you go.

I learned so many things from my mom, even though I didn't always agree or follow her advice. I have tried to teach and be an example to my daughters, even though they haven't always agreed or followed my advice. 

Consistency and communication are vital. Acceptance fits right in there too. 

My Hopeful Moms, it is my goal for you today to give yourself a break. Not just a physical one, but an emotional one.

Don't judge your life by someone else's Facebook cover. 

Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Believe in yourself. 

And have a:

Happy Mother's Day

And always...

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out 

Are You Looking For Excuses Or Solutions (We Find What We Search For)

Excuses are like pennies you find on the floor. Easy to spot and pretty much anywhere, but not really helpful in the grand scheme of things....