Monthly Archives: December 2011

Ending Well

2012 is upon us. Ready or not, in a few short hours, a new year will dawn. So will many resolutions and attempts at living life a little differently.

As a coach, I work with clients on goals year round, not just on January 1st. It is by far the best job on the planet. I am only a little biased. If you do have a new years resolution in mind, here are a few insights to help you achieve your goals and dreams:

1. Think habit, not practice. When you turn an occasional practice into an everyday habit, you will meet your goals. One step in front of the other finishes the marathon.

2. When your habit falls off the kitchen counter or onto gym floor, don’t lose hope. Tomorrow is a new day. And January 2nd works as well as January 1st.

3.  Enlist others to help you. Independence is great on July 4th. Not so much on January 1st.

4. And perfectionism isn’t very helpful on any day of the year, so lose this old enemy immediately.

5. Set short-term goals within your long-term goals. Rome wasn’t, nor were your old habits, built in a day.

6. Reward yourself along the way. Starvation diets never work unless your end goal is death.

7. Just get started…most goals don’t make it past the pen and paper phase. What is one thing you can do right now to make one of your goals for 2012 a reality?

8. End well. One of my goals for 2011 was to write more. I am ending well since it is December 31st at 8:40pm and I am writing my last blog for the year. It feels great to end well. I have no doubt you will end well, too.

Speaking of writing, I am working on a book project with my coach, friend, and business partner, Cheryl Scanlan ( If you have missed reading my blogs of recent (I would like to think this is the case!!), I have been busy writing, just not here! I cannot wait to share the fruit of our labors in the near future.

Thank you for reading this blog in 2011. I hope to continue to provide you with coaching insights, devotionals, book reviews, and resources in 2012. And as always, if there is anything you would like me to blog about, please let me know!!

Happy New Year!

Ending well,




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Merry Christmas from the Branch Family 2011

Dear family, friends, and precious blog readers,

2011 has been a year of transition for us. The word God gave us for the year was SIMPLIFY. We have gone from full living to living fully. It has been an adventure to say the least. We have learned a lot about each other and God, taken steps we never thought we would, and have unloaded a lot of stuff!

As we have lived intentionally, we have also discovered that the most important things in life, relationships and our health, are the two things that we really truly need. The rest is just gravy. Or tinsel. Or meringue. It adds to our life, but without the proper foundation in place, it is useless. Think about it…if you don’t have a Christmas tree, what use is tinsel? Meringue without pie? Gravy without potatoes? You get the picture.

So as 2012 approaches, I offer you a challenge. Don’t enter into the next year of your life on cruise control. Be intentional and ask God what He has for you in 2012. We are still praying and seeking that for ourselves this Christmas season. It may be a word, a phrase, or even a picture that He gives you. I would love to hear from you if you take this challenge. Here’s to the next adventure!

Love, peace, and joy to you this Christmas! Here are a couple of pictures of the most important things:


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I have a dear friend who is hurting because of someone else’s choices. I cried and prayed with her today, but I feel helpless. Her pain resonates in my being. As my friend questions the worth of her very own life, my heart aches.

I want to take the pain away. To make it right.

But, I can’t. And that hurts, too.

Because I like to figure things out, this is humbling. When I figure things out, my will is strengthened. I become more independent.

Less dependent on Him.

Choices. They have the power to give and to take life. To build up or to knock down. To create a smile or provoke a tear.

Often times, we are the recipient of someone else’s choices. Children of divorce, at age 3 or 23. The family of the victim of a drunk driver. A child’s innocence ripped away by a pedophile. The spouse of someone who chooses to betray his or her vows. The innocent who don’t have voices to protect themselves.

So many choices and so many questions. All too often these days, I don’t have the answers. And though it makes me feel helpless, I don’t feel hopeless.

I am learning that when I seek the answers, I don’t find them. Yet, when I seek Him, the answers find me. This is new and awkward for me. Most of my prayers lately have been answered with “wait and see” or “it’s not time yet”.

I am beginning to find that He is answering my prayer as I started out 2011…more of You, less of me.

This resonates with my soul, too. And my heart aches for more of Him.

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Longing to Let Go

Another day has fallen off the calendar and Christmas keeps creeping up on us. The light of this crisp winter day fades and turns into an even colder night. As I sit in my warm and spacious home, I have so much to be thankful for. Yet, I long for so much more.

Not necessarily material things. I learned a long time ago that money will never make me happy.

Things that money can’t buy. Like peace, hope, and justice. Love, passion, and desire.

Sometimes instead of acquiring more, letting go is the best way to get more…more peace, hope, and justice.

And once you let go, you have the appropriate currency to acquire more love, passion, and desire.

What or who are you holding on to that is causing you to have anxiety, lose hope, and feel like a victim?

What is it costing you to hold on?

What would it look like to let go?

I am letting go, friend. And it feels like all those things that money can’t buy.


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An Epic Battle for Life

A battle of epic proportions. For life. Abundantly so.

Diesel and dust. Tobacco harvest and family. A tractor rumbling in the near distance. A toy left behind in the sand between the barns.

Curious. Stubborn. Determined.

A mass of steel and rubber rounding the corner. Suddenly upon flesh and bones. It all happens so fast. Blindingly so. A little girl, blonde and blue, trapped between sand and rubber.

Life in the balance – a battle of epic proportions.

A two and a half-year old versus eternity…

Bones broken. Flesh bruised and tattooed by a tractor tire. Family wailing.

But, 10,000 angels cheering. Their wings make the sweetest sound. Even now I can hear them.

My mother’s love. Cradled in her arms. Her not knowing if she would ever see me walk or run again. Her not knowing.

The smell of death not far away – a battle of epic proportions.

But the snarl of the lion on a leash was quieted by the One who holds the keys of life and death and by 10,000 angel wings that day.

Rushed to the ER and x-rays and tests ordered. A 5 day hospital stay. Learning to crawl and walk again with my family’s help. The pain obvious, but the will power greater. I think I can, I think I can.

A lifetime of healing. Grace.

Curious. Stubborn. Determined.

When  you’ve faced death so intimately, life takes on new meaning. To walk is special. To run is a gift.

Even though I have no physical memory of this September day over 3 decades ago, God has allowed me to see that it was not my time. He chose life for me on this day. He was between me and the massive tractor wheel holding back the unbearable weight.

As I write this tonight, my heart aches for a mother who lost her son this week. He was run over by a car. I don’t know her, but she went to school with my husband. Every time I hear of someone getting run over, especially a child, I am reminded of my own encounter. I could have had the same fate. I have a three-year old son. She did, too.

I don’t understand why God chose for me to live and for him not to. I weep for that mom tonight. I cannot imagine the weight of her unbearable pain and grief.

I don’t have the answers. I can’t even begin to understand God’s hand. I don’t know His plans for tomorrow.

I mean who survives getting run over by a 2,000 pound tractor?

I wouldn’t even know what to say to this mom who is grieving her son. I would probably hold her hand and weep with her.

It doesn’t even begin to make sense to me. The solace I can have is that it is okay for me to not know. To not have the answers. It is okay for me to weep and dance in the unknown with my God who knows all.

My God is big enough for that.

We don’t always get second chances. We can’t turn back the hands of time.

What are you waiting for? Who do you want to forgive or who do you want to say ‘I love you’ to? Don’t wait until it’s too late.



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Until about two years ago, I had no idea what Advent meant. I wasn’t versed in Christianise as a child and to be honest, didn’t pay much attention to some of the rituals that surround Christmas in most Christian churches. I observed the lighting of the Advent candles for the 4 Sundays preceding the birthday of Jesus Christ for years. But, it didn’t mean anything to me until I had children of my own and had to explain it to them…here is what I would have said 2 years ago before I figured out what the Advent season means:

Did you chuckle?? I did…out loud. I have no shame in my ignorance, only shame in staying that way.

I now realize that Advent, which is a Latin word that means “coming”, is a season of preparing my heart for the birth of Christ. Before, it meant watching 4 candles being lit on 4 different Sundays. What changed? Me. I took some responsibility for my own belief system and figured out what I professed to believe in.

What are you doing to prepare your heart for the Christmas celebration that culminates in the birth of Christ? Maybe this video will help you decide what’s the next best step for you:

For me, I am doing less and just being still more. It does not come naturally for me. Shopping is done and most are wrapped. We are going through an Advent calendar with the kids. A dear friend recommended it and we started it tonight. Here is the link: But most of all, I am enjoying the Advent season through the blue eyes of two children who want to know more about Jesus and why we celebrate His birth. That is the best gift I will get this season and I will unwrap it daily for the next 4 weeks. Grateful.

Here is a link to Ann Voskamp’s version of an Advent celebration:

Whatever your Advent season looks like, may you be filled with peace and joy in the days before we celebrate the birth of Christ.



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