Chronicling 40: Day 82 of 365

bodyoumom

Last night, I sat in on my first Board of Directors meeting with YouMoms.org.   I’m very excited to be serving this organization, and my home town.  Let’s walk through a time line of events….

I met Jenny Andrews, through volunteering with Authentic Intimacy a few years ago.  Through that encounter, she learned about my ministry the Women’s Ministry Council.  She’s become a vital participant in that ministry and brought with her Aimee Nelson to some of the meetings.  Aimee would also become a gift to my ministry work.

Aimee asked me to pray about serving on the Board of her ministry YouMoms.org .  In all honestly, I just wasn’t sure.  I don’t live in that city any more, how valuable would I be to the organization? Yes, I have gifts of administration but I don’t have any connections in that community any more.  Would I be taking up a seat that would be better filled by someone else?

It was during this time that I began attending Branding over Lunch events with Personal Branding Coach, Faith James (FaithJames.com); which eventually led me to her all day seminar.  Prior to the seminar, we were given a survey to complete so that we had a better view of our brand (company, ministry, organization).  As I progressed through the assessment I stopped cold in my tracks at these two questions:

Do you take an active role in a professional organization (e.g. sit on a board, volunteer)?

Do you actively participate in a philanthropic organization?

I wrote down Aimee’s name, and “YouMoms.org” with a big question mark.  Was this an affirmation from the Lord, that this was something He wanted me to do?  I came home that afternoon, pondering that thought… praying over it.  By the time the weekend was over, a text came in from Aimee and she brought it up again.

All of this to say, that as I look back … I can see the finger prints of God all over the place.  Positioning people, connecting people, building relationships.  I think of Esther who spent all that time preparing to be presented to the King, how crazy that must have seemed to her.  But, all of that preparation was in order to get the favor before King, to then become Queen, to then be in the position to address the King.  There were many things that prepared her for “such a time as this”.

You may find yourself in a season that doesn’t seem to make any sense.   Consider, that you may be in the preparation phrase.  And, your “such a time as this” is yet to come.  Then lean into God, praying over this time period, opening your heart to the preparation before the calling, or before the blessing.

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Chronicling 40: Day 44 of 365

sprite

I experienced a moment today, that reminded me of the story of the woman who gave two mites:

Luke 21:1-4 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God,[a] but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

I ran to the store today to pick up some things for our family, and I had a set budget. I decided whatever I didn’t spend on our needs, I’d put into grabbing supplies for Hurricane Harvey relief and drop off with D-DEY Response Group.

As I was standing there amazed at all that was collected, a man rode up in the rain on his bike. From a small cinch sack he pulled out a 12 pack of sprite, it was the only thing in there and protected from the rain. He was there but just a minute. Then off on his way.

I am fairly certain that this man gave what he had purchase for himself.  Riding home with his purchase, he saw a need greater than his own.

Lord that we could all give so generously.

Chronicling 40: Day 30 of 365

letterfire

This picture serves as a reminder for me, it represents hurt and release.  It also reminds me to be proactive about protecting my own heart and mind.

It represents hurt, because it contains papers filled with things that cut deeply, probably one of the most hurtful moments of my life.

It represents release, because I knew that if I kept it around… I’d keep reading it.  Any forgiveness or progress toward reconciliation would be thwarted by these words lingering about.

Which is also why it reminds me to be proactive about protecting my heart and mind.  I need to discard anything that steals my peace, that makes me question my value, that causes me pain.

I can no longer read the words that are on those pages, burning away.  I can’t replay them in my mind.  I can’t dwell on them.  I have cast them away from me.

You might ask why keep the picture, doesn’t it bring up negative feelings?

On the contrary, it brings me so much peace knowing that I have the strength to let go and move on.

Chronicling 40: Day 28 of 365

100points

This is a picture of my to-do list.  This list is not for my whole life, but the ministry in which I work.  Some items are crossed off, I continually add items to it.  I imagine a 114 point to do list probably seems daunting, particularly when I already shared that I still regularly add to it.

So why is my to-do list so long, and will I ever finish it?

There are goals in life that are finite.   Set a goal to travel to England, accomplish the steps to get to that goal, and viola… it’s done.  Finished.  Toss the list away and move on.

There are goals in life that are infinite, meaning always in motion.  Set a goal to build a corporate empire?  I hate to bear the news, but there will never be a day where you sit back and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.  Even if there is no where left to grow, there is always maintenance and fine tuning.  You may have a staff that does 75% of the work for you, but 25% of your efforts are still in strategy mode.

An infinite goal is going to have a growing to-do list.

I also choose to not write out broad term goals, but instead action steps to get to that goal.   Which means a single goal could have multiple actions steps listed to get from point A to point B.

I keep this list, and add to it for two reasons…

  1.  It has the complete vision of my goal.  Everything I want to do, need to do… now and in the future.  Some things may take years to get crossed out, others mere minutes.  You might even question why bother writing it down if I can knock it out quickly.  The answer is point 2.
  2. It is a measurable accounting of my time, efforts, and successes.  I not only see what needs to be done, but what has been done.  When I feel like things are moving slowly, I am reassured when I can look back on all that has been done.  When I look through the list of crossed off items, I can see where and how I spent my time.  It becomes almost a business journal of bullet points to reflect on.  I know what tactics I have tried, and what I haven’t.  I can review what worked and what didn’t.  I am looking at my work in a full view of past, present, and future.

Don’t just make a quick list of goals.  Break it down into real actionable steps.

Don’t throw away completed lists.  Keep them, this is the documented evolution of your dreams and goals!

Chronicling 40: Day 27 of 365

I really wish these were better pictures, sorry Faith!  However this was too great a meeting not to share.  Faith had no idea as she was speaking to us about branding, that she was going to have such a major impact on my activities for today.

 

For those who don’t know Faith James, she is a Branding Expert… with incredible credentials.  I’ve been attending her lunch workshops as our ministry has entered it’s next phase, which includes national expansion.

A few workshops ago, we were instructed to score our brand based on her index.  I turned this index into a to-do list, which has grown quite a bit.  One of the things in the index was to volunteer to serve on the board of an organization.  Well, I checked that off and will be serving officially on the board for YouMom, a ministry that serves women facing unplanned pregnancy.

Yesterday, at the lunch, Faith was extraordinary as always.  But, there were a few key points that was so important to the work in store for me today.

  1.  Everything you put out into the world needs to reflect the core of your brand.
  2.  It must be consistent and clear.  It is our job to make sure our clients get it.
  3.  Articulate the why behind your brand, as well as why you are the right choice.

But also, she shared her heart.  How much she enjoys what she does, serving others, helping others.

Today, I was with the founder of YouMom serving the ministry by helping launch a new website, full of content, pictures, etc.  It was such a joy to work with Aimee today, and help her vision come to life.  To take the knowledge that Faith was gifting me yesterday and pass it on to Aimee’s ministry is beautiful.  When we do not hold on to our gifts and talents but instead share them; we get to watch it reach further than we could ever imagine!

So, there I was today… basking in the joy of helping others with my gifts and talents… which were fined tuned by Faith’s wisdom and experience.

That, is a good day.

I say all of this not to toot my own horn… but for two important reasons…

  1.  Thankfulness.  I am thankful beyond measure for God’s intersection of my path and Faith.
  2.  Affirmation.  Those who gift of their hearts, skills, and treasure don’t always get to see how it is used.  I want Faith to know that her investment in me is not wasted, but fruitful.

I encourage those of you who have someone investing in your life, helping you to bear fruit…

Do not just give a passing thanks, but instead show them the fruit of their labor.  Let them see what they have sewn into fertile soil.  Let them know that you have not hoarded their gift for yourself, but graciously shared it with the world, investing into others.

This brings to mind the parable of the talents.  Do not bury in the ground that which you can multiply.  Use your gifts, share your talents, and spread the wealth that is love, compassion, encouragement, and equipping!

Chronicling 40: Day 26 of 365

fly

I have always felt called to equipping women to lead, and lead well.  Early on there were those who thought I would become a teacher, but to me that wasn’t exactly the right fit.  I spend my days working in a ministry that focuses on equipping women to be more effective leaders in ministry.

Can I tell you how hard that can be, in a time where women have been told they can be anything BUT a ministry leader.  (I’m not even talking about being a Pastor, which is another conversation for another day).  I’ve sat in rooms with women who can’t even teach or lead other women through a Bible study.  Once, I was speaking with a Pastor about utilizing the women in his church more and help take some of the burden off the shoulders of the staff.  He replied to me:  “The best thing a woman in my church can do to help me is to take care of her husband and children.”

As if women are incapable of doing more than one thing at a time, or that their family will suffer from their ministry leadership.  It was truly heartbreaking.  Not all men are this way, not all Pastors are this way.  But I have been quite shocked as to how many are, and that it is not limited to a particular denomination, age, or region.

Not that long ago, women were told that they couldn’t.  Couldn’t go to college.  Couldn’t be a doctor.  Couldn’t hold a job once they were married.

In the late 90’s I worked with a young woman from Haiti.  She was one of my most dependable employees.  Always on time, always willing to stay late to get work done.  Never an error in her work, but she moved a little slower than the rest of the world.  She was precise and methodical.  On a few occasions, based on conversations, I began to wonder if perhaps she had some sort of disability.  Even if there was, she was overcoming it and doing a great job.

I remember speaking to her about entering our training program to move up to an hourly manager.  The look on her face, was total shock.  I told her that I’d be happy to supervise her through the program, even though it meant I’d lose one of my best.  She was dumbfounded.  As we talked about it, I realized something about this sweet woman…

No one had ever told her that she could.

Not just that she could become a manager, but that she could become anything.  Her life was destined to work in our building until she got married (it was an arranged marriage).  After marriage, she would have children and be a housewife.  That was her future.

No one had ever told her that she had a choice.

She had never even been given the chance to consider the possibilities that life could offer her.  That she didn’t have to move from her parents’ home to her husband’s home.  That she didn’t have to  bear children right away, or at all.  That she could not only choose to work for as long as she wanted, but she could also rise in the workplace.

When I see women who try to lead in the church turned away, I see her face.

These beautiful, gifted, women that have so much to offer the church cast aside for no other reason than that they are female.  I have seen the defeat in their eyes, heard the disappointment in their voice, when they finally give up trying to fulfill the calling God placed on their lives.  They have no energy left to fight the battle, they are weary of praying for change that never comes.  They diminish into the back row of pews.

A friend was sharing with me a story about her own church.  There was a woman who was a CFO (chief financial officer) for a fortune 500 company who volunteered to serve on the church finance committee.  She was turned down because she was a woman.  Despite her degree, her position, and years of experience… she was disqualified simply for being a woman.  The church felt only men should serve in that capacity.

I can’t wrap my head around that.

So, when you hear me speak up boldly in support of women being encouraged and equipped… this is why.

Someone needs to speak into the void, shine light on this issue.  The gifts and talents of women are beyond domesticated chores.  The Proverbs 31 Woman is the one most touted about… yes her husband and children call her blessed.  Yes, she tends to her household.

She also made goods with her hands that she sold to merchants.  Then took her earnings and bought a vineyard.

I’m thinking there is a lot more to her than volunteering in the nursery, greeting people at the door, making the coffee, and setting out the bagels and donuts.

Chronicling 40: Day 25 of 365

hands

I’m twenty five days into writing, and I must confess something.  I really wondered if I would have anything worth saying 365 days in a row.  My life is not that incredibly exciting and I don’t really consider myself that insightful.  However it looks like 2017 is not slowing down… and Charlottesville has proven to be a striking moment.

I see eyes opening for the first time.

I see people who are facing that racism still exists, and exists to such an extreme extent… when for a very long time they have been trying to convince themselves it didn’t.

We can no longer say “that doesn’t happen today”.  It did, on Saturday.  Torches burning… only the pitchforks were missing. 

We can no longer say “that doesn’t happen here”.  It did, on a major college campus.  It wasn’t in some small town in the middle of nowhere.  Someone died.  Many were injured.

We can’t say “things have changed for the better”.  It hasn’t.  This time they were not afraid and came out from under hoods and robes. 

We can’t say “not my child”.  Not when a parent writes a public letter denouncing his son, whom he raised in the church to treat people equally.

The beauty in these ashes are those who are not longer quiet, the voices who are rising up, the ears who are willing to listen, and the stand that many are taking in the face of hate.

My friend Aimee said on the phone this evening, “Love must win.”

We know it did, on the cross.  We know there is victory over sin, even this ugly sin set before us.  But that doesn’t keep us from crying out, “Jesus come.”