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 22 of 365

laund

In my most wonderful of dreams… I’d have a basement laundry room.  On the one side would be a bank of washers, on the other side a bank of driers.  There would be a rack for hanging clothes on a third wall, with small baskets on the ground for tossing in folded paired socks.  Then down the middle would be a long folding station.

In other words I would like a laundromat in my house.  Not because I have a fondness for coin operated laundry centers, but because I absolutely LOATHE laundry.  Unless you are a family of nudists it is the one chore that is never done.  Someone is always wearing something.  There is always a rogue sock under the bed or behind a door.

Back to school not only means I will see an increase in laundry, but also means that there is an expectation that I will have all the things washed on some sort of schedule.

But I hate it.  I truly do.  This is the chore I would give up easily to anyone in the house, and yet it seems to be the one that evades being assigned away. Over the years I have tried many ways to get my head in check.

I read the books that told me to find joy in the laundry as it is a blessing to have a washing machine in the first place.  I gave the “pray for the person whose laundry you are folding as you fold it” perspective check.  I washed all one one day, I dedicated to doing a load a day.

But nope… it is 19 years into marriage… and I still loathe it.  My heart has not changed.  I dream of a financial windfall that allows me to throw away every article in the house buying all new clothing.  I’ve looked into the cost of dropping the loads off at a full service laundromat, or at least certain things at the local dry cleaner.  I’ve kept the total number of pieces of clothing small, which meant I had to wash more frequently and the clothes wore out faster. I’ve expanded the wardrobe, which did result in the clothes not wearing out as fast… but it is so easy to get behind on laundry.

I’ve climbed Mount Saint Laundry.  I have the bumper sticker.  The view isn’t pretty.

My eldest starting washing her own laundry.  Let’s bask in that for a moment.

Hold on, I’m not done basking.

But there are still 4 people that I’m washing for.  Le’sigh.

Once, I purposely waited until I had a free day to do all the wash.  A full catch up.  My plan was to fold it all, then call the family into my room.  I wanted them to witness the magnitude of the laundry chore.  I also wanted them to see the small percentage of laundry that was actually mine.

My husband, bless him, thought he was being helpful and had the kids put all of their laundry away while I ran out to the store.

There was no satisfaction that day.  None.  No one got to see the glory of Mount Saint Laundry chiseled away into the neatly defined piles of softly folded clothes.

I’ve been able to bring myself to try it again.  #NotTodayMountSaintLaundry

Why don’t you turn your pants inside out?

Stop leaving crayons in your pockets!

What do you mean you need this shirt TODAY?

Oh, these stiff necked people!  No matter how many times I ask them to follow my laundry statues, their heads are turned!

So grateful that the Lord has a greater love for me than I do this laundry that is always there to be dealt with.  So grateful that the Lord has more patience and grace than I offer up to the people I serve in my home.

I am tackling Mount Saint Laundry, but the Lord is tackling Mount Sin.

Washing us, making us clean.

I’ve smudged that bright white new shirt.

I’ve torn in sorrow at the covering He knit.

Lord, forgive me for my own stiff necked ways.

Chronicling 40: Day 19 of 365

Last night, I watched this video and it really got me thinking.  (Particularly the first 2/3 of the video).

Definitely as part of my 40’s I find myself reflecting on my life, my circle of friends, and what is important to me.  How am I spending my personal time, and even where I am willing to pull time away from my family.

I think we are aware of the dangers of toxic friendships and relationships.  But, I found her perspective on ambivalent friendships very interesting.  I don’t think there is a single person who doesn’t understand there is a hierarchy to our relationships.  We have our “besties” and then our “tribe”.  These are words we hear a lot more of today, but even with new titles the relationships are the same.  This is the couple of people whom we consider our best friends, and then the core group of people that make up our closest friends.  Then we have friends and acquaintances, which range from people we consider friends but are not sharing every detail of our lives with, and those who were interact with occasionally.

I wonder in that hierarchy where the ambivalent friends fall.  Is this somewhere between acquaintance and friend, or friend and tribe?

I like how the gal in the video broke it down when she identified the way we feel about when they call.  Or, the question that she suggested as the litmus “are you every doubting if they are happy for you”.  I think these are great suggestions, but possible not the only things we could ask.

Is this person understanding of my life circumstances?

Does she care about me, or does she care about advising me?

Does she really listen to hear me, or does she listen to respond?

Has she proven to be respectful of my boundaries, or does she cross at will?

Does she have my best interest at heart?

Is she honest with me because she loves me, or is she honest with me because she is looking to tear me down?

There was a point she made in the video about how she does have friends that she can call and pitch business ideas to and will get honest feedback.  But, she knows those are not the friends who are going to be excited for her.  Confession, I know that can be me.  My brain naturally goes into business mode, and my intentions are to help the person think through their opportunity fully.  I would hope that my friends would know this about me, and understand that I mean it with good intentions.  Not everyone does, and this is why it is important to know who our friends are.  Just as much as I recognize I may not be the first one they are going to call to share their exciting news.   I’m ok with that.  We can have friends, besties even, who fulfill different roles in our lives.

That is why I think we have to look at the larger scope, and ask multiple questions.  But I do think this video opened my eyes to a feeling about friendships that I had no considered, ambivalence.

ambivalence

When we have a litmus of questions we ask, instead of depending on the answer to just one question, we can see more clearly.  One question alone isn’t going to be enough to determine if this was just a one time issue or a pattern of behavior.

But, if we are constantly gauging whether or not this person cares about us, or questioning their intentions, we have to ask if this is an ambivalent friendship.  We very clearly know who is for us, supporting us, because their overall actions show us that they care.  We also very clearly know who isn’t for us, because they have a pattern of behavior that isn’t healthy or helpful.  But ambivalent friends are dangerous because they steal our time, joy, and energy; because we never know where we stand with them.

Do you really enjoy spending time with me, or are you hear to exercise authority over me?  Am I hear just because I am someone who is available?  Am I a project you are working on?  Are you trying to change me?  Do you care about my well being?

Not that long ago, I met someone for lunch.  At the end of the lunch she made a very passive aggressive statement to me.  I caught it immediately, but was in shock that she said such a thing to me.  When I got home, I replayed the days conversation and realized this wasn’t the first time… she made little jabs during our lunch date.  Then some things said at previous lunch dates came to mind.  This is a pattern for her.

I couldn’t help but wonder, if she doesn’t like me (or if I bother her, annoy her, etc) then why does she call me in the first place?  Why does she even have lunch with me?  And then of course I had to ask myself why would I want to continue to put myself in that position, now that her patterns were clear to me.

Once your eyes are open, you begin to notice a lot of things.  I reflected on previous lunch dates where this woman would answer phone calls from other friends.  I questioned myself, how important of a friend am I to her that she interrupts our conversation to take a call that she knows can wait?  Yes, that is a more superficial question but it led me to ask deeper ones.  If she would make a passive aggressive comment to me when she knows I am in a vulnerable place, how important am I to her?

Patterns will reveal more about a person than just one question will answer.   But, this one question from the video definitely led me down a trail to really evaluate friendships that I have and what I want for the future.

Chronicling 40: Day 17 of 365

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2017 Collaboration Piece… painted by myself and my 10 year old daughter. 

Make art with your children.  I beg of you, do this.  You will not regret it.

Maybe you are not artistically inclined, if so… there are options for you.  There are those Sip & Paint style studios were you are directed on how to paint any number of subjects and styles.  Some are even classes designed for 2 people, where you each paint half of the finished product.  There are ceramic studios where you can paint precast ceramic pieces… work independently on a series that goes together or contribute equally to a larger piece.

Make art.  Make it often.  Display it proudly.

For several years, I’ve worked on art projects with my kids.  Most are hung up in my house, but some have been given as gifts to family members.  It brings me such joy to walk by these pieces that my kids have contributed to.

The picture at the top, that is part of this year’s project.  That was a collaborative piece with my 10 year old daughter.  Next week, my 14 year old and I begin our piece, seahorses.  We are working on a series, that will be hung in my house.  My 18 year old and I still need to figure out our piece.

If you were to come to my house, you would see a lot of art on the walls.  Almost like living in a gallery.  What you won’t know right away is that almost every single piece (minus 2 in the living room, and 2 in the bathroom) are made by members of our family.  I love being surrounded by the creative styles of my family members (on both my side of the family, and my husband’s side).

But, I am sure you are wondering how to do so in a way in which it flows with your decorating style… and that my friends is simply answered by controlled creativity.

art1
This was the family project from 3 years ago.

What do I mean by controlled creativity?  I mean that we approach every project with a plan.  Since the kids know it is for the house, they expect it is going to be coastal/beach/sealife related.  So, we discuss what each one wants to paint before we even begin.  I layout the color palette (pre-mixing if need be), give suggestions and guidance along the way.  This isn’t just about creating the final product, but also about teaching them color theory to technique.  We talk about how colors work together.  We talk about the rules, and then sometimes we break them.  It’s a lesson on patience, and a process.

I also allow them to complete a more personal project in the process.  This can be anything they want, and it will end up in their bedroom or they can gift it away.  It allows them to express their own sense of creativity beyond the project for the house.

I’m not just creating art, I’m creating memories.  I’m also encouraging their creativity, confidence, and sense of style.  I’m spending hours with my kids on a focused project, from concept to execution.  I love every second of it… even when the paint spills… and she wipes her messy hand on her brand new shirt.

I also help them break the bonds of perfection.  We embrace the oops… as Bob Ross would say, they are just happy little accidents.

Create with your kids, you will not regret it.

Chronicling 40: Day 16 of 365

JEglutenWe spend so much time talking about what we put into our bodies that we tend to forget about what we are putting on our bodies.

Have you ever wondered if those things you are allergic to are ingredients in some of your favorite skin care products.  I haven’t.

I’m supposed to minimize my exposure to gluten.  It’s not so much that I’m allergic to gluten, but I am mildly reactive to a protein that accompanies gluten.  If I avoid gluten, I avoid that protein.  It’s the simplest way for me to minimize my exposure.  As much as I have paid attention to what I was eating, I hadn’t put much thought into the products I used on my body.

One product line that I have been loyal to using for years, it turns out is gluten free.  I didn’t think we had skin care products on the market that contained gluten.  Which means all the months of being gluten free in my diet may have meant diddly squat because I was still exposing myself to gluten.  So, when I realized these products were gluten free… I was relieved.

All of this to say… when you have an allergy to food items, you may want to make sure that those are not ingredients in other things you are using in or on your body.

Make sure your vitamins and pills are gluten free.

Bath and body products should also be gluten free.

Flavorings (such as vanilla) that you use in baking, should be gluten free too.

Think beyond the plate.