Chronicling 40: The Bookshelf

eau de parfum

One thing about being sick is that you have plenty of time in bed to read.  Which allowed me to catch up on the pile that has been building.  If you are a voracious reader like me, you know the perils of the “too read pile”.  Too many books, too little time.  In full disclosure, these books were sent to me for the purpose of reading and reviewing, and while I received the books gratis this did not affect my opinions or review.

BecomingAWelcomingChurch

 

Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom S. Rainer

This is a short, but poignant read… which is right up my alley.  I’ve read some articles by Rainer on this topic before, so I knew what I was walking into with this book.  The first chapter title says it all “Are We as Welcoming as We Think We Are?”   It is really easy to lose sight of the visitor in a church where everyone knows how things are done, what certain terms mean, and who everyone is.

If we want to be a welcoming church, we can’t just consider the people who walk in our doors already.  Yes we want to make sure they continue to feel welcome in their church home, but we must not forget about our guests.  The person who is trying to navigate around our campus, or the non-believer who is hearing the Gospel for the first time.  Rainer does a great job of pointing out that friendly and welcoming are not the same thing, and also a matter of perception.  A long term member is going to see things very differently than the person viewing the church from fresh eyes.

Walking us through various points to consider… from signage to website information… Rainer helps us to shift ourselves into the mind of those we are trying to reach, and ends the book with a chapter of practical application.  I would recommend this book to church leaders, ministry leaders, organization leaders, as well as church plants.

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TheDreamOfYou

 

The Dream of You by Jo Saxton

So let me tell you a little bit about my book keeping habits.  I am VERY gentle with my books.  I don’t break spines, or fold over covers.  I am don’t dog ear corners, nor shove them carelessly in bags.  I will only write in a book if it is an AMAZING book.  Knowing this about me, the wear on the cover of this book should tell you immediately how I feel about this book.

This book took me a bit to get through.  It was tough.  I had to look some things square in the face.  Lies I have believed about myself, moments where I wondered if what I was doing was of any value or worth, confusion about God’s calling on my life, etc.  This book landed in my lap during a season of exhaustion where I wondered if I had any fight left in me.  Why?  Because my ministry work isn’t easy, isn’t always valued or appreciated, and there are times I have felt taken for granted.  This book was like a hot cup of coffee on a day when I was dragging.  I needed to read these words, they restored energy, and pointed me back to what was important.

It matters not what anyone things of me or my gifting.  What matters is that I am a daughter of the King, who has been gifted a calling, and I trust in His provision and guidance as I walk obediently in it.  It led to a sit down with my husband, a phone call that started a ministry partnership, and the Lord removed my doubt and grounded me in His promises.

I would recommend this book to anyone, male or female… leader or member.

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CourageousWomenOfTheBible

 

Courageous Women of the Bible by Latan Roland Murphy

This was a great book for follow The Dream of You with because it took real women from the Scriptures to inspire courage and purpose.  We see the parallels between the women of Biblical times and today.  Murphy illustrates how courage advances us into opportunities that God has appointed for us.  What I also really loved about this was how she helps us find our courage by identifying the source of it… which is obedience and trust/faith in God who is ordering our steps.

We learn from these women, how their past foraged the courage that led to their futures.  Which serves as a prompting to our hearts that indeed our story is not over, and there is a good work being done in us.  Helping us to rely on the power of God over the difficulty of our circumstances.  The final chapter of the book includes journal prompts to help explore these stories deeper and apply them to our lives.

I would recommend this book for personal growth and self discovery, for your Women’s Ministry, Bible Studies, or as a gift to any woman in your life.

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BookOfMistakes

 

The Book of Mistakes by Skip Prichard

I was actually really excited to get this book and really disappointed by it.  However, this could be a case of it being a matter of preference.  The lessons that Prichard wants to teach through this book were woven into a fictional story format.  As I began reading, I found that to be a turn off.  Don’t get me wrong, I love reading fiction.  I just don’t like my fiction mixed in with self improvement books.  It was really hard for me to enjoy the book, and honestly I found myself skipping forward to get to the big points.

I agree with every point Prichard makes in this book about the mistakes that we make and how they impact our success.  My problem was that none of his lessons were anything new or earth shattering, everything was something I had heard before.  I pretty much drew the conclusion that this was a book that gathered well known points and packaged them in a new way.  In that case, the style may actually appeal to a different kind of reader… the ones who don’t enjoy self improvement books.  Maybe Prichard was gearing for a particular audience, a new audience… and I’m just not that person.

Overall, I just can’t recommend this book.  I don’t think it is offering anything you couldn’t glean from an afternoon googling terms like “how to be a successful” or “mistakes to avoid for success”.

 

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Chronicling 40: Heaping Ashes

HeapingAshes.png

One of the hardest things I have had to deal with in ministry was not a conflict, but instead the talk after the conflict was over.  I’m not minimizing that conflict itself is hard, because it is.  However when you are in conflict with another person there is a lot you can do.  You can pray that God would convict their heart… and your own.  You can forgive what needs to be forgiven, and repent when you need to repent and seek forgiveness.  You can work to rebuild the relationship, you learn from your mistakes, there is growth.

There are occasions where others were present for the conflict directly, or brought into it indirectly… and it is very hard to reign in the talk that can come from it.   Even when we have done our best to keep people out of the conflict, those who can sense the tension may make assumptions to fill in the gaps… and they don’t always keep those assumptions to themselves.

Several years ago there was a large conflict that I was a part of.  It took time, but we all came to terms with what happened.  There was forgiveness and reconciliation.  It was a beautiful thing to see relationships being repaired and restored.  Two years later, after all the dust had settled, someone came to me because there was gossip being spread about me.  First, I want to say that I appreciate the fact the person told me… but even more so that when the person began to gossip in front of her she shut it down quickly.  She made sure the person and those who were listening understood that she didn’t know all of the fact, had no business speaking about it with anyone.

THESE KINDS OF FRIENDS ARE GIFTS FROM GOD!

She came to me, because she felt that I should know that this issue was still being discussed by people… what was said about me specifically… and how she handled it.

I was far more hurt by those who were spreading rumors with incomplete information than I ever was by the actual conflict itself.  In part,  I believe, because this person was tarnishing my reputation with others who had no knowledge of the conflict in the first place.  Not to mention I had considered this person as a friend, and couldn’t believe she was being so careless.

Yes, I was angry.  Yes, I wanted to confront her.  Yes, I wanted to talk to everyone she spread this gossip to and set the story straight.   Before acting, I took it to the cross.

In order to clear up her misinformation, I would have had to throw others under the bus.  I’ve always agreed with the quote: “What you say about others says more about you than those you are gossiping about”.    There was no way to improve my standing without casting a negative shadow on others, and I refused to do that.  Instead I had to take the high road.  Yes, I can confront the gossiper directly.  As for the rest, I had to make a decision to let my character speak for itself.

I would continue to walk out my faith, live my life, in accordance to my character and integrity.  If she continued to speak ill of me, eventually she would feel conviction.  If others chose to believe her, as they get to know me they too will feel conviction.  If they choose to not bother to get to know me, that’s more on them than it is on me.

Sometimes, in our flesh, we want to repay evil for evil… hurt for hurt.  But, that is not what God would have us do…

Proverbs 25:21-22

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

When we respond this way, we let our character and integrity speak for us vs. trying to be defensive.  When we respond this way, we are walking in the Spirit and not in our flesh.  When we respond this way, we are separating ourselves from the way the world does things and instead showing how Kingdom dwellers do things.

Chronicling 40: Days 10-15 of 365

Getting Things in Order

For many of us there are times in our lives where things seem to be out of order, out of place, and not making sense.  At the time, it may even feel chaotic or uncertain.  Later, once all the dust settles, we can begin to see clearly how God was ordering things and preparing the way for the change.

After this happens so many times in our lives, when things seem in upheaval, we start to wonder what God is up to.  We still don’t have the answers or what the long term result will be, we simply trust that whatever it is… God is in control.

For myself, when I find myself in this season… I look for how God is getting things in order.  What little things have been changing?  What opportunities have suddenly presented themselves?  Has God brought someone new in to my life, or taken someone out?  Am I seeing roots severed, branches being pruned… a preparation to be transferred out of the comfy place I am in now … into new ground?  Have I been stabilized by what pops up around me?

I look for the fingerprints in the moment, and I always find them.  It’s assurance to me that once again, God is in control.  And… I find peace.

Chronicling 40: Days 201-203

EXPANSION

I’ve believed that my 40th year was going to be a big deal.  That exciting things were going to happen.  I claimed the word “fearless” for 2018, because I don’t like to live in a spirit of fear… and the Bible tells us not to.  I was going to do bold things.

Sometimes our dreams expand, or our territories.

Bold changes don’t always come how we expect them.  Changes can be just as exciting as they are hard.

It was years ago that I first heard of the Prayer of Jabez.  In 1 Chronicles 4:10, we read: “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that Thine hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.

I’ve heard the Prayer of Jabez related to financial gain, physical growth, and even prayed requesting the Lord to enlarge their reach so that they may share the Gospel with more people.

My friend Jay Sharpe, author of Chicken Lyrics, said “money is not the only way to richness”. I couldn’t agree more.  Expansion can come in many different ways.

Opportunities.

Experiences.

Adventure.

Family.

Finances.

Witness.

Service.

Lord, expand my territory to the borders you have ordained.  Let me tend to whatever expansion you put before me, in the manner you have called me to serve.  My faith is in you.

Chronicling 40: Days 197-200

MFAsign

I’ve been making art since I was a child, it’s a part of the very fabric of how God created me.  However, it is also very vulnerable and personal.  I’ve kept it to myself for a very long time. Sure, I’ve sold pieces here and there or posted pictures of things I have worked on for my own home or family members.  I’ve just never gone the route of a public showing.  The past few months I prepared to take that leap, fearless in 2018.  This weekend was the culmination of all that work.  So much anxiety and anticipation has now been replaced with relief.  It is over.  What next?

I was fortunate to have sold a few small pieces.  In speaking with many of the artists in at the event, it was a very dry event.  Most didn’t sell anything, those who did sold smaller pieces, and even the most experienced artists didn’t recuperate their expenses to be at the show.   (Some traveled in to the area = travel and lodging expenses).  You could feel it walking through the space as it seemed so many had just given up.

I try to be optimistic in life.  To see the good through the bad.  In this case, where many others were facing disappointment…

I was thankful for the opportunity to show.  Not everyone was excepted into the show.

I was proud of myself for actually overcoming the anxiety and nerves, and putting out my work for the public to see.

I was grateful for the positive comments and encouraging feedback, even from those who never bought a thing.

My eyes were open to appreciate the uniqueness of my pieces, as there were not others even in the same ballpark.  Great artists, but none like me.

From my own space, I was able to create a list of things I would do differently next time around.

From others, I was a willing student to listen to their wisdom and experience.  Those who were kind enough to share their tips invested in me, and that doesn’t go unnoticed.  I bought a piece or took their card for a future purchase.

I was even able to learn more about who my ideal customer and market is, and that in and of itself is beyond putting a value on.

Things don’t always work out like we think, for the better or worse.  However, there is always an opportunity to learn and grow.  Never take that for granted.

 

Chronicling 40: 194-196

ALIGNMENT&pURPOSE

It is really hard to live each day when you feel out of alignment with God and His purpose for you life.  While I love Women’s Ministry, I have been disconnected from it directly for some time.  I equip other leaders, but I haven’t served in Women’s Ministry in a local church in several years.  There were reasons for that disconnection, and there was healing that needed to happen.  Knowing there were valid reasons didn’t help the ache of that void.

As I dip my toes cautiously back into the pool, my friend could see an expression or response that I didn’t even realize I was making.  It was so evident, or she is so perceptive, that she asked me what the reaction was about.  To really put towards how I was feeling seems impossible.

Joy and excitement about all of the things we discussed.

Relief that someone was willing to hear my heart, actually hear me.

Trepidation about getting too excited or my hopes up too much.

There is NO FEELING as good as when your are walking in obedience to His calling on your life, and living that purpose out.  Even when it’s baby steps, toes dipping in the water, taking our time to get acquainted and build momentum.  It’s like fresh breath in your lungs, a restart of your heart, and an energy charge to your mind.

I appreciated our openness with one another.  Making sure we understood the similarities in our personalities and our differences.  We were identifying potential obstacles before the presented themselves, so that we could understand each other better.  Owning our strengths and even our weaknesses.  We laid our hearts and desires, our truth (good and bad) out there to each other.

And we agreed to work with excellence in mind.

Thank you, Lord.  I will not forsake this opportunity to serve once again.  Whether little steps or by your leaps and bounds, I answered “here I am”.

Chronicling 40: Day 193 of 365

REBOUND(1)

Of all the words my friends have chosen, I am glad to end the series on this one.

Unbecoming.

Seems so negative, that it had me scratching my head trying to understand.  When she explained it, it was simply beautiful.

Unbecoming the expectations of others and becoming what God has called you to.

Unbecoming the lies you tell yourself, and becoming the confident woman God created you to be.

Unbecoming the labels you have tried to fulfill, and becoming unapologetically you.

A few days back, the word was new.  To become new, requires unbecoming the old.