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

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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.”

Chronicling 40: Day 24 of 365

db

I wish I could say that I can’t believe what happened in Charlottesville… but I can.  When your eyes are opened to racism, you see it is more around you than you once realized.  The more open your eyes, the more you see it.  When you ask the Lord to break your heart for what breaks His… Charlottesville cuts deep.

The bandaid has been ripped off, the wound has been festering because it never fully healed.  You can change policy and law all you want, but if the hearts don’t change with it… then it is merely superficial.  But eventually, you must face it.  It will be raw.  Oozing.  There will stench and rot.  It will be hot to the touch, infected.  It will be gross.  It also may get worse before it gets better.

I have listened to too many who try to justify away the things they hear on the news.  Too many who say “what about me”, as if sharing the world means there is less of it for oneself.

I, for one, am over it.  I’m calling it like I see it.  I’m not holding back.

Racism in any form is sin, it is straight from hell, it is not of Christ.  Do not spew vitriol and sit next to me in the pews on Sunday.  I see your sin nature, loud and clear and I will not be apart of it.  I will not have my kids exposed to it.  I will not stand for it in my presence.

Your jokes are not funny, because they reveal parts of your heart and it is stained.

Don’t quote the Bible in one breath and spew hate in another.  Move along.  You are not wanted here.

While I send those parting words, know that my heart breaks because you do not know what it is you do.  I pray that is true, that you truly don’t know.  I pray that the Lord will forgive your ignorance, as much as I pray that your eyes and heart will be opened to truth in away that changes you to your core.  That you will pursue repentance, seek forgiveness, and reconciliation is on your tongue.  I pray that in the meantime, those who find themselves in your wake are protected from the venom and the words you use to tickle their ears.

I pray that your children will see the world differently than you, and one day will rise up against what you have stood for. What you stand for is not Christlike, not American, and not ok.

Not in Charlottesville.

Not anywhere.

Not today Satan, not today.

Chronicling 40: Day 23 of 365

getaway

Today, didn’t start out as the most wonderful.  Migraines have plagued me this summer, mostly due to weather.  Not sure what the deal was today, but it started early (around 3am) and didn’t really pass until somewhere around 5pm.  This is actually pretty good, as a migraine can put me out of commission for well over 24 hours.  I just started using this headache blend on pressure points:

headacheblendPreviously I was using another blend which did work, but I often felt nauseous after using it.  This blend has a few differences in ingredients which may be making the difference.  But, I digress.

Around 5:30 my husband and I needed to run a quick errand.  We decided to stop for a quick bite, just the two of us, as I had not eaten all day (thanks to the migraine).  It was nice sitting there and chatting, even if it was just a quick stop.  My husband pointed out that he thought it was good to just getaway from the house.  I agreed.

At home there are so many distractions.  Things that we need to get done coupled with the needs of those who also live in the house.  But when we get away… whether to run a quick errand of a long stroll on the beach… a quick stop for a bite to eat or a five course meal… there is something to be said for having uninterrupted time with one another.

I realize that in part this is why I prefer to have a face to face lunch verses a long telephone conversation.  I am more focused and attentive because there are not a million things vying for my attention.

Perhaps this is why so many people struggle to have good, quality, dedicated time in the Word?  We try to do this from home, but distractions are limitless.  Phone calls, door knocks, deliveries, laundry piles, dishes to be done, etc.

In April, I attended a national conference but arrived basically a day and a half early (shockingly it was cheaper to fly in early, even with an addition nights stay).  I decided to use that time as a personal retreat… just me and Jesus.  It was one of the most beneficial moments of the last several years because I had broken free of all the distractions that pull my attention away.

I think of Jesus and the garden of Gethsamane, and how he would leave his disciples to go off into garden to pray.  There are definitely times where we need solitude, lone moments with God.  Undistracted.  Uncomplicated.  Unhindered.

Lord, let me have more of these days.

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.