Thursday, January 30, 2020

A Question We Need to STOP Asking

"Church" is an interesting word. What it means and how it is used are often two very different things. When we read the Bible we see the church is not a building with a name on the outside and a list of service times. In the Bible, church is a group of people. Jesus called us to be his church - a group of people who’ve accepted him as Savior, working together for a common mission of loving others and sharing his good news with the people around us. 

Church is a mission and a mindset, not a place we go. So what is the question we need to stop asking? Within the Christian community, a common question asked is, "What church do you go to?" Or the reverse of that is telling someone you what church you attend. The problem with this comment or question is that it makes the church is a building or place you visit once or twice a week before returning to every day life. This hurts us and our ability to be the church, because we check it off our list. “I went to church this week.” 

Instead we should ask people, “what church are you in community with?” Or, “what is your church community?”

This may seem like I’m nitpicking or just trying to cause some kind of problem over a semantic argument, but the truth is the words we use make a big difference in our mindset. We think of something in relationship to how we talk about it and when talking about church, that can limit how we walk out our faith. 

The great commission gets forgotten even if we talk about it because in our mind we already went to church, but the reality is we are to be the church everywhere we go, because we are ambassadors for Christ. We share the image of Christ with everyone we encounter and if we aren’t living mindfully of that, then we can forget and begin to lose the heart of Christ to share his love with those who don't know him. 

The Bible tells us that the world will know we are Christians by our love. I don’t think that passage is true at all for American Christians, Christians in America don’t lead with love. Let’s just set aside for a minute the hot button topics we disagree about, and look at our every day life. Can we see the love of Christ permeating through our lives? We have allowed the "have it your way" society to trump our mission and Christ-centered way of living. We become more consumed with getting to where we need to go on time and treating the people around us rudely in the process, than we do about sharing the love of Jesus with people and allowing others to be more important than ourselves. 

Now am I saying that if we start asking a different question about church that will change all of that? No. It’s a bigger topic than this mental shift and there change that needs to happen, but I will say that changing our mindset and the way of asking what church you go to will make a step in the right direction.  Change starts in our mind.  One foot in front of the other, going in the right direction, gets you to where you need to go. 

Stop merely going to church and start being the church. That doesn’t mean that you’ll stop attending a service on Sunday morning, but it means you’ll be a part of a church that knows that they are more than just a Sunday service.  The change in mindset will change the questions you ask and how you make decisions within your church community.  Join a group, a community, a body of people who know they are on a mission.  When we do that we may see we need to change how we do things because we will stop making decisions for us and shift what we do to accommodate the world around us who needs Jesus! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Always Be Gift Ready

A woman in your church finds out her dad is dying of cancer, she needs to go back and forth between her family and her dad and you know she needs help.  Trouble is, you aren't sure what to do.

Its a friend's birthday and you don't want to just get a gift card, but you aren't sure what to get and its too late to get clues without being super obvious.   What do you do?

A co-worker got dumped and its having a rough morning.  You would love to show up with a treat, but you aren't sure their go-to comfort food or drink and you feel it will ruin the surprise to ask.  So how do you get her something without being awkward and asking?

I have an answer.  Its called notes.  Your phone contact list has a note category.  Its the perfect place to keep track of those things the people in your life love.  Maybe you get a favorites list off Pinterest and give it to all your friends then add it to their contact so you have it when you need it.  Or maybe you just ask questions and take notes.  Either way, doing this will make you not only a great gift giver but a considerate person.

The key is knowing ahead of time.

So maybe you find out what you can do to help before they need it.  Sure you can always take someone a meal going through a hard time, but sometimes you want to do something different and in the age of food allergies, it can be a challenge sometimes to take a meal.  So finding out what you can do to lighten the load is important.

This past month I got two stand out gifts.  One had me a hot mess on Instagram Live.  I didn't win the lottery or anything and the gift wasn't even purchased.  My mom sent me something I wanted and didn't even know it because she was listening to a conversation of me just sharing a childhood memory that I tried to recreate, even though I didn't have the bowl I had as a kid.  She sent me the bowl and I melted into the floor and felt like the most loved person on the planet.

The day after Christmas a friend and I went out shopping for the clearance deals.  I talked with her about a vintage Santa mug I wanted but realized it too late and everywhere is sold out.  Two weeks later she showed up to church with a gift bag and guess what was in it.  A Santa mug.  So sweet.

One of the easiest things to find out is what someone's Starbucks drink or go-to drink is.  I was headed to a friend's house and told her I was stopping at Starbucks on the way.  I not only got her a drink, but made note in my contacts of her order so that a few months after that, she was having a bad day, I could show up with a drink.  It made her day.

A few years ago I got my sister and her husband's favorite treats via email and saved it for future reference so I can bless them from time to time with what they love.  Life is busy and crazy but being a thoughtful person is important and the best way to be there is to listen, ask questions and take notes!

Another friend just lost her sister.  We were talking and she mentioned the day of the funeral.  I wasn't able to go, but made note in my calendar so I could text her that morning and let her know I was thinking about her.

Little things make a big difference and if you start doing this, it won't take big effort.

We got this!!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

10 Tips I Learned in 2019

Yes, I have my word for 2020 and I have some dreams for this year, but I also want to make sure I soak up all the lessons from this past year so that I can move forward, making the most of all the lessons this past year had to offer.  Too often I feel we are so busy looking ahead that we don't make the most of what we just went through.  We then end up being the quote below.

I want to learn from my history so here is a random list of things I learned this past year.  Some are just simple life hacks and others are more strategies.  I hope my path also helps you.  Here we go!

1. Spray Glitter - This year I started following the YouTube channel, "Do It On A Dime" and I love her.  I got so many cool tips from Kathryn about Dollar Tree and decorating.  She talks about other stuff too to include real life emotions and cleaning.  Most of the cleaning stuff doesn't apply to me because I'm eliminating toxins and most cheap cleaners are filled with them, but one tip I did love and wanted to share was to spray glittered items with hair spray first.  It was great.  I found some cool glitter letters and a few ornaments that I put on packages and they were a mess until I sprayed them with hairspray and let them dry.  No more glitter dandruff.  Hooray!!!   Try it out and let me know how you like it.  Also, go follow this woman, you will love her!

2. Do Least Favorite Tasks In Batches - What do you hate?  I hate grocery shopping and meal planning and so I avoid it.  What I have found, is that if I batch the task and do it less frequently, its much easier.  So guess what?  I actually planned 3 months worth of recipes.  I didn't assign them to a date, but I did ready them so when I do my shopping twice a month, I have a plan and can get it done.  This has worked for other things as well.  Dividing it up in the daily works for some people, but for me, setting time to do it and affording myself the ability to not do it again for awhile really helps.  Try it and let me know what you think.  (Also, if you want to save money, I've heard several people share the tip to check your pantry and freezer and use recipes with what you have to save on your grocery bill.  Its a great thing to do periodically!)

3. Less Is More - I desire to be good at organization, despite my clutter.  I've read a lot of the stuff out there and watched a lot of videos, and what I have come to understand is.  The first step is less.  If you don't get rid of stuff, the other fun tips won't work.  The true key to organizing is less.  I also discovered with a successful organization of the craft/game closet and coat closet this past year,  like bins work best together once you have decluttered.  Do It On A Dime showed me some great Dollar Tree options for corralling your stuff.  Again, whether you Konmari or something else, if you don't first eliminate, you will be back to square one before long.  

4. Have Your End of Life Stuff Ready to Go - Funerals and death have been a big part of my year.  As a pastor and empathetic person, I spend a lot of time by the side of those facing loss and it has been a teacher for me.  In particular it has taught me to be ready when your day comes.  Just like number three above, less is more, and do you really want your loved ones going through your things as is today?  Maybe you are super amazing, but there is a lot of stuff no one could find in my mess.  You need to have a will and have some way to share with your loved ones not only what is valuable monetarily, but what is valuable on a sentimental level.  

They may not care, but they really won't if they don't know.  I'd go as far as to say, write your own obituary.  Sure its gonna change, but family in the face of loss is shell-shocked and they don't always know all the facts about you to share in the paper or at a service. I will probably start a photo slideshow too because sometimes there are just too many photos to know which ones to share.  Sure, my family can make changes as they wish, I won't be here anymore, but I want them to have as much help so they aren't overwhelmed.  This has been motivation for further organization for me too.  What do you think about this?  

5. Ask, who is this about? 5b Bonus: Learn to ask the right questions.  Self-awareness is a big deal to me, I write about it a lot because I encounter so many people oblivious to how they come across or why you are doing what you are doing.  So start asking, "who is this about?" When you are upset or acting differently, start asking yourself this question.  You may be surprised what you learn.  Part B - Sometimes the question everyone is asking, doesn't do anything for you?  Try a different question.  For example when I read Lindsay Teague Moreno’s book, "Boss Up," I learned that finding out my passion wasn’t working for me because the way the question was worded wasn’t connecting with me. Instead Lindsay says to ask,"What makes you want to throat punch someone?" That question resonated with me and helped me to have a better glimpse into my passions.  Sometimes all you have to do is change the question to get the answer!  

6. Use Your Text-to-Talk for Productivity - I have known about text-to-talk and used it for sending a text or quick notes.  That was it.  As I read a book by Joanna Penn about writing a book, I was shocked that people actually write books with this function and it was a breakthrough for me.  My mind usually thinks at a faster rate than I can type and I can easily forget ideas I have about a blog post, or book chapter, and if I didn't write enough to jog my memory its lost.  I actually wrote most of several recent blogs with text-to-talk.  It was amazing.  Obviously, I had to fill in some gaps later or correct any errors, but it upped my productivity game.  What can you do faster with your voice than you can with your hands?  Have you utilized this function as much as you could?  I know this was a big deal for me.  I hope it helps you.  

7. Five Minute Jobs - I actually blogged about this so if you want more, go read the post.  But I love my 5 minute job list and setting the timer.  If I feel stuck its a great way to get going on my list and get out of overwhelmed paralysis (does anyone else deal with this - get so overwhelmed by all you have to do, you just do nothing?). Note: When I went to link my blog, I realized I blogged on this in 2018 (man does time fly by), but this is still a great tool that I used this year.  I hope it helps you. 

8. Know your zones – This is something else I learned from Joanna Penn.  Our brain's muscle memory, connects spots in our homes and offices with its function and remembers it so that you will desire to do that action in that zone.  So if you always watch TV on your couch, then when you plop down on the couch, you will be inclined to turn on the television. So if you want to get some work done or a book read, then you should probably avoid the couch.  You brain has made that association already so its a natural reflex.  To break the cycles you have, you need to know your zones and find new ones to complete the things not getting done.  Isn't that cool?  

9. Discover How You Learn and Make Decisions  - If you haven't read a book by Dr. Caroline Leaf, I highly recommend it! I'm a bit of a personality test junkie, so usually I just find out more of the same with a new name, but Dr. Leaf really taught me something new in learning my customized way of thinking.  It has helped me find more success when I hit something in life that is new or a challenge.  

10. Know Your Mantras and Use Them - I love to memorize scripture and I often have a verse for what I face in life to help me move forward, but I have also found two sentences from great ladies that I have adopted in my vocabulary to help me face the world.  One is by Brene Brown, who says, "assume people are doing the best they can."   This helps me give the gift of grace and be more understanding than demanding. The other is the title to a book I finished this year.  Marie Forleo's new book, "Everything is Figureoutable"  - I read the book and that one line has really helped me when I need to keep on and I want to quit.  Is there a scripture, quote or mantra that you need to add to your life?  The scripture for me this year is John 16:33.  Definitely a great reminder when life is tough.  

Well that is the end of the list.  I hope you benefited from at least one (and hopefully more) of these tips and life hacks.  Tell me what you think and how you feel about 2020.  Happy Wednesday!