My Everyday, Ordinary Life

Pastor Brian Houston said “When we realize that leadership is always the problem and the solution…” It is such a true statement; but I forget about the fact that as a leader my everyday life is very important. The routine boring stuff actually makes or breaks me as a leader. It is important for me to take responsibility for my life because of the impact it has on others. It is important for you too!!

 

Place Your Life Before God
12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. – (Romans 12:1-2 The Message )

  1. Your Sleeping: Who ends up in your bed matters!!! Choose your spouse wisely, you will sleep with them the rest of your married life! Who we have a covenant relationship with affects our life and our leadership.  Also, getting enough sleep matters. I can’t be irresponsible with how much sleep I get. I have a family to take care of and a job to do. I don’t want to be kicking on 50% percent just because I decided to do a netflix binge one night. It is my responsibility to be mentally clear and stable because I got the rest I needed. Sleep.. it seems is important!
  2. Eating – Well.. this one is a struggle for me. I have never really had weight issues because of some health issues that I used to have. Therefore.. I ate whatever I wanted. Currently, I am realizing that this is not the the healthiest way to live. Thin doesn’t mean healthy. I have a total love affair with food. I love the way it smells, I love to prepare it, cook it and enjoy it with family and friends. However, I want to think more about the kinds of foods I need to be eating to maintain a healthy lifestyle now and for years to come. Sometimes, if I have a carb heavy lunch.. a few hours later I am a zombie. That is not good leadership. I need fuel to get through the day energetically! It is an everyday, seemingly ordinary thing; but I encourage you do what this scripture says and quit letting our culture of fast food drag you down to its level.
  3. Going to Work – Work is a part of our life. A very important one. I love the series we did at Oasis by John Bevere, “Called”.  He talks about our work being part of our calling. It may not seem that way, but we are supposed to work. God made us with unique gifts and talents. Whether we are currently flowing in them or not, our attitude about work matters. Culture tries to convince us that work is bad and just takes all of our time, but the Bible says we have to work to eat! Culture tells you to always complain, be negative, and hate your job. Culture tells you the grass is always greener at another job. But, what if we rise above the culture and fix our attention on God? What if we work as working unto the Lord? What if God is trying to bring out the best in us through working on our character, but we just won’t let Him? Are we setting good examples at work of right attitudes, hard work, dedication and character? Or are we being drug down by the culture around us?
  4. Walking Around Life – I think this just means all of the in-betweens, like running errands to the grocery store. Today, because I just learned today, I have to run to the store to get chips for something at my son’s school tomorrow. I could get irritated that I have to run a last minute errand; or I could gladly accept the fact that this is just another everyday ordinary thing that I GET to do. I have the money to buy the chips, I have the car to get to the store, it is a beautiful day and most importantly… it is for my son. Our attitude about our lives matter, and it makes a huge difference in our leadership.

I want to be able to recognize what God wants from me and respond to it! I want to embrace the fact that God knows what is best for me and to trust Him fully. I want to place my life before God as an offering! In doing that, I find the simplest joys in the everyday ordinary things. When I fix my attention on God, I find Him there in the everyday ordinary things. My life and leadership matter and so does yours! Whether you are leading in a church, at home, in a classroom, on the job or in the grocery store… your everyday, ordinary life matters!

Quit Striving for Perfection, Start Thriving in Progression

 

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Have you ever stumbled over perfection? I do it all of the time. Here are a few ways striving for perfection makes me stumble…

  1. I get so caught up in the fact that I may not do it perfectly that I don’t do it at all. Nothing great was ever done because someone failed to try. Everything we attempt comes with the possibility of failure. But, failure is an event; not a person.
  2. Sometimes, when my end goal is perfection, my “in the game” performance is all I focus on.  When my thoughts circle on doing something perfectly, I often jump ahead and don’t spend enough time preparing and planning.  True success is often found in the calm times of preparation. At sporting events, you don’t get to see all of the practices, meetings, playbook and locker room chats. You just see the game. Months and months of planning, preparing and hard work for a few hours of play time.
  3. When I know I am coming up short of perfection, I tend to think of excuses. No one wants to hear them and they just make me look desperately inadequate. Excuses mean I quit trying and am looking for something or someone to blame other than myself.

Maybe you are like me and find that the thoughts and goals of perfection are actually causing you to stumble. Striving for excellence in all that we do is different than striving for perfection. When I am not striving for perfection, I can begin thriving in progress. Emotionally healthy people understand that there is a difference between perfection and progress. They know that we, as humans are fallible and incapable of perfection. People who think otherwise usually end up steeped in pride and a misguided sense of leadership.

So, what do we perfectionists do stop the on going search for perfection that causes us to stumble?

  1. Realize you have limitations. Understand that you may fail. Accept the possibility of that. Then, go after it with everything you have got. Recruit people to help you that can do the things you can not. A real sign of maturity is recognizing you need other people to succeed. If you fail, learn from your mistakes and try again. Don’t be so afraid of failure, that you never try. I can respect a person that always gets up when they fall. Go for making some progress, not being perfect.
  2. Prepare and plan. Educate yourself about what you are doing. So many times we believe the lie that something really good can happen quickly.  You have to put in the work if you want to make progress. There are some nights I open a jar of spaghetti sauce, and that is ok. But, there are some nights I dice, sauce, simmer, sip and smell. Nothing that comes in a jar compares to that rich and deliciously wonderful homemade sauce I make. Don’t get so ahead of yourself thinking about your end goal, that you forget to put in the effort.
  3. Excuse: an attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); seek to defend or justify;a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense.  Both of these definitions focus on a fault or offense. Neither of these definitions have anything to do with taking responsibility. I don’t like giving excuses and I don’t like getting them. Usually when I give them, it is a prideful attempt of trying to attach blame to the reason I didn’t meet the mark. I could just admit that I didn’t try hard enough, I didn’t seek to be educated, I didn’t ask for help, I didn’t prioritize, I didn’t follow up,  I didn’t think it through, I didn’t delegation, I didn’t investigate and I didn’t make any progress. Attempts to mask being imperfect with excuses always hinders progress.

Instead of focusing on being the best, focus on being your best. Thrive by seeking out progress. Bring value to whatever you do my taking responsibility for yourself. Don’t keep stumbling over pride and perfectionism. God has great plans for your life!!

Mustard Seed Faith

You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” – Matthew 17:20

A mustard seed is small you guys. I mean like teeny tiny. It almost seems like it should be easy to have that kind of faith. Mustard seed faith isn’t very big faith. Sometimes, when things don’t go the way I want, it feels like my faith starts shrinking. Much like when my clothes don’t fit and I try to blame it on the dryer shrinking them. Sometimes, I feel like the challenges I face are bigger than my faith. But, that is just the mindset that the enemy would love for us to have.

Jesus says if we have faith even the size of a mustard seed, it could move a mountain. Now, in comparison, that mustard seed is bazillions times smaller than a mountain. So, my faith to challenge ratio is not the problem. I don’t need bigger faith for a bigger challenge. The problem is not always that my faith shrinks, but most of the time my doubt grows. Since mustard seed faith is so small, it leaves no room for doubt. When I am staring at a huge mountain, the doubt starts to creep in. My mind goes crazy trying to figure out how things are going to get better, when things are going to change, what do I need to do, how do I need to fix this and what are we going to do now!! Those questions are doubt questions. Doubting that God will work all things together for my good, doubting that He speaks to me, doubting that He  sees me and doubting that He wants to fix it for me.

Doubt and faith can not co-exist. It is not about the quantity of our faith but the quality. Jesus said it is our job to speak to the mountain that is in our way because we believe Him. I want to be a believer, not a doubter! Faith and unbelief both come by what you are giving your time and attention to. I have a tendency to doubt more when I am giving my attention to negative people, the news, Facebook rants and so on. I tend to believe more when I am giving my attention to the Word of God, pastors I love and friends that encourage me.

Even Jesus was limited by an environment of unbelief. He couldn’t do miracles in His own home town because they didn’t believe. If you have something impossible and mountain moving you need to do; you need to surround yourself with believers and get the doubt out!

Establish an environment of faith in your life, quit focusing on how big your problem is and focus on believing Jesus!!

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Get Wisdom

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There is a huge difference between wisdom and knowledge!

“The wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon his knowledge.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Knowledge: facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

Wisdom: the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise. The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

I have known many people that had a lot of knowledge, but not very much wisdom. You know those people that even though what they are saying may be right; the way, time or fact that they said it at all is totally wrong!! Wisdom has much to do with knowing how and when to apply our knowledge. Sometimes, we think gaining knowledge is the answer to guiding us through careers, leadership and relationships. But wisdom, is what will navigate us. We spend lots of time and money gaining knowledge but we put very little effort into acquiring wisdom. Granted, some people seem to be born with an extra dose of wisdom; or maybe it is something they figured out could be acquired and have spent time doing so.

Maybe you have realized that though you have some knowledge you don’t always seem to have the wisdom to use it as wisely as you could.  Here are some steps that you can begin today to focus on getting wisdom.

1- Focus on God. Not only through reading the Word, Bible studies and prayer but also through acknowledging His continual presence in your life. Talk with Him and listen for His voice. Look for Him in everything you see and do.

2- Live Your Life. Education is great and valuable. But, there are some things you can only learn through experience. Life will teach you if you are willing to learn. So, get out there and experience things! Don’t be so afraid of failure that you never try anything.

3- Learn from Others. This hard for those that have become prideful based on their knowledge. But, you can acquire wisdom by gaining insight from others. Read, get a mentor, ask questions and listen to the criticism of others. Listen to listen and learn, rather than listening just so you can reply with your knowledge.  To get wisdom, we must learn to quit focusing on ourselves and focus on others.

4- Broaden Your Horizons. It is easy to get stuck from the view point of our own perspective. Acquiring wisdom will require you to gain the maturity to explore other view points and perspectives. Do your research, and even listen to opposing opinions. It can be tough but it helps you gain wisdom.

5- Be the Student. Always continue to learn and grow. Sometimes as we gain knowledge, we always want to be the teacher. We may even convince ourselves that we just want to help people, when in truth; we want to show people what we know. We get stuck in teacher mode. Be a life long student of the wise. People are more interested in who you are and why you care, than what you know.

“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” – Proverbs 4:6-7

The beginning of wisdom is to “get wisdom”, so get after it!

From Pain to Peace to Purpose

I love how God always has redemptive plans for us. For myself, I have noticed that when there is pain, it leads to peace which leads to purpose. There is always a journey to be experiencing. A few months ago I wrote about the journey I was on to simplicity.  Recently, I wrote about the changes that came about in my life in 2016.

I was experiencing pain which led to me to simplicity and peace. I discovered some things about myself that God wanted to change and I grew a lot. Simplifying and organizing our home was fun and helped get all of our lives in order. However, I got to the place where I felt healthy in all areas again and a pulling towards getting back to work. Not that I wasn’t working, but getting more involved in some way that would be healthy and use my strengths. My background is business, which I love. Balancing that and making sure I still get to care for those I love has always been the struggle for me. However, through all of this I have learned that it was such a struggle because I was striving to prove something. Now, I feel that I don’t have to prove anything, I just want to be used for what I am good at. But, I wanted to make sure that whatever move I made, it pleased God.

Just a few days later, my husband let me know he could really use my attention to detail and leadership more at church. When your husband seems to be asking for you to help.. it must be God. Just kidding!! However, I felt like it was the confirmation I needed. So, we had some very real conversations about what that would look like. I agreed to try to be more vulnerable with him and he agreed to hold me more accountable. I don’t want to fall back into old habits of trying to prove my capability and loading my plate with too much.

However, I can BE the girl who works hard to get stuff done that also has deep connections with others, enjoys cooking and gathering people around a table, and still has plenty of time to sit under my tree. I am flawed and going back into this season pruned of the pride that tries to hide those flaws. I am still enjoying this journey with you all and just wanted to give you an update. I will also be continuing to write on this blog. I love hearing from you all and love all of the encouragement I get from you.  It is good to know in this great big world, there are people who struggle with the same things that we do! Just remember, pain can lead to peace, which can lead to purpose if we let God use it.

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Marriage Monday: Protective Boundaries

 

image1.JPGMy husband and I have a lot of boundaries in place to protect our marriage. Some of them seem strict to some people. But, in a world where everywhere I turn people I know are getting a divorce or news from an affair is coming out, it doesn’t seem quite so strict.

Recently we were talking with some friends about marriage boundaries: the husband was telling us that a lady he works with just doesn’t understand what the big deal about riding together in a car is. Often they have business lunches with a group and she doesn’t think it is a big deal that they ride together. He has tried to explain that is just an agreement he and his wife have in place, they won’t ride in a car with the opposite sex alone.

Now, it didn’t seem nuts to us. My husband and I have the same boundary. We don’t do car rides or meetings alone with the opposite sex. This means coffee meetings, lunches, or even counseling sessions. Why? Our marriage is the most important relationship we have and we believe in protecting it. My friendships are important to me but not as important as my relationship with my husband. Most people don’t go looking for an affair, it just happens.

It starts as texting, riding to lunch together, meeting for coffee and becoming too comfortable with each other. Also, we don’t want it to even look like we are doing something that could potentially cause division in our marriage. I would prefer to risk offending someone else than to break a  boundary that I have set with my husband. I believe that men and women can be friends. I have some men in my life that are like brothers to me, but they are also friends of my husband; and they are for our marriage.  Friendships can flourish as long as there are healthy boundaries. There are many friendships throughout the years that have had the potential to ruin our marriage and very strong boundaries had to be established.

 

The world may see it as weird, but I see it as putting the most important relationship first and making efforts to affair proof our marriage. It is not jealousy. Neither my husband nor myself are jealous people. We have just witnessed far too many people we know live through the heartbreak of affairs that could have been avoided.

What about you? What boundaries do you have in place to protect your marriage? What boundaries do you need to consider putting in place to protect your marriage?

 

 

6 Ways to Keep Seeds from Turning into Weeds

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Recently, my husband said something that I didn’t quite like. It just kind of hit me wrong, but wasn’t a very big deal: so, I didn’t say anything. However, a seed had been planted. Later on, it began to bother me a little more. As I thought about that thing, it bothered me more. When I thought about that thing again, I was really bothered. That seed had grown into a weed that I had been watering and nurturing all day. Finally, in the bed that night I told him that I didn’t like what he had said earlier in the day and it really bothered me.

As we tend to do when trying to grow weeds, I had taken what he said very wrong. Once he explained it to me, I totally got what he was saying and what he had meant. Thankfully, that weed had not gotten so big that it was hard to dig up. I guess I wouldn’t be stealing the covers from him after all that night.

When a small seed is planted and not quickly uprooted it is not long before we start jumping to conclusions. We assume, we ponder, we accuse, we think negative thoughts and before you know it we are dealing with a giant weed. A weed that is sucking all of the nutrients from the good seeds that have been planted. A weed that is so big it is blocking our view, stopping us from seeing the right perspective. Oh how the enemy loves weed seeds. They wreck relationships of all kinds; loved ones, co-workers, bosses, employees, and friends. They also reek havoc on our emotions. Weeds cause anxiety, stress and keep us distracted from what we should be doing.

Some weed seeds are self inflicted. At times, we all listen to negative self talk or the the wrong voices. Some of the biggest weeds I have dealt with came out of my own negative inner voice.

What if we could throw out those negative seeds before they took root and started to grow? Here are some steps to help you get rid of that seed before it becomes a weed!!

  1. Seek Clarity! If you are confused by something, it rubs you the wrong way or you don’t quite understand; speak up!!! Get some clarity! It is on you if you are misunderstanding something and don’t speak up. This leaves lots of room for jumping to conclusions and that will quickly lead to a weed.
  2. Face Your Fears. A lot of stinking thinking seeds are planted out of fear. We are afraid of what people are thinking, we are afraid of failing or we are afraid of being rejected. We need to stop and evaluate the reason why we are feeling the way we are. If we are having these thoughts out of fear, we need to stop and ask God to make us more aware of His presence and who we are in Him.
  3. Prayer – I can’t express how important prayer is! Confessing our thoughts to God and asking Him to adjust our perspective is the quickest way to throw out a bad seed. Ask God to heal your thought process and give you wisdom!!
  4. Discipline – It make take time. A lot of us have trained our thoughts to be negative.  We must understand that we can’t always stop a thought, but we can change it if we are disciplined enough. For example, we may think, “what if this person doesn’t like me?”  We have to reroute that thought with, “I am going to be the best me I can be,  if this person doesn’t like me, I will be fine. God is on my side.”  Chasing away that negative thought with a positive one will quickly uproot a seed trying to become a weed. The more you replace negative thoughts with more positive ones, the more you will rewire your brain to respond that way. You are diluting the negative with positive. This will take discipline, but successful people are disciplined.
  5. Respond Instead of React: Understand that there will be conflict in your life. Instead of jumping to conclusions and reacting, choose to respond. Handling conflict well will help you avoid giant weeds of dissension!
  6. Above all...

“Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:6 (The Message)

What are some ways you keep seeds from turning into weeds?