Awkward!

Do you find the word “awkward” as hilarious as I do?  Go ahead, say it about 5 times to yourself and see if it doesn’t make you laugh!  It’s a word I’m hearing frequently these days from my 9 year old.  I’m not sure where she picked it up, but she often refers to situations by saying, “well, that was awkward!”.  Sometimes it fits, sometimes I think she just likes to say it!

Let’s face it– none of us really like to find ourselves in awkward situations or conversations.  We’d much rather have things flow smoothly, be thought well of, exude poise and confidence.  (Side story that will probably not be funny to very many people, but I will include anyway because this is my blog and I want to put it in here.  🙂  When you become a Sales Director in Mary Kay, there is an oath you take.  Every time a group of new directors is recognized on stage at an event, they take the oath and all the current Sales Directors say it with them.  It’s very cool and meaningful, but there is one phrase that always makes me and my best friend, Jill, laugh: “I will conduct myself with dignity”.  She and I are not really known for dignity.  Our oath should probably read, “I will conduct myself with goofiness”.  Okay, you can go back to the regular post now, after shaking your head at me.)

This has been the biggest learning curve for me.  Most often my opportunities for obedience to the Lord these days come in the form of awkward situations.  Mark Batterson says, “Awkwardness is a catalyst for spiritual growth.  Are you willing to do things that feel awkward, like kneel at an altar or obey a crazy prompting of the Holy Spirit or have a tough conversation with a good friend?  If you are, then God can use you!”

My most recent example: I’ve been dealing with chronic sleep issues for about 3 1/2 years now.  On Monday, before my Bible study, I really felt like God was telling me to ask the women in my group to lay hands on me and pray for this issue.  I did not want to do it.  It felt like I was making a big deal out of it and I knew there were several in the group who are dealing with much more difficult circumstances.  I didn’t want to be overly dramatic, but I could not shake this impression, so I obeyed and asked my friends to pray right then and there.  Before I did, though, I also realized an emotional issue was surfacing again (maybe I’ll write about that in another post sometime) and God asked me to be vulnerable enough to share that as well.  Yikes!  What followed was the most beautiful prayer time I may have ever experienced.  I haven’t received the healing we asked for yet, but I felt incredibly loved and God was definitely there with us.

To wrap up, there was another benefit of my obedience.  Another friend who is dealing with some scary heart problems was able to admit how scared she was and we laid hands on her and prayed for her as well!  She wouldn’t have received that blessing (and honestly it was just as much a blessing for the rest of us praying for her) had I not awkwardly spoken up to ask first.  God is really good!

I hope you  made it to the end of this very long post!  I’ll leave you with the exhortation to “go out and be awkward today” and then come back to share your stories here!

Weird movie moment

I’m not a big movie person.  We usually go to the movies 2-3 times/year and we might rent something once a month.  I don’t really remember movies, nor do I like to watch them again.  (One caveat: I, like all normal 30ish people, watched The Princess Bride about 7600 times in the 80s and memorized most of the movie.  Can you believe that it came out in 1987?!  What?!)

This does have a point.  DH and I watched The Vow the other night and I remembered one of my other quirks that comes out sometimes when I do watch a movie.  The basic storyline is that Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel McAdams) are in a car accident, she goes through the windshield and wakes up with amnesia and can’t remember her life with him.  (disclaimer: there is one quick shot of  Leo’s very cute bottom.)   As I’m watching him go through all the emotions of losing his wife and trying to win her back, here’s what’s going through my head.  “He needs his friends/church/small group to come around him and pray for him and bring him meals and listen and just be with him!  If only he had that support network and the assurance that God is going to work this all even though it looks hopeless.”  Yes, I know it’s a movie (actually this is based on a true story, but this happens to me even when it’s completely fictional).  I know I can’t actually change any of the story or have any influence on the characters.  But I want Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams to know what it’s like to know Jesus in their crisis and have a community group to surround them with love and encouragement!

Here’s the bottom line– I want EVERYBODY to have that!  I wrote in my last post about being Better Together and talked about the blessing of community that I have through my career.  I’m even more greatly blessed by the community I experience weekly through my church and community group.  It’s mind-blowing how much I love my church!  I can’t wait to get there on Sundays!   And our community group?  Seriously the best!  If you don’t have a church and live in the KC area, check out Indian Creek Community Church!

These are some of the best years of my life with Jesus and I love being on the journey with these people!  Do you think Channing Tatum would respond if I invited him to church?

Better together

There have been many, many times in my life when I have been lonely.  This phase of my life is not one of them!  I am ridiculously, extravagantly rich in relationships right now and I’m finding more and more that it is what life is all about.

Nine years ago, God gave me the courage to try something new.  I was happy in my career as a personal chef, I owned my own business and was fairly successful.  I had a 6-month-old baby, my husband was working full-time and going to school full-time, so we were not looking for something to add to our schedule.  And yet, I decided to become a Mary Kay beauty consultant!  I was completely freaked out about the whole idea, but I also had a little spark of hope that maybe it would turn out to be something great.  That decision launched who I would become today, as a leader, as a parent, and as a follower of Jesus. 

I’ve always felt called to reach out to people who don’t yet know God or who are far from Him, but earlier in my life was frustrated by my seeming lack of tools and resources to do so.  It was difficult for me to talk to people and I often stumbled over my words or was too afraid to reach out.  This career that God chose for me has given me people skills and personal growth that are priceless and have had eternal impact in many lives.

The culture of Mary Kay is such that we don’t compete with one another, there are no cutthroat sales battles, we’re all cheering each other on.  When you truly spend time on a regular basis with others who are ambitious, yet generous; successful and willing to share their ideas with you; looking for ways to build you up and believe in you, it changes who you become!  Hearing “you’re amazing” and “I know you can do it” and “so you missed that goal?  Don’t worry– pick yourself back up and try again!” changes you!

More than anything, I love what I do because of the platform it gives me.  I get a window into so many people’s lives and stories.  I get to be on the journey with them, speak words of hope and encouragement, watch them grow into their potential.  I get to pray with and for them, love on them… we really are better together!

Dream Big

I have a love/hate relationship with risk.  I used to be very cautious, responsible, and overthink everything.  Over the last few years, I’ve released a lot of my tight-fisted grasp and become much  more spontaneous.  These days I like to think that I’ve lightened up, grown up, and am not such a control freak!  I like to do adventurous things and face my fears.  Except when I don’t and the old me comes rushing back in!  Do you ever have Jekyll and Hyde moments/days/weeks?

I’ve…

  • learned to talk to people I don’t know on a regular basis
  • learned to love trying new things
  • decided to often say yes and then figure it out later
  • started 2 businesses and run them successfully
  • pierced my nose (not really that risky, but I do love it and it’s kind of different!)
  • become passionate about using my gift of evangelism to intentionally reach out to people who are seeking God

At the same time, when it comes to certain things, I want to shrink back and stick my head in the sand!  One of those things that creates that fear in me and brings the “hate” part into play with risk is dreaming big.  As soon as I start dreaming, it’s as if something comes over me that says, “no, we’re not going to get our hopes up here.  Don’t think too far ahead, just focus on today/this week/this month or you’ll get overwhelmed.” (yes, the voices in my head speak in plural!).   It’s even a physical reaction many times where my heart races and I feel anxious.  As I’m writing this, I’m experiencing those emotions!

In addition, I find myself thinking very narrowly when it comes to dreaming big.  I suppose that is somewhat of an oxymoron because I don’t think dreaming big and narrow thinking really go together!  Do you ever argue with yourself?  Here is an example:

–what if I could…?

–but you can’t!

–but God can!

–sure, He can, but what if He doesn’t?

…and on and on.  Does that happen to any of you?  Can I get a witness?  (where does that phrase come from?  I’m pretty sure I’m too white to use it, but it just felt like the right thing to insert there!)

I’m just about finished with a book called The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.  The premise of the book (based on a Jewish legend) is that God wants us to pray circles around our dreams, fears, other people, His promises, etc.  He focuses on 3 aspects: dream big, pray hard, think long.  I would like to cover the other 2 in subsequent posts.

A few favorite quotes…

  • One litmus test of spiritual maturity is whether your dreams are getting bigger or smaller.  The older you get, the more faith you should have because you’ve experienced more of God’s faithfulness.
  • You cannot build God’s reputation if you’re not willing to risk yours.
  • If you put what little you have in your hand into the hand of God, it won’t just add up; God will make it multiply.
  • Too often we let how get in the way of what God wants us to do.  We can’t figure out how to do what God has called us to do, so we don’t do it at all.
  • We shouldn’t seek answers as much as we should seek God.
  • Prayer opens our spiritual eyes so we see sooner and further.
  • Our biggest problem is our small view of God
  • A big dream is simultaneously the best feeling and the worst feeling in the world.  It’s exhilarating because it’s beyond your ability; it’s frightening for the exact same reason.

What stands out to you?  Where is God calling you to dream big?  I’m planning a prayer/spiritual retreat for next month to allow God space and time to shape my dreams into something He is pleased with and to ask Him to stretch my faith and expand His purposes in my life.  Stay tuned!

 

Expect Opposition and Miracles

Sounds contradictory a bit, opposition and miracles.  Our sermon this morning was AMAZING and God was definitely working on me through our pastor’s words.  We’re in the middle of a series called Paradox and today’s paradox was “If you try to keep your life, you’ll lose it.  But if you give your life to God, you’ll find it.”  The overall message was that obeying God’s agenda rather than my agenda brings the good life, the great life, the best life.

Several things stood out to me.  First, “obedience usually triggers opposition”.  If you’re not ready to face opposition for your obedience, then you’re not ready to be used by God.  Ouch.  The enemy is trying to stop whatever God is trying to start in your life.  And I should worry when I’m not experiencing opposition because that maybe means that I’m not that much of a threat to the enemy.  Double ouch.

There is an area in my life in which God is asking for my obedience.  I’m experiencing the opposition that comes from doubt and fear. I’ve not fully thrown my heart over the bar in this area. Instead, I’ve been protecting my heart a little bit.  Not in a healthy way, but in a defense-mechanism way.  God showed me that this morning.  I really need to be on the offensive in the battlefield of my mind and heart.  My fear of failure rears its ugly head far too often.  I was reminded that when fear of failure is front and center for me, it means that I am way too focused on myself.

Second, “when you obey God’s agenda, it often releases God’s miracles”.  The Scripture we were working from this morning was the story in Acts where the apostles were thrown into jail for preaching in Jesus’ name.  An angel of the Lord came and opened the door to the jail and told them to go back out and do the same thing for which they had just been arrested.  Opposition and miracles.

Third, “obedience to God’s agenda always requires faith”.  Often when God asks for our obedience, we want to see not just the next step or 2, but steps 4, 5, and 6 down the road.  Like, “give me the details.”  And God replies, “if you saw too far ahead to what I have planned, you couldn’t handle the details!  Just take me at my word.”  In Psalm 119:105 it says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet.”  A lamp only illuminates the path immediately ahead, it’s not a floodlight.

Finally, “the more that you obey God, the more you begin to recognize his voice.”  I’ve found this to be so true.  I’m quicker to respond with obedience the longer I’ve walked with him.  I don’t want to miss out on God’s best for my life by delaying obedience (which is really disobedience).  I will choose faith over fear, no matter how often I have to consciously do so.  Even when opposition comes.  I will expect miracles.  Stay tuned!

With Eternity in Mind

The only thing that keeps me sane (this is a relative term, as anyone who spends time with me can attest) is knowing that the things that seem really, really important and urgent are not as big a deal when I look at them in light of eternity.  Let me elaborate.

I’m not what you’d really call laid-back.  I’m laughing because that is a classic understatement!  I’m an achiever, a make-it-happen kind of girl.  I am a master, truly a master, of getting all tied up in knots over achieving a goal, moving ahead, getting the job done.  This is a confession, not bragging rights.

A couple days ago I had a conversation with a new friend who expressed to me that when she’s around me she feels a sense of calm and peace.  That I really bring that to her life and it’s impacted her.  That is ALL Jesus!  I’m so thankful that he is transforming me!  How exciting that someone sees something in me that is not my natural self, but my in-the-process-of-being-transformed-into-his-likeness self.

I think one of the biggest things I’m learning is to remember who Jesus says I am.  My identity is settled.  It’s not up for grabs, based on the scoreboard or what others think of me.  Nor even what I think of myself.  My value is not in question.  Now that’s something to holler about.  (Have I lived in the Midwest too long?  I’m pretty sure I didn’t really use the word “holler” when I lived in California.)

I truly believe that God honors excellence, that he values hard work, and that he is pleased when we do our best.  He is not honored when we work from fear.  Get out from under the burden that everything is up to you!  Surrender your day to him.  Right now.  Like really right now.  Did you do it?  Okay, now you can move forward with the assurance that nothing is too big for you to handle because God’s got it covered.  Listen to him, every minute.  Ask for wisdom and vision.  Live on the edge of your abilities, knowing that he’s going to take you higher and it’s not all up to you!

Life is short.  I know it’s cliched, but we can all use a good reminder from time-to-time.  Or, in my case, every day.  Will what you choose today matter in eternity?  I certainly hope so.

Live the Life

After my brutally honest post about parenting last week, I thought  follow up post was in order.  Ironically, the day that I wrote that (early in the morning before the small people were awake) ended up being one of the best days we’d had in a while.  They were helpful, played together nicely, got ready for school on time.  That right there was a gift directly from Jesus.  Important side note (I just feel compelled to share this with my readers): I often, as in most of the time, refer to my children as javelinas.  A javelina is a small hoofed mammal from South America that looks like this:

Doesn’t that remind you of your children?  Okay, so maybe not.  In reality, I just like the word and so I use it as much as possible.

One of my friends who has 7 children, yes I said 7, has an amazing business called Inspiring Moms which provides “professional development for the job of parenthood”.  Find it here.  The thing that I’ve heard her say over and over is “live the life you want your kids to live”.   This includes being intentional about building a strong marriage, taking care of yourself, and modeling what it looks like to love your life and be grateful