Tag: gifts (page 1 of 2)

5 Practices to Combat Yard-sticking, Part 2

We all want to feel significant. Am I right??  We want to be -ER or -EST.

But when the only way we get our validation is through “yard-sticking” (being better or best), rather through God’s unconditional delight in us we’re sunk.

I compare, and I think “Ahhhh! I’m better than that!” and pride sneaks in. Or I compare and I think, “Oh, I’ll never be as good as ______” and I forget my worth in Jesus. Pride or Insecurity are the dangers of focusing on -er and -est.

This is an on-going struggle, kind of like whack-a-mole, needing constant attention because the yardstick will pop up over and over.

The other day I wrote about the first 3 practices that I’ve tried in combatting the tendency to yardstick. Here are the final 2. What would you add?

4. Practice gratitude.

Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks. 1Timothy 4:4 MSG

Stop and make a list of the gifts, talents, and opportunities God has given you, thanking Him for the “good works He planned for you long ago”. Even things that seem like limitations may be used for God’s glory. Think of Peter and Paul in jail and their witness.

5. Embrace the discipline of genuine affirmation that comes from a place of abundance not scarcity.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Sometimes, especially when someone else is getting a boatload of attention, it’s hard to be affirming. We can choke on our words because we think “It’s not FAIR!” But when we can be authentic and specific I believe it will strengthen our confidence in God as a God of abundance and not scarcity.

 

One caveat…I do believe that there are times when we’re called to protect our soul from people who somehow Satan seems to consistently use to reinforce the lie of “not good enough”.  This doesn’t mean they are bad people at all, but I unfollow and unsubscribe those who bring out shame or anxiety in me. Boundaries can be a blessing.

None of this is easy. What thoughts would you add?

 

 

5 Practices to Combat Yard-sticking, Part 1

99% of the time I love being a cheerleader! It’s easy for me to get excited about the contributions others are making to the kingdom.

I marvel at those who have gifts that I don’t.

Like anything having to do with math. Or spreadsheets. Or budgets. A poker face. Technology. Patience. The ability to not speak every word that comes to mind.

But then there are other moments.

Especially with folks who have similar gifts and talents to mine, I find myself doing what psychologists call “yard-sticking” – the act of comparing yourself to others, particularly people in your own peer group, in a manner that results in feelings of inadequacy or jealousy.

And let me just say, I know you. I’m not alone. There are certain people who, when you hear someone rave about them, or see them on social media being all shiny and successful with “perfect kids” or a “perfect job”, it triggers something sad and hurtful inside you.  You feel diminished. Discounted. And that is not from Jesus.

Clearly, this is not something I’ve mastered, but there are 5 practices that have been helpful to me. I’ll share the first 3 today:

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Towards the Making of a More Relaxed Christmas 2018

It’s the 28th of December as I write this. I’m guessing both you and I are both feeling a bit “over” – overfed, overtired, over-partied, over-drawn – after weeks of celebrating. Am I right?

Most of us are looking forward to taking down our Christmas tree for a fresh start, and simultaneously feeling sad for the passing of this holy time.

Some of you are thinking “coulda/shoulda/woulda” regarding some of the choices you made this Advent. Maybe you said too many “yes’s” or were totally unorganized. Maybe you over-spent, or were too tired to be present in the moments. Our dream is to be present to God and to others especially during this holy season, so what are we going to do about it?

At our church, every week we do a little post-service eval, asking what went well and what we could do better. I’m thinking that if we do that and give a little forethought, Christmas 2018 can be even better than 2018. So here are a few suggestions.

And let me just say, if you are a man reading this and thinking, “Not my thing”, think again. One of the best gifts you can give your wife if you’re married is your partnership in this season. Step up men!

December 2017 /January 2018 

Have a conversation today. Evaluate Christmas 2017. Discuss these questions:

  • What worked well for Christmas 2017? What are we thankful for?
  • If we were going to choose one word to characterize Christmas 2017, what would it be?
  • What mistakes do we want to avoid for Christmas 2018?

The putzy stuff I hate to do, but this helps:

  • LABEL EVERYTHING as you put it away. Attach pictures of how you decorated to your storage boxes. Buy a storage box and label it 2018.
  • Buy candles, ornaments, ribbon, and goodie bags at post-holiday sales. Put these together and label “Hostess gifts”

  • I LOVE making things, but when November rolls around I feel too pressured to get creative. This January I’m looking at some of the DIY gifts I have pinned and am committing to actually doing them during our cold Minnesota winter.
  • Write on your calendar for December, 2018 which cookies you absolutely loved this year and want to commit to baking next year.
  • Record which menus worked this year – for an Open House, for easy family dinners, for whatever.
  • Update your Christmas card list now.
  • Did you have a great idea for a gift or an activity? Write it down on your calendar – December 2018.

Throughout 2018

  • If you have trips or family gatherings planned for 2018, write in reminders on those dates – TAKE FAMILY PHOTOs for Christmas cards!
  • Keep a gift chart of people, ideas and budget through the year..

November 2018

  • Buy or order your Christmas cards before Thanksgiving if possible.
  • I know not everyone can do this, but I block off the 5 days after Thanksgiving to focus on prepping for Christmas – getting decorations up over time so I can be relaxed. We make a point of coming home from visiting relatives at least a day early to miss the crazy crowds driving/flying home and to give ourselves some time to get grounded before the rush of the holidays starts.
  • If you’re married and have kids at home, sit down with your calendars and see if there is one day you can both take off and work together on shopping (grocery or gift). Enjoy a lunch date!

December 2018

Talk about expectations with your family. What are the things each person is MOST looking forward to and what are they apprehensive about?

Gift ideas

  • A lot of Christmas gifts can’t be anticipated or bought way ahead, but one that everyone loves that you can do in November is to create photo books for family members. If you do this on Shutterfly you can add to save and add to your project throughout the year too.

  • One of the best gift ideas I heard this year was from a grandmother who is a voracious reader and has a huge library of books. She chose one of her books to give each of her kids and grandkids with a note saying why she thought they’d like it. My mom has given me similar gifts that are precious to me – classics we loved, my grandfather’s Bible and my grandmother’s scrap book (100 years old!)

  • For busy mom friends this year I made them the main course of a dinner they could freeze and pop in the oven on a busy day when they didn’t want to cook.

  • Time is our most precious commodity. It may sound like a cop-out, but giving a “date” with someone to take them to a movie and dinner is a precious gift.

 

  • I love it when friends use their gifts and talents to create something special. My friend Sharon, who runs a creative communications team called Open Book,  made these prints to give.

  • And my friend Cara, who has started Rooted by Design, a flower arranging business made these lovely gifts for each of her friends (in a votive holder that can be reused!).

  • Looking for a gift for neighbors or hostess gifts? Make a big batch of ONE thing and put it in the bags you got after Christmas last year. Attach a tiny ornament. Three of the things I have given in the past are homemade granola, or “Christmas crack” snack mix, or quick bread in inexpensive ceramic loaf pans (I got red ones for about $2.00 a piece at Michaels)

 

  • Do you know someone who is grieving? This one is tricky because everyone what is helpful to one might be hurtful to another. The first Christmas after my brother died, my sister-in-law didn’t have the will or energy to decorate herself, but friends snuck over and hung a wreath on her door. You also might give an ornament that reminds you of the person who died, with a note sharing a memory. 

Those are a few of my ideas. What would you add? Please share in comments!

3 Crucial Questions Elizabeth May Have Asked

The sun is setting outside the sanctuary windows. I work hard to be present – to continue listening as a friend in the pew speaks to me before evening worship starts. I pray silently that she doesn’t see the tears that threaten to expose my emotional response to what she is saying. It’s stupid.

“I’m over this,” I scold myself. “I’ve been over this for years!”. The little stab of pain surprises me in the way a driver cutting you off in traffic catches you off guard.

My friend is rhapsodizing about another woman. A wonderful, talented, godly, beautiful woman who I too, cheer for. Over and over, my friend says, “She’s just SO GOOD! She’s just SO GIFTED!”

99% of the time I would just happily agree, but this evening, in this setting, where others are validated with titles and pay-checks, the Evil One translates “good” and “gifted” to “chosen where you’re not good enough”, “important where you’re not“. The words aren’t true, but they bump into a wound that makes them feel true. The wound has healed over with much prayer and attention, but there’s a scar, and in the right circumstances it can surprise me with a leftover ache.

I’m still trying to brush away the feelings of inadequacy as we sing the opening praise song. “Let the King of my heart be the shadow where I hide.”

Yes, Lord, help me to hide in You, in Your place for me, in Your words about me, in Your story.

Can any of you relate to this? Are there times when emotion – pain, fear, envy, resentment – knock you upside the head without warning?

This morning I was reading Luke 1… about Elizabeth, who, with a wound of infertility, accepted her supporting role for other characters who in turn pointed to Jesus as the main character. She was a cheerleader for Mary – the one who got pregnant with the Messiah without even trying. And mother to John the Baptist, odd desert-dweller, announcing the main event.

Maybe Satan whispered in Elizabeth’s ear,  You’re not important like her! Child-bearing came easy for her because she’s SPECIAL and you’re not! You’re just an ‘also ran’. Her kid will be perfect. Yours just a bug-eater”

And yet Elizabeth was humble and affirming of Mary.

You’re so blessed among women,
    and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that
    the mother of my Lord visits me?
The moment the sound of your
    greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb
    skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.
Blessed woman, who believed what God said,
    believed every word would come true! Luke 1:42-45

Maybe there were times when Elizabeth’s scar ached in Mary’s presence. But I think it was because she knew it wasn’t about her OR about Mary that she had this godly perspective. It’s about Jesus. Always about Jesus.

It’s not about you. Or me.

But I wonder, did Elizabeth ever need to step back, be still, and ask:

  • Where is this pain coming from?
  • What is true? What does GOD say?
  • Who’s the hero of my story?

God’s provision is often different from what we envision. Sometimes we forget the most important thing – He’s the author and main character in the Grand Story of redemption.

Today, can we be thankful we get to be supporting characters?

5 Tips I’ve Learned From Great Gift-Givers

This post may be a little untimely. After all, you’re probably not thinking about Christmas shopping for next year.

But maybe you have friend with a birthday coming up and who doesn’t love giving and receiving gifts just because it’s Monday, right?

Or maybe you’re an employer who can’t give your team a raise, but wants to encourage and acknowledge their hard work.

I’m super easy to buy for because so much delights me! Give me a copy of Country Living UK to lose myself in and I’m as happy as if you had given me a car. (I’m really not a car person, so that’s probably not a fair comparison.) But not all people are so easy.

Anyway, whether you’re easy or not, don’t you know people who are just awesome gift-givers? I want to learn from them, so this past Christmas I paid close attention to gifts that particularly delighted me and made some notes.

Here’s are 5 things I came up with:

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The Perfect Monday Gift

It’s Monday morning, less than 2 weeks before Christmas. If you’ve even taken the time to open this post, you are probably skimming it just to see if there is any nugget to help you get through a day of deadlines, carpool lines, headlines, and metro lines.

You may be preoccupied with the gifts you need to still need to buy. But what about the gifts that you need today?

As I reflect on the people of the Bible, so often it seems they didn’t get what they asked for, but they always got what they needed. It wasn’t usually comfortable, or predictable, but it was always good.

The Jews expected a military leader but they got a Savior who offered the gift of a forgiven eternal life with God.

The Magi were used to getting honor and awe, but received a humbling before the true King.

The shepherds were expecting a quiet night of sheep-keeping, but received an adventure and introduction of epic proportions.

Mary and Joseph didn’t expect to have to flee Herod as refugees after Jesus was born, but the Magi brought gifts that financed this detour.

You may not find the present you’re looking for, but you will have God’s presence. You may receive a deeper sense of your identity as a beloved child of His. You may grow in patience and peace.

His gifts may be beauty, or the delight of a child’s face, or an unexpected act of kindness.

Today, this ordinary Monday, may God give you the gifts you need in the exact moments you need them.

“The One that God sent speaks God’s words. And don’t think he rations out the Spirit in bits and pieces. The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to him so he could give it away—a lavish distribution of gifts.” John 3:34

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Soul Food – Gifts for Christmas

It’s almost Thanksgiving. Twinkle lights are starting to appear and Peppermint Mochas are available. I’ve started playing Christmas music and praying about how God might use these posts to bring life and peace this Advent.

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One of the huge stressors of the season is the gift giving. Can I get an “AMEN”?!! The financial strain, the time crunch, the emotional stress of trying to find Just The Right Thing. We want it to be delightful and natural and sometimes it is, but others times…

Can I make a few suggestions (especially if you have young kids)? Note: everyone is different! Maybe these aren’t right for you. Continue reading

5 Reminders For Your Heart

We’ve been in San Francisco over the weekend for Maggie’s graduation with her Masters from Berkley.  This is that time of year – one of graduations and weddings and new ventures and births of every kind. It’s a season of marking moments. Looking back and looking forward. As I was reflecting on this I thought it’s a time when maybe our heart needs reminding of some things.

So, today, a list of 5 Reminders your heart needs as you launch into whatever new things God has for you: Continue reading

#nofailchristmas

Merry Christmas Eve Morning!  I’m guessing if you’re reading this either you’re ahead of the game with ALL OF THE THINGS done and the Hallelujah Chorus playing on Spotify, candles lit, and presents perfect, or you’re hiding in the bathroom binging on Christmas cookies, reading this and pretending you don’t hear your kids fighting outside the door.

For us it has been a delightful week of having both our daughters in town with lots of hugs, and catching up, laughter, and a Christmas before Christmas brunch with Maggie who headed to Texas yesterday to be with her husband and in-laws.

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But lest you picture our lives as a Norman Rockwell painting, let me just share a few other snapshots. Continue reading

5 Questions About…

Do you have a nickname?  It’s not a nickname exactly, but in our family, and with my close friends, I’m known as “Idea Woman”.

I’ve shared before that husband John says the first line of the 4 Spiritual Laws should really read: God loves you and LAURA has a wonderful plan for your life!

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So, I’ll admit that there are people who see me coming with that “IDEA gleam” in my eye and are tempted to run away.

The other thing I’m accused of is grilling asking a lot of questions of people I meet.  Frankly, besides wanting to be a spy, I also want to be Katie Couric (and yes, look like her too).

All that to say, I’m really excited about an idea I had for a new blog series called “5 Questions About….”  I have so many incredibly talented friends that I thought, what if I send some of them 5 questions about different topics that they have great insights on?

So, one day weekly til l run out of friends or topics, we’ll be doing 5 Questions About… Leadership, Hospitality, Singleness, God’s plans, Mentoring, Risk, etc.  (I’ll alternate these with One Word posts.)

“An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.” Werner Heisenberg

Everyone is an expert at something.  Who is someone with a gift or a skill you’d like to learn from?  Give them a call today and set up a time for coffee.  You might say, “I really admire your understanding of ________ and I’d love to learn from you.  Could we spend an hour together?”  Everyone likes to share their knowledge and experience!

There’s so much we can learn from each other!

Proverbs 23:12 says, Give yourselves to disciplined instruction; open your ears to tested knowledge.

What’s a topic you’d like to ask 5 questions about?  

 

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