Tag: growth (page 1 of 2)

Four Words About One Word and Spiritual Growth

 I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first dayuntil now,  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3-6

Are you ever a little spiritually ADD?

Feel like it’s one step forward and two steps back in terms of spiritual growth?

Have you forgotten your One Word ? The one you prayed about and was sure God was going to use to make 2017 the year of AMAZING JESUS AWESOMENESS?

Well sister, here are my three words for you. YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE.

I checked in with some from our blog community about how their “One Word” focus is going this year and thought I’d share their thoughts with you.

Meghann: My word for the year was, “NARRATIVE.”  I really regret it now because this looks like it’s going to be a long road to travel, to trust, and really listen to a different narrative about myself.
 
I know the truth is that I’m not “weak and pathetic” because I’m really broken down, and I’m not “making it worse” by not just pushing past it.  But, ugh.  Would be nice if I could just wake up one morning and say, “What was that?  Moving on…”

 

A reader who lives in the mountains in the middle of Jamaica sent me a note after my last post on my “one word” .

“My 2017 word is LIGHT and I am not doing too badly with it, trying to be intentional at least once weekly.
I chose to use a separate journal and am glad I did. Using the word in my centered prayer practice which I’m just learning, is helpful too. He is truly the Light and brings light to my understanding as I seek Him.”

Heather: My word is BRAVE – learning what brave looks like when I need to say “no” even to good things or when it means disappointing someone…Learning that brave looks and feels different than I sometimes think it will/does, and learning how to be brave in situations that are beyond ME.

Carrie: My word(S) (because you know I can never choose just one) is “YOU WILL”. I need to be steadfast in that God will provide, God will fight for me, God will lavish love on me and those around me, God will move among our students and our church, God will meet me wherever I’m at.

To me, it is more than “God can“. I need to believe and live out of the truth that he will because he is FOR me and good to me. I’ve struggled with believing that over the years. I’ve thought He was good in nature and good to other people and good for me but not always good to me. The verses that I was drawn to on this were Mark 11:22-25 and Ephesians 3:20-21.

Theresa: I couldn’t decide on a word…I’m in such a period of survival. But I do feel now like I’m almost to the top of this mountain and looking forward to what God has in store!

 Molly: I got a pretty notebook and I chose a word but I don’t remember what it was! 

Jesus is about infinity do-overs!

So you see?? You are not alone! It’s ok if you didn’t choose a word and it’s ok if you want to start now! It’s ok if you’ve stumbled a bit this week.
 
 What about the rest of you? Share your experience in the comments.

Bubble Wrap and 3 Ways we Respond to Criticism

Back from Africa Friday afternoon with lots to process and amazing experiences meeting many heroes. Daughter Maggie, and son-in-law Austin arrived Saturday so I’m thankful for the summer blog sabbatical and the space to be present. I’m reposting some thoughts from a few years ago today that started with a text from Maggie.

IMG_2565This was a text I received from daughter Maggie awhile ago:

This afternoon a man from the DC Legislature and Regulatory Services in the office next door reprimanded me for playing with bubble wrap too loudly.

BTW, You raised me.” 

Hmmm…Really.

This text raises so many questions.

The Jesus-y way people used to say this back in the day was “I rebuke thee!”  And it came with flames of fire, and lightning bolts.  Like Jason Bourne, Bruce Lee, and 007 doing their super hero moves in a whirlwind smack down of high kicks, karate chops, back flips and flying tackles.

Rebuking seems like the biblical free clobber card although these days it often comes under the guise of “doing a Matthew 18:15”.  If we’re honest, sometimes I think we can enjoy being the clobberer (or imagining it), but as the clobberee we usually we feel like we’re picking ourselves up off the matt, bruised and bloody after being called out.

A few weeks ago I was corrected loudly and publicly for a mistake I made.  Then later in the day I was scolded for something I wrote.  It felt like Simon Cowell had told me he had never heard anyone with less talent.  On national t.v.  Want-to-crawl-in-a-hole-pain-full.

We Christians don’t like making mistakes.  It feels so, you know…ungodly.

Once in awhile critique comes wrapped in love from those close to us, like Mr. Rogers putting his arm around us and gently saying “You messed up, but it’s ok.  We all do.  You’re still a part of the neighborhood.”

But more often it comes from a stranger and it feels like Mark Driscoll has put us on his “Jesus hates you” hit list.

All this bubble wrap stuff has made me think about the ways we usually respond to criticism or correction.

1.  We hold hoard it like an 80 year old grandma saving plastic baggies to reuse.  We let it define us.  Maggie could see herself forever as the “Bubble Wrap Bimbo.”  Let it drown out any affirmation.  Research shows that it typically takes 4 positive interactions with someone to offset one negative one.  We’re giving reprimands a lot of power!  Maggie might so focus on the rebuke that she’d miss the three other compliments on her creative bubble dance moves, her cat-like reflexes, and her innovative use of trash.

2.  We rebuke the rebuker.  Replay the conversation in our heads complete with witty original comebacks.  In these scenarios we always emerge righteous and are able to do an end-zone victory dance with moves like Victor Cruz in the Super Bowl while the other person begs forgiveness for being  SO wrong about us.  Victim turned Victor.

3.  We look for the truth, learn from it, and move on.  Borrrrring, you say?  Yeah, and it’s about as easy for me as competitors on the Amazing Race, sifting through the mud to come up with the prized Japanese frog.  But I’ve seen it done so I know it’s possible.

What might a redemptive text from Maggie to Regulatory Guy look like?

RG, Sorry the noise bothered u.  It was thoughtless of me not 2 tone it down, but bubble wrap is joy in plastic!  Next time I’ll invite u 2 join us in the dance.  Have a great day! 😉

Just recently Mark Batterson tweeted, “Criticism, even unfair criticism, can be a blessing in disguise. It keeps you humble.”                                                                              Great.  Thanks.  Yea for humility.

I’m trying.  End zone victory dance fantasies aside, my prayer this morning was, “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.  Help me to hear the words of truth in each criticism aimed at me.  Let my words of correction always be few and seasoned with grace.”

What’s your most common reaction to criticism?  How do you handle it?

You are Stronger than You Think

The other day, two things happened.  I saw this video and I realized I’m stronger than I think.

No, I’m never going to be a pull-up dancer. I know this might surprise you.  I’m not strong in that way.

But as I was driving along a person came to mind who brought me great pain in the past, and I felt…indifference!  Then I thought of an experience that had had great destructive power in my life, and I felt…fine!  Actually, I felt great!  I could think about the experience and appreciate what I learned without reliving the pain. I was strong in a new way!  Stronger than I thought.  I bet you are too.

STRONGER is my One Word this year, so it was weird when it struck me that there are areas where I’ve already grown stronger over the years.

Stronger can sneak up on you when you’re not looking.  We can say “Aha, Stronger!  I recognize you!”

Yes, it requires discipline and truth-telling and exercising flabby muscles over time. It’s a daily 3 mile run rather than a dash into the grocery store.  We do our work and God does His work and somehow we get better. Stronger.

We let weak win when we give power to people or experiences in our lives that don’t deserve it.

We get stronger when we say “Nope!” over and over again. “The only One who deserves power in my life to define me or carry me or approve me or interpret life for me is Jesus.”

We’re I’m so paranoid about seeming braggy that I sometimes neglect to celebrate the small victories of change. But the other day I felt it was time to celebrate and thank God for stronger.

So, what’s one area of your life where you can celebrate growth?  What is one way you’ve grown stronger?

 

One Tool For Growth in 2015

I know, I know…it’s almost New Year’s Eve so it must be time for another one of my “journaling is so valuable” posts.  Some of you will delete as soon as you see the word “journal”, just like me when I read “gluten-free” or “ab crunches”.  Just not gonna go there.

But wait! Hold on just a minute (or 5 as the case may be).  There’s a new resource I want to tell you about that is NOT these: Continue reading

5 Questions About…Risk

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Sharon is a dear friend who both inspires and intimidates me with her amazingness.  She has guest-posted here before.  I’m so thankful that in the midst of a busy, stressful time, she was willing to share some more of what she’s learning.  Here’s the next in our 5 Questions About…series.

1. Recently you took what must have felt like a huge risk. Can you tell us about it?

Eight months ago, I resigned from a job I had loved and made the leap to running my own business. This happened after an extended season of prayer and discernment, so by the time I made the change, I felt certain it was the right thing to do.

Yes, there were practical risks involved: leaving a certain income, benefits, 401K; losing the familiarity of my office and team. And as a single person, I didn’t have a safety net of a second income, back-up insurance, or a support person to pick up slack in other areas of life. But I was also very clear about why I was making the change: 1) to be faithful to what I understood God was putting in my hands; 2) to learn and grow through a new challenge.

So when I framed it that way, I realized that even if my business failed (and I had to move into my parents’ basement), I would experience God in deeper ways and learn things I wouldn’t otherwise. Continue reading

Three Ideas About Feedback Vs. Criticism

Monday I wrote about how we can handle criticism that feels like a personal attack.  Ironically, I had an experience this week that got me to thinking about the difference between criticism and feedback.

Criticism is usually unsolicited and often exposes blind spots that are uncomfortable for us to acknowledge.  Definition: the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.

Feedback is usually solicited.  Definition: information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc., used as a basis for improvement.

Let me tell you about my experience this week. Continue reading

3 Insights from my Reader Survey and Why it Might Matter to You

Two and a half years ago I prayed about God’s direction for a new season, and He used the story of Elijah and the widow to prompt me to use my “flour and oil” – my tiny bit that He would make enough.

Specifically, this blog.  I said, “Ok, I’ll try to show up with my flour and oil if You’ll show up with Your Spirit.”  It is no holy-moley exaggeration to say that it’s been a stretching experience of dependence on Him for weekly words.  Any value here is Him graciously using me.  Last week, for the first time I did a survey to see how you feel it’s going.

People in “real” jobs get a pay check and a yearly review.  Students get grades and diplomas.   We all grow by evaluating – setting goals and checking to see where we’re hitting the mark and where we need to recalibrate.  Other than praying and trusting God, discerning progress and value on a blog is hard.

I know surveys can be a pain, so I want to say a HUGE “Thank you!” to the many readers who took the time to give feedback!  I sooooo appreciate it!!  It was informative and encouraging!  Often I write and post and it feels like my words are flying out into a vast cosmic void.  This survey assured me that there are actual PEOPLE reading and being encouraged by these posts God graciously gives me.  It was so great getting to KNOW you a little bit through your responses!

Three things I learned from the survey: Continue reading

Good Fights

I think I had a pretty good fight recently.  Not great, but it was progress.  Let me backtrack.

Someone did something that made me, well… furious!

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I grew up in a home where there was very little conflict, and when there was, we ignored it.

You know, like a kid who thinks if he closes his eyes no one will see him.  So conflict’s not really been my thing.  It’s had to be a growing edge for me as an adult.

And I’ve done it wrong. A. Lot.

When someone said something thoughtless, or did something mean, or (gasp!) was controlling or dismissive or disagreed with me…

I’ve done the angry email thing and the passive-aggressive thing, and the withdraw and punish thing…

See, I told you I was bad at this!

But the other day, once I settled down, I experienced a tiny (and I mean tiny) victory.  Continue reading

Filling Your Bucket

The Minnesota State Fair started last week.  The unofficial mark to the beginning of the end.

The end of the glorious season of going “up north”, going to DQ, and not going inside til neighborhood kids stop playing tag when the sun finally fades at 9:00.  Biking the lakes, going without shoes and without makeup.

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We estimate church attendance goes down by 30-40% in the summer and we get it.  We live in a state where the only month that hasn’t had snow in recorded history is July.

People in MN play hard in the summer.  There’s a concerted effort to fill up.  To fill up with family time, sunshine, hide-n-seek playing, tubing, and kayaking.  We do summer big.

And then all of a sudden it’s school time again and we’re all about busy and schedules and no margin.  And sure, there’s a part of us that craves the order, but with it comes the stress of too much stuff and too little time.  

It’s got me thinking about the rhythms of our lives.

Bill Hybels says, “As a leader, the best thing you bring to the table every day is a filled up bucket.” 

I’m thinking you could substitute “parent”, “teacher”, “”boss”, “coach”….or just “person” for “leader”.

As a person, the best thing you bring to the world every day [of the year!] is a filled up bucket.

So how do you do that?  If you think of some the different areas of your life – spiritual, physical, relational – what rhythms do you have that keep you replenished so that you don’t just deplete, deplete, deplete, and then madly try to fill up?

Continue reading

The Other “F Words”, part 3

I once put 2 CUPS of salt into a recipe of lasagna instead of 2 teaspoons.

Ok, actually I ran out of salt after a cup and a half, but still…  Inconceivable that anyone could be such an idiot?  A failure?  I know, I know it’s hard even for me to believe.  I can only chalk it up to the fact that I was multi-tasking and my mind was elsewhere.

You’ve never made a stupid mistake?  Or failed at something serious you worked hard for?

Did you fail your driver’s test the first time?

Fail to make the varsity tennis, football, or swim team?

Been fired?

Have a failed marriage?

Failed to get a promotion you applied for?

Failure.  Another uncomfortable “F word”.

Even writing the word brings feelings of humiliation and embarrassment.  A sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Experiences, choices, words, I’d really like to forget                    (another f word) :).

I have plenty of failures to reflect on.  I’m a passionate, aim-fire-ready kind of gal.  Leap before you look.  It’s all good.  Enthusiasm wins the day.

As a result I’ve inadvertently stepped on toes, lost money, received rejections for less-than-best work submitted too quickly.

Maybe your pattern is different, but you can still think of failures that make you cringe.

As I’ve been reflecting on failure I’ve read some inspiring stuff.

“Grace means our failures don’t define who we are anymore; they just shape who we’re becoming.”Bob Goff

“If you know you are the Beloved, you can live with an enormous amount of success
and an enormous amount of failure without losing your identity.
Because your identity is that you are the Beloved…” Henri Nouwen

Somebody asked Winston Churchill one time, “What most prepared you to lead Great Britain through World War 2?

This was Churchill’s response: “It was the time I repeated a class in grade school.”

The questioner said, “You mean you flunked a grade?”

Churchill said, “I never flunked in my life.  I was given a second opportunity to get it right.”

What we would like to delete, God wants to complete (I’m sure I heard that pithy little saying somewhere, but I can’t remember where)

But how do we translate all this peppy talk into anything more?  We all are going to fail, but what’s next?  How do we “fail forward” as I think John Maxwell said?

Stop trying (or crying) for a minute and hold your “failure” (whatever it is) before God and say,

Here it is Lord.

Use it.  Redeem it.  Teach me from it.  Show me my next step.  But don’t let it define me, paralyze me, or tempt me to turn from You.  Thank you that I am Your beloved child.  No matter what.”

What have you failed at that God has redeemed?

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