Self-Evaluation

I have difficulty committing to reading one book at a time.  There is a stack of dog-eared, bookmarked, highlighted, and half-read books by my bedside. Right now, I am in the middle of four different books BUT only one of those books is impacting me on a very deep and personal level.

This book is causing me to take a good, honest look at myself. It is prompting me to think about who I am as a person and where I stand as a leader. It is good (so healthy) to pause and check ourselves, our intentions, and our goals. When we take that time, we find things that we might not like and things we want to change or improve.  Or we might find things that reinforce what we are already doing and encouraged us to continue forward.

The Jesus-Hearted Woman

The book I am referring to is The Jesus-Hearted Woman- 10 Leadership Qualities for Enduring and Endearing Influence.  In October, I had an opportunity to hear Jodi Detrick, the author, speak at MOPS Leadership Training at MOMcon.  With biblical advice, personal stories and real-life examples, she challenged us to respond to God’s invitation to leadership and strive to lead more like Jesus to make a world-changing difference.

When I got home from training, the book landed in a collection of other books put aside to read when I got some free time. That is where it stayed until a few months ago.  A group of other MOPS Coaches wanted to do an online book club with “Jesus-Hearted” book. Each week, we read one chapter and discuss the chapter (and ourselves) in a Facebook group conversation.  Real, authentic, honest conversation takes place leaving me wanting more and wanting to go deeper.

This week’s chapter was on humility. I strive to be humble but ugly-pride rears its head more times than I wish to admit. I think with technology and social media, it is easy to build your own podium and puff yourself up. You can make your life look wonderful, great, fun, self-sacrificing, and carefree. But I wonder what it would look like if we could see just over the view of the lens. You probably would see a messy, disorganized, self-centered, disengaged life. I can say that because from time to time I have been there and guilty of the exact thing.  This life isn’t about perfection or self, it is a messy life surrounded by others who need love and God’s presence in their lives.

I want to be an authentic, humble leader and more like Jesus. It is a humbling thought that God has allowed me to have a part in His kingdom work. This book, and especially this chapter, is helping me to sharpen the image of people around me. Elevating others, serving those who are hurt and looked down upon, restoring and building relationships, encouraging others and asking for help all as practices in humility and in becoming a better leader.

“Humility helps us encounter greatness in unexpected places.”

Jodi Detrick, The Jesus Hearted-Woman


Advent-“Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” Day 11-12-13-14-15 Craft Ideas

day1115

“Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” Ornament and Craft Ideas-Days 11-15

This is Part 4 in a series of ornament/craft ideas that I think correspond with the daily advent readings from Ann Voskamp’s book “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.”  Read about Day 1-2 here Day 3-4-5-6, and Days 7-10 here. You can find many ideas on the internet for Bible story crafts. Below are some of my original ideas and some that I modified from Pinterest. I gave credit for those craft ideas that I borrowed. If you decide to make and share one of my craft ideas, I would to love to see it. Tag me on Instagram or send me a link to your blog post.

adventday11rahabscarletcord

21 “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.”

So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.  Joshua 2:21

Materials Needed:

-Red Yarn

-Optional: small hair elastic

1.)Holding one end of the yarn in your hand, wrap the yarn around your elbow (bent 90 degrees) at least 25 times. You will end up with a loop.

2.) Still holding the loop of yarn. Cut the yarn vertically to open the loop. Tie yarn at one end (or in the middle of the yarn you are still holding.

3.) Braid yarn. Tie with another piece of yarn or a small hair elastic. Look an ornament hook through the top.

adventday12ruth

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. Ruth 1: 16-18

22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. Ruth 1:22

Materials Needed:

-mini gold tinsel (I found mine at Walmart)

-tape

-red satin ribbon

1.) Cut various lengths of tinsel.

2.) Bundle the tinsel to your liking and secure with tape.

3.) Wrap a satin ribbon around the middle and tie in a bow.

 

adventday13samueldavid

“7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

This idea came from Jesus Rolon’s blog “Crafting the Word of God.”

http://craftingthewordofgod.com/2013/08/02/god-searches-our-hearts/

Materials Needed:

-cardstock

-contact paper or a laminator

-scissors, tape, glue or glue dots.

To save some time:

1.) I printed the templates (found at the link above)  on card stock.

2.) Cut out all the pieces.

3.) Instead of using contact paper, I colored the heart and laminated it with my table top laminator. (Disclaimer: I tried using contact paper but t makes me all flustered. It wrinkles and bubbles and causes me undue stress! That is why I took the easy route with the laminator.)

4.) Trace the circle on the laminated paper, around the heart, and glue dotted all the pieces together.

 

adventday14lightindarkness

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.” Isaiah 9:2

When my girls were little, I purchased a great advent resource called Truth in the Tinsel- An Advent Experience For Little Hands . Each day we read a scripture passage, created a simple craft ornament all while we talked about the scripture and the true meaning of Christmas. I loved pulling out the book and completing the activities. One year, my grandmother, mother, and sister made ornaments along with us. I still have some of the ornaments and they serve as good memories from that year. If you have little ones, this is a great resource for you. The ebook is only $7.99 and you could get started right away.  Day #11 ornament idea comes from the Truth in the Tinsel and goes along with December 11th’s reading of Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.

 

 

adventday15elijah

“38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”  I kings 18:38-39

Materials Needed: 

-red ball ornament

-heart shaped sticker

-acrylic paint (red, orange, yellows, metallic gold)

-sponges or sponge brush

1.) Stick a heart shaped sticker in the center of the ball.  Carefully press around the edges to make sure sticker is sealed.

2.) Sponge fiery colors on the ball and over the heart sticker.

3.) Let dry.

4.) Peel the heart sticker away. If the paint seeped under the sticker, you can use a small amount of nail polish remover on a q-tip to remove the paint. Be careful to test the area first so it does not strip the red color.

 


Timeless Comforts

timeless comforts

She rummaged through her wallet searching for something specific. Her soft, aged, wrinkled hands worked tediously through each pocket and in and out of every fold. She knew that it was there but where it was she was not certain. The rest of us looked on in great anticipation as to what object would be pulled from its hiding place. With a smile and a sigh, she pulled out what seemed to be a photograph. She motioned me over and gently placed it in my hand.  I looked down to see a handsome man dressed in 70’s fashion. His brown eyes twinkled. His smile was warm and welcoming. Pointing to the picture, she told me it was her son.  I turned over the picture to find words scribbled on the back- “Husband. (man’s name.) Married 67 years. Three children (children’s names.)”  The program director broke the silence with a little light-hearted humor and reminded the aging woman that the picture was not of her son but of her husband. A funny statement was made and everyone laughed.

There was great care and respect in the interaction between the director and the woman. A familiarity and trust in the way they looked at each other and spoke. The elderly woman smiled warmly at me and gave me a silent nod.  I handed her back her treasured photograph and smiled back with a lump in my throat. Sixty-seven years with a man, three children later, and a whole life lived and the details were blurred and hard to recall.

old photos

I wasn’t supposed to be there. Through a series of unplanned, God-orchestrated events, I was found myself filling in for my pastor husband at our church’s monthly non-denominational church service that we facilitate for the residents of the dementia and memory care home in our local community.  I had never been to the service before and my husband had given me a 5 minute orientation about how to get there, what to do when I got there, and then told me to come up with some short message to share. One other church member, Evie, would be leading the singing. She had never been there before either.

We were led through a maze of hallways and locked doors, and invited to enter a bright, warm room. There were about ten comfortable chairs placed alongside the walls. Four residents silently occupied four of them. One other resident, a friendly, animated man was seated in a wheel chair near the door. Fall decorations were hung from the ceiling and wooden crafts the residents had made were displayed along the walls. A big, bright window and large ,framed, New England foliage pictures added light and cheer to the small room.

Fall Leaves

A few introductions were made and large-print hymnals were passed around the room.  Evie announced the page number of the first hymn and started us through the first verse.  In between the familiar words and phrases, I glanced over at the residents singing. Their mouths moved at different times. Wrong words and phrases escaped their lips. With the exception of Evie’s voice, each song sounded off-key, off pitch, off melody, and sung with poor rhythm. BUT each song was sung with great enthusiasm and joy. The residents sang from their hearts with confidence and peace.

With great reverence they listened to and joined me as we recited Psalm 23 and The Lord’s Prayer. We talked about Jesus and the greatest commandment to love God and love others. There seemed to be a trust and familiarity with the songs and the passages for the residents. It was a sacred place and moment. There was unity as we were connected together to a past of a rich tradition of faith held by all those who have gone before us.

With their worlds becoming blurry and details slipping away daily, these timeless truths woven beautifully into hymns and passages, have been locked and stored in the hearts and souls to serve as anchors of hope and comfort.

When everything is gone and has been stripped away, the thing that truly matters remains… love and Jesus. 

I have been thinking a lot about this and what is going to matter when I get to the end of my earthly journey. What legacy will I leave? The hours spent worrying about things out of my control. Petty arguments and disagreement with others. Guilt, shame, bad decisions, and fretting over dumb stuff.  Things that seem so important now, when they are stripped away what will remain? Certainly, not earthly comforts or physical strength.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  Matthew 24:35

My visit with these sweet, elderly people did more for me than I could ever do for them. Before I left, I took each one of their velvety smooth, wrinkled hands in mine and I looked them in their eyes as if I could see deep into their souls. I hoped with every part of me that they felt loved and filled with comfort and peace.  In the short time I spent with them they helped me put things in perspective. They set me on a path to continue to think about what is important in my life and how I am spending this precious time I have on Earth. But most importantly, they were a testimony to me of the kind of things I should be setting my eyes on and storing in my heart and soul for a future that one day will come.

It is Well With My Soul by Horatio G. Spafford, 1873

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well), with my soul, (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.


MOMcon 2015- Unpacking At Home

MOMcon2015

Whoa! What a whirlwind this last week has been! Just one week ago, I was sitting among 3,000 MOPS leaders in Indianapolis at MOPS International’s Leadership Convention worshipping with Matt Maher and soaking in life-changing messages and teachings.  There is nothing like being with that many like-minded women who are also moms and leaders. A smile and a hug are always waiting for you around each corner.

This was my third time at MOMcon. Preparing to leave was a ton of work (more than I ever remember) -homeschool lessons completed, five different people lined up to watch my kids, laundry and packing to be completed.  I had a lot on my mind and heart before I left.  I was exhausted before I even arrived, but I held on to the truth that God’s work is powerful when there is little of  “me” left. When I am too tired to fight for my own agenda and wants, that is when I start to hear His voice whispering into my tired mind and heart. That’s when I hear Him inviting me to “RISE up” and go forth to do the good works He has called me to do.  I was excited and a little anxious to see what was in store for me in the time away.

During MOPS Coach Training and the conference sessions, the speakers and worship leaders kept asking us “How is God speaking to you?” “What will you commit too?”  For me, there wasn’t an immediate answer to this question. No clear cut instructions or big directions to take. In every prayer, I asked God to reveal what it was he wanted me to hear. For a few days, I did not hear anything but felt at peace and filled with joy.

Sometimes when you stop expecting to hear from God, that is when you do.

At some point, I stopped straining my ear for His voice and I started to relax, recharge, and take everything in. Themes started to resonated within my heart. Confirmations came in form of words and people of things that I had been thinking about and praying about for weeks prior. My expectation changed from waiting to hear something new to noticing the good work God is currently doing in my life.

Here are the things that spoke to me:

1.) Live in grace. Walk in Love. Love everyone always! I had been looking forward to hear Bob Goff speak as soon as I found out that he was going to be at MOMcon. What an incredible encourager and messenger of love! I think I laughed from the moment he stepped on the stage until the last word he spoke. You can not help but have a huge smile on your face after you have listened to him. This guy is for real! And he is just as gracious and authentic when you meet him. He looks you in the eye when you talk and makes you feel like you are special, an instant friend. But it was what Bob said that left the impression in my heart. He shared from the book of Galatians about living in grace and walking in love from 2 John 6And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” He spoke about the differences between an invitation and a welcome. It made me think of the invitations I extend to people and what it means to make them feel really welcomed, encouraged, and loved in what I am inviting them to do.

Bob Goff

2.) Be Kind and Be a First Clapper- Cheer on another’s undeveloped best!– Jodi Detrick.  Jodi Detrick is the author of The Jesus-Hearted Woman. She spoke on “healthy leadership being a journey of influence in a community with others, not a solo trek of independent efforts and self-importance.” I loved the themes of community and teamwork in her talk. Her quote about being a first clapper made me realize how much I love cheering on the under-dog and fostering developing skills in people. It was not so much of something new to learn but a reminder to keep cheering on those around me.

3.) Be available and authentic- Gina Moran, Director of Leader Care and Church Connection at MOPS International.  Gina spoke on MOPS desire to inspire a faith journey in moms all over the world. Her talk included practical implementation of components used by MOPS in inspiring a faith journey.  Although, she was mostly talking about MOPS groups, the components laid out can be implemented in one’s life- inviting, hospitable, intentional,authentic, investing. Both Gina and Sherry Surratt (CEO and President of MOPS International)  referenced The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door by Jay Pathak & Dave Runyon.  Prior to coming to MOMcon, my husband and I had spent hours and hours talking about community, getting to know the people in our church on a more personal level, raising up leaders, and being a light in our neighborhood. When Gina said “be available and authentic,” it went straight to my heart.  I know that sometimes the pace of my life is too fast and it inhibits me to being available. Although I am constantly reevaluating my time and priorities, I know that there is always time for what is important for you.  Reaching out, developing more genuine and authentic relationships has become what is important to me and realizing this is a step forward towards this goal.

4.) Look at your pace in life.– Bob Goff, Crystal Paine, Sherry Surratt, Amena Brown, ALMOST everyone! A reminder to continue to look at my schedule and commitments, make adjustments, continue to work on protecting time, and saying “no” (oh, that is so hard for me.) I desire to be a model to my children of what it means to keep a healthy schedule and be available for loving people and building relationships. Amena Brown said “you need God to break your rhythms so that your rhythm will be in step with His.” Amen! Lord, break my rhythms!

Amena Brown

5.) JOY! “Joy is the sacred jingle of God in you.” -Margaret Feinberg.  I had never heard Margaret Feinberg speak before but WOW!  What another amazing encourager! She is brave fighter (she is currently battling cancer) and a champion of joy! Joy radiates from her as she speaks and not in some overly-cheerful, sickening sweet way. Joy that is real and inspiring.  So often we get caught up in all the things that do not matter, we take life for granted. Margaret’s message was not a promise that bad things will never happen to  you but more of when bad things do, “fight back with joy.” “Joy is a weapon!”

So themes of love, grace, joy, community, rhythms, time and relationships. Those are the the things I will holding in my heart and hope to fiercely flourish in this year. Until MOMcon 2016 in Milwaukee, live in grace and walk in love.

————————————————————————————————-

12034325_10206094810901600_775459168003683037_o

A few other highlights from MOMcon. I got to arm wrestle (long story!) and meet a reader of my blog who also happens to be a MOPS Coach too. I am happy to now call her a friend.  She blessed my heart with her smile and encouragement. Love you, Tammy!

celebrate

Time with my MOPS Coaching team was a HUGE gift to me. These ladies are amazing and I love each one of them. We are all so different but we come together to make a one super, great team. We stayed up late talking (about everything), laughing, and enjoyed each other’s company. They pour prayer, encouragement, and life into me and help make me a better leader and person.

MVS Team

Finally- STARBUCKS! There was only one place to get coffee at the convention hall so the lines were very long! 3,000 moms need their tea and coffee!! I met a ton of great ladies while waiting for my latte and I loved eavesdropping on what others were taking away from the conference. God is good!

Starbucks


A New Appreciation For Lines- Encouragement for Ministry Leaders

A New Appreciation For Lines

This might not have been the best time to come. Back-to-School shopping was in full swing.  Large colorful signs, hanging in every direction, were luring me to partake of the best deals of the season. Shelves were stocked high with boxes of new shoes.  Packages of underwear and socks were strategically placed for quick, last minute decisions. People of all ages were everywhere and emotions were running high, all in preparation for going back to school. The atmosphere was a mixture of excitement, anxiety, and dread. I was only there to make a return. My mom, the girls, and I had walked around the store trying to find the shortest line to stand in.  All the lines were the same length- LONG!

People in line were holding stacks of clothes taller than their heads. They looked exhausted, excited, and/or relieved that school shopping was almost complete. Other people were standing looking annoyed, staring at the cashier in telepathic fashion hoping to make the line go faster by their thoughts. Some people were completely oblivious to what was happening around them. Their eyes were fixed on their phones and their earbuds turned up so high that the sounds of reality were drowned out.  For each of us, the cash register represented the finished line.  We inched closer and closer as the minutes ticked by.

Over the last few weeks, I have developed a new appreciation of lines. We were at Story Land a few weeks ago and all of us were FINALLY at the magical height to enjoy (at least) some of the rides together. No one had to sit out with the youngest child, watching enviously as the Dutch Shoes bobbed up and down and we all could drive a tractor through the whimsical farm. At Story Land, I realized being in a line was not such a bad thing but more of an opportunity to rest and observe what was happening around me. I noticed how the sun reflected off my children’s hair making each hue a heavenly color. I noticed how handsome my husband is and remembered how we met and fell in love. I watched family relationship being strengthened as dads pulled their children to their shoulders and moms whispered secrets into their baby’s ears. AND I witnessed numerous meltdowns, my son’s included, and took note of how parents responded.  Before I knew it, the line had moved and my family was sailing away with a friendly band of sea pirates on the Buccaneer Pirate Ship, laughing and answering our favorite pirate joke- “What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?”

story land pirate ship

You may be thinking what on earth does this or lines have to do with being a leader? You, amazing ministry leader, have been hard at work, planning and preparing, and waiting for this upcoming year.  Dates and topics discussed, decorations/curriculum purchased, speakers/teachers lined up, policies and procedures nailed down, last minute decisions have been made.  But now, as some of you are only days away from your first meetings, I want you to take a moment and rest in the wait, in the line of a job well done.  Don’t forget to look around you and ask others for help with the details you still have holding in your arms.  As the excited noise comes from the reality of your first meetings, do not forget the reason why we do what we do. In love, build relationships with each other and with all those who have been purposely brought to your group. Refocus your eyes on Christ and center your heart on the things of Him. The finish line is close by.  Go make that exchange-return of your hard work for some credit in the Kingdom of God. Listen and one day hear Him say ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant…. Let’s celebrate together!’ (Matthew 25:23 NLT)

PS “What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?” RRRRRRRRRR