What’s Your Verb?

What's Your Verb?

What’s Your Verb?

 

Why do you do what you do? What’s your verb? Or, what are your verbs?

Are you familiar with the idea that’s become quite popular – choosing a word for the year? I’ve seen many women post their word on Facebook. I’ve not asked God for a word. If you have, that’s great.

I have a word, though. I’ve always had it. It’s a verb because I want to be a woman of action. If you’ve been following me for a while, my word won’t surprise you. It’s influence. That’s what I’ve always been about. I want to have an effect on people. And I want people to influence me – in the right ways, of course.

Why do you do what you do? What’s your verb? Maybe this list will help you. Or, maybe you’ll think of a verb that’s not here. I’d love to know – what’s your verb? Why are you in relationship with people? What are your goals?

Direct

Control

Excite

Persuade

Affect

Impress

Lead

Alter

Guide

Compel

Train

Motivate

Impact

Comfort

Empower

Improve

Develop

Enforce

Change

Pursue

Serve

Revise

Transform

Love

Inspire

Energize

Of course, just choosing a word doesn’t guarantee much. How will you put that desire to change, impact, train, develop, … into action? May I make three recommendations?

  • Pray, asking God for opportunities, discernment, and insights.
  • Have high expectations. Expect God to introduce you to people and use you in situations.
  • Work at it. Finish strong.

Have you seen the amazing news that Kirk Cameron chose me as an expert to talk with in his upcoming movie, Connect? I’m truly humbled and excited.

I Never Dreamt This Was a Possibility

As I’ve told many people, I never dreamt this was a possibility so I never prayed, “God, allow me to be in a movie.” But, I do pray for influence. All of us at Celebrate Kids do. In this instance, God answered “Yes.”

But here’s the thing. Other than influencing Kirk Cameron and the camera operators and others involved in the movie, I haven’t influenced anyone yet. My work isn’t finished. Being in a movie and getting people to the theater to see the movie are two different things. I can’t rest and declare, “Have you heard I’m in a movie?” I could care less.

What I care about is people being empowered because they saw the movie. I want parents to find hope. I want teens and young adults to see the truth. I want people influenced for good and God’s glory. Therefore, I’ll post about the movie and do radio and print interviews about the movie. I’ll make myself available to Kirk and the movie’s director and producer. I’ll be busy. Why? Because I’m a woman of action and I want to influence others.

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I hope you’ll be influenced by the movie. Go to www.ConnectMovie.com and enter your zip code to see where it’s playing on February 27th and March 1st. You can watch a trailer here.

Dream Big – Dream Gigantic

Dream Big - Dream Gigantic

Dream Big

 

Change. Some people embrace it. Others run from it.

There’s not a person alive who wouldn’t have a better life if they were willing to change something.

More productivity. More peace. More joy. More friendships. More hope. More stability. More wisdom. More confidence. More security.

Less fear. Less trouble. Less loneliness. Less trauma. Less despair. Less confusion. Less doubt. Less arrogance. Less aggression.

How do we get started? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life and legacy we celebrate in America today, believed a dream was essential. He was right.

In 1968, in The Trumpet of Conscience, he wrote: “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all.  And so today I still have a dream.”

What do you need to be dreaming? Not what could you, can you, might you, or do you want to dream.  No, what do you NEED to be dreaming?

I agree with Martin Luther King, Jr. Dreaming results in:

vitality so life keeps moving,

courage to be,

and the quality that allows you to go on no matter what else is happening.

Dream Gigantic

Dream. Dream big. Dream large. Dream gigantic.

In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963, he proclaimed, “I have a dream” 8 times. He was serious. Some of us need to get serious.

He also twice declared, “We refuse to believe” and five times stated, “We cannot be satisfied. Four times he stated “We must” and three times he emphasized, “Now is the time.”

Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we need to know what we believe and what we need. We need to know what misbeliefs and complacency will get in our way and we need to “fight” against them.

Do you want to give a great gift to children you know? Help them figure out how to dream well. Support them.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Go To God

Go To God

Go To God

 

I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe God is in control of everything big and small. Though I will admit that I don’t always pray about the things I consider small. I will more often in 2018.

Last Friday I left my brother’s home in the Atlanta, Georgia, area to drive about 12½ hours home to Fort Worth. It was a beautiful morning as I headed south on 85 and then 75 to merge onto 20. This highway would take me west, all the way home.

The sun was behind me and I responded with gratitude in my heart. I remembered that when I drove to Atlanta a month earlier, the sun was in my eyes for the first two hours or so. Do you know what I mean? There was that long, awkward period when the sun was too low for the car’s sun visor to block it. Even with great sunglasses, it’s frustrating and dangerous because you can’t see well?

Remembering the drive that began my Christmas break at Dave’s, I realized I would be approaching Dallas at an awkward sunset time. It would be the same problem, but at the end of the day. Knowing I would be tired after a long day and that the sun can make seeing everything so much harder, I prayed a little prayer. I said something like Father, cloud cover at the end of the day would be a blessing. If you’d choose that as a good gift for me today, I’ll be grateful.

I didn’t think much more about it and just kept driving. At about noon, I talked with Nancy. When she asked about the drive, I mentioned my prayer. I commented that cloud cover certainly wasn’t the most important thing God could do for me, but that it would be a blessing. I quoted Matthew 7:11 – “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Nancy understood.

There’s No Such Thing as a Little Thing

At about 3:00, I stopped to get gas and something to eat. When I walked into the restaurant, the sun was out bright and beautiful. When I walked out 15 minutes later, the entire sky was covered in white fluffy clouds. The sun was completely hidden behind them.

It wasn’t until I was leaving the parking lot that I realized I did not need my sunglasses. I saw the clouds. I was stunned. The clouds! They were everywhere! I know the biggest smile came across my face and I smiled the rest of the way home. I thanked and praised God constantly.

God delighted to give me a good gift. This is His nature. I want to pay more attention to His blessings and I want to know His goodness. I want to expect it and I don’t want to take it for granted. Therefore I will pray more often for the things that seem small to me. This will help me see God in what happens so I further dismiss the idea of coincidences. These prayers will grow my faith. God’s answers will allow me to give Him the glory He is due.

Perhaps you’d like to join me this year. Let’s trust God for the big and the small and let Him know we trust Him by our prayers.

The Time I Was “That Girl” and How It Freed Me Forever

The Time I Was “That Girl” and How It Freed Me Forever

The Time I Was “That Girl” and How It Freed Me Forever

 

As great as getting together with family can be, these gatherings can also be stressful. Based on stories I hear from especially women I minister to, there are many reasons. Often it’s because we think we need to change for others. We sometimes strive to be who we think others wish we were. We feel unacceptable and unaccepted.

To try to win approval, we can find ourselves talking about our successes more than we wish we were. We may hear ourselves make excuses for deficiencies we think are obvious and a blight on our identity. Then, or later when our head is on the pillow at the end of a long day, we may be angry with ourselves for playing this game.

My friend, Jerusha Clark, wrote an important book because she cares deeply for women. She reminds us that God does not define Himself with reference to any quality or person. “He is, and that is enough.” In contrast, we tend to describe ourselves in terms of how we relate to people (friend, coworker, wife) or in terms of our accomplishments (title, accolades). Perhaps you can relate to her conclusion: “When our identity is wrapped up in these external things, we inevitably (and exhaustingly!) strive to prove ourselves worthy of love, attention, or affirmation.”

Jerusha shares insights here for us today. Her book, Every Piece of Me: Shattering Toxic Beliefs and Discovering the Real You, is full of many more. Especially if you’ve tried to hide because you’re not sure the real you is enough, I highly recommend it. If you’re raising preteen and teen daughters, consider reading it with them. Jerusha’s illustrations and insights will generate valuable discussions.

Will I Be Good Enough?

Few things make me feel “less than” quicker than walking into a wedding or event that’s clearly “out of my league.” I mean, I’m not quite riff-raff, but I’m no society queen either, so when the invitation to my girlfriend Tammy’s Malibu wedding arrived, oozing swank with every hand-embossed letter, I was faced—once again—with the haunting question: Will I be good enough?

Of course, I didn’t really ask this out loud. Like a lot of women, I just carried around the nagging sense that I wasn’t quite cutting it (and never would) as a mom, as a wife, in my work…even in my faith. I wanted to teach my own daughters how to settle the “good enough?” question. But, perhaps like many of you, I found that wasn’t so easy. Kids seem to fight the “less than feelings” earlier and earlier. I wanted my kids to be different; I wanted to be different.

Here’s how a posh wedding and a bit of red napkin changed me forever:

Tammy’s wedding started in forty-five minutes. I was speeding down Pacific Coast Highway on my way to her ritzy affair, pink sponge curlers bouncing in my hair (yes, I still use these hairstyling relics). It was 90-plus degrees this particular July afternoon, and I had opted not to unroll my hair or put my dress on until I neared the Malibu Cliffs.

I scanned the road for a nice-ish gas station where I could change. Spotting one, I pulled in, gathered my things, and stuck my foot out the door. I instantly realized (with horror) that I had forgotten my wedding shoes. I was wearing—go figure—the tackiest flip flops I owned, the kind you sport around the house long after the flap peels away and the straps thin ominously.

Eek! There was no chance these were going to fly at a Malibu wedding. I hurriedly grabbed my cell phone and tracked down a Payless not too far away.

Alright; it would have to do. Hopefully I could find something halfway decent. I ran into Shell’s bathroom, yanked the curlers out, calmed my ringlets into a respectable wave and put on my dress.

Miles out of my way, I dashed inside the shoe store, found some strappy white dress sandals, and paid (somewhat grudgingly, but also gratefully).

I Arrived

The wedding was every bit as classy as I had imagined. Still, no amount of glitz can alter the temperature, and the eager July sun beats down on the glamorous and unglamorous alike. I sat, patiently awaiting the bridal march, well aware that I do not “glisten” or “perspire” like some females. I flat-out sweat. Really I should all-caps that. Armed with a cocktail napkin, I dabbed furiously at the beads forming on my face.

After the vows and the kiss and the triumphant recessional, I chatted with some family members and friends of the couple. I didn’t know many people, so I basically talked to people around the hors d’oeuvre and beverage tables.

Before dinner began, I ducked into the ladies’ room to wash my hands. When I looked into the mirror, however, I gasped with alarm. Perhaps you recall that I had been using a cocktail napkin to hold back the tide of my sweat. Well, said napkin was red. Said napkin was also strewn around my face in splotches of damp, ruddy cotton. Apparently no one I’d been conversing with felt they knew me well enough to tell me I had patches of red napkin stuck to my face. Seriously, people?!

The ordeal was embarrassing, but not tragic. I peeled the napkin off and decided laughing would be better than adding post-crying mascara stains to my humiliation. That said, I emerged from the bathroom determined to avoid anyone I had talked to previously.

It may sound odd, but I’ve thought about that napkin a lot over the years. The whole experience helped me realize how often and how desperately I’ve tried to avoid being “that girl,” (you know, the one with sweaty napkin on her face). I don’t mean that literally, of course. What I really mean is that I don’t want to be exposed; I don’t want to feel foolish or incompetent. I want to be the perfectly-put-together guest at the Malibu wedding, not the one in half-a-size-too-small Payless shoes with red napkin splotching her features.

We’ve All Been “That Girl”

At some time and in some way or another, though, every one of us has been “that girl.” We try our best to hide our weaknesses or mistakes (my propensity to sweat, for instance), but covering up actually leaves us with figurative patches on our face and heart. The more we hide—the more our kids learn to hide—the louder the question becomes: am I good enough?

I spent years (Ugh! Let’s change that to decades) working to shut off the “not good enough” reel in my mind. Like many of you, I tried to make my kids the most well-rounded beings on the planet, tried to carefully curate the “happy Christian woman” image, tried to do something meaningful for the Kingdom. The one thing it took me far too long to do is accept the truth that it’s okay to be the girl with napkin on her face. It took me a long time to look at myself and believe, “Yep.  Good enough, just as I am.”

In John 14:6, Jesus proclaimed himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We are created in His image; if He is the Truth, we are to be truthful and live out truth as well. This involves risk and vulnerability (and, in my case, sometimes allowing people to see me a sweaty mess).

Embracing truth is the pathway to peace and to secure identity. If we want to silence the “good enough” questions that plague us or plague our kids, if we want to experience the abundant life Christ died to give us, we have to ditch the red napkins of life, the things we’ve tried using to cover up.

I invite you to join me in discovering and learning to love what’s real, including the real you. Remember, you can’t teach your kids something you haven’t learned yourself. Turns out, “finding yourself” concerns more than just you; when your identity is secure, you are free to love and serve the people around you with no “please make me feel better about myself” strings attached.

Jesus proclaimed, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Doesn’t that sound good? Freedom!  Freedom from the tyranny of “less than” fears, freedom from shame, freedom from hiding (or filtering or posturing), freedom to be not just to seem. Start leaning into truth and savoring freedom today.

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You can learn more about living in authentic freedom, being rather than seeming, and embracing life to the limit in Jerusha’s book, Every Piece of Me: Shattering Toxic Beliefs and Discovering the Real You (Baker, 2017).

 

  Jerusha Clark co-authored four books with her husband, Jeramy, including three bestsellers, prior to launching her own writing and speaking ministry, focused on helping others glorify and enjoy God, one thought at a time.  On quiet days, you can find Jerusha body-boarding, reading, or singing around a bonfire at the beach, her absolute favorite place. Jeramy and Jerusha have two amazing teenage daughters and love ministering together at churches, retreats, schools, and conferences. You can learn more at www.jandjclark.com.

‘Adult’ is Not a Verb: Helping Young People Spread Their Wings

‘Adult’ is Not a Verb: Helping Young People Spread Their Wings

‘Adult’ is Not a Verb: Helping Young People Spread Their Wings

My parents and grandparents were involved in politics and community service, so my brother and I were raised to care about and contribute to both. Because of that, and my grandfather’s job at our local newspaper before he became the mayor, I used to read the newspaper and watch the news on TV regularly. Now it’s not easy to watch the news. I don’t trust much of it. I know what I’m being told is biased and incomplete. I skim-read my local paper.

I’m not going to bury my head in the sand, though, and pretend things aren’t going on that concern me. I care deeply about God’s reputation, families, parents, teens, and children. Therefore, I am choosing to spend more of my intellectual energy and time studying culture and worldview issues from trusted online and print sources. That’s why reading John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle‘s book, A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World was a no-brainer for me.  I didn’t just read it, though. I devoured it. I encourage you to, too. (Disclaimer: John is a friend who wrote the forward to Eight Great Smarts. I’d read anything he writes.)

As you’ll see from this blog John originally wrote for Breakpoint.org, posted on May 16th, he and Brett write about issues that concern you and me. Their interpretations, insights, and practical ideas and challenges will inform and encourage you. You may be motivated to action. At the very least, I picture many of you, my readers, using John’s post as a discussion starter with teens and young adults. Enjoy this and then I encourage you to share it. Let’s work together to inspire many people.

 

****

 

Guest post by John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview

 

There’s a new word touted by Webster that exposes a crisis in our culture of generational proportions.

It’s been called a lot of things: “Peter Pan Syndrome” or my favorite, “failure to launch,” but whatever the term, the phenomenon is undeniable. A record number of young people today are getting stuck in the transition between childhood and adulthood.

Despite attending college in record numbers, millennials seem to struggle to move on to the next phase of life. Just a decade ago, a healthy majority of young adults were able to successfully fledge. Now, those who’ve managed to leave the nest are a minority.

Of course, the recession and a sluggish job market are factors. Millennials do have tougher career prospects than their parents did. But the economy isn’t the only explanation, and the language young people use to talk about adulthood makes that obvious.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse announced that Twitter had turned the noun “adult” into a verb. “#Adulting” is what kids post on social media to congratulate themselves for the rather ordinary feats of paying the bills, finishing the laundry, or just getting to work on time.

“I adulted!” goes the saying, as if fulfilling daily responsibilities is somehow above and beyond the call of duty. “Adulting” has become so universally recognized that the American Dialect Society nominated it for the most creative word of 2015.

“To a growing number of Americans,” writes Sasse, “acting like a grown-up seems like a kind of role-playing, a mode of behavior requiring humorous detachment.”

This isn’t just the complaint of a crotchety old man about young whipper-snappers. What we’re witnessing today, insists the senator, is a trend toward “perpetual adolescence,”—a “coming-of-age crisis,” that shows up as a real and measurable reduction in the difference between 10-year-olds and 30-year-olds.

But if our kids don’t know what it means to be adults, parents, we should be asking ourselves, are we teaching them? Isolation in peer groups of the same age, widespread complacency toward history and ethics, unbridled consumerism, and even those infamous participation trophies have all contributed to this crisis.

We’d do well to remember what C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Abolition of Man” of those who “remove the organ and demand the function,” who “make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise,” who “castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

Senator Sasse offers steps to reverse the trend of perpetual adolescence and to help kids from an early age understand the meaning of adulthood. Teach them the difference, he says, between a “need” and a “want,” embrace hard work together, travel meaningfully, and read widely. These are all important steps to forming mature citizens.

And in our new book “A Practical Guide to Culture,” my co-author Brett Kunkle and I have a chapter entitled “Perpetual Adolescence and Castrated Geldings.” In it, we offer even more suggestions for helping teens grow up. Come to BreakPoint.org to find out how to get your copy.

But the Senator’s most important suggestion? Older generations must start investing in the lives of young adults. Summarizing relevant research in 2013, The Boston Globe reported a staggering statistic: Only a quarter of Americans 60 and older had discussed anything important with anyone under 36 in the previous six months! Exclude relatives and that figure dropped to a mortifying 6 percent. How alien this would have sounded to the Apostle Paul, who in Titus 2 urges older men and older women to teach the younger.

Only by connecting and investing in their lives can we reasonably expect our kids, our grandkids, and their peers to understand that “adult” is not something you do. It’s someone you are.

 

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What Do You Think? What Will You Do?

Are you going to talk with teens and young adults about this? Or, how did you react to this sentence? But if our kids don’t know what it means to be adults, parents, we should be asking ourselves, are we teaching them? Maybe we should talk about this with other parents we care about.

I recommend you purchase A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World for any adults who care about and work with young adults and teens. Also, if you know young adults frustrated by their own generation and concerned, buy this book for them. I’m buying copies for Christmas gifts for my niece who teaches and coaches in a Christian school and my nephew and his wife who work with teens in their church. Who do you know who needs this book?

If you don’t already follow John’s work at BreakPoint, the nationally syndicated commentary on the culture founded by the late Chuck Colson, www.breakpoint.org and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, www.colsoncenter.org I encourage you to. I depend on both to keep me informed with truth. And, check out Brett‘s ministry at www.maventruth.com. Read the “about” page and you’ll see how much he and I have in common. I’m eager to see how God is going to continue to use him now that he’s launched his own ministry. It’s right to care and to stay informed. More than ever before, we need to discern who to listen to and who to follow. These men are all about Jesus and truth. (By the way, if you’ll be coming to any of the Great Homeschool Conventions in 2018, both John and Brett will be speaking at all five.)

 

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John is the President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, a sought-after speaker on issues of worldview and culture, and co-host of the nationally distributed daily commentary BreakPoint. His books include A Practical Guide to Culture (2017), Restoring All Things (2014), Same-Sex Marriage (2013), and Making Sense of Your World (2007). Follow John on Twitter (@jbstonestreet).

Listen With Great Compassion

Listen With Great Compassion

 

Listen With Great Compassion

 

On Monday, I encouraged my readers to be in the moment with people who are in pain and people who are joyful. It’s not helpful or loving to try to push people through and beyond their feelings. If you read that post, have you noticed more people’s feelings in the last two days? How have you responded?

As I wrote on Monday, these two verses can instruct and motivate us:

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

Romans 12:15

“He who withholds kindness from a friend

forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”

~Job 6;14

As my pastor continued his teaching from the book of Job, he shared this insight that’s clear from reading the debate between Job and his three “friends” found in chapters 7-37:

Resist answering the unanswerable.

Maybe one of the wisest things we can do is listen with great compassion and respond with, “I’m so sorry I don’t have answers.” If people don’t seem to be asking questions, we can simply verbalize, “I’m so sorry.” I’ve sometimes sat with people and said it several times.

Not having answers is hard for me. I’m logic smart and word smart so I think with words and questions. I’m solution-focused. On top of that, I have the spiritual gift of exhortation. I’m naturally driven “to urge, advise, or caution earnestly; admonish urgently.”

But, I know answers and solutions are often not what people want. They want me. They want to be heard. To be seen in their moment.

Silence. It’s not easy. But, it’s so often what’s best.

What Can We Do?

Knowing what some “experts” think wasn’t enough for me. I asked about this on Facebook to see if someone’s presence satisfied people. It’s fun to do research there. Yes, it’s research. There was a lot of agreement among those who answered this question. These comments reflect those of many:

  • I want them to be engaged in a way that creates connectedness. You can evaluate engagement by a lot of non-verbal communication (are they facing you, looking at you, leaning in towards you, making eye contact, etc.) but there are other ways too. Are they relaxed, comfortable? Being kind and considerate? Sometimes just being means not being elsewhere, whether physically or emotionally. [Read that last sentence again. It’s good!]
  • Mouth closed. Arms, ears, and eyes open.
  • I don’t want to hear what I “should or shouldn’t” be thinking/feeling/doing, I just want companionship, understanding, and hopefully encouragement and camaraderie.
  • Acknowledge the feelings you’re hearing … “I’m sure that’s exciting” or “That sounds really hurtful.”
  • Physical touch – hold my hand, touch my shoulder, hug me, sit close. Don’t tell me your experience and how it turned out (either good or bad). But do empathize and show you understand what I’m feeling. Don’t discount my feelings, let me move through whatever process I need to go through. Do assure me of God’s faithfulness and love.
  • Peaceful companionship. [I love this phrase!]

  • Listening. Not one-upping your situation. Sympathizing or enjoying the moment with you.
  • I want undivided attention. I don’t mind if they share experiences that are similar or that yielded the same emotion I’m working through at that time for I believe that it makes for a very close connection. And I don’t want to be judged or criticized. I want to feel as if I’m being heard and understood and that they are there for me trying to help share the experience. I also don’t want them to fix the problem if there is one unless I ask them how they would do it.
  • Contentment, satisfaction with that moment … not wishing for more or something different.
  • I want true listening and not just hearing me….big difference!
  • A car ride. Best conversations in my life seem to happen in the car.
  • Eye contact and the feeling that they are truly there, truly listening, not wishing the moment would pass so they can hop along to the next distraction

And, communicated by many: No phone in front of their face!!!! [I think she meant it.] And, there’s this one: I want to be important enough that a cell phone or other device do not need to be present.

Is it Different for Teens?

I hope the above list is helpful and motivational. It was for me. What about teens. Some may say some of the same things adults shared. But, …

Many teens (and children) prefer to talk about emotional and difficult things when they’re busy. They’re not as comfortable with silence as adults are. From one Facebook post:

My 14 year old daughter’s first answer was play video games with me. So I said no video games, what else to be in the moment together. She answered watch a movie together. I asked her why not just sit together or chat together but she said to sit in silence is awkward and to just talk is uncomfortable. I guess she feels more comfortable talking while engaged in another activity.

Yes. Based on my experiences and conversations with teens, I believe many or most or all would agree with this teen. I love that the mom thought to ask her and that her daughter was able to be honest.

As I’ve written about before, many teens also prefer talking while we’re driving because our eyes can’t meet. They often tell me they don’t want to remember the look on our faces when they say something that’s disappointing or alarming. This is also why some like the dark at bedtime. I totally get this. Do you?

Why not do what the mom from Facebook did and ask your children and teens if they have preferences. If you have preferences, let them know yours. Sharing during emotional times is important. Let’s learn to do it well.

As always, thanks for reading. Let me know if this was beneficial. And, if you have ideas about other things you’d like me to blog about, I’d love your ideas.

Be Authentically Present

Be Authentically Present

Be Authentically Present

 

When people hurt, do you notice? I want to get better at being aware and fully present. I don’t want to turn away or walk away. And, I want people’s pain to affect me. What about you? Are you good at this? Are you able to feel people’s pain? Willing to feel it? Prepared to feel it?

There’s so much pain. It feels like it’s everywhere sometimes. Much of the time. I ache, and sometimes I don’t want to. It’s hard because I wish I could just fix things. Fix people.

What can we do? What should we do?

The Book of Job is Helpful

My pastor is teaching from Job during his Wednesday Bible study. He chose the book for us to study because of a corresponding sermon series about pain and suffering.

This. This is truth he shared while talking about a section of chapter 2. I want to remember this. I want to do this. Be this.

 

“Meet people at their emotion

before trying to move them through the emotion.”

 

So I need just to wait. Feel. Be present. Because it’s not about me being uncomfortable. It’s about people getting comfortable. And in their own time.

In the context of my pastor’s teaching, this applies to people’s pain. Hurt. Heartache. Brokenness. Does this concept work when people are experiencing joy? It’s the same truth. Absolutely!

If I’m not others-centered and fully present to joyful people around me, I can be guilty of wanting them to push through their joy. Get to the other side, people! Enough of this happiness!

It’s true. I’m a thinker before I’m a feeler so sometimes lots of laughter and joy makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know what to do. If I’m not careful, I’ll say something or ask something because I want people to move from their emotions to their thoughts.

But, it’s not about me being comfortable. It’s about others not being uncomfortable. It’s about people being. Just being.

Romans 12:15 is relevant. I’m grateful the Holy Spirit brings it to my mind often.

 

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

 

So look at this next verse. Wow! Job shares it after his “friends” start the long debate with him about why he is suffering.

I need this instruction. The world needs this instruction. I pray it may bless you today. Let’s act on it.

 

“He who withholds kindness from a friend

forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”

~Job 6;14

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Please make sure to come back for Wednesday’s blog. I’ll expand on the idea of being in the moment, and we’ll compare what this might look like for adults and children.

Are Your Children Confident In Who They Are?

Are Your Children Confident In Who They Are?

Are Your Children Confident In Who They Are?

 

Do you want to know how you can figure out if your children are secure? Here’s one way. Would they answer this question as my friend’s 16-year-old daughter did?

If you could be any person living now or in the past, who would you be?

There’s more than one “good” answer, of course. Think about it. How would you love your children to answer this?

My friend’s granddaughter had an immediate response when her mom asked her the question. She enthusiastically responded, I would be ME, of course. God created me, and I am special to Him, so why would I want to be anyone else?

How do you respond to that? I had these immediate responses to her response.

Joy for her because she has such confidence in who she is.

Not only that but tears of gratitude for her parents and others who have raised her to be so secure.

Of course gratitude to God for equipping her parents and for speaking truth to the girl.

Hope that she represents many young people who are learning to be satisfied and even joyful about who they are.

At the same time, sadness for all the youth who aren’t satisfied, but are running from who God created them to be.

Let me ask you again: How would you love your children to answer the question, “If you could be any person living now or in the past, who would you be?”

Now, spend some time thinking about and praying about what it will take for that answer you desire to be an immediate response. Then be proactive. I pray for your success! And, if you’re willing to share, I’d love to know positive answers you’ve thought of. Thanks.

Developing Real Relationships

Developing Real Relationships

 

Developing Real Relationships

 

I want to create a relationship with you.

This is how some emails I receive begin. Because they’re from spammers who think this opening line will motivate me to contact them for some business opportunities.

Therefore, I want to scream at my laptop, “Well you don’t get everything you want!” Then, in my mind, I question their use of the word “create.” It’s just wrong. Then I hit “delete.”

We do want relationships. So do our teens and children.

Relationships, which can mature to friendships, start with noticing the people around us and engaging them in conversations. But, that’s a dying art because of texting, social media, and self-centeredness.

So how do we engage people and get to know them? We can ask better questions. We can be fully present to listen to people’s answers and ask follow-up questions that honor them. We’d all be better off if we took the time to get to know people. Right? Let me write that again: We’d all be better off if we took the time to get to know people.

Ask These Questions

Here are my favorite questions to ask when wanting to get to know someone better. Some of them I ask during my first encounter. And others I ask after we have gotten to know each other a bit.

  • What would you like me to know about you? (This is my all-time favorite because it honors them. They can decide whether to share about family, career, their past, their passion, or something else. As a result, I often learn about their priorities by what they choose to talk about.)
  • What are you passionate about? Why?
  • What fascinates you? Why?
  • What concerns you? Why?
  • What’s important to you?
  • What you are most grateful for?
  • What breaks your heart? Why?
  • What brings you great joy?
  • What has been one of your greatest victories?
  • If you could give advice to people, what would you share?
  • Who are some of your favorite people? Why?

More Questions That Will Help You Get to Know Others

I love my Facebook communities so I asked them, “What’s a unique question we could ask someone we wanted to get to know better?” There are some great questions here. I’ve printed this out so I remember these. I want to honor people and get to know them better.

  • What makes you have joy in the midst of a crisis? I am just curious because I see how well you manage your family and your life.
  • What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever faced and walked through?
  • When do you see yourself as the best version of you? (Ex: in a deadline crunch I am my best driven self.)
  • What inspires you? And why?
  • I am intrigued by you. I would love to hear your story.
  • What is one occasion when it was undeniable that Jesus was present and at work in a situation?
  • What is your biggest dream? Why? Are you taking steps to accomplish that dream?
  • What’s the hardest part of your job (or if there’s no ‘job’ insert the words “typical day.”) Or what part do you like doing the least? You could ask the opposite too. What’s your favorite part of your job.
  • What is your passion? What motivates and moves you?
  • Whom do you most admire and why? What character qualities do you most admire in your spouse /or best friend /or child?
  • What is your life motto or favorite Bible verse?
  • If I wanted to get to know you better what kinds of questions would I ask you?

And A Few Fun Questions

  • Do you prefer Star Wars or Star Trek?
  • What makes you smile?
  • What book has influenced you the most and why?
  • Do you have any pets? Why did you choose them?
  • What has your favorite vacation been?
  • Can you picture an elephant in your mind? Describe your elephant to me.
    (This helps to learn how the person thinks/processes/learns.)
  • What is your least favorite food?
  • If you have a few hours of down time to do whatever you want to do to recharge, what would you do?
  • What is the wildest adventure you’ve ever had?
  • Tell me four things about yourself, with a catch. One of them has to be a lie. I will then guess which is the false answer.
  • When I hear someone has gone on a trip I like to ask, “What was your favorite thing?” I prefer that over, “Did you have a good time?” I get more than just a casual ‘yes’ answer.
  • If you could only have one, would you choose salsa or guacamole, and why?
  • When was the last time you cried and why?
  • What’s the neatest thing you ever made?
  • Tell me your story.
  • If you could buy a ticket to anywhere, where would you go?
  • What is your favorite place in the whole world?
  • So far, what month has been your favorite this year? Then, what happened?
  • Say you’re arrested. Who’s the first person you’d call to bail you out?
  • What is your favorite food and how do you fix it?

A Little More Personal

  • You have died and come to heaven. In heaven there is all understanding and completion, but before you step through those gates to become whole, you have an opportunity. A question. Just one question. Anything your heart has most desired to know. What do you ask?
  • How can I pray for you?
  • Who took a chance on you and offered you an opportunity to do something meaningful — even if you, or they, didn’t feel you were totally ready for it yet — and what happened?
  • Hi, you look like a very interesting person. I’d love to hear your story.
  • If you could spend a few hours with anyone who has ever lived in history, who would that be? Why?
  • What are you excited about?
  • What are you hoping for today?
  • If you save one photo from your life what would it be of?
  • What fact most surprised you when you learned it?
  • If you weren’t here, what would you normally be doing this time of day, this day of the week?
  • What circumstance in your life has caused you to grow the most?
  • Who was the person that changed your life and how did they do that?
  • If you could know anything about anything, what would you want to know?
  • How would you like to change the world?
  • What’s on the top of your bucket list?
  • What is your biggest fear? And what do you love most?
  • Can you talk freely about your past? What are your aspirations for the future?
  • What is the one thing you are most passionate about and why.
  • If money wasn’t a problem what would you like to do and why?

Or These Personal Questions

  • What are passionate about? What sets you ablaze? A certain kind of movie, a certain kind of food, a certain kind outdoor activity… like surfing or jet skiing?
  • If you could trade places with another person, who would it be and why?
  • In what ways are you smart?
  • What’s the hardest situation you feel like God bailed you out of in a really cool way?
  • What keeps you busy during the week?
  • What’s your greatest fear?
  • If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Getting To Know Their Background A Little More

  • Tell me a story of your name and how you got it.
  • What is your favorite childhood memory?
  • As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What did you like about the place where you grew up? What things did your parents do when you were young that you really appreciate now?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • What truth has most impacted the way you live? How?
  • What’s the most heroic thing someone did for you and who did it?
  • How did you come to know Christ?
  • What are the top 3 most significant events in your life that changed you as a person?
  • If you could live in a different city, where would that be and why?
  • What’s on your bucket list?
  • What made you giggle as a child?
  • What book are you reading or what kind of music do you listen to?
  • How do you like to spend your time?
  • What do you love most about your life?
  • When do you feel the most alive?
  • What is a personal goal you have set or achieved?
  • What are you good at?
  • If you could do one thing and be guaranteed not to fail, what would you do?

Will You Use These Questions?

So, what do you think? Will you use some of these? Will you share some with your teens so they can get to know peers in unique ways?  Maybe some would be fun to ask our teens. Let me know how the questions work. I’d love to know!

Give The Gift of a Car

Give The Gift of a Car

 Give The Gift of a Car

 

What do I want you to remember after reading this blog?

 

  • The church is most beautiful when it’s being the church.
  • When like-minded people come together, they can accomplish much.
  • People should do what they can do and not think so much about what they can’t do.
  • Accepting help is humbling, refreshing, and right.
  • Not being able to find adequate words to say “thanks” with is frustrating.
  • Paying it forward can be more emotional than receiving a gift.
  • Sometimes telling others about a need is hard. Do it anyway.
  • Be open to the Holy Spirit telling you that someone needs your help. Then follow through.

That’s a lot to remember. Do you agree it might be worth it?

What’s my story?

In August, 2016, two friends helped me with my products. As they transferred boxes from one car to the other I commented about how easy it was. I remember them looking at me with a confused look on their faces.

I explained that I have an older car with a very deep trunk. One friend immediately commented that I need a new car – something like theirs with a hatchback that allows for easy loading and unloading of heavy suitcases and boxes. I rather quickly dismissed the comment and explained that my car worked fine and I wasn’t in a financial situation where a car payment would be a good thing to add.

Fast forward to last May when my chiropractor and I decided that his medical team would inject stem cells into my back in hopes of healing what was long-standing and increasingly challenging pain.

Dr. Gideon saw my car. He told me he hesitated to keep treating me if I continued to drive that car. He was concerned about the loading and unloading of my product in and out of the deep trunk. But it was also the fact that I had to fall into a deep seat and then really make an effort to step out of my car which was low to the ground. Also the seats weren’t fitted so my back had absolutely no support. Again, in that instant, I dismissed his comment as important but irrelevant because I didn’t think I could do anything about it.

Trust God

Before the end of that day I believe it was the Holy Spirit who reminded me of my friend’s comment from the previous August. After praying and searching my heart to make sure my motivation was appropriate, I called her. I briefly explained that she might have actually had a Holy Spirit divine inspiration many months prior based on what was now going on with my back.

Humbling

I asked her if she was serious in her offer to help get me a car. I had no idea what she had in mind but I decided that if I teach and believe that our relationships are intentional and God introduces us to the people He wants us to know, then acting upon her verbalized interest and concern was appropriate. She listened and very quickly exclaimed, “I’m on it. Glad to help. No problem. You’ll hear from me soon.”

Humbling. That’s what it was as I recognized that this friend and the other friend who was a part of the original conversation were going to encourage people from their church to help me in my time of need. As I understand it, emails were sent to people who have gotten to know me and the reason for my need was explained.

Notes and checks arrived in my mailbox. Before I knew it, people from one church decided to be the church. They blessed me with not just a car, but an ideal car for my situation. One gift would not have bought me a car, but working together, small gifts and large gifts made the difference. I was reminded that we can all do something.

My friends worked with Steve Beck, my fabulous salesman from AutoNation Ford South in Fort Worth, and he found the car they wanted to buy for me. I was overwhelmed when a friend dropped me off at the dealership so that I could see my new car for the first time and drive it home. It’s still hard to put into words an adequate expression of my gratitude to the people who stepped up and did something precious.

Thankful

Thank-you notes have been sent. Many prayers of gratitude have been spoken to God, the One who gives the greatest gifts of all. I’ve asked Him to bless my friends in beautiful ways.

I paid it forward by giving away my car to someone who I knew needed it. That was such a fabulous feeling and continues to be a reason I’m grateful for my friends’ generosity. Yes, my fitted and heated seats are helping my back tremendously. Having a hatchback for loading and unloading boxes and heavy suitcases for airport trips is fabulous. Knowing that my friend has reliable transportation gives me great joy. Great joy!

What are you going to do today or this week? Will you be on the lookout for someone who needs help and will you respond? Do you have a need and have you been afraid to tell someone? Maybe today is your day. Could you pass a blessing forward and be doubly blessed? Do you need to thank someone for something? Accept help? With others from your church, how can you be the church?

 

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If you’re in need of a car, Steve Beck of AutoNation Ford will be great to work with. He’s been a missionary and pastor who is now known as the pastor of the dealership. He knows cars and will get to know you so he can find you exactly what you need. Give him a call at 817-564-3979.