I Am Not Who You Think I Am

I am a perfectly ordinary women, bent on spreading Jesus in any way I can.

I am not hip. I am original. Just like you.

I am not a special “chosen” person. I am a child of God. Just like you.

I am not a well connect person. I have the same Holy Spirit Guiding me as you do.

I am not striving to be a leader. I influence those around me. Just like you.

I am not striving to be a pastor. I just want people to see the hope there is in Jesus. Just like you.

I don’t want to climb a ladder. I want to honor God where He has me. Just like you.

Last night I was invited to a Vision Night for our Women’s Ministry. As the night began, I introduced myself to others that had been invited because of their heart for women, or their status in the church. As we broke in to focus groups, it was beautiful to see how God orchestrated who I was with. During our time of discussion, you could see the hearts of each start to focus in on their calling. One woman mentioned the need for prayer half a dozen times. Another one brought up reaching ALL God’s women not just the married ones. Another, how we need to market it all well.

It was beautiful. Why?

Everyone in that circle prays, however God gave one of the women an extraordinary passion for prayer. We all believe all women should be represented, God gave one of the women a passion to reach a certain people group. We all believe we should be communicating what we have available, God gave one the passion to get the word out.

Though we all believe in each area, God truly gives us a unique passion for different areas. That is why we A) Need to be confident in who He made US to be and B) Honor and listen to each other. When we do that we are allowing the WHOLE Body of Christ to work in the way they were fashioned to work. Just because one of the women was intent on making prayer a focus, that doesn’t mean the rest thought prayer was useless. Does that make sense?

We have the heart for Jesus. What we need to acknowledge as that each heart beats in a different way. When we acknowledge it, and work as a team, we are a POWERFUL force!

Can you imagine, if we allowed everyone around us to use their God given gifts in the way they were made to be used??? SO EXCITING!

Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Who do you have around you? As a leader, you should have people around you who are strong in all the areas you are challenged. A baseball team would be useless if all they had only pitchers or only catchers. Each position is needed to make a winning team.

Read all of Romans 12  Here is a taste of Romans 12: 3- 8

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with youra faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,b do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

What I learned today…I am NOT who you think I am. I am who God says I am. I don’t need to worry about labels, good or bad. I need to remember the best label is a Child of the Most High, Daughter of the King.

OWN WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST! YOU ARE NEEDED, YOU ARE VALUED AND NO ONE IS ABOVE OR BELOW YOU IN THE EYES OF JESUS. HE WAS SENT FOR YOU, SO YOU COULD HAVE ETERNAL LIFE!!

 

 

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Authentic

In our staff meeting today, we talked about authenticity. It was phenomenal. I loved when it opened because our pastor acknowledged that this generation, is calling for authenticity in it’s leaders…JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER GENERATION! Throughout time, people have yearned for authenticity, it’s nothing new.

We all have something in us that craves to be noticed, because it is only God that can truly fill that need, yet we don’t go to Him to fill it. When we aren’t getting that need filled, we have a hard time being authentic, as ….

We are worried of being exposed as different and broken.

We worry that we will be rejected once people see the real us, beneath the mask.

We worry that we will be hurt by those we let in.

What we need to do is remember who we are in CHRIST. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

He calls us His masterpiece! I know I sure don’t feel like a masterpiece 99.9% of the time. (Okay, being authentic, maybe 98% of the time.) But, it also says, he created us anew in Christ Jesus. I can believe as a new creation of Christ’s I would be a masterpiece. I can believe if God planned me to be HIS masterpiece so I could do good things He planned for me long ago then I am.

The more I believe and feel confident in the way HE made me, and continues to develop me, the more authentic I can be. The more secure I feel with my relationship with HIM, the more confident I can be with others. If I do well, it’s because He is leading me to. If I fail, it’s because He wants me to learn something and I know He’ll “have my back”.

During this meeting, I was asked a question regarding how many people attended our class this weekend. Embarrassingly, I blurted out, that it was attended better than one of the other classes.

** Now, to give a history behind this comment – When I was hired I was told that the first class always had a huge attendance. 3/4 of that class would move on to class 2 and 1/2 of that would move on to class 3…with 1/2 of THAT moving on to class 4!  Being quite competitive in nature, I said, “We will change that”. AND, since changing the class 3 up a bit, we have BEAT class 2 in attendance 4 times!!!! Not only that, but we are having even higher numbers in class 4!! **

Okay, back to it.

As I blurted out that our class was better attended than class 2, I heard a couple people say that it was prideful to say such a thing…and a couple people say, I was being authentic.

If you don’t really know me,  you think pride. If you do know me, you think excitement and are reminded of my competitive nature.

I am comfortable in how God made me, 75% of the time. I am working on raising that number. I know that I know, all of our classes are absolutely remarkable and I think everyone in the world should go through them. It would be dreamy to be allowed to be able to steward and teach each one because I believe in the power of spiritual steps! I get so very excited of the thought of people growing in their confidence of who God is and who He made them to be, I can’t help but want everyone to feel it!!

A HUGE point that I learned today regarding authenticity was that when we feel very devoted to something, and things aren’t moving in the direction we feel they should, even if it’s a good direction, God is still at work. Sometimes we need to feel the hurt and learn and grow from it…and sometimes others need to go through the hurt so they can grow and learn from it. God is at work regardless.

What I learned today…Truly trust God, when things are running smoothly and when things get wonky. His work is being done through it all. Hang on and keep your eyes open to what He is saying to you through all situations. And be authentic with what you are learning and what you might have missed along the way.

What About Me??

So the BEST day of the month for me is when our church has a class called 301. It falls under the umbrella of the team I am on, and I have been beyond blessed to have been allowed to teach it for the last 3 years.

Why do I love this class so much? Because it goes through the process of showing people 2 things.

1 – How beautifully and specifically God made you for a purpose.

2 – How intentionally and specifically God made those people you don’t really like for a purpose too.

There is WAY more to it than that, but those are the 2 things that I can say are huge within the class.

The class has been laid out so testimonies can be shared, and everyone can dig in to what their Spiritual Gifts – Holy Spirit given, Heart – what do you LOVE, Abilities – what can you do, Personality – shy, extrovert, bossy, empathetic, etc… and Experiences. Throughout the class we walk everyone through each step as they dive into a personal inventory of who they are through Christ. In the end showing them they are God’s army on earth. When they are mobilized into the ministry God built them for, they are blessed beyond their imagination! When they are in the right ministry they are fruitful and fulfilled and it helps GROW THE KINGDOM which is the whole reason we do what we do!

Anyway, we have had anywhere between 2 and 5 teachers teaching it. Because I love it so very much, I REALLY like when there are only 2 of us as that means I get to teach more. (Seriously…and selfishly). Generally I will be teaching the majority of the time.

Not that I’m the best at it, I just REALLY love walking people through the process, and watching their eyes light up when they realize that though people called them a cry-baby as a kid, GOD made them have a big heart that feels deeply! That is OKAY and it can be used to help others! (There is so much more, but I’ll save that for another time).

Generally the week before the class, I pray for God to help me with who will be teaching and what they will teach. The easy given, is my new boss will always be teaching, so he’ll take a chunk…and then I prayed…and prayed…and God led me to having another pastor AND another person from our team teach. WHAT??? That means less for M E.

So, I listened and broke the 4 hour class up between the 4 of us. As I prayed over which section…God changed MY plan. I ended up with 3 smaller parts. Again, WHAT?! Doesn’t He know how much I love to teach this class?!?!?!

I was faithful and separated the class the way I felt He was leading me. To be honest, the whole way driving up to class I was praying He’d change His mind, so I could change the teaching schedule to have me talk more…but nope.

What happened, was when I arrived, I said hello to our amazing team of volunteers and fellow staff members, had a gal from our team pray for me… it was WONDERFUL.

Until, God asked me to give away ANOTHER section! Are you kidding me?!?!?! Why was I even there?!?  Sigh, so I did. Even though I didn’t want to, I did.

Remarkably the other teacher from our team came up to me and said, “You know…the whole way to class today I was praying about how I really love to teach this class, but I am so thankful for the other areas God lets me teach, so I told Him I was coming in “palms up” for whatever He had for me.”

Isn’t that beautiful. God heard her prayer! Though I wanted to do so much more, I had to listen to the Holy Spirit and change my plans. I didn’t need to understand why, I just needed to listen and follow directions.

In the end, I was able to see that it was an answer to someone else’s prayer!

Are you able to hear God? If not, I would suggest listening a bit differently.

1 – Go to church…for the WHOLE service. From hello and first song straight through the prayer, last song and goodbye. It’s a WHOLE experience.

2 – Read your Bible. He will talk to you A LOT there. It just takes a bit of practice and prayer.

3 – Serve Him by volunteering somewhere in your church. “Iron sharpens iron”. Prov 27:17

4 – Listen to the Godly people around you. Sometimes He can use others to direct us.

It is worth it. Pray and then listen.The class eneded up going well and I can say I was able to follow God’s direction. Do I always? No, because it is hard and I am human. But I do my best.

What I learned today…Though I don’t always get what I want or understand why things happen, I am so thankful God directs me in such strong ways. Though I really felt the loss of teaching more, I am so thankful a prayer was answered for another teacher. And in it all God still worked! I love my job!!!

 

Women? YUCK. Part 1

When I first started going to our church, I avoided Women’s Ministry like the plague. I know I’m not alone, and I know some of you men avoid Men’s Ministry as well!

After a couple of years, I heard God firmly saying, “GO”. At the time, I had felt as though the ministry was for “pretty” OC Housewives. Coming from running my own company, I couldn’t relate. Didn’t God understand that?

I’ll never forget, when I heard the “Go” from Him, it was January. Each small group was asked to start the latest campaign that our church was doing. I had decided to join a Monday night study, hoping there would be both working women who I could relate to and young moms with kids, who I could also relate to now that I was choosing to be a stay at home mom. That wasn’t a lot to ask, right? I mean, with Him telling me to go, He could at least make it comfortable for me.

I decided to park far from where it was being held, so I could still try and talk God out of me going. That is how strongly I felt. Needless to say, I kept walking. When I arrived, there were some great smiles that greeted me. I also started listening in to conversations that were going on near the entrance with some of the, what looked to be leaders. They were all discussing how angry they were as they were being forced to stop their current study to start this new campaign. I went straight to God and said, “SEE! They don’t even want me here! You wanted me to come and to do this study and they don’t want us here!”

I continued in and was pointed to a table…not with the young women I had asked for…or working women…but with a group of retirees. What?!? What was He thinking???

The women were welcoming and wonderful. When I mentioned how great it would be to learn from their wisdom, they laughed and said, “I don’t know about wisdom, but we can share in all the ways we are doing things wrong. Hopefully that can help you!”

Through the study, I was able to get a peek in to their lives and them in to mine. As the weeks went on, they introduced me to the Women’s Ministry Leader. I LOVED her! After a short talk, she invited me to a Women’s Leadership Meeting. Now, hold on. I didn’t even want to be in a study, much less be a part of the leadership team! I prayed about it and realized that God had been steering me in the right direction, regardless of my thoughts and suggestions to Him.

I accepted the invitation and walked into the leadership meeting with my jaw all but dropping to the floor when I walked in and looked around. The long rectangle tables were set in a rectangle so everyone could face each other. Each either end, there was a leader of the studies being doted on by other ladies. It looked like a crazy sorority competition! Women adoring the individual leaders, petting their hair, etc… It FREAKED me out. As the meeting went on, I was called on a couple of times and mentioned how the room felt very segregated. The women’s ministry leader was trying her hardest to command attention, but you could tell there was a lack of respect. It was frustrating.

In a way, this was a new beginning for me on my journey. Though I wanted with all my heart to jump in with “leadership” lessons, and reorganize the way it was it done, I knew with all my heart, God was asking me to be still and only speak up when asked a direct question. That was a LOT to ask of a prideful leader. It was HARD, but I listened and I learned, a LOT.

The WM Leader became my mentor. She went through heartbreaking ups and downs for the next couple of years fighting indescribable hardships within the ministry. Through it all I was in awe of her relationship with Christ growing stronger and stronger.

Tomorrow I’ll share about one of the horribly prideful moments I had as I grew in that ministry, and how some of my mentor’s words stirred my soul and changed my way of thinking.

What I learned today…Not to forget the lessons of yesterday, and who taught them. And God’s direction is the BEST for us, regardless of how we feel in the moment.

SO Rude!

I had a wonderful volunteer come in to talk to me. She was devastated and in tears. At her Bible study, one of the leaders had given her a dirty look when she walked in. I couldn’t believe it! How dare that leader give her a dirty look! I spent about an hour talking with this gal, sharing how I didn’t really like her leader either, and she isn’t kind to people, why do they even have her as a leader, EVERYBODY thinks she should just stop, and she doesn’t really teach that well anyway…

JUST KIDDING.

That is the way we SHOULDN’T respond as leaders (which we all are). Our job as a leader is to remember we influence at all times. Regardless of how I feel about someone, my job is to point people to the Bible, then straight back to their leader. I would NOT talk about the person…well, except to say, “Did you ever think, it wasn’t about you? That maybe that leader was having a horrible morning and/or hearing some miserable news from the people she was standing with?”

As broken humans we are very self-involved. We think everything is about us. It isn’t. Once this gal realized I would not take part in her pity, finger-pointing, gossip fest, she stopped to really listen to what I was saying. Now, please know that she didn’t intend it to be a pity, finger-pointing gossip fest. She truly was coming in with a hurt heart. I was so thankful she had come to me so I could help her with the situation.

After we talked a bit she was able to realize that her own insecurities were coming out and she needed to confront the situation right away so she didn’t continue to harbor ill feelings towards the leader. AND she was given a good example of how not to gossip.

She ended up talking to the leader and finding out that it had been an absolutely horrible morning for her and this leader didn’t realize how much it showed. She didn’t even remember seeing my volunteer and apologized.

Have you ever done that? Been so consumed with a thought you don’t recognize some of the faces as you walk or talk. I did that and thankfully the gal who I had unknowingly ignored brought it straight to my attention. I had to apologize as I remember the 15 things I was thinking as I passed the area she said she was in when she tried to get my attention, but I didn’t remember hearing her.

What is something that has happened in your life that you felt hurt by? Have you taken it to the source? Not condemning but questioning if it was intentional. Regardless you will learn something.

How do you deter gossip? How do you redirect people to remember to see what the Bible says about the situation they are in, or to go straight to the person they have a problem with?

What I learned today…We all need to be reminded, whining, gossiping and commiserating will get us nowhere. Go to the source. Period. It saves a LOT of time, emotions and energy.

What I look for in a Leader.

Here are 10 attributes I consider valuable traits when looking for new leaders:

Concern/Love for others – You can’t lead people effectively if you don’t genuinely love people. I’ve seen people in positions who have great power, but they don’t appear to love others. These leaders often produce followers well, but they fall short of reproducing leaders.

Not a complainer – Candidly speaking, leadership encounters complainers regardless of what we do. I certainly don’t want to add complainers to my team of leaders. A positive attitude will get my attention every time.

Teachable and open to suggestions – A person who thinks they have all the answers will repel other leaders. People with no desire to keep learning rarely find their place on my team of leaders.

Excellence in following – This is a biggie for me. I try to follow people I lead, because there are times they know more than I do. Many times. Someone who isn’t willing to follow is seldom ready to lead.

Reliability – Leadership is about trust, and trust is developed over time and consistency by doing what you said you would do. I look for people with that quality.

Interest – The people with a burning passion for the church or organization often make great leaders. You can train someone to lead others, but you can’t easily train them to have interest.

Good character – Character counts. Not perfection. Not flawless. But, good character is necessary to be trusted on a team. Integrity. Honesty. A humble desire to always be improving as a person. That kind of character.

Potential – God always saw potential in others they themselves couldn’t see. I try to have eyes to see that in others.

Confidence – Leaders have to move forward when others are ready to retreat. That takes confidence. Not prideful, but a genuine willingness to lead through the hard times; to do what others aren’t willing to do.

People skills – This goes without saying, but you can’t lead people if you can’t communicate with people. You don’t have to be the life of the party (I’m a strong Introvert), but you do have to be able to engage people and make them feel a part of things.

What I learned today…I have to continually hold this list up to myself as well!

Are You Tired?

Time to review things I don’t like about myself, and if their valid flaws (valid, meaning my accountablitiy partners agree) it’s time to clean them out of my life.

Flaw I’m concentrating on?

I am TIRED. Sure I could lay out all the reasons why, but you don’t want to hear it, do you? Why? Because I bet you are tired, too.

Tired Physically
Tired Emotionally
Tired Mentally.
Sick kids.
Medical issues.
Busy schedule.
Tough relationships.
Rough work day.

We stretch and bend then stretch and bend again. With our busy lives, busy schedules and worry about EVERYTHING…

How do you behave when you are tired?

I am short tempered, easy to get angry at little things, only want “me” time, feel like the whole world is against me, etc…etc….

Don’t get me wrong, I know how to “behave in public” when I’m tired, but not when those doors close at home. Am I alone?

When I’m tired, I tend do things like…. I yell at my kids over little things and shove my husband away PLUS push all his “buttons” so he feels as crappy as I do.

My kids have gotten used to the ever on-going prayer request on our morning trip to school of, “God, you know I’m tired. Help me get through the day. Please help me control my temper in the morning”.

Yes, it’s good that I’m acknowledging it to God and my children. There IS a great lesson in those prayers coupled with asking my kids for forgiveness for my bad attitude.

HOWEVER, I heard the whispers of – that’s not enought – during my prayers yesterday morning. My kids do not need to listen to me give excuses of “I’m tired. Tough day at work. I was up with YOU all night.” or ___________ enter whatever reason I have here.  They need to know Mom loves them and can over-come the tiredness to be a bigger person and CHANGE my attitude.

So my prayers have become, “God, you know I am tired. I ask you to help me to change my attitude and enjoy the blessings YOU put around me. Help me show more joy than exhaustion today. In YOU I can find rest. Through YOU I can find strength.”

Starting today, my goal is embrace the tired. It’s part of my life in this season. It’s not going to go away. So I will be changing my attitude in it. I’m going to start the process of teaching my children being tired is NOT an excuse to be mean, short tempured or quick to condemn.

That through resting In God’s Word. I can find the strength and peace I need. If I take a couple minutes a day to talk with God, read a verse or two and enjoy time with HIM, even if it’s 5 minutes, HE can give me anything I need to become that better mom that I long to be. That mom that doesn’t use the excuse of I’m Tired, for bad behaviour.

What will you be looking at to Clean out of your life today?
Today I’m praying for my fellow tired people. May you overcome the excuse and find time to REST in HIM today.

Today I learned…again…I need to take time to rest in Him.

Hypocrites

They are everywhere. You can’t get away from them anywhere, Right?!? Even in my mirror I see one! It could be that I am telling people around me to do something I am not willing to do. It could be I tell my kids not to lie or steal…and then sneak candy in to the theater.

We are ALL hypocrites. Some are just louder than others depending on how we look at the situation. For example…if I am a theater goer with limited income, I find it absolutely fine to go to the theater with food in my bag as I can’t afford the ridiculous prices for snacks there. If I am the theater owner, wondering how I am going to pay for the HD screens I just had to buy and the skyrocketing price of purchasing the films for my theater, I am going to be upset when people come in with their own snacks, as now how do I pay for employees and a great experience for my guests?

Perspective.

One thing I want to concentrate on, that I do fairly frequently, is the verse from 2 Corinthians 5:20 “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ“.

Ambassador    (per Dictionary.com)

1. a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative (ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary)

2. a diplomatic official of the highest rank sent by a government to represent it on a temporary mission, as for negotiating a treaty.

3. a diplomatic official serving as permanent head of a country’s mission to the United Nations or some other international organization.
4. an authorized messenger or representative.
I am a Christ Follower! That means I am a representative of His!
So if I truly understand what the word ambassador means, I am His representative here on earth.
When I am in a long line and irritated.
When I yell at my kids, spouse, friends.
When I gossip about someone.
When I don’t treat my neighbors well.
When I ignore people.
When I post negative and hurtful things on Social Media.
This makes being a Christ follower HARD for me! I have to be good, and my nature is to do the opposite of whatever I am supposed to be doing.
As I grow and learn how to behave as someone who isn’t just a Fan of Jesus, but has made the choice to Follow His teaching, I am reminded that I am accountable for my actions.
Just like if an ambassador from another country was doing something they shouldn’t, it would be all over the news and we’d all have a snarky comment regarding it. I should be a stellar example of what a Christian looks like.
I am a broken, flawed, difficult to handle human being. So I am not going to get it right all of the time. My goal is to do the best I can. Praying that it’s a little better each day.
What I learned today…I need to “Represent” (to be read with an accent) Jesus well. I need to do my best to be kind in all situations, even if it’s HARD, and I need to keep reading the Bible to find more directions on how to behave.