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Friday, June 13, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Messenger

It's a Lisa Jo Baker Five Minute Friday-- write for five minutes on the word provided.

http://lisajobaker.com/2014/06/five-minute-friday-messenger/


Messenger--

What does it mean to be a messenger?  Who is a messenger?  What is the message?  Authors are messenger of stories.  Journalists are messengers of the news.  Preachers are messengers of God's Word.  Messengers vary in degree of course.  One of my greatest anxieties is "pulpit anxiety."  I worry myself sick on Sunday mornings wondering if the message I'm about to deliver is the right one.  If it's Godly enough.  How the congregation will receive it.   I know that not every message that is received well is the right message...sometimes it is the challenging ones that are the right ones.  The ones where I receive push-back are likely the more Godly messages because they are taking people out of their comfort zones.  Sometimes a messenger is sent to take people out of their comfort zones.  And then the messenger becomes disliked and I don't like to be disliked and that's where the anxiety heightens.  Do I tell them what they want to hear so I can be liked or do I give them the message God wants them to hear and face the possible wrath of the people?  It sure isn't an easy job but it's the one I'm called to.  If you pray, please pray for pastors.  Our job is a lot harder than it looks.  Thank you and God bless you (and your messages!)


Monday, June 9, 2014

Update on the 365 Days to a More Fulfilling Life.

Since I have not updated my blog in a while, I decided to do an update now that I'm almost two months into my 365 list. (found here--- http://learningtogrowdaringtolove.blogspot.com/2014/04/365-days-to-more-fulfilling-life.html ) There's still plenty of time to join in!

It has challenged me to do things I wouldn't have done and think about things I wouldn't have thought about. It's prompted me to socialize with people and give more.

As per the list, I wrote myself three letters—one to be read in 1 year, 5 years and 10. The first one made me realize how quickly a year will come, the 5-year made me think about my goals and the 10 year made me realize how quickly life is going to pass---my niece will be 22! The days that prompt me to “do a random act of kindness” keep me aware of the ways we can really help each other out. There are small things we could do everyday that can really help people.

The days that prompted me to go inward allowed me to connect with my own thoughts instead of reading everyone's on facebook. While I love keeping up with people, it's good to spend time with your own thoughts too. Other posts asked me to do fun things or socialize and I'm grateful for those-- such as “ask your friends what their favorite funny movie is and watch one” and “share your childhood memories with someone.” I watched “What About Bob?” and I spent an evening comparing childhood stories with my husband, brother, mom and niece. (My niece loved hearing our stories!) We probably would have spent the evening talking about frustrating or depressing current events, but instead we had fun reminiscing our childhoods and hearing stories we've never heard before.

One day told me to “write someone a letter.” I chose someone who was not on facebook and who I have not seen in a number of years. She was so surprised I wrote her and I ended up bumping into her a few days later. I think it re-opened a connection. What a great prompt.

I have learned things I wouldn't have because of this challenge-- I learned about Passover, May Day and Uzbekistan....I learned how I can be greener, how to properly use a comma, how to say a few words in French. I also discovered an awesome library nearby.

I've missed a few days for one reason or another, such as “Host a Pot Luck” because I was invited to a party that day. When I miss days I try to make them up. I look forward to continuing this list and invite you all to join me!

I printed the list out and keep it on my bedside table along with a journal to record a few sentences about how I completed that day's prompt. It helps to think it over and it'll be fun to go back and read it over later.

Here's the link to the list:

http://learningtogrowdaringtolove.blogspot.com/2014/04/365-days-to-more-fulfilling-life.html

Friday, April 25, 2014

Five Minute Friday- Friend

It's a Lisa-Jo Five Minute Friday.  Write for five minutes on the word provided and link up with other writers.  http://lisajobaker.com/

Today's word is friend.

Friends... I've always been curious if I'm bad in this department or if friends really do come and go... Some of the people I've been closest with in my life are people I haven't seen in years.  Literally, years.  How can that be?  These people I consider or once considered close friends.

I recently reconnected with one of best friends from high school and it was awesome.  I remembered instantly why we were so close.  But why do we lose touch with people?  Besides a fight or moving away, how do two people who at one time spent so much time together not see each other for over a year?

I know we say we're busy and we are, but too busy for friendship?  Friends are an important part of life.  If you are a friend of mine and we haven't seen each other in over a year, I'm sorry.  When do you want to hang out?





Friday, April 11, 2014

Five Minute Friday-- PAINT

It's a Lisa-Jo Five Minute Friday!  http://lisajobaker.com/   Write for five minutes on the word provided.
Today's word is:

Paint

After reading Lisa-Jo's intro and her prompt: PAINT, I immediately thought of Julie Meyer's song "Paint your Picture."

Paint your Picture (or Paintbrush) by Julie Meyer

Pick me up like a paintbrush, God. Dip it in the colors of my life. Paint Your picture, Father, And fashion a heart that is wholly Yours
Take Your fingers, God. Master Potter, Come mold the clay. Tell Your story as You mold me Fashion a heart that is wholly Yours
And write Your name, write Your name In the clay. And sign Your name, sign Your name On the picture.

Take all I am. Take all I have. I am Yours forever, forever...

It is such a beautiful song which I had the honor to dance to with a group of wonderful women in seminary.

Painting is a creative expression of self. This is something any of us can do, no matter our skill level. In various classes over the years, I've been given painting prompts just like Lisa-Jo gives writing prompts and it almost always surprises me to see what comes out of it. We learn about ourselves when we get creative in our communication.

But I want to get back to the song-- to think that we are art on God's canvas is such an amazing image. If we ever think we aren't beautiful or that our life doesn't have meaning...just remember that The Artist of Life, the Master Potter has a hand in who we are, who we were and who we are becoming.

God has written God's name all over our lives and has claimed us as masterpieces. We can respond by living as beautifully as we were created. As we co-create with God, let's make our lives and the world a beautiful living testament to the Artist of Life.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Reflections on "Surprised by Motherhood"

As a mentioned in a recent post, Lisa Jo Baker just released “Surprised By Motherhood.” I read it in two days (which with my lack of down time is saying something!). Here are some of my responses to what she wrote: 

 Embarrassed to be caught without clothes on in front her husband shortly after their first son was born, her husband looked her in the eyes and said, 

“You are beautiful don't you dare be embarrassed in front of me.” (p.81)

 I have definitely found myself in similar situations since my son was born. Flab where there wasn't flab before, and my word the stretch marks! I looked like I had gotten attacked by a tiger. Now they are faded, but they still aren't pretty. But my husband insists I'm still beautiful, if not more. Which made me wonder--- is it just us? 

 Do we women put this pressure on ourselves and each other to get back into the pre-pregnancy jeans? And while we're on that subject, how is it that I lost the pregnancy weight plus 15 pounds and I still don't fit in my pre-pregnancy jeans!? Well that's not fair, I do fit into one pair....my fat pants! My husband never hounded me to fit back in them and yet it became an obsession to me. 

 Be honest...have you ever looked at other moms and thought about her weight vs. how old the baby is?? I think it's women more than men...and specifically other mothers...that put the pressure on each other to get “back to normal.” So women, let's stop. Let's stop looking, judging and especially commenting! It's OK to be concerned about someone's health and if you want to compliment them by all means go ahead! But please don't comment negatively on a fellow momma's post-baby body.


 “Becoming a parent is a lot like breaking up with yourself” (p.86) 

Yes! Amen, sister. This is something after 18 months I'm still coming to terms with. But the sooner you get over the break-up, the happier you'll be! Everyone mourns the loss of their old life in their own way, because life is never the same again after having children. It's not a bad thing; it's an adjustment. How long it takes to adjust depends on the person. Lisa-Jo also expressed, 

“As much as we crave shortcuts or explanations or formulas, one day will end and another will begin, and it will be different until it isn't. Until it starts to slowly make sense and we've found our balance.” (p. 83). 

 To which I laughed because it seems every time we adapt and start to find a rhythm and balance, it all changes again. You finally understand their newborn schedule and then they start teething.... you get used to that and then they learn to crawl....then they learn to walk... and so on. Kids are always changing and adapting and we need to change and adapt with them. 

“But this—this was a new rhythm, and my body was awkwardly fumbling toward the beat.” (p.90) 

 While I'm not as cluelessly overwhelmed as 18 hours into motherhood, I am still awkwardly fumbling 18-months into it. And some weeks you hobble through. AND THAT'S OK. You're not alone. 

 The first paragraph on p. 113 had me nodding and agreeing aloud as I read. She explains how all-consuming being a stay-at-home mom is. 

 “You dread the 'what did you do today?' question as you rack your brain to come up with more than, 'clean up after the kids.'”

Yes, Lisa-Jo, thank you! and also in my case, “chase after my son.”  Being a stay-at-home mom is the most underpaid and unappreciated job there is!  

 Lisa-Jo beautifully explained an experience she had in church with her son on page 128. As she held him and they had a love-moment during worship she began to understand God's love on a deeper level. This is one that I've gotten to know over the last 18-months and it's really helped me in my ministry. 

 People will come to me and express how they are unworthy of God's love. How they've messed up too much, gone too far, ran out of chances, and the building would surely fall down around them if they walked in. But here's something parents know-- no matter what their child does, they still love them. A parent's love for a child is unconditional. And the same is true for God. We are God's children and no matter what we've done we can be forgiven if we're sorry. God loves us like a parent loves their child times infinity. I contemplate on how much I love my child and I am overwhelmed to think that God loves me like this and even more! If you ever wonder if God loves you, the answer is, *more than you can possibly imagine.*

 One of things I really love about this book is that Lisa-Jo also shows the dark side of parenting. The messy bits that people don't talk about or even like to admit. Such as this:

 “Sometimes you don't realize you have a temper until you have kids...There's no rage like the exhausted rage of motherhood. These are the things they don't talk about in the parenting books or playgroups or coffee dates.” (134) “It's easy to let the temper pour out of you like a hot rush of lava...With clenched fists and jaw and gut, you have a wild meltdown easily as irrational as your kids'.” (135). 

 These are the grown-up temper tantrums no one tells you about. And I believe type-A-controlling-type moms are especially susceptible to them. Us moms with control issues have to learn quickly that we can't control others. We can parent our children, but when they do something outside what we want or expect, a temper tantrum is not going to make the situation any better. Children like to control us and one way they do that is by doing something they aren't suppose to to get us to do that temper-tantrum thing again.

Parenthood is an amazing responsibility that changes us in ways we never thought imaginable. It teaches us things about ourselves that we couldn't have known without this experience, even things that seem so obvious after-the-fact. It shows us how truly deep love can go. With any transformation it stretches you, alters you and you can never go back to who you were before. A good summation is what Lisa-Jo said toward the end of the book: 

 “I don't know who these children will grow up to be. But I know that they have grown me up and dragged me out of myself. I have the scars to prove it.” (p.193).

Thank you Lisa-Jo for such a beautifully honest book.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fellowship

I was reading another blogger and she wrote about fellowship.  At the bottom she asked readers what fellowship meant to us.  http://raisingamommy.blogspot.com/2014/03/fellowship

This really got me thinking...


Fellowship is a beautiful thing.  It's something I'm finding less and less in church and more and more with religious friends...does that make any sense?  (It's certainly found in church, but it's harder for pastors, I think).

Fellowship is bearing your soul to others and them accepting it...drying your tears, offering a prayer or Communion.  Fellowship is friends feeling free enough to bear their soul to you... and when the tears are dried, continue EATING!  It's laughing and talking about those things you couldn't talk about with anyone else.  It's about taking care of each other.  It's about getting to know each other...really...on a deep level.

 It's about talking God.  Not just Scripture or religion....but GOD.

It's about celebrating with each other when we're up and mourning with each other when we're down.  It's about being there. It's about caring how your interview went...what your test result was... how your grandma is doing... how your house search is coming along... and so much more.

Fellowship is about community building in a world that is seriously lacking community. I miss the fellowship I had in seminary.  Almost every picture that came to mind while writing this was time I spent with the women I went to seminary with.

Fellowship is something I need to be more intentional about finding and including in my life.  Fellowship is healing and joyful.  Fellowship is a piece of a full life.

What does fellowship mean to you and where do you find it?

Five Minute Friday-- Writer

It's another Lisa-Jo Baker Five Minute Friday  http://lisajobaker.com/ (she just wrote an awesome book)--- write for five minutes on the word given.  Today's word:  Writer. 

What does it mean to be a “writer?” Does it mean you have to be published? Does it mean you have to have perfect grammar?  Does it mean you need your peers approval or better yet acclamation to bear the title? Do you have to get paid to do it?

Or can it just be a hobby? One you may or may not be any good at but brings you joy...or at least satisfaction... I've never really considered myself a writer. But now writing is a large portion of my job. Does that make me a writer? I don't know. But I like to do it.


I think a writer is one who records thoughts, stories, events, emotions and more. Many people do it really well. Many writers are able to touch their readers and change them. If I can do this even for one person, I would be happy. But in the meantime, I enjoy recording thoughts, stories, events and emotions.


Five Minute Friday