Friday, August 29, 2014

Reach: #FiveMinuteFriday

Photo by Tom Benitez via Orlando Sentinel

(On Fridays I join with a community of writers that encourage one another. I write to process my week, discover what I really believe and to tell stories. Join us here.)

Things have normalized by now. It's been a week and a half. The details are foggy. What we know for sure is that in the midst of stray bullets, a girl lost her life.

And just days later we sat across the street from the crime seen on a porch that is very much ours. You can finds us there most Wednesdays and several other nights each week. The tension of random violence coming so close to home and a makeshift shrine outside the doors of a dance club is palpable.

But a local ice cream truck pulls in front of the shrine, either not knowing or not caring. And our view is blocked. And suddenly fifty-somethings, and twenty-somethings, and thirty-somethings become children again for a few short minutes.

I reach for my cone: always vanilla with chocolate sprinkles. And we're all grins from ear to ear. You can't help but smile with an ice cream cone in hand. Suddenly we're all children again. And we remember that the world does have some good left in it. In the midst of shootings, and Ferguson and our country's unrequited battle with mental illness, we have a bit of respite.

On this hot summer night both tragedy and ice cream cones are unifiers. And God reminds us that we need both. The bitter and the sweet. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A New Perspective on Missional Living: @MissionalWomen

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In the Fall of 2011, I was just over two years into our life and ministry in Orlando and I was struggling. We had moved to Orlando to plant a church and God had made it clear that our dream of what out ministry would be was not His. I had also grown up in the church and was suffering from a very narrow view of what ministry was. I didn't have a strong support system and I had just survived one of the hardest years of my life.

And I read a lot. And listened to sermons a lot. That sounds innocent enough. But having come from a legalistic faith tradition that didn't hold an accurate view of the Gospel, every preacher I heard or blogger I read made me feel more guilt and shame about what I wasn't doing to serve God.

Then I read an article that changed my life and realized two things. First, I had spent too much time trying to work for God and not enough time being with God. Second, I realized that I shouldn't be trying to do ministry exactly like everyone else. God had made and gifted me in a specific ways and those were the areas where I should seek to serve Him.

To hear my three missional living game changers continue reading over at Missional Women>>>>>

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to Restart: Your Day, Your Year, Your Life

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There was a period where it was happening a lot. The Monday morning waking to a Paypal hack. The day with the water seeping into the bathroom floor. And a host of other days when things didn't go as planned, relationships were getting messy and life just felt suffocating. More than once, I have wanted to quit. Give up. Throw in the towel. And if you're honest, I know you have too.

Life doesn't go as planned more often than it does. Oftentimes that can make us feel ravaged, disheartened and discouraged. Like failures even. I know. I have been there too.

What I've learned these last eleven months of pursuing my dreams and those several weeks of things not going my way, is that you can always restart. Your day can be redeemed. Your year can begin again and your life's script is not complete.

Below are some simple ways I've been implementing "restarts" into my days and my life. Use them as a jumping-off point to create practical signals in your own life:

 How to Restart Your Day:
  • Pick a "begin again routine." For me this is either showering or a new pot of coffee. Stepping out of a shower make me feel fresh and new. And a new batch of coffee signals to me a new start at the work before me.
  • Change your environment. Leave the source of stress. Either go for a short walk, drive to pickup your favorite beverage, or grab your laptop and work somewhere else entirely for the remainder of the day. 
  • Use Pomodoros to manage your time. The great thing about this time management technique is that if you feel like everything during one Pomodoro went wrong. You've only lost 25 minutes. You can take a break and begin again. (Learn more here.)

How to Restart Your Year:
  • Get a new calendar. Did you know that half way through the year brand new calendars and planners are released? Buy a brand new one (they run from July to June) and suddenly you have a clean slate and a whole new year ahead of you. This is the brand I use and they're sold at Target. Or print your own here.
  • Go on a retreat. This does not have to be overnight but that is great if you can afford it. Ask yourself some intentional questions about the past year. Based on your answers, make some plans for the year ahead. (I often use the retreat models in this book.)
  • Choose a theme for the rest of year. You can do this however you like but One Word is simple and effective. My theme for 2014 has been Hope and it has really made a difference.

How to Restart Your Life:
  • Get experience, education, or training. What is the thing you dream of? Don't wait to live the life you imagine. Whatever the first step is to pursuing your dream, start now. Do you need to take night classes? Sign up today. Do you need experience? You can volunteer in your free time. Just take your first step.
  • Pursue your dream a little bit every day. Want to be a writer? A doctor? A professional juggler? Devote at least 30 minutes to your craft every day. I had to do this for years. It will not only make you better at what you do but it will also fuel your passion for pursuing your dream.
  • Make an exit strategy. Does your dream require a radical career change, a move, or some other big decision? Plan your exit now and start working toward it. 

More Great Resources:
  • If your trapped between your day job and your dream job: read Quitter by Jon Acuff
  • For practical encouragement for blending passion and professions: visit Live in the Grey
  • To implement practical rhythms for retreats and rest: see this post by my friend, Tom Nebel
  • If what you want is to be awesome instead of average: read Start also by Jon Acuff
  • For more inspiration from someone else whose pursuing her dreams: see this post by the inspiring Renia Carsillo

I'd love to hear your tips for restarting in the comments below.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

All the Things: An August Update

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Perhaps you've noticed I've had a hard time getting back into my writing schedule since my July blogging break. While I don't usually do personal updates, I thought I'd share a few things with you as we prepare to dive into Fall:

  • In case you're wondering, we did not host a French student. Instead I learned some good things about God's timing and honoring my husband.
  • Can you believe I had to take a break from hospitality for a few week during July? More to come on that.
  • On July 26th we celebrated 5 years of life and ministry in Orlando. I still have some processing to do on these past 5 years.
  • I'm starting to connect and be able to use some of my gifts and passions at my church. This is an answer to a prayer of many years. 
  • I'm reading a lot of mindless fiction right now because I spent the beginning of the year diving into lots of serious stuff and needed a break. 
  • I am also reading Supper of the Lamb by Father Robert Farrar Capon. 
  • If you don't know, I work from home as a Virtual Assistant and I love it more and more each day.
  • I'm super excited about the Fall. It's my favorite season. I'll decorate my house, eat all things pumpkin, and go on some fun trips. 
  • A group of ladies met on August 10th to lead IF:Local in Orlando. More on that soon for all you locals.
  • The Nester's 31 Days will be here before you know and I'll be announcing my topic soon.

Thanks for your grace, support, and encouragement, friends! I'm so thankful for you.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Fill: #FiveMinuteFriday

(On Friday I join with a community of writers that encourages one another. I use the weekly prompt to find my writing voice, discover what I really believe, and oftentimes to tell stories. You can join us here.)

Somebody fills the cups to the brim and they're there waiting for us. The first time goes fast. I say the words over and over, "the body of Christ, broken for you." They take their bread to dip in the cup. I use their name if I know it. Most look me in the eye the same way I do to them. Most smile. A lot say "amen" or "thank you."

But the first time it goes fast. I rush my words. It's exhausting. I wonder if the Body broken for me can keep having meaning after all that rushing? But then the lines of people stop and we, the servers, go up to him for our portion of the bread and wine. And to each of us he says it with such meaning, such passion, that it's like the first time every time.

So the second time, and the third time, and all times after that I go slower. I recognize that my words and speed control the pace. I go slow so others may feel it's the first time, every time. So that we both might be filled with newness of the blood that washes away all our sins.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Begin: #FiveMinuteFriday

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 She sits in a small room with two others. The contents of her life spilled out on tables, and floors, and laps. Five years of debt. Five years of trying to buy belonging. Earn worthiness. Be enough. And one calls out the numbers and one makes the list. And when the total is added she sits in shock when they say "ok, done." It is finished. They write the check. Clean the slate. Wash it all away.

Today is the first day of the rest of her life, again. Like Jesus with all her sin they take on the weight of a lifetime of bad financial decisions. Because the Gospel carries to every part of our lives. Even our wallets and credit cards, and all-hours calls from debt collectors. And God is reminding her of this again. That these two and He, they love her more than she'll ever know.

That grace is not something to be earned or to arrive at. Grace is flowing like some wild honey from the heart of God through His people. It is like daily bread. A clean slate every morning. A new life where debt collectors and shame don't call. Where you can begin again each day. Because once again your slate is wiped clean.

Five Minute Friday 

On Fridays I write to discover my voice, process the week, and find out what I really believe. I join with a community of writers that encourage each other. You can join us here.