Archive for May, 2010
This Memorial Day, I’d like to take the opportunity to tell you about my hero.
Srgt. Cody Light
Or as I like to call him: Babe.
Cody joined the Marines after graduating high school. After graduating boot camp, he served four years as a United States Marine, taking two tours to Iraq including the Battle of Fallujah and the 20,000 Troop Surge.
The Marines’ core values are Honor, Courage and Commitment, and I can tell you, these core values have not left my Marine.
But perhaps the most inspiring thing about my hero is the USMC motto that he has modeled his life around.
Semper Fidelis which means “Always Faithful.”
These simple, yet powerful words are etched into my hero’s forearms, as a constant reminder to me, that the motto is more than a cool tattoo. It is his life’s purpose, his calling, not only to God and country, but to his wife, family, friends and anyone who might be in need, to lay down his own life and faithfully serve another.
That is why I fell in love with him. That is why I will love him till the day I die.
This is a tribute to my hero. Thank you for your service to our country. Thank you for loving me. I am truly blessed to call you mine.
There’s a water main line break in our little corner of Northwest Oklahoma City. Some neighborhoods have no water pressure, some have absolutely no water at all. Cody and I are sort of in the middle of no water and a little water. Let’s just say that sometimes the toilet will flush.
It just got me thinking how often we take simple things for granted. Especially in our American culture we expect certain things, like running water, but we forget that in other parts of the world, this is not the norm for them. It really makes me thankful to realize where God placed me on this earth.
Gratitude is the last Forgotten Virtue Craig Groeschel will be speaking about this weekend. And I think it is quite appropriate for Memorial Day Weekend, where we realize we often take our freedom for granted as well.
So today, I’m thankful. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude as it always should be. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, running water (for the most part), freedom, a husband who loves me and a family who supports me. I have a Heavenly Father who puts up with my crap and always gives me grace. What more could I ask for, what more could I want?
Let today be a reminder to not take our lives for granted. Let us be thankful for everything, including toilets that flush.
This story is always a good reminder to not let myself become stagnant.
The low rumble of the coffee shop slowly brought my mind to focus. I’d been reading at my table at Barnes and Noble for a while and picked up my cup of cafe mocha. I noticed, as I took a drink, that most of the good stuff had settled at the bottom of my cup. So I gently swirled it hoping the motion would wake the dormant spices that make the drink taste so good.
I drank again and noticed an immense difference. A sweeter, richer, more potent sip excited my taste buds, causing my mind to think…
How often do I let my “spice” settle at the bottom? Sometimes I allow the busyness of life to settle my passion, making me less effective. I need a little swirl. A little something to shake me up when sitting too long has caused me to become complacent.
But will I recognize this swirl for what it is? Or will I complain that it’s just another suffering I have to walk through, trying not to get too shaken up, when that was the point in the first place…
What do you think?
- Social Awareness
- Relationship Management
The top two skills, Self-Awareness and Self-Management, are more about you. The bottom two skills, are more about how you are with other people.
Today, let’s look at the top skill: Self-Awareness.
Self-Awareness, simply put, is the art of knowing yourself as you really are. It is more than just knowing if you like oranges over apples or telling people that you’re a morning person instead of a night owl. Getting to know yourself inside and out is a continuous journey of peeling back the layers of the onion and becoming more and more comfortable with what is in the middle–the true essence of you.
I can’t tell you how vital self-awareness is for our lives. It is the skill that supports the other three skills of emotional intelligence. It is also very important because without self-awareness overcoming insecurities would be nearly impossible. Do you know yourself? Do you know what type of personality you have? Your strengths? Your weaknesses? Gifts or talents? Do you know your insecurities or the truth on how to fight them?
I learned at an early age the importance of knowing myself. As a high school student I was given many opportunities to take personality tests, spiritual gifts assessments and strengths finder tests. Not that these tests were the end all of my self-awareness, but they catapulted me into a world where self-awareness became a high priority in my life. I began to live by the truth that “if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know how to improve.”
So let me ask you a question: Do you know where you are? Have you mastered the art of knowing yourself? Here are a few suggestions on how to gain more self-awareness.
- Pray and ask God to show you who you are
- Take a trusted personality test–not the ones you find on MySpace and Facebook! Take a Myers-Brigg or something comparable to find out how you are uniquely wired.
- Take a spiritual gifts test.
- Buy the book Strengths Finder by Tom Rath. Read it and take the test in the back.
- Ask a trusted friend or mentor to enlighten you on how you’re perceived by others.
- (You can contact me for any of these testing materials by sending me an e-mail.)
Self-Awareness is the starting point to improve our emotional intelligence. I recommend picking up your own copy of the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and start your journey.
Have you ever felt threatened by someone? I’m not talking about the feeling you might get if someone were to break into your house, or if someone got up in your face and acted like they were going to hit you. I’m talking about threatened in a more subtle sense. I’m talking about the kind of threatening that awakens our insecurities.
I was at a graduation party yesterday for a student leaving for college in August. All her friends were there celebrating around food, cake and punch. I sat on the couch visiting with some friends when a couple of high school girls walked into the room. These girls were gorgeous! Bleach blonde hair, tan, perfect bodies and they were dressed very stylish in the newest summer trends. These girls came to sit on the same couch and immediately I felt threatened. Why? Because my insecurities were awakened when I compared myself. In my eyes I didn’t measure up to these girls. I have 15 pounds on them! I was wearing a Wal-Mart dress! I couldn’t compete with such beauty. I felt threatened.
What about things other than beauty? I knew a man once who seemed to have the Midas Touch. Almost everything he did was successful. This man was a brilliant leader but many of his colleagues felt threatened by him. They didn’t understand the gift this person had been given and hated the fact that he was a better leader than they. Instead of learning from this person, they let the evil sin of comparison control their thinking and the feeling of being threatened overruled them keeping them bound by their own insecurities.
Feeling threatened is a sign of insecurity. But it’s what you do with that feeling that shows your true measure of freedom.
When you’re threatened you have two choices:
1. Dwell on the evil, self-degrading thoughts of comparison and plunge yourself deeper into the pit of insecurity, or
2. Take the focus off yourself and celebrate the differences, beauty, and success of other people, freeing yourself from the heavy chains of insecurity.
God made each one of us special. He gifted each of us according to His perfect will. Until you realize this for yourself, you will always feel threatened by someone. Someone will always be prettier, smarter, and more successful than you, as long as you compare yourself to others. It’s when we put down our measuring stick and realize our own uniqueness that we will truly be able to celebrate the uniqueness of others.
With summer around the corner I feel the kid in me come out. Unfortunately many adults can lose sight of the kid inside. Sometimes I think adults can just be too adultish. Here are 10 things that we used to do as kids that we should never become too old to do as adults:
1. Laugh until our sides hurt
2. CANNON BALL!
3. Play a practical joke on someone.
4. Drink Koolaid.
5. Share your biggest secret with your best friend.
6. Build a fort!
7. Use your imagination.
8. Run. (For reasons other than exercise.)
9. Eat a pop-cycle
10. Always expect the best.
Want to add a few of your own?
“Community is the catalyst for life-change.” I stole this quote from a good friend and co-worker, Robert Davis who is our LifeGroups and Missions Pastor. He couldn’t be more right.
I started a life group over three years ago in my little one bedroom apartment. People came and people left, but the ones who stuck became the core of our group. We’ve been together for over three years and the relationships we’ve built have been life-changing. I met and got to know my husband through life group. Another couple also met and are now married due to the group. My best friends are in the group, but we didn’t start out as friends. It took time, patience and intentionality to grow into what it is now.
One of my favorite stories is about a guy named Kelley. When he started coming to the group he was sporadic. He’d come one week and then we wouldn’t see him for the next three. Kelley suffered a seizure and because of that his drivers license was taken away. Not being able to go anywhere on his own, his parents started bringing him to life group every week. We began to build a relationship with Kelley.
One week, I asked if he would lead the group. He was hesitant telling me he’s never really done anything like that before. I told him it would be ok, and to pray and ask God to show him what to share. The next week, Kelley came with an amazing lesson. Later, he shared with me that it had been the first time in a long time to open his Bible to get ready for the lesson. Since then, our group has been able to hold Kelley accountable to reading his Word and growing in Christ. Kelley is now starting his own life group at our Yukon Campus where he lives!
Community is the catalyst for life-change. God used our relationship with Kelley to mold and shape him as he molded and shaped each one of us.
I encourage you, if you are not in some kind of Biblical community, find one! I know it can be hard to find the one that fits, but when you do the life-changing benefits far out-weight the search.
Community changes lives. Are you living in community?
Sometimes in youth ministry it can be hard to see any fruits of your labor. Sometimes you just don’t know if you’re getting through to your students, or if they are “getting” it or not.
Well, for anyone who has ever felt that way, let me encourage you with this story. This young lady in our youth group at Northwest is 16 years old. I will summarize what her life was like before coming to SWITCH, and then let her take it from there:
Shakari stayed with her mom before coming to SWITCH. Her life was filled with the wrong people: an unhealthy relationship with a 20 year old man (she was 13 at the time.) Friends that encouraged drinking, smoking etc. Since her mom was never around she went to stay with her dad. (This is where we’ll pick up the story in her words)
My dad finally let me and my sisters start to go to SWITCH on Wednesday nights. At first I just went to hang out with my friends and to get out of the house. After a while I started to cut myself because I started to feel all this pain, hurt, the feeling of being alone, and not loved and wanted. Then I would start to have thoughts of suicide and how I just didn’t care anymore. And that nobody would even care that if I was gone so what was the point of staying. It started to be too much to handle so I started talking to my youth leader about these things. And I remember her telling me that she would care if I was gone so would my small group leader and everybody that loved me. That I was not alone I was worth so much more than that. After I talked to her I had felt a little better getting that off my chest and so I tried to stop cutting but it only lasted for about 3-4 weeks. I had just felt so overwhelmed again and that this world and everyone and everything in it hated me. And I remember telling my leader about how I started cutting again and she asked why I had started up again. I told her about being overwhelmed and so tired and alone. She was like “Shakari, God is Always with you, and you might not know it at all times but he is. And that you really need to stop hiding behind yourself because God has put you on this earth for a reason and to be a leader to others and you need to stand up to that.”
I remember one Wednesday night at church during worship I just couldn’t handle everything and I just prayed to God that he comes into my heart. To help me in my times of weakness and to overcome this addiction I had with cutting myself. It felt good to know that the world didn’t hold my life anymore and that God did. After that I started going to church for the right reason. It felt really good to know that I was not alone. It felt great to worship him and try to learn something new from the messages. Of all the people, places, and churches that I have met or been to I have never felt that I actually belonged like I do at SWITCH. I started coming every Wednesday. I can’t imagine my life without SWITCH. I stopped cutting and it has been three months. I know I can hang on and go longer because my leaders and youth pastors are the best and I know I can call them or talk to them whenever I feel tempted. Most of the time when I do feel weak I pray to God and ask him to help me and to give me strength.
Through all things I believe that God put me with my dad because he knew SWITCH was exactly what I needed in my life. I pray to God every night that he does not take LifeChurch away from me because it is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I would not know who Jesus is and how much he loves me. I am working on a better and closer relationship with God and I know that I don’t have to build that relationship with God alone. Something that I learned recently is that I was so busy being mad at hating the world and myself that I didn’t see I was causing myself more hurt than anyone else. I know that I have made mistakes but it is okay because I am still loved and wanted and precious in his sight. And of all things I am FORGIVEN.
I’m sorry, but there’s a form of insecurity that just gets to me! Actually, I’m not sorry because this form can be so subtle that many people don’t think they are slaves to it.
Apologizing is an important social skill. Knowing how to properly apologize when you have wronged someone is good. But I’m not talking about your normal apologies. I’m talking about the sickening, self-focused, excessive apologizing that latches on to victims of sever insecurity.
Have you ever experienced this with someone? Have you ever been around someone who excessively apologizes for everything? What about a look in the mirror? Do you often find yourself apologizing for meaningless things?
What is the cause of this?
From my study of insecurity in people I’ve come to the conclusion that individuals who unreasonably apologize are looking for validation. They are looking for those who will reply to their apology with phrases like, “Oh, it’s okay.” “You’re fine.” “Don’t worry about it.”
When they can get this kind of response out of people it makes them feel less insecure about who they are or what they are doing. But this is a horrible and short-lived way to gain validation. In fact, I would go so far to say that overly apologizing to gain validation only causes a person to dive deeper into the deadly cycle of insecurity.
It’s time to Quit Apologizing! Find freedom from this form of insecurity by gaining your validation from what Christ says about you, not how others respond to your apologies.