Archive for May, 2010

Are You a Natural Thinker or Feeler?

Naturally, I am a feeler. Meaning, I base most, if not all, my decisions on how I feel about them and how they might effect others. The opposite side of the spectrum would be the thinkers. Those who base their decisions on logical thought, often taking emotions out of the process. Thinker

Both are valuable. Both have their faults. So let me tell you about the fault of the feeler. Basing my decisions on how I feel about them has brought some challenges to my world. For example:

  • If I don’t feel like working out, chances are I’m not going to work out, because my feelings won out.
  • If I don’t feel like writing a blog, I usually don’t do it because my feelings got the better of my decision making.

Most of the time, when I’m not actively doing something, I let my mind wander. But I’m not thinking. I’m feeling. As a feeler most, if not all, of my life sifts through the filter called: feelings. This is not a bad thing, necessarily, unless it keeps you from doing the things you know you need to do.

Recently, I asked a trusted friend, boss and mentor to teach me how to think. Being a natural thinker, he thought the request was interesting. He encouraged me to do a few things which have already helped me take back the control of my feelings instead of my feelings controlling me.

  • Start a Thought Journal–I used to journal all the time. But my entries were all about what happened that day and how I felt about them. He encouraged me to start a thought journal instead of a feeling journal. In this journal I write down things I’m thinking, things I need to do, goals I want I’m going to reach.
  • Think!–You can’t have a thought journal without actual thoughts coming out of your brain. He encouraged me to start thinking. This takes some intentionality since I am not naturally prone to thinking. So when I’m in my car, or find myself with some free time, I make myself think: What do I want to accomplish? What lessons have I learned today? What ideas do I need to expound upon to make them a reality?
  • Plan in Quarters–Businesses plan their budgets in quarters: three month chunks four times a year. Why not take this model and apply it to ourselves? We talked about the goals I wanted to accomplish this quarter (the end of June.) Once I accomplish them I will move on to the next quarter. Picking one or two things to focus on in a shorter amount of time helps me not become overwhelmed with all I want to do.

What about you? Are you a Natural Thinker or Feeler? What are the pros or cons of being one or the other?

Friend or Leader?

Working in youth ministry gives me many opportunities to learn and grow. One of the areas I’m growing in right now is finding the balance between being a friend and a leader.

I work with several adult volunteers who, over the course of the three years we’ve been doing ministry, I’ve developed strong ties of friendship. I think relational leadership it is a great way to lead, and probably the way I lead the best. But when problems arise it can be difficult to know which side of the fence to lead from: Friend or leader?

Inevitably, in leadership, you’re not going to make everyone happy. (I’m learning this too, but that is a whole notha blog post). When it’s your friends in the ministry who become unhappy about certain things it can be hard not to take their complaints personally. It can be a challenge to not allow their opinions of you to dictate how you lead and what decisions you make.

There have been several instances in my three years of ministry where I have had to figure out this balance between friend and leader. Here are a few things I’ve done to help me along the way:

  • Always check–Anytime someone brings a complaint about how I am leading, I always check myself through prayer to see if their complaint has any truth. If it does, I try to reconcile things with the person. If it doesn’t, I continue to stand firm in my decisions knowing my ultimate goal is not to make other happy, but to please God.
  • Seek Counsel--I am surrounded by leaders who are far better and far wiser than I am. Their guidance in areas like this have helped me tremendously along the way.
  • Don’t take it personal–The ministry is not about me anyways. I’m simply a steward of what God has given me. When complaints or frustrations with volunteers arise I take my emotions out of the equation and try to lead from an objective mindset. (Ok, so I try to take my emotions out of the equation. Like I said, I’m still learning!)
  • Know who you are–This one is so important. If I don’t know who I am or have a firm grasp on why I’m doing what I’m doing, it would be very easy for me to wither under the scrutiny of of what others think. I’ll say it again, I’m not here to make others happy, I’m here to serve, honor and obey God, and only Him.

Maybe you have had similar experiences. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

What do you think, Friend or Leader?

Building or Breaking?

BuildingWhich one are you in?

Over the course of my 23 years of life I’ve discovered our life will always fall into two categories: Building or Breaking.

Building—This is when things are fun! Opportunities seem to knock on every door and every window. The direction of your life seems laser focused, and you wake up with a sense of joy and anticipation for the things to come. This is when you are building toward a goal, or vision that God has placed in your life!

Breaking—This is when things are painful. Sometimes it feels like NOTHING is happening and nothing WILL happen for the rest of your life! You don’t feel like you have any real direction, and sometimes it feels as if every breath takes effort. If you’re smart, this is the place where you cling to God with everything in you. But sometimes it’s the place where your faith feels like it’s hanging on by a thread!

I’ve experienced both seasons of building and breaking. Right now, I’m in the building stage. But here is a truth that you should never forget: Without the breaking season of life, the building season would never be possible!

Share your thoughts on why that is! What season are you in right now?

Laceration-Fest

Ladies, we have a problem. I’ve never really noticed it before, but lately it has become increasingly evident that this problem is indeed something that needs to change. This problem mostly arrises when women get around other women. You probably think you’ve guessed what the problem is: tearing each other down. You wouldn’t be too far from the truth, but the problem I notice more is not that we tear each other down (not to each other’s faces at least) but that we tear ourselves down. Negativity

I was at a women’s luncheon the other day where about 35 women sat at round tables to get to know each other. I had my listening ears on and what I picked up only confirms my estimation of this growing problem.

You know how it goes. You’re talking about exercising and one women makes a joke: “Oh, these thunder thighs haven’t seen the broad side of a gym in months!” Or you give a lady a complement on her blouse and she comes back with: “Oh, it’s so old, I don’t even know why I wear it anymore.” “It’s a wonder my family hasn’t admitted me to the insane asylum.” “You don’t want to hear me sing!” “Oh, I’m horrible at that!” I’m sure you could add a few of your own. Maybe you’ve already said something negative about yourself today.

You might think these small conundrums are nothing to consider, “that’s just how women are,” you might say. But what puzzles me is how we got to this place. Why is it that any majority of our interaction with one another can turn into a Laceration-Fest, as if we’re trying to one up each other with our own cut downs. Does it make us feel good to say negative things about ourselves? Do we hope the other person will come back with a complement, defusing the negativity we just bathed ourselves in?

What’s more frightening is that usually what comes out of our mouth has already planted it’s seed in our minds. Do we really feel this way about ourselves? Are we constantly entertaining negative self-talk as we go about our day?

I want to challenge us, ladies. Put on your observation glasses and take a look at your interactions today. Do you speak negatively about yourself? Even if it’s just in jest? What about your inner self-talk? Is it positive? Does it make you feel good about who you are and who God has created you to be?

It’s time we fight back to “just the way women are” and make a new name for ourselves. It’s time we put down the negative knife words and become women of encouragement, women of life-giving words not only to those around us, but often more importantly to the woman in the mirror.

America is Big, Big

I met a pastor yesterday visiting LifeChurch.tv from the Czech Republic. His name was Rodik and he oversees the music at his church in the Czech Republic. Our conversation was lively as we got a glimpse into the worlds of one another. I was enlightened as I got the chance to see things from a different perspective. He told me it was his first time to come to the states, ever! (Welcome to Oklahoma?) So I asked him,

“What do you think of America?” Big Gulp

With a slight grin, he told me in his beautiful Czech accent, “America is big, big! Everything is bigger… the cars are big, the drinks are big, the people are big!”

He held up the 8 oz. styrofoam cup he was drinking from and said, “In my country, this is the normal size. At Star Bucks, the smallest size they have is bigger than this!”

I laughed and we continued our conversation until he and his friend had to leave.

I didn’t think much about our conversation until I was at the gas station a couple hours later filling a 32 oz. Big Gulp with Dr. Pepper.

America is big, big! How did we get to be this way? The more I have thought about our interaction the more I see if everywhere. I passed a sign with big golden arches that said, “Any size drink, just a $1” Any size? I’m quite sure no one is going to pay $1 for an 8 oz drink when they could get a 64 oz drink for the same price. But maybe that’s our problem.

So I have decided to copy our friend, Jamie Oliver and start my own little revolution. A Drink Revolution. I will not drink any beverage except water, in a glass larger than 8 oz. Coffee, tea, soda, frapamuchoholic, whatever you want to use, I will not drink any more than 8 oz. If you’d like to join me, feel free. Maybe we could all learn something about our big, big nation and not become big, big ourselves.

Who’s with me?

Make This a Habit and Save Time and Money

Everyone wants to save time. Everyone wants to save money. This habit can do just that for you and your family. Groceries

Every Sunday evening, I sit down with my computer and notebook and make out my menus for the week ahead. I decide beforehand what I will cook for dinner each night. Using my computer, I research quick, healthy meal options and then write down the ingredients I will need at the grocery store. This habit has saved me both time and money.

I didn’t used to be a planner. Going to the grocery store to restock the fridge was more of an afterthought then something I planned for. When I did, I always bought things I didn’t need and didn’t end up using. But now that I’ve made this a habit I waste less and have a plan for the week.

I’d like to thank my mother who taught me the importance of planning ahead. What are some of the things you do to save time and money?

Engage Me!

In March our youth staff hear from Dr. Tim Elmore, writer of the Habitudes books, and leadership development guru. He spends a lot of his time studying and researching generations in the past to help us understand where generations of the future will go. He is passionate about shaping the future of the next generation of students. Text Message

In one of his sessions we talked about what he calls generation iY. It’s generation Y, but with the influence of all things Apple, iPhone, iTunes, iTouch, iPad… etc. He helped us discover that the generation we are currently working with in our student ministries desires one thing: to engage them. No longer will students of today respond to someone telling them what to think. They want to come to the conclusion themselves, they want to discover. This generation of students is the first generation that doesn’t need a leader to get information. They have the internet for that. What they need from us is help interpreting that information. But we can’t just tell them what to thing, we have to help them discover, we have to engage them.

Our team at LifeChurch.tv took this seriously as they prepared the next series of content. They came up with the idea that before a youth pastor got up on stage and “told” the students what to think through preaching, we asked the students to first upload their thoughts on the subject. How did we do this? In our ministry we meet in small groups led by adult leaders. Instead of meeting in our small groups at the end of the night, we met at the beginning. We told the students that as a group we had the opportunity to upload our thoughts through text messages. We came up with what our group thought was the biggest lesson we learned from our discussion and then one member text the lesson to the youth pastor who would use it in his short sermon at the end of the night.

We spoke their language! You should’ve seen the excitement. Getting to use their phones, which are appendages to their bodies, to engage them on their level changed the game in many of our small groups. The students loved the idea of formulating a thought on their own and then using technology to make that thought known. We engage them. Instead of telling them what to think, we helped them learn how to think.

In this day and age with students, we need everything we can get to help reach them. Try it at your church and let me know the impact engaging your students brings to the group.

You Can’t Miss Something You Never Had

Miss YouYou can’t miss something you never had.

My husband is out of town again. This happens more often than I would like. I was complaining about it to a friend of mine yesterday, admitting that I had teared up after talking to my husband on the phone. My friend looked at me like I was crazy.

“It can’t be that bad,” he said. “Life before Cody (my husband) went on, right?”

“Right.” But that was before life with Cody…. “You don’t understand. When he’s gone, a piece of me is missing.” This response of course seemed dramatic and irrational to my male friend’s brain. But he just didn’t get it. Because you can’t miss something you never had.

I can’t say I ever missed Cody before I knew him. I didn’t know what I was missing. But now I do.

You probably don’t miss my husband, but I imagine if one of your loved ones was gone, you’d feel the same way I’m feeling right now.

When someone is away, there’s something missing. All is not right in the world when you’re apart, but then everything seems to find it’s perfect place when they return. I’m looking forward to Thursday night when he gets back because,

You can’t miss something you never had.

Do You Know Someone Who Has Reached Their Dream?

Do you know someone who has reached their dream? I do. Her name is Katie Mansour, and she is my sister. Katie

At an early age, (not even 13 years old) she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. My grandpa, who we affectionately called “Popabob” was ill with cancer and it was little 12 year old Katie who stayed by his side through the whole ordeal. His illness didn’t scare her, instead it developed in her a passion for care. She stood right next to the nurse every time his medication was given, and even got to administer it by herself a time or two. She slept on the floor by his bed at night just in case he might need anything. From that moment on, she knew: She was going to be a nurse.

I’m so proud to tell everyone that yesterday, my sister, took her last test in nursing school. She is now a nursing school graduate. One more test to pass her boards and she will be an official Registered Nurse. Of course, with or without the title, she’s always been one to us.

You might not think it is a huge accomplishment–sure lots of people are nurses. But from where I sit, not many people know what they want to be when they are 12 years old, and then do everything in their power to make sure that dream comes true. For nine years she thought of nothing else, dedicating herself to the study of nursing, applying for nursing internships as a high school student, and making a 4.0 through college. She wanted it. She made it happen. To me, that is the biggest accomplishment I could ever imagine.

Congratulations, Katie. May we all be inspired by your drive, dedication, passion and desire to see your dream come true.

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