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The kids sat around me in a pool of tumbled wooden blocks. They watched with gleeful smiles as I began to build a tower. How high could I get this tower? As I gingerly set the last block on top, the kids would laugh loudly as the tower tumbled down.
Life is like this. We’re balancing blocks of time on each other until the weight is too much and it comes crashing to the floor. We’re not building for a purpose but rapidly stacking one thing on top of another and our motivations for doing this are a little fuzzy.
Instead, stack your time for a purpose.
- What are you building?
- Why are you doing what you are doing?
- How can you do it better?
When the blocks tumble around you, learn from it and rebuild. Rebuild better.
It’s tough these days to keep a good attitude. I want to help.
Once a week, beginning next Monday, I will be opening up to you a new email service.
Catch Your Breath: Your Weekly Encouragement will be a quick read filled with encouragement and Scripture. You do not have to be of my faith to sign up and receive them. You can reply to this weekly email if you do have prayer needs or have questions. This is different than my regular ministry emails.
Like with election time, a pandemic, as it turns out, creates even more division and negativity. A post in a local Facebook Group reminds me of Aesop’s Fable, The Man, The Boy, and The Donkey.
If you don’t recall how the fable went, click here to read or hear it. In short, a man and his boy made their way to town on a donkey. At every turn, someone had an opinion on their mode of transportation. The boy shouldn’t be riding the donkey, the man shouldn’t be riding the donkey, nobody should ride the donkey, and towards the end, both the boy and the man carried the donkey tied to poles until the donkey panicked, got loose, fell over a bridge and drowned.
Not a happy ending for the donkey.
The moral of the story was: Please all and you will please none.
In looking through the Bible, I can’t seem to find verses that support social shaming, but these days I resonate with this story because so much of social media is filled with people policing other people, social shaming, and judging. In the wake of this, is hopelessness, fear, anxiety, and anger. If anything comes from this pandemic, let it be a new normal in line with the Bible. Let Philippians 4:4-9 guide and permeate our hearts through this pandemic:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
People need hope. They need encouragement. As a practicing Christian, I don’t think the donkey should drown because of my decisions being heavily influenced by society. It’s been a tough week watching people grieve, get angry, point fingers, and yet, change is usually messy and painful.
John 15:1-2 says,
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
When we come out the other end, I hope this new normal is a new church still interested in using whatever tools are necessary to reach the lost, the hopeless, the unchurched, and the unreached with the Gospel, including social media and Virtual Reality. I hope the Lord uses this time to create a new heart in each of us.
You know that moment when you lose a tweet from a Christian leader you wished you had saved? Beth Moore posted a tweet saying something to the effect that her tweets from the past do not reflect who she is now. It’s not an exact quote (and don’t ask me to vouch for accuracy as I can’t find her tweet).
I recalled that tweet today when I did a Facebook search. Older posts painfully reminded me of my less than cautious postings. I’m not a Beth Moore, but I am growing. Our leaders are growing, too. Social media is a written and visual record of our lives. It makes sense that online as in face-to-face we say and do things that will be different when we are younger than what we do when we are older. The written and visual record of social media will reflect this. It can be a wonderful record of where we’ve come from to who we are today.
In 2015, Megan Murphy started “The Kindness Rock Project.” She left a rock on the beach of Cape Cod with the words “You’ve Got This” painted on it. Facebook rock painting groups began where communities did a grown-up Easter egg-like hunt for hand-painted rocks, leaving pictures with hints on Facebook groups so a family or person could find it and report it to the group. Over the past year or two, I’ve participated in this trend as a form of community outreach for online connections. Last week, my prayers yielded phenomenal results.
Kairi and her mom were hiking in the Dells in Prescott, Arizona when Kairi discovered my painted rock sitting near the Highline Trail. She turned the stone over and saw the contact information Modge-Podged and taped to the back.
The back of the rock contained a QR code, my email, and the instructions, “Please post to the Chino Valley Rock Facebook Group.” The QR code included a link to BibleGateway. Kairi sent me a message through her mom’s email account, saying, “Found your rock. I am 11-years old, and I want to do what you are doing. I want to be a missionary when I grow up.”
“Come back when you have a 4-year degree from a Bible school or seminary,” Four to five mission agencies said in the 1990s to Rob and Lisa Atkins (currently in Bolivia). While students are the focus of most mission’s mobilization, making up a robust 1% of the world’s demographic (Pipeline: Engaging the Church in Missionary Mobilization; pg. 14), older missionaries (Over-Forty) encounter pushback from friends and relatives in a culture where people are expected to save for a comfortable retirement.
“Occasionally, we hear subtle comments from people that our age concerns them. I also have issues with my left ankle. Most were excited and stated they could so see us doing this type of ministry. Age and health are always underlying concerns.” Neal Sperling was 72-years old and his wife, Sherri was 64 when God called them to the mission field.
A colleague currently serving in Africa mentioned a few obstacles. Some said to him,
- “You’re brave. And what I mean by that is foolish. I don’t know that I would recommend anyone going at your stage of life. But God be with you.”
- “I don’t understand why you would sacrifice everything you’ve worked for the past 20-years to give it all away to move to Africa.”
- “We think you are not being very wise. But we love you anyways.”
As I walked down the hallway to the kitchen this morning, I looked down at my bare feet. “When I am in full-time ministry,” I thought, “I wonder how often I’ll wear shoes?”
It’s a strange question. Dale Berning Sawa of The Guardian said in, Extreme loneliness or the perfect balance? How to work from home and stay
“That often means getting the small things right, such as having a clearly defined workspace and a routine. Wahle starts work only once she has showered, got dressed and put her shoes on (curiously, she’s not the only remote worker who mentions the need for shoes). As she puts it: “How can you do planning applications, and still be in your
Today was my day off from a 40-hour a week job. I wore jeans, a hoody, and still have yet to comb my hair. Short hair has an advantage. I can put a hat on. I live in
Trello wrote 7 Weird Ways to Stay Balanced When Working From Home. In this article, they outlined how to be a more productive person when working from home. I took this article and outlined what my work week might look like from this vantage point when I am in full-time ministry, starting now as a volunteer:
- Get ready for work as if I was going to commute to an office. I don’t wear make-up these days unless I am speaking in front of a group or visiting a church. Mascara and eyeliner irritate my eyes. Lipstick wears off in ten minutes. Foundation doesn’t really cover up blemishes. Blush makes you look sunburned if done wrong. When I get ready for work, I plan on looking like I’m going to an office off-site. Video conferencing is a normal part of my activities so looking professional will still be important.
- My hours won’t change in the mornings than what it is now. My morning routine will include coffee, prayer, reading the Bible, and casual and fun reading to relax the brain so it can work all day on creative projects. Writing will be included in my morning activities, maybe even by hand.
- Going out in public. With no commute in my schedule, I can use that time to take a run or walk, but also I have arranged that I would take my office to a local coffee shop to spend a few hours working at least once per week. The only thing I can’t do remotely is video edit as that is on my desktop.
- “Place things that need attention out of reach.” I once joked with Tony how I would love a coffee maker in my home office. I could work and refill my coffee without leaving my chair. Trello suggests we need to place these things out of reach. “Taking breaks is a key part of productivity, but it’s too easy to skip them when you’re alone. To avoid permanently bonding to your home office chair, try building regular “required” breaks into your environment.” Trello suggests leaving the phone in the other room so you have to get up every so often to answer it. Or, keeping snacks and drinks (like coffee) out of reach. At work, I would have to rise to refill my coffee. At home, I plan on doing the same thing.
- Noise in the background makes you feel less lonely. I plan on building a good playlist of music, visit Lynda.com more often to refill the
creativity,or have something playing in the background that brings noise and conversation into my quiet space.
- Most importantly, Trello says, “Work like no one is watching.” Working from home means being diligent in making sure your work is no less than great, you must document you are working, and keep your shared calendar up to date so people are left with no doubt that you are working. Set goals each week to accomplish. You can also sing out loud in the office while you work and no one will hear you.
Yes, I will be wearing shoes when I am in full-time ministry. In the past, when I have worked on projects on the weekends after a full week of work elsewhere, I was more productive sitting in my office, fully dressed, hair combed, and spirit ready to face whatever may come of my day. But, today it’s okay to remain barefoot with hair like Einstein’s, uncombed.
Authors are burning out. Rewrites, marketing, and heavy expectation often do that. It makes you wonder how we get from a place where writing is an art and fun to a chore?
This is what we discussed at Roots Saturday. I wanted a group that doesn’t replace a
Around this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, as the days grow shorter and colder, those changes trigger a hormone in leaf-dropping trees that sends a chemical message to every leaf that says, in essence, “Time to go! Let’s part company!” – From here.
Like abscission cells that act like scissors to leaves on a deciduous tree, creating a hormone that pushes away the leaf from the tree little by little, I, too, am pushing away things in my life that get in the way of learning what God is wanting to do in and to my life. Why did it take me becoming a worker with WorldVenture for me to see God more clearly? Why doesn’t every Christian put themselves through journeys like this to push away things we cling to (no matter what our age) and grow better?
Fall is a symbol of change. Recently, I just finished reading “Peace Child” by Don Richardson. On page 273, he writes, “One of the beliefs which the Sawi had inherited from the distant past was the belief that it was unwise to attempt anything their ancestors had not previously sanctioned.” Change was difficult for the Sawi people even after they became a Christian, but their response to building a bigger meeting house was, “If we think only of ourselves, we can, of course, make do with a smaller building…” In deciding to build it, they said, “It will be a house of peace in which former enemies can sit down together at the Lord’s table, and a house of prayer for the tribes around us who are still without God’s Word.” (emphasis mine)
I’m also reading a new book recommended by both my husband and Wayne at GBC by Andy Stanley called, “Visioneering: Your Guide for Discovering and Maintaining Personal Vision.” It’s like it was written for me. Visioneering goes into the story of Nehemiah and the wall.
On page 22, it says, “So what did he (Nehemiah) do? Nothing. He did absolutely nothing. He didn’t steal away across the desert in the night. He didn’t fabricate a reason to leave Persia. He didn’t even share his burden with other concerned Jews. But neither did he allow his daily responsibilities to distract him from the burden that had gripped his heart. No, Nehemiah knew what so many of us have a hard time remembering: What could be and should be can’t be until God is ready for it to be. So he waited.” (emphasis mine)
This is a rich period of waiting and learning. The vision still needed work in 2015 when I was appointed by WorldVenture, and when I received my new job description from WorldVenture, I knew THIS was where God wanted me in the first place. Like the tree that sheds its leaves, I had to push away a beloved ministry I managed since 2012 and close another ministry to accept this one so I can take another obedient step in God’s direction just to wait again. The theme of waiting is familiar now since my appointment. Social Media is too new of a field for people to recognize it. People naturally fight change and cling to comfort and sameness. But if a tree doesn’t shed its leaves, ” …they wouldn’t grow new ones.” Growth comes from waiting, shedding, and growing.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. – John 15:1-2