5 Questions About…Risk

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Sharon is a dear friend who both inspires and intimidates me with her amazingness.  She has guest-posted here before.  I’m so thankful that in the midst of a busy, stressful time, she was willing to share some more of what she’s learning.  Here’s the next in our 5 Questions About…series.

1. Recently you took what must have felt like a huge risk. Can you tell us about it?

Eight months ago, I resigned from a job I had loved and made the leap to running my own business. This happened after an extended season of prayer and discernment, so by the time I made the change, I felt certain it was the right thing to do.

Yes, there were practical risks involved: leaving a certain income, benefits, 401K; losing the familiarity of my office and team. And as a single person, I didn’t have a safety net of a second income, back-up insurance, or a support person to pick up slack in other areas of life. But I was also very clear about why I was making the change: 1) to be faithful to what I understood God was putting in my hands; 2) to learn and grow through a new challenge.

So when I framed it that way, I realized that even if my business failed (and I had to move into my parents’ basement), I would experience God in deeper ways and learn things I wouldn’t otherwise. Continue reading

Three Ideas About Feedback Vs. Criticism

Monday I wrote about how we can handle criticism that feels like a personal attack.  Ironically, I had an experience this week that got me to thinking about the difference between criticism and feedback.

Criticism is usually unsolicited and often exposes blind spots that are uncomfortable for us to acknowledge.  Definition: the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.

Feedback is usually solicited.  Definition: information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc., used as a basis for improvement.

Let me tell you about my experience this week. Continue reading

3 Insights from my Reader Survey and Why it Might Matter to You

Two and a half years ago I prayed about God’s direction for a new season, and He used the story of Elijah and the widow to prompt me to use my “flour and oil” – my tiny bit that He would make enough.

Specifically, this blog.  I said, “Ok, I’ll try to show up with my flour and oil if You’ll show up with Your Spirit.”  It is no holy-moley exaggeration to say that it’s been a stretching experience of dependence on Him for weekly words.  Any value here is Him graciously using me.  Last week, for the first time I did a survey to see how you feel it’s going.

People in “real” jobs get a pay check and a yearly review.  Students get grades and diplomas.   We all grow by evaluating – setting goals and checking to see where we’re hitting the mark and where we need to recalibrate.  Other than praying and trusting God, discerning progress and value on a blog is hard.

I know surveys can be a pain, so I want to say a HUGE “Thank you!” to the many readers who took the time to give feedback!  I sooooo appreciate it!!  It was informative and encouraging!  Often I write and post and it feels like my words are flying out into a vast cosmic void.  This survey assured me that there are actual PEOPLE reading and being encouraged by these posts God graciously gives me.  It was so great getting to KNOW you a little bit through your responses!

Three things I learned from the survey: Continue reading

Good Fights

I think I had a pretty good fight recently.  Not great, but it was progress.  Let me backtrack.

Someone did something that made me, well… furious!

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I grew up in a home where there was very little conflict, and when there was, we ignored it.

You know, like a kid who thinks if he closes his eyes no one will see him.  So conflict’s not really been my thing.  It’s had to be a growing edge for me as an adult.

And I’ve done it wrong. A. Lot.

When someone said something thoughtless, or did something mean, or (gasp!) was controlling or dismissive or disagreed with me…

I’ve done the angry email thing and the passive-aggressive thing, and the withdraw and punish thing…

See, I told you I was bad at this!

But the other day, once I settled down, I experienced a tiny (and I mean tiny) victory.  Continue reading

Filling Your Bucket

The Minnesota State Fair started last week.  The unofficial mark to the beginning of the end.

The end of the glorious season of going “up north”, going to DQ, and not going inside til neighborhood kids stop playing tag when the sun finally fades at 9:00.  Biking the lakes, going without shoes and without makeup.

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We estimate church attendance goes down by 30-40% in the summer and we get it.  We live in a state where the only month that hasn’t had snow in recorded history is July.

People in MN play hard in the summer.  There’s a concerted effort to fill up.  To fill up with family time, sunshine, hide-n-seek playing, tubing, and kayaking.  We do summer big.

And then all of a sudden it’s school time again and we’re all about busy and schedules and no margin.  And sure, there’s a part of us that craves the order, but with it comes the stress of too much stuff and too little time.  

It’s got me thinking about the rhythms of our lives.

Bill Hybels says, “As a leader, the best thing you bring to the table every day is a filled up bucket.” 

I’m thinking you could substitute “parent”, “teacher”, “”boss”, “coach”….or just “person” for “leader”.

As a person, the best thing you bring to the world every day [of the year!] is a filled up bucket.

So how do you do that?  If you think of some the different areas of your life – spiritual, physical, relational – what rhythms do you have that keep you replenished so that you don’t just deplete, deplete, deplete, and then madly try to fill up?

Continue reading

The Other “F Words”, part 3

I once put 2 CUPS of salt into a recipe of lasagna instead of 2 teaspoons.

Ok, actually I ran out of salt after a cup and a half, but still…  Inconceivable that anyone could be such an idiot?  A failure?  I know, I know it’s hard even for me to believe.  I can only chalk it up to the fact that I was multi-tasking and my mind was elsewhere.

You’ve never made a stupid mistake?  Or failed at something serious you worked hard for?

Did you fail your driver’s test the first time?

Fail to make the varsity tennis, football, or swim team?

Been fired?

Have a failed marriage?

Failed to get a promotion you applied for?

Failure.  Another uncomfortable “F word”.

Even writing the word brings feelings of humiliation and embarrassment.  A sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Experiences, choices, words, I’d really like to forget                    (another f word) :).

I have plenty of failures to reflect on.  I’m a passionate, aim-fire-ready kind of gal.  Leap before you look.  It’s all good.  Enthusiasm wins the day.

As a result I’ve inadvertently stepped on toes, lost money, received rejections for less-than-best work submitted too quickly.

Maybe your pattern is different, but you can still think of failures that make you cringe.

As I’ve been reflecting on failure I’ve read some inspiring stuff.

“Grace means our failures don’t define who we are anymore; they just shape who we’re becoming.”Bob Goff

“If you know you are the Beloved, you can live with an enormous amount of success
and an enormous amount of failure without losing your identity.
Because your identity is that you are the Beloved…” Henri Nouwen

Somebody asked Winston Churchill one time, “What most prepared you to lead Great Britain through World War 2?

This was Churchill’s response: “It was the time I repeated a class in grade school.”

The questioner said, “You mean you flunked a grade?”

Churchill said, “I never flunked in my life.  I was given a second opportunity to get it right.”

What we would like to delete, God wants to complete (I’m sure I heard that pithy little saying somewhere, but I can’t remember where)

But how do we translate all this peppy talk into anything more?  We all are going to fail, but what’s next?  How do we “fail forward” as I think John Maxwell said?

Stop trying (or crying) for a minute and hold your “failure” (whatever it is) before God and say,

Here it is Lord.

Use it.  Redeem it.  Teach me from it.  Show me my next step.  But don’t let it define me, paralyze me, or tempt me to turn from You.  Thank you that I am Your beloved child.  No matter what.”

What have you failed at that God has redeemed?

The Most Important Thing to do When You Make a Mistake

When was the last time you made an embarrassing mistake?

My answer would be, “Yesterday, thanks so much for bringing it up!”

I’ve been convinced for quite awhile that evil elves live inside my computer and conspire against me with every technological weapon at their disposal, putting their tiny pointed heads together and hatching plans for my destruction.

Continue reading