Category Archives: Authenticity

Mercy vs. Compassion

We are in the middle of a series at church called Be. It’s based on the Beatitudes, and it has been really good. Two weeks ago, the message was about mercy. How Jamey Johnson described it has really impacted me. Here’s what he said.

Jesus is saying this: I will give mercy TO you, when I can get mercy THROUGH you.

He talked about the difference between compassion and mercy.

Compassion is: bringing justice to the innocent

Mercy is: God’s ministry to the guilty

That really hit home. How many times have we mixed up these two words? Compassion is easy. It’s an emotional response to the needs of others. But, mercy? That is just plain hard! Mercy is showing love to the people that you are justified in giving the verdict “guilty” to. Many times, these are the people who are closest to you that have hurt you deeply.

He told an incredible story about his life growing up and how hard his relationship was with his Dad was. It was very powerful. While I can’t relate to the way his Father treated him, I think we can all identify at least one person in our life that needs mercy. It is one of the most difficult things we do in life.

His message really resonated with so many people. He has an incredibly raw, authentic way of speaking and relating to people. I would highly encourage you to listen to the podcast here (titled Jamey Johnson 6/24/12).

I also recently read an incredible book by my author friend Mary DeMuth. It is her memoir, and describes how incredibly difficult her childhood was. Many of us may not have made it through what she endured. But, she did. And she has shown incredible courage by sharing her story and showing mercy to her family and the people who hurt her. You can check out her book, titled Thin Places, here.

As I said, I can’t relate to the horrible things that people have endured in their childhoods. But, I can certainly relate to having someone close to me hurt me. I think we all can.

Jamey’s question at the end of his message was this:

What would it look like to show mercy to the person who has hurt you the most?

For me, it looks like getting over myself and my hurt feelings, and showing the love and grace of God to others.

What do you think about mercy? Have you had a hard time showing it to someone close to you?

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Judgment or Grace?

Mike Foster is one of the founders of People of The Second Chance. He is an incredible human being. He started POTSC to show people how to overthrow judgment and liberate love. I love that line!

He has challenged me every time I have heard him speak. Keep in mind that I’m a pretty easy-going person. Most people would not describe me as judgmental. I feel like the majority of my life I have given people the benefit of the doubt. Most of the time.

Have I been rotten?

Have I been judgmental and mean?

Have I thought I was better than someone else?

absolutely.

And that bothers me.

POTSC challenges us to think differently. When others are crushing someone for a mistake they made, POTSC people are loving them. They are in their corner.

How do you react when someone makes a big mistake? Especially if they did it intentionally?

Do you rush to tell someone else about it?

Do you laugh?

Does it make you feel better about yourself?

Photo by People of the Second Chance

I have really been working on this over the last few years. But I find myself having to continually choose to show more grace every day.

With my coworker, who deliberately lied to make himself look better to our boss.

With my neighbor, who talked about my other neighbor rudely.

With the Mom who ignores their child.

With the person who willingly is hurtful to me.

With the person who expects me to drop everything for them, even though they’ve continually made poor decisions.

With my family members who take advantage of me.

With the person who dresses in a way that I would never dress.

The list could go on and on.

Yet, I choose to show grace. And love. And support.

I have a long way to go. But I am working on being able to say that I am a proud member of People of the Second Chance.

How can you choose to show grace to someone today?

Will you choose to be part of the judgment problem or the grace solution?

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Filed under Authenticity, Grace

Love Does

Love Does by Bob Goff

I am constantly reading books. And I typically enjoy most of the books that I read. However, sometimes there are ones that really impact you. They move you to do something. This was one of those books. 

I had heard about Bob from Donald Miller’s blog and his books. I have to be honest. Bob seemed larger than life. He seemed like someone who was so amazing that you could tend to get irritated with him. Why? Because you automatically think that you could never be like him. You want to. Deep down, you want to be as generous and giving and whimsical, but you just can’t. There are always a million excuses why you can’t. And Donald Miller is describing him as the person who has had the greatest impact on his life. Ever! Donald Miller. The one who has written amazing books that have impacted people all over the world.  

But then I read this review on Bob’s website:

“For anyone who’s wanted to change the world but thought they needed money, a committee, and permission to get started, Love Does shows what can happen when you decide to do instead of plan, act instead of strategize, and fiercely, invisibly fight for the possibility God has gifted you to uniquely see.”

So I ordered the book. And, I loved it right away. Bob has a way of making you feel like his friend. He has a way of writing in a manner that helps you see that he ISN’T larger than life. He is a normal person. But he chooses to LIVE life. In a secretly incredible, awesome way. Bob starts off by explaining how his office is on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland. He talks about how most people never go there when they visit Disneyland. They always think they will get to it next time. Then, I love what he says.

” Tom Sawyer Island is like most people’s lives, I think: they never get around to crossing over to it.”

He goes on to explain, “Living a life fully engaged and full of whimsy and the kind of things that love does is something most people plan to do, but along the way they just kind of forget. Their dreams become one of those “we’ll go there next time” deferrals. The sad thing is, for many there is no “next time” because passing on the chance to cross over is an overall attitude toward life rather than a single decision. They need a change of attitude, not more opportunities.”

Wow. Can anyone else relate to that?? 

This book hit home with me. I have been continually reminded of how we can make a difference right where we are. We don’t have to move to Africa. We don’t have to start a non-profit. We don’t have to have a huge dream. The bigger difference sometimes is made right where you are. With the people who are in your life. Your family, your neighbors, your coworkers, your acquaintances. We can all make a difference. We just have to be willing to do it. Here are some of my favorite lines from the book. There are so many great words of wisdom in here!

“God usually chooses ordinary people like us to get things done.”

“I used to think God guided us by opening and closing doors, but now I know sometimes God wants us to kick some doors down.”

“Actually, the real game of Bigger and Better that Jesus is playing with us usually isn’t about money or possessions or even our hopes. It’s about our pride. He asks if we’ll give up that thing we’re so proud of, that thing we believe causes us to matter in the eyes of the world, and give it up to follow  Him. He’s asking us, “Will you take what you think defines you, leave it behind, and let Me define who you are instead?””

“I used to think religion tasted horrible, but now I know I was just eating the fake stuff.”

“Jesus doesn’t invite us on a business trip. Instead, He says let’s go after those things that inspire and challenge you and let’s experience them together.”

“It seems that what God does most of the time when He has something to say is this…He doesn’t pass us messages, instead He passes us each other.”

“I used to think I needed to record stories, but now I know I just need to engage them.”

This doesn’t even cover half of the passages that I have underlined and gone back to in this book. It is so engaging and powerful. I want to share this book with as many people as possible. So, I am giving away a free copy. Just leave a comment below, or on Facebook. Retweet this on Twitter. I’ll randomly choose a winner by Tuesday.

I am confident you will get something out of this book. If you’d like to learn more before you order the book, or win it here, here are some additional resources. My friend Kristen, or Keeks, is doing a chapter by chapter review of the book on her blog. That’s how good this book is!  And my friend Andy also did a great podcast  review. Stop over there and check them out for additional views on the book.

How do you engage stories?

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Filed under Authenticity, Book review, Dreams

LifeChangers – Do Something!

LifeChangers

It’s a series about people just like you and me, who decided to do something different.

They decided to change their life, or the lives of others around them.

They are inspiring.

They are making an impact right where they are.

They are passionate.

They are full of life.

And they are willing to share their story.

I first “met” this week’s LifeChanger at the Quitter conference last year. I say “met”, because I connected with her on Twitter at the conference. We never met in person then, and still haven’t. For the longest time, I could never remember her first name, because I just knew her as Keeks! Her website and email and twitter all have Keeks somewhere in them.

Keeks is her nickname. Her real name is Kristen. And she is one of those people who I just instantly liked. We share common interests in books and movies, have a circle of online friends that overlap, and support each other’s blogs. It’s kind of crazy how that happens all online sometimes.

She has a really interesting story. I love her honesty and willingness to share from the heart, even when she knows some people may not like it. One of the ways that we connected recently had to do with the movie, Blue Like Jazz. She and I both saw sneak previews, and posted about our experience. But, she did something afterwards that I thought was super cool. I’ll let her give you a little background about herself, and tell you more about what she did in her own words.

Me: Tell us more about Keeks

Keeks:

I’m the third daughter, third child with a normal and Christian upbringing. I am the baby of the family and if you’ve read anything about birth order – I’m the description to the finest detail mixed in with only child. My mom and dad provided a lifestyle of “you only live once, so let’s go on vacations” – I’m thankful for this because my dad died when I was 16. My sisters are 10 and 12 years older.

Early memories include being drug to every church event under the sun, being a very young kid who tagged along at every youth group activity. I learned from my parents and sisters how to tee-pee, fork yards, pull pranks (although I’m a hopeless prankster because I’m too scared of consequences), and surprising people with a van wired with a special horn that honked out songs (Like “Happy Birthday” or “For he’s a jolly good fellow”).

The time my dad was sick and died was about a two year “process”. I really sunk into a funk and would rebound often. I’d say now at 32, I finally feel really good and really hopeful for the future. His death just about did me in. BUT at the time my father was so sick, I met my best friend. Our friendship is the answer to both our family’s prayers for a Jonathan/David Godly friendship. Our friendship is one of my reminders of what love does exponentially.

Again I’m 32. Single. And still wondering what the hell? Did I piss God off so much He is making me take the Paul route? I’ve lived in Oklahoma all my life. I am one of the weirdest people I have ever met. At least I realize I’m weird and I’m really trying to move into fulling embracing that. I like Wes Anderson movies like they are some sort of legal drug.

My day job is at a community college in the library. Most people think I am a librarian – I’m not. Most days I refer to myself as a faux librarian. I am an introvert. So I have a ratio of one day of people, 3 days at home to recover. My real job? The one I am passionate about is: I’m a writer. The books at the library are my source of comfort and inspiration.

Me: How were you impacted by Blue Like Jazz? And what did you do about it?

Keeks:

Blue Like Jazz the book came into my life soon after it released. And as is my quirkiness: I rejected it. I don’t like trendy stuff (and I felt like everyone was reading it), but in 2010 I found myself unemployed, drifting, and the book called to me. Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller. Dang. His writing is so conversational. So easy stream of consciousness. And it just snuggled up next to my heart and hasn’t left.

This book was more than just a conversation starter about the Church, more than essays about a man finding God outside of religion – this book was just so honest. Unwaveringly truthful in a sea of books that want to give you a to-do list to discover you, God, passion. I liked that each time I’ve read the book since then – it’s different because I’m different.

And then there is Blue Like Jazz the movie. Can I just convey my excitement that this movie has caused bewilderment between all camps of people? This movie – all its rawness, all its messiness, all its quirkiness – it is just so me. Or rather I can just relate. The bumbling along, the crisis of faith, the immaturity, the people pleasing – oh my gosh – the humour — all of it just made me think that there are movies, writers, actors, directors, etc that get people like me…we are some crossbreed of all things and we just want to be known. No judgement, no critiques, no fixing – accepted, simply accepted.

I knew about the upcoming movie and the story behind it because my oldest sister had helped fund it when the movie lost its financial backers. I was inspired. I didn’t have the money, but I knew I wanted to help. I joined Civil Disobedience. Civil Disobedience is a group that promoted the movie. Every week or so we would received assignments to go out and create some attention toward Blue Like Jazz. I was a lousy civil disobedient. I mean I did some of the tasks, but I was trying to do things quietly and I kept placing stuff up around my work. Writing blogs, tweeting. I wasn’t a person dressed up as a sexy carrot, you know?

But then the group received a challenge to take a picture with a sign that you filled in: I misrepresented God….and I’m sorry. 

I wanted to do something a bit different. Something bold for me. I went home. Grabbed a stack of notecards and started writing. Each one, each note, each thought.

I realized I was acting like God, but didn’t know God. Humbling. Very humbling. I was misrepresenting Him.

I took the cards and left them in various places – doors, windows, mirrors, my church, bathrooms. There is one card I wrote to those who work at abortion clinics and I’m in the process of sending them personalized cards. I had never considered their story. Never considered that the God I know and I love – would simply love them. It’s heartbreaking to see how destructive our attitudes, our judgements, our distancing of ourselves from things is not keeping us safe – it’s wounding our souls, it’s wounding others’ souls.

I actually still carry these cards with me. This is kind of like a touchstone for me. I write the cards, I leave them places, and it’s out of my hands.

Blue Like Jazz helped me step outside of myself. Blue Like Jazz gave me hope.

Hope that in all my quirkiness I am not alone. What Donald Miller and Steve Taylor have done is broken down a barrier between the church bubble and the rest of the world. And I love love love this.

 Me: What do you want others to know?

Keeks:

Strive to live your life undeniably real. Each of us has so much to offer, so much to learn. My greatest fear was that my writing would push people away; instead, I’ve found people who embrace my irreverence, who embrace me – they accept me for me.

My fear was completely laughable when I received this tweet:”@keeks4prez Just read your latest post. You got me at f*ckers and God ordering your steps. Hooked!”

Also, find something that inspires and challenges you and put it into action. You will be amazed at what happens along the way.

Living transparently is such a struggle for me; each time I publish, each time I sit down and write I am facing the fear. And I am weakening fear’s grip on me. But it is hard to be unflinchingly honest. I will write something like the unicorn post and then all I want to do is delete it.. But I know I am not alone. There may be one other person who needs to hear these words. And so I leave my posts up. Unflinchingly honest means I have to be vulnerable.

Thank you, Kristen, for sharing your story. Your words are beautiful and encouraging. As your blog tagline says, you are “living a better story by sharing yours.” I am so thankful to know you, and look forward to the amazing ways that God will continue to use you and your story. You are truly a LifeChanger!

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Filed under Authenticity, inspiration, LifeChangers

The chase

You’re chasing me, always

This is a line from a song by an amazing band I love called Seryn. And that line always makes me think.

Kid chasing seagulls

Kid chasing seagulls (Photo credit: mikemol)

A few years ago, and for the majority of my adult life, that line would have caused stress and tension for me. I knew God was chasing me. He would tug at my heart and ask me to make a decision. I would continue to build a wall. I would struggle to keep the illusion of control that I thought I had.

Now, it no longer causes that type of reaction. What do I feel instead?

Comfort

Peace

Happiness

Security

Now I know that regardless of what happens in my life, God will continue to chase me. He wants me to have a relationship with Him. He wants me to trust Him.

It’s amazing what a difference it makes when you say yes and start running with Him, instead of away from Him.

How have you felt God chasing you?

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Nobody told me

Nobody told me how having kids would change my marriage.

Nobody told me that I would fall in love with these kids so much, that I would unknowingly isolate my husband, and make him feel like he wasn’t needed anymore.

Nobody told me just how HARD it is to raise kids.

Nobody told me that every waking minute would be consumed by taking care of their needs, and putting my own on the backburner.

Nobody told me that I would face serious hardships in my marriage. That my husband would be unhappy. That I would feel completely numb.

Nobody told me that I would ignore my husband for a very long time. And that he would get to a point where he didn’t really care.

Nobody told me that life can be really hard. And that sometimes I would just struggle to make it through the day.

Nobody told me these things before I had kids. Or even after I had kids. Or during those really, really hard early years with multiple children.

So I am telling you.

New Moms, young Moms, Moms with young kids – the road may be difficult.

You may feel exhausted. You may feel extremely lonely in your marriage. Your marriage may be struggling. You may feel like you can’t do it. You may feel like you will never love your husband the way you did before you had kids. You may be annoyed. You may be irritated. You may not have the energy to work on making things better.

Let me tell you something else. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

There are other couples struggling through the same things. Many of them may not be talking about it, but believe me, there are plenty of people in similar situations.

Photo by Mother Letters

But don’t give up! It does get easier. The kids will get more independent. They won’t need your constant attention. It will get better.

I am in a place now where I am past feeling like this. I chose to make changes in my marriage, and I was forced to make others. But the one thing I know is that being a Mom is tough. There are days when it is hard to go on. But, you can do it.

Your kids need you to be alive, and be present, and help them understand that they matter. And, they need to see that you have your own life as well. That they are not your entire world. They need to see you being the you that God created you to be.

Have you ever felt any of these feelings? What advice would you give Moms currently feeling like this?

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Filed under Authenticity, Family, Life lessons, Marriage, Motherhood

You 2.0

We just completed an awesome series at our church called You 2.0. It was a series about redefining success and resurrecting your dreams. It was about choosing significance over safety, contribution over comfort, and embracing the path of uncertainty, mystery, and risk. It was about saying: Enough of ordinary. Average is overrated. Your life matters.

(For more details from this series, check out The Orchard Community’s Facebook page. There’s a great video by my Pastor about the series posted on April 11th.)

I have been learning to try to live this way over the last few years. I am continually understanding that there are things I can be doing to live a better story. I don’t have to live a numb, dull life. You can read how I started on this journey here.

I was extremely honored when my Pastor invited Rick and I to be a part of a group of people to share their stories during church last weekend. I talked about my blog, how your voice matters, and how I am learning to make a difference right where I am. Rick talked about starting mountain bike racing at the age of 43, and how he has taken significant steps forward in his faith over the last year. You can read more about his journey here. I have to tell you that it was pretty awesome. If you would have told me a year or two ago that Rick would be willing to get up in front of our entire church, for three services, and share his story, I would have said you were crazy! I am so proud of him.

I love Scott’s expression. I wish I knew what Rick had said during this picture!

We were honored to also share the stage with our friends, Toney and Laura Burton, Joy Thomas, and Tom Reber. They have amazing stories and each one of them inspires me.

Toney & Laura, Scott, Rick & I, Joy, and Tom

We heard so many great comments from people who were inspired by our stories. It is always nice to be able to help people see normal, real people who are taking steps forward. We certainly don’t have it all figured out, but we are all trying to live You 2.0.  A friend summarized our messages with this great status update on Facebook.

 No more waiting for “what if” moments… Time to let go of the brakes, accept who I’ve been created to be, believe my voice matters, take risks and live MOTOR!

We had a great weekend, and I felt good about being able to share our story.

We had some great laughs!

So imagine my surprise on Tuesday, when I had one of the worst days I’ve had in a long time. I am naturally pretty laid back and really don’t get worked up too often. But Tuesday was just one of those days. It stunk! I was extremely irritated and frustrated at work, and the day just continued on that same path. I don’t have days like this often, so it always catches me off guard.

I started doubting all of the things that I had just talked about over the weekend. The voices in my head were loud. And they weren’t nice. They were saying:  maybe I can’t really make a difference. What good can I do? Who am I to try to do this? Why can’t I figure out what my big dream is? Maybe I am not cut out for this.

That’s when I realized that fear, which is one of the things we talked about over the weekend, was showing up in full force. Fear was causing me to doubt myself. Fear was trying to isolate me. And as my Pastor always says, “Sometimes the things we fear the most are exactly the things that God wants to use.”

So, I am continuing to learn that living a unique life requires you to think differently. It requires you to constantly check where your attitude is. It requires you to understand that some days are going to be rough. It requires you to give yourself some slack. And to surround yourself with people who can help encourage you to keep living a better life.

Are you working on a dream? How do you silence those doubting voices?

Photos courtesy of The Orchard Community

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Filed under Authenticity, Community, Dreams, Platform Launch Team

Pointing fingers

I try really hard to show grace.

To give people a second chance.

I try not to judge people by a first impression or by their actions.

It’s something I think I do an okay job with – most of the time.

But then, I hear a lyric that cuts right to my heart.

Open our eyes to the world

At the end of our pointing fingers

I think to myself – I’m doing okay. I don’t point fingers anymore.

But I know I need to do better.

Because minutes later, I’m in the grocery store and irritated by what someone is wearing.

What? How can my mind switch gears so quickly?

How can I instantly judge, when my heart knows it’s not my place.

And that person probably needs an incredible amount of grace.

As I look up more of the lyrics, I see another line that hits home.

The truth’s become so hard to see

The world is on their way to You

But they’re tripping over me

And then I realize. I can’t do it on my own.

I continually need His grace to help me show it better to others. It doesn’t come from me. It comes from Him.

I want people to see grace and love through me. And, sometimes I need to be reminded how much more help I really need.

Can you relate?

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I don’t get it….

Sometimes, I just don’t understand.

I don’t understand why people get cancer.

I don’t understand why people are suffering.

I don’t understand why beautiful couples can’t have babies.

I don’t understand why people are starving in our world.

I don’t understand how such a huge population in our world doesn’t have clean water.

I don’t understand how people can be so cruel to each other.

I don’t understand why people insist on arguing over ridiculous, minute details of theology or politics instead of learning to love each other and accept our differences.

I don’t understand why some people choose to live without any purpose, and tear down people following their dreams.

This list could go on forever.

Sometimes, I just don’t get it…….

It’s at these times, that I have learned to stop and realize that I might never have answers to these questions.  And it certainly doesn’t help anyone to pretend that I have the answers. Sometimes you just have to accept things you cannot change.

I can’t change many of these things. However, I can do my small part in helping to change some of them. And I can choose how I react to each of them – positvely or negatively. Sometimes, all I can do is be there for my friends and family who may be going through one of these scenarios. Sometimes, you have to just say “that sucks, but I’m here to listen and help.” Sometimes, you have to just sit with them, and let them know they are loved. And sometimes, you will be the person that helps them understand that they do matter in this world.

Sometimes, you just need to trust that tomorrow will be a better day.

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Filed under Authenticity, Encouragement

Your Pastor

I am so incredibly thankful for my Pastors. I have two. They are very special to me. Not only do they teach me (and our entire congregation), but I am also lucky to consider them friends.

I often joke with our lead pastor that there are light bulbs going off over my head during many of his sermons. God speaks to me through him. That used to really freak me out! But, over the last few years, I have learned to really crave that. It is pretty amazing how the Holy Spirit can take his words and spread them out among us in different ways. We hear exactly what He wants us to hear through him.

I have been fortunate to have had many special Pastors throughout my life. I’m amazed at how they have helped our family over the years. But, I think what makes my Pastors now so unique is that they are truly allowing God to lead their paths. They ask us to pray that they will always hear God’s voice and obey. And then they put the plan in action. In the past, I have seen so many pastors limited because they felt God wanted them to do one thing, but the denomination or congregation or others blocked them from doing it.

The other thing they are is real. I joke with them that when I first started attending, I was testing them because I didn’t believe they could truly be as authentic as they appeared to be. I was wrong. They are. And I can’t imagine ever being a part of a community again that doesn’t understand how necessary this is. I am thankful to my Pastor and his Dad for leading our church through an amazing transition that led us to this point. I was not a part of the church then, but I am definitely benefiting from their hard work and willingness to follow God’s plan. And I am truly grateful for that.

I had a conversation the other day with someone who said they wished their pastor was as real as an author we know. It made me sad. And, I’ve read many blogs and articles and books that describe Pastors who don’t feel they can ever be authentic with their congregation. That breaks my heart.

So, how can we help our Pastors? I personally pray for them, and their families. Daily. And, I encourage them at every opportunity I can. Unfortunately, that’s something they don’t get nearly enough. They typically hear complaints or frustrations.

So, have you encouraged your Pastor today? Try it, and see what happens!

 

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Filed under Authenticity, Encouragement, Faith