I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Posts tagged ‘perspective’

The Power of a Compliment

compliment-quotes-511

I love this quote.  Mostly because I’ve seen time and time again that it’s true.

I did something on a whim recently.  There are a number of people using an app that allows people to anonymously tell you what they think of you.  I haven’t been brave enough to try it myself.  In the midst of all the friends that were posting their links for this app, I saw another post that intrigued me.  It was a picture that simply said, “Comment your name & I’ll tell you one thing I like about you.”  Now, I didn’t limit it to one thing in some cases.  And I intentionally avoided things like “you’re pretty” or “you have a good fashion sense”.  I tried to focus on character qualities I admired.

I posted it and the names slowly but surely started showing up.  It was actually quite fun to respond to each person!  Some of them I’ve known for years, some were family, some were students from my Michigan years, some were current FDSH students, . . . you get the idea.

What really struck me was some of the responses I got in return.  Some told me that they needed the boost, others said they had been having a bad day and my comment made it better.

But let’s be clear – there is nothing unique about what I did.  The compliments I gave were honest assessments of the best in those who I was speaking to. If others had given them, their power would not have been diminished a bit.  Anyone can see the best in another and call it out.

I didn’t expect the impact it’s had on me.  As I said before, some of those I was complimenting, I’ve known for years.  Others?  Not long at all.  In some cases, just over a year.  For those, it took a bit more careful thinking.  All in all, I responded to 57 people.  I had to spend time looking for the best in 57 individuals.  Not a huge number, I’ll grant you, but it took time.  And during that time, it kept my mind focused on finding the best in others.

So I cannot help but wonder – what would happen if we started giving just one sincere compliment to one person every day? What would it do for those around us?  What would it do for our own attitudes and perspective?  I would certainly love to find out!

To a Mom I Never Knew

An Open Letter to the mom in Barnes & Noble:

I saw you.  You and both of your adorable little guys.  At least, I assume they were both yours.  One called you “mom” and I’m not sure who, besides a mom, would brave the mall on the day after Black Friday with two young men who didn’t look quite old enough to be in school yet!  Big crowds and two little ones in tow without another adult along?!  Only a mother would be that nuts!

They were adorable. I’m not just talking the mini-sized flannel shirt and little “work boots” on the older boy.  Or the adorable curls and blue eyes on the littlest guy.  The way they interacted with each other was just too cute for words.

They were SO excited to be at the bookstore.  And they were EXTRA excited that they EACH got to take a book home.  They were showing each other the “best parts” of their books, pointing excitedly at the Christmas decorations hanging in the store, talking about the “cool sweatshirt” that another customer had on . . . they were having a blast.

Were they loud?  Not really.  I mean, not for their ages.  They were excited and the volume was that of a child who was having a moment he simply did not want to forget.  There was so much to see and be excited about – they didn’t want to miss any of it so they were very eager to point it all out to each other.  But too loud?  Not even close.

Those boys were wonderfully well-behaved  – they excused themselves when people needed to get down the aisle they were in, when the youngest dropped his book the oldest stopped and said, “I can get that for you”, the oldest was careful to warn the younger one when he almost stepped in front of a customer . . . all in all, very well-behaved men-in-training.

Then I took a good look at you, mom.  And I saw the tight set in your shoulders, the fact that your eyes kept darting to all of the adults within hearing distance of your little men . . . you were just waiting for that one cranky adult to rear his or her ugly head.  You were waiting for the first eye roll and sigh, for the first comment along the lines of “It would be so nice if people would teach their children how to behave in public” to be said just loudly enough for you to hear.

And my heart hurt for you.  There was nothing about the way those boys were acting that should have angered anyone and certainly nothing for you to be worried about!  But the way you kept “reading the room” told me that you had heard unkind things before.  You’ve run into people who have nothing kind to say about anyone who isn’t exactly like them.  The oldest smiled at me and said, “Mom’s getting me this book!” and showed me his choice – Giraffes Can’t Dance – so I smiled back and said, “That’s a great book.” (It really is – fantastic lesson in that one!) His smile got even bigger and he said, “I know!” Then he turned to you – “Mom!  She likes this book too!”  I think I’m officially a cool kid with the preschool/early elementary set now.  You simply smiled at him and said, “I heard honey.  Shall we go pay?”  And the little guy piped up, “Then ice cream, right?!”  This time it was your smile that grew when you said, “Right.”

I tell you all of this, stranger, to say that it was a joy to watch your two boys even for a moment or two.  They were enjoying one another’s company, being very good to each other, and were excited about having a new book to read!  I wish I could have told you all of that in the store.  I wish I could have encouraged you to simply enjoy the friendly banter and ignore the cranks.  I wish I could have told you that you must be doing more than a few things right after what I saw today. Oh! And enjoy the ice cream!

And those cranky people who feel the need to roll their eyes, sigh or make negative comments?  Just remember this – some people have to leave their emotional “ick” all over the place in the hopes that other will step in it and become just as cranky as they are.  They have to find SOME way to justify their own grumpy attitude!  So ignore the grumps, cuddle your boys, and read them those awesome new books you bought for them today.  (And one last thing – spoiler:  Gerald the Giraffe finds out that he can, indeed, dance after all!)

Just One

I haven’t posted in QUITE a long time . . . I feel bad about that.  Not just the lack of posts.  Also the fact that the reason I haven’t posted is because the lessons I’m learning . . . the things my brain is focusing on . . . the positive changes I’m trying to make (there are so many ways to describe this “place” in my life!) are not changing or varying all that much so I fear that multiple blog posts would just sound the same!

But there are thoughts spinning in my head that won’t stop until I get them out in some organized fashion.  So a new blog post it is.

I’m a people pleaser from “way back in the day”.  I’m pretty sure I know why but don’t want to belabor things from my past that I have, to be brutally honest, gotten over completely.  Unfortunately, as a people pleaser, I take it hard when someone disapproves of me or something I’ve done.  There could be a dozen people that are THRILLED with my work or who approve of me in general.  But I will focus all my time and energy on that one who doesn’t.

Kind of a silly way to approach life, don’t you think?!  I made a commitment to myself at the beginning of this year to actively look for the good in people and situations.  Some days it’s been REALLY easy.  Other days, not so much.  With most people, it doesn’t take much effort.  Others?!  Well . . . yeah.  It’s tough to “un-learn” being a people pleaser!

There are actually two people right now that are . . . how would my husband put it? . . . providing a chance to grow in this area.  Thankfully, my connection with them is NOT in the same part of my life so they are not able to double team me!  One of them is trying (and appears to be succeeding) to put up walls between me and a volunteer position I’ve had the last couple of years.  The other has asked for my help in a specific way and denigrates or just completely refuses to acknowledge my work and the progress that has been made.  I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me at all.  It stings.  But only a little. Less than it would have in the past, thankfully.

Here’s the thing – in both of those arenas in my life, they are just one person with an opinion that others do not appear to share.  In both cases, there are more than a few others – maybe even MANY others – that make me feel like a valued contributor.  These contrary individuals are frustrating to deal with when I absolutely have to.  But their attitude toward me and their opinion of me has – by their choice – kept those encounters at a minimum.  Instead, the majority of my time has been spent around those who validate my work, encourage and build me up, allow me to feel like a valued contributor and make it a joy to be involved.

What’s the take away?  I will NOT focus on “the one” who isn’t satisfied with what I’m doing.  I will not give “the one” any power to affect my attitude toward the others I work with, the situation I’m in, or my level of enthusiasm.  That one person can be as negative and cranky as they wish.  I am surrounded by positive people who strive for excellence and welcome whatever contribution I am able to make as they work toward their goals.  The secret is simple – focus on the others, not the one.  If I don’t give that one person my focus or allow them to take up space in my thoughts, I will feel much more positively about the work I am doing, the part I am playing in creating something wonderful, and the relationships I am having a chance to build.

I will never be able to please every single person I encounter.  Well, I could probably get close but I would lose myself in the process and I’m not okay with that.  So I choose to focus on those who are happy to work along side me and welcome my presence in their lives.  As for those who feel more negatively inclined toward me?  I have just one thing to say – I wish you well.

#thankshubs Day 4: Dreamer

I’m not going to lie – this one was a challenge!  Anyone who knows the both of us would tell you that, of the two of us, I am the dreamer and hubby is the practical realist.  And they would be right. Mostly.  But I know a secret.

Hubby is a pastor.  No, that’s not the secret.  The church where he is currently serving is small.  The building we meet in is HUGE but the number of people gathering for worship on a Sunday is small.  Some pastors – and maybe even some church members – would look at that and say, “Oh well, it is what it is.”

But not my hubby.  He looks at our building and the size of our congregation and refuses to just maintain status quo.  Whether it is looking at ways to use our building that are VERY different or seeking the leading of the Spirit regarding ways to breathe new life and bring new ideas into our worship gatherings, he never settles.

In our building, we have a small chapel on the other side of the building from the sanctuary that just does not see much use.  A local Presbyterian congregation – which also happens to be a Spanish speaking congregation! – was in need of a place to meet.  For the last few months, Life and Hope church has been renting office space and the chapel from us.  We are learning to share the nursery space, they use the kitchen for meals every so often . . . you get the idea.  And there is something VERY cool about knowing that there are two congregations holding services, each in a different language, under the same roof!  Definitely not the traditional way to do things, but my hubby looked at an empty space and saw the possibilities!

Crisis Intervention Service – a local organization that works with women who are leaving abusive relationships – needed space to meet with and counsel their clients.  The upper floor of our building was going mostly unused.  But CIS is now renting three rooms on that upper floor to help these women in crisis.  There are no words to describe how proud I am that hubby heard about this need and stepped out to meet it.  Going after grant money that would allow us to help drive early head start families to monthly get-togethers, seeking to bring new ideas to the music ministry, incorporating other artistic expressions (like drama) into the Sunday morning gatherings . . . all things that hubby has been dreaming about out loud.  And the best part is he doesn’t just dream.  He takes action.

Many people would look at the size of our congregation – and the resulting challenges – and feel defeated.  Not my hubby.  He looks at the people and resource and begins to dream about what could be.  Instead of feeling discouraged by the challenges, he has the faith to believe that God can do something new for the kingdom!

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19

Staying Power

Why is it that we can feel the sting of an insult years after the words were uttered but can’t remember a compliment someone paid us two days ago?!

Why do the vicious words of a middle school bully linger long into adulthood, leaving scars that we never forget?  And yet sincere compliments barely make an impression?

Whatever the reason, I’m tired of it.  I don’t know how to fix it, but I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of getting a compliment from someone and having some ugly, negative phrase from my past immediately sneak into my head to contradict the positive one.

I could tear your heart out with stories of the ugly things people have spoken into my life.  But I’m done.  Time to, as my father would say, re-write the script.  It won’t be easy.  It won’t happen quickly.  But it’s going to happen.

I’m going to focus on the positive things uttered into my life by those who have chosen to be a part of it.  As for those individuals who hang around because they see it as their job to fix me . . . them, I will politely ignore.

I don’t know why insults have so much more staying power than compliments.  But I’m about to change things up.

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