The Failure Bow

Yesterday I made myself a nice salad for lunch.  Mixed greens, honey roasted chicken, shredded cheese, bell peppers and a homemade balsamic dressing.  I was really excited to savor it, to taste its goodness.  I grabbed an empty glass to pour myself a glass of water and set it down next to my salad.  Then I took the britta filter and started to pour out the clear refreshing water… INTO MY SALAD.  Crap!  I can’t believe I did that!  I cringed internally.  Why am I so dumb?  I quickly corrected my mistake and poured into the right container, then I ate my soggy salad.

Have you ever beat yourself up over making a mistake?  Maybe it was a big one, maybe it was a little one…  Me too.  Frequently in fact, and I am just starting to get some sense that perhaps there is a better way to respond than my typical internal beat down.

I believe that Jesus died for my sins and rose from the dead and because of that I am covered by His grace.  But that fact always seems to feel pretty hard to grasp right after I have made some kind of mistake.  There is new research that suggests how we respond with our bodies (a deep bow with a goofy grin vs. cringing or curling up into a ball) will affect how we feel in our minds.  Its called the failure bow.

So next time we make mistakes, lets celebrate them with a bow.

And for those of you who might wish to make a culture change in your organization. Consider this variation from Ted DesMaisons:

I invite my students to come up in front of the group one at a time, root themselves firmly on stage with a good, wide, athletic stance and a playful smile. Each movement from there will get its own bold assertion.

1) Extending the right arm out in a bold sweep: I took a risk!

2) Extending the left arm in similar fashion: I messed up!

3) Bringing their fingers to the chest: I’m still here!

4) Flinging both arms out and raising them triumphantly to the sky: Let’s learn!

And, of course, we’ll respond with wild applause.

For all of the mistakes you have learned from in the course of your life, I applaud you.

Lets try this again

Its been a while since I last blogged.  The past year has been one of the best in my life so far, but it has also been a pretty busy one… so given that it is the summer now, I thought I would give blogging another try.  I am also hoping to produce more art over the summer so perhaps I will post some of that as well.

Recently what I have been learning is that I have been trained (by several hard years of life) to expect the worst and that that is not actually what God wants for me.  It has been a thing that has, for lack of a better word, impeded my ability to receive the good things that God is giving me.  This year has been abut learning to give up that training and enjoy life to its fullest (without worrying that soon the other shoe will drop).  I want to fully enjoy everything that God has for me and celebrate the good in life.  I hope you learn what it looks like for you to do that too. Sometimes it starts with as simple a thing as appreciating the beauty around you.

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Perceiving is Believing

You know that saying, “seeing is believing”?  Well, I have decided that I think that is a false statement.  There are plenty of times that people see something and simply can’t believe it.  And there are plenty of other times where people have seen something and thought it was something else entirely (ex. UFOs). I would like to suggest that as a culture we amend the statement from “seeing is believing” to “perceiving is believing.”  After all its what we think about what we see that affects what we believe, right?  How we process our sight is what really matters.

I started thinking about this after I read some new insight into the passage in the Bible where Jesus has a two-part healing of the blind man.  The insight came from the book “Experience More of God by Bill & Booram.  Its a book about experiencing God with our senses and the particular part I read today was about sight.  

Anywho, let me summarize the Bible passage and then share with you the insight that followed.  So, some people bring a blind man to Jesus and ask him to heal him.  Jesus then spits on the guys eyes (eww) and puts his hands on him and asks if he can see anything.  The man responds, “I see people, they look like trees walking around.”  So Jesus puts his hand on him again and after that he is able to “see clearly.”  

When I first read this passage I thought, “how could Jesus make a mistake and not heal him properly the first time?”  But after observing the intentional nature of how Jesus did things I was forced to conclude it must not be a mistake but done on purpose.  So my next question became, why would Jesus not heal him fully the first time, why was this a two-part healing?

In seeking an answer to that question I came up with a couple of new insights.  Firstly, that healing (or perhaps I might venture to say perceiving) is indeed often a process and not something that comes in perfectly on our first try.  I think this healing was a mini-parable illustrating the things that are going on for Jesus’ disciples at the same point as this story in Mark. For example, they had to learn several times that Jesus could provide for them bread at will (feeding the 5000, then the 4000, then the bread on the boat).  What he says to them as they keep failing to get it is: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?  Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?”

Do you have eyes but fail to see?  In other words, “you see, but still you do not perceive.”  So the second insight of the 2-part healing of the blind man is that we can be healing physically, just as his eyes were able to see when he opened them, but it is often a separate healing that needs to adjust our perceptions.  How would them man even known to say I see people but they look like trees?  How would he know what people or trees look like?  Maybe he thought trees looked like people and just needed new isight into what was what.

All that to say, what we believe about what we see is important because it shapes our reality.  Its scary to think that I could be looking at things and seeing but not really perceiving what is going on.  Our perceptions affect the ways we behave.  If I perceive something as dangerous, I approach with caution, or don’t approach at all… but if its not really dangerous, if its a puppy lets say, and I have never interacted with a dog before… then I might miss out on the playful lick it offers as a hello.

Maybe take a second to think about areas where you operate out of your assumptions, and ask God for a healing of your perspective.

And just for fun… what do you see in the image below?

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Can you see both the old and young woman?

The throne room

I just got back from InterVarsity’s Orientation for New Staff (or ONS) and I miss it already.  It was super awesome being in community with over 100 new staff from all over the country who came from different backgrounds and cultures but who all shared the same hope and vision of renewal.  And as a cherry on top, the URBANA worship team was there so worship was off the hook!

What the experience reminds me of is the image in Revelation of people from every nation and tongue worshiping together at the throne of God.  When I was there worshiping with my fellow staff, I felt like I had been ushered into the throne room of God.  As you can imagine, I was loathe to leave.  We had our own little slice of heaven in community with each other and I still feel encouraged by that.  It also makes me long for heaven where it will be like that forever.  But I am back in the real world now, and I have decided that rather than feeling disappointed that its not perfect, I will feel energized by the brokenness and once again work toward bringing the Kingdom one step closer as often as I can.  

 

Why fundraising is difficult

I have been thinking a lot recently about why the initial season of fundraising is difficult for mostly all new staff… and apart from the obvious its different reasons for everyone I have been noticing some common threads amongst me and some of my other new staff friends. In general I would say fundraising is challenging because it causes us to confront some of the lies that we were previously believing. Here are some of them (though I am sure there are many more… I didn’t even touch the ones related to money):

Lie #1: I am nothing if I am not ministering
I think this lie rears its ugly head when we have found too much of our identities in what were doing on campus. It calls into question our primary identity as a son or daughter of Christ and makes us feel worthless and useless.

Lie #2: I’m not worth supporting
I feel this at especially low moments, or when I have sinned in some way or another. It feels like, “why would God bless me with support when I am such a mess in other ways?” But the truth is every human being deserves the support they need and our God is generous and gracious beyond our wildest imaginings.

Lie #3: Its all about me
Related to lie #2 (because that was also a self-focused lie), this lie tells us that this season is all about us. Its our ministry, our needs that need to be met, our effort that needs to bring in things to meet them. It feels like I keep making appointments to talk about ME and MY ministry, etc, etc. And I think as soon as we step on the ME-train things start going hay-wire. I see myself as the one who needs to get everything done, myself as the one with all of the responsibility, and I consequently get selfish and think about myself all the time. Eww, not pretty. This week I have been re-aligning that this season is NOT about ME. Its Jesus’s ministry that He invites me to be a part of… ultimately He must provide the funds. Its not even really about me when I am meeting with potential donors–its about them and how they might grow/benefit from supporting Jesus’s work on the college campus. Its about them and how they would like to be involved. Maybe it is partly about me (after all its raising a support team for me, haha), but not in a selfish, self-focused way.

To all my fund-raising friends, hang in there. Any lies you want to add to this list?

Watch this video for some encouragement: 

To all my non-fund-raising friends, please pray for me and all of the new staff this year who are battling these lies.

70% of 18-22yr olds leave the church!

Church: Why the mass exit?

A friend just shared this video with me.  Just another one of many reasons I want to go on staff… to preach the gospel to those who think they’ve heard it or to those who really need to hear it.  Click the link for Skye Jethani’s interpretation of why so many young people are leaving the church!

“An entire generation is leaving the church. But why? Is it the way we relate to God… life overunder, or even for Him? What’s the difference and what if the next generation pursued life with God?

Church practitioners have been sent scrambling by the growing awareness that an entire generation is leaving the church. Many have attempted to answer why they are leaving, but few are offering solutions to stop the mass exit.

Author Skye Jethani says the answer might be changing the way we’re relating to God. Instead of lifeoverunder, or even for God, he says this generation should pursue life with God.”

A new direction

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The past few months my life has been in a state of chaotic transition.  I got promoted from assistant manager of one restaurant to manager of another restaurant, while simultaneously applying for a job in ministry with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, which I later got offered.  Now I am in the process of raising support so I can accept that position (a 6-9month process) and after I do that it will mean moving.  And while all of that has been going on, I have been searching for a suitable alternative living situation for my mom (like a group home or assisted living or hopefully not a nursing home).  It has been a season of transition that I see continuing for a while.  My life is taking a new direction, and thus so will this blog.  I think I will still post nuggets of wisdom here and there, and I will still share how I see God in all things, but it will also be a place where I update you on my life and ask for your support and prayer.

My encouragement to you, however, is that what I have been learning in my season of transition.  Our God was not a stationary God, he went from place to place, couch to couch, dragging his disciples along with him.  He was constantly in a state of transition between this world and heaven…but in that, he declares that the Kingdom of God has come near.  I think it comes near when we seek him in the midst of transition.  If I could say in one word what has grown my faith the most it would be “pain”.  God never wastes our pain, our seasons of transition or our seasons of waiting.  Let him meet you wherever you are at now (he know’s where you’ve been and where you’re going in ways that no one else can).

Please be praying for me as I am in this season of transition… Pray that I continue to see what God has for me in this in-between time.  I will be praying for you as well–that you see God in whatever season of life you find yourself as well.