Sunday, August 31, 2008

Update on Friends

Josiah has been making progress with his neighbor friends. The girls are now at times coming over to ask if he can play. And yes, a mom can make a difference. I've been trying to reach out to their mothers with my five words of Spanish. This seems to have made an impact on the little girls who are appreciating my efforts even though they have to translate for us. :-)

Our older friend who is over more is still a challenge at times, but I've been able to help him with a few small things here and there. God keeps reminding me that I have a fantastic opportunity to help love and shape a young boy into all that God is desiring for him. My struggle is that my little boy thinks the sun rises and sets with his friend. This nine year old could get angry with him a million times over, and Josiah would never notice.

Lord, may my little boy open his arms to all and share your love with everyone in need.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Managing with Grace

I have no idea how to manage others with grace. I keep asking God for wisdom, and I think I've learned a little over the years. I know I've made quite a few mistakes along the way, and I ache over those whom I have caused pain. I also ache over the lost opportunities for some that I avoided correction. Sounds weird, but I'm not the easiest person to love at times, and those who have been brave enough to correct me haven't always been the people I have cherished. In fact, I can think of at least two times of major correction that I look back at with deep pain, partly because of how it was done, but more because I needed to hear what they had to say.

So far my best tool is to put myself in the other person's shoes. How have I felt when I've been reprimanded or been corrected? What was my relationship with that person, and did I walk away encouraged and strengthened or beaten and hurting?

My constant questions as a leader are:

How can correct my teams without creating walls? This is hard because we as humans struggle with being corrected. I know that I personally hate it, but just reading through Proverbs reminds me how important it is to take it in, sometimes even to seek it out from those you respect.

How can I communicate the importance of things that need to be changed while still giving them ownership or stepping on toes? Sometimes the teams think what I am saying is just a suggestion and not a requirement. It's tough because our clients run a business. I think I'm learning to just come out and say..."It has to be done this way." My hardest struggle is when I'm helping the teams at events. It's very easy for me to just take over certain things when they seem unsure. I'm trying to learn to give suggestions.

Can I be their friend and boss? I think to some extent, in this job, I have to be. While some may disagree, I think it makes correction easier to hear. My goal is that they know I've been there for them through good and bad, and they can fully trust me. However, I have also seen that our teams don't think of me as a friend like I would hope, which is sometimes very painful for me as I care so deeply about them.

How can I keep our lines of communication open so they aren't afraid to come to me when they fail or when they have a problem with me? Still working on this. Same struggle with parenting. If you know you are going to get in trouble, do you want to tell your mom what you did? Trying to help me teams realize that I am on their side and can help them navigate their way out of a mistake. I also try to encourage them that I've made mistakes and make them all the time. I probably have even made that mistake before. :-)

The second part of that question is difficult. I know very few who enjoy confrontation, but I really want to know if I have done something to hurt my team members. I can't change or apologize for something I don't know.

There are more questions, but these are the ones that hit me tonight.

Lord, give me wisdom. Help me to learn from how you teach, guide and discipline me.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Do You Want to Be My Friend?

My sweet boy is one of the most social children I know. Maybe it's from being born into our ministry of hospitality or just his personality in general. He will invite anyone and everyone over to our house, especially if they are a kid.

Since we moved to the new place, he gets very excited whenever he sees other kids. One such friend is a nine-year old boy who, being bored at home, comes over six out of seven days of the week. Mommy's patience with this friend is not always great, but I keep praying that God will show me how to love this little boy who seeks out our home as a safe refuge in spite of having to play with a three year old.

The other side of the spectrum is four little Hispanic girls who live just a few apartments down. Josiah is thrilled when he sees them, and since he doesn't know their names, he just yells, "GIRLS! Hey, girls! You want to play with me?" as loud as he can.

They are fickle in whether they want to play or not. Sometimes they are busy doing girl things, and run away from Josiah. One such time this week broke Mommy's heart. I could tell they weren't interested, but Josiah just wasn't getting the picture. Finally when they blatantly said "No, we don't want to play with you," he came running over to me crying. He just couldn't understand why they didn't want to play with him.

Even the times they do say yes, they seem to have to be coaxed to play with Josiah. Not so, him. Maybe it's an age thing. I've seen him react that way to 2 year-olds, but he is often quite sweet and happy to play near babies and others.

So my Mommy dilemma is how do I help him understand and yet not follow these patterns himself? I suppose helping him put his feelings into words and then reminding him of those feelings when others come around, is the best way. One side thing I'd like him to learn is how to speak Spanish. Most importantly, I want my boy to be one of the most loving, open and kind people ever. Maybe a good way to say it, is I want him to be Christ-like as he grows.

If there are any parents who read this post and have ideas, please send them my way.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Beautiful Spot to Spend Time with God!

I just got back from dropping Josiah off at day camp, and I took advantage of our beautiful NW summer weather for some alone time with God. We live in Edmonds which is right on the Puget Sound (a salt water inlet). I went and sat on a bluff, which overlooks the water and faces the Olympic Mountain range on the other side of the water. To my right was the Edmonds Ferry dock and to my almost direct left, I could see all the way north to Mt. Baker. So beautiful!

These pictures were taken a year ago on a special trip Josiah and I took to visit a new friend on the other side of the water.

In the background of these next two pictures, you can see Mt. Rainer hanging around in the clouds. Amazingly enough, it's about a 3 to 4 hour drive from us. I believe it's height is 14,000+ feet.

Also, just above the hills on the left, you can make out the tips of some of the skyscrapers in downtown Seattle.

We are facing back towards Edmonds, and you can see the Cascade Mountain range in the far background. The boat is the other ferry that runs on the Edmonds to Kingston run.

The mountains in the background are the Olympic Mountain range on the Olympic Peninsula which separates us from the Pacific Ocean.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Does God Sing?

There is a chorus from a song on the radio that keeps running through my head..."Sing over me. Draw me close to rest in your peace. Sing over me, over me." At least that's how I remember the words.

Yesterday in our church time, Eric read a passage in Psalms that talks about God singing over us.

Psalm 32
Of David. A maskil. [

1 Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.

2 Blessed is the man
whose sin the LORD does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, "I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD "—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you
while you may be found;
surely when the mighty waters rise,
they will not reach him.

7 You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.

9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.

10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD's unfailing love
surrounds the man who trusts in him.

11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!

This such a beautiful Psalm, but I stopped listening when he read the line I've highlighted. There are more passages like this that talk of God singing over or for us. I've read them, but not really given it much thought.

Today, however, I imagined it. I am learning much about God's love through being Josiah's mommy. And I realized that I love to sing songs to Josiah about him, for him, to make him laugh, to comfort him, even to put him to sleep. So if I am created in God's image, wouldn't He be the same? This passage talks about God singing songs of deliverance.

Now, my next question is...What does God's singing voice sound like? Probably the most beautiful music I have or ever will hear.

Lessons in Humility

I was reading another blog this week, and the writer shared this Litany of Humility. God has been working with me on some of the very ideas mentioned in the litany for a very long time, but the way this prayer is worded feels more blunt than I have heard in a long time. I felt as if I had been hit with a 2' x 4'... a much needed one I might add.

The Litany of Humility by - Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,

From the fear of being humiliated,
deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated (slandered or gossiped about),
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
That in the opinion of the world,
others may increase, and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should.

This is something I need to read everyday as I struggle with all of these thoughts...desires to be liked, to be approved of, to be loved and chosen. It is much more easy to desire these things for those whom I respect greatly, men and women of God. But what about people I deal with who don't always act with integrity or who have even treated me or others poorly or sought their own glory? Do I desire for them to be chosen over me? Don't I want Christ in my life to shine in a way that makes Him more desirable to those who don't have a relationship with Him?

But that's just it! Humility can't be feigned. You can't be humble and wish for others to not receive glory. You can't be humble and wish that others will notice your humility. You can't be humble and hope that you will be noticed at all! These are all contradictory. And while it would be easy to think this can be mastered, how do you know when you've achieved a state of humility?

There is so much truth in this litany that I can't even write all of my thoughts. I could literally write about every line and how I struggle with that very thing.

My summary: Only by God's grace can we be delivered from our selfish ambitions, and that struggle for me is a daily battle. Lord, have mercy on me! Jesus, deliver me!