Thursdays

In college, my roommate and I shared a blog “Hang of Thursdays” in reference to “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.”  It’s been a long time since I’ve been on here and a lot of things I want to journal/chronicle, so I am hoping to return and get the hang of Thursdays.  As a bit of a teaser, here are a few things in the works in my life:

New position at my job

Beginning weight loss

Preparing for graduate school (MBA)

Prepping for Disney World, Christmas 2014

and possibly more

 

Do…or do not. There is no try.

I had a conversation this week with my boss.  I work in a call center and while I contribute to our team and am very professional, the metrics we use for annual reviews are consistently lower than they should be.  My manager encouraged me, saying she knows I can do it and once I improve, a promotion should be easy.  I ended the conversation with a “I’ll try” and started to walk away.

She stopped me and said “Really, after that kind of conversation and encouragement, that’s all you can say?!”  That’s when Yoda’s voice popped into my head “No! Try not. Do…or do not. There is no try.” (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, 1980)

“Try” is such a dangerous word to use when addressing  goals.  When we say “I’ll try,” or “I’m trying” it generally means one of two things.  Either we have failed and want to make ourselves sound better.  If you ask me about my goal of eat healthier, I very well might say I’m trying.  But in reality, I have eaten out more than I should have this last week, had too many desserts and certainly not enough veggies.  When I’m saying I’m trying, all I really mean is I have good intentions.  In reality, I have failed this week; I have not done what I wanted to.

The other time we use the phrase, we have reached only part of our goal.  I did exercise a few times last week, however, I am not where I want to be.  Trying, in this case, really is doing something, but it is detrimental to my overall motivation.  If I never end up working out every day of the week, I will always have to say I’m trying.  Instead, I have to redefine my goals and provide increments so that I have successes along the way.  So if my goal is to exercise more, I have done what I wanted.  I am not finished with this goal, but I have made progress.

Whether to hide lack of action or express partial action, “trying” is not helpful.  It excuses failure or diminishes success.  For work, I will improve.  I have made an extra effort and redefined my goals.

How will you take “try” out of your goals to allow you be more successful?

My 29th Year

I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions.  I have plenty of areas of my life I would like to improve, but I generally lack the motivation to change (and I dislike doing something simply because it is a common practice in culture).  While yet another January 1st came and went with no resolutions, the weeks leading up to my birthday were full of conviction and motivation.  As a result, I have resolved to change many practices in my life, starting today, day 1 of year 29.

All of my resolutions revolve around a verse that recently convicted me: Proverbs 31:27 ESV “[An excellent wife] looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”  Unfortunately, there are many days it seems all I eat is that bread (and I should know better, having done the Atkins diet :-P).  I understand change takes time, so I expect to grow and improve over the year.  The following are my goals, which I will work on and share over the year.

Blog more: To be more specific, I want to blog weekly.  Currently, I have about 2-4 blog ideas floating around in my head, but I have yet to put them on paper.  The main reason this is top of my list is because of the impact blogging (or simply writing) my ideas has on me.  For a good ten years now, I have been writing little thoughts here and there; about faith, life, relationships, etc.  Everytime I do, it helps settle the thoughts in my mind and soul.  I have also felt for a long time that some day, in God’s timing, my writing will be for more than just me.  With that in mind, I want to continue to put forth my ideas and let Him use them as He wills.

Read the Bible more often:  With moving into a new home, fixing it up and in general settling into a new life, I have pushed aside my time with God.  I can also get easily overwhelmed when trying to read the Bible.  For me, it’s like trying to fill a wine bottle with a garden hose.  There is so much to catch and I want to catch it all while also focusing on a few topics I would like to write about.  For this year, I want to read it through fairly quickly, keeping three journals handy, one for each idea I currently want to write about.  All other insights will end up in the third one to be looked at later.

Eat healthier:  Many people speak of the freshman 15, but I am also a proponent of the marriage 30.  In an effort to lose weight and create better habits, I want to improve my diet.  My goal is to eat smaller portions, eat veggies as snacks between meals, and reduce sweets 10 fold from my diet.

Get in shape: In conjunction with eating better to lose weight, I want to be fit.  Ideally, I would love to start training to run a 5K, 10K and half mile.  I enjoy running (when I’m in shape) and know this would bring a great sense of accomplishment.  This goal will most likely take all year, starting with simple in-home exercises and stretches with free weights we already own (from the last time I was motivated).  There are a few 5Ks in the spring here that I would like to participate in next year.

Go back to school: While my current job does not require more education to excel, I am looking at other opportunities in the company, mostly in a leadership capacity.  For that, I want to begin pursuing my MBA.  Thankfully, my company will pay for it (some tax free, some taxable) and I don’t want to pass that up.  My emotions in this area are a mix of excitement for learning new things and opening doors for leadership and hesitation, knowing an MBA will be a lot of work, research and writing.  Going back to school after 6 years off is not an easy task.

Conscience for your wallet

It used to be a part of our Sunday routine; after church we would stop by and get Starbucks.  My husband got a venti raspberry chai and I would decide between a peppermint hot chocolate and a hazelnut chai.  A few weeks ago I saw a letter to the store thanking them for supporting equality in marriage and it put a bitter taste in my mouth.  After a little looking online, I realized it was not just something that store had done, but Starbucks as a whole.  My mother-in-law got this response when she emailed that we will no longer be buying anything from Starbucks:
“At Starbucks, we deeply respect the views of our customers and partners (employees) and recognize that there is genuine passion surrounding this topic. Starbucks has many constituents, and from time to time we will make decisions that are consistent with our values and heritage but may be inconsistent with the views of a particular group.
From our very earliest days, Starbucks has strived to create a company culture that puts our people first and treats everyone equitably. Our company has a lengthy history of leading on and supporting policies that promote equality and inclusion, and we are proud to be one of several leading Northwest employers that support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality. We made this decision through the lens of humanity and our commitment to embracing diversity.”

It was easy to say we’ll never buy from Starbucks again, but it put a lot of thoughts in my mind that I have never thought about.  First, trying to figure out why companies need to take stands on things that don’t directly involve their business.  Importation taxation, fair trade coffee and the like are issues that relate to the business of Starbucks and make more sense to me than using their “guiding principle” of diversity to reach beyond the coffee world.  If a CEO wants to support political issues with his words and money, that is a better avenue to make a stand.

Secondly, I began to wonder how much business decisions should affect my purchases and if so, how do I find out what companies believe and support.  Starbucks is easy to pass over since there many other coffee shops.  In my looking for articles to link to in this post, I found out Microsoft and Nike supported the same bill Starbucks was supporting.  Nike is easy since I own nothing from them.  However, this post is being typed using a Windows 7 operating system and giving up Windows will be a much harder thing to do.

I am left with wondering how much influence company ethics and political views should have on my spending habits.  What do you do, if anything?  One thing is for sure, I am going to be more aware of where I spend my money (and I don’t want any gifts cards to Starbucks anymore).

Footnote about gay marriage: I firmly believe that marriage is between one man and one women.  And while I don’t condone the lifestyle, homosexuals should not be ridiculed as individuals.  The line is clear on marriage, but it’s a little more difficult to explain in individual relationships.  Maybe a post for some other day….

It’s not what you do, but how you do it

It’s been a crazy week for Denver sports fans.  Even if you aren’t a fan of the Broncos, you can’t help but talk about Tim Tebow being replaced by Peyton Manning (a decision I’m excited about, but that’s not the point).  There has been A LOT of talk about Manning coming to be Denver’s new quarterback and Tebow going to the Jets out in New York.  There are two groups that most of the talk I have heard falls in.

It’s not what you do: Sports talk
Very few people in the sports talk world give Tebow any credit for his playing ability.  He doesn’t pass well, he squeaks out wins rather than dominating, he isn’t versatile, on and on and on. And they have a point.  While he was 8-6 (win-loss) in his two years with Denver, his passer rating is 75.1.  As comparison, in the last two years Manning has played with the Indianapolis Colts, he had a passer rating of 95.9.  (To give you an idea, the highest ever for a season is 122.5).  Yes, Tebow had some wins and took the Broncos to the playoffs.  But his skill is just not that great.  I’m sure I could spill over stats that show he’s not great at what he gets paid to do, but I’m not that big of a fan, that big of a stats nut, and that’s not my point.  Suffice it to say, Tebow is not that great at what he does.

But how you do it: General public
John Elway, Broncos former quarterback and current executive with the team, said it best “Tim Tebow is a great kid. If I want someone to marry my daughter, it would be him.  But I think with the opportunity to have Peyton Manning’s services, we had to take advantage of that.”  I have overheard at least people at work talking about Tebow leaving and how bad a decision that is and what a great guy/player he is.  While that may be unfounded (see above), why do some people talk this way?  It’s because he plays with character, heart and courtesy.  I have yet to hear anything mean or biting out of Tebow’s mouth (though I admit, I may just need to get out more).  The way he plays is what has drawn so much attention to him and gotten people to rally behind him, even if they don’t follow football.  From “Tebow-ing” to his well spoken interviews to his good looks, he has caught nearly everyone’s attention.  Love him or hate him, you know him for HOW he plays and lives.

So what?
What do you do?  What is your job, your daily tasks?  It doesn’t matter what you do or how well you do it.  People will take notice if you do it with honor, integrity and character.  Strive for that in everything you do and people will notice.  It will make the tasks you do appear even greater because of how you do them.

One question

A few years ago when I was working at a summer camp for troubled teens, I was challenged by a fellow staff member to ask the right questions. I was learning to understand the many different places people can be in their relationship with God, and if you don’t ask in the correct way, you won’t find out where they are. “Are you a Christian?” means so many different things to different people. “Do you believe in God?” is too narrow. After a bit of thinking, I realized what I really wanted to understand about people was “What is your relationship with God?” Now I admit this isn’t the most clear question, so I hope to explain myself here.

Most people will respond back “What do you mean ‘relationship’?” Here are examples of answers that would fit the question. “What is your relationship with God?”

Like my relationship with Casper the friendly ghost- I don’t believe in ghosts but they make for fun little stories.

Like my relationship with Erin- we were best friends when I was younger but we haven’t spoken since then. And I really don’t care to start that relationship again.

Like my relationship with the Queen of England- I know she’s out there but what she does has no influence on my life. So I really don’t care.

Like my relationship with President Obama- I don’t know him personally but I don’t like what he does. I want to avoid him at all costs and get him out of my life (sorry for the politics, but it made for a good example)

Like my relationship with my distant family- They are family and I love spending time with them once every year or two. But I’m not really close to them and I don’t have the desire to build that relationship.

Like my relationship with Sarah- We get along well but it is a long distance relationship and requires work to get to know her better. Therefore, the friendship gets dropped to the side.

Like my relationship with my husband- I love him greatly and know much about him. But there are still many things I don’t know. It’s not enough to know him as I do now. I want to (and am excited) to get to know him, to be able to love and serve him without having to ask how.

Those are just a few examples of possible answers. There are many different relationships in our lives. What is your relationship with God?

Rebirthing

This is my blog on religions ideas, thoughts, and brief lessons. My break from blogging on here is related to my recently relationship with God. I have learned a lot about myself over the past 6 months while life took many twists and turns. There was a move to the south side of Denver into an apartment with a roommate from Craig’s List, the abrupt ending of a relationship that was very special to me, and adjusting to a new Starbucks store that was very stretching.

I wish I had blogged, or at least journaled, during this time period. I have chewed over many thoughts about Christian living, my background, forgiveness and Christianity outside the cookie cutter. While these thoughts may not be direct and raw like they were at the time, I know they will color any following blogs.

“[I] Feel your presence filling up my lungs with oxygen” I am now attending Denver Seminary working toward an MDiv in Youth and Family Ministries. I hope to blog my reflections on class and other things going on in my life. Welcome back to my reflections on life and faith and learning to live a life Not My Own.

Missional Mandate

I have been (slowly) reading Will Mancini’s Church Unique. I won’t give a book review now, but suffice it to say that much of what Mancini says about discovering a church’s purpose and vision hits close to many things I have been thinking about church, other organizations and my personal life.

In one section he talks about articulating the vision for the church, which is made up of a “vision frame” constructed by answering 5 questions. The first is the “mission as a missional mandate (mMandate): What are we doing? The missional mandate is a clear and concise statement that describes what the church is ultimately supposed to be doing” (pg 113) As with many things in his book, I have taken what Mancini says for the church and looked at it for my life. In that process today, I was sitting and journaling and came to this point: “I want to pass on the comfort and life [I have known]. For what? For a challenge, the challenge of.” Here I paused. And then flowed this “engaging the reality of (young) people’s being and life to assist them in reaching a fuller life in Christ.” And then I was silent. I had found my missional mandate in that moment. It defines what I want to ultimately be doing with my life. It defines my desire in the relationships I build. It defines what God has made me for.

Now what? Well, now I must let God take on my mandate as He assists me with the realities of my life and being to reach my fuller life in His Son; a fuller life of living out my mandate. This is my Personal Unique.

Thanks Will, for giving me a copy of your book.

Kickoff

I am kicking off this new blog with a flashback.  The first blog I ever posted was on September 9th, 2004.  For why I changed blogs, check out the About Me.  But for now, welcome to the masquerade…(from 9/9/04)

I’ve concluded that no one is ever really themselves. And that many times people judge you by the way you act when that may not be all that makes up who you are. Yeah, I’m sure you all already knew that, but I was struck with that realizing in my orientation group meeting this past week. I had a preconceived idea of the type of person each of the freshmen in the group was like. Not the best thing to do, but we do naturally as humans. But do you know how cool it is when people break your idea of them? Ok well, I guess it’s only cool when the break it by doing something good, but anyway. And it makes me wonder what the “real” person is like. But then I think that all of their characteristics, who they are in different situations, make up who they are. And that is cool too. People are so much deeper than what we generally see day to day, and especially deeper than our first impressions of them.

I guess I’m just impressed because I really like getting to know people and enjoy it when I get to see people, peers, being open about what’s on their heart and opening up. So, thanks to my Orientation group from not being afraid to be open. Every aspect of you was made by God for His glory. Be yourself.