25 July 2012

paint!: something different, part 3

Life is an interesting series of colorful moments. I believe we come from heaven with certain tools that help us to create wonderful masterpieces in the various areas of our lives. We are each given a particular medium and it takes time, effort, planning and practice to become masters in our medium. When these investments are made diligently and consistently, the results are one-of-a-kind.

However, despite our best planning, practice and performance there are times when an sudden change comes and the medium we are working in changes; finding oneself without employment for instance. As I mentioned in the Square Peg post, I experienced this particular rain storm in my life recently. So now I find myself in a place of need and suitable, gainful employment must be found; a new medium.

Here's the deal though, I don't want just another "job". I have finally decided it's about time I figure out how to do what I really want to do for the rest of my life. Three quick statements: I enjoy helping others. I am creative. At 17 (shortly after becoming a Christian) I knew I wanted to serve in ministry full-time and teach the Word. There I said it in the out loud voice. But because of my background at the time Bible school was not even really a thought. After all I was not one of the ministry kids and I had no idea what one did to go about becoming a minister. And even though I was 17, I knew where the money and "success" were (not in ministry) and there was still a huge part of me that was more concerned with the generic American view of success.

In deciding what to study in college, I had to think about what I like, what I'm drawn to.  Technical things and logistics were an interest but my first loves were the arts, creative solutions and people. I realized at an early age though that the careers that had any type of good salary attached to them were the ones that were in the more technical fields so I attempted to draw myself into those fields.

I studied architecture. I enjoyed the learning and I must say I really thought it was going to be the perfect fit because it appealed to my creative and technical sides and was going to give me the tools necessary to help people. I wanted to be successful as an architect yet school was seemingly defeating me and all the while in my heart I yearned for something different, something more. I wanted to be able to use my writing skills and I wanted to have a more direct involvement with people. These are the medium with which I can produce the best art in life. But I spent a lot of time attempting to use my supplementary tools as the foundational medium.

So it should not come as any surprise that I ended up in a completely different field, retail sales. I can work a sales floor with the best of them, because I listen to people and I have an eye for what is aesthetically pleasing. Put me somewhere with a good product and training and I will get to work changing average sales and conversion numbers into something any leader can be excited about. But again as much fun as this can be, it's not what I hoped for. I want other avenues of creativity.

So how do we get to a title like paint from talking about my diverse work history? During my time as part of the 8.2% and job search I am taking the time to develop my creative side, serve at my church and find other opportunities for service. I have specific time set aside to work on things like writing, guitar practice and I decided to try painting again for the first time in a LONG time. When I was in high school I tried my hand at it a few times (the good ole Joy of Painting kit!) but never worked on developing it, well I'm going for it now. There is just nothing like staring at a big blank page and letting your mind create a picture that soon will show up through your own hand. Although at first it's a bit intimidating, when you see something coming into view a new idea and formation coming to life, it is incredibly exciting.

I know my best medium in life is creative service and why I would attempt to do anything else is beyond me. Going for it!

communication breakdown

Sometimes I have the hardest time communicating. I spend a great deal of time perfecting what I want to say when writing or preparing for certain conversations. But in the spontaneity and "unscriptedness" of life I don't have the opportunity to prepare for every question thrown at  me or encounters I have with people.

I find myself wishing I could take my brain out and let others see what I'm trying to say because trying to relay what's running on the screen in my mind can be very confusing, which then leads to being misunderstood and can lead to frustration. It's moments like this when one of my greatest gifts and blessings feels more like a curse.

17 July 2012

practically speaking: something different, part 2

The practical side of something different. First, I have to speak differently. Lately I have seen the fruit of this so much clearer in my life. Whether I choose to accept this or not self-talk navigates me to actions. I tried to fight this and learned, once again, foundational truths cannot be changed just because I will it so. So what am I saying different? Have I become Stuart Smalley? No, not quite.  I choose to remind myself of the following:

I am God's woman, His daughter, His anointed. He alone gave me gifts but even those do not determine who I am. He fully accepts me, is invested in me and sealed me with His love. I breathe His breath every time I am privileged to wake up and nothing stops that. He made a special plan just for my life and no one stops that. I walk in restored authority. I am smart and gentle, powerful and strong, loving and forgiving, gracious and beautiful, precious and honored because I am in His image. I am blessed, I am provided for, I am good!

Now this may not seem like much but when I consider what I may have said even 6 months ago about myself, I can say this is a world of change! I am not even going to type out those words because I do not want to go back that way again.  The Bible overflows with the truths of how He created me, what He thinks about me and how much He loves me. When I need to know what really matters I go there first. When it comes to how my thinking affects my life four key scriptures in this battle are listed below.

Proverbs 18:20-21
A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; From the produce of his lips he shall be filled. 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
(What in the world am I saying about my life, family, friends and situations around me if I am going to be filled with what I say?)

Proverbs 23:7a
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
(I can say "just kidding" when I say something negative about myself but my behaviors and physical appearance will reflect what I truly think about myself)

Proverbs 27:19
As in water face reflects face, So a man's heart reveals the man.

Romans 12:1-2
I beseech you, therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
(Am I being transformed in my thinking to line up with the truths in the Bible or am I being conformed by what happens to me or lies I have said about myself?)

Whether through friends, teachers, bosses, books I am reading or pastors God has been driving home the message of the power of the words I speak over my life. I am accountable for the information I receive so I am choosing to accept this truth and change accordingly. The beautiful thing about this is the fact that I know that I will see great things. If after years of tearing myself down and not believing the truth and receiving the darkness that comes with that, then I fully expect to see radiant light and life in me from here forward. I am expecting the miraculous more than ever before. In being kinder to myself it seems that I have even become more encouraging to others around me, able to reach out to see more in others. That is exciting! I have another practical to share on this but I will continue next time.

Additional resource:
Click here and you will be redirected to the Covenant Church media page. Select the message from Sunday, July 8 "The Keystone" (either audio or video) It will bless you and perhaps challenge your thinking.

11 July 2012

something different, part 1

If you expect something different from your life  than what you have become accustomed to seeing then it's time to step out and DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT! But you may think wait if I do something different I may not be good at it, it may make me feel uncomfortable and I may look stupid. All of those are very real possibilities but there is also the possibility that you may find that you can accomplish something great, be good at something new and look good. Or how about if it doesn't turn out the way you hoped, you find that you learn something about yourself or others. I would consider that a building block, a lesson learned.

Recently I set out to do something different in my own life. I ran towards a challenging opportunity because I considered the outcome worth any effort necessary to accomplish the goal. I put myself out there for an opportunity with no guarantee of being accepted. Every step of this process has stretched me, made me feel uncomfortable and at times had me in tears. And I am glad to say I would do it all over again. I did something different and although the response may not have been the one I hoped for, I have taken something much more precious from this. My freedom.

I realized as I was walking through this that I was afraid of being rejected. I, like many, have dealt with rejection in my life but I was letting myself be enslaved by my fear of it. I have lived life worried about other's perception of me too often. I felt as though I was being led around by a ring and chain in my nose to the next spot in my life based on whether or not I thought someone would accept me. When I tell you that is an oppressive and depressing way to live, that does not even begin to describe the unfulfilled, painful existence attached to  the foul principality of rejection. I also felt as though there were a bit and bridle in my mouth guarding my words so that I would, at times, find it hard to choose words, for fear of being misunderstood and rejected. Well, no more.

My eyes have now been opened. I know this is an area of weakness for me, but I am not defeated by it. I refuse to let the thought of rejection keep me from the life I am to live. Jesus did not give up heaven, live His exemplary life, die on a cross and resurrect so that I could wallow in a defeated state. I repent. MY NAME IS VICTORY! I know that I am a part of a greater whole, so there are others who need me to get up and go forward. I am not my own, I was bought at a great price therefore I honor God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 7:23) and live in His perfect love which casts out every fear (1 John 4:18-19) whatever form it chooses to come in. Moving forward!