Friday, February 26, 2010

Sabbath - more food for thought

Recently I wrote about my musings over the concept and importance of recognizing the Sabbath in my week. Today Pete Wilson tweeted about a resource that may prove helpful in addressing the questions that still linger in my mind and maybe yours.

Sabbath: The Ancient Practices is a book by Dan Allender that goes in depth on the subject.

Thought you might want to check it out too.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gratituesday - a lesson in letting go

What you may know about me is that I'm a control freak. Of course, the first half of the battle is admitting our problems, right?

What you may not know about me is that I'm a biker chic. Not your ordinary biker chic, but I am one none-the-less.

It had been a long while since I had had the opportunity to get away on the bike with my favorite biker guy and just ride. We got a chance to do just that this past Sunday.

I was flooded with reminders of why I love it so much.

First, when you're out on the bike it's just us and the bike and the road. No distractions. None of the normally multiple things I carry with me everywhere I go - no purse, laptop bag, daytimer. (OK, so I take my phone... there might be an emergency! And, this is a "lesson in letting go." I've obviously not arrived fully.)

Second, it gives me space to rest my mind, think and pray. I usually sit back and have a chance to just be - no responsibilities other than leaning left or right at the appropriate times.

But the one thing I love most about being out on the bike is what God teaches me about faith and trust as we ride.

The area we live in is definitely not biker friendly in my opinion. Traffic is crazy and crowded and fast. But as I sit on the back of the bike and we take off I am reminded of what it feels like to truly let go and let someone else be in charge.

Rather than being filled with the anxiety and fear that fills my heart often in other situations, I can really relax knowing a couple of things.

My driver can be fully trusted. He loves me and will do everything in his power to keep us safe as we ride.

Also because he loves me he'll intentionally go out of his way to take routes that are not only safe but beautiful just for my sheer enjoyment.

While I do avail myself to as many pieces of "saftey" equipment as possible, I realize that they really offer false security. The sissy bar and my helmet will likely offer limited protection in the event of something going wrong. My only real security is in the driver keeping us out of that situation.

I do catch myself occasionally closing my eyes when the ride gets filled with complications (too much traffic, bad weather, or any other potential hazard) but when I do I know that we're still safe because again, I'm not the one who's in control.

Finally, the point of the ride is me being with the driver, my husband. It's all about us having time to be away from it all, just the two of us.

As I ride I think about those things and I think about God and the fact that all of these things and more can be said about the ride He has me on in this life. So, as I head into my new work week, I'm thankful for lessons in letting go and I'm challenging myself to take the ride this week eyes wide open and holding on tight as God takes me down the next stretch of the journey.

What lesson have you had recently in letting go?

[image by dave77459]

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gratituesday - Sabbath

If you, like me are in any form of ministry, you know that the Sabbath is a day that is to be set aside as holy.

Maybe, though, you're like me in another way and wonder a bit about this.

Those of us in full-time ministry as staff work on Sunday. It's just part of the deal.

We also tend to be workaholoics. Ministry work is not 9-5 no matter how hard you try to make it fit in a time frame. Ministry = people and people will need you (and rightly so) at times that are outside of your ministry calendar blocks.

So, how do you do it? How do you work faithfully in your ministry to a degree that allows you to put your head on your pillow at night and know that you've given it 100%? But also how do you find a Sabbath in which you can regularly, and frequently (every 7 days) rest.

I don't have the answers. I am very much wrestling with these questions in my life and ministry. Here are some thoughts that I've had in my wrestlings:

1. Truly resting my mind from my ministry and work responsibilities is one of the best things I can do to improve myself for and in my work. When I go non-stop my brain becomes a tangled mess and I'm not nearly as efficient or productive as I can be. When I come at my work rested I have more optimism, more ideas, more grace, more direction, more clarity and more love. But it's easy to forget how much this benefits my work.

2. Someone recently gave me some advice that was given to him. One day you will leave your church and you will leave it with only two things: your relationship with God and your relationship with your spouse. This was a powerful thought. It motivated me to want to invest wisely. If these are the things that remain then I want to pour into them in a huge way. So I'm working hard to be present - really fully present - when I'm spending time with God and with my husband.

3. Turning my ministry/work brain off is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I've learned that there are things I can do to help me leave work at work. I have times in my day and week that I ignore my phone and laptop altogether. They're always on. They're always near by. But there are times I just tuck them away and forget them for a few hours. If there is an emergency, someone will find me. If not, I can return the call, email, tweet or comment later.

4. I've also learned that as music can be a great tool to help me focus on God or communicate a truth in a service, it can also be a great tool to remind me how much I love my family. On my drive home if you were listening in, you'd hear the songs that I love that remind me of my husband and my children. This almost always makes me want to get home faster and has a smile on my face as I walk in the door.

There is some interesting food for thought along these lines in Anne Jackson's book Mad Church Disease. If you haven't read it yet, it's a good place to start.

Recognizing the Sabbath, in all honesty, is one I get wrong more often than I get it right. But, I can tell you that when I've gotten it right I know to the core of my being why God put it in the top 5 of the Big 10.

When I get it right I am truly grateful for a God who knows my needs way better than I know my own.

So, when is your Sabbath? When was the last time you really rested?

[image by fusiasa]

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


This will come as no surprise to any of you who know me... I'm a systems girl. I love having a I require a plan. The lack of a plan will throw me completely off kilter. So, this Tuesday I am truly grateful for Systems.

Perhaps I take systems to too much of an extreme, but there really are some significant benefits to having systems in place:

1. It's about the goal!
Systems allow you to focus your mental attention on the what of what you're doing rather than the how. They keep you on task.

2. Order from chaos
When approaching a particular goal (e.g. a production, a web redesign, the building of a new team) the number of "to-dos" can seem and be countless and overwhelming. Creating a system makes this less intimidating and gives you clear direction on where to start.

3. Auto pilot
There will always be days when we just have "off" days. Staying on goal on an off day can be at the very least challenging. A system allows you the luxury of going on "auto pilot" and not losing speed.

In the past year I have put systems into place for service planning, marketing, and team development. They have moved my goals for my ministry much further along than before. A plan truly is a beautiful thing, as long as you work the plan.

I recognize that systems come entirely from the organized side of this Organized Artist. What do you artists think?

[image by anthony mattox]

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Follow up to Tools of the Trade: Ziti

This morning I was sorting through my many thoughts from last nights meeting as I also sorted through silverware, pots, pans and plates.

Last night was really fun! There is something to be said for sharing conversation around a meal rather than around a conference room table

Here are some things I noted:

1. One of the most important actions I could participate in was listening. Leading, like everything else has a time for speaking and a time for listening. Last night some of the ways I felt we made the most progress was for me to listen.

2. The guys around my table are deeply invested in making the arts at Cypress work. These are folks who don't stop short of investing not only their skills and time but often even their funds directly into making things in the arts at Cypress better.

3. They had great ideas. I walked away from our meeting with two pages of implementable ideas. Ideas that will improve our services and improve our serving.

What have you done to hear from your team members on their thoughts for the team? I would strongly encourage sharing a meal and some laughs together. It's a great use of time and energy and hopefully a way to not only make a meeting not look like a meeting but a way to show your appreciation for your team.

[image by E.A. Sanabria]

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Tools of the Trade

Today my tools of the trade are MS Entourage - my out-of-body brain, my china and a pan of baked ziti.

Ok, I realize this is a less than normal combination of items, but it is exactly what I believe my team needs.

Entourage as I've explained before, is a magnificent tool that I use to organize not only my time and contacts, but the Project Center truly rocks at helping me stay on top of large projects involving lots of people, events and tasks. Today I must have spent more than 1/2 my work day in just that software.

Tonight however, I'm hosting a meeting of a different kind. I want to have a chance to get to talk with team members, get to know them better, understand their hearts for our ministry, empower them to serve and lead even better. That kind of conversation feels odd to me surrounded by flip charts, laptops and budgets. Instead it feels like a dialog around my dining room table.

I'll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, do you have any of your meetings like this? How do they work for developing your relationships with your team members? What is the long term impact on your team?

Well... I'd better go, can't let the garlic bread burn!

[image by joebeone]

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Gratituesday - A Cheerleader, Challenger, Friend

Sunday morning we sang the song God of This City. I stood on the front row of the auditorium with tears leaking from my eyes. It is a powerful song. But for me it holds extra power because of a friend who sang it with me the first time we used it in a service.

My friend, Cheryl Khan, was a spiritual leader here at our church. She served on many teams including several within Cypress Arts.

She served as a mentor for me, she was an incredible cheerleader for our teams, our ministry and even for my leadership.

Cheryl was constantly trying, learning and excelling in new things. From studying to become and practicing as a lawyer, exposing herself to different cultures and experiences through travel, to creative endeavors such as cropping, cake decorating, acting and singing she wanted to constantly grow and constantly give back to her world around her.

She would regularly find resources that she felt would grow me as a person and as a leader and get them in my hands. She had the beautiful ability to see things as they could be and the tenacity to not settle for second best. She was not afraid to let me (or anyone) know when I was dropping the ball or not living up to my potential. She spoke the truth to me. I needed that in my life.

A year ago today Cheryl went to be with the One of whom we sang "There is no one like our God." And Sunday, as I sang those words again, I thought of her and how much I miss her on my teams, in our church but mostly in my life. I sang the words knowing that now she truly knows the full meaning of them.

So today I am very grateful for the influence Cheryl Khan was and in many ways still is in my life. I hope and pray that you too have someone who will challenge and cheerlead you. If you don't, persistently look for that person. You and your ministry will be better for it.