Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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My Word for 2017

vertical-logo-w-taglinelargeThis year’s word was easy, peasy! I saw it coming from miles—actually, months—away, and I’ve been very excited to share it with you. But it took way more prep work than usual.

The word, you ask? SIGNIFY.

And that is because it’s my new business name! If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that I left my full-time job last May to start my own company. Now, I serve cause-focused organizations through writing, consulting and strategy. I want to help these purpose-driven companies improve their marketing and business communications so they can focus and shine. And I especially love helping small businesses get noticed and grow. You can read more about the background of my business here.

Since I’ve been practicing a word for the year tradition for a number of years, I used the same criteria to choose my business name: I like single words with multiple meanings in the form of a verb. It took me several months to figure out my organization’s name, but I’m very happy with it. And the website just launched yesterday, which is the prep work I mentioned. It’s been quite the adventure so far, and I’m sure that will continue!

So, basically, even though I had this business the latter half of 2016, this means that 2017 will be focused on getting this business off the ground and running. I have been very blessed to have spent the first seven months working for friends, and that sustained me. But I knew that wasn’t realistic for the long-haul, so that meant building a website and all the bells and whistles that came with it.

My verse for the year is one I hold very near to my heart. It’s one that continues to inspire me, has influenced my business, and especially seems like a good motto to live by these days.

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

There you go! That’s it. My word for the year. As always, I can’t wait to see what the year has in store, and how I’ll view it through the lens of SIGNIFY.

You can read about last year’s word, RENEW, right here, if you’d like.

Did you choose a word for 2017? If so, I’d love to hear it!

___________________________________________________

If you’re new to this whole word for the year thing, it is basically a way to take a proactive stance to the year. Instead of just arriving in December and taking stock of what happened, having a word of the year is a way to be proactive. We all have goals, wishes and hopes for our year, and sometimes those happen, and sometimes life gets in the way. Having a word for the year helps me to be intentional with my days and my time, and sometimes it also helps me make decisions that help to define outcomes. It’s a practice that some of my friends and I have done for probably almost 10 years now, and it is always a highlight of my year, especially when we’re able to discuss them together.

If you haven’t done this before, and want a little more guidance, here are a couple of resources to help you out:

One Word That Will Change Your Life

My One Word

Wishing you a joyful and productive 2017!

 

(Amazon links are affiliate links.)


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My 2016 Reading List Recap

pexels-photo-46274If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably realize how important acquiring knowledge is to me. I love learning! And up until June, I did most of that through Audible books on my commute. However, now that I work from home, I didn’t make it through as many books as I normally would during a year. That was probably the only bummer about losing my commute. But I made a big attempt during the first half of the year to compensate, and I’ll certainly squeeze in another one or two during my holiday travels.

Here’s my recap:

If you need more suggestions, here are my previous lists:

And if you’re in a short or no commute situation like me, but you still want to learn, try podcasts. I began substituting more podcasts for books since they are shorter, but still convey a lot of information. Here are the ones that top my list:

Interested in trying Audible? Click the image below.

*30 days of membership free, plus two free audiobooks to keep.
*1 credit a month after trial, good for any book regardless of price.
*Exclusive members savings. Get 30% off any additional audiobooks.
*Easy exchanges. Don’t love a book? Swap it for free, anytime. Seriously.

HAPPY LEARNING!

(Note: Amazon/Audible links are affiliate links.)


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Catalyst Conference Notes & Quotes

catalyst-nametag-and-bookI believe this was my 12th year to attend Catalyst Conference here in Atlanta. It’s a great time of learning about Christian leadership, as well as seeing old friends. And, yet again, there were some great moments this year.

Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor of North Point Ministries

  • Jesus didn’t predict a place. He predicted a people. We are very different, but have Jesus in common. they were the same.
  • John 17:20 – that they may be one (which is uncommon fellowship = theme)
  • Disunity disrupts the mission.
  • John 12:34-35, final instructions
  • Unselfish love fuels uncommon fellowship.
  • Mutual submission is the most powerful dynamic in the world.
  • If we miss the love thing, it doesn’t matter what else we might get right.
  • Uncommon = uncomfortable
  • Acts 15 takes place 20 years after the resurrection, and they are still having trouble including Gentiles.
    • One of the most important chapters in the Bible for us to understand.
    • Oneness has to win the day.
    • Immorality tears down unity. Eating is a consideration
    • 600 laws were narrowed down to two so they could participate
    • Jesus sacrificed his life so you could have uncommon fellowship with God. – Romans 5-6

Mike Foster, Founder of People of the Second Chance

  • Just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean you are a mistake.
  • Being able to identify with someone is a powerful thing. “Me too” brings healing to brokenness.
  • We are not defined by our brokenness. We are defined by God’s unfailing love.
  • Romans 9:25

Jen and Brandon Hatmaker, Authors and Humanitarians

  • We have to be willing to go into the hard spaces.
  • We are either in this world for it, or so set apart that we have no voice.
  • I would like to spend less time defending my voice, and more time being like Jesus.
  • The work of justice is not easy. You will be criticized and it will cost you. But it’s worth it.
  • Many of us pray for the Kingdom over and over, but we aren’t willing to make Kingdom moves. – B
  • We need to move from defending God to declaring Hm. – B
  • We need to focus on being good neighbors, and love well. – J

Craig Groeschel, Founding Pastor of of Life Church

  • We have a common enemy, and it is not the church down the street.
  • John 17:20-23
  • We desperately need each other.
  • Unity is not uniformity.
  • We should err on the side of being “for” not “against.” Build your ministry on this.
  • We should give everything we are to strengthen others.
  • We all have something we can give.
  • Lead the way with irrational generosity.
  • We need to love like Jesus loved.
  • I believe the world is sick and tired of hearing about the love of Jesus. I believe they want to see it in action.

Father Edwin Leahy, Headmaster of St. Benedict’s Preparatory School

  • Give up what you want for what WE need.

Brian Houston, Senior Pastor of Hillsong Church

  • It should be an adventure living with, and serving, Jesus.
  • Spontaneity is our friend in the Church.
  • Innovation doesn’t come from sitting and pointing a finger.
  • Criticizing breaks down. Let’s build.
  • Predictability can also be a friend. Example, the word of God is timeless.

Brenda Salter McNeil, Director of Reconciliation Studies at Seattle Pacific University

  • Acts 10: 28-35
  • The Civil Rights movement was born in the Church. #BlackLivesMatter was born in the streets. Why won’t you let it into the Church?
  • We have got to reclaim the credibility of the Church for the next generation.
  • Black Lives Matter is a catalytic event that can be an opportunity for the Church.
  • Catalytic moments are a wake up call.
  • Catalytic events make us ask questions.
  • Look for your invitation into uncommon fellowship.
  • God takes our feeble attempts and uses them anyway.
  • What God wants from us, He wants for them.
  • Scarcity thinking builds walls.
  • God wants all people to flourish.
  • May the generation looking for leadership find it in the Church.

Scott Sauls, Senior Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church*

  • The closer you get to the “other” the closer you’ll get to Jesus. This is a New Testament theme.
  • The hope of the universe rests on an Arabic man who was an outcast and never spoken English.
  • I am the minority Jesus included. (He’s white.)

Propaganda, Hip-Hop and Spoken Word Artist*

  • It’s hard for the dominant cultures to see themselves collectively, and the hurt of individuals you are different from them.
  • You can’t subjugate other image-bearers. to do so, you must assume they are less than human.
  • Implicit biases assumes you already know me without really knowing me.

Soong-Chan Rah, Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary*

  • Colorblindness assumes equality is already at play.
  • Colorblindness removes our individuality. It reduces everyone to the majority.

Mark DeYmaz, Lead Pastor of Mosaic Church*

  • The statistics show us that whites are becoming the minority.
  • If there is no division in heave, why are we allowing it here on Earth?
  • Surely it breaks the heart of God that the Church is segregated by race and class.
  • Jesus had power, privilege and position…and He set it down.

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy at World Relief*

  • The conversation of race is really about power.
  • There is a lot of pain in the people of color cultures that churches aren’t necessarily addressing.
  • They aren’t just issues; they are individuals.
  • American comfort and prosperity in large has been built on the back of the marginalized and people of color who had no rights.
  • By welcoming the “other,” we are demonstrating the gospel.
  • Any time we pursue our own comfort and prosperity over the needs of others, we are doing a disservice to the gospel.
  • Charity removes relationship with those who make us feel uncomfortable.
  • When we talk about refugees, this isn’t a test of our politics. It’s about what we believe the gospel says.

Rachel Cruze, Daughter of Dave Ramsey

  • Quit the comparisons.
  • Being grateful squashes comparison.
  • The road of comparison leads to debt.
  • Debit limits generosity.
  • Where there is no margin, there is no ministry.

Simon Sinek, Best-Selling Author

  • Leadership is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.
  • Time and energy are the most vulnerable things you can give to others.
  • Great leaders have empathy and perspective.
  • Patience is required for the journey.
  • We have an entire section in the book store on self help, but not a “help others” section.
  • Organization health always results in sustained impact.
  • In a healthy org, everyone is convinced that everyone is essential.
  • You begin becoming a great leader RIGHT NOW.
  • Why are we doing? Why are we doing it? Where do I fit in?
  • Everyone knows what THEY are doing but do they know what WE are doing?
    • When everyone knows what we are doing together, most decisions are pre-made.
    • Going through this process is sometimes more valuable than the product.
  • “Why” is the inspiration.
  • Memorable is portable.
  • How does what I do contribute to what we do?
    • This is about the responsibility you carry, not the work you perform.
    • Everyone at your org needs to know your answer.
    • Develop one sentence responsibility descriptions for your direct reports.

 

*These folks were all part of a panel. It was my favorite session in the main conference, and you can watch it right here.

And if you just want some fun moments and entertainment, you can watch Jon Crist’s videos…


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Catalyst Labs Notes & Quotes

catalyst-labs-tag-and-bookOnce again, I attended the annual Catalyst Conference two weeks ago here in Atlanta. My favorite day of the conference is Labs. It’s the day where you get to choose who you want to hear, and tailor the topics more to your interest. I was able to sit in on some great ones this year! Check it out…

Reggie Joiner, founder of Orange

  • When you establish a habit of showing up for others, it may change you more than it does them.
  • You may need to change the way you think about influence. It’s not necessarily success, power, authority, etc.
  • Influence has to be earned.
    • You have to keep showing up.
    • Don’t pass judgement. Press pause.
    • Empathy amplifies the truth. It doesn’t change it.
    • Pause to imagine or pause to interact.
  • When you open the door to Jesus, you ope the door to wherever He takes you.

IF:Gathering Lab 1 (Jo Saxon, Vivian Mabuni, Jennie Allen, Tasha Morrison)

  • Jesus sets our example for racial reconciliation.
  • People of other colors are not our tokens. They need to become friends.
  • John 17, we must be a credible witness – Tasha
  • Creating new laws and amendments are not the same thing as dismantling the system. – Tasha
  • It’s ok for you to listen to someone else’s pain, and not know what to say. But please listen. – Jo
  • It’s ok for you to hear someone else’s pain and not know what to say. But we need to listen. – Jo
  • The Church has been the taillights when it comes to racial reconciliation, when it should be the headlights. Aren’t we the ones who have HOPE through Jesus? – Tasha
  • If you are someone with a platform, maybe you should use it to pass the mic to someone else with more knowledge on this issue. I have a black son, but I do not know what it is to be black. – Jennie Allen
  • Always start with prayer. – Tasha
  • Get to know People of Color as people first. Change happens when we find commonality and develop real relationships. – Tasha
  • Diversify your life in small ways first. – Tasha
  • Reconciliation will cost you. It could be pride or comfort, or even your politics. It’s hard work. – Tasha
  • I can support the police while speaking up for justice. – Tasha
  • Get off social media, turn off the TV, and get some real-life People of Color friends! Don’t try to understand our culture from a media perspective. It’s often wrong. – Tasha

IF:Gathering Lab 2 (Jenni Allen, Lindsay Nobles, Tasha Morrison, Rebekah Lyons, Esther Havens, Liz Curtis Higgs)

  • Romans 12:4-6 Message, Christ’s body and its many parts
  • In each of our life stages, we feel at some point that we are drowning.
  • Guilt and shame are entirely different. Shame is not of God. Guilt needs to get our attention. And guilt is the only time a good, Christian girl can say, “Go to hell!” – Liz 😉
  • Many times we are so overwhelmed in our world, we stay confined there. When in fact, we should get perspective and distraction from other people’s world. We forget that we are all living someone else’s dream. Be grateful for where you are, and run with it. – Esther
  • Look up “Simply Christian” by NT Wright (permanence, proximity and presence)
  • We all need 3:00 a.m. friends. Be the one to lead with vulnerability. – Rebekah
  • Be brave in saying what you need.
  • Your vulnerability is one of the greatest gift you have to give. – Rebekah

IF:Gathering Lab 3 (Lindsay Nobles, Esther Havens, Tasha Morrison, Vivian Mabuni, Jennie Allen, Jo Saxon, Liz Curtis Higgs and Rebekah Lyons)

  • Don’t put the pressure on others to come to you. Go to them. If you are white, put yourself in a place locally where you are in the minority. Sit in it for a while. – Tasha
  • Joshua had to be told to be ‘strong and courageous.’ We all feel inadequate in the beginning of big dreams. – Jennie
  • We don’t have to be afraid of what God tells us to do because He has bigger and better plans ahead anyway. We just have to start down the path. – Liz
  • It’s better to proactively get counseling for a year than to wait and need it for 10. – Jo
  • Your platform is not a place to do your therapy. Go first as a good example, but do it in a good and responsible way. – Liz
  • What are the visuals that people see in your church? For example, are all your missions pictures of white people saving the poor, black people? What does this communicate to your children? – Jo
  • If you have a multi-ethnic or diverse church, it doesn’t mean that you’ve arrived. The issue of racial reconciliation isn’t a box to be checked. It’s an ongoing conversation. – Tasha
  • Your church needs to be a safe place for kids of all ethnicities. If it’s not, the children of color will take impressions, feelings, memories, comments and even micro aggressions into adulthood. I know I have, and so have my friends. The Church should be a place where all feel welcome and wanted. That is what the gospel is all about. – Tasha


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The Ministry of Reconciliation

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 6.26.59 AM

I was excited to visit the MLK Memorial in DC last fall.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, particularly the part about God giving us the “ministry of reconciliation.” To me, that is central to the work of social justice. It is a mantle I have taken up, and carry with me. And it is what comforts me when I’m weary of how people have harmed each other over and over again, but feel the need to take a step forward anyway.

I once heard someone define justice as “God’s way of putting things right,” and I liked that. It makes the word both a noun and a verb, and I believe that’s how we need to treat it to make any real progress.

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)

These verses have rung loudly in my ears the past few days as we heard yet again about the tragic shooting of two African American men, compiled with the devastating addition of the attack on police officers in Dallas. Both are heartbreaking situations that never should have happened. But the question remains, what are we going to do about it?

I honestly think many people just don’t know what to do. It’s not that they don’t care, but they feel stuck in their response. Or maybe they feel conflicted in what to say, or how to react, or where to turn, or simply how not to offend. I’ve felt some of that myself, and I address it a bit here in this guest blog post.

So, if you can relate, I’d like to provide you with just a few resources that I hope will be helpful.

  • The first, of course and as always, is to pray. My friend Latasha started a terrific organization called Be The Bridge, which promotes racial unity and reconciliation through conversations and the Church. I suggest looking through her resources and site. But her first piece of advice for anyone is to pray. Pray for the situation. Pray for your personal response. Most of us live in our own bubbles, complete with people who look and think like us. So, pray for opportunities to make new friends or have these conversations with old friends. I think these are requests God would love to honor.
  • Another thing Latasha suggests is reading books by people who look and think different than you. Additionally, follow these kinds of people on social media, or go to the places they hang out.
  • Continuing along these lines, here is a fantastic conversation by Latasha and IF:Gathering founder, Jennie Allen, that took place on Friday. I highly recommend this 45-minutes as its just an honest sit-down between two friends.
  • This is a great article by Relevant Magazine for understanding the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
  • Check out this article by Kristen Howerton, who is white, which explains the concept of “white privilege.”
  • There are also many terrific books and movies as well. Two books I’ve read in the last year are The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander and Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. And I gotta say, the latter is one of the hardest and most beautiful books I’ve ever read. As far as movies, there are well-known ones like Life is Beautiful and American History X. Here are a bunch more, and it wouldn’t take much research to find others, or you can ask me for more. I have lots to catch up on in this area too, and have books piling up in my Audible Wish List.
  • Pardon the bleeping, but this The Daily Show clip does make some good points while also bringing some humor to the situation. It’s always good to infuse some humor when you can.

There are lots and lots more, but if you need a starting place, hopefully this will provide you with one.

But here’s your disclaimer: I’m telling you now that this can be a messy process. I know that sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re getting outside your comfort zone, which you should in many aspects of life, just remind yourself that you’re doing it to become a better person and more educated. Most often, the people who don’t look like you will be really grateful that you’re making an effort to see life through their lens. And grace will be extended on both sides. Just make a new friend. You’ve done that before. You don’t have initially start with a race conversation. In fact, they might appreciate that too. 🙂

Sadly, I have seen bigotry in action. I have witnessed an actual segregated community south of Atlanta, complete with the literal “other side of the tracks.” I have heard friend’s stories of how they were discriminated against. And even if you missed these things, you’ve probably heard jokes that come at someone else’s expense. We cannot keep pretending these are ok. We cannot keep silent. This kind of harmful thinking often starts in small ways. And therefore, small actions can create change.

When you know these people, not just know of them, you should want to fight for them.

It’s hard work. It’s ugly work. It’s messy work. But it work that matters. And if you follow Christ, you have also been given the ministry of reconciliation. So, what are you going to do about it?

“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be… This is the inter-related structure of reality.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail 


UPDATE on 7/12/16

I’ve also just watched these two online sermons from this past Sunday, and they’re additional great examples to watch about how the Church can address the issue.

North Point Community Church

The Potter’s House