Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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It Would’ve Been Enough: Celebrating Easter Weekend

simeon-muller-3505For a number of years, a group of friends and I celebrated a Christian Sedar meal in honor of Passover. It was such a special time, and I think about it every Easter. There were many highlights in being a part of that local church and ministry, and this was certainly one of them. A friend in the group grew up in Israel, and therefore, had a lot of knowledge and practice in participating in a Sedar meal, so he shared that with us.

If you aren’t familiar, Sedar is a meal that marks the beginning of Passover. The feast, which lasts several hours, tells the story of the Israelites journey out of Egypt toward freedom. It’s filled with narration, participation, imagery, and a lot of symbolism because the elements of the meal represent various portions of the text. It’s typically a multi-generational meal, in order to relay the story to children in a meaningful way, and a wonderful opportunity to give their faith more context.

Christians, however, know that the story doesn’t end there. So the Messianic version continues through to the sacrifice of Jesus. You can read the script and learn more about it on this website.

Perhaps my favorite part of the ritual came with the “Signing Dayenu,” when you are asked to give thanks and celebrate the salvation Jesus provides. “Dayenu” means “it would’ve been enough for us.”

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The version we used was longer than this one, but essentially, it continued building on all the things that were done for us, and repeating how each would’ve been enough. And then you shout it out at the end.

Unfortunately, many of us, myself included, fall into the trap of always wanting more than we have. Sometimes we focus on what is lacking, rather than what has already been given. This refrain is one that reminds me of my abundance, and I truly want to remember that each of my blessings would’ve been enough. And yet, He continues to give.

It’s Good Friday. We’re finishing up Holy Week with the culmination of the death and resurrection of Jesus. If the story had stopped with Friday’s crucifixion, it would’ve been enough. But, we are eternally grateful that it did not. Jesus was raised, and our salvation was made complete. And that was certainly enough.

Yet each day begins again, and we receive more love, more grace, and more purpose. He continues to amaze us.

Enjoy this weekend. Remember its purpose. Celebrate.

And on those days when you get caught up in the notion that you need more _________, repeat to yourself, “It would’ve been enough.”

Happy Easter!


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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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The Ministry of Reconciliation

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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


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#IFgathering2016: Quotes and Notes

Just got back from Austin! It was a fun event, and I loved making new friends and discovering new speakers and resources. God showed up and big and small ways, as He always does. He is faithful.

It was a powerful statement to see over 2,000 women gather, get equipped and be unleashed to live God’s calling on their lives. And there were over 100 countries watching from over 2,000 live streams all around the globe! It is quite the community.

Here are my notes from a number of the speakers. And if you’d like to watch the live stream recordings, they are free until tomorrow evening at www.live.ifgathering.com. Enjoy!

 

Jo Saxton

  • Jesus is the redeemer of your life. Jesus is the one who restores your purpose.

Jennie Allen

  • When you have nothing to prove and nothing to protect, you have freedom.
  • We are like Peter. We are zealots and sinners.

Ann Voskamp

  • There is a space and place for you at the table. There is no disgrace.
  • Jesus first miracle was at a table, a gathering.

Eugene Cho

  • John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There are a lot of theological issues we can disagree on, but this isn’t one of them.
  • Is it possible that we’re more in love with the idea of follow Jesus than actually following Him?
  • John 13-17
    • To follow Jesus is to know that He loves you.
    • To follow Jesus means that we hear His voice.
    • To follow Jesus is to love people.
    • To follow Jesus is to usher in the Kingdom of God. (Gal 3:28)
  • Listen to the Holy Spirit first.
  • If you believe the grass is greener on the other side, maybe the Holy Spirit is telling you to water the grass you’re standing on!

Bianca Olthoff

  • In following Christ, and in times of trial, we may not understand the why, but we must know the Who.
  • John 11:1-32 (Lazarus)
    • The challenge in the midst of the chaos is to still believe.
    • When we change our posture, and fall at the feet of Jesus, we are changed.
    • If he doesn’t heal, will you still believe?

Vivian Mabuni

  • Let the Bible be your primary source of Truth.
  • Read your Bible with intention.
  • Read like the Word points you to God, not for what you can get out of it for yourself.
  • We tend to think of the fruit as the blessing, but the vine is the real blessing—our relationship with Christ.

Rebekah Lyons

  • The Bible gives you what you need to push back the darkness.
  • There is a boot camp required for the next phase of what God wants you to do.

Esther Havens

  • When time is short, pick one scripture to meditate on throughout the day. Also try an audio version to have the Bible on the go.
  • What would happen if we didn’t care about being known (famous), but only about making God known?

Margaret Feinberg

  • Color or mark up your Bible, if needed. Make it yours.
  • It takes seven years to produce the first fruits/wine at a vineyard. It takes perseverance.

Shelley Giglio

  • Luke 8:1-3, 17:11-17
    • Mary Magdalene was cured of demons, and she was also present at the death and resurrection of Jesus. He surrounded himself with all kinds of people.
  • John 19:25
    • Sometimes we don’t know what to say or do for hurting people, but we can simply be near them.
  • John 20:11-18
    • We can be saved by Jesus, but sometimes we don’t recognize Him.
    • Mary didn’t recognize Him until He called her name.
    • The next thing He said to her was, “Go.”
    • Your role in the Kingdom is at its best when you can tell people about Jesus.
    • Believe. Engage. Respond.

IJM Staffer (We were asked not to give her name.)

  • Isaiah 61 (a garment of praise from brokenness)
  • Pain turned into hope.
  • If the speaker’s life had gone perfectly, or as she wanted, she would never have been part of this work.
  • Sometimes we are more ok with letting our flesh rot than showing another person and asking them for help.
  • We’ll search for anything, even garbage, to cover up our pain. (part of her personal story)
  • Giving a garment of praise to someone else, sharing it, is life-giving.
  • We need to be a source of God’s love to those without hope.
  • Quoting Gary Haugen, “If the bad guys are ganging up, why can’t we?”

Melissa Russell

  • IJM is making slavery too hard to do good business.
  • Holding people accountable to crimes is what will change the system.

Jen Hatmaker

  • Jesus told his disciples to love well again and again. It sounds easier than it is.
  • Some people we find easy to love, and can easily leave God out of it.
  • Loving the hard people is what points others to God.
  • Jesus loved everyone with touch, presence, proximity, dignity and as a friend.
  • When we love people well, we love them as friends and equals. There is no agenda.
  • Power, fear and superiority keep us from loving others well.
  • God’s Truth will provide you with the how and why of loving well. If you get push back, you’re probably doing it right.
  • Jesus was scandalous and reckless with His love!

Angie Smith

  • I don’t want to have spent my life trying to look like other Christians instead of trying to look like Christ.
  • Story of Isaac’s almost sacrifice (Genesis 22) is the first time the word, “love” is used in the Bible. And the same word/context is used later to describe Jesus’ sacrifice.
  • 2K years later, Jesus was crucified in the same area as God provided the sacrifice for Abraham and Isaac.
  • In times of testing, have you been more focused on the thicket or the cross? We aren’t promised the ram, only the Lamb.

David Platt

  • John 17
  • Where has God placed you? Recognize your unique place.
    • God loves people not only so much that He gave us His son, but He sent you our uniquely and with authority. Don’t keep this love to yourself!
  • Realize what’s at stake for those around you.
    • It may sound hateful to say to others that Jesus is the only way out of Hell, but if you believe it, it’s hateful not to share it.
  • Remember the simple purpose God has given you: make disciples.
    • Jesus’ revolution revolved around 12 men.
    • You don’t need a blog or movement or website or to be famous: you just need to make one disciple. What if we all just made one each?
    • Love makes you do strange things!

Jennie Allen

  • We exist for the glory of God and the good of the people.
  • Jesus walked in surrender and obedience.
  • Acts 2:42
  • Its not about what happens in this room at this event. It’s about what happens when we leave.
  • People need to see a compelling reason in you for why they should know Jesus.

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Special shout out to Be The Bridge! Join us in racial reconciliation!


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Interrupted: Book Review

InterruptedI just finished reading Jen Hatmaker’s book, Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity, last week. Ummm, pretty FANTASTIC!

If you aren’t familiar with Jen, you need to become part of the fold. She’s funny and smart and honest, and most of us regular Christian gals just wish we could be friends with her. Jen’s most popular book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, is one you may be more familiar with. It was where I first formed my girl crush. Or if you are an HGTV junkie, you may know her from My Big Family Renovation.

So, she recently re-released Interrupted, and I thought that now was finally the time for me to read it. Soooo glad that I did. It is an inspiration to me for sure, and maybe it will be for you too.

It tells the story of her entry into social justice, and consequently, how she and her husband, Brandon, formed Austin New Church. Her story resonated with me on so many levels. We grew up in church, lived pretty comfortable lives, did lots of ministry work, worked our way toward what we thought was success . . . and were still left believing that, even though life was very good, there had to be more to this life of faith. We were both sort of blindsided with social justice, but now see it as a calling and glad it has wrapped itself around our hearts.

If you are a Christian and at least curious about social justice on some level, I highly recommend this book. It’s a great starter and entry point. She does a beautiful job of laying out scripture on social justice, and telling you of her struggle to basically allow God to interrupt her very comfortable life for this new venture. She could’ve say no thank you, but she chose to see God’s leading and embraced it. She lived a life many of us are familiar with, and may need to question in one way or another. She prayed a very simple prayer, and it changed everything. So, let that serve as your warning. 🙂

And even if you are a seasoned social justice advocate like me, you’ll love this book. For all the reasons that I’ve already outlined, and so many more, you’ll find a kindred spirit on this journey. It’ll remind you of where you started, and more importantly, why. And it’ll inspire you to continue your great work. On the days when it feels lonely and hard, you’ll remember you’re not alone.

So, check out Interrupted. Just be prepared for what may come next.

 

(Note: Amazon links are affiliate links.)