Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes, and General Mental Mayhem


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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.)

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Living Each and Every Day

466825681I was reading the book of Ruth the other night. The intro talked about Ruth being full of everyday miracles. “God usually works in the ordinary events of everyday life. Miracles do happen, but God regularly accomplishes His purposes and blesses His people through routine occurrences. If we learn faithfulness in the everyday, we are equipped to be faithful when the miracle or crisis comes . . . The everyday and the ordinary can have breathtaking eternal results.” (NLT Study Bible)

Overall, Ruth is a pretty ordinary story, especially when compared to the plagues, tumbling walls and fire-consumed altars all around her. But God is there. He is always there, whether we see or feel Him. Perhaps that’s why so many find comfort in this book. It’s a good reminder to find God in the everyday-ness of life.

Most of life is lived between big events, but there’s still plenty worth celebrating or at least noting. He created us to live fully, and that means the in-between as well. You and I friend, and loads of others, are living in-between what we want our story to be about, what we want to be known for. The days are made up of errands, laundry, bills, work, too much television, long commutes and trying to see all the Oscars Best Picture nominees. (Just me on that last one?) But books aren’t comprised of just a first chapter and last chapter. There are all the words and phrases and sentences in between, sometimes beautiful and sometimes sorrowful, and we can choose to live them or skim over them. We can boldly add more exclamation points, or resign to suffer more footnotes.

There will undoubtedly be days that we just skim by. And that’s okay. Neither of us is perfect. But I pray we will live every syllable with the freedom we have been given.

 

(This post is dedicated to Katie.)


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My 2014 Theme

I’ll be honest. This was a hard one. 175739981Last year, my word came so easily to me. It felt right, from the start. This time, I had the word knocking around in my head before the end of the year, but I really needed to sit with it. I still feel like I need to sit with it.

I normally reveal my theme for year earlier in the month, or at least try to. But this time, I just didn’t feel prepared to write the post. I’m still don’t feel like I’m ready, but maybe that’s why I need to. I need to get it out there. I need to start using this lens to look through the next 11+ months. It’s not necessarily that I feel rushed to put the info out there, but then again, January is, of course, the best place with which to start the New Year. As Maria Von Trapp would say, “Let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start.”

I really liked the momentum I’ve built over the past two years with SIMPLIFY and PRIORITIZE. I wanted to continue in that vain. I wanted to continue whittling down until only the things I needed were present. (Well, maybe what I needed, and an extra pair of cute shoes.) But then I thought, after you prioritize and simplify, what comes next? Well, for me, it will be CLARIFY.

I’ve been sort of writing this blog post all day. I was trying to think of why I’m hesitant to put the old proverbial pen to paper. And I have one ugly thought: I’m scared. I don’t think I’ve ever had that feeling before when dreaming up my word for the year. Actually, I’m not sure I’m having it now. But it could be. Perhaps it’s just indigestion from this cleanse I’m on. I’m still in the exploration phase, as you can see. Maybe I’m scared of what will be revealed, or what it means for me next. I don’t know. So, here I am, word vomiting for all the world to see. You’re welcome.

But there it is: CLARIFY. My 2014 will be trying to find answers to questions I have, and very likely, answers to questions God has yet to plant in my brain. My plan is also to continue narrowing down my stuff, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I honestly have no idea where it will lead. And even more honestly, that is sort of exciting to me.

There you go, 2014. Let’s CLARIFY together and see what happens.

Psalm 37:23-24

New Living Translation (NLT)

23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Why this verse? I thought of others like it and the older, more famous brother, Jeremiah 14:29. But this one won out because I really liked how the two verses fit together, and I really love the second one most of all. I like that it’s honest in that I will stumble, but still comforting. And unlike cousin verses, it describes less God Omnipotent and more Immanuel, God with us. He’s in it with me.

So, bring it on 2014. We’re ready.

For those of you new to reading about my tradition, every year in January, some of my friends and I determine “words for the year” or themes. We use our theme as a lens throughout the year, much like a a guide. We feel it leads us to be more proactive, or intentional, with our lives and time. It is loosely based on the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Whereas most people only seem to look back on the year after it has passed, we allow this to help us look forward as well. We believe it helps us not just allow life to happen to us, or pass us by as we often describe time, but to be active, thinking participants.


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Storyline Conference Highlights

IMG_1564I’ve been a fan of Don Miller ever since a friend suggested that I read Blue Like Jazz shortly after it’s release. I immediately felt like I could be friends with this guy. Since then, I’ve read every one of his books, and consider A Million Miles in a Thousand Years one of my all-time favorite books. So when Don announced he would start hosting conferences based on this material, I was ready to sign up.

And that’s just what I did last month. Since he recently relocated to Nashville, one of the Storyline Conferences each year is now held there—a mere four hours from me. It was a really fun two days. It was a little like, and a little unlike, other conferences I attended. Don describes it as sort of group therapy and I have to agree. 😉

The basis for the time is that you are looking to develop a plan to discover and live out your God-given story. Before and after guest speakers, Don takes you through the process, much like he discovered along the way in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Another element of a story is added in each session. Some of his material also comes from “logotherapy,” a therapy which helps you discover meaning and purpose, hence the therapy session. The guest speakers do some instructing, but I gathered that mostly you are to see living examples of the material Don presents. There were some really awesome speakers. And then, of course, because it’s Nashville, there were local musicians who contributed to the agenda.

Honestly, I still have A LOT of thinking to do about what was said over the weekend. But I really appreciated what I heard, and am looking forward to more reflecting on it. I had already started making some baby steps in my story before arriving, but I still have a long way to go. And I have the homework from the conference to prove it! It was a very affirming time, though, and I know it will help me in the future.

Here are a few of the pearls I pulled out of the conversation:

Don Miller

  • Living great stories involves changing the way we approach life. To live a great story, we need to know who we are, what we want, what conflict we will need to engage and then we must take action.
  • If people don’t find purpose, they will pursue pleasure. – Viktor Frankel, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor (Invented “logotherapy”)
  • God did not create us to live in reaction, but to be co-creators of a meaningful life.
  • We are not our failures—or our successes.
  • Love your calling, not the applause of the crowd.
  • Your story is not about you. It’s about God using you to save many lives.
  • When you find a passion or purpose, you realize all the parts of your life have been leading up to it.
  • In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning. – Viktor Frankel
  • What if God created you because the world needed to feel the impact of your story?

Becca Stevens, priest and founder of Thistle Farms

  • We learn more from mercy than judgement.
  • Love heals.

John Richmond, Federal Prosecutor at Department of Justice Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit

  • We are not entitled to anything. Every breathe is a gift.
  • Got wants to rescue us from thinking we have to measure up.
  • The ruler you choose matters, because it will rule you.

Shauna Niequist, author

  • God can give you a new name and a new story.
  • Hold up the hard stories in your life that have no place anymore. Lay them down and make room for new ones.
  • What are the old stories you are letting stand in your way?

Bob Goff, Founder of Restore International, Lawyer and Author of Love Does

  • See people for who they are becoming.
  • We’re afraid of our calling because we’re afraid to fail. Fail at the right stuff. Fail trying.

Joshua DuBois, emails daily devotions to President Obama

  • When we play the victim, life becomes about us.

Ryan Forsthoff, The Leadership Foundation

  • The most powerful moments in a person’s life are the moments in which they realize what they are capable of.
  • Great leaders recognize and respond to the capabilities of those they lead.

 

Don began and ended the conference with the question, “What will the world miss if you do not tell your story?” Um, that’s a pretty powerful question. I’m not there yet, but I’m pondering it. It definitely shapes the way I see things. I spend too much of my time comparing myself to others, and I think that was one of the things this conference does best. It reminded me that God created me. He took the time to form and shape me. I’m here for a reason. I better not waste it.

So…what would the world miss if you did not tell your story?


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Political (Insane) Asylum

At least once every four years, I wish I could seek asylum somewhere else. I wish I could skip campaign season and vote from afar.

I really can’t stand politics. So much fighting, slander and backbiting–from all sides. Tell me what you believe, not how bad the other guy is! I’ve seen some really nice people (both Christian and non) say some pretty horrible things when it’s under the guise of a political opinion, as if that makes it ok. Many people simply change when they start talking politics and, frankly, it scares me. So I tend to stay away. I have only a few people that I’ll discuss politics with because they can be calm and objective. Those last two adjectives are key, and rare. Half of those conversations are just me pumping my friend, Raechel, for information because she’s in law school and a walking political dictionary.

My friend, Daron, has always said of me that I don’t “play the game” and what he means by that is politics. I’ve never liked politics when it comes to relationships or the workplace or church. I frankly don’t see the point. So I simply don’t participate. I try to be me wherever I am, go figure. That’s hard enough, so anything else just seems like too much work.

Don’t read the above and hear me say not to vote, or participate in the process or do research. I think you should do all of those things. I think they are important because they move society forward. I’m simply saying I don’t like it. But in reality, I don’t have to. It’s not my system, just one I’m a part of. And I am extremely thankful for those who fought for the right for me to do so, therefore I don’t want to take it for granted. I’m not taking it for granted, but I’m not hugging it either. Kinda like when you say you don’t like someone but you love them because Jesus does. 😉

As with many aspects of my life, I just don’t feel I fit into politics. I don’t consider myself a Republican or a Democrat (or an Independent, though I am quite independent). I don’t think that if you’re conservative, you must be a Republican. I don’t think if you’re an environmentalist, you must be a Democrat. I personally feel we are all a little too complicated to fit into on column on a ballot. I try to find who most lines up with my beliefs, thoughts and opinions, and I go from there. (Side bar: if you are unsure who to vote for but want to take those ideas into account, check out www.ISideWith.com. I totally wish they had local and state on here, too.)

With the election season coming up, I ask you to remember only two things before and after November 6.

1. If you are a Christian, please choose what kind of Christian you will be. Will you be the kind of Christian who only checks the box, and then says and does whatever they want regardless? Or will you be the kind of Christian Christ asks us to be? I think all the Christians I know would say the latter. If that’s the case, please remember you are called to pray for your elected officials and obey them. Sure, you can be disappointed that your guy/gal lost if that’s the case, but that doesn’t give you free license to bash and forward hateful emails about the winner. Unity is not uniformity. You can disagree with the person, but you are still called to pray for them and obey them. Make the best of the situation and quit giving the rest of us who are trying a bad name. If more people prayed for their leaders, who knows what would happen? Your leader may just surprise you. And if not, hey, you get the chance to vote him/her out later. But the point is, be the Christian described in the Bible. The other person is not the devil incarnate (most likely).

2. Christian or not, I’ll share with you a little story from Rob Lowe’s autobiography. Fascinating, by the way. There are a lot of jaw-dropping stories in his book, but one of the things I loved most was when Rob described his visits to the White House. The cast of The West Wing was invited several times to visit the White House over it’s AMAZING seven seasons. He says that he visited under two different administrations, a Republican and a Democratic. And he said that he was struck by the fact that, when it all came down to it, these were guys who were fathers and just doing what they thought was right. It didn’t mean he liked everything they did. But he truly believed that these men were handling a very hard job the best they could, and were simply acting according to what they thought was the right thing to do. I loved that. So simple, yet so profound. We have terms like armchair quarterback (yes, I do know a few sports terms) and backseat driver, but I probably hear more commentary about what people think they’d do as President than anything else. Ignorance, in my opinion. I mean, come on, this is the most powerful person IN THE WORLD. You know what most of us would do in that position? We’d be in the fetal under the desk in the Oval Office praying for our four years to pass. It’s hard work. That’s why hardly anyone runs. When push comes to shove, 99.9% of us don’t want that job–nor should we have it. So, let’s cut these people some slack. You don’t have to agree. You’re entitled to your opinion. I’m not taking that from you. But let’s be careful how we act on that opposition. These are just people who made it to a big-time public decision-making level who, in their heart, are just trying to do the right thing.

If your guy/gal loses, the world will not end on November 6. And if your guy/gal wins, it’s not a time to gloat. Remember, we still have like a whole month after that according to the Myans, so let’s make it good. In all seriousness, though, be a good citizen. We all live here.

Do you research. Participate in the process. Vote.

Just remember to give some grace. Plenty has been given to you.