Saturday, January 21, 2017

intentionality 2017: a church divided

Today there were marches all over the world.

Marches filled and led by people who are scared, who want to take action, who want to protect the rights of those who cannot fight for themselves.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

I will say it again. There is nothing wrong with that.

Yesterday, many people rejoiced and were thrilled at the thought of Donald Trump being sworn in as President.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

I will say it again, there is nothing wrong with that.

For anyone who knows me well, they will know that I did not vote for President Trump.
I am not a fan.
I don't see myself being a fan.
And while I wasn't present at the march, I was there in spirit.

So then why, if I am not a fan of who now holds the highest elected office in the land, would I say it's okay for people to rejoice?

Because... Autonomy and Free Will. 

Two things not given to us by a governmental agency, but by God.

Because I am commanded in Mark 12:31 to love my neighbor as myself.

Because I am instructed in Romans 12:15 to rejoice with them that do rejoice and weep with those that weep.

My friend Kyle said recently on a podcast, "How sad of a state are we in as a society that you have to apologize for experiencing what you are experiencing. If anything I can give you in this moment is that you don't ever have to apologize to me. This is a safe place for you just to be who you are and experience what you are experiencing and there is absolutely no judgement or expectations on this side of the table for me." - Kyle Reynolds

Think about that for a minute.

I have been on Facebook a lot today. Trying to wrap my head around the divisive nature of this election. How people who I deem to be the most kind and the most sincere, are the most hateful on social media.

People are scared and upset, and in response, there is either great support or great disdain.

There seems to be no middle ground. And I don't get it. I don't get how we can be so cruel.

But then I thought about the following quote from Ron Ruthruff, and it says, "the further you are away from another person's pain, the easier it is to dismiss it."

When someone's pain doesn't effect you, then you don't care, and it becomes easier to dismiss.

I have seen some people share articles on the election with the hashtags #dealwithit #getoverit

Sweet friends, if I sat in front of you and shared that I am legitimately fearful and sad, would your response be, "Deal with it?"

I certainly hope not.

If you came to me and said you were so excited and relieved by the results of this election, wouldn't it deeply damage our relationship if I said, "You are ignorant and don't know what you are talking about."

I think it would.

But that's the response I am seeing, have seen, and am worried I will continue to see for the next four years and beyond.

Can we sit back and reflect on what our response should be to each other?
Can we own why we feel the way we do and stop expecting other people to be on "our side"?

Maybe ask yourself these questions?

  • Is the possibility of cheaper healthcare more important than the feelings of my neighbor?
  • Is my fear of an unqualified leader a reason to belittle my friends?
  • Is mocking the tenure of a President I disagree make me a better person?
  • Is wishing ill will on the incoming Commander in Chief the spirit of one who seeks after God?

These questions stem only from what I have seen online. And what I've been seeing is starting to become hard to watch.

It's hard to watch because I'm sitting back, and I feel like I am watching the division of a church, not a nation.

Our nation has been divided and at constant disagreement for years.

But this, this animosity between people who say they love Jesus is heartbreaking.

We scream and shout about being "one nation under God," but we can't even be a church that is kind to each other.

People are weeping.
People are mourning.
People are rejoicing.
People are thankful.

What right do I have to determine whether or not that is acceptable?
Who made me the judge?

The Women's March is okay.
People being at the Inauguration is okay.

But you know what is more okay?

Standing up for your brothers and sisters.
Becoming champions of those who have no voice.
Showing kindness and humility towards all people.
Not making up stories about people to justify being unkind to them.

I don't claim at all to be perfect or even semi-good at any of these things. I listen to the radio and rail and scream about how I feel about how nation. I have strong, very strong opinions of our newly elected President, and I absolutely didn't want him in office.

But.... I love my friends. So very very much. I love you guys. And it absolutely breaks my heart that we are losing each other over something like this.

Guys, we can't.

We have to be better. We have to be kinder. We have to be willing to sit and have conversations.

The marches are great. Writing articles is fine. Rallies, bring them on. But it can't stop there.

We have to gather as community and sit around our tables and determine to love others as Christ loved the church.

We have to walk justly and live humbly. Romans 1:22 says, "thinking themselves wise, they become fools."

We cannot walk around like we have all the answers.

I mean....

Jesus probably disagrees with us all the time.
He doesn't like our decisions.
I suspect He thinks we are being foolish.
He might even feel attacked by how we treat His children.

But, I've never seen Him post about it on FB, tell me to #getoverit, or unfriend me.

He bids me to come to Him. He listens. He teaches. He loves.

And I want to be more like that....


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

intentionality 2017: 7am naptime

So I'm doing this thing. This intentionality thing.

And I'm tired.

Like, I want a nap within 20 minutes of waking up tired.

But dang it, I'm doing this ish.

This getting up at 6am every morning ish.

Having my devos and coffee ish.

Following my to do list ish.

Get my dang 10k steps ish.

Basically, it's a lot of ish.

This really weird thing is happening though.

I'm liking it...

Being the somewhat literal person that I am, I figured that if I am going to pursue this intentionality thing, I should probably start with my morning routine.

Mornings have always been a bit of a struggle.

I have always said that it's because I am a night owl, and while that may be partly true, it's not all of it.

I am a self-proclaimed procrastinator.

And for awhile, it was real bad.

Currently? It's not terrible, but it still needs some work.

I would read all these self help books and articles about time management and how to be better at getting stuff done and how the most successful people have a 12-step process to ultimate success.

And... if you follow it, all your dreams will come true, you will make a million dollars and someone will give you a unicorn.

horse crap I say....

While I knew that specific philosophy doesn't really happen, I still wanted to get to the bottom of why mornings were so hard for me.

Well, when I finally got to the bottom of it, it floored me.

Since the journey itself is a pretty lengthy story, I will try to be concise.
However, if you want to know the whole story, hit me up, I'd be happy to share.

Here is the jist of it...

Parts of my childhood and adolescent years were pretty traumatic and painful, and I dreaded most of the things I had to do. Even the things I loved.

So I coped. I would wait until the absolute last minute and get stuff done. Which often resulted in me being late, or something being late. I could not handle unstructured time. It was scary.

You'd think that would make me really organized right? Well, it did. Kind of. It made me organized.

But, not for the sake of efficiency, but for the sake of safety.

And they are totally not the same thing. At all.

One day, the Lord revealed this to me. Through a time management book of all things.

I was completely floored.

But, I also felt completely freed of something I had felt bound by for years.

Even though I was experiencing this new found freedom, I had to re-learn and re-discover some things.

I had to be super intentional about planning, scheduling and structuring my life, my job, etc.

I never again wanted to fall back into that habit of doing things for the sake of feeling safe and secure.

About a month ago, I was reading this book. It was about time management.

Go ahead and laugh.... I have a problem....

Something stood out to me though. Something I have read in other books and articles.

It is developing this habit of doing something you love first thing in the morning so that you are motivated to get out of bed and start the day.

Seems easy enough right?

Wrong. It was not for me. It was hard!

I could not narrow down what I loved to do. I wanted to be creative. I wanted to be unique. I was complicating the heck out of it.

But then simplicity happened...

I weeded out the stuff I didn't care about, and I was left with the things that truly bring me joy.

So while sunrises are beautiful, I'm not often motivated to get up to see them. Especially in the winter.

And even though I love getting projects done, first thing out of bed, I'm not thinking about that.

I do tend to look at my phone first thing in the morning. Which is a terrible habit!!!

So I asked myself, what is one thing I am already doing in the morning, and what is one thing I'd like to incorporate.


See what I did there? You're welcome.

Well, I already drink coffee every morning. And the world is thankful that I do.

I also wanted to read my Bible more and do some study each day.

Why not start there?

Devos and coffee. Not a bad way to start the day.

In fact, it's quite lovely.

And not checking my phone for the first hour I am up helps immensely. Nothing interesting is happening on Facebook at 6am. Nothing.

A couple weeks ago at church, my pastor mentioned how we should be worshipping the Lord like the birds do. First thing in the mornings.

That really resonated with me. I mean, I've heard my whole life that I should have my devos in the morning. And usually it was followed with a "it builds character."

But this idea that nature itself worships Him first, and that I should to for that very reason, stuck with me.

My pastor also said, "If you worship Him first thing in the morning, you will worship Him all day long."

And that was just such  a beautiful picture to me. The thought of worshipping Jesus all day long because that is how I started my day.

Don't misunderstand, it's been a challenge.

And this morning, I almost went back to bed.
Weekends are also hard, because I don't have a job holding me accountable to my schedule.
And, I still want a nap around noon.

But, I'm pretty excited to see where I am in about 6 months when this is a solid habit.

Because I think it's really good for me. And I want to be better about putting Him first.


Monday, January 9, 2017

intentionality 2017: 10k steps

It's 9:02pm

I'm supposed to be shutting down all technology.

But I'm not.

I'm blogging.

And why?

Because it's on my schedule, that's why.

And why exactly is that important?

It's important because I am trying to be more "intentional" about keeping the commitments that I make to myself.

Including the one that pushed all my other commitments back an hour.

10k steps.

So, I did this crazy thing. I committed to walking 10,000 steps every single day this month.

And for accountability and fun, I invited 7 other people to do it with me.

So far I am 7/9.

Which could potentially throw this perfectionist into a tailspin, but I am working on that too.....

Especially since by the end of the month, if I have 310,000 steps to my name, then I am still golden!

But because I made this commitment to myself and to seven other people, I trekked outside at 7:30pm this evening to get 'dem steps.


I really didn't want to. I wanted to keep eating the pizza that I brought home.

And before you ask... yes. it was vegan. AND gluten free.

Back to my steps....and the fact that I risked my life in the dark to get them. Just kidding. I live in the suburbs.

Moving on....

Here is what I am learning so far.... I have to schedule them.

And if I don't schedule them, they don't just magically happen.

Because let's be honest, I think I walk WAY more than I actually do each day.

Like, if you were to ask me what my step count was when I left work, I would've guess around 7,000.

Was it 7,000? No. Not even close. I was barely at 3,500


But like I said, I have to schedule this time in my day. And it's not easy. But I am reminded once again, that if it's important to me to get these steps, then I will make it happen.

A college professor once said, "We make time for that which is important to us." At least I thought he came up with that. And I seriously thought he was so wise.

Until I was listening to a public speaker years later, and he used the exact same quote, AND gave credit to C. J. Mahaney.... Plagiarism is still bad... m'kay?

Regardless of where the quote originated, the principle is still the same, and resonates deeply with me.

Because I can be a bit of a procrastinator. And while I have heard countless people say they do well under pressure, I don't really believe them. I don't believe them, because I used to say the same thing.

Pressure might cause me to get the job done, but pressure doesn't yield the best results. Pressure usually breaks things.

Glass. Wood. Your sanity.

Preparation and planning however, that is how I've truly yielded the best results.

Let me break it down this way....

If I get to January 31st, and I try to get all of my steps in at the last minute, there is no possible way that is going to happen.

You see, I can do about 10,000 steps in an hour. 24 hours in a day. 240,000 steps. You get the picture.

But, if I schedule an hour a day to get my steps in, then I am sure to get to my goal AND have time for everything else I am doing.

Working, preparing to go back to school, reading awesome books, eating pizza, etc... You know, important stuff.

It's now 9:22pm and I have some mint peach tea to go drink.

I also need to keep my technology down to a minimum or I'll be failing at that too....



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

intentionality 2017: tote bags and childhood vows


What a week. Literally, what. a. week.

I've told the story like 50x already, so I will abbreviate for times sake...

Here we go...

My car was vandalized.
aka, my window was smashed into a million pieces...

My new purse was stolen. #lame
In it was my planner... gasp

Someone had a great time at the mall.
That someone was not me.

I started this steps challenge.
It's 27 degrees outside.
Now I'm sick.

I decided not to watch tv for a month.
Grimm starts on Friday and I'm missing the Bachelor.

I decided to start getting up at 6am.
But there is coffee, so that's cool.

I'm not using my phone after 9pm.
Buzzfeed was my bedtime story... not anymore...

The garage door broke this afternoon.
I'm parking outside.
Did I mention it's 27 degrees? woof...

Please rowdy neighborhood hooligans..... be kind to my car....

I mentioned in a previous blog post that my biggest fear when I was in my early twenties was that someone would get ahold of my Whole Foods hot bar receipts, steal my identity and ruin my non-existent credit score.

Oh the irony.

Here I am... Being a responsible adult with insurance, an emergency fund, a good credit score, a PLANNER, etc...

And you know what?

None of that mattered.

Being "prepared" didn't stop my car from being vandalized. Being responsible didn't get my things back.

Did it soften the blow? Make things a little easier?

Sure. Absolutely.

But it didn't stop it from happening...

When my dad died, I made a vow to myself.

I made a vow that I would do my best to be absolutely perfect.

Never messing up. Never doing anything wrong. Always being prepared.

That way, if something bad happened, I could say with all certainty that it wasn't my fault.
And maybe, just maybe it wouldn't hurt so bad when it did.

But you know what? That's crap...

On Friday evening, I'll admit, my attitude was alright. I wasn't pissy, or bitter, or angry.

I truly wanted to be compassionate and forgiving towards the person who stole from me.

I was also taking comfort in the fact that I had renter's insurance that I thought would cover my stolen items.

But guess what? It didn't.... Something about a deductible.... #lame

And then I cried. On the phone. With the Allstate agent.

I shuddered. He didn't know what to say.

It was basically the most beautiful moment you've ever seen.


You see, I had done everything right. I was prepared. I was responsible. And it didn't make the disappointment any less disappointing.

I think it's time I let go of that vow. And it's going to be hard.

I had a whole list of things I have to be thankful for instead of dwelling on my dang purse, but I think I want to camp out here for just a minute more....

We all make vows. Vows that can extend back to our earliest childhood memories.

Especially if any of our memories are traumatic. Then you really got yourself some vows.

At the heart of my vow to avoid pain via perfectionism was this...

Feeling my pain wasn't safe. Not only was it not safe, but feeling it was wrong.

In my Bible study this week, I was studying Psalm 139. And I had the hardest time with the verses where David asked God to kill his enemies. Holy smokes David.... calm down.

But really? I was jealous of him. AM jealous of him. He tells the Lord to avenge him ALL THE TIME...

I'm probably not going to ask the Lord to avenge me of my stolen tote bag, because it's just a bag.

Easily replaced. Not the end of the world.

However, I think it might be interesting to dive into what I would've asked the Lord for in my times of deep pain and disappointment had I not made that vow....

And maybe I won't even go that far back.

But I want to be really intentional about allowing the Lord to heal me and help me release myself from these vows.

If my stolen stuff brought me to this, then it's like that verse that says "all things work together for good to them who love God."

My car getting smashed wasn't good.

But my healing process getting a jump start?



Sunday, January 1, 2017

intentionality 2017: twenty hours of television

Here is the scenario...

Elizabeth lives alone. (and yes, I will be referring to myself in the third person. Because it's my blog)
Elizabeth is slightly creeped out by total silence in her basement apartment.
Elizabeth comes home from work and turns on Netflix. You know, for noise.
Elizabeth discovers that all 12 seasons of Criminal Minds in on Netflix.
Elizabeth wastes the rest of her life. But it's okay. Because...Derek Morgan.

I don't know if anyone else has come across this, but in the off chance at least one person has, I'm writing about it.

I realized I have fallen into a really unhealthy habit.

Using tv to keep me company.
Using it as my 'reward' for working hard.
Using it as a way to slow down and relax after a long day.

Now, I am not going to hate Netflix, Hulu or any other entertainment viewing platform, because I totally enjoy it, and will continue to do so.

It's just that in my reflective prep for this year of intentionality, I realized how much I was actually watching.

There is this statistic that I read years ago, and it says that for every hour of television you watch, you are 15% less satisfied with your life.

Since that was a few years back, I looked it up again. And while I didn't find that specific stat, I did find one that was slightly more alarming.

An Australian study stated that for every hour you spend watching television, you knock almost 22 minutes off your life.

Let's do math...

I have been watching approximately 20-30 hours of television a week, if I include weekend binge watching.

30 hours x 22 minutes = 11 hours/week

52 weeks x 11 hours = 572 hours/year

572 hours / 24 hours = 23.8 days/year

By watching all that television, I am losing almost 24 days a year.

24 days is a lot...

That's more than my vacation time and sick time combined....woof

I mean, I could get a second job with the time I would have on my hands if I stopped watching tv.

And that got me to thinking about how I could be more intentional with my personal time.
About what I could do with those extra 20-30 hours a week.

And while I don't think it is particularly healthy to pack those hours with stuff, I do think I will be more satisfied and accomplished if I shift how I spend my time.

Serve Seattle is currently going through the spiritual disciplines, and this month we are focusing on Silence and Solitude.

Last year, I farted out of this discipline super early. aka - I didn't do it at all. And internally, was a whiney little butt about it. I was being selfish. No bueno.

But this year, I want to be intentional about it. (see what I did there? yeah, it'll get old after about a month...)

I want to really spend time finding out why silence combined with solitude is scary for me.

I want to see what Jesus has been trying to say to me, but can't get through because I'm only opening my ears for television, radio and podcasts.

So here's the scoop on how this month is going to go:

No television at all for the next 30 days.
No technology before 7am or after 9pm.

Television is defined as: theaters, home movie nights, Netflix, Hulu and any other entertainment platform.

Technology is defined as: My phone. My phone. and My phone. Email, FB, IG, text messages, etc - that can all wait until there has been a little time with Jesus.

I want to get closer to Jesus.
I want to worship Him more.
I want to read more books and learn.
And most of all, I want to be okay with quiet and silence.

Because I think it'll be really good for me.

I think that by living alone and not having anyone to take care of for the first time in years, I didn't quite know what to do with my down time. Like, when all the tasks are done and everyone is okay, what do you do?

I'm not beating myself up for watching tv, and you guys shouldn't either. It's just that I think I want to spend my time differently. And I want to be intentional about it.

I want to see how practicing simplicity for a year maybe changed my perspective on loneliness and quiet.

I want to see what happens when I just sit with Jesus and learn at His feet.

I want to grow and learn.

Let the month begin.