Anxiety, authenticity, God's word, grace, humility, the gospel, transformation by truth, trusting God, Uncategorized

Contrary to Popular Opinion…

You are not enough.

You read it right.

That’s offensive, huh?

I am NOT saying you do not have worth. I am NOT saying that you do not have value. I am NOT saying you cannot do hard things. I am NOT saying you are not tough. I am NOT saying you are a failure. I am NOT saying you are less than your neighbor.

I am saying that the voice inside you that feels behind, that sees you cannot spin all the plates, that feels less than adequate for all the adulting, that is constantly on a performance wheel that seems to go nowhere…there’s a reason it is there. Our reality and our experience show us that we fall short all the time. We cannot be all things to all people doing all the things all the time. Period.

Maybe the quote should read–you do not have to perform to someone’s version of enough to have value. OR, your value is not defined by the world’s standard or by your performance.

When we feed ourselves the line that we are enough, we are lying about a huge reality in life. We are incomplete, and at the core, I think we know it. That uncontrollable longing that you feel (or run from) when your mind slows, that anxiety in your belly when looking at life, that wondering in your mind about the deepest questions of the universe, that thing that you have tried to overcome over and over and keep missing, those monumental regrets…all of that is pointing to something more and our lack. It is a need we cannot meet or problem solve.

What happens when we grasp the reality that we are not enough?

We don’t want to face it because that tears apart the scaffolding of our lives. We all try to make sense of and build our lives in different ways with the same problem. We may think if we do it perfectly, or if we are useful to others , or if we produce and achieve enough and gain status, or if we dig deep within enough we can construct meaning, if we learn and conquer knowledge, if we come up with a plan to secure life, if we experience life to the fullest and adventure, if we take charge and lead the way for the underdog or if we can bridge the gap for peace that THEN we will be enough. We will be complete.

There is huge freedom in accepting the reality we are not enough even though it is uncomfortable. I think that this is when true Life begins and is lived. We then see a need for truth, strength, and meaning beyond ourselves. We can quit performing and striving and listen.

Why can we not be enough? We go back to the beginning. We look to the Creator who created in His own image; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27) The Image of God: That is very worthy. And, Then, something jarred everything…made it hard, less clear, brought toil, separated us from the Beauty of God and the peace of being WITH God: The whole process began with “did God really say?” “Surely He didn’t mean…He’s lying to you. He is keeping power and honor, love, fulfillment and glory from you–your rightful identity.” Then, the three letter word was born: Sin. We took understanding into our own hands. We defied the One who lovingly created us to commune with Him. We said: We are enough without You.

That leads us to today–the anxiety, the striving, the loneliness, the frustration, the gaining ground only to fall back down, the one-second glories that take longer and longer to achieve. The line of fulfillment we were fed was a bald-faced lie. Our “freedoms” enslave us all the more. It is grace to see that we are not enough.

There’s a problem: We cannot make it better on our own.

The beautiful part of the truth of God’s word? The promise of redemption was hinted at in the same chapter that the Fall of enough occurred. AND…the Old Testament gives the picture of what enough is through the Law of God. That law is the picture of perfection–of God’s character, otherness, set-apartness (I may have made up a word). AND…trying to be WITH and like God by performance was an epic fail. The way we are reconciled to God is through the enough of Jesus…in fact, the perfection of Jesus’s life on this earth AND His death in the place of ours. There were dire consequences for our rebellion and insurgence–death and separation. God, who is rich in mercy, made Jesus who knew no sin, no rebellion, to be sin for us. He was punished, killed, separated from God (whom He had communed from eternity past) in order that reconciliation might be made and in order that those trusting in Him may be called children of God through the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. For those who see they are not enough and put their trust in Jesus work on the Cross on their behalf, they are given new hearts and lives. The One who is more than enough lives in their spirit, guides them, encourages them, reminds them, strengthens them, renews them.

So, in ourselves, we are not enough. We do not have the tools. We do not have the heart. We do not have the strength.

In Him, though. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We find joy, freedom, grace, no condemnation, identity, purpose, hope, and deep and abiding love In Him. That helps us take a deep breath. It helps us feel lighter even when things are HARD and the way is very CLOUDY. We are able to see others in the grace afforded to us instead of railing against them for not being enough. There is freedom in this reality and in the power of God in the midst.

So, where are you today? Striving, surrendering, exhausted, or at peace? I pray that you take your heart and your life to the One that is More than Enough.

Anxiety, authenticity, discipline, grace, margin, sin, spiritual growth, transformation by truth, trusting God

It all started with a “little” project

It all started with a closet project.  Little did I know that it would turn into so much more.  

Our home has more than ample storage, but the problem is we have dumped stuff there.  The stuff that is falling out of the closets and the basement means there is stuff everywhere in our house, as well.  Storage is of no value if you do not use it well. 

That brings me to our downstairs guest room’s closet.  It has looked like this for 3 ½ years. 

I would tidy the middle part of it when things were falling out, but I never took the time to tackle the big job.  It seemed overwhelming and time consuming, and nobody has time for that with 2 active boys, no headspace and a side of tired.  It wasn’t urgent, so it kept getting stuffed around what was urgent.    

This week has afforded a few days where there was no agenda.  It has been a wearying season where there has not been room to unpack my mind and heart let alone a closet that carries baggage that I have to sort through.  I found myself thinking of the closet, and it wasn’t a “should” but a “this would be healthy to do.”

What was in the closet? Letters, pictures, albums (nostalgic girl here), boxes that had not been unpacked since our move 3 ½ years ago, storage bins of art materials, boxes and storage bins filled with random objects where I had to “hide stuff” from company, random throw pillows, important business documents, etc.

I knew it would not be a fast job, and I knew I needed to be mentally and physically prepared to tackle it. 

So, I began taking stuff out which made a bigger overwhelming mess.

There were times I didn’t know what in the world to do next.  I thought—“what have I done? I could be watching Christmas movies, building a puzzle or taking a nap.”  (All my go-to escapes). I toyed with closing the door, and not using the room again.

However, it was time.    It took me a day and a half—going through every box, every paint bottle, every random notebook.  

Thoughtful examination was required to see what should be kept and purposefully used, what should be discarded, and what was worthy to give away.  I examined things that were unfinished projects and asked the hard question—“Am I holding on to this because I ‘should’ or is it a worthy thing to follow through with in this season?” I add, in this season, because that’s where I get myself bogged down.  I see the possibilities in all things, but I end up going nowhere.

Then, I began placing things that I found purposeful back into the closet with a rhyme and a reason.  They are accessible now.  I know what’s there—it is not a mystery.  There is room there to put other things that fit into certain categories.  There is room for a guest to hang clothes and put a suitcase (aka I could actually be hospitable to welcome others).

There was a lot of unusable space in there that can be used now for my art stuff!

As I was walking through the process, I thought, this would be an awesome blog post—there are so many life parallels.  Then, the Lord awakened me at 2 am in the morning and started really dealing with my heart, gulp. 

He asked me to look without background noise or distraction, without the sounds of the day at what I was storing in my life.  Jen, What is superfluous and crowding out what is truly life giving?  What do you think is a harmless habit that literally is stealing room in your soul to have margin and peace?  Where is the baggage that you just keep stuffing (like your closet and basement) that is literally encroaching on every area of your life?  Jen, do you feel peace and purpose or just a lot of noise?  It is time to look and to deal and to see what you want to expel from your heart and your head and what you want to pass on and what you want to keep in an orderly fashion. 

It is scary—actually terrifying—to ponder what is really in our hearts, huh?  It takes time, courage, grit, humility.  The real beauty though, is that the One who created, sustains and redeems us, will guide us in GRACE.  If we will take the time to truthfully and bravely tackle our stuff, He will meet us in the middle of all the piles that seem completely impossible and overwhelming.  He will teach us what to hold on to, what to let go of permanently and temporarily, and what to literally destroy in the trash.  God is not a God of confusion or disorder, but I will tell you, it takes time to sort through the things we have experienced and stuffed trying to handle it on our own. 

We think our fear is telling us the truth, but fear is a liar.  Fear tells us to throw it in there and ignore it—stuff it.  Fear tells us, “He really doesn’t know what He is doing—this is a much better plan to numb yourself or to take control on your terms.”  Fear says, “did He really say or mean this?”   Once we make a habit of listening to that fear, we become weary of substance.  We run out of space in our closets and basements and our junk pours forth into the public areas of life.  We cannot hide our stuff.  There is no margin to deal with it. 

When we walk (however TERRIFIED we are) with The Lord, He who calls you is FAITHFUL to walk with us and transform us.  It’s gonna look messy as we continually bring piles before Him, but it is going to be freeing in all the ways.  He calls us to draw near to Him to sort what is good and purposeful and life-giving and honoring in our lives.  There is space and margin and ROOM when we take COURAGE to go there with Him. 

So, I encourage each of us to look intently into His word and His purposes and lay our lives next to them.  Let us be brave, reach out to others when we want to hide and when we feel that our closet’s contents will literally suffocate us.  The truth is…they will, apart from Him. In the midst of our piles, the truth of the Gospel allows us to draw near to Him with confidence because Jesus has paid our debts with His life and death and resurrection.  He says “remain in me, and you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.”  

community, grace, New year, parenting, thankfulness, trusting God, Uncategorized

2018 Year-End Ebenezer Awards

My counselor often says–“take time to write that down, Jen.”

How can we so easily forget the beautiful provisions and lessons that are so life changing? We have amnesia of the moment.  Whatever is right in front of us gets our attention.

So, I am writing it down–“blogging it forth”–“setting the Ebenezer up” to remind me of moments of thankfulness this year.                                                   It has been a huge year in my heart–growth-a-palooza with a side of a long way to go.  

In NO particular order, the Ebenezers go to…

*A reentry back into writing.  My soul was missing the way that writing makes me dig and process.  For a 7 on the Enneagram (which tries to avoid all pain), you can see this is a healthy practice for me.  I can take myself WAY LESS SERIOUSLY than I did when I started this blog 11 years ago January 1.  

*517VADWLEqL._AC_UL160_514-Br1DhSL._AC_UL160_The Enneagram.  Seriously, I think in terms of these 9 numbers now.  If you are thinking…”oh yeah I took this cute little test on that,” Stop. Right. Now. and get “The Road Back to You” by Suzanne Stabile and Ian Cron.  There are several good podcasts too! A test will not suffice.  This is a helpful tool for understanding and growth!

*The growth of new and seasoned Business Partners on the Rodan + Fields journey.  It has been exciting and such a joy to encourage and grow with these women and my team all over the country.  Even more than ever, I realize that God expanded ministry opportunities through RF instead of closing me R&F(1of1)-59off to them with the disbanding of Women’s Discipleship Concepts 4 years ago.  The highlight was a retreat for some of my directs in April. It ended up, through the Spirit’s leading, to be a time of rest in the Lord, an encouragement for souls on the journey, and time of forming a deep community.

*Puzzles:  I am so thankful that I got a “hankering” for a puzzle one day, and the rest is documented in a big pile of puzzle boxes in our downstairs bedroom.   I know I am a nerd.  Yep.It is a practice that makes me set aside time to just be.  That is sooo important for our hearts, mommas.  (and, PS, I am donating some to an assisted living–in case you think I need to add “puzzle hoarder” to my profile.)


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*The freedom and financial ability to do some fun trips with the boys AND do Boat Club as a family. A little Chattanooga trip to explore for Spring Break, A full-fledged vacation to the beach for a week (first legit vacation we have paid for), some Smokey Mountain fun for Fall Break at Dollywood, Season Passes to Dollywood…  I want presence, experiences, and adventure with my boys.  Who knew that everything would be so expensive???  This has been a HUGE blessing from my continued growth in my RF business.

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*A special trip with my Mom and Sister to go to my nephew’s wedding in Spokane, Washington.  What a beautiful part of the country.  I am so Thankful for time with family.

I loved the enriching conversations that this trip brought with strangers.  I am reminded that God wants us to engage the world with His Beauty and Truth, and we get so bogged down with what’s right in front of us that we miss out.

*My oldest son’s Kindergarten and 1st-grade year…I was so scared.  Sensory Processing Disorder is no joke, and we have worked so hard to help him build resiliency and coping skills. I am beyond thankful for our school, the wonderful teachers and community, our OT, ac6646139525ea749b261b878deb0577Mrs. Kathy, the children’s ministry at our church, and family friends that have encouraged our little guy so much.  He is a different kid than when we started this journey over four years ago.  The motto around our house is “you can do hard things!”  Including the parenting part for Greg and me.  There was a HUGE marker in this journey in December as we got to reflect on how much growth has come in our buddy–HUGE thankfulness to God!

*RF Convention in New Orleans.  It was a beautiful and fun week with 30 members of our team, countless dear friends that are sideline sisters, and friends from all over the country that I have made on this journey.   It was so fun to walk the stage and go to spectacular parties.  Dressing up is fun, and I rarely do that in life! However, It was a IMG_9351monumental week in my heart for none of those reasons.  God intricately brought restoration to so many parts of me, and I straight up was overwhelmed by His Fathering, His pursuit, and His deep love for me.    Someday I might tell the bigger story, but I do not feel released to yet.  I am reminded that He can use anything anywhere to do His work in us.  Hilariously, I had a worshipful time in a city known for its darkness reminding me that His light pierces through our darkness.

IMG_8481IMG_8484*Y’all…I did a scary thing that I dreamed about.  I got the opportunity and encouragement from my friend and business partner, Lindsey, and I pressed go LIVE on a training platform for 180,000 RF consultants. The topic in April was “Times I almost quit: Building the art of resilience,” and the topic in August was “Get Real Thursday: examining the posture you are taking toward business and life.”  I am amazed at the personal growth in public speaking I have gotten over the last year and a half, in particular.  Every time someone asked me to stretch to speak at something new, I thought 2 things:  1) that is not my strength–I don’t do this!  and 2) I don’t have anything special to say that anyone has not said (aka someone else could do it better!)          Here’s the truth…both of those statements are probably true, but we only grow when we stretch to new things.  It is uncomfortable, exhilarating, challenging, full of anxiety, and yet, if I had listened to my fears, I would have missed out in sad ways.        Note 1: Live videos always choose the greatest screenshots–eye roll here.  Note 2:  I also discovered the spray tan the 2nd time around. 

* The growth of my sweet, sassy, smart boys.  I am so thankful that Greg keeps a running list of their hilarious quotes.  Every day I think about the slipping time, and I am sobered by the responsibility and privilege of being their Momma (yep–over my dead body will they call me anything else!!).  Greg is an amazing Daddy–I need him for balance:). As I have read back over the earlier years of my blog, I remember that there was a time that I surrendered that they would not be here.  Maybe it’s my age, their preciousness, or my period of infertility, but I am so thankful for their lives and this opportunity.  

The truth is, as I reflect more, I will remember more.  Why?  I so easily forget the beauty of God’s hand in my life.  What about you?  What are your Ebenezers for the year?   

authenticity, the reason for coming alive, transformation by truth

What’s with the blog, jen?

48412520_229472477953462_6827589204122271744_nI picked a title because it moved me.

It sounded inspired.

 

This is a picture of my life.

I get a whim of creativity.

I start something new, and then I backtrack to contemplate the meaning.

 

The Art of Coming Alive

There are two types of people in this world: people who have a plan and are exact and Me.  I don’t know where you fall on the continuum, but the truth is that adult life will have its way with all of us.

 

We start with hopes and dreams and optimism, and somewhere along the way parts of us die in the realities of this life.  There may be small deaths as we are wounded by unmet expectations and disappointments.  It may be blows of death to our spirits as we experience trauma.  It may be a learned death feeling your voice doesn’t matter.  It may be an intense anger that your plans and control have no place here.

 

That dying may mean growing cold, lacking power to move, feel, respond.

It may mean going through the motions while no longer having interest, relevance or significance.

It may mean that you are no longer stirred intellectually or emotionally.

It may mean that you learn not to care and not to think too much about anything—and that’s sort of working for you.

 

I know this is where many of us find ourselves.

Friend, we are made for more.  For those in Christ, we are given a new heart and a new mind.  And, you just tuned me out—“blah, blah, blah, churchy speak that’s not true…blah, blah, blah.”

It sure doesn’t feel true, does it?  When we look at the darkness encroaching, it feels pointless.

 

But the truth is, there is skill to mastering the art of something…

ART: skill acquired by experience, study or observation.

Mastering an art involves wisdom, time, patience.  It involves wrestling with yourself and with your Creator.  It involves grit.

I know some of you are thinking—I don’t even have the energy or desire to think about that or to muster hope.

 

Greg, my husband, has always said that living is hard and dying is easy.  It is so true.  Kill a plant by not watering it—just ignore it. I can do that!

Life takes watering, pruning—those pieces of consistency day in and day out.  It takes tending, attending to all parts of it—it takes fight, time and risk.

 

Then there’s the “coming” part of the title.

COMING: gaining importance, an act or instance of arriving, approaching, impending

 

I was studying the words of Christmas carols and the Christmas story yesterday and saw the repetition of a word: Come.

“Come and Worship”

“O Come Let Us Adore Him”

“Come and Behold Him”

Shepherds came…Wise Men came

The definition of Come: move or travel toward, move closer, approach, draw near

Obviously, there’s movement involved—movement toward.

 

So WHAT Is LIFE?

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things were made through Him…In Him was Life and the Life was the light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ John 1:1-4

 

Life and being alive is found in the One who created us, and to find it, we simply move toward, approach it.  We observe, study, and experience Him and the process.  We start where we are…acknowledging our reality.  Our reality may be death—never even knowing Life.  Our reality may be impending death of our spirit.

 

What will you get here? 

You will get an honest woman on the journey toward coming alive in this world that encourages us to deaden ourselves.

You will get real thoughts and writing that hopefully help you wrestle with truth and not give in to the “give up.”

Humor—I mean, for real, we gotta laugh!

A pointing to True Life—that is not found in us alone.

Someone who does NOT have this figured out but keeps drawing near to the One who does.

Grace and Truth

 

What will you not get here?

Ten self-help tips that help you slay your day.

The word slay

A glossing over of pain.

Fashion advice—43-year-old woman who loves overalls might not have a lot to say about that.

Hype.

Condemnation.

Shoulds.

Recipes with long intros about my Great Aunt Sarah’s cheese philosophy

 

So, if you want to follow along and be a part of the conversation, you are welcome here.

advent, God's word, Hymns, spiritual growth

Prepare Him Room?

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Let every heart prepare Him room…

 

There was no room at the inn.

There was no room at the inn for the Creator of all universes to be born into the world.

There was no room at the inn for the Sustainer of life to break into our darkness in order to rescue us from ourselves.

There was no room at the inn for the King of Kings that had been promised and YEARNED and GROANED for since the garden.

 

I am going to guess that we could find ourselves on both ends of this story in this season.

THE INNKEEPER

Stretched to capacity, no margin to contemplate preparation for one more thing, we are the innkeeper shutting down our hearts.  “Nope—no room, go away—maybe another day,” we say.  Actually, we might be to the point that we just stick the sign on the door so we don’t even have to interact.

Our hearts, laden with sadness, with crushed expectations, with unrealistic expectations, with the weight of lost hope, shut down to perform our duties to “produce” a holiday for those around us.  In essence, we say “there’s no room for me to unpack what I am really feeling, what is really going on—no one wants to hear that in this season.”

We let the flood of information and the flood of our heavy schedules drown the needs of our hearts and truthfully…the hearts of those around us.   We may even have the best of intentions to “prepare room for Him” in our hearts, and then, the flood wipes away our resolve.

THE DESPERATE COUPLE

Or, we could be quite aware of the urgency of our need.  We could be knocking, looking, asking all while “no vacancy” signs are thrown up in our faces from those in whom we are seeking to find some room to process or get a need met.  It’s a helpless feeling to be falling apart and not know where to turn.  So, we find ourselves in a cave (the stable)—a forgotten place.  It’s not sterile, it’s cold and uncomfortable and it echoes with the pain of our need.

It’s the place Jesus was given to be born—not in fanfare or the perfect setting (by human standards).   The One who had come to save His people from their sins was not esteemed by mankind to have the royal treatment.  He was a man of sorrows—well acquainted with grief.   He, who condescended from Heaven and from beautiful community with the Father and the Spirit, actually felt what we feel in our bodies, in our emotions, in our longings.  He knew perfection—He created it.  Yet, He had to live in the muck of the consequences of the sins of the world physically and relationally.  What does it even tell us that to rescue us from this darkness that He would have to die under the weight of that darkness of humanity—undeserved and cast aside with the weight of all wrath upon Him for our darkness?  It tells us…the He is amazing, beautiful, worthy of all honor and glory.  It tells us that if there is One we can find room in, it is Him.

 

Wherever you find yourself today…it is not too late to prepare Him room.  It will be a messy room filled with piles in the corners.  Piles of shoulds, need tos, what do I do with thats and boxed up pain are there.  The thing about preparing Him room—it doesn’t mean that you clean out all the junk to be presentable.  He is the One who shines Light into our darkness so we can even understand what is really there.  He is the One who has already faced the punishment and consequences of the hidden and not so hidden things in the closet of your room.  He simply says—invite Me in, trust Me.  He says turn from your ways of being that have denied Me room and walk with Me every step of the way and experience My Joy and Beauty.

The irony is that our rooms have more in common with the cave than we can see.  We dress them up, but the same reality is there—deep need and deep loneliness.  Whether you find yourself filled up in the Inn or wandering to find your cave, reach to Him in the midst.  May the words of “Joy to the World” be your anthem this Christmas.

 

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!

Let (your name) receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing.

 

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.

 

He rules the world with truth and grace,

And makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.

Uncategorized

Questions that make you squirm…

These last few weeks, I have been quite aware of my blind spots.  We all have those areas where our view is obstructed–others see it, and we have no clue! Oftentimes, we need a moment of example or a failing or a check from our car to ding and tell us that we are in danger.

I have spent almost 4 years thoughtfully building a business.  I have painstakingly tried to guard integrity, to guard the hearts of those I am working with, to guard relationships over a sale or a business transaction, and to guard against my identity being intertwined with my business (and it is not). It has cost me speed, but things that are worth doing with integrity and intention cost us some kind of gain.  I have been at peace with that fact.  Even so, sometimes that cost stings, and I have to remind myself the true Purpose of why I live my life and why I build a business.

In business, relationships, childrearing, etc, there will always be someone who seems to “get it better” and “be excelling more”…that is a true fact and perception.   Comparison will suck the life out of us. We have to make a conscious decision to stick to our path, to stay in our lane, and to keep moving. We have to remember the heart of why we are doing what we are doing.  That heart, for me, is as unto the Lord for His renown and for His glory.  When I allow comparison to stain my perception and my intention, I have lost a huge battle on so many fronts.

Irony happened to me these last few months.  I have had several people approach me to tell me how they have been inspired and encouraged by how I have been conducting my business. Many of these people have told me that they would be taking on entrepreneurship in a business of their own.  Part of me was thankful for their encouragement, and part of me felt like a failure that they didn’t want to join me in business (The ridiculousness of my heart is that I had not asked them to join me in business).  I know, that sounds gross, doesn’t it?  It is a gross picture of my heart.  Blind spot encroaching!!!!

In the process, I had an interaction where somebody treated me like that.  They were disappointed that I was not benefitting them instead of relating with me as a new friend.  God whispered into my heart…”jen, this is exactly where you have allowed your heart to go instead of rejoicing with others.”   GULP.

I had to step away from a personal perception that was selfish and really look at the intention of why I am doing what I am doing.  My “why” is to help others come alive, period.  My heart’s cry is to glorify God and to encourage others in their journeys with Him–no matter what they are doing.

Do I want the best for others and their families?  Yes.  Do I want people to become entrepreneurs and to grow?  Yes.  Do I want people to be in better places of provision?  Yes.  Do I want women to grow in gifting and in confidence?  YES. Do they all have to play on my team?  No, not at all.  Am I happy that I can be an example and encouragement to others?  Yes.  There was my answer: Rejoice and encourage these women not just outwardly but inwardly from the heart entrusting my business and theirs to the Father.  Period.

See, I have been feeling this “us v them” thing for awhile.  Everyone has a stake in the game, a position they are promoting.  It doesn’t feel good to be the “them.”  When people make their “role” the “it,” we are all losing.  EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. US. When you are defending your brand, your business, your church, your party, your schooling, your philosophy on health…we forget to encourage one another even if it costs us.

I’m gonna go here…and I cannot believe it.  We all have a need to stop, to think about which kingdom is the “ultimate,” to think about encouraging one another as brothers and sisters.  Woe to me if I, in my heart, words or attitudes undercut a brother or sister in Christ.  I have lost sight of eternal things.  When I am more concerned about building my little “kingdom” than His…that is a devastating blindspot.

So, I ask ALL of us…where are we letting competition and personal gain undercut loving others?  This is my first foray into business, but it is not my first rodeo on the comparison circuit.  For those in real estate, can you rejoice when another realtor is thriving and serving others in a beautiful way?   Pastor, can you rejoice when another church is gaining traction in the community by serving and loving others and sharing the Gospel?  Business owner, what happens when someone you are called to serve is in competition with you? Will you undercut them, question their practices, down their products, or will you treat them with respect and dignity?    Momma, what if a friend chooses another way to feed, to educate, to provide, to birth, that is in direct opposition to your stance?  May we all breathe, align our hearts with His, and remember what we are ultimately called to be about.

 

 

authenticity, discernment, Uncategorized

branding and the heart

Persona:  The aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others

The buzz these days in business, in ministry, in the non-profit world, in sports, in politics, and on social media is building a personal brand.  We all have one, and some of us are experts in tapping into it and being strategic about it.  In my business, I have a lot of interest in coaching people to understand and to develop their personal brand in order to connect genuinely with their audience.  In reality, I see it as helping them know and examine themselves and their strengths and to embrace themselves and what they have to offer others.  I find that many women do not know the beauty of who they are and do not think they have anything “special” to offer. I enjoy encouraging people to live bravely and authentically as themselves.   Sometimes our “brand” is born naturally and sometimes it is painstakingly crafted. I can read somebody attempting to build a brand pretty quickly, and I can read and smell authenticity and the opposite.  I have embraced more of who I am and realize that my brand was there without too much strategic thought.  Truthfully, me living as me on social media has opened up opportunities for me to help others.

I have spent some headspace lately thinking about how much of the true self comes through with social media and the “spin” we execute when building our personal brand. How much of our energy and thinking goes into this?  I’m thinking…what if we actually invested that in our actual character?  Lately, I have heard several people speak of loving the persona of someone but being disappointed with the person in real life–maybe there was some false advertising:).   And, 2 dimensional never translates to 3 dimensional, therefore, it is impossible to share everything.

One of the downfalls of our “branding yourself” society is this:  we can easily spend more time constructing our persona than growing as real people and investing in and serving real people.  In fact, It’s not even just business these days.  With Social media profiles, where we build a following and build a personal brand, we can easily become absorbed with self.   Our hearts and minds can be consumed with what we will say about the hottest topic or how we will be funny or how we can best capitalize on a picture or experience to fit with our “brand.”  We can become obsessed with the “response” of people to us and to our message.  We can equate our worth with how much we are “seen” and “liked.”  It can be a slippery slope to self-promotion where we miss the message that we were created to carry.

The problem is as believers our allegiance is not to promote ourselves.  Our purpose is not to magnify our self-worth.  I began writing this blog last night and was reminded this morning in corporate worship that our mark of faithfulness in this life is in servitude to Jesus and in stewarding the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4:1).  Think of the humility of God coming to earth as a man.  Philippians 2 speaks of Jesus considering equality with God something not to be grasped and making Himself a servant and becoming obedient unto death all for the glory of God.   In John 5:41, Jesus himself said “I do not receive glory from people.” All throughout John, Jesus speaks of listening to the Father and seeking not His own will but the will of Him who sent Him.

So, what are we to do with these conflicting ideas?  Do we run from being business owners?  Do we divorce ourselves from all social media?  Do we cloister ourselves away from all things that can become snares and temptations to us?  Do we not write or speak or create for fear we are self-promoting? This is sometimes the knee-jerk reaction to seeing our sin.  We fear, and then we shut down and pull our voice and influence away.   However, we are called to be a city on a hill, salt and light in a world that desperately needs to see The Glory of the One and Only full of grace and truth.  So, we have to learn the balance of examining our hearts and surrendering our own wills.  We can easily be deceived–we deceive ourselves quite well.

I have learned that some do not have the skills and bent to know how to examine their hearts.  So, I will present several helpful questions we can ask ourselves:

1) Where do your thoughts camp? Do you invest more time in building your persona (thinking about what you will post or how you will promote your business) or in living less of you and more of Him?   Are you spending time being shaped by the Word and the Lord and living out of that?

2) What is your purpose in building a brand or persona? All things can be done and leveraged for the glory of God, and all things can become an idol.

3)Has your “schtick” become the “it” and not your original purpose? Ask your good friends what they see in you.

4) Look at what you are saying and doing (social media and publically).  How are you leveraging your life for the sake of the Gospel message? Is it more about you and your message or His message?

5) What part of your life are you serving others?  Are you using your gifts and brand for the benefit and service of others?

Do not give up your voice.  Work to find the voice and the service God created in you to steward for His purposes.  This takes work and prayer and looking in the mirror.  I champion us all to wrestle on!