Monday, March 25, 2013

Healing from Piercings

By Tara Lee

"Ouch!" My muted yell broke the silence of the dark, sleeping household. Whether it was a stale Cheerio or a razor-sharp Lego, stepping on something caused an unmistakable sting in the arch of my foot. As I ventured another step, I realized something was stuck to the bottom of my foot. Something sharp!

Trying not to wake my husband or kids, I bent down to crawl toward the bathroom. The rhythmic pounding in the arch of my foot matched the beat of my knees as they carried me across the floor. After turning on the light and examining the mysterious object, I knew my husband's blissful sleep must be interrupted. "Honey, there is an airplane stuck in the bottom of my foot! I need your help!" My dazed and sleepy husband stumbled across the dark bedroom, squinting from the bright light. Like a scene from an alien movie, I turned my foot over to reveal my son's metal toy airplane lodged several inches into the arch of my foot! Cringing, crossing his legs, trying not to peek but looking with curiosity, my husband pulled the airplane out on the count of three!

With the support of my husband's arm, I hobbled to the van and we headed to the emergency room.  After three excruciating power washes, a tetanus shot, pain killers, and a special orthopedic shoe, I was discharged. And then, after only a few weeks, the wound healed and my scar was barely visible.  
While I distinctly remember the pain from my airplane wound, the healing process was fairly simple. I wish the same was true of the invisible wounds of the heart. Rather than damage from a toy airplane, a wounding in our hearts may have occurred from a piercing word. The painful diagnosis confirming a chronic or deadly illness. Rejection from a loved one. A lie. Broken dreams. Failure. Unfortunately, internal piercings of our heart are not usually visible, but can remain unhealed, gaping wounds that cause pain for years.

During Holy Week, as we make our way toward Easter, we are reminded that God went to great lengths to heal our wounds. As the Great Physician, Jesus Christ has the ability to cleanse and deeply heal our piercings. "But he [Jesus] was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5)."   

My airplane injury taught me the importance of paving a clear path to safely walk through my bedroom at night. But more importantly, the airplane injury affirmed what I am learning through this journey of life - although trouble will come, bringing our wounds to Jesus will produce healing, and over time scars fade. Because his remain.


Tara Lee has a B.A. degree in Social Work is currently pursuing her Master's of Education degree from Cedarville University. Tara and her husband, Jeff, enjoy raising their four children, ages 8 to 13. Her book, Mothering Isn't for Babies, was recently released. Tara is the Homeschool Principal for Dayton Christian School System.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Three Splendid Truths of Leadership



By Sherry Surratt

Over the short and long haul of leadership I’ve discovered Three Splendid Truths of Leadership. Ready? Here you go!

1. You have to take responsibility for your own leadership growth. No one else is going to do it for you.
          The beauty of this truth is it reveals the true owner of your leadership: you. You control your trajectory. While your boss or company might control your job title and salary, you have complete say over how much you'll develop as a leader. Through your choices of what you read, who your mentors are and what skills you choose to work on, you determine your leadership potential. Here's how this works in my life: I pick another great leader to watch and learn from. I choose one thing at a time to focus on, such as their style of communication and I study it. I take notes. I ask them questions like: why did you say it that way? how did you know how to respond in that situation? I write down the learnings in a journal and I try to apply them in my leadership life.

2. You will never reach the leadership place where you've “arrived.” Get comfortable being a lifetime learner.
          Leaders make things better. But in order to have impact you have to get better yourself. Read, listen, learn. Be open to criticism and sort through it for wisdom and priceless lessons. Bank on the fact that new growth results in new opportunities. Here's how I've worked to become a lifetime learner: I LOVE to read so I pick leadership authors and then read everything they write. John Maxwell, Patrick Lencioni and Nancy Ortberg are some of my favorites. I take notes and make lists of the principles that jump out at me. I try to talk these over with a mentor and form a plan of how I can implement these principles in my life.

3. As leaders, we all struggle with something. A smart leader is willing to see her weaknesses and do something about them.
         This is something I'm still learning. I recently talked with a mentor friend about being disappointed that I was still struggling with areas in my leadership. She looked me right in the eye and said, “Because you think you are not human? Sherry, if you are a leader who's breathing, you are going to struggle with something. Stop whining and do something about it!” Ouch. But she was right. We'll never reach perfection as a leader. We will always have an area to grow in. A wise leader recognizes what the area is and then does whatever she can to get better. Here's how I try to apply this truth to my leadership: Just like most people I hate criticism, but I've learned not to just blow it off. Within every criticism is usually a nugget of truth and something I can learn to do better the next time. Criticism, if you take the time to process it, can help you slow down and take a hard look at yourself. I wish I could say I never get my feelings hurt or get defensive, but of course I do. But I also try to convince myself the criticizer is trying to help me get better (even if they aren't!)

I wish I had learned these splendid truths earlier in my leadership, but there's no time like the present. Let me encourage you. Wherever you are in your leadership, whatever level you are leading at, seize the opportunity to grow. Don't let your weaknesses breed insecurity and fear in your heart. Step into your leadership role with confidence knowing that God indeed calls women to lead and he will equip you for whatever leadership mountain you might face. Just ask.

Sherry Surratt is the President and CEO of MOPS International (www.mops.org). She blogs at “Of Moms and Leaders” (www.sherrysurratt.com) and the author of Author: Just Lead: A No Whining, No Complaining, No Nonsense Practical Guide for Women Leaders in the Church with Jenni Catron.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

One on One


By Karen Schelhaas

 

I like big events, I really do.  Locking arms with thousands of people and singing “Hallelujah” in one voice stirs my spirit and usually produces tears.  I love concerts and events and mass-scale productions for a variety of reasons.  But to be honest, they don’t change my life.

 

What I’ve found is that change comes in small packages usually delivered by a single person.  I’ve been thinking a lot about one-on-one encounters as I navigate my way through this incredibly rich yet busy season of my life with five school-aged children.  It’s the just-me-and-you moments that have been the most impactful, the ones that make me turn left instead of right, the encounters that shift my perspective and encourage me to keep sailing ahead instead of bailing out.

 

That’s not to say that a great message whispered to us by God shouldn’t be shouted or penned to the masses.  We all glean life-changing, powerful truths from church, seminars, concerts and books. Jesus did spend time teaching the crowd.  But the real refining fire Jesus puts in my life is stoked by single interactions with women who are willing to find a sliver of time to talk and pray about the real stuff of life, refusing to let me get complacent.  And in this strange day of “e-whatever,” face time is distinctly lacking, yet ever necessary, as messages of change and hope and truth are often punctuated best with a hug or a tear or a playful nudge. 

 

This is shaping how I spend my days while the kids are at school, and it’s been deeply satisfying in a myriad of ways, surprisingly so.  It isn’t glamorous, on any level.  In fact, most hang-outs happen after I’ve thrown on my yoga pants, a little mascara and some bronzy lip gloss (because who really wants to meet with a Glamour Girl when you’re hurting or frustrated?). We plop down next to my sink of dirty dishes, or in the midst of laundry piles on a friend’s floor, or hiking out on these beautiful Colorado trails, or meandering on a late night walk with our dogs.  These are often the scenes in which seismic shifts occur in my life.

 

Engaging in the minutia matters, and we’re all uniquely qualified.  I don’t really need somebody to cast a great vision over my life – I need to be pointed to God in the details of my daily living.  The waters of vulnerability are most likely to churn in the quiet exchange between two people on an ordinary day – often yielding extraordinary results.

 

My mom always told me, “The gift of your presence is the best gift you can give.”  Oh, how I savor the various lives where I have been able to be present.  Many of my weekly interactions are about a single topic, like the death of a full-term baby.  It’s the familiar road that I’ve also walked, followed by the subsequent circuitous route to building my family.  One gal told me, “You know, all I needed the week after my baby died was for you to walk through the door of Starbucks.  To see that you were still living and breathing and even thriving was all I needed that day.” 

 

The gift of one-on-one presence is often silent be-ing, the difference between hope and despair for some.  And it matters, perhaps more than anything else.  You can’t be salt and light for people if you don’t take the time to know who needs seasoning and where the darkness exists.

 

Karen Booker Schelhaas lives in Highlands Ranch, CO with her husband and five children ranging from ages 7 to 15. When she's not cooking, jogging, cleaning, gardening, entertaining, chauffeuring, volunteering or counseling, she can be found at her kitchen table with coffee in her veins, slowly putting her stories into words.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Influence From All Directions



Kelli B. Trujillo

Over the past two years I’ve been working on writing a devotional series for women called Flourishing Faith. It’s been awesome to dive into some fantastic topics and open up God’s Word for my readers.

But . . .

There have been two long stretches that have been tough for me as a writer. Why? Because I’ve been writing about topics that challenge me personally. Really.

First in writing the marriage devotional. I’ve got a normal, healthy Christian marriage—but (emphasis on normal) marriage can be really hard! I’m no expert! How could I write a book on this topic if I’m still (and will always be) figuring it out?

And then, months later, it got worse: I worked on a book about prayer. I struggle with prayer.  I’m no expert! echoed again. Could—should—I really write about this?

Ever been there? As a ministry leader, mentor, speaker, Bible study facilitator, employee, business leader, friend, or mother—ever felt, privately, that you weren’t quite qualified to lead or influence others on a certain topic?

I was able to hush the questioning voices in my mind during the writing process by clinging determinedly to a principle that I know and have experienced to be true: Influence can come from all directions.

Sometimes we influence from the summit. We’ve reached a place of wisdom, expertise, maturity, or insight. Maybe it’s a topic we feel passionately about—we’ve studied it, lived it, know it inside and out, and we’re confident in sharing our insights with others. This is leadership from the front—like a hiker who’s reached the summit, is enjoying the awesome view, and is calling down instructions, guidance, and encouragement to those still navigating their way up.

Other times we influence as a fellow pilgrim. I believe—and Scriptural examples confirm this again and again—that we don’t need to be “qualified experts” in order to influence and encourage others. In fact, often times people are put off by seemingly superhuman “experts” and long for a real, authentic, struggling fellow human to learn with and from. Influencing others as a fellow pilgrim means sharing authentically from the middle of the journey—exploring with others how God is leading you, challenging you, changing you. It even means sharing questions you’re still wrestling with or victories you haven’t yet achieved.
And there are even times when we influence in our brokenness. When God uses our moments of desolation, conviction, weakness, and spiritual poverty to bless, challenge, or inspire another. Consider Jesus’ parable of the tax collector: Broken-hearted and humiliated before God, he beat his breast and could only utter a simple, agonizing prayer: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). This man—not the I’ve-got-it-all-together-Pharisee—served as Jesus’ example of authentic faith and humility. When we have the courage to let down the fa├žade and vulnerably share our failures, God’s powerful grace can work in ways we don’t expect. God can powerfully influence others through our lives, even from the back.

So when the voices echo, You’re no expert!, just tell them to hush up. Just as you influence from your areas of expertise, never underestimate how God can use your “normal” journey and even from your failures to minister to others.


Kelli B. Trujillo is the author of several books for women, including the Flourishing Faith series and The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival. Find Kelli at www.kellitrujillo.com and on Twitter: @kbtrujillo