Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Ministry of Availability

My best friend Kaye is a master at "the ministry of availability". She "positions" herself in all kinds of settings to just be available - for listening, for fun, for reaching out....whatever the situation calls for.

I recently had the opportunity to observe her in action. Kaye stood alone outside a room filled with hundreds of women who were standing and singing. In a matter of seconds the lady in the blue joined her and just stood beside her. Kaye smiled at her and after a few seconds of silence the woman glanced at Kaye and said something. Leaning against the doorway they had an intermittent conversation that involved compassionate eyes, whispers and a few tears. They both stood there with a comfort as if they were long time friends.

I stood there and marveled at Kaye’s heart. I snapped these pics on my phone as I watched her look at, listen, lean in and love this complete stranger. When the encounter was over, I knew from watching first hand that this woman felt that she had been seen, heard and understood. What an incredible gift Kaye had given her.

Since then I’ve begun to process what I saw and take note of how I might incorporate even a smidgeon (is that a real word, and if so, how do you spell it?) of "the ministry of availability" in my life.

I am always busy. I've had times in my life where circumstances demanded a fiercer level of busyness but I've never had a season where I would have said I was not busy.

Where does all this busyness come from? That's a good question. Finding an answer could be key to finding freedom in this area of our lives.

If we tell the truth we would have to say that some busyness is pressed on us by others needs, some of it is demanded in order to live life and some of it is just plain self-inflicted. There are always enough things to say yes to. And many times our culture continues to scream at us about the necessity of all kinds of activities from exercising to shopping.

Where does the madness stop? Unless we consciously make a new choice it probably won't. We will remain intoxicated on the drug of busyness.

That's the first thing I’ve learned by watching Kaye. She never seems in a hurry. It's not because she doesn't have things to do. She's got a lot of things to do. It seems she just makes deliberate choices. It's relaxing to be around people who don't seem hurried. Well, to be honest it drives me a little crazy on an average day. I keep the pace of a clipper and slow people get run over in my path. But once I ratchet it back a bit - it's kind of refreshing. And even rejuvenating.

To be honest, I'm learning it's possible to be very, very busy but not necessarily appear to be in hurry. It's an art. It can be done. It creates an environment around you that is inviting to people. It makes you appear available – the first step to being truly available.

Here are some other things I've thought about in my quest to choose to be available to people. I have to translate ideas into practical or they seem pretty useless. Let me suggest them to you.

First, evaluate your current level of busyness. For you, is it normal, excessive, manageable, out of control? You have to decide what's doable and appropriate for this season of your life. You have to decide what stays and what goes. Sometimes some hard decisions have big pay offs.

Second, learn to build in margin by the day. Not the year, not the month - but by the day. You have your schedule and to do list but consider ahead of time that it is highly likely something will have to go in order to be available. Start each day with a mental asterisk by the activity(s) that could wait if it had to. Guard against over-scheduling by being realistic and reasonable about what can be accomplished in a day's time. Most of us overshoot both of those things.

Third, be okay with a revolving to do list. Most of you are probably way past this but it's worth a strong reminder to keep your sanity. You have two options. Be grateful you have a to-do list and the physical and mental capabilities to manage it. Or, let it eat you alive by constantly being frustrated at the size, content, or endlessness of it.

Fourth, learn to give what you want. You have heard before that, as humans, we almost always give to others what we want or need from people. We all have a need to feel that we are valued and we most often feel that supremely when someone gives us their time. It's a precious commodity - limited and scarce. Be available to give time when you don't have it, want to, or feel like it. It's important.

Lastly, let your motto be PEOPLE before projects. If you are a type A individual, like me, this is going to require your constant attention. Like a car that leaks oil or it will blow up – let this point be your leaking oil. Check it regularly. I’m learning to.

Okay, so here’s a little reality check for all of us. We all have demands on our lives. Families, work, ministry, friends, health, personal needs – we could go on and on.

As women, some of us in leadership, we don’t have the luxury of being too busy for people. We can endure it or we can turn it into an art. My choice is the latter.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bite Size Brain Snack

"We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turn back soonest is the most progressive man."
CS Lewis


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Your Cooking Will Love You Back

Here's my list of staple items to always have on hand if you want explore free style cooking. I'm going to skip normal things like Ketchup. Mustard etc. You can get all of the following items at the grocery store.

WARNING: They are not all healthy but they are all tasty. You can apply your own good choices to how to use them.

Balsamic Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar
Olive oil
Sesame oil
Minced Garlic (in the jar)
Cocktail sauce
Chili Sauce
Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce (Publix)
Cooking Wines - White, Marsala, Sherry etc.
Worcestershire Sauce
Lemon Juice
Lime Juice
Taco Season Packets
Meat Marinade Packets
Brown Gravy Mix
Parmesan Cheese
Sunflower Seed nuts
Parsley Flakes
Slivered or slices almonds
Mr. Pepper (Publix)
Montreal Steak - use it on chicken too and lots more
Lemon Pepper
Old Bay Seasoning
Garlic powder/salt
Chicken and beef bouillon
Cream of Chicken soup
Cream of Mushroom Soup

You've probably already thought of this tip - Sauté onions in a couple tbs. of butter on Med heat. As they are cooking, sprinkle some season salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce in as they cook. They'll get a tasty glaze on them. Put them over the top of chicken or beef.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New Faces, New Friends

Well, this week has been a definite turning point for me. I just had the great privilege of spending 3 days with some amazing women. Some of them I work with every day. But I saw them fresh as they led and served and used every ounce of their hearts to welcome 25+ women to our extended team for 2011.

We laughed, trained, ate, cried, played silly games, ate, laughed, cried, dodged raindrops, heat and humidity(really bad hair day
for me), ate, shared, laughed, cried.....you get the picture. It was a crash course in doing life together.

These women will pour countless hours of effort and heart investment into planning, preparing, and praying for a ministry that I dearly love. They will each walk along side us for an event that will come to their city. What do they receive in return? Well, I wish it could be a million dollars or more! But I'm not sure that would surpass what I am praying that it will be. It will be HUGE in God's economy.

Why was it a turning point for me? Because in the environment we work in - these women, all of them, change my life forever. Their stories, their hearts, their words of instruction, inspiration and encouragement. They are somethin' else!!

Being the closet introvert I am - I am wiped out on this Saturday morning. But I couldn't be more full and joyful as I replay every precious moment of the last few days and hope they know they are LOVED and APPRECIATED!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hymn Hum

I pray this blesses you today.

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee, Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle-shield, sword for my fight,
Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight.
Thou my soul's shelter, Thou my high tower.
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heav'ns Son!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O ruler of all.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bite Size Brain Snack

One of my favorites

"You only truly believe that which activates you."

I'm interested in your thoughts on this. Agree? Why or why not?
To what beliefs do you think it applies? And why?
What is a specific belief that has activated you?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wellness Turning Point

In my initial post (see Turning Point - A Life Renovation) I mentioned that I have been on a journey this summer to figure out what wellness looks like for me in my 50's. Unlike some of my friends who are concerned about hiding their age from people - I'm actually happy to report that I just turned 54 last month. It's okay if I look like I'm 54. The wrinkles I've gained have been earned.

A dear friend asked me once if I would ever have cosmetic surgery for wrinkles. I said, "no, I don't think so.". Then she asked, "is there a reason for that?". Without really thinking I mused, "I think wrinkles are meant to be God's reminder to us that we aren't created to live here forever." I still believe that.

Thanks to my fantastic wellness coach, Janis, I have discovered and rediscoverd several things about myself in the few weeks I've been working with her by Skype.

1. I like food.
2. I dislike diets.
3. I'm not crazy about organized exercise.
4. I prefer to exercise alone.
5. The only exception to that is Zumba.
6. I don't have any hobbies.
7. I'm exploring some hobbies.
8. I don't know what I think is fun these days.
9. I'd like to have more fun.
10. The pool is my happy place.

That's just a few. There are so many more. And Janis, my coach, has not told me any of this. She has, on the other hand, provoked me to think about it.

Coaching is about provoking and not about being perscriptive. Thoughts that are provoked on any given aspect of wellness seem to allow you to look at all your options, assess their value and then decide for yourself which ones you want to embrace.

I've learned alot about parenting adult children in this coaching process. The above principle applies well. It seems more beneficial to choose to provoke some thoughts in someone than to tell them what they should or shouldn't do.

What I love about what Janis has been doing with me is that she has given me my own tools, put them in my hands, and encouraged me to make my own decisions about when and how to use them. That's a huge gift because it changed my thinking about so many things.

It definitely has gotten me off the miserable, self-inflicted guilt trip I was on. So much wasted energy and brain space indulging in defeating thoughts of not being who I wanted to be physically, relationally, spiritually or emotionally. It felt like I was on a hamster wheel I would never get off of. Watch your self-talk - it reveals alot about your outlook.

But now I see that I have the freedom to think through my choices in each of those areas, make turning point decisions, plot a course for change and then be patient with myself along the way.
After all, 54 years is a long time to have thought the same way. Making a U-Turn is going to take time.

I've got the time and so much more mental energy and brain space. Thank you, Janis. And thank you, God, for putting us together for this season.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Favorite Snack Bites Back

Cheez-its are my favorite snack of all time. It started years ago when my older brother used to bring them home, along with some Pepsi. Since they had been bought with his own money, and my parents couldn't afford to keep such extravagant snacks on hand, they became a highly prized treat to me. Every so often he would be generous enough to share them with me. If I was being an annoying little sister (hardly ever!), he would withhold the prize.

Snack Promised Prizes - Disappoints in a Big Way!!
On a recent road trip my daughter was kind enough to pick up my favorite snack for the car ride. I held off for as long as I could since these little wonders are not on the approved list of my current food plan. Finally, I gave in and grabbed the box. I couldn't wait to open it just for the sheer pleasure of the their taste. Then, right before my eyes, I saw that my beloved little Cheez-its promised me a PRIZE!! Oh my! It was just about more fun than I could stand. All I had to do was look inside to see what kind of wonderful prize awaited me.

I flipped open the first half of the box top....and then the second....and there it was. As fast as my hopes were launched skyward they were dashed to the ground. "Sorry....you are not a winner", it said.

Really? Seriously? Did you not understand, little snack, what you have meant to me all these years? Part of me said to just give up on the little bite size joy-stealers but then I read the line below...."please try again - you could win a prize". Well, okay then. I'll just have to live with being a winner on another day. I can do that.

It must be good for us to wait for a "win" - for the "prize". Anticipation is a wonderful feeling. It's like waiting for Christmas and planning in the waiting time for the whole big experience. It's also like waiting for Heaven. Anticipating and preparing for the whole big experience of a lifetime. God gives us some great direction in His Word for that. Just open it and read it. Philippians 3:14.

Some fun Cheez-it facts for you-

Cheez-It is an American snack food cracker manufactured by the Kellogg Company. They are roughly 26 by 24 mm (1.0 by 0.95 inch) square-shaped crackers made with wheat flour, vegetable oil, sharp yellow cheese, salt, and spices. There are a variety of related Cheez-It products, including white Cheddar, Parmesan, garlic, Cheddar jack, Pepper Jack, Italian Four Cheese, reduced fat, Snack Mix (formerly called Party Mix), Snack Mix Double Cheese, Hot & Spicy (made with Tabasco), Cheez-It Duoz Sharp Cheddar & Parmesan and Duoz Smoked Cheddar & Monterey Jack, and lastly the Cheez-It Big which is a larger cracker more suitable for garnishing or dipping.[1] They are similar to Kraft Cheese Nips.

A Cheez-It cracker, shown near actual size on a 100 ppi monitor

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office trademark records, the first "Cheez-It" Cheese Crackers were sold by Green & Green Company of Dayton, Ohio in May 1921. After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, The Green & Green Company was acquired by The Sunshine Biscuit Company, founded in 1902 as the Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company. The Keebler Company acquired Sunshine in 1996, and Keebler was in turn acquired by Kellogg in 2001. Cheez-It crackers are still sold under the Sunshine label.[2]

A former advertising slogan was "Get your own box" which was found on the backs of most boxes. One side also contained the so-called "Anatomy of a Cheez-It." In mid 2007, the boxes were changed to show a picture of a large wedge of cheese labeled "Actual Taste," while a Cheez-It is shown propping it up, labeled "Actual Size." The new slogan in place of "Get Your Own Box" is "The Big Cheese", with Jim Cummings as the spokesperson of the television commercials for it.[3] (This source is from a user review)




File:DSCF3525 cheezit macro sm.jpg

Friday, August 6, 2010

Color My World

...no not the old Chicago song, silly. I just heard the song the other night as we were enjoying the company of good friends. It took me back to high school in a flash. But that's not what I want to talk about today.

Color is important to me. It speaks to me. In my home, in my fashion, in my mind....it's all about vivacious, expressive color. Color creates an environment and invites an experience. Color says to the mind - relax or get moving or change or love, or just so many other things.

I can recall vividly several times where fashion color got me into trouble. I would show up to a function in an area of the country where people choose to wear clothes the same color as the dirt and dust where they live. I don't get that. Don't you people see the need to add a little COLOR???!!! . Like red, or purple or blue? God made those colors too and I don't think I see any black, brown or grey in His rainbow of promise.

Taken from the airplane as we landed in Denver. I've never seen a rainbow that came straight out of a cloud and touched the ground.

On these occasions I would be dressed like a usually am with some degree of vibrant color. I would like the way I looked until the pressure of their dullness would make me feel like crawling under a rock. Or turning into a chameleon so I could morph to one of their "earthy" colors and disappear into the landscape. It's just so confusing to me.

I'm not sure why I'm so drawn to color. It just trips my trigger. All I know is that I'm easily bored with neutrals. I just want to ask why? Why would you choose so much absence when there is so much presence at your fingertips?

I'm striving to make that true from the inside out. Why would I choose so much neutral - in my beliefs, values, relationships, work - when there is so much "color" at my fingertips. It makes me want to pursue a purple, blue, green, yellow and red. I want to chase after passion, peace, growth, happiness and courage.

If you're a person that likes neutrals - please! just tell me why??

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hymn Hum

I pray this blesses you today.

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee, Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle-shield, sword for my fight,
Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight.
Thou my soul's shelter, Thou my high tower.
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heav'ns Son!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O ruler of all.

Bite Size Brain Snack

Chew on this one...

"The absence of opportunity is not necessarily the presence of virtue."

Agree or disagree? Let me hear from you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rich Words

I love all kinds of music and listen to a pretty wide variety of stuff. On the menu for me may be anything from country(appetizer) to pop (salad) to Christian (main course) to oldies (dessert). Among the Christian music I love to absorb are some of the old hymns of the faith. They rock my spirit to the core with their bedrock theology,doctrine and hope. I'm always reminded of who I am, who God is and how He wants me to know and interact with Him. From time to time I'd like to share the words from those songs that challenge, sooth, and direct my thoughts toward my God.

Hum along if you like or just read thoughtfully let the words fall on your heart.

It Is Well with My Soul

Horatio G. Spafford, 1873

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well, with my soul.
    • Refrain:
      It is well, with my soul,
      It is well, it is well, with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I'm choosing to call these entries "Cooking" rather than "recipes" because I'd like the freedom to just explore the whole idea of cooking. Sometimes I'll share non-recipes. Other times things like a list of things to always have on hand in your kitchen. Still others may explore how to really enjoy cooking - it's a choice I'm making lately.

So here's the first non-recipe. A non-recipe is something I made in my kitchen that is totally made from what I had on hand. This is something I've been doing more and more lately and almost every time it's turned out great.

Being a good cook is a combination of knowing recipes enough to learn what sauces and spices can be interchanged with various meats and sides. Sometimes recipes shouldn't be messed with and sometimes they should be thrown out altogether for the thrill of adventure. It's FUN!!!

Hope you are needing some additional FUN like I am. So go for it!!!

Fish Non-Recipe
4-5 Talapia fillets [you can use another kind of fish, mine were bought frozen &were paritally frozen when I started cooking]
I took about 3 T. of butter, 1-2 tsp. of minced garlic (jar) and melted it on Med. heat in fry pan.
I added some lemon pepper seasoning and some salt and let it get a little bubbly in the fry pan.
Then I added about 3 T. of cocktail sauce and stirred it good.
I set the fillets in the sauce and rolled them over once to coat.
When the edges were turning white I flipped them over, coating again, and then flipped them once more and let them continue to cook on Med. heat until they were all white.
For just a minute before serving, I cranked the heat up to Med High and let the sauce turn into more of a glaze on the fish. No right or wrong way to do that....just try it for yourself.

I served the fish with green beans that I steamed after drizzling with a bit sesame oil (you can use olive oil) and Teriyaki sauce (I like Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce/Publix). Also added some minced garlic and onion in there. Steam until they are the softness you like - smooshy or tender crisp. Once again - no right or wrong - you get to choose. I tossed with a few sunflower nuts before serving.

I was choosing no carbs that day so I decided to forgo the rice but it sure would have tasted great with this.

Dave was very complimentary about this one.

You brave enough to try this kind of cooking?