The Power of Team

I am an introvert.  It is natural for me to want to be alone, a lot.  I’m sure there are others like me around, but I don’t know anyone else who enjoys being alone as much as me.  Ha!

I do work with others quite a bit in the ministries I’m involved in.  And don’t get me wrong, I totally enjoy it.  But sometimes due to my nature, I tend to get on a streak of being alone, planning alone, thinking alone, analyzing alone, and carrying burdens alone.

Today my MOPS teammates and I worked together on a Facebook party for our MOPS communities and it was like a lightbulb turned on for me.  Time alone and working alone can be good for me – but I can also tend to isolate myself too much.

I saw so many positives in the collaboration and teamwork we had today.   It is a great reminder (and probably a much needed one) that God has called us in most circumstances to partner with others in our work for Him.

Maybe you also need a nudge to be less isolated or to accept more opportunities to work alongside others?

I know the following list is probably not really new to you – and not to me, either.  But today was just such a good example of these benefits of teamwork that I can’t help but share.  I don’t want to forget, and in case YOU need a reminder – here is the “power of team” that I saw today:

  • We can encourage one another to step outside of our self-imposed comfort zones.
  • Our ideas and effort, put together, have synergy – meaning that the result is more than each of us could have accomplished alone.
  • We can step in for each other’s weaknesses.
  • Working together can ignite a spark of motivation and energy in a teammate who needs it.
  • We can learn from each other.
  • We can learn about each other, and about ourselves.  Learning more about our teammates draws us closer together.
  • Working alongside one another gives us opportunities to provide more personal support and encouragement to each other.
  • We share the burden of the work.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 – Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. (New Living Translation)

 

 

 

 

Why “What Impact Am I Having?” is the wrong question.

Yesterday I returned home from MOMcon 2016 in Milwaukee.  Oh, what a sweet, sweet time of communion with Jesus, learning new stuff, and serving moms and MOPS leaders from all over the world.  It is good for the soul!

During our MOPS Volunteer Staff training before MOMcon began, we were challenged to spread kindness by writing notes and leaving them all over where people would find them and be encouraged.  Here’s an example:

amazing

This was so much fun!  Writing them and wondering how the person who found it would react, or finding one yourself and feeling your heart smile.  I think I may just continue doing this randomly around my community!

Anyways, this morning as I was driving my kiddos to school I was wondering to myself what impact all of that had not only on the women who attended MOMcon, but also to the people of Milwaukee.  My thoughts turned more inward-focused, to the question, “what impact am I having in the ministries I’m involved in?”.

And then I quickly realized that’s the wrong question to be asking.

Since I have no power to change lives – only Jesus can do that – why am I asking about it?  As I thought more and more about this, I decided that THESE are the questions I should be asking myself:

Did I seek God?

Did I do what He told me to do?

Did I give it my best?

Because the bottom line is that the results are ALWAYS up to Him.  My job is simply to listen and obey.

I’ve blogged about this before here, but I think of Moses as he approached Pharoah, asking Pharoah to let the Israelites go.  What if Moses over-analyzed after the first, or second, or even eighth time of asking Pharoah, and thought: “well, this whole thing is not having the impact I thought it would so I’m going to give up”?

So often I tend to analyze what I’ve done or been involved in, trying to figure out if what I’ve done has had “results” or has been “successful” (and too often in my mind that is directly linked to, “did it go well or smoothly?”.  But the fact is, God’s ways are above my ways.  He is still working even when things down here don’t look like they are going well.  And truth be told, we don’t even have the capacity to know the full ramifications of the actions we take!

THAT is why we walk by faith and trust in God, not by sight.  As Mandy Arioto (president and CEO of MOPS International) said this weekend at MOMcon, “we live by faith so the world knows that God can be trusted.”

So here’s to walking fully in faith, keeping my eyes on Jesus, and asking myself only if I’ve listened to Him, followed and obeyed Him, and given it my all.

 

how to have that hard conversation you’ve been putting off

This topic has come up  so much recently that I thought I’d write down some thoughts I have about it.  Conversations with friends and with MOPS leaders I work with – How do I approach a hard topic with a friend?  How do I tell someone on my team that they aren’t pulling their weight?  How do I talk to someone who is overstepping my boundaries?  I think most people at some point find themselves in a situation where they feel like they need to have a hard conversation with someone – and it just seems to come naturally to some people and not so naturally to others.

By nature, I do not like conflict.  In fact, my natural reaction to most conflict is just to quietly back away.  But I’ve learned most times that’s not the best way to deal!  I am not an expert by any means, but I feel like God has taught me a lot about this over the years.  Eighteen years of marriage, three kids, and many years in women’s ministry leadership has given me lots of in-the-trenches experience that I’ve been able to learn from – and I’m still learning!  When I first thought about this, I was thinking from a leadership perspective – interacting with people you lead or work with.  But as I re-read, I think these really can also be applied to friendships, marriages, and even parenting to a degree.

So here goes… some things to consider when you’re feeling like you’ve got to have a tough conversation with someone.

  1. First of all, does this issue even need to be addressed?  What is my motive in this?  Proverbs 19:11 says “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”  Simply take it to God in prayer and let him work in your heart and lead you.  Oftentimes  things (offenses!) that are slight, momentary, or inadvertent are best overlooked.
  2. Am I the person to address this issue?  Sometimes in leadership you may see an issue/conflict arise with another person, but you may not be in the best position to address it.  There may be someone either with the authority or who is simply closer to the person or the issue who is in a better position to discuss it with them.  We must take care that in trying to figure this out we do not resort to gossiping.  Prayer is really the best way to find out if God is calling YOU to have the conversation.  Pray, pray, and pray some more, asking God to give you a clear calling and pure motives.
  3. Once you feel that God is calling you to this conversation, do it as soon as possible.  Sometimes we think (or hope!) problems will just fade away on their own, but more often than not, they will just get worse if we give them time!  Plan ahead and think about the setting you want for the conversation and then make that happen.  Privacy (initially it’s always best to have these conversations one-on-one ) and a location where you won’t be interrupted or distracted is always best.  Make sure there will be enough time to do the conversation justice.
  4. Again, ahead of time, think about the best way to phrase what you want to say.  Use “I” statements as much as you can.  Don’t generalize (in other words don’t use the words “always”, “never”, etc.).  Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).  If you cannot figure out how to say what you have to say in love, then God is likely not calling you to this conversation – or at least not yet!
  5. When you do have the conversation, start out with some positives, and be sincere!  Then move on to seeking deeper understanding about the issue at hand.  Using the phrase, “Help me understand where you’re coming from.” is so useful.  Maybe you don’t know the full story!  Listen and look for common ground – because that’s where you start coming up with a solution to the conflict.

So what do you think?

What are your best tips for having a hard conversation?

MOMcon 2015

As I type this, I’m sitting in the Baltimore-Washington airport on my way home from MOMcon (formerly known as MOPS Convention) in Indianapolis.  It was amazing, as always.  It really is an experience that is not duplicated anywhere else.

I am so blessed and privileged and thankful to serve this life-changing ministry and be able to hear such skilled and godly speakers.  I always learn so much!  The days are always filled with God-moments. And this year as never before, my team just had a blast together.  I really can’t remember when I last laughed so hard.

I just wanted to quickly share some quotes/ideas that resonated with me.  And by resonate, I mean that they are in tune with the stirring of my heart that God has already been doing this year.  I share because I hope that they might help you find the beautiful notes of God’s story working in your life, too.

Bob Goff –

  • Live in grace, walk in love.
  • Love lavishly- give it all away.
  • Don’t make it about you, make it about Jesus.

Jen Hatmaker –

  • We are loved children with a love-sick father.

Margaret Feinberg –

  • Noticing goodness is fighting back with joy.  Pursue joy.
  • Marinate in the truth of God’s love for you.
  • Remain suspicious that God is up to something good.

Arlene Pellicane-

  • Ask yourself if technology use is drawing your family together or driving it apart.  Act accordingly.

And lastly I’ll leave you with this.  Several times over the course of my time at MOMcon we sang this song -Holy Spirit.  I’ve decided this is going to be my anthem for the rest of 2015!  It truly is the prayer of my heart.

image

Regardless of whether you were at MOMcon or not, what is God stirring up in your heart these days?

what’s been happening around here

I totally feel like I have to rewind here.  I haven’t posted in a while – we have been so busy!

So let’s start with some summer stuff…

We started a fairy garden, just for fun.  It looked pretty pathetic for most of the summer, but by September, the ground cover we added had grown and now I’m thinking it looks pretty cute.  It’s a fun summer activity for little ones – even more fun if you make an event of searching your backyard for things to use in it (pebbles, rocks, wood pieces, bark, moss, ground cover, etc.).  Search fairy garden on pinterest – you’ll be amazed!  Here’s a pic of ours:

Fairy Garden

I also bought this secretary at Goodwill in August… and finally painted it the first week the kids were in school.  I’m loving how it looks in the kitchen.  I had hoped that it would solve the problem of papers piling up on the kitchen table, but apparently you have to actually put things in it for that to work.  ha.

Secretary

Then school started.  So far, so good.  Kids have been doing well, with the slight exception of one phone call home regarding a 10-year-old boy who talked too much.  I guess that’s normal boy stuff – but definitely a first for me.  I hope it’s the last.

Let’s see, what else?

This seems to be the year where I have officially become the mom taxi.  Kids have activities three nights a week.  Then you add in my activities and my husband’s… and we are running around a lot.  But they are all good things – Bible quizzing, irish dance, MOPS, etc.

One of my oldest daughter’s activities are advanced math and science classes (for which she is actually getting college credit!) at the local community college.  I must say it felt weird to drop my 7th grader off at a college campus!  She has started rolling her eyes at me when I remind her not to talk to strangers or go anywhere alone every time I drop her off.  But I still do it – ha ha!  After all, she IS only 12!  But I’m finding a fabulous side effect of all this growing up she’s doing – she no longer has to be woken up!  she gets up on her own!  and showers every day without reminders!  Let’s just say I’m a little happy about that.

Then in October came MOMcon (previously known as the MOPS Convention) in Kansas City.  As always, it was amazing.  I got to see/hear Beth Moore, Jen Hatmaker, Lysa Terkeurst, Ken Davis, and more.  It is always a spiritually refreshing few days away for me.  The challenge is letting what I heard sink in and change me.

Halloween came and went, and my littlest was just the cutest thing ever – Madeline:

Madeline

She thought no one would know who she was – but so many people commented and loved her costume.

Then our computer hard drive crashed and all our files were unrecoverable (is that a word?).  Sad day, people.  Because even though you KNOW you should back stuff up, like all those precious photos of your little ones, do you really do it regularly?  Well, we did not.  Over the years I’ve been pretty good at actually printing our photos, which I am thanking God for.  I hadn’t gotten any 2013 pics printed, though, so I’m pretty bummed about that.  Not to mention all our other files besides photos!

My P.S.A. for today – back up your files, you never know.  

 And so November is here now, with Thanksgiving right around the corner.  I love this holiday and everything about it!!

The kiddos and I will be doing this week-long “giving thanks” activity from Ann Voskamp.  I think this is great for older children who can write – it stretches out the thanksgiving for all week!

http://www.aholyexperience.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/7Gifts.pdf

And a nice little video how-to for folding it into a little booklet are here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQGf3y6nFww

So now your turn – what’s been happening in your neck of the woods?

MOPS: Lonely No More

Very often when my family and I are out and about, we run into women I know but my family doesn’t.

Next from my kids comes the questions, “Who is that?  How do you know her?”

 

Last week this happened again.  I chatted with the woman for a few minutes and shortly after we parted, the questions came.

This time, however, before I answered, my oldest said, “Nevermind.  MOPS, right?”

I had to laugh.  Because she was right.  Nine times out of ten I know the person because of MOPS.

 

MOPS is short for Mothers of Preschoolers.  Not familiar with MOPS?  Go here to find out more.

 

Seriously, if you are a mom of a preschooler (a child that hasn’t started kindergarten yet), and you’re feeling lonely, find a MOPS group.  It’s funny how as a new mom especially, you are with that little person 24 hours a day, but you can feel painfully lonely.

 

The link above takes you to the MOPS home page and then click on “find a group” near the bottom of the page to search for a group near you.  You’ll meet lots of other moms in the same season of life as you.

 

And it may take one meeting or ten.  But I promise you, you will make lifelong friendships that will enrich your life and leave you lonely no more!

My Monday Mess – 5/20/13

We had our MOPS Volunteer Staff leadership training this weekend, and I am now even more in love with next year’s MOPS theme.

BFul-Mess_Logo1

Moms live in messes. The toys, crumbs, and spit-up are their natural surroundings. Moms often feel like a mess. They are exhausted, under-showered, and hormonal. Their past and present circumstances and decisions can leave them feeling inadequate for God’s love and purposes.

A Beautiful Mess — reminds moms that beauty can come out of their difficult spots. The grime of mothering young children brings the beauty of motherhood. The bruises of life can bring God’s redemption.

Embrace Your Story — reminds moms that their past, present and future can be used for good. God knows where each of us has been, where we are today and has set in motion where we are headed.

Theme Verse – 

Ephesians 2:10 (New Living Translation)

For we are God’s masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

God created us, He loves us, and we are precious to Him.  No matter what.  And he can use ALL things for the good of those who love Him.

And one of the things we’d discussed in leadership training is being authentic as a leader… because no one you lead will be more real with you than you are with them.  And I really think that pretty much goes for ANY relationship you have!  How can we grow closer without sharing the messy parts of our lives?  If we don’t, we’re just building a relationship on a facade.

(seriously, I just have to say how much I love MOPS – where else can you get leadership opportunities and top-notch leadership training with babies on your hip??)

With that in mind, I’m thinking I might just post some Monday messes from here on out.

Here’s today’s mess – that will hopefully get cleaned up today, too!

I present to you my kitchen table in all it’s present glory:

100_1669

Aaack!  And I’ll also say that this is not necessarily atypical!   🙂

Feel free to share a picture of your Monday Mess in the comments!!