Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Resolutions for 2014

On January 1 a year ago, I shared my goals and the areas where I wanted to focus on growing.  With another new year beginning, it's time to reflect, reevaluate, and make a new list -- not of resolutions, but of the things I want to accomplish and ways I want to grow in 2014.  So yesterday, I sat down with my Bible, my journal, last year's goal list, and a blank sheet of paper.  I wrote the word "INTENTIONAL" in bold across the page, because that's the theme God began to press on my heart last December, and He has continued to emphasize it through the year.

After some thinking, praying, list-making, doodling, and basically writing down everything that came to mind.... I've compiled it all into a neater set of 6 focused goals.  In the spirit of authenticity and accountability, I would like to share that list with you.  

Honestly, I know that I've slacked in this area lately.  So the goal is to get back on track and get back into the Word.  This has two parts.  First, I want to find a good study to do this winter and spring -- maybe Beth Moore or something similar.  Second, I want to set out a good reading and devo plan to follow while I'm at camp this summer, when there isn't time each day to do a deep study.  

Last year, I had 3 books I wanted to read in 2013.  I read ONE of them.  Yeah, fail.  But in my defense, I actually read THREE other books that were not on my initial list!  :-)  
For this year, I first want to finish the three books that I've started reading and haven't finished yet:  Love Does by Bob Goff, Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge, and The Ascent of a Leader by Bill Thrall et al.  Then, I'm hoping to read through two others this year:  Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg and Enjoy the Silence by Duffy and Maggie Robbins. 

Regular exercise was a big one on last year's list, and something I want to carry into the new year.  Currently I'm taking a yoga class and a Zumba class weekly, but want to get back into walking/running and weights, all of which I've neglected since going to Alaska!  This past year has also been a journey in learning to enjoy eating healthy, another goal to carry forward into 2014.  

As a counselor adviser at Echo Ranch Bible Camp this past summer, I had many opportunities to pray with counselors and my fellow staff , on occasions when they were weary, exhausted, stressed, broken, and overwhelmed, and it was my place to minister to them and to help them rise up and keep going.  As I think about going back to camp this coming year, this stands out as one of the areas I know I need to improve in.  More boldness.  Less self-consciousness.  Deeper love.  Stronger words.

Simply put, I'm aware that there are a couple of specific relationships in my life that I need to work on forgiving and mending this year.

Several goals that I wrote down initially all fall into this category, and I think this is going to be my biggest focus/theme for this year.  Bob Goff writes in Love Does, "I get the invitation every morning when I wake up...to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day.  Turning down this invitation comes in lots of flavors.  It looks like numbing yourself or distracting yourself or seeing something really beautiful as just normal.  It can also look like refusing to forgive or not being grateful.... Accepting the invitation to show up in life is about moving from the bleachers to the field.  Simply put, Jesus is looking for us to accept the invitation to participate."

My version says:  Practice being engaged in life and loving people well -- listening, being all there, asking good questions, being approachable and open, giving generously of myself, soaking in the beauty of life, getting out of my comfort zone, and being willing to look stupid sometimes!

I'm very much an introvert by nature, which means sometimes I just want to be alone and not participate, or I prefer to stand back where I feel safe and let someone else have the spotlight or do the talking or look ridiculous.  But at the same time, I'm realizing that I don't want to waste these days God gives me and the people I have the chance to reach out to, by being reserved and not fully participating in life.  It doesn't mean I have to become an extrovert.  It just means I want to "show up to life" and to live and love well.  Another quote from Bob Goff: 
"Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving.  It's about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light.  That's what I want my life to be about - full of abandon, whimsy, and in love.  I want to be engaged to life and with life."  

So there you have it:  my vision for 2014.
Thank you for reading!  Happy New Year to you and may it be full of huge blessings! :-)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bridging two worlds?

Today I worked my "occasional job" at the Events Center, where there's a Christian youth conference happening this weekend.  The kiosk I work there is situated in the hall right outside the doors of the main auditorium, so we could hear the bands playing -- loud and clear! -- and could step inside and hear the speakers whenever we weren't busy.

Being a Christian youth conference, it definitely had the Christian/church atmosphere.  That was a lot different from the last event I worked, which was a secular, business event.  And today I realized, it's different from what I'm surrounded by lately.

I've grown up in a "Christian bubble," and even the majority of my adult life has been spent in that bubble.  Up until this year, I'd never worked a secular job, but always worked at Christian camps.  I went to church, worked at camp, went on mission trips, and all my friends were believers.  My "mission field" was the kids who came to camp and the people I served on mission trips.

This fall I started my first retail job.  Suddenly I find myself immersed in the real world -- the world where people don't go to church on Sundays, where curse words pepper every conversation, where coworkers talk bad about each other behind their backs, where partying and fake ID's are perfectly acceptable.....and where, unfortunately, I don't talk about Jesus.

So today, being at work but in a church-like setting was a bit disorienting.  I heard Christian music blaring from the auditorium all day.  I saw people -- customers -- walking through the hall singing along to those worship songs.  People were friendly and kind and they were carrying Bibles with them.  It was the kind of atmosphere where Jesus is "the norm."  And it was almost weird to be surrounded by that again, in a place other than church or camp.

So the question is, what is the bridge between these two worlds?  In the atmosphere I worked in today, it was normal and expected for everyone to like Jesus and talk about Him and live morally.  In the atmosphere I normally work in, at my regular retail job, that's not normal and expected.  In fact, that's pretty much just me.

But does that mean I should keep my beliefs to myself and not speak about Jesus?
Does that mean these two worlds -- work and Christian life -- should be so very different?
How do I bridge my faith and my faithless workplace?
How do I bring Jesus to work with me....without being a "typical Christian" and turning people off?