Opinions, part 2

I wrote Opinions, part 1 because people’s opinions have felt weighty lately. People’s voices have felt louder than they should, in a way that they haven’t since that dismantling years ago. I wonder what God is up to.

One thing I learned before was that feeling as I am now was an indicator that I needed to withdraw from people and spend time with my Father. I learned that his voice was easier to discern in the quiet, and I grew to love the silence and the stillness. I learned how to fight to preserve this time as necessary for my soul. As a way to refuel so that I would be equipped to love others.

Something interesting happened as I began to experience freedom from the weight of people’s opinions. I became less self-trusting, and more self-confident at the same time. I knew my tendency, and as I spent time listening to God, I was more sure of how to listen and respond to people. I was able to wade through opportunities with freedom, confidence and joy.

When Jeremy and I got married, our separate, large communities began to feel like more than we could keep up with and we similarly felt the need to withdraw. We needed to spend time together and with the Father, building a foundation. Looking back, I feel like it was a gift, almost like the Father covered my ears with his hands so I didn’t even have the option of discerning opportunities.

As we have been drawn back into shared community more recently, I have felt the din of the crowd growing louder. And not just in community, but everywhere – at work, with family, old friends, new neighbors. My instinct is to withdraw, to assume I must have forgotten to spend time with my Father. I must need some quiet.

But I feel Him calling me into something different this time, and I’m perplexed. Am I hearing Him right? I feel like He is asking me to listen, to engage, to hear them. To be sure enough that He is leading me that I’m able to wade through opportunities and to discern to what and in what way to respond.

I don’t like it! I’m afraid I will give people’s opinions too much weight. That their voices will drown out His, and that I will be back on the roller coaster. It’s not that I haven’t struggled with this since, I have, I do. It’s something I keep coming back too, but now it almost feels like He is asking me to “get on board” and trust that He will be with me.

I wonder if He is reminding me of my struggle, making it feel fresh, so that I can relate to some women in my life who are learning similar lessons now. I wonder if it’s so I can right about it so others can read it. Or I wonder if it is His voice at all…

Am I trying to do more than He is calling me to? Am I doing what others want? What I want? What He wants? Or is all this simply a reminder to seek Him…

P.S. As mentioned last week, I wrote this post awhile back, and at the time was feeling “in the thick of it.” More recently, particularly, the last month or so, I’ve felt the call  to rest once again and enjoyed opportunity to do so. Interesting how God works, isn’t it? 

Two Women on Ministry & Culture

Hey Ladies.

I wanted to share two resources with you today.

One, if you or someone you know leads a small team and would like to hear from everyone about their experience this past year this questionnaire from Beth Moore may be helpful.

 Use it, adapt it, share it.

Then read this:

Two, this is a great article from Ann Voskamp about standing strong as women in the midst of a comparative culture.

 

Giving

There are so many opportunities to give this time of year.

How do you decide what and to whom to give?

I long to be generous, yet also a good steward.

2 Corinthians 9:7 says “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart”

There is beauty in that – we all care about different things.

There is challenge in that – none of us can rely on our hearts to be pure.

How can we help each other dialogue about giving? What are some organizations you’d like to invite others into? Perhaps some ways you can give that require more time or service than money? What are your favorite gifts to give? to receive?

 

 

Writing in the past

My family likes to tease me: “She was born talking,” they’d say. I was verbal at months and by kindergarten, when asked if I could count to 100 yet, there may have been some concern that I wouldn’t stop counting.

Sometime in elementary school, I started a cousins newsletter. My dad’s siblings were spread in five states and our every other year beach trips seemed far away. I wanted a way for the family to stay in touch, so I requested that each Hiteshew family send news of their latest happenings as well as jokes to share.

Now this was prior to facebook and other social media so the family had to actually snail mail me! Then each quarter I’d put all the family news into a template I created and send a copy to each household. It was fun, and it was work that I eventually gave up.

In high school, I loved my English classes, eventually taking AP, and also helped with the yearbook. I also took Latin and French which introduced me to language as both an art and a science. In college, I entered pre-law, quickly switched to undeclared and then briefly considered JMU’s School of Media Arts and Design. I sometimes wonder if I should have persisted in this a bit longer as some of the technological skills would be helpful now, but I took one news writing class and hated how brief my sentences were encouraged to be!

Where was the opportunity to use big words and creativity? To analyze the depths of literature? Hello, English department. Sure, I’ll take French too. Reading and writing in two languages sounds great. Add on a translation minor, why not? During a translation internship my senior year, I wrote an article that was published in the American Translators Association newsletter.

After graduation, I did some freelance translating work as well as work as a project manager, editing and overseeing translation and brand name analysis projects. It was interesting work and the opportunity to meet people worldwide was incredible, but I was working 60-80 hours/week and I felt like I was missing out on life.

I also realized for the first time that not everyone liked kids nor enjoyed being around them. I mean, this was actually news to me; I was surprised! I remembered my Papa’s (maternal grandfather’s) suggestions that perhaps I would be a teacher one day and I suddenly wondered how he knew me better than I knew myself.

I decided to go to graduate school for a Masters in Teaching and during that year did A LOT of writing. Since then, most of my writing has been curriculum-related, whether I’ve been creating lesson plans for myself or others, or training others how to practically implement a plan.

Turns out I’ve always loved language and literacy. Speaking, listening, reading, writing… these elements even lie behind my curiousity about early childhood and the primary years. How do humans develop the ability to use language? is a question that fascinates me.

About a year ago, I realized that I wanted to pursue writing again for myself because I missed spending time reading, thinking, writing like I did in college. I had no idea what pursuing writing meant, but I started setting aside time and space…

Next week: Writing in the present

 

Resources: Personality, Behavior & Communication

Personality tests. They are all a bit different and I’ve taken a handful over the years. I went ahead and compiled a list of the ones I’ve taken here, along with a brief description and some links.

If you are just getting started, I’d recommend the first two. If you find these interesting and want to read more, #3 is a discussion in how the first two connect. I’d recommend #4 for a work or team setting, #5 if you work in a church or parachurch setting and #6 for anyone who wants to learn more about communication and relating in general.

  1. Four temperaments – click here to read a Christian perspective on 4 temps
  2. Meyers-Briggs type – probably the most well-known, 16 possibilities from a combination of your preferences for focus, taking in information, making decisions, and structure.  Take the free version
  3. Temperament-Type connection #1 – Keirsey and in chart form
  4. Disc – focuses more on behavior style, often used to help people communicate how to work and relate with others – free version
  5. Apestministry style – free version
  6. Life Languagescommunication style, this is the only one I was unable to find a free version for

Which of the above tests have you taken? Which would you recommend? Are there others you have taken or would recommend?

 

Listen, Speak, Do

The title of this post brings to my mind an image of three monkeys. You’ve seen them – one covering their eyes, one their ears, one their mouth. The thoughts often associated with these monkeys roughly translates in my mind “ignore what you don’t want to deal with in the way you choose”… a sort of ignorance is bliss mentality or perhaps pious is better… and all those are the opposite of this post’s position.

Today, I ask these questions: what activities can we pursue to receive more grace? Are there certain ways that God always works? How do I train instead of try?

In response to these questions, I propose three categories of blog topics: Listen, Speak, Do that summarize posts that I have either already written about or plan to write about it over the next year. Some of these topics, I will not comment further on at this time, but others I will soon dig deeper into. For example, when it comes to listening, or paying attention, we have covered the topic a lot so here is some background for those you may have missed it. We’ve explored listening to our lives, to others and to God as three ways to notice and to grow. To this category then, I will only comment that three ways of listening to God are through His Word, prayer as dialogue and practicing gratitude as I will speak more on these things in upcoming posts.

When it comes to speaking, I’m reminded what I so often forget; words matter. They carry weight, power even. Therefore, what we say and hear, and when we speak matters too. In the category of speaking, I highlight confession, encouragement and silence, or knowing when to not speak as future blog posts.

When it comes to action, I would like to make a distinction between discipline, as the fruit of our training, and rhythms, as routines that we practice. Distinguishing between discipline as law and training that leds to a more self-controlled life is often subtle, so we will start with this reminder that we are all learners. Some rhythms I plan to highlight then are work, rest, and celebration.

Listen, Speak, Do. Which topic are you most curious about? Let us know!

Lion-Owl-Beaver

I’ve been running into myself lately.

Do you know that feeling?

Acutely aware of both your strengths and your weaknesses, those things that bind and disconnect you from others. We tend to see the world from our perspective, and when we are wearing “our color” glasses, we often don’t recognize that others see differently. When we do get a glimpse of the differences, it can be fascinating!

Do you know through what lenses you view the world?

Have you ever met a Lion-Owl-Beaver? 

Here are some ways I “see”…

Independent and logical thinkers who are also persuasive leaders, ENTJs are business-minded and ambitious. They refuse to allow any subjective emotion to enter into their decision-making process, and as a result they can be seen as callous and cold. But these fierce individuals tend to be highly effective, successful, and incredibly powerful. They are truly the kings of the proverbial jungle.Shaper (Lion)

I see a bigger picture than some, but not as long-term as others. For example, I prefer to think in months/weeks/days, as opposed to years. Too many details weigh me down, but some find me too detailed, lol.

I’m project or goal oriented, meaning I’m visionary, focused, driven.

I see the unique potential in others and I want them to succeed.

I value time, organization, and role definition.

I need support and agreement.

I have a passion to lead.

Contemplator (Owl) INTPs are analytical and thoughtful individuals who prefer to work alone and who are often ill at ease in social situations. They are impatient with hierarchies and politics and would prefer that leaders prove their worth with merit, rather than with charisma and influence. Although they are not particularly social, they do have razor sharp wit (and claws), and are often surprised to learn that people do enjoy their company.

I think a lot, or one might say, reflect often 🙂

I value quiet, learning, and alone time, while also needing undivided attention and quality time.

I have a passion to know and a nature to be loyal.

I don’t always express or show my feelings, yet I can be sensitive.

I’m complex.

ISTJs are logical and word-working conservative types. They enjoy organization and regulation, and have a reputation for being serious individuals who take a practical approach to everything. They are dependable and thorough, sensible and earnest. Like a beaver hard at work on its dam, they are known for being incredibly dedicated workers who will do whatever is needed to get the job done. On the negative side, they have good intentions but can sometimes have a difficult time understanding the emotional needs of others.Doer (Beaver)

I like to get things done.

I want everyone to do their part.

I value planning, thinking and acting over feeling.

 

P.S. I’ve mentioned Life Languages before, and most of the above comes from that communication profile.

Three Things: Love, part 3

The gospel is not everything that we believe, do, or say. The gospel must primarily be understood as good news, and the news is not as much about what we must do as about what has been done. – Tim Keller

Faith is the trust that through Jesus I am God’s beloved daughter. Therefore, I am family with all his children. Reminding each other that God has accomplished this reconciliation frees us from the burden of working to earn something we already have. Therefore, we are given the power to change and grow.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Hope comes from faith. If God can love and change me, then there is nothing He is unable to restore. As I receive love and watch restoration unfold, I hold on to the promise that one day all things will be made new. Suddenly, my life has purpose and I can serve in mundane tasks with the awareness that I’m part of a bigger story. God has plans for us!

For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

Faith leads to hope, and these two working together lead to love for others. As we experience personal freedom and hope for all, we are also free to be honest about who we are in light of who God is; we can admit we bring nothing to the table, and rejoice that we’ve been accepted anyway! The good news is our fuel and makes us ambassadors. We can listen to others and offer them the same love and acceptance we have experienced.

Now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13). Love is the greatest, but the other two are essential. I have to receive love and know it abounds in order to want to share it. Which of the three (faith, hope, love) do you find most challenging personally, or does it depend on the moment (it does for me!)? 

P.S. Much of the content of the Three Things series was inspired by Brad Watson’s book Sent Together (p. 20). Check out part 1 and part 2.

Know your limits

So if there are tasks we are all called to and tasks we are individually called to, it follows that there are tasks that we are NOT called to – corporately and individually. Another name for limits is boundaries or choices. It helps to know what you are not called to because it makes certain decisions easier.

For more on this topic, start here Boundaries and Busyness.