Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesdays at Mellelos

Wednesday afternoons = Mellelos Coffee

I have made it a weekly habit to take my computer and journal and head to a local coffee shop to take a break from working in order to think, journal, blog, and catch up on emails. It's a lovely tradition and I look forward to it every week. It helps my brain to slow down a bit. With VBS rapidly approaching in t-minus 12 days there are so many things to think about, people to talk to, and big and little tasks to be done. My brain feels a bit like a major LA freeway with cars of all shapes, colors, and sizes zipping around, crashing into each other, going the wrong way on one way streets, and making a lot of noise. I'm not really stressed, per say. It is more of just the pressure of being responsible for directing this whole thing. It is no easy task. Note to self: don't ever become a CEO, or a business owner, or a doctor, or president of the United States, or anything else that requires loads of responsibility over lots of people. Just watch. Now God will place me in one of those positions. Eek. As I try and examine myself and analyze who I am and what I want these are the thoughts that have been emerging recently: I like to lead by example in small every day situations. Acts of service, hospitality, gestures of love, words of encouragement, unexpected gifts, etc. I never want to let myself get too busy that I don't have time for those daily moments of ministry.
Just this morning I had an experience, in which I surprised myself by speaking up in a situation that I would have most likely kept quiet several years ago. While standing in line at the Bank of America ATM downtown, I watched as a young woman and her daughter took an unreasonably long time to complete their transaction. From behind me I heard a grouchy old gentleman speak up. The conversation went something like this:

Grouchy man: “What are you doing up there- writing a darn book?! This is ridiculous!”

Me: “Patience is a virtue you know” (smiling at him)
Grouchy man: “Ya? I read that on my refrigerator this morning too. Love holds no record of wrongs..but the Bible doesn't say that I can't speak my mind.”

Me: “It does say to speak only kind words to others.”

Grouchy man: “Well some people are just inconsiderate”

Me: “We are pretty spoiled here in America with having everything so quick and readily available.”

Grouchy man: “I don't know if that's the point. Some people people are just ridiculous. Besides Bank of America only has two locations here.”

Me: (after finishing my transaction) “Yes, well have a nice day.” (smiling)

I felt so bad for the woman (who obviously heard the whole thing). I had to stand up for her. I hope I planted a seed of happiness in that man though and gave him something to think about. I prayed for him afterward because I can tell he needs some joy and perspective in his life. What I really wanted to tell him was to go to Africa and then he would appreciate what he has here in America a little bit more.

I read this week that there are really only two questions that have driven people for all of history. It all boils down to 1) Who is in charge? And 2) How much do you love me?
Love is the center of it all. My actions should all stem from love and when people look at me I want them to see the love of Christ. He said “they will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.” If I just remember that ministry and life boils down to this then it is easier not to get stressed out or muddled up in ideas, philosophies, theologies, methods, or accomplishments.

My apologies if this doesn't all flow together. It is the inner workings of my head this week as I try to serve the Lord, serve others, and make some big decisions about the future.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Coffee, McDonalds, Photography, Jesus, and Delayed Gratification

You may be wondering what coffee, McDonalds, photography, and Jesus have to do with each other. Well stick with me for a minute and hopefully it will makes sense.
This week I was challenged to figure out what my unique love relationship with Christ looks like. Take away expectations, molds, other people with their ideas, and figure out how to love Jesus. Not easy. As I've pondered that this week I have realized something about myself that I am not proud of-I am not good with delayed gratification. I like immediate results. This is partly due to my personality and undoubtedly due in part to the culture I was raised in. I can drive through a coffee stand and have my sugar free hazelnut mocha in 2 minutes. McDonalds workers can make nasty burgers for 25 people in 10 minutes (I don't want to know how). I feel inconvenienced when I have to stand in line at the grocery store for more than 4 minutes. For Pete's can get married at a drive through chapel in Vegas now! (not that I would EVER want to). I find myself hard pressed not to succumb to this fast paced society. This week I took a photography class and started doing some research on how to be a better photographer. Becoming a great photographer takes time and practice. I know this, but for some reason I find myself overwhelmed and feeling like I want to know everything there is to know and understand it right now. This mindset seems to permeate my every day thinking. I want the wisdom without the years of experience. I want to see the pounds melt away instantly when I exercise. This becomes a big problem when I project it onto relationships. I want to see change/growth in people, but it takes time. Time. In my efficient, every moment counts, rushed American mindset it's difficult to wait patiently and faithfully, but God has all the time in the world. Eternity in fact. He will take his sweet time fulfilling his plan and I've got to be okay with that. This idea of time, growth, and delayed gratification has affected my relationship with Christ, in that I somehow feel like I need to grow fast, understand more, love better. Instead of loving Jesus on a daily basis and let the relationship develop at a good pace, I find myself thinking about better Bible Study methods and comparing my relationship with Him to His relationship with other people. Ouch. Good thing He waits faithfully for me while I figure this all out and he loves me just the same. Always has and always will.

I don't have any idea how many days the Lord will allow me to walk this earth, but I'm trying to let go of the idea that I need to do it all, understand it all, accomplish it all now. It's about enjoying the journey, stopping to smell the roses, if you will.

So I took a lunch break to eat this gorgeous plate of fresh fruit and vegetables, while reading one of my favorite books...

I took mom to relax for the morning and get a pedicure...(I tried to load the pics here but it's not cooperating :(

and I am planning a weekly date to spend time with my precious Jesus as I grow to love him more each day...

Thank you to my African friends and their culture which have helped me to see the value of being more laid back. I'm still learning and I have a feeling God is going to send me to another country to force me to slow down and just live.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Core Values

Donald Miller is one of my favorite authors. He makes me think and inspires me. If you're a Donald Miller fan and you've never checked out his's worth checking out. Lately I have really enjoyed his thought provoking words about life. He leaves me pondering and wishing I were in a discussion group with other people who wanted to discourse about the same things. One recent post was about discovering our core values and importance of knowing what your core values are. Miller says in order to figure out what your core values are you need to pinpoint what makes you mad. So today, holed up in the corner of a coffee shop I am asking myself What makes me mad? What do I live for? What fuels my decision making? I guess I have always known pretty clearly what I believe and what I'm passionate about, but it's harder to verbalize. I came up with the following list which I think is a pretty comprehensive list of what makes me mad:ignorance, injustice, bad parenting, child neglect, untruth, materialism, disrespect for God, irresponsibility, negativity, apathy/complacency. Therefore, I guess some of my core values would be: education, justice, nurture/protection of children, Truth, simplicity, respect, responsibility, positivity/optimism, passion/concern for life. That's a pretty good list to live by (though I probably fail on more that one occasion to actually live by those values). So what are your core values? What makes you mad?