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Helping “the least of these”

“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

Matt 25:40

Every morning for the past few weeks, as I’ve gotten in the shower, it comes to mind how easy it is to access water.  A turn of one dial sends clean, cool water gushing out.  In the evenings, I walk into a warm, clean, spacious home where I can open one door and find a feast of things to cook for dinner. I can visit any kind of doctor with little concern about cost because of insurance.  And I can hop in my car and drive anywhere on a whim.  What it all means is that Life has become easy, and it’s in the ease of life that I find my struggle lately.

Each day, I drive past a lottery billboard…the numbers make my heart ache. Those millions could end homelessness.  Eradicate disease. Make poverty a thing of the past.  It seems so easy.  But easy isn’t usually where the lesson comes from, is it?

Even with the sponsored children, time and donations to the mission, and Christmas gifts of goats and new wells, my investment seems small.  I know that joined together, we can do much.  Community is so important in relationships…in work settings…in helping the least of these.

What charity/relief organizations are you plugged into that I (and others) might not be aware of?  And how can we help?

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#OneWord2011

Several friends have been blogging and sharing online their one word for 2011. The task, for me, was a bit daunting.  One word that would be a theme for my year?  Hard to reduce to one thing.  Over the last two days, I’ve prayed, dreamed, and jotted down ideas.  I thought I’d landed on it yesterday, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized there was a required action behind it.

My word for 2011 is: Commit.

As I’ve gotten older, as my career roles have changed, as I’ve started a family, I’ve realized that what was once the cornerstone of my “get things done” personal brand has evolved to being a great starter, but not always a strong finisher.  And, in some areas of my life, it’s not only beneficial, but necessary. But there are a few areas where I see it as a detriment to real growth, so in these areas, I am making a commitment to action over the next year:

1. I commit to knowing God more.  To trust daily in grace, forgiveness, and faith. To grow my prayer life into a deeper, more personal relationship with Jesus. To begin and end each day with true worship.

2. I commit to being more intentional about my personal life.  Time that should have been spent on the treadmill was spent in front of the computer. Conversations that should have been had in-person were done by email. Life that should have been lived was put on hold because I didn’t want my child raised by an absent parent. I want to be healthier and more engaged this year. I want to make-and keep-better connections with friends, new and old.

3. I commit to having more adventures. In my childhood and young adult years, I actively pursued new adventures (which put many gray hairs on my parents). With age and responsibilities came a fear of jumping into the unknown. I want to live with passion and purpose…not live safe just to pay my mortgage.

4. I commit to spending more time on my art. This covers not only painting, but also photography, crafts, and blogging.  I’ve been inconsistent with them all, even though they bring me joy.  Time to put more priority on the color of life, rather than just that which is black and white.

I love having an anthem for this year.  I love being accountable to God and my life in a big way.  I am committed.

What about you?  What’s your One Word for 2011?

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A Birthday Wish List

Ever have those periods in life when you feel as though you’re just existing?  Things are getting done. Life is good. But your sense of adventure-that fire inside that spurs you to do big things-has been on sabbatical just a little too long? Me, too.  And one thing I’ve learned when those times hit is that I can’t begin to live there…I have to set my sights on what’s ahead.  And since today is my birthday, it’s the perfect time to look ahead and write out my “wish list”…actually more of a “bucket list” for the next 365 days. In this next year, I want to:

  • Begin each day with a smile.  Life is too short to let the little things, like a morning routine, set a bad tone for the day.
  • See the best in others, even when it’s hard.
  • Be a leader others remember later on in their careers for having inspired them.
  • Write at least one thank you note each day. There’s much to be grateful for, and handwritten notes do it beautifully.
  • Forgive easily and forget often.
  • Allow Jesus to be the pilot–a daily, conscious effort.
  • Dig deeper with friends, and cast off life-suckers.
  • Take a dream from “some day” to “this year”.
  • Remain sticky through the peaks and valleys.
  • Actively seek our more opportunities to invest in others-through time and resources.
  • Use Every day of my vacation time!  I love my work, but I love my life more.
  • Be a 3-c parent as my kiddo hits the preteen years: connected, compassionate, and consistent.

Whoa, nelly.  Looks like a big year ahead.  If you were making this list, what would you add?

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A Day in the Sweet Spot

Yesterday was one of those days where I left the office feeling excited, energized…tired, but in a good way.  As I was walking to the parking lot to drive home, I pondered why I was feeling so refreshed after a long day.  I realized I’d spent most of my day smack dab in my sweet spot.  A few years ago, I read Max Lucado’s Cure for the Common Life.  The message of that book was about finding the things that make us unique-things only we can do that further God’s plan.  It stuck with me and I began paying more attention to the parts of my work and personal life that make me feel made for something unique in His plan.

It’s in those days when I know I’ve been right there in that inner circle of what I was made to do…where I serve others well…that I know true contentment.  All is well with the world.  My soul is at peace.  And it makes me wonder why I don’t fight like mad to make sure I’m there more often.

How do we make sure we’re spending time focused on the right things?  I made a list of some things I think help me:

1. Understand what really fills us-God gives us passions for a reason.  And when we’re clear on what our individual gifts are, and using them to His glory, there’s no better feeling in the world.

2. Learn to say “no”-This is harder for some than others, but in order to make space for what we do best, we have to be willing to pass on some things.  No matter our title, there are certain tasks each of us has to get done, but the only person who will ensure we’re finding time for “sweet spot work” is ourselves.

3. Stretch our comfort zones-Sometimes, it’s not until we tackle a new challenge that we learn a part of it fulfills us.  In order to grow, we must stay challenged and not allow ourselves to get too comfortable.

4. Help others around us live in their sweet spots, too-Imagine a team of people working together where each found time to live in their unique sweet spots.  Yes, there’d be some amount of ‘”grunt work” for each that still has to get done, but there’d be a spirit of passion and unity that’d be unstoppable.  We can be aware of the talents of others and encourage them to make time to fit in those sweet spot moments in their own lives.

How do you make time for your sweet spot?

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