Criticize by Creating

This has to be one of my favorite phrases. I don’t have it down 100% of the time, but over and over again when something frustrates me, I remind myself of this.

I’m not gonna lie, when I see people, especially people born in Buffalo who have moved away making fun of our weather on social media, I’d really like to give a sarcastic comeback.  Something like: “Thank you captain obvious for pointing out the fact that it is in fact cold out, can I point out to you that while my kids are enjoying their summer break in the beautiful Buffalo summers, yours will be sitting inside in air conditioning bored because if they were to go outside their faces would melt off.” Would I feel better for a moment? Yes. Helpful? No.

On a more serious note, in the type of work I do, I can sometimes see things that are very unjust. This can be by the people we are working to help and empower in Sierra Leone and those from the US side who want to “help”.  Things can get ugly as the depravity of our humanity rears its ugly head.  And lets just say, especially when someone even thinks about doing something to hurt our program “Momma Kate” will want to come to the defense.

Instead of joining in the negativity I am working towards being a person who criticizes by creating. If we paint a picture for others of how things “ought to be” sometimes that picture speaks louder than a thousand  (sarcastic) words.

How can we criticize by creating?

  1. Ignore the negative and speak/show the positive. Proverbs 9:7 says: “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults.” Really, do you really think your sarcastic response is going to result in something positive? CREATE: go do something fun and find the joy in whatever you were being mocked in. (In our weather example, go outside and enjoy the snow, create memories and share those with others.)
  2. Recognize it’s probably not about you. Realize that often times, someone’s negativity (even if it seems directed at you) probably has nothing to do with you. When you realize that, you can change your defensiveness and hurt to empathy for them. CREATE: offer them some word of encouragement. (In our weather example, a better response would be: I’m really happy you and your family get to enjoy a beautiful day outside.)
  3. Choose to diffuse. Frustrating or even unjust situations often become a boiling pot that’s ready to explode. Proverbs 15:1 says: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” CREATE: be the one to take the first step, send a text, write a note, or buy a coffee for that person. It’s amazing how a simple act of kindness can soften the hardest heart.
  4. Lead by example. When you see a problem, rather than complaining about it, do something about it. CREATE: Be a problem solver. Use your time, talents, gifts, voice to help make the world how it ought to be. 

Highlights From a Leadership Conference

“A person can only receive what is given them from heaven.” Andy Stanley. Everything we have, our talents and abilities, even our opportunities come from God. It is our job to learn what our unique abilities are, and to develop them, but we must remember they all came from Him. Embrace what makes you uniquely you and don’t compare with or try to be someone else.

“Love the calling you have, not the one you wish you had.”  Jud Wilhite. The truth is we all compare ourselves with other people. This comparison game is perpetuated and amplified by social media. Keep in mind that people are always putting their best foot forward and greatest strengths out there in their “online presence”. Behind every “got it all together” outside appearance is just a human being with weakness, fears and struggles. So our challenge is to find who we are meant to be, perfect it and celebrate our unique value we add to the kingdom.

“You can’t wear God out, everything you need He already is.” Priscilla Shriver This was a great reminder and encouragement! Priscilla talked about how sometimes we can become frustrated with ourselves when we fail or when we aren’t at the place we want to be. She then reminded us that God has been fighting for us from the time of the fall in the garden all the way to the cross. Our small struggles and failures aren’t too much for Him, and His patience with us never runs out.

Obstacles and moments of weakness are your greatest opportunities” Malcolm Gladwell Malcolm talked about his new book “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.” We’ve always looked at David as the underdog in the David and Goliath story. Malcolm argues that we have it wrong. David was trained on the sling and was an expert at killing lions and other animals that would threaten his sheep. Goliath as a giant also had a lot of weaknesses. He challenged us to think that obstacles and moments of weakness are our greatest opportunities. I have started reading the book and will do a full book review soon, you can get the book here.

“The Bible doesn’t say change your neighbor as yourself it says love them.” Reggie Joiner 
This was probably my favorite takeaway. Trying to change others to be who we think they should be really doesn’t work and it definitely doesn’t point them to Christ. Love your neighbor as yourself, and watch God’s love change them from the inside out.

Which one these leadership lessons is your favorite?

How to Survive Eating Out With Kids

Whether our not you have young children, we all have been to a restaurant and have seen a family with young kids. It’s the table with cheerios flying, occasional blood curdling screams and usually two worn out parents. Maybe you’ve even cringed when the hostess sat you nearby them. For most moms, a break from cooking is a welcomed one, but eating out with young kids isn’t always a picnic.

Recently our family of five went out for pizza. Joe and I did the unimaginable; we tried to have an uninterrupted conversation. We had ordered and the kids had a coloring sheet with those crayons that don’t really color, and so we thought we were all set. After the 10th interruption in 5 minutes I felt frustration building up inside. It was right at that moment that our youngest put his hand in front of my mouth while I was talking, and I burst out laughing.

There are some things we’ve learned and I apparently need a reminder on when it comes to eating out with little kids:

  1. Expectations: One definition of disappointment is “the feeling of sadness caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations”. So many disappointments stem from unmet expectations. When at a restaurant with young children, expect to eat (at least a little), expect spills, and expect a few annoyed glances. Expecting to have an uninterrupted conversation is probably unrealistic.
  2. Preparation: Aside from the usual: cheerios, goldfish, wipes, extra clothes, plunger, etc. be as prepared as possible. I have gone as far as looking up the menu online, and arriving ready to order.
  3. Perspective: As my Grandma used to say, “this too shall pass.” It’s not always easy to remember in the thick of it, but this is only a season. Even more than getting through, these are precious moments as chaotic as they may seem. When we keep things in perspective, we are less likely to become frustrated.
  4. Laugh: When your two year old knocks his orange juice all over your smothered chicken, just think of it as smothered orange chicken. The truth is, it really isn’t the end of the world, try to find the humor even in a frustrating moment. 

Our kids are 9, 7 and 4. We are out of the flying cheerios stage. While I am enjoying them being more independent I miss those drool filled kisses, and sweet baby giggles.

So lets all remember today to find the joy in whatever season we are in. And if you are out of the season of little kids and you happen to see a young family at a restaurant, maybe offer a word of encouragement to them, it would probably go a long way.

Do you have any funny stories of eating out with kids? Please share them.

How to Make Mondays Your Best Day!

Don’t you just LOVE Monday mornings? It is the start of another hectic week! Oops, I forgot to pack the lunches. Oops, did I sign all the school papers? Ok, no! I don’t love Monday and I am sure many of you are with me on that. But what if? What if we choose to make Monday’s our best day? I propose that the easiest way to make Monday’s great is to get the focus off ourselves, and DO SOMETHING for someone else.

Recently, my husband and I were eating lunch on the second floor of a restaurant downtown. As we waited for our food to arrive, we both enjoyed looking out the window at the people passing by. It was a beautiful day and the neighborhood was very alive. As I looked closer, I was struck by the two homeless people I saw. The man was tall, with greasy hair, layers of ripped clothes and he walked about aimlessly. The woman was very elderly, with the same greasy hair and ripped clothes. Several people walked by them in that “I don’t see you” kind of way.

Then out of nowhere, another man came down the street. He wasn’t walking he seemed to be skipping. He had a contagious, continuous smile on his face. He stopped and spoke to the man first, greeted him, smiled and handed him a dollar. He did the same for the woman, as he skipped along on his way. I wish I could’ve taken a picture of the man and woman’s face. And I don’t think it was even about the dollar, it was the way he greeted them, acknowledging them in the midst of their struggles.

As he walked away, his smile grew bigger. You see the best way to have is to give. While I am convinced himself wasn’t his motivation, this guy was on to something profound. We are the most alive when we are doing something for someone else.

A Challenge:

Right now, wherever you are, think of the first person that comes to mind and send them a text. Tell them you are thinking of them or that you’re praying for them. Tell them what you appreciate about them. We all know what that feels like when someone does that for us. Sometimes those messages come at just the right time.

So ready, go! Make your Monday your best day, by making someone else’s day!

Please stop back to share your stories of what happened. Savvy?

 

Why Savvy?

def. practical know-how.

Why Savvy? Well, Jack Sparrow of course. I have found I sometimes take life too seriously and I love Jack Sparrow’s whimsical (and often strange) outlook at life. In fact I find him weird and well I relate to weird ha ha, enough said. The point isn’t really Jack, the point is a light hearted continuous joke can lighten the more challenging moments of leadership and life.

The true definition of savvy is: “practical know-how”. While I am journeying myself, I hope to share my thoughts on experiences and things I’m learning along the way to provide encouragement to others.