Sidelined

We’ve all heard it said “if the devil can’t make you bad, he will make you busy.” While I do agree that busyness can get us into trouble, I think there is something even more subtle and effective. Getting us to be sidelined, and out of the game, out of making a difference for the kingdom.

As a culture we are consumed with comparison. In fact, many marketing strategies are built on it. We all feel like we need that “it” item that every one else has. Social media is like gasoline to this fire. If only I had what he had. If only I had the opportunities that she had. If only this and if only that. Studies have even shown that social media can even contribute to depression, and I believe it’s because comparison can be so detrimental to our souls.

Recently, I’ve been having conversation with my friends about this topic. A friend said to me “I will never do amazing things for God, like go to Africa like you do.” I was shocked to hear this as I really respect this friend as an amazing woman of God. She is incredibly encouraging, funny and a wonderful mother. She is someone who seems so grounded and all together. And yet, she feels she’s less effective or important to the kingdom because she does not feel led to travel to Africa.

I looked at her and said, “and I look at you and how you care for your children and how thoughtful and encouraging you are to others, and I feel like I will never be like that.” I call myself “domestically challenged”, its just not my strong point, and sometimes I really beat myself up about it. Especially when we are invited to someone’s house and they cook and amazing meal, or when I see posts of moms doing crafts with their kids.

So did you catch what happened in my conversation with my friend? She’s looking at me, saying, “I will never do those things, I don’t measure up, I don’t matter as much.” And I am looking at her saying the same thing.

The comparison game can leave us paralyzed. It can sideline us. I believe we each have a unique God given purpose. But if we spend our time looking at others, comparing, wishing for their lives, feeling inadequate, we will miss what He has for us. In fact, we sideline ourselves.

We are all unique. God has given us each gifts and talents for use in His Kingdom. In addition, the scope of our influence is also God given, and looks different for each of us. Our purpose is to discover what He uniquely created us to do, and to serve him with all our hearts. We are all members of one team, each position may look different, but every position matters. We are a body, every part matters.

So yes, I do travel to Africa for my job. Not everyone can or wants to do that. And my friend has written me encouraging notes, and brought a meal for our family during a difficult time as she does for others. Without encouragement from people like that, people that do missions work would not be able to do what we do. We each matter.

Let’s fast-forward 100 years…. none of us will be here. We will all be in eternity. What will matter is what we did with what we specifically were given and asked to do. And whatever crowns and rewards we get, I believe our desire will be to lay them at His feet anyways, they aren’t for us. Our lives matter most in light of Him and His kingdom, not our small world.

Has comparison left you sidelined because you feel like your gifts aren’t as good or important as someone else’s? Get off the bench and get in the game. You matter to the team. Most importantly, you matter to the King.

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. 

When Death is Beautiful

My absolute favorite season is fall. As a Buffalo girl, it’s another hopeful start to the Buffalo Bills season (naysayers don’t even haha). I love the crispness of the fall air, and comfortable temperatures. I love the general “coziness” of the season: apple picking, pumpkin farms and warm apple cider. Most of all I love the beautiful colors of fall. Every day I awake to a new beautiful color display as if God repainted the canvas of the trees at night while we were all asleep.

Recently while driving I reflected on the “why” behind the changing colors. I was reminded that the changing colors are actually the process of the leaves dying. The leaves must die in preparation for winter and eventually for new growth in the spring. If it weren’t for the death of the leaves we would miss out on the beautiful splendor that comes with the changing colors. And even after the death of the leaves we know it is not the end, after some time, past the cold of winter, new leaves will bud once again.

I think this applies to our own lives. Sometimes good things must die to make way for the new. We might fight against the process, but if we were to let go, we can actually learn to appreciate the beauty in that process. Sometimes I find myself letting go of something only to try to take it back again. It reminds me of those last few leaves that hold on to the trees, the ones that are there during the first snow. The problem is, those leaves freeze, and weigh down the tree, damaging it.

We must learn to let things die. Whether its bad attitudes, bitterness and anger, or even some of our commitments that keeps us too busy. If we keep holding on to them, just like the leaves that hold on until winter, we will damage ourselves. When we let go, the death of those things make way for new life. Bad attitudes can be replaced with joy. Bitterness and anger can be replaced with peace. And moving away from being overcommitted can lead to more fullness of life.

Learning to let go is not always, and death can be painful. I encourage all of us to do it. I would even push us to take a step further, to a look for and appreciate the beauty in the process.

What things in your life do you need to let go of to make way for the new?

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?

 

Welcome & Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Welcome matey to Hope & Savvy!

I could not think of a better day to launch this blog than “National Talk Like A Pirate Day.”

So throw on an eye patch, learn some pirate phrases and have a little fun today.

But before you do, please take a moment to look around.

“ABOUT”  is a great place to start.

Savvy?

About

Hi I’m Kate, thanks for visiting Hope & Savvy!

Who I am: A follower of Jesus.
Love: Married to my best friend Joe, who fills my life with joy and laughter.
Kids: I am mommy to 4 awesome kids, one of them through adoption.
Work: Director of Let them LOL.{Follow the link to learn more}
Random: I am a fan of Jack Sparrow and all things Savvy.

This blog is meant to be a place to share the stories of what God is doing, and what I am learning along the way. My hope is that you will be encouraged in your journey.

Follow the links to learn more about the story behind the name Hope & Savvy.

Photos from Africa are by sjbridgeman.com.

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.