Monday, February 20, 2017

My Personal Mission Statement- and the different resources that helped me draft it

My Personal Mission Statement-

This is something I've heard of and looking back I remember I had to compile a career centered one in college years and years ago. It's a topic I've come across from time to time in devotion books or on Pinterest. But honestly, not something I've ever officially put together for myself. This weekend I decided to dig into this a little more, with a few different resources kind of all coming together to form the version I came up with. I don't think there's a right or wrong way to do this- and also no right or wrong way to finish.  But different ways to emphasize or focus. 

A few things I knew I wanted to include were:
       1. my spiritual gifts (a topic my friends and I have been discussing/how they fit into ways we serve at church and how to use them the way God intended. We've also been curious what ours actually are- and how to learn more about them)
       2.  my strengths (this includes my personality strengths) 
       3. the areas God is asking me to give in during this season of life (Eg. homeschooling.  This is a high priority role I'm filling right now, but likely only for a season of life- not my entire life like the role of wife or mom)  
       4. the bigger picture questions that include- eternal perspective, earthy quests/topics that make my heart beat a little faster and things I would consider myself passionate about. 

Saturday afternoon rolled around and I brewed some fresh coffee, sent my kids outside with Josh (let's be real-life here... coffee and quiet pair up perfectly for a great work environment) I gathered all the different resources together and took notes in a notebook as I went through.  It was interesting and deep, and I found it fun and fulfilling to explore and contemplate.  It was not a project that felt like a drag at all- actually it was all-consuming and I didn't want to stop!

This blog is where I started, it had me list a few different things:  3-5 things that I want out of life, 3-5 things I'm passionate about, 3-5 goals or life improvements. I'd say this one was lighter- not as deep as other resources, but did get my gears turning and was a great starting place. A pretty great outline to kick off this journey. A questioned posed that really stood out was, "how do you want to be remembered?" 

The book, You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth, (Amazon Link) is one a group of friends and I did a few years back when we were doing a Bible study/walking group together...  in chapter 8 titled "What does God want me to do with my life" it digs into answering this question by eventually drafting a version of a personal mission statement.  I had mine already there, written in messy black ink waiting to be revised and revisited. It reads: 

 "I am created and called to express my faith through love by encouraging growth to the hearts of those around me through time, prayer and obedience to God's prompting" 

It still fits, but I was ready to do some revamping. 

After taking 4 different spiritual gift assessments online

This one covers 9 task orientated spiritual gifts and gives an overview on how they can be used within the Church. This one covers what are called motivational gifts. (Disclaimer:: I still want to dig deeper into the passages in scripture where spiritual gifts are covered and gain a better understanding of them as a whole) 

I scored what I anticipated I would, highest in Exhortation (encouragement) and second in shepherd (Which explains the joy I feel in teaching Sunday school or Kingdom Quest) That's the whole reason God has given us these gifts in the first place, is to USE them for His glory- so finding this out and plugging in to a local body is really (REALLY!) important.  Serving is key in living a life that is meaningful and fulfilling.  It breaks me out of a selfish mindset and invests in someone other than me. It's rewarding in the deepest sense and I believe we are hardwired and created in a way that gives us satisfaction to serve in ways that you are gifted!

The next step in my notes was I compiled a rough draft statement for each major role I'm living right now.  marriage, mom, friend, teacher etc. Here is an example of my ministry one 

"To serve in church by using my gift of sheparding
 to teach Sunday school and kingdom quest.
Faithfully presenting the Gospel,
 praying for the hearts of the kids in my class
 and cultivating a classroom that encourages spiritual growth"

Then I worked on combining each of my separate ones into one main mission statement that highlighted and joined them together. 

Reflecting on the process as a whole, it was really enlightening. One that I would say each step in the journey was worthwhile, meaningful and I learned a lot as I worked on it.  My prayer is that having this will help me focus my life, my time and the ways I serve in ways that have eternal meaning.  That having this will help me know what's the best yes for me for this season of life. (the best yes book is on my to-read list!) If this isn't a project you've experimented with or a step you've taken I would encourage you to give it some time, some thought and prayer (and of course coffee & quiet!!) and see where God leads you.  I love that each person's statement will be as unique as they are- with different gifts and passions included!  I'd love to hear yours, and to know any other resources that helped you put yours together.  

I think mine may change (likely) as the chapters in my life unroll, but here's my finished (for now) personal mission statement.  

Cultivating a life of service, rooted in Biblical truth and sincere compassion to encourage the hearts I encounter, through investing time, sharing hospitality and speaking truth in love; by obedience to God's prompting. Keeping an eternal perspective and embracing the joy in the daily real-life.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

second guessing- everything.

Free Time

These are my constant balancing challenges. How do I manage our days home with making sure we tackle school, keep the house in a real-life lived in "clean-ish" state or at least not an episode of hoarders? How do I give responsibilities to the boys and have them do the "right" amount of chores? And one of the benefits of homeschooling is that they can have time for their hobbies, how do I find a good balance for this? 

I DON'T KNOW! It's like juggling bowling pins.  And that's not a strength of mine either.

Just like a ton of moms I've talked with, we have this thing we're really good at. (and it's not something to brag about) We excel at constantly second guessing ourselves. I've seen those posts about the mom being in bed and not able to sleep at the end of the day wondering if she loved enough, gave enough, did enough, etc... the message we play is "everyone else has this figured out" Why do we torment ourselves like this? I've been spending some time thinking over this- and have a few ideas. 

First, I think we compare. I compare other homeschooling schedules, I compare other people's fb posts of their clean homes, I compare life, compare kids, and compare talents.  Why do we do this? Our lives are all different, and as my friend Amy says, comparison is the thief of joy.  I believe this! When we look at other homes, other marriages, other schedules... we are pulled away from contentedness. We are pulled away from thankfulness and gratefulness and joy.  My life isn't yours... so unless we can encourage eachother in our own unique journeys please please please don't compare.  

The second reason I think we get trapped in this, is we aren't transparent enough.  I was just talking with a friend Sunday evening at church and it came up in our conversation that how on earth can we encourage eachother, support eachother or be there for one another as sisters in Christ if we pretend life is perfect?  This goes hand in hand with a passion I've had recently to celebrate real-life, not perfect life. To find the joy in DAILY. And it's true!  We need to open up, let others in, and share our struggles with the people God gave us to do life with. We need eachother.  I don't have it all figured out, but I can relate to the struggles in marriage, mom-ing, even in our walks with Christ. And the point of sharing isn't to complain, but to get in the trenches with eachother. We can't get in trenches or have anyone come meet us in our trench if we pretend life is great... and are never willing to share struggles, challenges and hard stuff. Transparency is a powerful thing.  It shines light where darkness is. The thing about darkness is that's where lies thrive, sin thrives, struggling alone thrives. So let's open up a little more. Let's get alongside eachother, not in comparison, but in a heart of encouragement, empathy, compassion and growth. So that we can do this real-life thing together. 

The third thing I think happens with this constant second guessing thing we do as women is having discernment to know what is guilt, and what is conviction.  Satan wants to point out our failures over and over again.  He wants to remind us of all the ways we aren't meeting the bar.  He wants us to feel defeated and not worthy.  To make us believe his lie that everyone else is thriving and we're alone over here failing. We need to call out truth in that battle, because Christ's message to us is SO different than that.  He wants to call out our sin, not to keep us wallowing there, but because HE PAID for that sin on the cross and it cost Him everything in order to set us free! (John 3:16) He convicts us in order to FORGIVE and to give us VICTORY over those struggles.  He wants us to live a life that's free.  Not free to keep sinning, but free from the trap of sin! He wants us to live out our unique stories in a way that shines our lights blazing bright into this dark world... and to shine in a way that gives Him the glory!  But we need His wisdom to know the difference between guilt over things we really don't need to claim guilt in.  And wisdom to know the voice of conviction and to have a heart willing to repent. A heart tender and seeking Him. The best way to grow in discernment is to get in the Word... to study it, learn from it, and make that a priority.

The last thing that I've had on my heart is our pride. Man it gets in the way of making changes that will actually benefit us. We want to do this well, but we don't necessarily want ideas to change things up a bit. This is an area I want to let go of.  I want to be confidant in the roles I'm living, but I want humbleness and a heart that's willing to be taught, nurtured and sometimes flat out called out. (ouch) Pride is ugly, but it's clothed in a really tempting garment. It's deceiving but it hides itself well. 

So sisters, let's rise above! Let's let go of some of these traps we have blindly fallen into and let's do this real-life journey together.  To HIS glory! Let's live an abundant life.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

the waiting times

How much life are you wasting in the waiting?  How many moments slip by as you long for the next? The waiting time stretches us, it isn't always comfortable and can sometimes even be down right painful. But if you're waiting until your kids grow out of this challenging phase, you're missing the quiet joys hidden beneath these current trials.  If you're waiting for your marriage to be "perfect" you may be taking forgranted a whole heap load of great right in front of you.  If you're waiting for the weekend, and wasting 5 days every. single. week. then you end up missing out on a whole lot of life that needs noticing too.  2017 I've been stopping, trying to notice and enjoy life right now. The daily. The messes. The tiny little moments. The hot coffee. The health. Real life in all it's raw, beautiful craziness.  Real-life raising four boys, means if I waited until the house was clean, or laundry was caught up, or there to be a moments peace... I would be waiting my life away.  Real-life homeschooling, means my 3 year old is gonna interrupt (a lot), there's gonna be some hard in every day, but that doesn't mean the whole day was bad.  Real-life in my marriage, means sometimes we feel tension, we don't agree, we aren't living this fairy-tale that isn't reality... but it does mean our commitment is solid, we can work through conflicts and keep growing... it means I'm a pretty lucky girl and it's high time I really appreciate that!  Real-life means I'm in the Word and growing in my faith... it certainly doesn't mean I'm perfect, but I AM perfectly His, and soaking up that grace deep into all the cracks of my failures... and man oh man is that grace the sweetest thing. Real-life means repentance and an ever growing desire to live this vapor of a life gifted to me here on earth with roots growing to eternity.  You see, that's the key, this life IS short- this life IS a blink, but eternity is awaiting... and once we reach those heavenly shores all these hard things we face on this side won't matter anymore.  For we will be in GLORY- and have forever to worship our Grace Giver. Stop- look around you today and breath deep.  Don't miss these moments.