family life, journey, judgment, self-acceptance, Uncategorized

Millennials make us uncomfortable… (That’s why I love them…)

marketing-to-millennials

I was talking with a colleague recently about a vision I had to start a unique think tank of sorts. I expressed my desire to acquire a building where people from various generations could rent space for events, or utilize office space for their daily business activities. I continued explaining how awesome it would be to hear the ideas of Millennial Creatives, then have more seasoned professionals act as their coaches. The older, more experienced generation would help them to add sound infrastructure to the businesses they envisioned. The person quickly responded, “I don’t do Millennials, they don’t like hard work”!

As I to listened to him, I’m sure I had a look of incredulity on my face that was perplexing to him. You see, I am a Baby Boomer to the core; not the hippie Woodstock kind of Boomer, I am a traditionalist. I love rules. They make me feel safe. My friend knows this about me.  Yet, the Millennial generation are some of my favorite people in the world. They are courageous and innovative. They take risks. They dream, and dream big. Some wonder if they are all talk and no action. I’m sure my friend wondered why I would ever want to do business with men and women of this generation.They bring discomfort to our need for a steady existence. They tend to shake up the norms that we have come to embrace in business.

My mother retired from the Federal Government after working for over 30 years. The image of my grandfather receiving his gold watch and pension from Sears Roebuck Department Store, is a vivid and proud memory for me. The family that raised me taught me to find a good job, work hard, and retire with a good pension. That was the way I intended to live my life as well. However, when I entered the workforce, the world was changing. New and creative opportunities were on the horizon. Staying on one job, doing the same thing for 30 years or more was horrifying to me. In some cases that kind of tenure was not even an option.  I like many of my peers, I received promotions by moving from job to job waiting for someone to recognize my talents and offer me a job that they thought would be right for me. Management of my career was passively given into the hands of others.

Having children that are now Millennial young adults has changed my life. When I was raising them, I thought that they would be traditional people too. I tried to steer them into traditional fields. I wanted them to have careers that would keep them “safe”. I was passing onto them what had been passed on to me. But my children wanted no part of what I was offering. They had visions and dreams. Dreams that they dare to walk in every day. They are artists, musicians, graphic designers, writers, filmmakers, and anything else they dare to be and do. They are all very successful leaders. They may not always feel successful, but they are. Moment by moment, they embrace their unique personalities and talents. When they were children, I taught them about different learning styles and how everyone was created with a different “bent”. I taught them that all of the different learning types and temperaments have value. They believed me. They are walking that truth out in their lives every day.

In the community where I serve, the Millennial members are often the most creative and productive people among us. They work very hard. To many onlookers, it may not look like they are not working hard because they work differently. They actually love what they do and have fun doing it. They make us feel uncomfortable because we don’t always understand their process. They come up with the most innovative ideas as they are tossing a ball back and forth joking and laughing among one another. Although they experience stress in their lives, for the most part they keep moving. Many don’t have long term plans; they plan as they go.  This is not their fault, it is the times that they were born into. They have been forced to become possibility thinkers. The fact that they succeed and fail, then do it all again the next day inspires me. They are a resilient, hopeful group. This is why I love them.

family life, journey, Rest, Uncategorized, weather

Todays Forecast…Snow…

2013-02-06-sne-snow-map-02-08

In the middle of the latest snow storm which brought us 14 inches of snow, I couldn’t help but laugh as I thought about a few of my former blog posts. In September I wrote about how the marketing moguls attempt to rush us through the months, initiating Christmas in September.

Last month I wrote about how various advertisers continue this process by telling us what to eat, when to eat it, and how to lose the pounds when we’ve eaten too much. One way or the other, there are grand plans to get us to buy bathing suits in February and to go on diets so that we can fit into the bathing suits during the upcoming summer. Just when they thought they had us hyped and ready to buy…God de-planned their plan!

With this winter already bringing us over 53 inches of snow (with more to come…), the retailers were forced to go back into their warehouses to find more winter hats and gloves, and other winter accessories to accommodate the demand of the consumer. Despite all of the best laid plans of mice and men, it is God’s purpose that prevails. (Prov. 19:21) I love to see God shows up people who think they have it all figured out! (myself included…:))

Let it Snow…Let it Snow…Let it Snow!almaty-intro-snowscape-1-1

Wait!!!! Don’t stop reading!!! I know that some of you may feel like I just cursed you or used some other form of illicit language!:) Now it is true, I happen to love Snow. I know that it can be a pain in the neck on a lot of different levels. It can greatly alter our schedules, it causes great damage to our roads.

Potholes are are the worst! I have first hand evidence to this fact because of two tires that were destroyed by a snow caused pothole to the tune of $350.00! I know that the elderly and others who have trouble navigating ice and snow, get tired of being homebound. But stay with me a moment while I explain why I love snow.

11403265-running-people-vector-illustrationAlways on the Run…

We live in a time when schedules, jobs and other activities drive our lives and make us become driven people. Although there is nothing inherently wrong about having drive and ambition, being a driven person is something different altogether. Driven people often miss the little  nuances of life.

We run from one task to the next and miss opportunities to connect with one another. Connecting affords us time to really listen to whats going on deep down inside. We tend to listen more closely to the hopes and dreams that often go unspoken when we pass like ships in the night. The other reason that I like it is because it reminds me that we (humans) are not in control! It forces us to slow down and reflect. The grocery stores are swamped with people buying food that will be eaten together as we all hunker down and wait for the roads to be cleared. Meals that may have been eaten on the run if the weather was more favorable to travel.

Many of us see being busy and on the go as a sign that we are productive and successful. When we are constantly on the go, doing what society dictates as important, we often miss the still small voice inside of us; the voice that has to do with our Ephesians 2:10 purpose. We forget that we are each an individual masterpiece, created for a very unique and special purpose. We just need to learn that it is ok to be still. In other words…Chill...

“Be still and know that I am God…”

Psalm 46:10

The next time the snow falls over night (and it is coming :)), take time to notice the stillness of the morning. The hustle and bustle of cars and people are in submission to the freshly fallen snow. I wonder if we can learn the same submission to the God who made the snow?

family life, Friendship, Gifts, Holidays, Rest, Uncategorized, worship

The Who’s Christmas

I have a confession to make. When I grow up, I want to be like Cindy-Lou Who from Whoville. When faced with someone stealing one of the symbols of Christmas, her beautiful Christmas tree, she graciously accepted the lie the Grinch told her about the broken light on the tree and went right back to sleep.  As much as she loved her tree, she knew that it’s absence wouldn’t stop Christmas from coming.

Image

Over the years, I have heard many discussions about whether Christians should celebrate Christmas. There are debates about timing of Christ’s birth, and the Christmas tree having pagan roots etc. It is not my desire to have a theological discussion about the history of this holiday and it’s origins. I’ll leave that to the heavy intellectuals. Instead, I want to talk about whats right with this picture.

One of the common arguments is that Christmas is too commercial. People shopping for things they don’t need, spending money on things they can’t afford. I think people do that all year long, not just at Christmas. What’s right with this picture is that in the midst of the commercialism, you hear more hymns about Jesus being played in the stores while people of all faiths shop. There is a sense of hope and anticipation of relationship building as people look for just the right gift to encourage a friend or loved one. Sometimes that perfect gift is about healing something that was broken, or maybe helping the relationship to grow stronger. The nervous husband asks, “Do you think my wife will like this”? Mothers of young children swap stories about their children, wondering if a toy is age appropriate. Connections are being made, even if they are just for a moment.

grinch_whoville

Even after the Grinch stole Christmas, he was astonished to hear the Whos in Whoville still singing,

Fahoo forays, dahoo dorays

Welcome Christmas! Come this way

Fahoo forays, dahoo dorays

Welcome Christmas, Christmas Day

Welcome, welcome, fahoo ramus

Welcome, welcome, dahoo damus

Christmas Day is in our grasp

So long as we have hands to clasp…

Every Who in Whoville was singing without any presents at all.

I grew up in a lower middle class family with a single mother where presents were not a given at Christmas time. What I anticipated more than presents was the sense of connection that come with the holidays that strengthened my sometimes fractured family. We came together sharing special meals; telling wonderful old family stories. We laughed and cried and connected heart to heart and hand to hand.

So if you happen to encounter any Grinches this season, just drink a glass of water and rest. Be kind, like Cindy-Lou Who. You may be the one God uses to increase the size of their heart. Because as Christians we know the real message:

Free-Wallpaper-Christian-Christmas-Luke-2-14

 

Keep singing the Christmas carols and other songs that make your spirit light. Light your homes to create a warm atmosphere of hospitality. People will notice. Some may even slither down the mountain like the Grinch to join you in your celebration. Make them feel welcome! Like the Whos in Whoville.

family life, Friendship, Love, Prayer, Uncategorized

Talking to Daddy

“People let me tell you about my best friend, he’s a warm hearted person who loved me to the end…”

courtship of eddies father

If you recognize these lyrics it means that you are either officially getting old, or that you have parents who let you watch this special show in syndication. The name of the show was, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. As each new story began to unfold, the characters would enter the scene as the end of the upbeat song continued softly in the background, (people let me tell you about my best friend…).

I loved that show. Not growing up with a Dad in my home, I used to fantasize that I was Eddie and that Bill Bixby was my kind, sensitive, Caucasian father. I was well aware that Eddie was a little boy and I was a little girl, but those minor details did not deter me from allowing my imagination to run wild about all the things I would tell my dad when he came home, just like Eddie did.

Fathers are very important to the security of a child. Not just a Father in the sense of biology, but a daddy. The term daddy brings with it a sense of intimacy, whimsy and fun. When my children were young they used to ask, “Is Daddy home yet?” There was a sense of great anticipation in their wide eyes as the words formed on their lips. There was always something that they wanted to tell him or show him, but more often then not, they just wanted to be with him.

I grew up in a time when divorce was rare. It was a time when schools still had father/daughter events to which I would bring my grandfather whom I loved deeply. When my curious classmates asked, “how come you don’t have a daddy?”, I often felt ashamed that although I had a father, I did not have a daddy. That shame ultimately led me straight to the heart of God. Abba, and Aramaic word that translates – Daddy. When I learned that Abba is one of the names used to describe God in the bible, I felt a lifting of my lonely heart. I too could have a relationship with a daddy.

father and daughter

In every episode of The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Eddie would have an earth shattering problem that could only be solved by talking to his father. That is what prayer is for me. My mind is often filled with the troubles of the world. I don’t just muse about difficult situations in my own life, but as I look at so many of the heart breaking situations of our times, I somehow think I can take on those on as well; However, when I crawl into the lap of my heavenly father, I remember again that, “He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together”(Col. 1:17). Children often see their dads as the biggest and the strongest. My children are never afraid when Dad is near.

If you struggle at times with uncertainty and insecurity about your life like me, trust that Daddy knows. He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He promised never to leave us or forsake us. Jeremiah 29:11-13 reminds us that he has plans for our lives. We can call him and he will answer as we seek him with all of our heart.

Prayer is not some unattainable spiritual exercise set apart for the super religious among us. Prayer is best initiated in the context of love. Brandon Cruz, the actor who played Eddie on the show, did an excellent job of portraying a son who loved his dad and knew that his father loved him. In an environment of love we can talk about anything.

Evangelism, family life, trust, Uncategorized, worship

The “In Crowd”

Be_Our_GuestMany years ago, when my children were young, The Disney company had a slogan that shaped the values of the entire organization. That slogan was, “Be Our Guest”!  There was a song written with the same title that was song by one of the Disney characters that would fill my children with excitement and glee every time they heard it. When they heard the first couple of bars of the song, “Be… Our… Guest…”, they would stop whatever they were doing and start dancing and singing. The next thing out of their mouths were, “Mommy, Daddy, can we go to Disney World?” That’s powerful marketing.

This theme set the tone for every activity in their parks as well as the company at large. The Disney brand was recited and emulated in businesses throughout the world. They became a company known for the excellent way in which they treated their guests. Walking onto the Disney property, guests immediately feel secure that the proper preparations had been made to ensure that all of there expectations would be met and possibly exceeded. Branding is powerful. It drives everything.

The Shepherds Brand

Psalm 23:1 is a passage of scripture that I have read many times and even memorized. I was taught to recite it as a child. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”. Many of us can quote these familiar scriptures, but I wonder if they really make for change in our lives. I recently re-read this passage in another translation. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.”  Upon reading that phrase, “in want”, I realized that my relationship with the Shepherd Jesus was also based on branding. Living under the Shepherds covering represents a well thought out plan by God the Father to make perfect provision for all of my longings and desires. Just like a person paying for a ticket to enter the Disney park has expectation for a time of family fun and connection; we have been purchased by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross which grants us access into everything we need for life and godliness. When we are abiding in the Shepherd, we don’t have to be in want.

To be “in” is a present tense phenomenon that requires faith for today. Just like the children of Israel, I must trust God to provide for my daily needs. Storing up manna for fear of lack only causes things to go bad. John 15:7 says:

“If you remain in me (abide in me), 

and my words remain in (abide in) you, 

ask whatever you wish and it shall be given unto you.”

People are always talking about “out”; coming out, outspoken, outsourced, but perhaps the real key to peace and joy is being “in”. In the secret place. Abiding under the shadow of his wing. Psalm 91:1-2 says:

“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge, 

my God in whom I trust.”

Disney’s brand offers you a world of fun as long as you stay in the park. The Shepherd’s brand offers abundant life as we live in Him. Acts 17:28 says,

“In Him I live and move and have my being”

“In”, is a function word used to indicate inclusion, location or position – within limits.

My children were not disappointed when we vacationed at the famous theme park. They squealed with excitement when we walked through the gates and they realized that they were finally “in” Disney World. Maybe we should do a little more dancing and celebrating the fact that we are “In Christ”. Our marketing strategy of love, joy, peace etc. should make people long to be a part of the “in crowd”.

I like being part of the “In crowd”. How about you?

family life, journey, trust

The Clutter Conundrum

co·nun·drum [kuh-nuhn-druhm]- confusing or difficult problem or question)

Cluttered House

“Let all things be done decently and in order.”
1 Corinthians 14:40

This may be a verse that we have heard or spoken on many occasions. It is something that we tend to say when we are trying to get it right. We say we dislike confusion, yet the truth is many of us function rather comfortably in it everyday. We may not intentionally create confusion; however, many of our daily choices seem to land us smack dab in the midst of chaotic situations.
A BIG MESS!
Clutter can show up in a variety of places in many different forms. It is a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass. Although physical clutter is what people talk about the most, the truth of the matter is the excess junk is often just a symptom of something much deeper going on inside of us. Longings that distract us and cause us to chase after the next thing, person or situation that will make us feel better, more content with our selves and our lives. The problem is not necessarily in the fact that we long for new things, God’s mercies are new every morning. We are new creations created in Christ Jesus; however, when you mix the old with the new and leave it all laying around together, it becomes a big mess.
House Cleaning
IT’S SPIRITUAL…
I have found in my own life that mind clutter, situational clutter, and relational clutter are great enemies of my soul. Ultimately all of these various forms of clutter stem from what I call “Spiritual Clutter.” Spiritual Clutter occurs when we collect and hoard the great things that we have learned about God and his ways. We hear a good sermon, listen to a wonderful worship song, talk to a Godly friend and find momentary encouragement, but we ultimately leave the truth that we have learned lying around in an untidy mess. We’ve heard our Pastor say that we must renew our minds. Developing relationships that are healthy and edifying is something that we learned as children as we took the time to pick out our best friends in kindergarten. Yet the moment something gets uncomfortable or ill fitting, we toss it or them aside looking for another more comfortable fit.
Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to “lay aside the weight and the sin that so easily besets us.” This verse does not mean to just leave the weight and the sin just lying around, but that we must put the weight and the sin in it’s proper place, and that place is at the foot of the cross. Verse 2 of Hebrews 12 says, “We must fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Those situations that torment our minds that we just can’t seem to control, the relationships that bring disappointment and uncomfortable vulnerability will continue to surface in our lives. When you are looking for the right compartment to put away the ill fitting things, just remember this; everything changes with the proper perspective. Remembering Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for us makes it easier to let things go. Let go of old hurts, bad career choices, difficult relationships. John 3:16 says, God so loved the world that he gave up his son for you and for me. What are you willing to give up for His glory?
Head clutter
“A place for everything, and everything in it’s place,” was my mother’s battle cry in her attempt to get me to be organized and disciplined in every area of my life. I don’t know if I’ll ever win the battle of my cluttered ways, much like my ongoing battle with sin, but one thing we can all rest in is the fact that when Jesus died on the cross for your sin and mine, he said, “It is finished!” Now if I could just hear those words in regarding the unfinished projects in my home!
Be encouraged in the start of this year. He makes all things New!

Christine James is a wife, a mother and a pastor at CareView Community Church. This is her first blog. She is glad you came.