Self-awareness for Selflessness

Wednesday, March 21, 2012  ::   2 important comments

At Second Mile we are making our way through Exodus. This week Chad taught through Exodus 18 when Moses listened to every problem every day from sun up to sun down. His father-in-law told him he would burn out and should raise up leaders to help carry the load. You can read the account here.

Many great points were made (a totally unbiased opinion, of course), but one continues to ring through my brain. In speaking of serving in leadership Chad said, "You can't be selfless unless you are aware of self."

I mentioned my purpose statement as a mom in the last post I wrote. I've also written purpose statements as a wife and as the ministry leader of Moxie. Along with these statements, I've cultivated a list of personal values, traits, qualities, characteristics that mold and shape who I am and that mold and shape what draws me to certain people. Those of you that know me won't be surprised to know that self-awareness is a value on my list. 

Self-awareness to me means knowing my strengths, weaknesses, gifts, personality, being aware of the setting I'm in, who is around, how I'm impacting any given situation. It means taking care of my body, my mind, my spirit. I value this in myself and in others. I find myself frustrated with others who are not willing to learn and grow in their self-awareness. 

As it turns out, serving selflessly in an unholy way comes easily to my personality type. If you read up on the Myers Briggs personality type ENFJ** you will read in almost every paragraph "seeks to please others" or "puts others needs above their own." In fact, personality page has labeled ENFJ's as The Givers. I like it. It's a good title. Except when I'm all gived out. 

Often I work and work and work to give selflessly to the detriment of myself. Selfless means without yourself which means something or Someone must be working through you. Often when I think of serving selflessly, I feel as if it means sacrifice personally, work until you drop, meet with whoever needs to meet whenever they need to meet. But, actually, this is the most selfish way I can serve my family and friends.

Selflessness should come from time spent with Jesus in His word and in prayer. It should stem from asking Him to rid me of my flesh and fill me up with the Spirit. Selflessness comes from listening to God when He is telling me to rest or say no or push through. It is emptying myself of my self-serving, egotistical desires. Serving selflessly means I must be aware of myself in order to know what I need from the Spirit and to humbly wait on Him as He moves in and through me. In my case, selfless serving may mean taking a break, walking through a park, or taking a nap.

Which brings me back to Chads quote and my personal value of self-awareness. I have to be aware of myself to be able to serve selflessly. It sounds like paradox to me, but it is the truth. I can't give myself to the service of others if I'm spent or if I'm walking into a situation without time spent with Jesus. I can't selflessly serve my family if I had no boundaries in ministry throughout the day. Selfless serving will not happen in my marriage if I haven't allowed Jesus to meet the needs in my heart that only He can meet. No matter how much I desire Chad to meet those needs, He cannot. It is selfish and shows a lack of self-awareness to desire Chad or anyone to fill me up. 

What about you? How do you serve? Are you aware of yourself? Do you understand the difference between selfless serving through the Spirit and selfish serving from your own strength?  For you what does it look like to selflessly serve by being aware of yourself? Can you name a few ways you can more effectively serve others by being aware of yourself?

I will continue to ponder these concepts and evaluate different situations. The ultimate goal in serving is to point to Jesus. My hope and prayer is that He will continue to teach me who I am in Him so that I can run the race He's mapped out for me, but through His power and not my own. Ironically, I will be more able to function in His strength if I am self-aware. So strange, but so true.

**If you are interested in knowing more about who God created you to be, I can recommend a few tools. Email me at angel at secondmi dot org. 

Questions in the Transition

Thursday, March 15, 2012  ::   5 important comments

I'm in a parenting transition. Actually, I've probably been in it since August. Sometimes I feel like I just can't keep up.

Saying "I'm so busy" is something I'm trying to take out of my communication to friends. Who isn't busy? Everyone I know has a plate full of tasks, relationships, deadlines, conflict, name it. I am not busier than other people, but I do know my schedule is ever changing because my kids' lives have gotten more complicated.

Driving back and forth to three different schools, going to volleyball tournaments in another city, baseball practice, track meets, and random appointments that pop up for each of them can overwhelm me. Some of you may not believe me, but I'm pretty amazed at my scheduling organizational abilities. I've only forgotten to pick up one kid this whole year.

Amid all of the changes in schedules and activities, I'm seeing more and more the importance of staying focused on our parenting goal.  From the beginning we desired to teach our kids to love God and love people. That is the simple truth. Of course there are smaller objectives under the huge goal, but to boil it all down and take out the fluff, that's it. Love God. Love people.

Having older kids leads to deeper conversations, more difficult questions, differing opinions. Esther wants to make her own way, but at the same time, she is devoted to our family. Kyle dreams of doing something huge to affect great change for those who are distressed in our world. Morgan takes on the feelings and emotions of those around her through empathy and compassion. Carah speaks truth to peers with love and boldness and they listen to her.

How do Chad and I continue to challenge them to dig deep in knowing God? To trust what they have heard about Jesus' character as they see injustice all around them? How do I struggle to not take it personally when they have different ways to process a conversation? What does it look like to cultivate friendships with our children that we can have eye to eye, heart to heart, brain to brain, mutual, adult relationships with them when they reach adulthood? Am I creating a home environment that provides safety in expressing different opinions than mine? Are Chad and I being intentional enough in this new season of parenting? Do we talk with them enough? Do we pray with them enough? Do we listen to them enough? Do we show them love in a way they understand enough?

My heart is overwhelmed.

What I've discovered in this new season is a different weight of loneliness. Please hear me say this is not due to some sort of relational failure on the part of my community. But, I feel as if I am forging the way for the younger parents around me because our church is full of young people. Some of my close friends are pregnant. Pregnant. *Shudder* Most of my friends are considering where to send their kids to school, or how to get them to sit down in a restaurant. They are praying for their kids to give their hearts to Jesus. They have to give baths and wipe butts. I love sharing my experience with them. And, I'm thankful I'm not there anymore.

But, figuring this stuff out as I go is challenging, confusing sometimes, produces a new sort of loneliness.

I will wait on Jesus, trust Him for guidance in seeking understanding, and believe that He will give Chad and me wisdom when we ask. 

They are worth the challenge, whatever it may bring.
Photos by the lovely Laura K. Moore

I've been working on purpose statements in the major areas of my life. I haven't shared this with anyone except Chad, so I'll just go ahead and jump right on out there and share it on the internet. Seems safe enough. This is my purpose statement as a mom:  

My desire is to teach Esther, Kyle, Morgan, and Carah to love God and love people through word and deed. I will pray for them through their daily lives and through hopes and dreams for their future. I will seek to know their personalities, strengths, weakness, love languages so I can parent them as individuals, not as a group. My desire is to keep our home a place of refuge from the stresses of peer pressure, school, and worldly turmoil. 

If you haven't thought through your own personal purpose in various aspects of your life and formed it into a working statement or statements, I challenge you to do so. It will keep you focused as life brings chaos.

My heart will continue to ponder the humongous responsibility of parenting. I will continue to petition God to establish in my children a deep love for Him and a deep love for people. Prayerfully, He will use Chad and I to train them up in the way they should go. 

Moxie Memorizers

Thursday, March 15, 2012  ::   18 important comments

How are you doing in your scripture memory journey?

Recently, I've heard some specific, tangible displays of the Spirit's transformational work in lives through scripture memory. I hope that each of you are paying attention to how God brings His word to your mind. Never forget that God's word is useful for teaching, reproof, training in righteousness so that you will be complete and equipped for every good work. That is good news indeed!

I'm still struggling a bit to get into the swing of things. I'm reviewing consistently, but not learning new verses like I would like to be. Today I will be writing out several months worth of scripture I hope to memorize. Part of my problem right now is getting the words on my cards. I know what I will be memorizing for the next three months, so I should/will go ahead and prepare.

This month my heart needs a reminder of God's greatness.  He is the Rock of my salvation.

Psalm 95:1-3

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation! Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 

My heart lifts in praise even as I type out the passage. It will be a great one to have in my heart. 

And you? What passage are you working on?  

By the way, I'm so pleased with all the participation. Keep up the great work, friends! He is at work in your lives in awesome ways! 

Moxie Memorizers

Thursday, March 01, 2012  ::   23 important comments

Whew. It's getting late on March 1st, but I'm making it on time.  I apologize to those of you who have been waiting all day to post your verse.

Many of you know that I've been teaching fitness classes for about 12 years. During November and December I was absolutely over it, done, finished. I felt annoyed every time I had to go teach a class, but because it is my job and I have grown to care for the people I see in my classes, I kept going. My only hope was to get to quit teaching or get over the hump. I actually gave myself a four month window to see if it was just a work-out wall or it was actually time to quit.

Good news. I got over that darn wall. I'm loving instructing my classes again. Exercising with a group of people makes me smile, work harder, and show up even when I don't want to.

Well, guess what. I'm so grateful for all of you because you help me "show up" in memorizing scripture.

Right now I'm kind of in a "Meh, I think I'll coast awhile" funk when it comes to taking in scripture. Thank God He provided community for me through you. Without you, I may have remained lazy, or apathetic, or whiney, or just quit altogether.

I debated whether or not to tell you this because I don't want any of you to take this as license to slack off. Discipline takes work. Real work. For some of you setting goals and achieving them can practically happen in your sleep. But, for the other 99% of us, discipline means skinning our knuckles, clenching our jaw, furrowing our brow, and begging God to work in us as we work out our faith.

With all that being said, I will not be adding a verse this time. I'm staying focused on Ephesians 3:16-17 and Ephesians 6:20-21.

Thank you all for walking this journey with me. Your diligence encourages me. I pray for each of you as you comment and leave your verse. I truly love it and love you.

Post away and feel free to add anything you are learning or processing.

Vacation Pics As Promised

Thursday, March 01, 2012  ::   10 important comments

I've already told you that vacation was wonderful, restful, and a splendid time with my family. Now I'm going to show you. Funny thing is that all the pictures I'm posting today are posed which I think is super cheesy, but I didn't get any good candid shots, so you are stuck with the cheddar.  Bon appetit! 

Awesome picnic with my happy kids

This photo demonstrates how tall my kids are getting. More than likely Kyle will pass me this summer. People sometimes ask me if I miss my kids being little. Heck no! I am sometimes nostalgic about the past with them, but I absolutely love who they are becoming, the conversations we have, and that they can give themselves a bath! 

We hiked to the base of the big shooting up rock on the left. Two hours and forty-five minutes round trip and no one whined...another reason I love parenting big kids. 

I like this guy. A lot. He led us up the trail. He is an awesome leader to our family in more ways than I could ever tell you. 

 Ok. So here are the kids sitting on what looks like a nice little rest area. We are actually waiting on Chad as he hiked up a bit further to see if it was safe for our family to continue. Looks like no big deal, right? 

But, this is the view from where we are sitting. Look closely and you will see three tiny people down the steep mountain where loose rocks seek to trip you up and throw you down to your doom! Oh yeah. The mom in me was nervous for sure. My heart beat pretty hard a few times and not because of the work-out. I think I said, "Oh, Jesus" (in prayer form) a few times under my breath. I didn't want to scare the kids so I tried to be somewhat discreet. A few times I might have said, "Uh, Chad? I don't know about this! I might be freaking out a little bit!" 

We made it down safely and some nice man offered to take our picture. Good times. 

Transition to the Grand Canyon

I almost didn't post this one because I'm not so great a photos 
by myself, but hey, I was on this vacation, too. 

So thankful Kyle was willing to take this picture right next to the edge with me! He was so protective of his sisters on this trip. They may not appreciate his protectiveness right now, but I'm positive they will cherish it in their future. 

The whole fam in front of the awesome canyon.

One more of just my great kids because I just love them so much. 

This vacation was exactly what our family needed. Our agenda was to see the beautiful creation around us and to be together. It was incredibly beautiful. Pictures cannot do either place justice. Many times on our hike the kids exclaimed how much fun they were having. And at night, we played Catch Phrase, Taboo, and/or Skipbo, so we had plenty of time for laughter and vocabulary strengthening. Needless to say we came back rested, refreshed, and loving each other more deeply than ever.