Thursday, December 31, 2009

The “NOT” New Year’s List

Many years ago, I remember hearing that our long-time family friends Mary Jane and Terry Martin had a pretty interesting New Year’s tradition. I don’t know if they still do this, but how I remember it is that they used to sit down on New Year’s Eve, write out their individual predictions for what they thought the next year would hold for each of them, seal them up and save them for exchanging and reading until the following New Year’s Eve to see how close they had come … and then start all over again for the next year’s predictions.

I’ve always thought that it would be fun and interesting to do, but for whatever reason, just never did it.

As I take stock of these past 12 months, I can think of a LOT of things that would NOT have ended up on my prediction list for 2009 (had I actually sat down a wrote out a list on December 31, 2008). I would NOT have predicted…

… that I would resurrect my blog and actually post to it on a regular basis (68 including this one).
… that I would never once doubt or waver in my commitment to tithing … and then some.
… that the economy/labor market would still stink, leaving Edward still seeking employment.
… that the Lord would be so faithful in stretching our single income beyond what is actually possible.
… that I would like my new role, still like my company and really like my new boss.
… that I would help lead someone at work to Christ and that they and their children would be baptized!
… that GM would actually have to eliminate product lines like Pontiac just to survive this recession.
… that each of our family members would be serving in new ministry areas at church.
… that we would still be living in this aging townhouse.
… that the Pittsburgh Penguins would win the Stanley Cup against the Detroit Red Wings (and that we would enjoy game 7 from comfort of Pastor Roy's family room!)
… that my mom would go to a Women of Faith Conference with me … and actually ask to go again next year.
… that my best friend would get laid off from a job she’s had forever (but would find an even better job in a matter of weeks).
… that the snow storm of the century (22 inches) would start on my birthday.
… that a routine annual checkup would turn into a cancer diagnosis and the first of two surgeries on my husband’s birthday.

The list could probably go on and on which tells me it’s probably a wasted effort to try and predict the future. No matter how well you plan and no matter how much you think you know, God’s the only one who’s got a shot at penning that list. And as much as I’d love to rip His list open on January 2nd to see what this next year will hold, I know he’ll only let me see it one line at a time … and I’m okay with that.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The "M*A*S*H" Story

(a.k.a. my 15 minutes of fame)

I've told this story, oh... just a few times over the last 28 years (even more cool to tell now that I live so close to the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History) but now that I have a color scanner and a blog, I figured it was time immortalize it cyberspace…

One of the longest running primetime television shows, M*A*S*H (the show that birthed the term “dramedy”) ran for 11 seasons from 1972-1983. This was my absolute FAVORITE show growing up. I never missed an episode and was glued to the set every week when it was on. I loved the show so much that during a 4th grade art class I made a tin print of a M*A*S*H helicopter that hung on the refrigerator for several years.

In April of 1981, there was a horrible, horrible writers strike that lasted an eternity (okay, it was a few months) that took my beloved M*A*S*H off the air. Heartbroken, I wrote to cast of M*A*S*H, empathized with their plight, pleaded for them to get back on the air as soon as possible and included with my letter the helicopter tin print I’d made years earlier. I wrote a few more letters and then I suddenly got one back…

I wrote back a letter of thanks and then a month later (strike was over and back on the air at this point) I was delightfully surprised to get this package in the mail.

Inside was a wondrous treasure of photos, film strips, projector slides (remember those) of the cast of M*A*S*H hanging my tin print on Colonel Potter’s office wall between the horses and his “grandkids” drawings (I think that made me an honorary grandkid).

Although M*A*S*H was only on the air for another season and a half after that, you can catch several good views of my tin print in seasons 10 and 11 during scenes in Potter’s office.

After the series ended, the M*A*S*H set was moved to Smithsonian’s Museum of American History so, as if having my personal artwork on the M*A*S*H set wasn’t a cool enough claim to fame, I later had my artwork hanging in one of the most famous museums in the world … now sitting comfortably collecting dust in a storage room between Fonzi’s leather jacket and Archie Bunker’s chair, I’m sure.

Friday, December 18, 2009

|| Pause ||

I've never given much weight to the passing of my birthday... a day like any other day. I don't feel any different than the way I did the day before or from the way I expect I will the days after. It's one more page on the calendar which serves only as a marker of what I have or haven't gotten done yet.

I'm not comfortable being the center of attention so a big birthday party with lot's of people would never be my cup of tea so I feel especially blessed that my husband and kids "get it" and have never subjected me that big horrifying surprise party for my birthday. Of course, I really wasn't at risk of that growing up either since my birthday is so close to Christmas. I was never disappointed to have the recognition of my birth overshadowed by the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

I've never had any hang-ups about my age. I've had a hard life, worked for everything I have and have proudly earned every wrinkle and grey hair. None of which would I trade back for the trials that put them there. God has either had purpose or given purpose to each hard-knock and I am thankful for they have made me who I am.

As I sit here at the end of this day, my 41st birthday, as the clock ticks ever closer to tomorrow, I’d like to click the “Pause” button. Not because I want to roll the clock back and stay 40, not because the birthday was so spectacular I want to preserve it forever, but because tomorrow morning I will go out to breakfast with my mother and tell her that her youngest daughter has cancer. Then I will sit the boys down and tell them their mother has cancer.

I'm good at processing this kind of thing for myself, my course is set, my faith is strong – I’ve been dealing with “logistics” for 4 days…. But I have no idea how to put it into words, the right words, the comforting, confident words that reflect my peace and certainty that all will be fine – as it should be – in God’s way, in God’s timing. Not everyone sees it that way so easily.

Praying for the Holy Spirit to fill me with the right words – pray with me, would you?

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Christmas "Can Can"

I know for as many people that there are "with me" on this one, there just as many against me (Tracey), but I just love Christmas music. It's one of those wonderful things my husband and I discovered we had in common when we were dating.... Need a pick-me-up in July? Christmas music! Need motivation to clean out your closet? Christmas music! Got the sniffles, a skinned knee, bad day at work? Christmas music!

The only thing that could make Christmas music even better is A Cappella Christmas music – barbershop even. Barbershop quartet music is yet another wonderful thing that brought Edward and I together. So when he caught these guys on PBS last night while I was out, he quickly found them on YouTube so he could share them with me as soon as I got home.

Not only are they talented, but they are hilarious as well. Check out these musical comedians singing the best Christmas medleys I’ve heard in a while - a cappella.

Oh, and I understand they’re going to be here in Alexandria, Virginia on December 21st if anyone was looking for early Christmas present ideas for Edward and I. :-)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Wishbone Tradition

I expect it’s a fairly common ritual, practiced by families across America, to carve their Thanksgiving turkey carefully around the sacred wishbone so it can be momentarily protected from harm, only to be ripped apart later to pay homage to some pagan god who grants wishes to the “winner” – he (or she) who retained the larger of the two parts.

Sarcasm aside (and not for some fanatical faith-based beliefs against wish-making) that’s not the Wishbone Tradition in the Yost home.

For all the years we’ve been a family (including our first Thanksgiving together, the year before Edward and I married) we’ve kept the wishbone from our Thanksgiving turkey as a reminder of another year that we were so blessed to have things to be thankful for.

This year, although I am certainly thankful for all the things I am always thankful for… my Lord, my husband, my children, my church, my health, my job … I’m particularly thankful for God’s faithfulness through, what could be (what should be), a very trying financial time for our family.

Despite my husbands unplanned 22-month gap in employment, we have faithfully tithed and God has faithfully ensured our savings would stretch further than I thought possible. God has used these months to teach us patience, obedience, patience, trust and patience.

After this year’s wishbone dries enough for me to write “2009” on it, I will not break it in half and “wish” for Edward to find a job (although I will pray to God for it). Instead, I will place it with the others to remember 2009 as a year of amazing joy for God’s faithfulness, knowing how precious and exclusive it is that we have been first-hand witnesses to God’s promise proved.

May your Thanksgiving memories – past, present and those yet to be made – and God’s blessings in your life be forever-captured in your memories, hearts and traditions.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Semi-Traditional Sweet Potatoes

My office held its annual Thanksgiving Pot-luck luncheon last week and it always amazes me how many people ask for the recipe for this dish because it’s just so simple and basic. If you’re looking for an easy, semi-traditional dish for your Thanksgiving table, try this one out:

Shopping List:
3-4 large cans of yams/sweet potatoes (Bruce’s or Glory Sweet Traditions are my pick)
1 bag of mini marshmallows
1 box of Maple & Brown Sugar instant oatmeal packs (Quaker, of course)
Dark brown sugar (optional)

I've cooked this recipe two different ways: In a glass baking dish or in a crock pot. For my taste, the glass baking dish wins hands down, but if you are bringing the dish to someone else’s house, the crock pot version will be better for keeping it warm and it will still be pretty darn good. If you are using a glass baking dish, make sure you choose a size that will allow you to spread your 3 or 4 cans of yams out into a tight but single layer. If you are using a crock pot, you are going to build this dish one can per layer.

PREHEAT oven to 400 degrees.

YAMS: Open your cans of yams and drain off all liquid. In baking dish, gently pour out all cans and spread out to cover dish bottom. In crock pot, pour out one can, skip to the Topping step and repeat "topping" process with each additional layer.

TOPPING: Into a microwaveable dish, pour 3/4 cup marshmallows times the number of cans you're using (3 cans = 2 1/4 cups, etc.) then open and pour out dry oatmeal packets over the marshmallows, 1 packet for each can you used (3 cans=3 packets). OPTIONAL - add 1 tsp of brown sugar per each bag of oatmeal to the topping bowl to achieve a darker more caramelized affect, but the dish is absolutely sweet enough without it. Cook on high for 25 to 50 seconds and KEEP AN EYE ON IT. If it starts expand over the sides, pull it out. Mix promptly to achieve a "rice crispy treat" type texture. Break off pieces of the mix in the size of almonds and walnuts and sprinkle across the dish. When you run out, use remaining mini marshmallows to fill in to gaps.

COOK: place you dish in the oven at 400 for approximately 15 then increase the heat to 475 for an additional 10-15 minutes, but keep your eye on it so the marshmallows don’t get too dark (unless that’s the way you like them, MOM).

And it’s done! Enjoy!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Up Top, God!

Did you ever want to just give God a high-five?

I not talking about the kind of heartfelt thanks and praise we give to God for our daily bread or a long petitioned prayer. I'm sure we've all been there (daily, I'd hope).

I'm talking about the spontaneous need that was only made known a tenth of a second before it was met with God’s “Yes” before your brain could even finish the thought, “how’m I gonna ---.”

Maybe it’s in the timing only God could pull off that parts three miles of DC gridlock so a mother can make a dash through an opening in the cars to make a green light that allows her to get home 30 seconds before her son’s bus drops him off at the corner rather than what would surely have been 10 or 15 minutes of him sitting on the front step.

Don’t think God’s in things that small? As she speeds through the break in traffic, one hand on the wheel, the other in the air, exclaiming “Thank You, Jesus!” …just waiting for God to return that high-five – she does. I do!

I believe God is in those little moments as much as He’s in the miraculous recoveries that people pray for months and years for that are finally met with God’s healing hand. God deserves high-fives for those too, but imagine those miracles are met with more traditional forms of praise and thanksgiving. The high-five just wouldn’t seem like enough.

When the boys were just two and three years old, we were driving down the highway through the daily afternoon Florida sun-shower when the car in front of me slammed on his brakes. I reacted in kind, but the tires locked up and my car spun off the road into the grass median, circling like a Disney Teacup toward the oncoming traffic of the other side of the highway.

Before I could even put an expletive together, the car straightened out to slide perfectly sideways for an additional 10 or 20 feet right up to a YIELD sign that I could have rolled down the driver’s window and touched once the car stopped – just 2 or 3 inches from the car. Not. A. Scratch. I turned around to see if the boys were okay – imagining that could have been terrifying – and Derek was clapping “yeaaaa.”

High-five, God! Before I even realized I had a need, You met it. Thank you for the little things, the big things and all the things in between. They are all Yours!

High-five, God! Up Top!

Monday, November 9, 2009

INTJ – Our Jokes Aren’t Like Your Jokes

Have you seen this latest Intel commercial? I know … I really enjoy it way too much.

I have found myself playing it over and over just in the short time it took me to put this blog post together. I am such a geek – such an INTJ! And you MBTI type-talkers know exactly what I’m talking about. Whether you’re an INTJ yourself or not, you know one, you’ve worked with one, you’ve avoided one in the hallway or lunch room – oh no, here comes that Introverted-iNtuitive-Thinker-Judger!

And, of course, (geek) it was not lost on me that the company name (Intel) starts with an I N T and the little plus sign that the guy changed was right in front of a letter “J” – I N T plus J? … but I digress.

The commercial also reminds me of my favorite INTJ humor poster, which is probably what initially caught my eye about it:

As I expect is normal, even though I am a Type Practitioner who is knowledgeable about and works with all types, I’ve certainly spent more time researching my own combination of Preferences than any of the other 15 Types. If you look back at the MBTI pages here in my blog, I’ve certainly got more info for the INTJ’s than any other type.

You can check out all 16 here: Myers-Briggs (MBTI) Resource Central

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Confessions of a Morning Person

There was some cyber-chatter earlier today about an obnoxious “Good morning, Good morning, Good Morning” song from many years ago that used to get some radio play in the Detroit area and was apparently and instrument of morning torture of several parents and siblings who were definitely NOT morning people.

I found a clip of it on YouTube if you are a masochist and should feel so inclined to play it.

I too grew up in the Detroit area and remembered the song after everyone was talking about it, but had clearly blocked all memories of it and missed the golden opportunity to torture my children with it.

I am DEFINITELY a morning person … and I DID always wake my two boys with my favorite “Good Morning” song, but as it turned out, it wasn’t much torture for them as all (well, perhaps my voice was) – both of them are morning people too. There were certainly many mornings I wish they weren’t (setting their alarms for 5 & 6am on a Saturday “just because”) but when the boys were younger and they didn’t know yet that dancing around with Mom while singing “Good Morning” was not cool, well, my memory has captured it something like this….

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Niche & Nuance of Christian Life Coaching

I have spent far more of my professional career providing counseling rather than coaching, but I have to say that (as much as they seem to overlap) I far more enjoy the nuance of coaching and they are distinctly different approaches in the "helping" disciplines. Likewise, I've spent many more years providing secular counseling, versus Christian counseling, despite the fact that I was a Christian at the time. The idea that counselor - or coach - happens to be a Christian (or is providing help to Christians) does not distinguish their practice or methodologies as "Christian Counseling" or "Christian Coaching."

Counseling vs. Coaching

My first "counselor" job was back in '91, but by today's definition, the approach would have more closely aligned with a "coaching" practice. Boiled down to it's simplest form, counseling looks back while coaching looks forward.

Counseling is more problem-focused - exploring the root cause (past) of feelings to arrive at acceptance and resolution with the patient or client in a subordinate role. Coaching is more solution-focused - identifying behaviors (present) and outcomes (future) and creates more of a partnership to achieve the desired goals.

If someone is in counseling, it could create a perception that something's wrong with them. For many, the "something's wrong" is less about them and more about their circumstances. Many people don't want to admit they have problems in their life.

Life coaching on the other hand, does not carry this stigma. Life coaching is all about moving forward, taking action and accountability. People receive results a lot faster when they learn to act on their own behalf, rather than if they spend countless hours re-hashing the past on a counselor's couch.

Secular vs. Christian

What defines life coaching (or couseling) as "Christian life coaching" is about the foundation from which one coaches, not about whether the coach themselves is a Christian, the people they are coaching are Christian or the venue is Christian (like in a church). It's a foundation of biblical principles that shape the coaching practices to provide life tools that keep our eyes on Jesus.

Secular coaching is humanistic and relies on the client's self-imposed goals. Christian coaching is Christ-centered. Within Christian coaching, there is a three-way relationship between client, coach and Holy Spirit. Secular coaching involves a two-way relationship between coach and client.

Christian Life Coaching is about helping to set and achieve Godly goals, getting results, sharing insights and inspirations, applying proven truths from Scripture, building testimonies of God's faithfulness, learning how to love the way Christ loved and coping with issues like health, money and relationships in a way that always points back to Jesus.

God wants us to thrive "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sometimes it's difficult to see God's plan for our lives by ourselves. That's where a Christian life coach can help. Christian coaching is based on the foundation that God empowers and enables you to be all that He destined you to be.

"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." Philippians 2:13

Why Work with a Life Coach?

People usually begin working with a life coach because they need some professional assessment, direction and motivation. Good coaches specialize in helping people with certain areas of their lives.

Just like athletic coaches, we coaches are not all the same. You wouldn't choose a little-league coach to help you fine-tune your golf game! (Did you know that Tiger Woods still uses a coach?) Some coaches are experienced in personal financial issues, career coaching, health and fitness coaching, and many other areas.

My areas of specialty have long been in executive coaching, performance coaching, career coaching, image coaching, communication and relationship development... but about 8 years ago, God showed me that I didn't need to keep a wall up between my business life and my spiritual life through an unexpected opportunity to witness at work.

That event inspired me to go back to school to get some formal Biblical tools to blend what I already had in my Coaching and Counseling tool kit which ultimately resulted in my BCBC credentials (Board Certified Christian Counselor). In addition to my more "corporate" coaching disciplines, I have also completed studies and develop a coaching and counseling "niche" in the areas of:
  • Marriage & Family Relationships
  • New Generation Parenting
  • Children & Teenagers
  • Stress & Anxiety
  • Loss, Grief & Trauma
  • God-centered Finances & Debt-free Living
Coaching and counseling are biblical. The Bible, time and again, tells us to seek only the counsel of other Christians. But being Christian isn't enough to be designated as a Christian Counselor or Christian Life Coach. If you are seeking the help of a Life Coach or Counselor, make sure that the "Christian" part is foundational to their work with you, intricate to their process and always guides the path taken to achieve Godly goals and outcomes.

I wrote a post back in June where I talked about God being the ultimate Life Coach, and hands down, He is. But not every average person in need (or even every Christian in need) knows how to find God's will in their challenge without any guidance whatsoever. Sometimes you're just too close to it to see it. In many cases, that's what we might turn to pastoral staff for... teach us, guide us, focus us on Jesus when we stray from the Truth. A Christian Life Coach or Christian Counselor can be a partner in that process as well.

"Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Church Blogging Gone RIGHT!

Blogging is a new – but not so new – communication medium. A lot of people and organizations are doing it because they think or know they’re supposed to, but not because they have any plan or idea of its purpose or opportunity.

From the day I walked into Fair Oaks Church in 2005 I’ve been stunned by the amazing talent of our Worship and Arts Team – I imagine most people coming into Fair Oaks have that experience, how could they not. And it’s not just about the vocal quality or orchestral arrangements or precision performance, it’s about the creativity, the passion, the bravery to glorify God in a way that pushes the envelope and pulls people out of their comfort-zone to see their faith and beliefs from a different angle.

It would be easy to assume that with a group so artistically talented that music is the full measure of their gifts. NOT SO. This group has an authentic spiritual depth that I have had great pleasure experiencing through the FairOaksArts blog, especially over the past several weeks.

The FairOaksArts blog was started in May of 2008 and was launched as a place to “find out info on new songs, videos, updates on current projects, reviews, sneak previews, articles, random thoughts and more.” ... but it has grown a bit since then.

This past September, Pastor Stokes started a sermon series about Worship that was specifically NOT about the songs we sing in a given church service. Although it’s often what we think of first when we hear the word “Worship,” music should be only one of many things on that list, and I wouldn’t even put it first.

The FairOaksArts team picked up that ball and ran with it – or should I say blogged with it. Throughout the Worship sermon series, each of the staff took their turn at expressing their thoughts on worship as more than just the songs we sing in church and I was blown away by the depth and diversity of their spiritual perspectives.

It’s too easy for us to see the people around us one dimensionally – he’s the media guy, she’s the singer, he plays the piano – because that’s all we see of them externally. But that really sells us short, as much as it sells them short. What richness of faith we would miss out on if we never looked beyond the art to the spirit and heart of the artist.

Do yourself a favor and treat your heart to the warmth and passion of these blog posts by the FairOaksArts team:
Let me note that these posts of recent weeks on the are certainly not the staff’s first foray in expressing their faith through blogging (Mike Zizolfo’s are a frequent favorite of mine), but it was the deliberate initiative for all of the Arts Team to build on the collective momentum of the single topic of worship that brought true volume to the Loud On Purpose mantra.

Please check them out!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Defensive Judgment

Have you ever been judged for making a judgment you never actually made? I’m calling this the “defensive judgment” (I also liked “reversed judgment”) where you find that you are being judged for being judgmental about something you’ve actually made no judgment about at all.

An example…

In my office we have a “business casual” work attire and participate in “casual Fridays.” These two terms have wide interpretations (especially across generations and geographic regions) but we have made a deliberate choice not to put clear and strict definitions to them to allow each supervisor the flexibility to interpret those terms as appropriate for their department and the kinds of business they conduct and public they interface with.

Because I came from the corporate arena prior to entering the world of not-for-profits, my wardrobe leans much more to the “business” side of business casual than the casual side. Since you can never go wrong over-dressing (in this context) I just wear what I have. I think it would be silly to spend money to create a different wardrobe level when I have perfectly good clothes in my closet that I like and feel comfortable in. So I ware suits when slacks and a blouse would probably do fine and when it comes to “casual Fridays” I’m typically not wearing the jeans that everyone else is in, but I will tone-down from the business suit to a skirt and sweater – that is casual for me.

But lets be clear … if you roll your eyes or make snide remarks about the fact that I’m not in jeans, that’s not me judging you, that’s you judging me. The fact that I’m not wearing jeans on Friday is not a judgment of you because you are. It’s great that you feel comfortable coming to work in jeans on Friday (and that you have the freedom to do so) – why do you feel the need to judge me if I choose not to. Why are you assuming that a skirt and sweater are judging you? Are you felling silly yet?

While we’re at it …

If I don’t drink, it is not a judgment of you because you do – it’s just my choice.
If I eat meat, it is not a judgment on all vegetarians and vegans – it’s just my choice.
If I send my kids to public school, it is not a judgment on private schools or homeschooling - it's just my choice.
If I don’t have a tattoo, it is not a judgment of you because you do - it’s just my choice.
If I work outside the home, it is not a judgment of you because you don’t – it’s just my choice.
If I drive a gas-guzzling SUV, it is not a judgment on your Hybrid – it’s just my choice.
If I don’t smoke, swear, gamble … are you seeing a pattern here?

Is it really too much to ask that you give my choices the same deference you demand for yours and give me the benefit and opportunity, without assumptions, to respect you for your choices. I don’t walk in your shoes or live through your experiences, who in the world would I be to pass judgment for any of your choices? And the second part of that is “and who are you?”

I can’t help but wonder (just a little) about the person who is so self-absorbed that they think someone - as insignificant to their life as I surely am - is sitting back, plotting against them through my wardrobe. Just waiting for the chance to make a public mockery of them by wearing a skirt, or eating meat or not having a drink.


“Yes, I’d like a Margarita, please… oh wait, SHE’s having a drink? Well let me completely overhaul my entire lifestyle just so I can make her feel judged by my Sprite. That’ll show the light of Christ in me!”

If our choices don’t have a material impact on each other (and are not a conflict with our common Spiritual beliefs), I don’t see the value in even drawing attention to or defining them, much less judging each other for them. What’s the point? Wouldn’t your life be so much easier if you didn’t feel some self-imposed pressure to live up to an imaginary standard you attribute to me that, in fact, doesn’t exist?

You know what’s the saddest part, I'm really not as passionate about a workplace comment about jeans as it seems, but something Pastor Stokes said in his Wednesday sermon last week got me thinking about it …

He was taking about when he preaches at other churches as a visiting Pastor that he respectfully and thoughtfully asks about things like, which version of the Bible would you like me to preach out of, what kind of attire is appropriate at your church. His inquiry is not a judgment on them because they don’t do it the “Fair Oaks” way, he’s being respectful of their choices as a church. Pastor remarked that occasionally they’ll even apologize in their request, “oh I’m so sorry Pastor Stokes, I know you’re used to a casual atmosphere, but we’re a suit and tie kind of congregation.” And Pastor Stokes said “don’t apologize, those are your choices. There’s nothing to apologize for.”

So here’s me, not apologizing. My choices are not an inherent judgment of your choices and I don’t want you to feel like you have to justify or apologize for yours any more than I care to justify or apologize for mine.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Experiencing Worship

Recently, Fair Oaks Church’s Worship Leader Joel Slater posted an article on the FairOaksArts blog called “Where’d the Worship Leader Go?” that had me smiling as I read it.

In the post, Joel describes his experience of leading the Sunday worship and taking a moment to pull back from the microphone so that he can hear the voices of the congregation lifting up the Lord in song. Joel characterized this moment as one of his “greatest joys” in worship because it means he’s done his job in bringing everyone else to an authentic place of worship, not just listening to a musical performance of worship songs by the worship leader.

This touched me in a couple of ways … as a member of the congregation, this is one of my favorite experiences too (not that I don’t appreciate Joel’s vocal leadership) but there’s just something raw and true about all those voices joined together to praise God. That’s probably why I’ve always enjoyed choirs – especially a good gospel choir – whether joined in unison or singing 6-part harmonies, the abandon of the one for the unification of many to sing praises to our God as one is a picture of Christ’s church as it should be.

Years ago, at what may have been my very first Contemporary Christian concert, Bart Millard, lead singer for MercyMe, ended his concert by leading the audience in the classic hymn, Amazing Grace. By the second line of the first verse the band had backed out and by the end of the first verse, Bart had faded out. The audience, unaware that the band was in fact exiting the stage while eyes were closed, hands lifted high, continued to sing all 4 traditional verses and with at least four parts of harmony wafting up the stadium seating of this congregation of thousands, oblivious to the band’s departure. Now that’s worship! No one was leading us what to sing next or for how long or in what key or how many parts, we just did it out of the true expression of our love for Christ and somehow it just came together... one of my all time favorite moments of worship.

In my personal space of worship, my most cherished moments are the ones where I’m moved to silence. Music is very personal to me – it tells a story – even if it’s not my story, it somebody in that room’s story and I feel that with every word and note. It’s not uncommon for me to be in the middle of singing and find the words of a given song have convicted me or consoled me with such depth that the lump in my throat leaves me silent and breathless.

That was actually something I prayed long about and weighed carefully when Joel asked me if I’d be interested in helping to lead worship on Wednesdays at Fair Oaks. Can I make an emotional separation from the music so that I’m effective in leading others? Do I want to make the separation? Do I have to make a separation? Can I maintain my authenticity and spiritual connection in worship and not inadvertently bring everyone else’s experience to a screeching halt? In that shift, I have a duty of care to their worship experience over my own and I can intellectually accept and embrace that, the question was (and occasionally still is) am I ready for that.

I’ve always been a believer that God does not call the equipped but rather equips the called, so perhaps in my weakness God makes me strong enough to get through 3 songs each Wednesday without choking up or breaking down so that He can use me to lead someone else through his or her raw emotional connection with Him experienced through the music.

Bravely (or perhaps just stupidly) the second time I lead worship for Wednesday services I picked a song that always chokes me up. In the bridge of “Here I am to Worship” is the line “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross” (I can’t even type it with out tearing up) and it always brings me right back to the spring that I was saved. I experience that moment as if it were new each time I sing that line.

I surely can’t be alone here … is there a song or a line or a passage of scripture that no matter how many times you sing it or read it, it moves you with the surprise of emotions it did the first time?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Countdown to Congress - Salt Lake City Bound!

I don't blog about my "day job" too much, but in about 10 hours my alarm clock is going to go off and I'll finish the last of my packing to head to Salt Lake City, Utah for my company’s “Annual Congress” - a week long event of conference, expo and governance meetings for the association's leadership and general membership.

Conventions can be a great time of renewal when you're an attendee (about 6000 this year) ... not quite the same experience when you're running it. The new role I moved into with my organization last year has put me working directly with the Board of Directors which has meant a lot more travel for governance meetings. Fortunately, DC makes a great central location for our BOD to fly into, so I haven’t had to go very far to work with them.

As I began to plan for this trip to Utah, it occurred to me that this is the first time in two years I’ve been on an airplane … it’s only been 3 times total in this millennium – once before 9-11 and twice after.

Yeah, I’m not much of a world traveler. If it were a reasonable option, I’d rather drive to get to my destination. I’m not afraid of flying by any means – the first job I had out of college had me on a plane 8 – 10 times a year. Perhaps it’s that I have a family now that makes a difference.

Although the kids have been shipped off to a grandparent or aunt and uncle for a week here or there, this is actually the longest I will have been away from my husband since we were married. Is that odd or typical? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess I’ll know better by day eight.

Pray for my safe travel and for those five boys (3 human, 2 canine) not to kill each other while Mom’s away.

Friday, October 2, 2009

(My) Man vs. Food

I must confess, we watch a lot of food shows. Between the Food Network, TLC and the Travel Channel, there's a lot to choose from. Anyone following me on Twitter may have seen a Tweet from me Wednesday night that I was watching Adam Richman's "Man vs. Food" on the Travel Channel. At 10:00 at night, this is rarely a good idea.

I thought I was watching it by myself (the intermittent snoring was apparently a clever cover) when apparently the description of the item being made pulled my husband Edward out of a dead sleep. It's entirely possible the smell actually came out of the television to wake him... even the dogs perked up.

What were they making that was so intriguing? For the first stop on the Baseball Special, Adam was at Gateway Grizzlies, one of the restaurants at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, IL. One of their unique specialties is a burger served between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Ohhh yeah, you heard me.

Doughnut sliced in half and fried face down on the skillet, burger, maple bacon, cheddar cheese all fried and melted together. Yeah, that'll pull you out of a dead sleep. Other than some mutual elbow jabbing while watching the show, nothing else was really said about it.

Today when I got home from work my dearest husband was slaving over the stovetop recreating this dreamy masterpiece we'd seen on TV and I have to say it was AMAZING. How could it be anything but? It was dinner and dessert all rolled into one. Almost like a poor man’s Monte Cristo, it's so simple not to try. You won't regret it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Collective Nouns for 16 Types

You've heard of a "school of fish" and a "pack of wolves" but what do you call a collection folks with the same MBTI preferences...?

a quantum of ESTJs
a cotillion of ESFJs
a cooperation of ENFJs
an invasion of ENTJs
a froth of ENTPs
a broadcast of ENFPs
a gala of ESFPs
a scrum of ESTPs
an implement of ISTPs
a pallette of ISFPs
a synod of INFPs
a heresy of INTPs
an argument of INTJs
an empathy of INFJs
a favor of ISFJs
a precision of ISTJs

MBTI Epitaphs - 16 Head-stones by Type

by Doug Bates

ESTJ --- Be back next year with flowers!
ESFJ --- Arranged my own funeral
ENFJ --- Another opportunity for learning
ENTJ --- Whoever did this, I'll get you one day
ENTP --- Death is being out of options
ENFP --- Catch you on the flip side
ESFP --- Where did everybody go?
ESTP --- Well, THIS is boring
ISTP --- Build a better coffin
ISFP --- Smell a flower for me
INFP --- Eternal harmony
INTP --- Talk about "analysis paralysis"
INTJ --- NOW try telling me what to do!
INFJ --- The ultimate clarity
ISFJ --- Wish I could still help
ISTJ --- Forever on time  

16 Prayers for the MBTI Types

ISTJ --- God, help me to begin relaxing about little details tomorrow at 11:41:32 am.
ISFJ --- Lord, help me to be more laid back, and help me to do it exactly right.
INFJ --- Lord, help me not be a perfectionist (Did I spell that right?)
INTJ --- Lord, keep me open to others’ ideas, wrong though they may be.
ISTP --- God, help me to consider people’s feelings, even if most of them are hypersensitive.
ISFP --- Lord, help me to stand up for my rights (if You don’t mind my asking).
INFP --- Lord, help me to finish everything I sta
INTP --- Lord, help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.
ESTP --- God, help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they’re usually not my fault.
ESFP --- God, help me to take things more seriously especially parties and dancing.
ENFP --- God, help me keep my mind on one thing - Look, a bird - at a time.
ENTP --- God, help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I’ll settle for a few minutes.
ESTJ --- God, help me to try not to run everything, but if You need some help, just ask.
ESFJ --- Lord, give me patience and I mean right now.
ENFJ --- God, help me to do only what I can and trust You for the rest. Do You mind putting that in writing?
ENTJ --- God, help me to slow downandnotrushthroughwhatIdoAmen.

Glass Half Full or Half Empty? 16 Answers from the MBTI Types

Take One (unknown author):

ENFJ --- There's more than enough for friends to share.
ENFP --- Whooeee! Water fight!
INFP --- But look! A crystalline vessel, filled with shimmering, life-giving nectar!
INFJ --- Senator Hophnagle used the rest of it for his mud pie project.
ENTJ --- A "full" glass of water, please.
INTJ --- Yes, that glass will be the flivvium container.
ENTP --- Voila! .157 liters hydrogen hydroxide, prepared by micro gnomes ...
INTP --- Well, it seems just a little more than half full--assuming that it is water...
ESTJ --- Hey! Whose job was it to fill up this glass?
ESFJ --- I can't believe someone would leave this dirty glass out here! Clean up this mess right now!
ISTJ --- It's half empty now, and it wouldn't surprise me if it dried up completely.
ISFJ --- I bet _________ would like to have some water right now ...
ESTP --- You call that a glass of water? Why, back where I come from, ...
ISTP --- So? It's water. Big deal!
ESFP --- There's a glass of water--you know, it's healthy to drink a lot of water, why, I remember when I was growing up that
ISFP --- (Holds up glass to the light, tilts it from side to side, tastes it, wiggles finger in it, grins slightly, moves on.)

Take Two (by Cory Caplinger):

ENFJ --- Look in your heart. It holds the answers to all of life's mysteries. It will tell you what the glass is.
ENFP --- Hey!!! I bet if we got a Bunch of these glasses we could make a waterslide! Or maybe a pool! Oh wait, we could freeze this water and make an ice sculpture! Or we could...
INFP --- Can't you see how this glass represents our world? It is neither perfect nor bad, it's simply here and its value is determined by each and every one of us. We cannot survive if we don't drink the water...if we don't get along with our fellow people.
INFJ --- (closes eyes, concentrates) It's half-empty. (The INFJ is referring to a glass that is 200 miles away)
ENTJ --- You call this competence?!?!?!
INTJ --- How can you say it's half-full? It's half-empty! I refuse to listen to your reasoning!
ENTP ---'s...(Ingeniously constructs a hacksaw from two straws and a shoelace, cuts the glass in half)...Ah...Now it's completely full!
INTP --- What? (Looks up in bewilderment after being distracted from his mathematical theory book)
ESTJ --- Dag nabbit! Look! This water isn't even filled up all the way! What is this world coming to? You know, maybe if people respect the law like they used to in the good old days...
ESFJ --- It's half-full! But we better fill it up all the way before our guests arrive! We must give them a cordial welcome!
ISTJ --- It's half-empty. Such a lazy waiter. Things could get done around here if people worked hard and took more responsibility!
ISFJ --- No, I don't want this glass. I don't deserve it. (Really a ploy to make you feel guilty!)
ESTP ---Water?!?! Bah! Give me Beer! HEY ZEKE! GOT ANY BUDWEISER? And bring out the darts --- me and Johnny got a bet going on!
ESFP --- (Not present to answer because he/she is out at a party)
ISTP --- Eh. Just water. Needs to be spiked with some Jack Daniels though.
ISFP --- (Adds a pinch of lemon) Salut! (Sips while listening to Mozart)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Myers-Briggs and the Ministry Wigs

Recently some of the staff at Fair Oaks Church have taken an interest in the MBTI and their 4-letter type preferences. I won't "out them" here, but if you follow me on Twitter, you may have already seen the revealing tweets.

A couple of summers ago I did a Summer-Session Growth Group on using the MBTI to explore your Spiritual "Type" and expand your walk with the Lord. I've always found the connection between preferences in type and preferences in worship, faith and beliefs interesting.

There's a book on my shelf called "Personality Type and Religious Leadership" by Otto Kroeger and Roy M. Oswald. According to their research, the Types most frequently occurring in the field of ministry are ENFJ, ESFJ, ENFP, INFJ and ENTJ (in that order).

Although the research was conducted across a spectrum of Christian religions - from Lutheran to Southern Baptist - I'd be curious to see a "call out" on churches similar to Fair Oaks. A visiting Type practitioner wouldn't have to attend more than a service or two to see how Perceiver-dominant we are, yet it's a statistical minority. The powerful creativity that runs strong with the Perceiver comes through Loud On Purpose in the preaching, in the music, in the dramas, in the programs, in everything they do ... and yes they keep a few of those Judgers around too, to make sure everything stays on schedule and organized.

For my brothers and sisters in Christ who have been exploring their Type, I share the "MBTI Prayers." Yes, I know they've been around for years, but I'm willing to bet their still new to a few folks out there. Enjoy!

MBTI Prayers
ISTJ - God, help me to begin relaxing about little details tomorrow at 11:41:32 am.
ISFJ - Lord, help me to be more laid back, and help me to do it exactly right.
INFJ - Lord, help me not be a perfectionist (Did I spell that right?)
INTJ - Lord, keep me open to others’ ideas, wrong though they may be.
ISTP - God, help me to consider people’s feelings, even if most of them are hypersensitive.
ISFP - Lord, help me to stand up for my rights (if You don’t mind my asking).
INFP - Lord, help me to finish everything I sta
INTP - Lord, help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.
ESTP - God, help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they’re usually not my fault.
ESFP - God, help me to take things more seriously especially parties and dancing.
ENFP - God, help me keep my mind on one thing - Look, a bird - at a time.
ENTP - God, help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I’ll settle for a few minutes.
ESTJ - God, help me to try not to run everything, but if You need some help, just ask.
ESFJ - Lord, give me patience and I mean right now.
ENFJ - God, help me to do only what I can and trust You for the rest. Do You mind putting that in writing?
ENTJ - God, help me to slow downandnotrushthroughwhatIdoAmen.

Myers-Briggs (MBTI) Resource Central

Over the years that I have been an MBTI practitioner, I've collected a lot of materials related to the MBTI and personality "Type"... some of it insightful, some of it funny, most of it shared only with those who participate in my workshops.

This MBTI Central page has information, resources and links to some of the best MBTI materials I've encountered, and more importantly, only those that are consistent with CPP teachings and publications. There's a lot of good information out there, but there's a lot of misguided information out there as well.

The Myers-Briggs Basics

The purpose of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) personality inventory is to make the theory of type-preference understandable and useful in people’s lives. Much of the seemingly random variations in behavior are actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception (information gathering) and judgment (decision making).

The 16 Types:

Type and Family Dynamics

These links will take you to pages within this blog, but on those pages are also links to external sights that I use and trust. I will continue to update this pages as I find good materials related to the MBTI and Type so come back and visit frequently.

If you have resources that you've found and would like to share, please let me know!

What if the "Test" is wrong...

Validating Type

One of the essential aspects of psychological type is that it requires self-validations. Only you can know and validate your type preferences. There are many ways to arrive at your true type. Most people start by taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, but the results need to be validated by you, not just taken at face value.

Once you have your results from the MBTI assessment you completed, your task is to determine if that snapshot in time reflects you more generally in your life.

As you work to discover your best-fit type, remember that an attitude of openness, focus on whole types, respect for your knowledge of self, and valuing the exploration and analysis process will go a long way. Then the best-fit type decision will result in self-understanding and affirmation, the beneficial goals of any type use.

Possible Reasons Your Self-Assessment Didn’t Match Your MBTI Report Results

Need a deeper understanding of the preferences. Review your understanding of the preferences. For example, you may be interpreting Introversion as “shy” and feel it doesn’t fit. Examples of other common misunderstandings are that Judging means critical or judgmental, that Intuition means creativity, or that a preference for Sensing means you think only about facts.

Lack of trust in the situation in which you took the Indicator. Review the situation under which you took the MBTI instrument. Is there anything that would cause you to mistrust or question the results? If you have questions or concerns, contact your facilitator.

Pressure not to use your real type, particularly from parents, a manager, or a coercive environment that dictates certain behaviors. Ask for assistance from your facilitator in identifying those pressures and seek to understand the influence they may be having on your energy, stress levels, and self-esteem.

Stage of life. You may be in your teens or early 20s and therefore still exploring your preferences, or you may be at midlife and working to develop the less-preferred functions. In terms of establishing best-fit type, either situation can confuse the issue. Once again, in-depth discussion with your facilitator will usually bring these things to light and clarify the situation.

Stress. You may be under a lot of stress and so not behaving typically. It may be better to think things over and not create more stress by pushing for a decision.

Your type. Your type may itself be the source of difficulty in getting to a best-fit type with which you are comfortable. For example, those who prefer Perceiving favor taking in more information rather than coming to a conclusion quickly; those with a preference for Judging on the other hand may rush to conclusions too early. Those who prefer Intuition may engage in too many possibilities; and those who prefer Sensing and Judging may feel the pull of duty to be a certain type.

Why the Myers Briggs Type Indicator?

MBTI is the most widely utilized personality preference instrument in the world.
  • 70% of Fortune 500 companies have used the MBTI to maximize communication and effectiveness in the workplace
It’s about Type not Trait

  • Results reflect an individual’s preferences. It does not measure abilities, likelihood of success, intelligence, skills, or maturity.
No right or wrong (or good or bad)

  • With MBTI, there are no “judgments” assigned to one type or another – all 16 types are equal and valuable contributors to our workplace and community.
YOU are your own best judge

  • The questionnaire is only a validation tool. The assignment of one’s own “Type” is up to the individual and is best determined by working with a certified practitioner who can educate and facilitate  – no psychobabble!

Individual Benefits of the MBTI®

The MBTI provides a common vocabulary for everyone to use to describe behaviors we all display and encounter, reducing the time it takes to communicate effectively.

The MBTI offers individuals an affirmative way to look at themselves and to evaluate strengths and needed areas for development.

The MBTI helps individuals to understand personality differences in others and to use them constructively.

The MBTI can offer individuals a way to build communication patterns that will meet their needs as well as the needs of others, helping them to achieve a higher level of influence.

The MBTI helps people value their strengths and become aware of the strengths of other types to promote understanding and effective cooperation.

Organizational Benefits of the MBTI®

The MBTI helps people become aware of their differences and can reduce conflict through appreciation of differences.

The MBTI supports decision making and problem solving processes.

The MBTI facilitates team building by identifying strengths, weaknesses and blind spots for organizational units and helps in establishing effective ad hoc teams.

The MBTI builds understanding regarding an organization’s norms and cultures.

The MBTI acts as a lens through which to diagnose organizational issues and to organize people and processes to develop strategies and solutions.

What is Preference?

Our brains are all hard wired for preference. Like handedness, preference is the method that is most natural, dominant, and requires the least amount of effort. Preference is what you would choose if two alternatives were equally rewarded.

Identifying your preference does not remove the option of using your non-preference, but can give you insight into what may be automatic – your default mode.

Preferences are independent of skill or ability. If you are right handed and you write something with your right hand, there is no guarantee that it will be neat and legible.

Likewise, if you are right handed and write something with your left hand, it’s not a given that it will be sloppy or illegible – with practice and focus on the desired skill of left-handed writing, you could actually get quite good at it!

What is Temperament?

Temperament is a behavioral model developed by David Keirsey to classify people into one of four basic patterns of behavior.

Although a separate theory, the Temperament model draws upon the MBTI instrument to identify the four groups: Idealists (NF), Rationals (NT), Guardians (SJ) and Artisans (SP).

Temperament by-passes some of the complexities of Type and becomes an actionable tool by focusing on observable, and even predictable, behavior.

All 16 MBTI "Types" fit into one of the four Temperament categories using the combinations illustrated below. If a someone has a preference for Sensing as their Percieving Function, then their Temperament will be identified by their Outer-World Orientation (either Judging or Perceiving); if a someone has a preference for iNtuition as their Percieving Function, then their Temperament will be identified by their Judging Function (either Thinking or Feeling).

The best resource for understanding Temperament and its relationship to Type is Keirsey's own website, but have some of my own information linked above as well.