1. a person employed by another, especially to perform domestic duties.
2. a person in the service of another.
Without a doubt I'd say the best leaders are the best servants. There's really nothing that compares to servant leadership. It seems as though nothing speaks louder to followers, then seeing a leader place value on the simplest and smallest of jobs by being willing to do it themselves. That doesn't mean that a leader necessarily DOES those jobs, but you can tell when there's a willingness of heart to do whatever it takes - even if it's emptying garbage's, cleaning toilets, or sharpening pencils.
I think it's easy to look at leadership positions and see them as glamorous. Often times there comes fame with being a leader (maybe not always fame for doing good mind you!), and in some cases fortune as well...who doesn't want that? However, we often overlook the attitude behind it all, as well as journey that it took to get there.
As I think about leading/following, I can't help but compare it to employer/employee's as well. How many of us are currently employee's but really can't think about anything but the day when we will be employer's? We think if we were to be in the corner office that suddenly things would be SO different, however if we're REALLY honest, could we even handle the corner office? We sit back waiting to catch a big break, thinking that someday someone higher up the ladder will take notice of us...what are they supposed to notice? For the most part we are being extremely lazy, WAITING, rather then DOING the work required of us.
Christmas is coming, & as the birth of Christ is celebrated I can't help but remember, "He came to serve, not to be served..." (Mark 10:45)
And so, yet again, my attitude needs to be checked. If Jesus, the Savior of the world, the King of Kings, Mighty God, could serve, then certainly I can...and I'm pretty sure a smile wouldn't hurt either.
In my case, trusting God means trusting that He is in control, and that whatever happens is ultimately best for my life (even if things turn out differently then I'd like).
The craziest thing about trusting God right now, is that ultimately I have no other choice. I'm essentially stuck in a waiting game, I've done all that I can do. There is no other option, & yet for some reason it's still so hard to trust that God is in control.
Perhaps our Western culture has ruined us from a life of allowing God to have total control. We've been taught and trained to look out for ourselves. We all work to be self-sufficient, needing no help or hand outs. The problem I find is that no matter how hard I try to control everything all by myself, ultimately I'm not capable.
And so, here I am, once again quoting Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG), because I know that my being anxious and worrying does nothing at this point, I just need to trust.
"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
I can't help but think that perhaps it's because God's heart is for redemption, and He really just wants us (or at least me!) to "get it."
If you look throughout the Bible, it's plain to see how God's heart is to redeem His people back to Him. Ever since sin entered the world, a plan has been set in motion for redemption to take place. In fact, the whole gospel message is redemptive.
The question then comes, why this recurring theme?
Perhaps because I sometimes lose sight of the big picture, and what the Big God Story that I'm apart of is all about. Perhaps it's because this plan isn't only played out in my life, but in the lives of those I encounter. Perhaps because redemption is much bigger then praying & believing in Christ.
God's heart is for redemption. Between people & Himself. Between people & people.
Being someone who works with people on a daily basis, and in particular with children one thing that I'm quite certain of is that people will be as good as you expect them to be, or as bad as you allow them to be.
This isn't an earth shattering realization, and probably the best example of this can be seen in my own life. When expectations are placed on me to do/act/be/create/achieve etc. I more often than not will come to the party. However, when there are no expectations I will be exactly what I'm allowed to be.
In the end there should be absolutely not surprises. When clear expectations are in place, they will be respected and met...it may take a couple of tries, but ultimately that's what we as humans do.
And so being the twenty-something that I am, I know that I need to expect something of myself. I need to expect that I will be kind, loving, gracious, forgiving, generous, welcoming, faithful, patient...my list can go on and on and on. Ultimately my expectations of myself are to be good and to do good.
What about you? What guidelines (or lack thereof) are in your life?
Rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.
In Lethbridge we definitely had a wet spring, and this autumn is shaping out to the be the same, as a result upon reading this little clip from the prophet, I couldn't help but think of myself.
With the wet weather it's been easy to do anything BUT rejoice. Try complain, or whine and I'm right there, however Joel tell us that we're to rejoice, as if the autumn rains are a gift!?! And perhaps they are...
It's not out of the ordinary for him to text myself or husband, as we have quite the relationship with him although yesterday's text message was slightly different. Normally our texting will begin with either my husband and I sending a quick message asking how his day is going after feeling a bit of "nudge" to do so. But yesterday he was the one who initiated the texting. Why? Because he had exciting news to share!!!
Romans 12:15a states: "Rejoice with those who rejoice..." and I'm pretty sure that's why he sent me the message in the first place! Knowing that Matt & I would definitely without a doubt rejoice with him.
And that is just another reason why I love what I do!
"It's not just any story. It is a true story, full of mysterious people and secret plans and last-second escapes. It's God's Big Story, and every part tell us about His promise to love us. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's start at the very beginning, when God made the world..."
This beautiful introduction is followed by pages sharing about some of the people God used and some of the wonderful things He's done. It ends like this...
"You've just read the Big God Story, but it's not The End! You can be part of the Big God Story too and tell others about God's great promise."
So incredibly profound - and it's a children's book!
A girlfriend of mine is currently dealing with a loss in her life. Although her heart is hurting, with much wisdom she has been able to say, "We shall see how the story unfolds." I admire her ability to see this season as part of a greater story.
I sometimes find it difficult to see past my current situation, as I'm sure people all throughout history have as well. The thing is, in the grand scheme of things often my current situation isn't a "big" or as "bad" as I make it out to me. That's not to say that things I (or anyone else!) am dealing with are unimportant or insignificant, rather the seasons I go through are just apart of the Big God Story.
I've been told, and have said myself many times that, "our lives are not our own." And how true this is, but in a much bigger context then I have ever said or meant it. Although there are people in my life who are quite important, there's someONE even more important to whom my life fully belongs (or at least should fully belong - being the stubborn, selfish person I am there are many times when I find I'm reluctant to fully give myself.)
The Big God Story is bigger then the words that can be read in The Word, and it's bigger then what God is doing on the earth at the moment. The Big God Story is one that I will likely never fully know or understand in my lifetime, yet I have the distinct honor and privilege to be apart of it. And so, in the words of my beautiful, world changing friend, "We shall see how the story unfolds," not only in my life, but in the lives of the remarkable people around me.
This summer however, has turned out to be quite different. Because of various changes in ministries throughout the city over the past year, my summer has turned out to be anything but busy, which has in turn been incredible refreshing.
In the months leading up to summer I found I had ample time to prepare for the school holidays, rather then feeling as though I've had to play catch-up throughout June, July & August. As well, I've had time to plan, prepare and pray for the coming school year. Not only have I had time to get ready for the fall season, but also time to make some changes and do a bit of face-lift to our children's ministry.
I don't know why I'm still surprised when God works out things perfectly in His timing. Truly this summer "off" couldn't have come at a more perfect time in my life. Although I faced the summer months thinking I'd be anything but productive, that has proved to be quite wrong, for which I am so happy. If anything, I've learned that I need to make the most of the time I've been given. Whether that's running a children's ministry program at a conference, or taking time to dream and plan for what's to come, how productive I am is totally up to me.
There is no doubt in my mind that God does not make mistakes, and although facing the summer of 2010 it seemed as though there was some sort of mistake, I realize that this is actually perfect!
It's easy to have hopes and dreams of the legacy you wish to leave behind. The thing is, how can you pass something on if you don't posses it yourself?
For example: You want your future generations to love God with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strength. Before you can ever expect this legacy to be built in your children/grand children/great grand children's lives you must have it built in your own life. If you aren't modeling the relationship with God you hope your children will have, it's hard to expect them to have it themselves. If you aren't reading your Bible, praying, building the Church...how can you put expectations on your children to do that? You can't except your children to be or do something that you aren't being or doing yourself.
If you want your children to respect you and your spouse, guess what? You need to model respect towards your children and your spouse.
It's all about following the leader. So become the leader you want people to follow. Model the attributes and character traits you hope more people would have. Be honest, kind, respectful, loving, generous...
And when you are the person you hope those following behind you will become, you can be sure they'll just continue to built upon that which has been built for them. May your ceiling become the floor of the future generations. Set the ceiling high, and watch the building continue!
Recently I read an incredible book called Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony. Truly a must read!
Unfortunately I think often times parents rate their parenting skills according to their children's behavior. The truth is, parenting is about much more then just behavior. I truly believe behavior is secondary to hearts that love God. When hearts are devoted to God, behavior will begin to fall in line with that.
The same is true for all people though, not just children. How often are we concerned with behavior, rather then looking at hearts? There has to be a direct link from the way we talk and act to what is within our hearts.
The great thing about reading Spiritual Parenting is that it only challenged the way I do children's ministry, but also challenged my personal life because it's really not about behavior, mine or anyone elses, it all has to do with the heart.
I don't know that I fully I understood those words at the time; I was young(er), and truly felt as though I was invincible. Surely I had a larger affect on the lives of those around me, then they had on my life. And although I do believe my life can have an impact on the lives around me, I'm starting to realize how important it is to be intentional about those you surround yourself with.
I've come to realize that you do in fact begin to become like those you spend most of your time with. And in realizing that, I realize that I have an incredible opportunity to influence those around me. And in the same breathe, I realize that I have another incredible opportunity to be influenced by those around me.
Proverbs 27:17 states the truth: "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
Being intentional about relationships is the key.
Maybe I like the control theory better because I think that even as adults we're often in the same boat as children. We choose to resist change in attempts to remain in control.
Just a couple weeks ago, I was talking to a young man who just turned 17. My husband and I have had the incredible privilege of knowing him for the 3.5 years as we've done children's ministry and he's been apart of our "dream team." As we were talking/scheming/planning for the summer months, and the coming fall season (seriously...how unbelievable that fall is on my radar already! Where has the first half of 2010 gone!?!), I mentioned some dreams I have for children's ministry at our church. This poor guy looked at me like a deer caught in headlights.
The very thought of change startled him, and all I could think about a two year-old who will only eat toast, apples, and rice.
I can't help but think that all of us like to be in control. Maybe not in control of something huge, but at least of our own lives. Unfortunately, our lives are often not our own, and various people and things bring change whether we like it or not. However, we can control ourselves, how we will act and react when change occurs.
And so, as I stand before an empty page, beginning to put plans and dreams into motion (and receiving calls/e-mails/texts from others who are bringing about change) I realize that ultimately the only thing that I can control is what's going on in my head and my heart.
In realizing this I choose to embrace the coming change. I am ready, because I know where I stand with the things that I can in fact control.
How prepared for change are you?
Unfortunately, Father's Day weekend plans may have to be canceled, adjusted, or relocated. There is more then enough reason to complain...and yet, I've decided to do otherwise. I've always been a huge fan of Veggie Tales, videos where vegetables talk and teach incredible life lessons. In a particular episode there's a song that has a the following line:
"a thankful heart is a happy heart. I'm glad for what I have and that's an easy place to start."
On this incredibly wet day, I'm choosing a thankful heart.
I'm thankful for, the roof over my head, the incredibly green grass, hot coffee, boots, pashmina's, trench coats, an indoor job, down spouts, muffins for breakfast, a loving family, the best husband in the world...
and I could go on, and on, and on.
It's easy to look at the negative, it's often magnified more then it deserves. What will you choose today?
As for me, it's a thankful heart all way, because truly, my heart is more then happy.
Engaged people are obsessed with preparation. The right dress. The right weight. The right hair and the right tux. They want everything to be right. Why? So their fiance will marry them? No. Just the opposite. They want to look their best because their fiance is marrying them.
The same is true for us. We want to look our best for Christ. We want our hearts to be pure and our thoughts to be clean . . . We want to be prepared.
I love it, and can identify with it.
The four years of my life it seems like I've been in this place of preparation. To say I've been on a roller coaster would be an understatement. I've dealt with various emotions that I never thought possible, and have spent countless hours crying out to God for some sort of relief, as it seems one painful turn of events leads to another. Yet through it all, there have been times when the only form of comfort I've received has been in knowing that I'm being prepared.
I can only take responsibility for myself - my own thoughts, actions and words. It's been a painful process of keeping my heart right, and watching what I say and do, but it's all out of love and preparation for the lover of my soul.
I don't remember my great grandma at all, but sometimes I feel as though I know her very well because of the stories I have heard time and time again about the woman she was. She built incredible legacy for our family, and it continues on through her children, her grandchildren, and hopefully through my generation - her great grandchildren, and beyond.
I've heard stories about when I was just a baby, and my great grandma took me in her arms at a wedding and said to my parents, "all children are a blessing from God, but this is a blessed child." And truly, I am blessed, looking at the legacy that has been built for me, I know without a shadow of doubt that I am incredibly blessed.
My great grandma was a woman who loved God. Our family meets once every three years for a family reunion, and one tradition that lives on is the church service on Sunday morning with the family. That is one tradition that could live on forever, as it's a vital part of the legacy built by my great grandparents.
I've heard stories about how great grandma would pray every single day for every single one of her family members. With sixteen children who lived to adulthood, that's a lot of family members, and yet each one of us was loving covered in great grandma's prayers. My mum has told me that when great grandma passed away, one of the biggest concerns of the family was wondering, "who's going to pray for us now."
My great grandma loved her family, and she loved God. My great grandparents built and incredible legacy for my family, which is one of the reason's why I am the "blessed child," great grandma said I am.
The cul-de-sac that my husband I live in, is one of the large reasons why I would like to never move. It has nothing to do with our house (although I REALLY love my home), it has nothing to do with the location (although the location is perfect for us at this stage in our lives), it's more about the other families who are our neighbors.
Over the past year, some of our neighbors have become our closest friends. It's not unusual for us to spent at least one afternoon/evening during the week with one of our neighbors. We've celebrated births, birthday's, we've helped landscape, done snow removal, played games, shared meals...the list goes on and on.
There's one particular family in our cul-de-sac that we don't see very often. With our different schedules it seems often the only times we ever connect is a quick wave as one is pulling into the driveway and the other pulls out. However, over the weekend this couple mentioned to us how sad they will be when/if they move, as they have never felt so loved and accepted by their neighbors! SERIOUSLY! We hardly ever see them, let alone spend anytime with them.
I've come to conclusion that building community doesn't mean that you have to be best friends. You don't have to spend loads of time together, or know ever detail about someone's life. You merely have to take the time to wave, to shout "hello" across the street, to shovel the sidewalk that connects the houses.
It's really not rocket science, and it certainly doesn't take much effort.
I love Laurel Place, and even now as it seems some changes will happen as new houses are built, and some original owners move on, I know that I will continue to love it. We're not only neighbors, we're friends. The bar for our community has already been set.
- worked long hours all week
- at 11:00pm Friday evening, drove to pick up friend who was stranded on the highway
- got up early Saturday morning to get ready for a day of quadding
- drove the opposite direction of the mountains to pick up his friends, before turning around the heading in the right direction
- suffered through seasonal/outdoor allergies all weekend without so much as a complaint or brief whine session
- let his wife tag along for a day of quadding through the snow/rain/sun/mud
- arrived home after said day of quadding, only to manually help neighbor back fill
- got up early Sunday morning to do BV's
- taught 2&3 year olds about Jonah and obedience
- vacuumed both the truck full of mud from previous day, and my vehicle
- had a neighbor friend over who's in the process of making some huge decisions
- cuddled wife before falling asleep
This Sunday we're talking about Authority/Submission, a loaded topic for sure (at least with adults!). I'll be using an umbrella to illustrate how authority/submission works (when you submit to authority you're protected, and under cover etc.).
In my preparation for this coming Sunday I came across the best ever umbrella and must share it with you...I absolutely love it, and can't help but giggle when I see it!
On a more serious note: as I prepare to teach on Authority/Submission, know that I am being taught. Bring on the rain, because I am under cover!!!
Today, I've chosen to embrace the spring storm, as every spring this seems to be the norm. I've come to the conclusion that there's no use complaining about the seasonal weather, but rather to expect and accept anything.
I love the following words found in Daniel 2:21
"He changes the times and seasons.
He sets up kings.
He removes them from power.
The wisdom of those who are wise comes from him.
He gives knowledge to those who have understanding."
How true. Despite my wishes for warm sunny weather, the times and seasons change. And although at times I would wish for control, I can rest in the fact that HE is.
And so, today I choose to embrace change, knowing that it's inevitable.
A few Sunday's ago, before church started, Matt and I were talking with some friends of ours, while their three young girls patiently waited. After our conversation, as we were preparing to head to our seats, one of their daughters asked if she could sit with us. During the course of praise and worship, their other two children ended up standing with us as well.
About a week ago, I went to listen to a certain grade six boy as his school band played at the local music festival. As I sat in theater waiting for them to begin playing this grade six boy proceeded to wave and flash the biggest smile ever.
And those are just a few reasons of why I do what I do...
Every square inch of the human body has an average of 50 million bacteria on it. Did someone say shower?
Perhaps (all things considered) we're a bit too freaked out and paranoid with our sanitizing wipes, lotions and gels...
For example, if I'm having a bad day, and I'm really busy, and not feeling good, and my house is a mess, and my laundry basket if overflowing, and there's so much going on at work, you better believe that there is no one worse off then me.
Recently, I was challenged to re-evaluate my thinking. It all started when I was at my hairdressers (ever noticed how some of the best conversations happen in that chair?), and through various other conversations over the course of that weekend a common theme came up...life really isn't THAT bad...or at least not as bad as we tend to think it is. I mean, really, is anything that I'm facing that brutal? There are people in other countries who have literally lost everything and need to rebuild from scratch the lives they once enjoyed (ie: Haiti and Chile).
The whole, "woe is me" act that I tend to pull, is just that...an act.
The problem is that I've reduced my world to include...me. It's all about me. The only things that matter are me, my husband, our home, our jobs...
And the real problem is that the world is so much bigger.
What a humbling thought, to think that I'm actually NOT at the center of the universe.
When I take time to think about the children's song, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," I can't help but be in awe. Here I am, complaining about my teeny, tiny problems, mean while, God's listening, while holding the whole freaking world in His hands. And yet He doesn't brush me off, saying, "Catherine, I've got far bigger things to deal with." (in the same manner that I would respond to those in my world)
Ultimately, it all comes down to two simple (yet, not easy) commandments, "Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with with all your soul. Love him with all your mind," and "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39)
When I get my life in line with these two commandments, my world almost instantly grows, and suddenly everything isn't about me and my "huge" problems.
How big is my world? Hopefully big enough to include more then just me.
As a leader in a church (or any place for that matter) my life should be an example to those around me. And quite possibly the most encouraging thing I've experienced during this busy time of my life has been the example of others in my life.
There is a handful of individuals in my world who constantly blow me away with their "whatever-it-takes" attitudes. People who have years of experience which should excuse them from menial tasks, and yet those are incredible people in my world who are the greatest examples. They are the first to arrive, last to leave, hard working, individuals that make me think, "when I'm "old" (they're really not OLD!) I want to be just like ________."
These few individuals to me are true leaders. They lead like Jesus, serving, not being served (Mark 10:45).
As a leader, I feel that if I need to learn anything, it's how to serve. To be just a willing (and happy!) to wash toilets, as to stand on a platform and speak to thousands.
To those in my life who lead in this manner, thank you. Thank you for being an example to me of what it means to lead like Jesus did.
- a group of people related to one another by blood or marriage
- a person or people related to one and so to be treated with a special loyalty or intimacy
I have a soft spot in my heart towards family, I always have. I was brought up in a home where family was always priority. Be it immediate, or extended, family always came first while I was living in my parents home. As a result, now an adult, not too much has changed.
This Saturday I will be heading up to Calgary for a few short hours with my mother-in-law. We plan to leave early-ish, and will be back before dinner. Why spend four hours in a car for a mere 3 hours you ask? Because Matt's cousin Shawna from Australia is in Calgary and a wedding shower is being held for her. A four hour drive is a measly price to pay for family.
Family is where it all begins, and where it all ends.
I'm one lucky girl because even though its been outrageous in my life, I have one amazing, super supportive, always encouraging, best cheerleader on the planet husband (and he's hot, which is an added bonus), not to mention the fact that I live in the same city as my incredible parents who go out of their way to help others.
Case in point, my brother goes to a college where he's involved with the men's volleyball team. This weekend his team will be playing the college in my city. Pretty sweet as it means a chance to see my brother. Earlier this week my brother texted my mum saying that they were having trouble finding a hotel to stay in over the weekend. So naturally (although unnatural to others) she offered to let the team stay at their place. Keep in mind this is 15-ish, 6 foot-something, athletic men.
The main reason this comes so naturally to my mum is that my grandparents (her parents) were the same - opened their home. There was always an extra seat at the table, and more then enough food for whoever happened to stop by. Although I don't remember my great grandma, I can only imagine that she was the same. I'm convinced that this gift of hospitality has been passed on from generation, to generation - it has to be genetic.
In saying that, on Thursday evening, the men's volleyball team will be at my parents house, and the ladies...at mine.
And for this I'm truly thankful! Will it be crazy? Likely. Will it be exhausting? I'm sure. Will it be a blessing to the 15-ish people who enter my home? I certainly hope so.
My prayer is that those at my home, would leave the same as those who stay at my parents...well taken care of, physically and spiritually/emotionally.
Earlier this week I had a conversation with a mom, in which I was able to tell her that whatever her and her husband teach in their home, and model for their children will be what really sticks. And this simple illustration helps prove it.
Feeling pressured as a parent? Don't! Out of all the people on the planet God chose YOU to raise your children.
I like to think that I partner with parents as they raise remarkable children. They have a HUGE job and responsibility, one that I'm honored to be able to play a small part in.
I love my job.
This thought has been rolling around in my head since the conversation.
Personally, I crave people who are genuine. Those who are real about the very real struggles/situations/circumstances/issues they face. I'm pretty sure we all know some plastic people (I'm not talking about those who have been made plastic through surgery!). Although they SEEM to have it all together, there's something very unattractive about these individuals as they hide behind an image.
And yet, there are those who are so very real that you can't help but wonder if they're suicidal. Every situation sends them into depressive state, or into an angry fit.
And yet somewhere in between the two there's what I believe is faith. It's being honest about a very real situation, and yet having faith that things will get better. And that's where putting a smile on your face comes in.
I truly believe that every single situation I find myself in, that there's a very big God in control of it, and as a result, I can't help but smile.
There's those who are fake, those who are real, and those who choose faith...I'll pick faith.
The truth is, everyone is selfish. I've come to the conclusion that all sin is caused by selfishness. Why else would I lie, gossip, overindulge, be jealous, greedy... I do it because of ME. Thinking of my SELF, rather then anyone else in my life, or the world for that matter.
I've been told in the past how much of a "servant" I am. This is partially due to the fact that I was raised in a home where an attitude of "whatever it takes" was cultivated. I learned quite early in my life that there are times when you just need to do whatever is needed. But that's only part of the reason why people would see me as a "servant." The other contributing factor is my self. Honestly, there have been times were I've served in some capacity with the sole purpose of getting something in return...whether it be a reward, thanks or recognition, there are many times I can think of where my motives have been less then pure. Again with the selfishness.
The problem is that selfish ambition is part of my sinful nature. (Galatians 5:16-21)
And once again I'm painfully aware of my need for Jesus and the help of Holy Spirit in my life.
The amazing and hugely interesting part of my sinful nature as described in Galatians is that it's followed by the fruit of the Spirit. I have a choice, I can live by the Spirit, or I can gratify my self. Unfortunately it's not a one time decision to choose living by the Spirit, rather a conscious decision nearly