Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On Hindsight

[This post was originally written in August, but, ironically, I've been too busy to edit and finish it. Ha!]

As I write this, I am soaring through the clouds at 32,000 feet and 454 knots on my way to Phoenix for a conference. Flight is amazing, isn't it?

So once again it's been a while since my last post. There's a very good reason for that. I've been...well...busy. For those of you who know me, I know that's hard for you to take in. I mean, I always have so much time on my hands [insert sarcasm here].

In a matter of 10 days, I had four major events happening, each within a few days of each other. I've been busy before. In fact, some people tell me I define busy. But it has never been anything like this. I should be zonked out on this 4-hour plane ride right now. But, alas, I've had this post muttering around in my head for a few days and I can't rest until I get it down.

Here's what that ten-day span looked like. Brace yourself.

Monday - Drive 11 hours with the family, puppy, and injured elbow back to NC from Florida. Dread the upcoming week.

Tuesday through Sunday - Jam packed week with planning for upcoming events and meetings/rehearsals/coordination for said events.

Monday - Prepare and host leader training for American Heritage Troop I just started (Think Girls Scouts on spiritual steroids - check them out here.)

Tuesday through Thursday - Final planning/rehearsals/directing for Thursday night event. (Which was awesome, btw. You can see pics here.) Oh, and squeeze in two trips to the car dealership, having only one car for a few days, making a visit to the doctor for the injured elbow, and bringing a meal to friends who spent a horrible weekend at two different hospitals. (Remember that part.)

Friday through Monday - Friday was my anniversary and my husband and I managed to enjoy an incredible dinner out, thanks to a gift card. It was about the only down-time I had in this madness. Then cram in final planning and host first troop meeting on Monday night (remember this part, too.)

Tuesday and Wednesday - Cram in final lesson planning for the high school health class I am teaching at our homeschool co-op. I've never taught before (except my own offspring.) It was....a challenge. And showed me just how much planning I don't do for my own kids. (Yikes.)

Thursday - Teach said first high school health class; race home at 3pm, throw stuff in suitcase, kiss the dog, wipe away the little one's tears, and here I sit...at 32,000 feet.

I'm exhausted all over again just writing everything I've done the past ten days. (And putting it into words in front of me makes me wonder how it is I'm still walking upright.) See why I haven't posted in a while?

I do have a point. Hopefully you haven't collapsed from reading about my crazy self.

My husband knew better than to comment on the past few days. He just shook his head (well, mostly he just shook his head.) I have no idea what I was thinking. It wasn't a conscious decision to schedule all this madness in one fell swoop. Some things were on the calendar already when others came up and there was no changing any of them. After all, none of them revolved around me. I was just the one in charge of most of them.

The only thing I added after the fact was taking a meal to friends. (Remember, I asked you to remember that part?) But I had meals in the freezer and they had a great need. How could I not respond to God when he puts that on my heart? As crazy busy as I was, and as little time as I had that day to thaw, cook, gather, and drive a meal to someone, loving on people in need fills my tank. It forces me to focus on someone else, even if just for 30 minutes. It forces me to spend some time away from the madness, loving like Jesus. I. Love. That.

Now, that other part I asked you to remember? That one led to this blog post. 

I'm sure you've heard the old saying that says something along the lines of "He who thinks of it gets put in charge." I'd heard about American Heritage Girls from a friend two years earlier. I had looked into Girl Scouts but never felt led to enroll my daughter despite her deep desire to be in a scouting program. I couldn't really put my finger on the reasons for my hesitation (I was a Girl Scout growing up); it just never seemed a good fit for our family. I had looked for an AHG troop in our area but there weren't any in our whole county at the time (and I live in the biggest county in the state) and only three existed in the state of NC! I decided to wait and check again the following year. I did, and though there was now ONE troop in my county, it was clear on the other side of the city and I wasn't willing to make that driving commitment every week.

But I really wanted my daughter in AHG. It was a program I felt, wholeheartedly and without hesitation, was exactly what I was looking for in a scouting program. I checked with the home office and there were no applications for upcoming troops in our area. No one even had a rumor of one on the horizon that I might pursue.

So.....what's a mom to do? Well, he (or she) who thinks of it...

Fast-forward eight months and here I was...watching all the leaders and their daughters file in for our very first troop meeting. 54 girls in their uniforms with excited looks on their little faces...many of them knew who I was and greeted me with a hug or waved and yelled, "Hi Miss Cheri!!" But I was getting pulled in a hundred different directions. Everyone had something they needed or a question they wanted an answer to and I was the only one who could provide it. Girls were running around waiting for their rooms to be ready (and this is in a small office!) Parents were dazed and confused at the chaos as more and more girls arrived. It looked as though we hadn't done a thing to prepare. I was a little overwhelmed, to say the least.

I went into the storage room to get one of the many things the leaders were asking me for, and I stopped and just stood there. I wanted to cry. In fact, I'm pretty sure I did cry for about 30 seconds. I wanted to run out the back door and go home where it was peaceful and quiet. For a moment, I stood there...frozen. And I seriously thought to myself, "What have I done?" I mean, really, what did I get myself into here?!? Admittedly, I hate chaos! I don't respond well to it at all, physically or mentally. And lots of different noises going on at the same time and at ear-piercing decibel levels puts me into auditory overload and I must retreat quickly and fervently to avoid a migraine headache. So....What on earth was I thinking?!? Hindsight is 20/20.

I snapped out of my little pity party for one and headed back into the chaos, planning my immediate resignation and choosing a successor to take my place along the way. 

And then, something remarkable happened.

Drop-off had finished and the girls were all sitting together in rows, waiting patiently for the meeting to start, a look of excitement and anticipation on their little faces. Our troop shepherd was about to start the welcome and prayer. The leaders lined the perimeter of the room. Most of the parents had gone. The moment I had been waiting for over the past two years (and planning for over the past eight months) was upon me. I watched as our troop shepherd hushed them into complete silence. Their eyes were upon her. All attention was turned to her. She welcomed them. Smiles were on their faces. And I heard a voice whisper something in my ear.

"Look! Look what you've done!"

And I started to cry. This time, tears of joy. 

All the things I wanted in a scouting program for MY daughter were exactly the things all these girls' moms wanted for THEIRS. And because no other troop in our area existed, I was led to be "put in charge." If I hadn't taken that leap of faith, none of these girls would be sitting here in front of me.

I didn't start the AHG troop without prayer and consideration, counsel or research. And, in hindsight, had I known then what I knew standing in that storage room, I might not have been so bold as to jump in with both feet. But then I wouldn't be staring at all these sweet faces who need this troop. And, in hindsight, what a lost opportunity that would be!

If we waited for the times when serving would always be convenient for us, or when our vision is completely clear, we'd wait for quite a while. In fact, we would probably never be able to fully experience the joy of serving. Whether it's a last-minute meal for friends or months of planning something big, there is always a component of faith involved. If we knew every detail or outcome, we might never take the risks that lead to great things. And when we only do things that will serve ourselves, we miss out on incredible opportunities to fill our tanks and feed our souls and the souls of those we may or may not know. 

They say hindsight is 20/20. But, I think, it depends on the glasses you are wearing when you look back.

Go check your vision, and see what opportunities God has waiting for you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On Why We Do What We Do

Wow! It's been a while since I  last posted. Honestly, I haven't had time to do laundry let alone think about my next post. But this post has been mulling around in my brain for a while, and after catching up on some blog reading this afternoon, it was obvious the timing for it was right. (And I'm going to link in a few of my favorite bloggers' posts, too! Thank you Tara Livesay and Gwenn Mangine for the opportunity to work your posts into mine so perfectly. Not that I asked you...)    ;)


Why do you believe what you believe? 

Why do you do what you do?

When I was a kid, I was really naive. I mean....really, REALLY naive. Naive to the point where I believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny until I was...well....way older than any kid I knew. I believed my cousin when he told me there was a swimming pool on the roof of our high school (and I went to look for it!) I believed a group of "friends" who told me they were all meeting at a certain time at a certain place after school on the football field and they wanted me (ME!) to come, only to show up and find no one there. 

Yep, I believed whatever anyone told me. You'd think I would've learned my lesson after a few of the above humiliating moments, but no. Everyone was better than me, smarter than me, prettier than me, funnier than me, and worthy of being believed. I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. I believed everything the priest said, everything my Sunday school teacher said, everything my friends said, and especially everything my mom said....it was all TRUE! 

Fast-forward 30+ years and boy oh BOY was I oblivious (er...uh....ok, more like DUMB!) For the most part, people actively took advantage of my obvious naiveté. But, in hindsight, I realize a lot of what people did say was really them just passing on what they had been taught all their life. In reality, they didn't know half of what they were talking about! (Sorry mom. You got most things right.)

When I was in college, I heard the following story, as told at my cousin's wedding. It put everything into perspective for me, and I hope you enjoy it's message as much as I have all these years. (The story is below. But come back later and click here for a GREAT article that incorporates this story into parenting.)

A newly married young woman, while preparing an Easter dinner for her husband, cut off the end of the ham before putting it in the pan to roast. The husband, intrigued by this, inquired as to why she cut the end off the ham. The young women replied, "Well, I don't know. I guess because it's just the way my mom always did it." 
One afternoon while her mother was visiting, the daughter asked her why she had always cut the end off the ham. The mother replied, "Well, that's the way MY mother has always done it." 
The following Sunday, while visiting her Grandma, the young women asked her why she had always cut the end off the ham before putting it in the roasting pan. "Well," the grandmother replied, "I always did it because my pan was too small!"
This story beautifully illustrates what can happen when we blindly follow tradition without asking the appropriate questions!

So here is where a few recent posts from some women I greatly admire come in! Their posts show the challenges of re-education of Haitian women who have no (good) idea why they do what they do, or why they believe the things they believe, when it comes to their baby's health. Their situation is the epitome of what happens when we do/believe solely based on what someone told us growing up (or, as adults) or how our actions and beliefs were shaped merely by what we saw people doing/believing, leading us down a road of seemingly irreversible misconceptions.

But it's not just about the new moms living in Haiti. We ALL have been misled and miseducated about something (probably lots of things, actually.) I think (personal opinion alert) this could potentially be a main reason for much of the conflict in our lives (and, most likely, in our society as a whole.) 

I mean, apply this solely to what we have been taught (whether actively or passively) about God all our lives! Imagine what could happen if we started on a journey to discover the TRUTH. 

If we are in any position of authority (and we ALL are) we need to be intentional seekers of the truth. Other's perceptions, belief systems, and protocols may depend on it. Allowing ourselves to be misled (or, worse, misleading others by our own uneducated, unresearched beliefs and values) can have dangerous consequences. 

Click Here for Gwenn's post.

Click Here for Tara's post. (Also embedded in Gwenn's post above.)

Go Find Some Truth.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On the Basic Necessities

Recently my daughter and I were looking at the prices of things in 1957. Did you know the average rent was $90/month? The cost of a stamp was 3 cents! And a gallon of gas was....wait for it....24 cents! Fast forward 50 years and we're at $800, 46 cents and $3.79 (respectively.) Yikes!

Subsequent to this mortifying discovery, conversation ensued about why things were so cheap back then. And it really got me thinking. Inflation, in my opinion, is just an excuse for somebody to make more money. (You don't have to agree with me, this is just my opinion.) I mean, we are currently the most technologically-advanced society in history. We have automated just about everything. Shouldn't things be getting CHEAPER to produce?

I think, overall, they are. But we, as a society, have basically said we'll pay whatever is necessary to have the latest and greatest. And this snowballs back to the producer who, instead of finding an opportunity to pass on savings to the customer, sees this demand as a means to increase their profits.

At what point do we say, "enough is enough?" Certainly, inflation has to reach a point where it is no longer beneficial to raise the price of something (I'm sure there are statistics and data and research and studies with this kind of info but you're not here for that.) Why aren't we there yet?!?

Truthfully, all we really need in life is food, water, shelter, oxygen, and to love and be loved. People for thousands of years survived without laptops and iPads and video games and the DVR. Please don't misunderstand me. I don't say that to guilt you into thinking, "Oh, great. This crazy gal thinks I'm greedy and I should sell all my stuff." I don't mean to imply that's the solution. (Believe me, I've got STUFF! My house is busting at the seams with STUFF. Sometimes I can't see past all the STUFF!) I say that to simply point out that, at our core, we really were created to only need and desire the basic necessities. Everything else is a bonus.

What is it about us that our happiness is measured by such unnecessary things? Is all our extra stuff, and the desire for more of it, truly making us happy at our core? Or is it causing more trouble in our lives and relationships than we want to admit? Are we forgetting the true reason we were created?

People around the world thrive with just the basic needs of life. They have so much less than we have. Ultimately, deep within, I think they are happier. They have an unparalleled gratefulness that we should long to emulate. The smallest things in life bring them great joy. But what is our wellspring of life?

What would it look like if we threw out our desires for anything that doesn't fall into one of those basic-necessity categories? How happy might we be if we changed our paradigm to just being content with what we already have? What would happen if we put our focus on helping others meet their basic necessities rather than when the next next generation of a gadget is scheduled to be released and how we're going to get it?

I'm confident the more we have, the more we want. But the less we have, the happier we truly are.

What about you?

Go find your spring.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

On Listening to Bugs.

It's the year of the world's largest cicada brood here in NC (and 15 other states throughout the southeast) and I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that there are literally about one million of these inch-long buggers running around per ACRE! 

I had heard this was the year for them, this 13-year "Great Southern Brood" (or, more scientifically, Brood XIX) but had yet to actually hear them singing. Well, today was the day.

I was walking to my car in the parking lot of my old church in Chapel Hill, NC, where I had just attended a memorial service for a dear friend's mom. The church campus is surrounded by acres and acres of beautiful woods and, most of the time, peaceful serenity with just the songs of birds in the air. 

But there it was. The unmistakable buzz of the cicada. 

I smiled at my ability to recognize the sound without a second thought. Memories from my childhood came flooding back. Growing up in upstate NY, the cicadas came out much later due to the difference in ground temperatures. In fact, it usually wasn't until right around my sister's birthday in mid-August when we would spot our first empty cicada shell stuck to the big oak tree in the back yard.

As I opened the door to the car, though, something made me stop and listen again. The buzz was still there, but another sound caught my attention. 

My mind struggled to identify it. This one was not as easy to decipher as the first, more recognizable, buzz. After a moment, I gave up and hopped in the car. I figured I would come across whatever it was on my trip back home and the mystery would be solved. (I do not like unsolved mysteries.)

The route I took to get home took me through the woods along some really gorgeous back roads. I had the windows down to take in the fresh "country" air when I came to a red light and took note, once again, of that unfamiliar noise. It was almost siren-like; a sort of constant whirring. I must be getting close to it, I thought. And I drove on.

After a mile or so, it was still so prevalent that I thought for sure whatever it was would be just around the next bend in the road. Alas, I came upon no source.

After about another half-mile, cicadas starting hitting my windshield from all directions. It was like driving through the plague of locusts, 21st-century style. I wasn't surprised, really. I was surrounded by very thick, dense woods, a fishing pond or two just off the beaten path. Perfect conditions for these little insects, I'm sure.

I couldn't take the mystery noise anymore. I pulled over at a greenway crossing, turned off the car, and just watched and listened for a while. Cicadas flew past me. One landed in the road just beyond my car (he later met with an unfortunate death by tire.) A family on bicycles crossed the road from the greenway. The dad was listening to his iPod as his wife and kids rode on ahead and I wondered if they were all completely missing this mystery sound.

My detective hat on, I started reviewing the facts. I was almost half-way home at this point and yet the sound was exactly the same as it had been 10 minutes prior in Chapel Hill. No fading. No change in pitch. No Doppler effect as I got closer or further away. Simply...constant.

Then it hit me.

The buzzing we hear so prevalently and so recognizably are the cicadas in the foreground. The ones that are relatively close to wherever we are standing at that moment. And that's the noise most people hear and have come to know as the sound of the cicada.

But the sound I was hearing in the background was so much more than that. It is actually the collective whirring of all those cicadas that are in the distance, covering acre after acre, throughout the surrounding woods. The sound didn't change as I traveled because it wasn't just one small group making that sound. It was the sound of billions of them, singing together, in one voice, spanning two entire counties.


Video doesn't capture it nearly as well as listening to it in person. If you are in the southeastern US right now, I highly recommend you get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and find your own place to listen to them, but you can listen to a few seconds of my video of them here. (And you may have to listen more than once to truly hear what I'm taking about. That's ok.)

So why was it that I never heard them like this before? I mean, I've been listening to cicadas sing since I was a little girl. Why this new sound? Why now?

Perhaps I heard what was familiar and instantly, without realizing it, blocked out whatever else was different in an effort to go on with my day. 

Perhaps it's because I like a good challenge (and, remember, hate an unsolved mystery) and so I was diligent in trying to figure out what in the world this noise was. 

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I had just come from an atmosphere of retrospection and celebration of someone's amazing life and so I was sensitive to the things around me. 

Or, perhaps it's because I was in the right frame of mind and in a place conducive to listening.

When we listen for God, whether we're listening for an answer to a prayer or listening for his direction on what our purpose is for being here, are we just listening for what's familiar and blocking out the rest? Do we focus only on hearing what we want to hear him to say and then instinctively pick up where we left off and go on with our day? 

Or, are we intentional about putting ourselves in a frame of mind and atmosphere that is conducive to truly listening for him and to him? And are we diligent about actually hearing not only what he's speaking to us loud and clear, but also what he might be whispering from the background?

May you not only listen to what he may be saying to you right now, but may you hear it with an open mind and an open heart regardless of the message.

Then go listen to the bugs.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On Finishing What You Start

I'm not very good at finishing things. My list of "unfinished business"is fairly long and, to my husband's dismay, my attic (and our closets, and bedroom, and bonus room...) show that fact very clearly. I start a project with gusto and fizzle out faster than the soda I was drinking.

I'm the same way with books. Well, mainly self-help books. I can't ever read one without a highlighter, two different colored pens, and a new journal for all my notes. I can't wait to dive in and be changed! By chapter two I'm usually telling everyone I know they have to read this book.

Then life happens.

To my credit, I have walked away more changed and more convicted by reading half of a book than I would have been had I not started it in the first place. So it's never a waste of time. I just realize how much I'm missing out on! Most books build up to something and though the first half may seem like more than I ever hoped for, I realize the second half is probably even better and I'm missing it because I let life get in the way.

Case in point: Several months ago a friend suggested Crazy Love by Frances Chan. (www.crazylovebook.com) I ran out to get it, got TWO colors of highlighters, my pens and a journal and dug right in. I was more convicted by the end of the foreword and preface than any book before it. As usual, the first chapter alone was worth my $14.99 (less my educator discount.) I read (with gusto) and took the book with me everywhere. My way of thinking was completely turned upside down by the third paragraph of Chapter 1!

Then....you guessed it....life happened. At chapter two.

But this time, I'm glad.

And I think God had a hand in it.

This morning, kids still asleep, birds chirping in the crisp morning air, puppy soaking up the sun on the back deck, I sat down with my coffee and bible and highlighters and...what else...Crazy Love. I haven't picked it up since I started this blog. I started over from the very beginning, first by reviewing everything I had highlighted or made a note of, then re-reading the foreword, preface, and chapter 1. And you know what I found? I missed a whole lot the first time around!

Well, maybe not missed it. I'm just taking away a different message this time around. And it's all because of this blog.

Perhaps it's because my paradigm has changed...or, rather, been refined....since the last time I read it. This time, with fresh eyes and a fresh interpretation, I realize that much of what he writes about in the first 5% of the book can be directly related to what I want this blog to be about.

But had I finished what I started three months ago, I may never have realized it.

I am committed to finishing this book! It is so good, and so life-changing, I am GOING to get to the end this time! And, through this blog, I'm going to bring you all along.

So thank you, God, for allowing life to get in the way. This time, I think it's the best thing that could have happened.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mission Therapy

Thanks to my friend Jenna for sharing this insight today:

"There is no better feeling than having the means to support missions you believe in, be it through time or treasure, it's a natural anti-depression treatment. :-)"

When I was the grand ole age of 20, it was discovered that my genetic heart condition was more serious than previously thought, and I needed a pacemaker....like STAT! I had never had surgery in my life (unless you count being knocked out for wisdom teeth extraction) and I was freaked out! 

Detail warning! May not be for the faint of heart!

When the surgery was over I was in tremendous pain. This was in 1994 (oops, now you know my real age). Pacemakers were larger than they are now, and given the fact I was so young, my world-renowned cardiologist made the decision to place the pacemaker in a "pocket" he created within the muscle just below my collar bone. 

If you've ever seen a pacemaker in an older person, you can practically read the serial number through their skin.  In order to place mine where he wanted, he had to cut the muscle. But this would hide the pacemaker and give me some cosmetic comfort and, in the long run, allow me to live a more active lifestyle. Needless to say, all I have is the scar to flash at people when they don't believe that I have a pacemaker (works really well with airport security, btw.) 

The trade-off? MORE PAIN!

Have you ever swallowed a piece of food prematurely by mistake and you can feel it move all the way down your throat and into your stomach? Painful, right? Yeah, times that by about 100. Hello! Foreign body where it shouldn't be! OUCH!

Lying there in the hospital bed awakening from surgery I realized the intense pain. What I got for it was Tylenol with Codeine. What I needed was morphine and a shot of whiskey!! Apparently, insurance companies don't see pacemakers placed within the muscle as a standard procedure and didn't figure it was any different than the old guy in the room next door, so all I got was a wimpy drug that barely took the edge off. I don't even think the nurses had seen this procedure done before. (Remember, my cardiologist was world-renowned.) So they probably just thought I was being wimpy. 

The solution? Touch therapy. My mom, the best take-care-of-you-when-you're-sick person in the world, was at my bedside lightly rubbing and "tickling" (in a good way) my arms and legs. She brushed my hair and traced my face. And it worked. I felt a little less pain and my mom's heart was full because she was helping me feel better, even if just a little.

You see, the brain can only send out one signal at a time. Either it's telling you you're in pain, or it's telling you something feels good. And while there were still plenty of times when the pain would overpower my brain in the days following my surgery, my mom was there to at least try to confuse it a little so it would hurt less.

Imagine if we applied this principle to our lives and the lives of others in need. When we're in emotional pain, what makes it better? I am willing to bet it's when someone puts their arm around us or gives us a hug and speaks words of comfort and encouragement. Prayer and empathy (and the occasional unexpected card or flower bouquet) can do amazing things.

I can honestly say that I am my happiest when I am serving and loving others in need, be it a lonely child at the homeless shelter or my daughter when she stubs her toe. We were created to serve and love on others. Whether locally or globally, community is in our nature. We want to help others feel better!

Imagine if we applied the touch therapy principle to all areas of our lives? (Marriages, friendships, communities, and so on and on.) Emotional connections during times of strife can be just as impactful as gentle physical touch in times of physical pain. And its beneficial to both parties. Imagine that.

Maybe we can call it Mission Therapy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

So What is a Missionary Wannabe Anyway?

Why, it's anyone who wants to be a missionary, of course. DUH!

Ok, seriously, this term has so many layers for me, I don't think I can put them all into one single post. (Lucky you!) I'm finding that being a missionary means different things to different people. I don't believe there is a black-and-white definition for it. I'm sure there are people out there for which there is no gray area. (Only if you do ____ can you truly call yourself a missionary.) Yikes. (You've probably guessed by now that I'm here to share my thoughts on why I think otherwise.)

So let me start with my own personal definition of a missionary:
Anyone who is selflessly on a mission to do a good work for the sake of others.

You can agree with me or you can disagree with me (and we'll just agree to disagree.) I'm NOT here to debate or win anyone over to "my side." I honestly don't think I have a "side." I'm really just here to explore what it means to be a missionary, grow from what I discover, and encourage anyone who finds themselves in a place where I've been (or currently am) by sharing what I've learned (or am learning) so far. 

Now, its really just recently I've come up with this personal definition. I used to think that in order to be a missionary, I'd have to sell all my things and leave my comfortable life for a third world country, never to return. Again, kudos to the countless people who do that on a regular basis (or have permanently made that as a life choice.) I used to want to be one of them! (Deep down I still do, but I have my own family to think about now.)

I'm sure there are plenty of people who would radically disagree with my definition. (Again, I'm not here for controversy.) There have been a lot of events over the past several years that have made me take a good look at what I thought it meant to be a missionary (more detail on those in upcoming posts.) It really has been only in the past six months I've been truly discovering what I think it really means.

There are two things I firmly believe (that are related to this post, anyway.):
1. We were ALL created for a higher purpose.
2. Because of #1, we are all missionaries at the core of our being.

Now, as I said at the beginning of this post, there are a LOT of layers to this, and I'll share my thoughts on those in future posts (so don't forget to follow my blog!) But for now, I wanted to keep it simple for now.

#1. - I don't think many of you will disagree with Number 1 above. In fact, the majority of the world, despite religion, culture, or influence believes we're here for some greater purpose. The problem is, the majority of that majority don't do anything about it.

While there are different interpretations (or, in some cases, debates) on what the actual higher purpose is, regardless of your religion, culture, or influence, the bottom line is the same. Our higher purpose has nothing to do with ourselves and everything to do with living an others-centered life.

#2. -  So, assuming you agree with #1, that we are created to live out our higher purpose by focusing on others, and assuming you agree that being a missionary can be defined as selflessly doing good works for the sake of others, then wouldn't you agree that we are all truly missionaries at the core of our being? (Yikes. I'm having high school flashbacks of mathematical proofs.)

So, if you desire to live out the higher purpose in #1, then, really, you're a missionary wannabe at heart.

Who's in?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why am I here?

[Feel free to insert Valley Girl accent here] Hi there. My name is Cheri. I'm a missionary wannabe. 

Chances are, if you're reading this blog, you are too. Or, you've been one and now you're the "real deal." (In which case, please follow my blog and share your positive-but-real input!)

So, I have a whole other post that will answer your questions of what the heck I think it means to be a missionary wannabe. Watch for that to come in the next few days. 

For now, welcome to my blog! I'm sure you are wondering why I started this blog. Good question. I don't really have a good answer. I don't think I truly have the time to devote to regular blogging like some of the amazing blogs I follow (see my growing list, at right!) But something just stirred inside - ok, several things actually - and they have all come together in perfect alignment pointing me in this direction. So we'll see where it ends up.

Disclaimer Alert! You should know I am a Christian and I will include scriptures and references to how God is working in my life. However, THIS BLOG IS FOR EVERYONE! Please take from it what is helpful and useful to YOU in YOUR faith, whatever that may be. My intention here is not to "convert" anyone (though I do hope all will see and be inspired by the power of God working through us.) I am NOT here to preach, judge, or rebuke. Everyone is welcome.

I'm sure you want to know about me. Who am I and why am I here? There's nothing really fascinating to tell you (I'll let you be the judge as we go.) I'm really just an ordinary person, trying to (humbly) be God's hands and feet while sharing his heart (and, simultaneously, keep my head above water.) I definitely don't do it perfectly. I definitely OVER do it at times. Sometimes I wonder if I've caused more harm than good. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the opportunity God put in front of me, and sometimes I feel like I just emotionally broke even. But over the past ten years or so, I've learned A LOT about life in general, and what it truly means to love, be loved, and live your best life. (And now I sound like Oprah.) Again, I don't always do it well!! (Just ask my husband and my kids...and the dog...and maybe the cat.) But I do always remind myself that each day is a new day...a clean slate...and that it doesn't matter where on the journey we find ourselves, as long as we're on it!

I do believe we were created for a higher purpose. But before we go any further, let's make sure we are on the same page:

Missionary – noun Also, mis·sion·er.

a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospitalwork.
a person strongly in favor of a program, set of principles,etc., who attempts to persuade or convert others.
a person who is sent on a mission.

There are several "types" of missionaries. And, by far, the definition most people think of when they hear the term "missionary"  is #1 above. The simple definition, though, really is "one who is sent on a mission." Now, I'm not saying if I send my husband to three different grocery stores to find me the lowest price on bread that I would classify him as a missionary, even though he might feel (and claim 100 times over) that he was on a mission from hell. I do believe the context must be such that you are on a mission to do a good work for the sake of others. That's my own personal definition anyway.

My point is this: You don't have to leave the country to be a true missionary. You don't even have to leave your state or city or town. If you have a dream about something, if you feel strongly about making a difference for something good, and you go after that with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, you are, for all intents and purposes, a missionary. We were created to be missionaries. Actually, I believe it's our responsibility to be missionaries. 

This blog is for everyone who wants to enter into this vast mission field and truly make a difference. As it says above, it's for the youth looking for direction, the college grad wondering what's next, the middle-aged (that's me-though I don't want to admit it) who've found themselves at a crossroads, and for those who wonder if it's too late (for which I have these words of encouragement: If you're still breathing, it's not too late!) 

I don't claim to be an expert on ANYTHING. I'm just a regular person with regular problems and regular dreams. I'm just putting them on display for all who read my blog to see. 

But my hope is this...

That through this blog, you will find the peace and contentment you need to know that making a difference is not about selling all your belongings or denying yourself the latest iWhatever and moving to a remote village in a faraway country (though super kudos to those who do that!) This blog is about finding out who we really are at our core. It's about realizing our talents and dreams to make a difference, somehow. It's about doing for ONE what we wish we could do for ALL. It's about discovering why we are truly here.

So, welcome! Welcome to the journey of being a missionary wannabe. It's gonna be a great ride (I hope!)