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Monday
May112015

life, uncluttered 

it's may 11th, and i'm thrilled to be slowly emerging my head out of the crazy, busy APRIL that just consumed me. from easter, to child dedication, to temporarily relocating our church due to the NFL draft, the last few weeks have been busy.

to be super honest, the busyness this go around has added more than just a few dark circles under my eyes. i'm tired, a bit down in my spirit, and definitely not at my best.  

last week, after a crazy day at work, i came home exhausted. my husband sweetly/gently suggested we reschedule plans and not meet our friends for dinner. to which, i (not so sweetly) replied that dinner was IMPORTANT, and how could he EVEN suggest something so ridiculous? 

clearly, i've lost my mind. and, my husband is a saint. 

here's the thing: life and work will always be busy. MAY, for me, will be full, in different ways than APRIL, but still very full -- a speaking engagement at an interfaith prayer breakfast, officiating a dear couple's wedding, launching our summer schedule, and teaching a new parenting class. 

so, then. the question is not how to go-go-go-go, packing the schedule full, surviving and pushing until it's not physically/emotionally possible, BUT instead, limiting, focusing on only the essentials. life has felt cluttered, busy and unbalanced. i want something difference; an uncluttered, free life that includes a good balance of work/play/rest.

practically, that means making intentional choices both towards addition + elimination.  

eliminate. for this season, we have the loveliest women cleaning our apartment. we come home every-other-thursday to the cleanest of cleans. if i spent A MONTH cleaning, i couldn't make it look the way they make it look. {i'm seriously no good at cleaning, but like to pretend i can do it all. the women coming to my apartment remind me I CAN'T DO IT ALL. stop pretending. ask for help.}

add. counseling. i've seen a counselor for a long time, and wouldn't be able to think clearly, process fully, be emotionally well without her. the extra time spent driving, meeting with her, sheduling, processing afterwards is time i'll gladly add to a full schedule. 

eliminate. grocery shopping. every saturday, we order our groceries from instacart. typically, i love shopping for meals for our family, and for entertaining. but, c'mon. this season is ridiculous. the time NOT spent going to the store has paid off big time in energy and time. 

add: cooking. for myself, for others. the creative act is life to me. and, in a busy season, easy to justify eating out or buying premade meals. but, life uncluttered means adding life-giving, and cooking is top of the list for me. 

add: friendship. we're adding a supper group this summer to our schedules, and the intended purpose is deeper friendship, vulnerability, connection. i'm thankful for the friends who haven't let me go in this season. they pursue me, fighting against the busy wall i put up. i need more of this. 

eliminate: perfection. worry. 

a small picture of life, uncluttered for me. and, you? what must you add/eliminate?  

Wednesday
Apr082015

child dedication {in service booklets}

this sunday, we're celebrating child dedication + baptism at willow chicago. i've mentioned before -- last year, we began combining the two celebrations into one service, and how great it's been.

one of my favorite things about the service is that we invite children in grades 1-5 to experience the service with their families. they don't attend their usual promiseland classes. i LOVE this. for many reasons. TOP of the list -- it gives kids an opportunity to understand the significance of dedication + baptism, far better than teaching in their classrooms could ever do.

in order to guide them along, we created in-service booklets that kids receive as they're entering the service. our hope is that the booklets provide a tangible way for children to document as they participate, and to be mindful of all they're experiencing. so far, SO good. 

after the january celebration, TWO parents approached me asking if they could have more information on explaining baptism to their fifth grade kids. both kids were moved by what they experienced and wondered if they were ready to be baptized. i mean, c'mon. 

*below is our dedication + baptism booklet. if you've created something similar, leave a comment, i'd love to learn from you. NOTE: because it's a booklet, you're seeing the pages out of order: back cover, front cover, inside pages. make sense? cool. 


 

Monday
Mar302015

holy week {let's pace ourselves + eat our veggies}

holy week.  

here's the thing. it's going to be a great week. no doubt. but, it's also going to be crazy and hurried and stressful. it's only monday, and i feel that already. what i intended to be a slow, meditative, prayerful walk to work turned into an all-out-sprint to get there as fast as i could.

BONUS: i made record time!

i can see it already -- my tendency will be to RACE through this week. move too fast, and ignore what MY body and soul need most. only to look up on easter sunday feeling completely exhausted. 

instead, holy week 2015, let's pace ourselves, and take care of ourselves. in order that we may arrive on easter able to lead and give and serve and receive and worship.

let's make this week special. but not at the expense of our health.

for me, that means breathing deeply, walking slower {i'll work on that tomorrow}, eating tons of veggies, connecting with those who speak life into me, and enjoying small moments of rest. 

that also means that to arrive on easter sunday healthy, i have to resign a few things i wanted to initiate this year. because doing EVERYTHING isn't healthy.  

i'll make a note to try something BIG and NEW next year. 

may god's peace + love + strength + grace be with us all this week. holy week is for us, too. 

Wednesday
Mar252015

Easter Visual Design

i'm LOVING the branding + visual design the team created for our Easter unit at Willow Chicago. all art created by the super talented Molly Z and Aaron M. 

Unit Branding: 

 

Story Image:


Stage Design:

 

Last Supper Story Scene:


Palm Sunday Story Scene:


John 3:16 Verse Cards: 

Cross Image:


Monday
Mar092015

on leadership, and tough conversations

here's something i'm finding is consistent about my job: hard, tough conversations. you? 

when i started the job as family pastor i imagined that truth-telling, difficult conversations with volunteers, parents, and staff would be occasional. i found myself managing energy and marking time from conversation-to-conversation. like -- ok, gear up for this one, then you can relax. 

HA!

that lasted all of my first week. since then, i've noticed a significant part of my time involves tough conversations that require me as the leader to go first in saying the hard words. the conversations often include giving feedback, or sharing a hurt someone felt, or challenging a family to make a hard choice. let's be clear. these are NOT FUN. but, they're necessary. and i'm learning to embrace this part of my job and grow through each conversation.

just say it: when a situation arises and a conversation is needed, i usually want to take time to get my words together PERFECTLY. of course, it's helpful to take a pause, think about the right words, and move forward cautiously. BUT, sometimes i can use this space to put off the conversation. and, that's not helpful because typically a tough situation needs a conversation quickly. i'm trying to push myself to think, get my words together and get to the conversation as fast as is possible. 

seek advice: plenty of tough conversations have felt WAY over my head. and, i've become the master at making excuses for why i'm not the right person to have the conversation: my experiences, my education, my background have not prepared me to handle this. someone else would do FAR better. and, for the times that's true, i'm learning to lean into my teammates to guide me. i'm asking for their advice, or even to join me in the conversation when appropriate. the beauty of team is that together you've got a multitude of experiences. 

demonstrate a non-anxious presence: when i can anticipate a conversation might become heated, or i'm feeling anxious, i do my best in the minutes before the conversation to center my breathing and calm my spirit. i take a walk to get out my nervous energy, and then i sit and pray calmly for a few seconds. i'm finding that if i come to the conversation peacefully, there's a good chance we'll find peace in the tough words together. 

{side note}: some conversations require peace PLUS an expression of appropriate emotions. if the situation calls for me to show sadness, anger, frustration, i'm learning to show that appropriately while moving towards a peaceful resolution. 

tough conversations, and leadership. i'm slowly embracing the fact that engaging and initiating in these are signs of a loving leader. someone who loves his/her people will work to say the hard words for the purpose of faith growth and unity.

this is who i want to be. you?