Friday, November 21, 2014

What is Your Passion?

Photo Credit: Actors Actresses Facebook page

What do you love to do more than anything else?

Last Spring, a literary agent asked me if my priority was to be a writer, a teacher, or a minister. 


I’m fortunate. My husband works his tail off* so I can stay home and do all of these things at once. While I used to be employed as a teacher, then a youth minister, now I like incorporating these traits into my writing.

Doing what I love makes me a better person.

What if you can’t do what you love for a living? I know it’s not always possible. Bills need to be paid and kids need to be fed. Are you finding your passion outside of work hours?

I fully believe God when made us individuals, He gave us callings for what we love to do. If you find your gift and use it, it's a total act of worship.

Every so often, our pastor, Troy, lets me take a Sunday to share a message. My brain starts turning when he asks me to fill in. I love the preparation, the study, diving into the Bible, and then figuring out how I can craft the message to be conversational with my church friends.

This Sunday, November 23 at 10:15ish, I’ll share my passion of teaching/preaching at Kaleo Covenant Church. If you’re in the Portland area, I’d love for you to stop by. Don’t be afraid - no one there bites. In fact, they’re more likely to shove food in your mouth. Or coffee.

Good, gourmet, coffee. Roasted by one of Kaleo’s own because it’s his passion.

It’s what Portlanders do.

What is your passion? Share with me in the comments below.

*Sometimes people say how lucky I am to be married to a man with a good job. Let me just say, this man has put a lot of sweat, tears, and determination to get where he is. Luck had nothing to do with it. I never want to take his hard work for granted.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Hour in the Presence of Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott was here. 
In MY town. 
At MY favorite bookseller. 
And I got to bask in her glory for 60ish minutes.

I will now check “Meet Anne Lamott” off of my bucket list.
Kneeling at the feet of the master.

I know. I got a little crazy when I learned she would be visiting Portland on her book tour for Small Victories. I mean she’s just a mere human, right? Why the fangirl, celebrity worship?

Every word Anne Lamott writes, every word I’ve heard her speak, seems to be exactly the word(s) I need to hear at that particular moment. For a woman who’s lived a completely different way of life than I have, I find this fascinating. Her essays take stories from the common to the extraordinary and poetically weave their lessons into my own personal experiences. Most recently, I followed her journey on social media as she supported her brother while his wife died of cancer. The thoughts she shared mirrored my own soul as I said my goodbyes to my dear aunt. 

When Anne Lamott arrived in Portland last week, she obviously used every effort to pull her voice from the congested virus attacking her. For someone who would have probably much rather been in bed with a cup of tea and an episode of Scandal, I am awed and grateful she still met with her readers. She was even so thoughtful to plop a squirt Purell on any had which touched hers. That’s class.

As you can imagine, I could gush all day about my holy role model. But if I could share with you the one thing I appreciate most about Anne Lamott, its her blatent admission of imperfection. 

The woman freely shares her rough past, one nowhere near similar to my own. Because of what she’s pushed through, she reminds us where the beauty of God lies in the everyday- through children, through pets, through death, through stupid politics. When I feel all hope is gone, she is there shining a small beacon. She isn’t finished with her struggles, but following her thought process is like having an understanding friend walking alongside my own battles.

If you have not yet read anything by this woman I admire, pick up Small Victories, Traveling Mercies, Help Thanks Wow, or Stitches to begin. Even though it’s a book for writers, Bird by Bird provides encouragement for anyone feeling overwhelmed with a goal. 

She’s a beautiful woman, this Anne Lamott. I have no need to meet movie stars or pop singers simply for the sake of saying I met them*, but to meet a woman who spreads so much wisdom and light in my life - well, for that I may behave a tad over the top.

*Disclosure: I do play the “name drop” game with a few people. But really, it’s only to play along with the geek culture of which I enjoy being a part. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tethered Hearts (and Other Organs)

I’ve mentioned approximately 327,983 times about the closeness of our daughters’ theater group. They really are a tight bunch. My friend, Christie, says the thespians share “tethered hearts”

A beautiful expression. Who knew she was so close to being literal? 

Here is a story of how these tethered hearts reach beyond our child actors:

Christie is Rachael’s mother. This is Rachael.

Rachael’s dad, Paul, is sick. He has Polycystic Kidney Disease, which means he needs a healthy kidney that is not his own in order to live.

Lots of people love Paul, so lots of people tried to give him a kidney. Unfortunately, no-one was a good match. People were praying all over the place for Paul’s healing.

This is Cambel, in the middle of my 2 offspring.

Heather is Cambel’s mom. Heather is one of the strongest women you will ever meet.* When Heather heard Paul was having a tough time trying to find a matching kidney, she said, You can have one of mine. It will match.

No one argues with Heather. Not even God. Heather’s kidney was a match.

Today, doctors will take one of Heather’s kidneys and put it into Paul’s body. They will both be out of commission for a while. It will not be easy, but Paul will live. 

Two kids are giving up mom support for a few weeks so 3 other kids can have a dad for a lifetime. This is more than tethered hearts. This is a new family.

Here’s your part of the story: Will you pray with the rest of Paul’s and Heather’s friends? Pray for swift healing and God’s guidance for two very special families. 

Your prayers are a gift to everyone who knows Paul and Heather. Trust me, they are a gift to all of us.

*Just so you know, Heather is strong, but she is human. I joke around a lot, but in reality I know this is a scary thing for everyone.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Good News This Week…November 14

Sharing the good news I find because I'm sick of reading the bad.

Sharing a Moment:

Teens leading teens in worship.

Sharing Stories:

10 Ways You're Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be by Tim Hoch
Seriously. Life is difficult enough as is. Drop the things in this list and give yourself a break.

He was honorable as a Marine, but to do this is the ultimate in selflessness.

Are You Being Persecuted, shared by Rachel Held Evans
Does this apply to you? If not, shut up.

You are the best you there is. You don't need to explain.

On November 13, school was closed in our district for weather related issues. The roads were icy in the morning, but it never did snow. The Beaverton teen twitter-sphere was hilarious on Thursday. Scroll to Nov 13 and take a look. Our kids are pretty funny. Read this article from The Oregonian.

Sharing a Talk:

Amy Cuddy talks about the importance of body language - not to influence others, but to change yourself. I've done a version of this before, but next time I preach in church, I'll kill it!

Hope something here brought a smile to your face. 

Share more of life with me 
on Facebook
on Twitter
on Instagram
on Pinterest

Friday, November 14, 2014

5 Steps For Choosing Where To Spend Your Donation Dollars

It’s that time of year. Our mailboxes are filled with envelopes, notepads, and address labels - all “gifts” from various non-profits asking us to donate this holiday season. Obviously we won’t give to every organization offering a free sticker, but most of us want to wisely spread monetary love to the charities who work tirelessly helping those in need. 

How will we choose?

The following 5 steps can help you decide which tax-deductible donations to support:

1. Where is your passion?
My whole life has been dedicated to the well-being of youth. As a teacher, then youth minister, then teacher again, my prayer is for every young person to live in stability. I hope I see this come to fruition in my lifetime. In the meantime, I’ll support organizations which make helping youth a priority.

My husband has a strong pull for our environment. In his last semester of college he took a wildlife conservation course. He then realized a career in Information Technology may not be quite as fulfilling as being a Forest Ranger. Edd still graduated with a Computer Science degree, but we’ve vacationed in many National Parks and support non-profits aiming to make our earth a better place.

2. Whom do you know and respect?
Do you have friends who work for a non-profit company? You may even work for one yourself. Talk to employees who know the ins and outs of daily business and educate yourself on how your donation may help.

3. Where do you volunteer?
I’ve served in a lot of different charities over the past two years and would never claim one is more worthy of fundraising efforts than another. I found myself returning to volunteer with a couple groups, either because I believed in their mission or loved working with the folks there. Of course these places value your time, but I know they can use monetary help to keep the necessary operations going.

4. Which do all household givers support?
If you are single or are giving money from your own bank account, have at it. This tip doesn’t apply to you. For everyone else: make sure the charity you fund is agreed on by all who share the purse strings. 

One day while driving about town, my heart swelled with compassion while listening to a plea for donations on a radio show. I went home and immediately logged onto the charity’s website and entered my credit card number. When Edd found out about my good deed, he shared valid concerns he had about the organization. This was a good reminder for both of us to check in with each other before any large donations are made. 
(Small amounts = ok. I have no problem giving $25 to the school jog-a-thon without spousal consulting.)

5. Whom do you trust?
With so many non-profit conglomerates, how do you know which are managing funds well? Websites like Charity Navigator or Charity Watch can give you the lowdown on background checks. Most cities host “Hands On _______ or “Volunteer Match” websites where serving opportunities are listed. Donating to local charities help give your own community a boost.

Here in Portland, our local publication Willamette Week offers a “Give! Guide” every year. In order to encourage giving, WW offers prizes and incentives for donors. Rewards aren’t the reason I give, but it is pretty cool for them to encourage those who are hesitant to donate otherwise.

Both of the non-profits close to my heart are in this year’s Give! Guide edition. If you absolutely, positively have nowhere else you feel a passion to give but want to make a monetary difference, consider The Children’s Book Bank and HomePlate Youth Services. I can promise your dollars will make a difference there.

Giving thanks to all of you for your generous hearts!

**Check out my post Spending Less, Give More for more charities to support.