Journey into the unknown

Spaceship parking

Have you ever felt completely out of your wheelhouse? Or thought that you knew something and then it turns out, you actually knew nothing? That is exactly how I felt at my first Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) conference. It was a journey into the unknown, stretching me to new limits.

In 2015 I remember leaving Memphis, where the conference was held, feeling like I had been hit by a truck. So many things bumped up against what I had been taught, against the status quo. It was earth-shattering, mind-blowing and more than I could digest in 3 days.

Yet, I was so moved by Dr. John Perkins and Coach Wayne Gordon’s Bible study every morning, my heart was opening to the possibilities. I was also overwhelmed. What could one person do to turn the tides against hatred, racism, injustice and a host of other wrongs in the world?

This CCDA thing was so much bigger than I realized, so much more personal than I realized. My empathy grew. My heart ached for people to the point of tears. My soul cried out to God, “why does it have to be this way?”  God still hasn’t answered that one, just in case you were wondering. But I keep asking.

I had to accept that as Christians we had gotten much of God’s mission for us wrong. This kingdom come, thy will be done ON EARTH as it is in Heaven part of the plan, we had messed it up. I saw too much hate, intolerance, persecution, pain, and injustice in the church as man has made it across the ages, the ON EARTH part of the equation was non-existent. That was a hard pill to swallow. It hurt to know that as a Christian those who look to me, see hate, intolerance, persecution, and pain, they do not see Jesus. They see the hurt that was put on them by me and others like me. I am not very Christ-like, I will never be, but I am trying. I am convicted.

I mean, who hasn’t been hurt by church? More and more people are stating that they are just DONE with religion and organized church. Why? Hurt in one form or another. But does it have to be this way? No. We can help create that Heaven on Earth, be good and loving to one another.

How? I realized this journey is one of love. Love is the key to it ALL, and that love lives within me. I can change the world, one smile at a time. The challenge is to LOVE EVERYONE, even if they don’t love me, even if they don’t look like me, act like me, worship like me, believe like me, even if I don’t agree, even if I am on opposite side of the debate or the aisle, LOVE MATTERS. Love is never insignificant.

Does that mean we will all gather together and sing Kumbaya, My Lord? Not even close. Too many times we think of love as a soft, warm fuzzy. Anyone who has truly loved knows it’s hard. It is not all sunshine and rainbows. It is one of the hardest things you will ever attempt. And you will fail occasionally. Sometimes you have to do it from a distance. The key is to keep trying. To listen, to respect, to try to see the other side and love even when it doesn’t make sense.

Friends, a word of warning, it is impossible to show love when all you can see and feel is judgment. I grew up under constant judgment, spoken and unspoken, and it has a way of wearing you down until you feel completely insignificant. It is hard to love or be loved from that place.

A place of insignificance is where my journey began. I understood it, and I felt comfortable in my insignificance. I felt I could do nothing to change the course of things, so why try, who would listen to me? Insignificance kept me captive. Love set me free.

Do I have the answer to life’s burning questions? That would be a big, fat NO.

I have long believed judgment should never be mine, that is the Lord’s job, and one WAY too big for me. Rather than judge, I choose to love and to smile.

Can you make someone else’s day brighter with a smile? I challenge you to step out into the unknown and share a smile or a laugh with someone new. I know for your introverts, that will be hard.

You will be amazed at how it will improve your life, reduce your stress levels and begin to build bridges to others who are not like you. Your world will expand and their world will be brightened. You are the light of the world, a city on a hill that can not be hidden.

You may not be able to right the wrongs of someone’s past with a smile, but at least they will see something in you that brings them in, makes them feel a bit better and maybe, just maybe, they will see a glimpse of Jesus in you.

 

If you are interested in learning more about Christian Community Development, I encourage you to follow @iamccda on twitter or https://www.facebook.com/iamccda/ on Facebook. CCDA principles can be found in the book Making Neighborhoods Whole: A Handbook for Christian Community Development
by Wayne Gordon et al.
Link: http://a.co/0O7tjak

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10 Signs You Might be a Perimenopausal Woman…

A humorous look at getting older

By Charmin Foth ImageCaption: Perimenopause? What!?! Doc says, “Don’t worry, it only lasts 10 years or so!!!”                         Photo: Microsoft Images
 
  1. You can no longer remember the names for persons, places or things; everything becomes a whatcha-dittle, thing-a-ma-bob, or a whozy-whats-it, and you expect people to know what you are talking about.
  2. You want to nap at 4 in the afternoon, but are wide awake at 4 in the morning.
  3. You spend hours in the cosmetic aisle, looking for something that is unmeltable and sweatproof.
  4. You have an overwhelming urge to punch cute, cuddly couples in the face.
  5. Your bladder wakes you up about every 3 hours and every morning at least an hour before the alarm clock goes off.
  6. You cut up all your gym clothes to make a quilt that “wicks away moisture.”
  7. You mix your wrinkle cream with Clearasil.
  8. People who talk or breathe irritate you.
  9. You gain/lose/gain the same 10 pounds at least 50 times.
  10. You wake up at 3 am in a puddle of sweat and stick your head in the freezer to cool off only to wake at 6 am in a puddle of melted icecream with a lump on the back of your head from the freezer door.

Men, if you have a lady in your life exhibiting these symptoms, you may want run and hide, or for the brave of heart – arm yourself with chocolate, just don’t get too close!

Remember these are only a few of the warning signs, ladies, you know there are more lurking in the shadows.

Are you a toon?

Woody and Jess Pez I love cartoons and puppets. I always have. Maybe it comes from my love art, drawing, and doodling or from growing up on Sesame Street, but cartoons and puppets have always made me smile. On a dreary day or when I’m in a bad mood nothing can lift my spirits and bring me out of the dark places like an episode of the Muppets, Despicable Me, Minions, or old episodes of Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs or just good ole’ Looney Tunes.

I have always been a bit of a toon myself. Over the years, many of my friends have said so. Andy, my hubby, agrees with the statement too, he even thinks I’m part Muppet. He says he can tell when I’m really mad because I get “Muppet lips.” Except for Janice on the Muppets, they don’t have lips. So, I guess that means my lips disappear. He knows I can’t stay mad when he tells me I have “Muppet lips.” I can’t seem to keep myself from laughing when he says it.

I am blessed that I have a husband that loves cartoons as much as I do. There have been many times when Andy and I were the only adults in the theater without children with us. We even had one little boy, barely able to see over the seat, turn around and say, “Where are your kids? What are you doing here?” He just couldn’t wrap his little mind around the fact that we were there to see the movie with just as much excitement as he had. Often times when asked what the last movie we saw together was, we received a strange look when Andy and I both name whatever the last cartoon released on the big screen.

It wasn’t until we moved with the Army to Germany in the late 90s that I realized I wasn’t the only toon in the family. Most people don’t see it, but my husband is quite the toon himself. If you have never met my husband, here is the visual… Andy is 6 feet tall and weighs about a buck forty-five soaking wet. He is lean and mean and still wears the same clothes he had in high school. He wears his hair Army short. He never wears anything but cowboy boots and jeans. His idea of dressing up is a big silver belt buckle and a western shirt to go along with the boots and jeans. He tops it all off with a straw cowboy hat. I fell in love with the guy in that cowboy hat.

One afternoon we made our way across post housing in Bad Kreuznach, Germany where we lived at the time, to barbecue with friends. As we walked closer to the playground where the barbecue area was, our friends 4-year-old son yells across the play ground in a crystal clear voice, “Woody!”

At that time, “Toy Story” was the latest Disney movie and 4-year-old Shane, thought Andy was the cartoon character come-to-life. Well, from that moment on every kid in the neighborhood and most of the adults called him “Woody.” Sometimes, I still do. I even have a little Woody figurine that sits on my computer desk at work to remind me of the toon that I love the most.

Shane is all grown now, and probably doesn’t even remember “Woody” but we will never forget that adorable little 4-year-old and the cartoon legacy he left with Andy.

Are you a toon? Maybe you just need to let your inner toon free. Trust me, it will make you smile, even if you don’t want to. If you could be a toon, which one would it be?

🙂

Thanks for reading.

Reposted from January 2011.

A Goat in a Coat

a goat in a coat

A true tale of life on the Farm

By Charmin Foth

On a blustery winter morn
a wee baby goat was born

The new mama stepped away
leaving baby in the hay
but so cold was the storm
it wouldn’t keep wee baby goat warm

In the early morning light
Farmer Foth saw the wee goat’s plight
He rushed to her side
and prayed he could turn the tide
to warm the wee goat’s little hide.

Afraid and so cold
she didn’t need to be told
the farmer was there to soothe
even though she could barely move

Carefully now

Farmer Foth bowed
and placed the wee goat
into his warm red coat

All through the day
as the farmer made hay
the wee little goat
stayed in the warm red coat.

Next to Farmer Foth’s chest
did wee goat rest
starting to warm
but still not to the norm
Farmer Foth kept the wee goat close
she needed to get as warm as toast

So on errands Farmer Foth ran
to places where even goats were banned
To the butcher, the baker
and the candlestick maker

Lastly to the pharmacy he went
keeping the wee goat in his arm bent
hidden in warm red coat
no one knew about the goat

As workers looked on
they thought something was wrong
it caused some alarm,
was Farmer Foth there to do harm?

The farmer only grinned
knowing he had not sinned
he said, “do not fear
I only have a wee baby goat in here”

The workers couldn’t see
the wee goat’s glee
at being so warm
away from the farm

But as Farmer Foth unzipped
and the wee goat tipped
her little head
out of her warm makeshift warm bed

“Neeehhhhh,” she said,
“put me back to bed!”
And the workers all sighed
as Farmer Foth tried
to explain how a wee baby goat
ended up in his coat.

Among the ooohs
and the ahhhs
the wee baby goat
snuggled back in the warm red coat.

The moral of the story:
Be careful where you tote a goat.

tote a goat
This is the true story of my husband Andy and a goat he saved by keeping it warm all day in his coat. Excuse my attempt at poetry, but this story just begged to be written in a “Seussical” fashion.
Photos rendered in Photoshop by Charmin Foth
Reposted from 2013.

Video killed the blog… Or did it?

PHOTO FROM: http://www.freemake.com/blog/top-5-iphone-video-editors-for-movie-producing/
PHOTO FROM: http://www.freemake.com/blog/top-5-iphone-video-editors-for-movie-producing/

You know that old song, Video Killed the Radio Star? Has video killed the blog? Have we become such a visual society that the written word is no longer relevant? I have mixed emotions.

This discussion came about recently, when a friend and I were talking blogs. She told me that when she read my blog, she could actually see me in her head, talking. I understand that, I do it with books all the time, as the author brings the characters to life in my mind.

She suggested that I should consider adding a video component to my blog, so people could see what she sees. It seems she thinks I’m a pretty entertaining in person.  While I don’t know if that’s necessarily true, I get her point.

From what I know of my biological father, his side of the family had a strong Italian heritage. Talking with your hands is a part of that tradition. Combine my DNA with my love of theatre and you get a very animated personality. My husband tells me all the time; I should have been a cartoon, or a Muppet.

But who wants to see me talking to them on a screen? That part I have a hard time wrapping my head around. A business coach suggested I map out a plan and put a few together and see how it goes. Intersperse it with written blog posts so it doesn’t have to be all me, all the time.

That made me feel better, video doesn’t have to kill my written blog completely. So who know’s the next time you see my blog it may be a vlog.

I am weighing the options, considering the possibilities, and there are many. I love video editing and production, so I can see it merging all my loves into one venue.  My vision incorporates a variety of aspects to it, including writing, photos and video, interviews, etc.

I would like your opinions on video blogs or vlogging, so feel free to post a comment.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Motivational Stepping Stones

Stepping stones
Stepping stone photo courtesy of Microsoft Clipart

Stepping stones keep you out of the mire and the muck. They lift you up and give you direction. 
I have used events in my life as motivational stepping stones to give my life direction and keep me out things that could otherwise muck things up.
I love to learn new things. I have always been the type of person that sees something of interest in everything. I often see things, and think I could do that. If offered the opportunity, I would try, just to see if I could accomplish the task. 
My success rate has varied in degrees between great success and failing miserably. Yet, even when I failed, I learned something new, something about myself I didn’t know before. Each success and each failure I used as a motivational stepping stone to guide my next step. 
Does that mean I do everything well? Definitely not, but hopefully by gaining new knowledge about myself and the world around me I gain an appreciation for those who can do things I can’t. That appreciation helps me build great relationships with people who have different talents. In life you need people who can do the jobs you can’t. 
You have heard the phrase, “No man is an island.” That is very true.
For example, I know I will never be an accountant. Numbers hate me. I could however, become a ceramic tile layer. While numbers may hate me, angles love me. In my mind, accounting tends to be more statistical, numbers in rows and rows, while the geometry of measurements and angles are alive, more relational. I love relationships. You would think, math is math, but it’s very different. 
If I had listened to those who said, you’ve never done that, or you can’t do that, I would have missed out on learning a very satisfying hobby. By the same token, I know I have to be very careful when I balance my checkbook. Lucky for me, I have a relationship with someone who is great with numbers to help me. Just because you have learned how to do a task, does not mean it comes easy to you, or it is something you should pursue. But now I know that is a direction I don’t want to go.
Sometimes the events placed in your path change your direction. Many people would allow that change to stop them, but I propose that you use your negative to create a positive. Sometimes negative motivation can lead you in a positive direction.
You would think, as someone who loves to learn new things, I would have attended a multitude of accredited colleges or universities. Alas, I have not. I have an ongoing education in LIFE. I have to say, I’m a survivor and I’m very proud of that.
When I was 19, life crashed in and I had no choice but to learn how to take care of myself. I was in design school, with a promising future ahead and a new husband. Life was perfect until he became very ill. 
As a new wife, I did what needed to be done, I left school and spent the next year with my husband in and out of the hospital as he fought severe complications from juvenile diabetes. Just before my 20th birthday, the unthinkable happened, he passed away. 
On my own, I had to work just to survive and keep a roof above my head, a car to drive, basic survival; there was no time to go back to school. I had BILLS. 
There were so many people in my life, telling me I would never get a job that amounted to anything because I didn’t finish school. If I had listened to them, I’d still be at Burger Queen today. 

As it turned out, I kept applying and my persistence and talent got me in the door to my first design job at age 20, before most of my peers were even out of school. I worked diligently to learn everything I could about the business I was in. That is a habit I have retained even now. 

My philosophy, and it’s served me very well, never be afraid to try something above your pay grade. My first “real” design job was is screen printing. I designed wearable art for colleges all across the US. I was very good at my job, I took instruction well, paid attention to the details and had a way with customers. My art director saw something in me and encouraged it, he relied on me to get things done and help in areas he where he was overwhelmed. 
Because I was able to bridge a gap between creative and sales/customer service our parent company in Nashville promoted me to train other artists in screen printing techniques and be a liaison between the sales staff and the art department. I was also offered the opportunity to learn computer graphics, which I immediately jumped on. 

My desire to learn served as a stepping stone to my first promotion, and my next, and then to my next position and my next.
Every job I have ever had was there to teach me something valuable. Never discount experience, good or bad. Good shows you are making progress, bad teaches you to go in another direction. Each job offers opportunities to learn great things and expand your skill set. 
My point is, by being willing to try something new, I gained potential for greater things. A motivational stepping stone, that launched me into my next career phase. I’m not knocking a good degree, I believe education is very important, but sometimes experience and willingness speak volumes more. 
Never let anyone knock you down because of education, or lack of it. The world is a very diverse place, don’t limit yourself to negative view of it.
There are employers out there who think outside of the box and are willing to see the potential in others. Don’t be afraid to try for something better. When an opportunity arises, work hard and show your capacity and willingness to learn and excel. A good work ethic can be priceless in business.
Look for those motivational stepping stones, step out and learn something new. Who knows, you might find a gift you never knew you had.

What’s Your Type? Personality, That Is…

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Clipart

In a recent Bible study we did a short quiz to find out what our spiritual gifts were. My gift was encouragement or in Biblical terms exhortation. I lift people up, emotionally not physically. Physically, I’m a marshmallow.
Since I had been a Sunday school teacher in the youth department for years, I was surprised by this bit of news. I was sure my gift was teaching, and in some ways it is. After some reflection I could see how encouragement had worked within my teaching roles and it began to make sense.

It always amazes me how my day to day life plays into my spiritual studies. At the same time as this spiritual gifts test, a leadership class I am taking suggested doing a personality test. The test was to shine a light on what type of leadership qualities you have and utilize.

I found it very interesting that my personality test said I was a teacher. See, I knew I had some teacher qualities. I had forgotten that I had taken this same test, at least 12 years ago in an Army Family Team Building course. The course taught life skills to military spouses, and as it turned out, I ended up teaching some of those classes. At any rate I found it very encouraging that after so many years my results were the same.

For the most part, the analysis on both tests were pretty spot on. There are a few behaviors that I have learned over the years. Which in itself is encouraging. You can take a negative and improve upon it. One of my personality traits in the testing showed that my personality type takes criticism very personally, and to some extent it is true.

Honestly, no one likes criticism, but it’s a tool you use to learn and grow. I had to learn that, because it is not my nature. As graphic designer for 25 years, I had to take criticism and build on it. It was part of the job. If a customer didn’t like your concept, you had to adapt to what the customer wanted, otherwise you didn’t work.

Some of my other traits made me very sought after, no matter what job I was doing. I am very intuitive. I can see what people want, that helped make me a good designer, it also helped me in my editor role, as I chose stories people wanted to read. I am also a good communicator so that made working with people very easy.

According to one website only 3% of the population have this personality type. I find that very hard to believe, but I’ve always been different. Maybe this explains why. 🙂

If you know me, I am curious to see if you think I fit my evaluations. If you don’t know me, are you curious to find out what your type is? After the information about exhortation and my ENFJ personality type are links to the tests.

Exhortation (more Spiritual Gifts) as defined by assessme.org:

The gift of Exhortation is the special ability to counsel or challenge others toward a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ. Often, the gift of Exhortation is utilized to motivate the Church in general or a Christ Follower in particular, to make God-honoring choices. If sensitivity and tact is not properly developed, the person gifted with Exhortation may not immediately be appreciated. The gift of Exhortation is somewhat similar to the role of the Old Testament prophets in challenging God’s people to remain faithful. While the prophets were not immediately valued, and often persecuted, their service was indispensable to the spiritual health and vitality of the biblical faith community.

People who possess the gift of Exhortation will not avoid conflict. It is not that they love conflict. In fact, everything inside them may hate conflict. People with the gift of Exhortation feel a deep responsibility before God to challenge and encourage those that may be taking a path that does not honor the Lord, to correct their misguided choices. In Acts 14:22, the Apostle Paul consistently serves to “strengthen the disciples and to encourage them to remain true to the faith”. 

According to the Personality Desk website these are the characteristics of the ENFJ personality type at work:

At work, the ENFJ is motivated to organize others to implement positive change. ENFJs are enthusiastic problem-solvers, especially when they can put their strong intuition about people to good use.

ENFJs strive for cooperation and work best in a harmonious environment where they can support other people and encourage their growth. They often take on a mentor role, seeing their primary aim as helping other people become better at what they do.


ENFJs are often attracted to leadership roles; they naturally organize people to take advantage of their unique talents. They often have a strong vision in their work, and enjoy being able to use their creativity to develop innovative initiatives with a humanitarian focus. 


ENFJs appreciate teamwork, and they want to have the organizational resources to put their ideas into action.

The ideal work environment for an ENFJ is forward-thinking and people-centered, with a clear humanitarian mission and an emphasis on constructive action. The ideal job for an ENFJ allows them to develop and implement ideas that improve the circumstances and well-being of other people.


Popular Careers for the ENFJ

Top careers for the ENFJ include:
  • Journalist
  • Interpreter
  • Editor
  • Minister
  • Elementary Teacher
  • Event Coordinator
  • Public Relations Manager
  • HR Manager or Recruiter
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Social Worker
  • Physical Therapist
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Nutritionist
  • Clinical Psychologist


ENFJ Personality Type
Here are some links to see how you rate.

Spiritual Gifts Test:
http://www.churchgrowth.org/cgi-cg/gifts.cgi?intro=1
(this test is a little more in depth than the one I took in my Bible study but my results were the same.)

Take the free personality test

I look forward to hearing your feedback. Let me know what you think.