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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Volunteer Ministry Center – Minvilla Manor

The Volunteer Ministry Center (VMC) was established in 1987 and offers specialized services to the homeless and those within our community who are in crisis. VMC’s programs support its two-fold mission of facilitating permanent supportive housing for those who are homeless and providing services to prevent homelessness. In this interview, we learn about VMC’s Minvilla Manor and how the chronically homeless can get into housing. For more information about VMC and their programs visit http://www.vmcinc.org. This video was produced by Charmin Foth and the North Knoxville Business & Professional Association. If you would like information on the NKBPA visit http://www.northknoxvillebpa.org

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.