Political Fallout~

 

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As Americans we have been blessed to have the freedom to choose our government leadership based on our values and beliefs. We are so fortunate to have this right. However, the politics in this season of the United States have become divisive, angry, and relationally polarizing.   My heart is so sad when I see people behaving so hatefully with one another.

Yes, there are a lot of key issues that create concern and angst in us all; treatment of women, North Korea, a huge polarization between the Democrats and Republicans making it difficult to come to collaborative decision-making to name a few. It can surely be infuriating!

My biggest concern, however, is how people; friends and family members are treating one another. Relationships are being wounded by harmful words and indictments, accusations, and resentment between those who identify more with the Left or those who identify more with the Right ~this is the worst part of the fallout!

Our pastor has been teaching on how to radically love one another; that we can disagree and still love and respect one another! I believe this can be done; especially among those who are Christ followers.   At our core we all want to feel safe, experience peace, be free to have our own thoughts and opinions, to be respected, and to be treated with dignity, ALL of us do no matter how we vote.

Presidents will change, politics will ebb and flow, but the harm done in relationships over our differences will be challenging to repair. Consider whether you have allowed politics to harm relationships that matter to you; can we agree to disagree and still love one another?

 

1 Corinthians 13 The Message (MSG)

The Way of Love

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

       Let’s choose love.

Full Circle Relationships~

Full Circle Relationships~

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I hate conflict. I’ve always hated conflict. In fact, I believe I spent many of my “young adult” years avoiding conflict as much as possible, especially in my college years, and early in my role as a Pastor’s wife. Yet conflict is often inevitable. For me, the problem with being IN a conflict was that I felt I needed to fix the relationship as quickly as possible. My nature is to want to be friends and friendly with others to the best of my ability; conflict simply makes me anxious and sad.

Making peace, however, is not always resolving the conflict. Sweeping challenges under a rug is not helpful in sustaining long-term quality relationships. Nevertheless, I have been learning over the past 10 years that if I do what I can to bring resolve, even letting the relationship go for a season, it often comes around “full circle” where resolve and understanding are uniquely applied anew. I have been surprised by this many, many times. Watching this take place in my life both takes me by surprise and, frankly, makes me very happy.

I’ve gained a few insights as I’ve pondered all of this and I want to share just a few with you.

  1. In a conflict, especially in the heat of it, don’t say everything you are thinking. Emotions are interesting and can cause us to respond so defensively or angrily that what we say, in the moment, can cause greater harm than the conflict itself. The example of opening a feather pillow, letting the feathers fly out, and then trying to put them all back inside the pillow is a good picture of how the things we say can be impossible to retract. In a conflict it is better to cautious of what we say if we desire the relationship to have resolve one day.
  2. Be willing to let things go. In many of the full circle relationships I have experienced I have not been “justified” nor have the other parties necessarily apologized. When I look over all the goodness that has surrounded my life, all the blessings…it just doesn’t seem right for me to hang on to disagreements, necessary endings, or misunderstandings. I want to move on, beyond the conflict and be ready to forgive. Life is too short to harbor anger and resentment. Anger changes me; it doesn’t make me the best version of myself!
  3. Learn from the conflict. What was my part? What could I have done better? What should I have avoided? How can I grow from this challenge? My dad used to use the statement about finding a “pony in the poop”! J There is always something to gain from our challenges if we are willing to really dig for it! And, there are always two sides to a relational challenge.
  4. Use the conflict to grow in grace.   Conflicts are real, and sometimes, relational challenges can cause really deep hurts; real scars. And yet as I look at the grace I have been given over and over and over again; unmerited favor, I am challenged to practice grace with those around me. Some situations require more time on my knees but at the end of the day bitterness never wins.
  5. It’s okay to have boundaries in a challenging relationship. There are times when a relationship comes full circle and there is peace where there has been conflict. But~ the relationship may require more caution, even good boundaries in the days forward. Boundaries can be wise if they are applied with kindness and understanding. I have relationships that I know can be toxic; in those instances I will limit the amount of time I spend in connection with them.
  6. Last of all~ never slam the door shut on a relationship.   Honestly, life can be surprising. People Change. Time changes people. Challenges bring fresh understanding. We NEVER know what can and will happen in a relationship; keep the possibilities in front of you.

Reconciliation is at the very heart of God; starting with our reconciliation with Him. His heart is that His people would walk together in peace and understanding. However, this can prove to be a real challenge as we do life with others. In families, in the workplace, in the church, even in the community; conflict can happen. Hopefully you will see relational challenges in your life come full circle in the days ahead as you practice caution with your words, grace and forgiveness, and are willing to own your part! Dr. Phil always says “This situation needs a hero; will it be you?”

The Cost of a Toxic Conversation~

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Have you ever walked away from a conversation feeling like you’ve just been sucker-punched?  Have you ever walked into a discussion that took a shocking turn and you suddenly felt you were being verbally attacked?   Have you ever let yourself stew over an offense or misunderstanding only to find yourself the perpetrator of a harmful toxic conversation?  I imagine, in our lifetime, that we would have to say “yes” to these questions.

Conversations of this nature NEVER bear any fruit and truly,and the energy it takes to try to “take back” what has been expressed can simply be wasted time; angry words spoken are a lot like a feather pillow~ Once the feathers are out you can never, ever put them back again.  Marriages, families, companies, churches, and friendships have been ruined by toxic conversations.

We may never be able to fully control how someone else conducts themselves in a conversation. However, there are some key elements that can help each of us to notice when we are initiating or engaged in a toxic conversation:

1.   Your body will feel the tension. (jaws, hands, heartbeat, etc.)

2.  You feel you are 100% sure that you are 100% right! (in every challenge we have to own our contribution.)

3.  The conversation has become unfruitfully repetitious. You find yourself saying the same thing over and over and over with no sign of resolve.

4.  You find yourself using terminology that is offensive and hurtful; attacking angrily making personal jabs that you know will wound.

5.  You know in your head that the conversation is getting worse and worse but you give yourself permission to keep trying to “Win” this discussion. You ignore even your inner voice that tells you to end the conversation.

I don’t believe that most of us engage in Toxic conversations on a regular basis, but frankly, even one can cause incredible damage to all those who engage in it!  Our best decision is to choose to be aware of ourselves in a challenging situation or relationship and make a decision ahead of time not to initiate or engage in it!

I’m a firm believer in crucial conversations; we all have to have difficult discussions from time to time and “done well” there can be resolve, understanding, forgiveness, or even a decision to agree to disagree. But~~a toxic conversation only causes harm!

Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

 

How’s your EQ?

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We are all familiar with the term IQ, right?  This term IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is a score derived from one of several standardized tests designed to access intelligence, a persons cognitive ability as compared to the general population.  The term “genius” is often used when talking about someone with a really high IQ. We might assume that someone with a high IQ would naturally become a success in all that they do, however there is another HUGE factor beyond IQ that can have a profound impact on success; personal or professional.  That factor is your EQ!

The term EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and diffuse conflict. The level of your EQ impacts many different aspects of our daily lives in both our homes and places of work.

Think about these 4 questions:

1.  How self-aware are you?   Do you recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behaviours, your self-confidence, or your responses? Can you see how your emotions affect those around you?

2.  How well do you manage your emotions?  Are you able to control your impulsive feelings or behaviours, manage your emotions in a healthy way, take good initiative when needed, and follow through on your commitments?

3.  How high is your social awareness?  Can you understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people? Are you able to pick up emotional cues, and recognize key dynamics in a group or organization?  How well do you filter how you act or what you say?

4.  How well do you manage your relationships?  Do you know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage team conflict? How about your personal relationships? Do you recognize the need for reciprocity or crucial conversations in order to maintain their health?

These questions are a really powerful filter to access your personal EQ.

So why is this even important?

We’ve all seen incredibly intelligent people fail miserably at life and relationships; we are often confounded by this because it would appear that their genius would almost solidify their success in every area….but it doesn’t!  It’s really not the smartest people who are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life.  A high IQ might help getting into a quality college but it will be a high EQ that will determine how someone manages dorm life, exams, and friendships!

To strengthen your EQ there are 5 things we can all intentionally participate in:

1. reducing stress ( guarding reactions) in the moment in a variety of personal and professional settings.

2.  paying attention to our emotions and finding creative outlets in an effort to keep them from overwhelming us.

3.  staying connected relationally and emotionally with others; asking for sincere feedback.

4.  allowing ourselves to use our sense of humor and creativity when faced with challenging situations.

5.  seeking to make intentional efforts to resolve conflicts positively and with confidence. Agreeing to disagree, compromise, and active listening.

“Emotional competence is the single most important personal quality that each of us must develop and assess to experience a breakthrough.  Only through managing our emotions can we access our intellect and our technical competence. An emotionally competent person performs better under pressure.” 

–Dave Lennick, Executive VP, American Express Financial Advisers

“What really matters for success, character, happiness and life long achievements is a definite set of emotional skills – your EQ – not just purely cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests.” 

–Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

In 2014~Let’s have the highest EQ in the room! 🙂

If you really knew me you would not like me……………..

How many of us have made mistakes in our lives?  How many of us have baggage that plagues us? How many of us have heard the enemy whisper “if they really knew you they would not like you”?  I have.   This kind of shame can keep us locked up; unable and unwilling to step into opportunities simply because we ask ourselves the question “why me?, I am not worthy!”.

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Years ago I stood before the congregation of our large church where my husband was an Executive Pastor, I shared my story. Everyone has a story!  My story involved a history of a date rape and an abortion at 17 years old! Such a shock to so many that saw me, and my life as perfect; perhaps charmed.

After sharing my story I had over 75 women come to me privately and share that this was similar to their story and they felt shamed and broken! Oh, how the enemy loves to make us feel ruined, soiled, and without value!!  Here is the truth:

We have a God who is full of grace and mercy–God’s mercy is so much richer than the mercy we extend to one another. This is sad, but true!  All of us have regrets and areas of deep sadness. The truth is that our Savior is rich in love, mercy, and grace!

If this resonates with you. If you have challenges or have faced situations where your choices caused great harm; run to the giver of grace and forgiveness! He loves you more than you can ever know!

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Here’s what God’s word says:

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Isaiah 43:25-26

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.  Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence.

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Today, sit with Him–let Him love you and breath fresh life into you–today is your day. He loves you.

Important Conversations!

” The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw

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I have heard this quote numerous times, I find it incredibly profound every time.  It is never easy to have a difficult conversation.   No one ever wakes up in the morning eager to jump into a discussion that could have an uncertain outcome. No one naturally wants to feel uncomfortable or to create possible conflict. If they do, frankly, then may have other personal issues that need to be dealt with. No~ no one really enjoys a “Crucial Conversation”.

In the Book “Crucial Conversations” the term in the title of the book would be defined as a discussion between two or more people where the stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong.

In order to navigate relationships in your family, workplace, community, or place of worship there will be times when the need to have a direct conversation will be clearly evident, left unaddressed gaps in relationships, teamwork, or productivity will be the result.

Have you ever gotten a phone call or email that you simply ignored because in order to move forward there would need to be a conversation? Have you ever walked “around” a teammates office so that you could avoid a tough conversation? Have you ever abandoned a friendship because having a hard conversation seemed too challenging?

I have to say YES to all of these situations. In trying to asses “WHY” I would have avoided challenging conversations I would have to discern that it was because I assumed I wouldn’t fare well; that I would cause more trouble.  But often these types of conversations can bring fresh understanding, resolve conflict, and relational rebuilding.

 In considering a crucial conversation we have 3 possibilities:

1.  We can simply avoid them.

2.  We can face them and handle them poorly.

3. We can face them and handle them well.

I feel that most of us would choose either #1 or #3.  Assuming  you have picked #3, I would l like to offer a few suggestions that I have learned in my years of being a Leadership Coach. (I am not an authority by any means; I continue to be a learner!)

Prepare yourself for  the conversation.  What is the end result you desire?  What is the temperament of the individual you need to address? Are you angry? Have you already indited this person?  Can you see your part in the challenge? What words will you use to clearly communicate? Are you prepared to listen?

Set a quality time/place for the conversation. Timing is key when addressing a challenging topic.  I always tell young brides that it is NEVER wise to address challenging topic with their spouse after 8:30-9:00!! Two tired people addressing conflict will rarely provide a positive result!  Does this conversation need to be in private? Do you need a 3rd party present for accountability?

Follow up within 24 hours. It is important be sure that your crucial conversation truly created the clarity needed between every individual involved. Do an understanding check as well as a relational check. Your conversation may not result in complete agreement but see if it has cleared away the intensity of emotion or misunderstanding.

Difficult conversations are necessary as we grow in every area of our lives and the results of having them successfully will empower us to be brave enough, kind enough, and wise enough to address them well.

Are the conversations you’ve been avoiding? Situations that need to be addressed? Relationships that need reconciling? Gaps on your team at work?  Instead of focusing on how negative a crucial conversation could be, consider how much fruitfulness is to be gained. 🙂

Get Off The Plane!

I was happy to push my way through my morning “fog” as the alarm went off at 4am!  Quietly I got myself ready to catch my plane; quick kiss for my hubby, and out the door towards the airport.  It was so early that I only passed 3 or 4 cars along the way!!  Made my way through security, grabbed some coffee and it was time to board. Made it into my seat, grabbed my reading materials, and settled in for a short flight to Salt Lake City. I had planned my timing well; perfect!

Then…..after a 20 minute wait, we are told that the plane is having mechanical issues; should only take 15 more minutes. After 20 more minutes we are told we were going to have to get off the plane till further notice. Amidst the sound of huge groans and cell phones being quickly used; we walked back into the secure area of the airport. One thing I already knew~I was NOT going to make my connecting flight! This was also the plight of most every other passenger! After another 30 minutes we re-boarded the aircraft and headed toward our destination.

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After a smooth flight to Salt Lake City; it was 10:00 am and time to meet with the folks at the Delta Customer service to see what I needed to do now.  I was joined by, at least, 50 other passengers.  I was told to make my self comfortable as I would not be flying out until 5pm!

For work I often travel and I realize that flights are rarely smooth; more often than not there will be challenges to face~ Cancelled flights, late flights, bumpy flights, or flights that are simply too full!

What I found interesting is what I observed while watching my fellow passengers respond to this “inconvenience” in their schedule.  Some were furious; yelling at the flight attendants, angrily calling Delta to give them a piece of their mind, so aggravated that their well-planned day had been interrupted!  I thought to myself “if there was a problem with the plane then taking a nose-dive into the Utah back country would have been a greater problem”……but I thought I ought to keep those thoughts to myself! 🙂

Last week I had worked hard, grabbed some time for recreation, and was heading home to make dinner and relax with my husband–that was the plan.  While driving home in busy traffic a large vehicle slammed into the back of my car! Ugh! This was not part of the day I had planned! Damage to the car was minimal but now my well planned day was ruined! How should I respond?

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Life has interruptions; it really does. Do we keep any margins between our well-planned deadlines and destinations to make room for the “un-planned?” Would an interruption cause you to move to anger, anxiety, or disrespect for those around you? Or could you take a breath, pray, look at this opportunity to be patient, to slow down, and to see what God’s PLAN B just might be?

Interesting thoughts from Rick Warren:  Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, “You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” [Psalm 139:16]

If He knows your days; Perhaps we can trust Him with the interruptions or the Plan B. 🙂

So, Ya Had A Bad Day!

Early this morning I got up considering what to write about in my Blog today. I had so many ideas, passions, and lessons learned that I planned on sharing.

 I headed to work. With windows down on this warm June morning I was looking at the mountains, grateful for the beauty I get to experience here in Bend. My heart was full as I thought about my family whispering prayers to the Lord for their week.  May they be so blessed!

THEN~~As I headed down the street to enter a roundabout that would take me to work there were cars were backed up a bit due to others either heading to work or taking their children to school. All of a sudden my peaceful experience was shattered as a man in a jeep behind me began leaning on his horn angry that he had to wait.  Every time he felt a car hadn’t entered the roundabout fast enough he screamed a string of obscenities that would embarrass even a sailor!

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As I looked in my rear-view mirror I could see his white knuckles angrily grasping his steering wheel; he wasn’t interested on his impact on others whatsoever! This morning was about him, and he wasn’t getting his way!

In the wake of his rage filled outbursts , I needed to re-group emotionally; pulling myself back together after 5 minutes of shocking adult behavior. Would I choose to give this man the freedom to ruin my day?  Would I allow him to steal my joy? I had a choice to make. I chose joy……

This experience reminded me that all too often we begin a day, purposeful and focused, ready to make a difference in our world and THEN~ we get bad news, we hear a criticism about us or our family, someone sends a hurtful email, or the World news is discouraging……do we allow these things to suck the peace out of our day? Steal our joy?  Sadly enough, we often do.

What would it look like if we “chose” Joy?  If we made an intentional effort to focus on the goodness of God, the kindness we share with friends and family, and the knowledge that God has our life in His hands? What would it look life if we refused to let anyone or anything control our emotional negatively?

In our lives challenges with come at us sideways at times; let’s stay in the drivers seat of our heart! Lead on with Joy!

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” 1 John 4:4