Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Big God

Lately I've been thinking about a particular social issue and it's had me really seeking God's heart and mind. It seems complicated to me; there are people I respect on either side.

It occurred to me today on my drive into work that this is why God made all of us different. I know, it's nothing new. We all have our place in His plan, and we are all gifted to take our specific part in that plan.

But it's even more than that. We are called to areas of ministry and given passions that often seem contradictory. It causes Christians to argue amongst ourselves about which ministries are right and which stance on an issue is more biblical; what is right and what is wrong; what is open to interpretation and what is not.

It's too much for me to comprehend. But I'm sure of this:

     God called some to serve the homeless. Some work to teach them skills to give them the dignity to stand on their own. Some struggle to provide shelter and food in a safe, clean environment, loving them where they are.

     God called some to fight to save the unborn. They work in pregnancy centers, hospitals, clinics. Their goal is that every baby conceived is born. Others work with those who have chosen abortion. Their goal is that every woman knows God's peace and love.

     God called some to work with students who are on fire for Christ, and who are leading movements on their campuses. Some are called to befriend the lonely, the disconnected. Others are called to seek out the troubled, abused, abusing.

     God called some to minister to at-risk youth, to give them self-esteem and purpose so they can become productive citizens. Others befriend prisoners, who will never be free again.

How is this possible with just one God? How can He take all of us, throughout all of time, and work His purposes out for the good of His kingdom? We disagree, we misunderstand, we try to convince one another that our passion is the one after God's heart, that our viewpoint is the right one. Yet He uses us all if we're willing. (Frankly, I suspect He sometimes uses us even when we're not).

I don't know how it's possible, I just know that it is. Because my God is that big.

Mark 10:27b "....For all things are possible with God."

Romans 8:28  "For we know that God causes all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." 

John 13:35  "By this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cleaning Up

Since my cleaning lady has been pretty slack lately,   ;-)   I've been doing some projects the last couple of days. I organized the closet by putting up some winter clothes. I know. It's August. Don't judge me.

I also bought new bins and organized my kitchen utensil drawer.

Isn't that pretty?

Today I vacuumed. In some places I had to go over the same patch several times before the "debris finder" light on my machine turned green instead of red. (Seriously, what has that cleaning lady been doing?)  Then I cleared and cleaned all the kitchen counters so I could seal the granite.

Don't those clear counters look nice?  I almost hate to put things back. The only thing is, now the kitchen table looks like this:

Although I liked the cleared counters, I decided to go ahead and put things back where they belong after the granite was sealed.

It's not quite as clear, but homier.  And more functional.

Unfortunately, the kitchen table still looks like this:

What is all that stuff and why does it wind up on my counters? The African violet is the only thing that's supposed to be there. Anyone else have this problem? If I heave it all in the trash will I really miss it? Hmmm.....

Anyway, the dilemma was too great to decide in the moment, so I sat down, put my feet up, and pinned some organizational and cleaning tips on Pinterest. So much more fun than actual organizing and cleaning!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Awesome Days at the Leadership Conference

It's been a great few days. I've laughed, cried, spent time with old friends and made new ones, been inspired and challenged, and eaten some great food. We're in Chicago at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.

Our first outing upon arrival was pizza at Lou Malnotti's, one of my favorite all-time restaurants. Thanks, Chicago, for creating deep dish pizza!

The conference began Thursday morning with Gungor playing "The Earth is Yours." I had tears in my eyes as we sang " Holy, holy, holy, holy, Lord.". It was beautiful.

That was just the beginning. Here are some things I learned over the two-day conference, from some experts on leadership:

    Bill Hybels

From Luke 8 - According to the parable of the sower, a certain percentage (75%) of the soil rejected the seed. In order to increase the number of seeds sown on fertile soil, we must sow more seed.

On leadership - a leader's most valuable asset is his energy and his ability to energize others.

One incredibly cool idea he mentioned offhand: set up small groups based on where people sit in church. All those people who never come to Sunday School? Include them in a group based on their section. 

Condoleezza Rice

Every life is worthy. If we just remember this one thing, our interactions with others will change dramatically.

On leadership - An important characteristic of a leader is irrepressible optimism.

(I could have listened to her all day. In fact, I was so busy listening, I didn't take many notes....)

    Jim Collins   

Great Organizations:

1) Have superior performance relative to their mission

2) Make a distinct impact: who would miss them if they were gone?

3) Achieve lasting endurance beyond any one leader. Succession planning is key.

  Craig Groeschel

A message to bridge the generation gap:

To the Older Generation: 
  • Don't fear, resent, or judge the younger generation; believe in them.
  • Don't delegate tasks, because you create followers. Delegate authority because you create leaders.
  • Embrace the season you're in. Authenticity trumps cool every time.
To the Younger Generation:
  • The older generation sees you as entitled.
  • You typically over-estimate what you can do in the short run, but grossly under-estimate what you can do in a lifetime of faithfulness.
  • Honor in public results in influence in private.
  • Respect is earned, but honor is given.

    Patrick Lencioni

To create a healthy organization, know why you exist. Sometimes it's not as obvious as you might think. Then, know what you do. Finally, communicate clearly to create alignment.

William Ury

Conflict resolution and negotiation:

One of the greatest powers in negotiation is the power NOT to react.

Figure out what each side needs and work toward the solution that works best for both parties. 

Go into any negotiation knowing the BATNA - the best alternative to negotiated agreement. Know what you will agree to besides your ideal outcome.

Finally - the most powerful idea I heard: make your enemies you friends.

Pranitha Timothy

This is a remarkable young wife and mother from India who risks her life to rescue people from slavery in her home country.  In her youth, she was known in college as CC, short for cold and calculated. Later  diagnosed with a large brain tumor, she was left with no voice at all after surgery. After two years, God restored her voice and she now uses it to His glory. Here are her core beliefs.
  1. We are all called to serve by a God who is already at work.
  2. This life belongs to God.
  3. God is good.

What a great two days, spent with great people, hearing amazing leaders! If you ever get a chance to go to this conference, it's worth the time and money! 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Refrigerator Scramble

We had a great weekend away and got back into town this afternoon. I didn't want to go to the grocery store, so I decided to make do with the bits of leftovers in the fridge.

First, I found a small zucchini languishing in the vegetable drawer, along with a few broccoli florets left in a package. I chopped the zucchini and separated the broccoli into smaller florets, then sliced a green onion I had left from the weekend.

I added a little olive oil to a medium-high skillet, added the veggies and a little kosher salt, covered the pan, and sautéed them until they softened and took on a little color.

While they cooked, I cut up some summer sausage I had left from the weekend. (It was really good on crackers!)

Once the veggies were ready, I added the sausage to the pan to warm up.

Meanwhile, I added 3 whole eggs and 4 egg whites to a bowl and whisked them to blend, along with a pinch of salt and a splash of water. The egg whites add volume without adding many calories. I usually would have added milk, but no grocery store trip = no milk.

I turned the pan down to medium low, and added the eggs.

While the dish cooked, I made some quick grits. I also shredded some sharp cheddar, both for the scramble and the grits. (I was going to be fancy and use some Monterey Jack I found, but alas, I realized I found it a little too late. Oops!)

Once the eggs were set, I added some cheese, turned off the heat, and put the lid back on for a minute to melt the cheese.  (By the way, this dish would be an omelet if I could make it work. After many tries, I've quit trying to make it an omelet and realized it wants to be a scramble. This has nothing to do with my skill of course...)

Then I added the rest of the cheese to the grits and stirred it in.

Here it is all plated up. It's not exactly something you'd serve to impress your audience, but it's tasty and filling.

The point of this scramble is that you just make it out of whatever you have in the refrigerator. It's not something I ever buy ingredients to make; I just make it as an easy use-up for odds and ends I don't want to have to throw out.  Happy hunting!