Happy Blog Birthday to Me

Wow!  I just completed my weekly post, and for some odd reason I decided to go scrolling through to see when I published my first blog post.  Well, to my surprise I found that my first blog post was published exactly one year ago today – June 13, 2009.   By the time you read this my baby will be a year old plus one day.  My how time flies.

I’ve learned a lot in the past year, and I’m slowly starting to get the hang of this blog thing.  It’s my prayer that as you’ve read my posts over the past year, you’ve witnessed a woman seeking to be wise, to be virtuous, and to understand that she has great value.

Well happy bloggy birthday to me!  It’s summertime!!  Go out and have a refreshing ice cold glass of tea, lemonade or water  on me!  Of course, you’ll have to prepare it or pay for it.  Just pretend it’s on me! 😉

Thank you for hanging out with me this past year.  I guess we’ll begin working on another one (another year, that is). 🙂  See you soon!

1 + 2 = 4

This past Saturday, I hosted my first “gathering” under the Full Circle Women’s Fellowship umbrella in Nashville, Tennessee.  It was a tea party.  I chose a pretty girly backdrop, because, well I’m a girl;  I like girly things, and I think every woman should have a couple of hours every now and then to simply enjoy being a girl!

We’ve “chatted” about faith quite a bit here recently, right?  Well, the Saturday morning tea gathering was my humble effort to mesh my faith with my works and take one small step towards at least one of the things I believe I’m supposed to do with my life.  This was a small step that took great BIG courage!

You can’t imagine how many unsuccessful attempts darted the path towards this gathering.  The first event was originally scheduled for December 6, 2009.  I had already selected the perfect location for what would have been a private event.  However, because I didn’t receive enough participation to meet the required dollar minimum of the establishment (for a private event), I was forced to cancel.  I would go on to repeat this insane cycle of booking, inviting, and canceling at least 2 maybe even 3 more times, with other proposed dates for earlier this year.

Sadly, I must take responsibility for these multiple failures to launch.  My irritatingly faithful rival, Mr. Fear, caused me to drag my feet (remember that “fake limp” I talked about in my last post) in each of those instances, hesitant to step out boldly and to trust God totally for the outcome of His choosing.

I finally got tired of the box.  The walls were closing in on me, and for those of you who don’t know, I’m a pretty space conscious kinda girl.  I knew it was time to take a step, at least one small step.  I could do that, right?  I would just nervously place my “small” feet into God’s BIG shoes and surrender to go wherever His Spirit would lead me, to the outcome of His choosing, to the place where my steps alone were too timid to go.

So, I prayed and emailed a preliminary, “are you interested”, email to 12 of God’s daughters – selected from the Full Circle Women’s Fellowship Facebook page and from lists of names given to me by others.  Slowly, a few responses trickled in, with most women emailing their “regrets” that they would not be able to attend.  I could have been discouraged, but I reminded myself, “Monica, you’re in His shoes remember.”  And so I was.

As the “no’s” were trickling in, I still had to call this tea room and make yet another reservation.  Believe me, friends, I am not a glutton for punishment.  I simply knew this was the backdrop I wanted for this time of fellowship.  Standing firm in my shoes of faith, I made the call.  The young lady on the other end of the phone took my name, the date for the reservation, and the estimated number of attendees.  Then she politely placed me on hold.  My gut told me she was going to retrieve the manager, and sure enough, she did!!!  I’d been blacklisted, y’all!!!  LOL!!!  I am not kidding!  How embarrassing!!!  Lovely Ms. Lindsey, the store manager, proceeded to inform me that if another group wanted to make a reservation on the date I’d selected, they would have to bump me!  LOL!  Today it’s funny, but that day I truly fought back tears.

That’s ok.  In the Shoes I was now wearing I was able to walk past this smudge on my good name and continue planning for the ladies who would attend, because I KNEW someone WOULD attend.  And I had promised the Lord that, no matter the head count, I was available to Him to be used to bless His daughter(s).

The final head count was soon confirmed.

When Saturday morning arrived I seized a little time in the Word before preparing to leave.  This was my precious reminder from Dad:

Mat 18:20 NKJV – For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

You see only two very special ladies responded with a “yes” to the invitation that had been extended.  The three of us had a WONDERFUL time of fellowship Saturday morning.  I was honored to host them, to see their smiles, and to listen to their hearts.  I learned a lot.  Our time together was scheduled for 10:30 am until 12:30 pm.  However, we did not part company until somewhere between 2:30 pm and 3 pm.  If you’re thinking that sounds like God was in our midst, you are absolutely right! 🙂

God already knew what Saturday would look like.  He already knew how many would attend.  He even knew whether I’d cancel using the low response as my excuse (and believe me I thought about it) or whether I’d keep moving forward, taking faithful little steps toward a much bigger picture.  The small step of faith by one little ol’ me afforded me the opportunity to host two of God’s daughters.  The three of us came together on a Saturday morning, and God kept His word.  Number “four” was actually number ONE that day, and I love Him so for His faithfulness.

I’m guessing the journey was more about faith and obedience than anything else.  What do you think?

Speaking of you, is there a faithful small step you’re supposed to be taking?  Leave me a comment and tell me about it.  I will be sure to pray that you will take that step, whatever it may be, and surrender to the path God chooses.

Until next time…

P.S.  I enjoyed that step so much it gave me more courage for the next step I’ll take.  I already know what it is, and I’ll share with you later.

As my sweet friend, Janette, always says, “Bye for now…” 🙂

Thoughts on Leadership

Leadership…

We love the word.  Everyone wants to be called a leader.  It just sounds good, doesn’t it?!  But how often do we count the costs that inevitably accompany leadership roles?  I must say I’ve certainly been paying more attention, recently.  Let’s face it.  Leadership is challenging.

Last week I was in a position where I was “forced” to listen to and/or watch the news for 8 hours out of each day.  Yes, forced (not physically forced, just in a room where the news was going all day forced)!  And YES, that’s a lot of news!

Hot topics last week included continued coverage of the, now, epic BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Israeli interception of a flotilla headed for the heavily guarded Gaza Strip.  Each of these stories involves several leaders, but the notables are as follows:

The BP story:  BP CEO, Tony Hayward (L) and United States President, Barak Obama (R)

Israeli flotilla raid:  Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu (pronounced net-an-yahoo) (below)

The one thing that quickly grabbed my attention was the shower of criticism raining down on the leaders connected to each of these stories.  Tony Hayward was criticized for a sincere, yet drastically untimely and insensitive slip of the tongue.  He said what he felt, but he probably should have used his inside voice.  President Obama was criticized for not kicking enough corporate hind parts and taking enough names and, in general, not urgently spewing enough venom in his response to the tragic oil spill.  Then Netanyahu was criticized by most of the world (literally) for what he felt was defending his country from what he called “a hate boat”.

Whew….  All of this really got me thinking…

Actually, it got me re-thinking leadership.  I can’t lie.  For a long time I’ve slowly moved with a fake limp toward the leadership role I know is inevitable.  Listening to the relentless media coverage of these stories was enough to make me seriously consider pretending not to hear the Lord’s call and cowering somewhere in a nearby corner, instead.

Oh how I greatly enjoy sharing my life experiences and lessons from heaven with other women, but I am so not interested in the monumental weight of judgment that is heaped upon anyone in any kind of leadership position.  Knowing that failures, mis-steps, and mishaps are an inevitable part of the journey AND that they will be subject to the scrutiny of others sometimes makes me want to politely say to the Lord, “I’ll pass, but thanks for asking!”  LOL!

Then the Spirit of the Lord gently redirected my attention to some of the great leaders from His word – men and women who, filled with humility, courageously endured intense scrutiny and continued to lead amidst their own leadership faux pas, critical character flaws, sinful indiscretions and just plain human imperfections.  God’s plan for their lives was never thwarted, and they were used to accomplish great exploits for His Kingdom.

I realized it’s up to me to come to terms with these basic truths:

Someone will always disagree with me.

My decisions will never please everyone.

My words won’t always be timely for everyone.

Someone won’t appreciate my style.

Someone who supports me today, may not tomorrow.

And more importantly….

I will make mistakes.

Sometimes I won’t think before I speak (prayerfully not very often; Help me Jesus!).

I won’t always make the right decision.

As much as I want to, I just won’t get it all right.

At the end of the day, though, I hope this quote reflects who I will be for the Kingdom of God:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

I rounded out my week drawing encouragement from the accounts of those imperfect leaders who God trusted with so much and loved so dearly.  David killed Goliath yet struggled to overcome his own flesh (sound familiar).  And Joseph….my dear dreamer traversed quite a few obstacles before reporting for duty in the position to which God had assigned him.

Leadership….

So I tip my hat to the countless leaders of the world.  I realize they don’t all draw strength and guidance from my God, but if any of them can do it without Him, I know I can do it with Him.  And so can you….  I know you’re a leader!  God has called you to accomplish great and mighty things for His Kingdom, and you can do it through His strength.  Critics?  Forget about ’em!  Your personal flaws are there to remind you of your human-ness so that you never stop relying on His God-ness.  Still not convinced?  Check out Philippians 4:13.

Till next time…

P.S.  I almost forgot.  🙂  Who’s your favorite biblical leader and why?

A Golden Role

Actress Rue McClanahan passed away yesterday.  She was 76.  McClanahan was best known for her role as sassy seductress Blanche Devereaux on the unmatched 90’s sitcom, The Golden Girls.

I’m not a big television fan, but I have a special affinity for television sitcoms.  One of my dreams is to be a part of the production of one one of these days.  There’s something about the marriage between a perfect cast and phenomenal writers with a mere 22 minutes to craft a memorable story and make you hurt yourself with laughter that simply can’t be explained.

With this in mind, I’ll confess.  I loved the GG’s!  From time to time I still watch old episodes when I want to indulge in the art of a well crafted sitcom or when I need a good laugh and a great escape!

McClanahan, probably better known as Blanche Devereaux, had countless other roles to her credit.  However, it’s doubtful any of them will stand out, after her death, more than the character Blanche Devereaux.

So who was Blanche Devereaux?  By the way “that’s french for Blanche Devereaux.” LOL….  Only a GG fan will get that….  She was a sexy, seductive, southern belle whose main hobby was, well, MEN!  Probably one of the most illustrative examples of her character’s lifestyle was the episode where she thought she was el prego at age 50 or so.  Her 5 sexual partners over a 10 day span had erected quite the blockade to determining who the father might have been.  Wow!  Sure she was also a loyal, supportive friend and roommate, a loving daughter and sister (although she hated her sister Virginia, lol; another nugget for members of the GG fan club), a thoughtful mother, and just an all around charming woman.  Yet the promiscuous character of her character is undoubtedly what we most remember about Blanche Devereaux.

Of course,  “Blanche” was a fictional character, McClanahan breathed life into this role as only a superb actress can do.  I don’t know much about McClanahan, personally, but I would guess she was a fine woman.  She was a phenomenal actress – Golden Girls and beyond – and I’m sure her passing leaves its own significant void within the creative community.  But her passing on yesterday led me to these thoughts and questions:

1.  You’re a beautiful woman, a great friend, a loyal and loving sister, daughter, mother, aunt, and an all around charming woman.  In the role you’re playing in this sitcom called Life (which is certainly filled with more reasons than one to laugh), what will people remember most about your character?

2.  What “character” are you breathing life into.  Is it wisdom?  Virtue?  Maybe “Ruby”?

3.  Will you leave your mark as a wise, virtuous, and valuable woman?

Lesson from A Crock Pot Chicken

Happy Wednesday everyone!  (I’m guessing it will be Wednesday by the time this hits your inbox.)  I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend, complete with great BBQ, great company, great fun, and great prayers of thanksgiving for those who’ve sacrificed their lives for the freedom we all enjoy.

So let me tell you about my Memorial Day….

My sister and brother-in-law were scheduled to return home from their Seattle vacation on Memorial Day.  I decided I wanted to cook dinner for them and have it waiting when they arrived.  I tell you; there’s nothing like returning home from a long trip and having the smell of something savory meet you at the door.  Mmmm Mmmm….

Anyway, Sunday I took a whole chicken from the freezer and left it out to thaw.  Believe me, I had no idea what to do with this bird.  All I knew was that a Crock Pot would somehow be involved!

In my search for a tasty recipe to try on the family roaster, I first solicited the assistance of the world wide web.  Of course you know the internet has an endless string of websites and recipes that only served to overwhelm me, so I decided to take a shortcut.  I called my big sister!    I have two “big sisters”, and they are certainly worth their weight in gold.  Since my sister and her husband were visiting the 2nd oldest (there are 4 girls in all), I skipped all the way to the top, for this search, and called the oldest.  She’s married with four children, a phenomenal cook and the owner of the biggest crock pot I’ve ever seen.  I just knew she could pull a recipe from the palm of her hand.  (Insert LOUD BUZZER NOISE here!!)  Wrong answer!  Big sis sent me back to the web!  Thanks a lot sis!!!

Ok, so now I’m panicking.  It’s the day before the family returns.  I’ve taken this HUGE chicken out of the freezer.  It’s completely thawed and ready to be cooked, but I have NO IDEA what to do with it.  And I’m not the kind of cook who can just wing it (no pun intended), soooooo Houston we have one heck of a problem!!

I still had a little time, so I decided to sleep on it and try again the next morning.  Monday morning I awakened bright and early and started my time of devotion.  As I commenced to pray, I literally asked the Holy Spirit to lead me to a recipe for this BIG OL’ BIRD so that my surprise dinner for 2, undoubtedly, weary travelers would be a success.  Amen!

So I finished praying (of course the chicken recipe wasn’t all I prayed for, lol…), jumped online and braved the Google search engine one…..more……time.  And there it was…. at the top of the list…. a “Whole Chicken Crock Pot Recipe”….  I peruse the ingredients.  Looks simple!  Sounds tasty!  Uh oh!  I think we have a winner!  Just like that my prayer was answered.  Then guess what I did.  I ALMOST started looking for ANOTHER recipe!!  Can you believe that?  I asked.  He gave.  I responded with, “Let me see if I can find something better.”  When I caught myself and realized what I was doing, I was stunned!!!  Then I simply had to laugh at myself.  I thought, “Wow, Lord!  How many other times have I responded that way to your perfect gift?”

So here’s my big question:  When you ask the Lord for something, and He answers your prayer and presents you with your request, how often do you go back looking for something better?

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. ~ James 1:17 NKJV

P.S.  The chicken was GREAT!  We all enjoyed it, and we had one more family member stop by for a plate on her way in from out of town, as well.  So THREE weary travelers were fed with the perfect “Whole Chicken Crock Pot Recipe”.  Click here if you’d like to try out the recipe for your family.  Let me know what you think!

P.S.S.  Of course big sis later asked me for the recipe!!  My younger sister told me I should have sent her to the web.  LOL!!!

%d bloggers like this: