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Adventure by Ollie

A Search for Purpose in a Random World

Category

Inspirational

Top Step Hat Dance

walk crazy,

this way and that

step likely

to be in top hat

or to be in humble rags

as though the world were not

a place where such things happened

as to say to one come here,

and to the other – go now.

Do not be fooled, friend –

‘what I do to another, I have done unto myself’.

So, sandal the feet.

Crazy walk, this way,

and that step likely humble –

as though the world were not.

The White Heron and I

I walked side by side with the white heron;

my heart was full of uncertainty,

but he did not flee- he trusted me-

and in this he seemed to say,

“You can handle that which is coming.”

How to Lock the Door on Time Stealers and Accomplish Your Purpose.

Introductions

Hello Again! Thank you for visiting.  My goal is to write something (anything) everyday.  For the past couple of days I’ve been working on today’s post, and still haven’t finished it! As soon as I got home this afternoon, I made a big salad and then sat down with my laptop to get busy writing to you.  I hope you’ve had a wonderful day.

For all of you hungry people out there – here’s what’s in my salad: Spinach leaves, a random bag of lettuce (IDK  what kind – it’s green), pickled sliced beets (my favorite), orange slices, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  It’s topped with plain Kefir, which I recommend, especially if you’re a buttermilk lover like me – it’s got a similar taste, and is great for your digestive health.  Locally, the only Kefir brand available is the one produced by Lifeway.  I don’t know how it compares with other brands, so you’re welcome to post a comment below about your favorite kind/brand of Kefir.

I also poured a little bit of blue cheese dressing on my salad, because that’s what people do.

Getting Down to Business

If this is your first time visiting the site, “Hello, it’s nice to meet you.”  This blog is my writing outlet – I write whatever I want to (poetry, opinions, rants, informational, inspirational, humor, you get the picture), and sometimes folks read it.  If you’d like to know more about me and why I blog, click the About Me page above.  Here on WordPress.com, we bloggers like to write and read, and other stuff, we’re creative, like you.  Come and join us – start a blog for free.  It’s not spinach, but it’s probably still a very healthy choice.

A common theme in conversations I’ve heard lately is that of juggling work with family.  The consensus is that everyone wants to spend more time with family.  The one thing that seems to prevent them is work, too much work, so much work that it cannot be completed without putting in overtime – LOTS OF overtime.

You guessed it! The folks, and I, having these conversations lately are teachers.  How did you know?  But teachers aren’t the only ones who experience the family/work tension.  Grab your salad, and let’s dig in.

First, A Story

At a church I once worked in as the Children’s Minister, several volunteers cornered me and asked me what I was going to do about ‘The Closet Mess’.  My mind reeled with ideas of what they could be referring to: an actual closet, a rumored closet, a situation where someone was caught with someone else in the closet, skeletons in the closet, skeletons coming out of the closet – the possibilities were endless.  Aha! I thought, here is the moment all of my expensive, private, Christian college education has prepared me for.

I have a Theology degree.  I can handle ANYTHING.

The ‘Closet’ in question turned out to be a real, actual closet in the church building, which was disappointing considering the well-thought out exhortation I had mentally prepared.  Oh, well, ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ and ‘Mind your own Business’ would have to wait.

I was shown to a room on the first floor, with an, “I LOVE JESUS,” poster on the wall.  In the corner was the closet in question.

The class meeting in that classroom needed a place to store their supplies, the volunteers explained.  “Why can’t they use this one?” I asked, naively. (Oh how naïve I was.)

“Open it,” they replied.  I did.  I wished I hadn’t.

“It’s your problem now,” they said.  I turned back around to ask a question.  Everyone had scampered.  “You didn’t see us!” and “We were never here!” they shouted from far away down the hall.  I looked again at the unbelievable seven by four foot wall of junk.  The closet was full of trash.

It turned out that a few church committees had stalemated over the disposal of used church curricula, denominationally produced Bible study materials, and convention newsletters.  The result of this was a more than 25 year pile up of paper, cardboard, and dust.  The shelves, barely reachable, contained a few of the supplies teachers had managed to wriggle out a space for plus old maintenance supplies from before the pile up had gotten out of control.  I counted crayons, glue, glue guns, markers, paint, spray paint, paint brushes, turpentine, nails, screws, caulking, metal spatulas, hammers, a box of razor blades, and matches.

A perfect combination for an unlocked closet in the corner of a 3rd through 5th grade boy’s Sunday night discipleship class…

…and also a perfect picture of the mess we sometimes find ourselves in when work, life, and relationships fill our time with more work than is humanly possible to manage.

Time to Take Control

In order to take control, and keep control, we must be intentional about our lives.  Here is how I manage and organize, not only closets, but time as well.

1. Give it a Purpose:

Wherever there is a vacuum, a void of space, the universal law is that it must be filled.  If we do not set a purpose for our closets, drawers, hours, and days – others will step in and set a purpose for us.  This should be avoided at all costs.  No one knows what your life’s purpose is, or how your time should be spent more than you.

The first thing I did with this closet was to give it a purpose.  Since the Sunday School committee and the Discipleship committee and the Financial committee and the Committee on Committees committee couldn’t agree on sharing monies and supplies, the closet’s purpose was to be a storage of arts and crafts supplies for the teacher of the Sunday night discipleship class.

When you give something a purpose, Say It Out Loud.  Say it with Confidence.  Don’t listen to nagging voices, or doubts.  Determine what you want and set out to get it.  Saying it out loud is just an affirming way of agreeing with yourself.  Saying it with Confidence lets everyone else know that you mean business and it’s time to get the HECK out of your way.

In order to organize a drawer, for example, first you give it a purpose, and then fill it with ONLY the items that fulfill that purpose.  A kitchen drawer purposed with storing tableware cannot store receipts, rubber bands, vitamins, or wash cloths.  The same thing applies to our hours and days.

Start with a clean slate.  Using an empty calendar, block out the time you spend at work (or in class) and then examine the time you have available.  This is YOUR time.  Set a purpose for those blocks of time that belong to you: Family Time, Writing Time, Exercise, Hobby Time, On-line Business Time, Meeting Friends, Prayer and Meditation Time, Quiet Time – the options are up to you.

Let’s see what you are going to do!!! I bet you’ll do something Wonderful!

2. Throw Away the Junk

Our closet had become filled with 100% Junk which did not match its PURPOSE.  Time can quickly be filled up with Junk activities that do not match our purpose or goals. All that Junk needs to be thrown away.

For example, has Family Time become littered by interrupting texts or notices? Throw that away – turn off the T.V., phones and devices during Family Time, sleep your computer, close that laptop.  Stare at each other, pull out a board game, play 20 questions, work on a puzzle, play charades, get outside for a walk, toss the ol’ pigskin, make a salad, create a movie together and then watch it (so much better than T.V.).

Responsibilities getting in the way? Laundry’s got to be done, and dinner cooked: Delegate. Do you have a teenager? Why are you doing laundry when you’ve got a teenager? Teach your teenager to do the laundry instead.  It takes more time up front, but in the end you will be freed up to use your time working on your goals, or spending time with family.

Family means we all chip in.  Each and every time you make dinner or work on chores, have your child or teen work with you.  Teach them how to clean, sort laundry, and cook simple meals.  “I scrub -you scrub – we all scrub together.”  Try this as your new family motto.  Even if they are too young to do a ‘good’ job, they will learn a good work ethic and gain from the quality time you are spending together.  As you clean and cook you have time side by side to talk and learn more about one another.  Try it.

There are a lot of junk activities that can steal away our time – think about what you are doing and question it by comparing them to your goals and purpose.  If they do not help you achieve your goals or purpose then it is time to throw that activity away.

For me, junk activities can be: social media, watching series on Netflix, movies, shopping, and Pinterest.  There.  That’s my confession.  Now you know EVERYTHING about me.

3. Label and Organize

As with closets, our time needs to be labeled and organized.  Once you’ve determined your purpose, and created space in the day to work on your goals, sit down and determine the steps needed to accomplish them.  No one sits down to write a book, that’s the end result of many tiny steps.  Lose weight?  Too general.  Instead, think of small chunks, tiny steps, easy to handle micro-challenges.

For example, instead of ‘work on my book’, or ‘write chapter one,’ fixate on something specific such as: list possible outcomes for the main character.

4. Lock the Door

After the church closet had been named, cleaned out, and organized it was time to add the last finishing touch – a lovely, new, shiny, gold LOCK.  I gave the key to the teacher.

You’ve set a purpose for your time, you’ve gotten rid of the meaningless distractions, and gotten organized, now DEFEND your TIME with ALL YOU’VE GOT.

You can’t stay late at work – you’ve got appointments, you’ve got a dinner date, you have a life, a family, a dog that needs walking and so, like I’ve stated before – Start on Time, Leave on Time.

Almost Time to Say Goodbye

While cleaning out the closet, I came across some old denominational magazines and newsletters published the YEAR I WAS BORN.  After that, something did not feel quite right, to me.  I stared at the date, for what felt like forever, in a moment that was so surreal that I could feel my body tingling from head to toe.  I remember thinking, “This is not what I was born for.”

We may love our jobs, and feel we were ‘born for this’, but even so, your life is more than what you do at work, and taking care of your responsibilities.

‘Human’ means all of these things: thinking, emoting, feeling, praying, singing, working, splashing around in mud puddles, cooking, talking, running, biking, planting, harvesting, sharing, cleaning, bathing, celebrating, worshiping, love-making, parenting…I’m sure you can add to the list.

Yes, you need money.  Yes, you need to mow your lawn. Yes, you need to pay bills, but you also need quiet time alone.  You need quality time with loved ones.  Be careful that, in seeking success, you do not deny or forget  to take care of your ‘soft’ needs.  When they are not met, everything else falls apart: you lose motivation, lose the ability to concentrate, begin to react negatively to setbacks, and lash out at those you love and care about so much.  Don’t forget to LIVE your life…

and…

DON’T WAIT FOR THE PERFECT TIME! DO IT NOW!

I hope this has been insightful.  So much has been given to me, so many people have ‘shared the light’ and helped me on my way, that I want to give in return.

I’d love to hear from you.  Please share your own time saving tips or anything you’d like to share below in the comments.  Don’t forget to hit the Like and Follow button, especially if you found this helpful.  I hope it was.

My salad’s all gone.  That was delicious.  Now, for dessert!

Blessings!

 

 

10 Things I Wish Every Pastor Knew

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1. I don’t need to hear a Sermon.

I know you think I do, but I really don’t.  I am an adult.  I can read and research on my own.  Plus, after a lifetime of going to church and sitting under sermons and Sunday School lessons, I truly have heard it all.  Ask me what I need, and I’ll tell you that a sermon, or sermon notes, doesn’t help or heal at 2:00 AM when I’m bawling my eyes out, when the world has collapsed around me, and when I can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

2. Small Group is MORE Important than ANYTHING ELSE WE DO IN CHURCH

If church leaders are so full of desire to help others, and to share God’s message, and I believe most are, then why do they undermine this desire by focusing on an activity which does nothing to build relationships?

Today’s ministry is upside down – one, or a few people, doing most of the work, because too much focus is placed on large group worship.  One person cannot help everyone else in a church, community, or city, not really, not realistically, not deep-in-the-dark-night-of-the-soul-timely, so: Why does the church’s main event mirror this?

3. I need to hear a Woman’s voice.

Male dominated, Freudian ministry has to stop. NOW.  There was more equality in the church of 2,000 years ago than there is in the church of today.  Both men and women need male and female voices speaking into their lives, and they will sacrifice correct theology to get it.

Next. I am more than a Spiritual Person.

I am also a physical, emotional, and thinking human being.  Ministers put a HUGE emphasis on the spiritual aspects of life.  In my first 20 years of Christianity, I neglected other aspects of my being until God used an illness to correct this broken belief.  I am soul, mind, and body – three aspects of the human being that God created and called “VERY GOOD.”

5. I do not have to be perfect.

Struggles in life are RARELY the result of willful, rebellious, ‘sinning’.  One merely has to be a somewhat active participant in life to encounter struggles.  How many successful people can say they always followed the rules? Creativity and thinking outside of the box is necessary to SURVIVE in today’s job market and economy.  Adding perfection to the mix complicates and confuses everything.  Life is hard.

6. Brokenness is a part of every story.

Ministers highlight the Christian growth IDEAL which emphasizes the end product of a lifetime of godly living.  I have labeled this “White Haired, Wise Old Woman” Christianity and it means anything that gives the impression that all elderly, white haired church members are paragons of virtue.  It sounds something like this: One day, if you live a godly life, follow all the rules, and mind your manners you will look back on your life with zero regrets.  You will have white hair, which is the symbol of wisdom, as a gift from God to show the world how godly your whole life has been.  Your children will be perfect, your house will be clean, and your dog will never poop on your carpet. (Just get cocky and insert for yourself any picture of a happy, perfect family with at least one aged family member who has white hair.)

This theory/teaching works until you meet that group of happy, aged, white haired swingers who relish stories about the good ol’ days when they smoked pot and danced naked at Woodstock, and Pastor, it sounds like SO. MUCH. MORE. FUN.

As a young Christian, I was so afraid of making that wrong decision, and creating a ‘regret’ for myself, that I could not make any decisions.  In a time of my life when so many important decisions are made, I sat on the bench, watching others play the game, worried about making the wrong move.

A girl can follow the rules and still have regrets.  One of my regrets is that I followed the rules.  Besides this, pastors need to accept that most of us cannot conceive an imagined end goal so far down the road that it includes old age.  We need something that works right here and now.

And. It’s all about the Journey.

Church became a stumbling place for me because I am very literal, and fall into all or nothing, black or white (I’m not referencing skin color here), type of thinking very easily.  I’m very sensitive and easily affected.  Someone told me it’s because I’m dysfunctional.  I don’t mind.  Everyone else I know is just like me.

There are more ‘dysfunctional’ people in your church than you realize, Pastor.  Church has become a stumbling place for them, the same as it had for me. If we did not create dysfunction for ourselves, someone else created dysfunction for us, and we view everything you say through this filter of ‘on/off, black/white, all/nothing’.  Accepting everything I’d heard preached in church out of this sense of absolutes has harmed my Christian growth more than it has helped it.  I had to leave church, in order to heal this aspect of my life, because Church contributes to all or nothing thinking.

8. I NEED people in my life; I don’t need you.

Which holds more substance: A one time ritual, or long-term relationship? Which is more necessary: A baby dedication ceremony, or a group of supportive friends who will listen to my rants, frustrations, and fears, who will cry, pray, and laugh with me through all of the ups and downs, the good and bad of parenting, and celebrate the joys year after year after year?

You, as a Pastor or Minister, are not supposed to meet my needs, and you’re not even supposed to try.  A ritual is fine to seal the deal.  It’s comforting, but it doesn’t offer much support for the long haul.  For the long haul, we NEED other people.

9. I still love God very deeply.

Not being “an active member of a church”, has nothing to do with my love for God, or my desire to be a good Christian.  You might be surprised to learn that my faith and my relationship with God grew after I quit going to church.  .

We put too much emphasis on church attendance when “Church” means going to a building where people meet to participate in an event.   Faith is not meant to be a once a week, large group, emotional upheaval, building up to some finale of grand spiritual decisions.  It is a daily, left foot, right foot, leaning on the shoulder of a friend while being a friend for someone else to lean on, and when I can – carrying my own weight, holding the hand of God, stumbling through wilderness, sometimes mountain-tops, sometimes valleys, boring and exciting, rain and shine, happy and sad, freaking crazy FAITH WALK.

Lastly. I believe you care.

I am thankful for the ministers in my life who taught me about God and how to study the Bible.  You could have chosen any path in life that would have been easier, but you followed God.  You might think I’m jaded or disillusioned, but I feel like someone who has come alive, like someone finally awake and aware, and I’ve cast off anything that hinders me in order to chase after God.  It bothers me that church was one of the hindrances.  That is why I’m taking the time to write this.

Maybe I am jaded, but I’m not the only one. I just cared enough to take the time to write all of it down and put it out there for others to read.  I want to see change, and be a part of that change.  All the Sunday/Wednesday pews are full of jaded Christians who continue to attend church for many reasons other than a love for God.  I’m not the only person who feels this way, I just had the guts to say it.

Do you agree or disagree with what you’ve read here? I often wonder if other people feel the same way as I do.  Maybe you feel jaded with ministry, or church, or would like to share your own thoughts on the subject.  Feel free to post comments below.  If you’d like, you can follow me by email, too.  Don’t forget to hit the Like, or Follow button below.  If you found this post helpful, feel free to share it with friends.

 

 

Opinionated or Neutral? What is the cost of choosing to stay on the fence?

all-that-is-necessary-for-the-triumph-of-evil-edmund-burke

Hello Everyone! Thanks so much for reading.

Today, I’m writing about a subject we’ve all been bombarded with lately, and so I think it’s an appropriate time in which to offer up my own thoughts, advice, AND OPINIONS, especially since, being a teacher, the future for our younger generation is heavy in my heart and mind.  Dear Young People of the World, this is for you.

I imagine, for those of you who’ve followed this blog during my poetry writing spurts, it’s a bit confusing to find me writing PROSE.  It might help you to think of me as Bi-Prosal, which is kind of like being Bi-Polar, only with writing.  I write mostly poetry, but sometimes I trip on my own two feet, land on my face in the dirt, and find it all so funny that I have to pick myself up, re-arrange my pants, and go write about it.

The best part is when I share it with you.

Getting to the point:

Today, I want to write about something that I think is very important for young people to hear.  I feel qualified to offer this based on years of experience as a teacher and minister who has felt PRIVALEDGED and excited, mostly overly caffeinated, but thoroughly BLESSED by the youth I’ve worked with. I’m going to start by telling two quick stories that will explain why I feel prompted to write this today.

Quick Story Number One:

Two days ago, I was shopping for a new shiny toy and, exercising my Dave Ramsey skills, was looking for a deal. Dave Ramsey is a respected financial guru who teaches people how to have success with money.  One of the things he teaches is to NEVER pay full-price for ANYTHING.  This is done by coupon clipping, comparison shopping, sale waiting, and flat out demanding a reduced price.

Those of you who live in other nations of the world and understand bargaining as a necessary part of shopping for goods and services might find it strange that Americans need to be taught how to bargain.  I was determined to practice my new found money saving skillage, but it was a hot, July day in Florida…

debt is dumb

…so I landed my sunburned, dehydrated body in Target, which is the sale shopper’s equivalent of GIVING UP. After chasing down a store employee, I attempted to bargain, “Are there any coupons here that can be used on this purchase? I want a discount.  When will this item be on sale?  Can you reduce the price?” I asked, using my hand full of cash as a fan to cool my poor, fevered, sunburned body.   “It can’t hurt to ask,” I smiled.

Now, let me wrap up Quick Story Number One by telling you the part of this interaction that sparked today’s post.  The store employee, a bright, intelligent young man – the future of our American Dream, apologized.  APOLOGIZED.  He apologized to me, he apologized to the store manager when he called to ask about sale dates, coupons, and discounts, he apologized for what he knew, for what he didn’t know, he even apologized to the item in my hands, as if it had anthropomorphized…IDK, maybe a Pokémon was standing on top of it…

I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d apologized for breathing air, which is sad since I’d been so nice to him, and have NO problem breathing air myself ( I highly recommend it).

I left the store, without any discounts, after about a million apologies and the part that bugged me was not the no-discount part.  It was all of the apologizing, as if asking questions about sale prices is wrong, as if calling the manager is against the rules, as if he were embarrassed to work, as if the job wasn’t to talk to customers at all; just ring up their purchases and take their money.

I remained calm and polite during our conversation about the purchase price without raising my voice, and said “Thank you,” with a smile when I left.  Even if I had yelled and lost my temper, which I hadn’t, I see no reason for his apologies.

Young people, why are you apologizing?

Quick Story Number Two:

Puzzling over all the, “I’m sorry this,” and “I’m sorry that,” reminded me of a reaction I experienced from one of my former students.  This young person was the TOP student in her class.  She was intelligent, bold with her style choices, artistic, and not afraid to try new things.  One day, she showed support for a controversial point of view.  I liked her take on the subject, and I told her so; “That’s an interesting angle I had not considered.  Thanks for sharing.”  She immediately began back tracking; “I’m sorry,” she said, “I shouldn’t be so opinionated.”  Really?

We are all bombarded by political opinions, radical religious views, and hash tag movements.  The media is full of news stories related to poor decisions made by groups and individuals who claim to be acting on these beliefs, but…

What is wrong with having an opinion?

Have an opinion, please!  Have any opinion.  Have a half-baked opinion.  Have an opinion that’s so crazy it has to be high and on drugs.  Try some impossible opinions.  Sometimes, just for kicks, try an old-fashioned opinion.  Change things up and argue for your opponent’s opinion from time to time – strengthen your beliefs; test them out.  Play “Devil’s Advocate” – make it your new hobby.  Back up your opinions and beliefs with facts, or supporting information, and form an educated, informed opinion.

And STOP APOLOGIZING!!!

I think this comes from a fear of making mistakes, or of offending somebody, and I think we need to get over it, so let’s play a game: Let’s pretend you, or I, have the wrong opinion.  Let’s pretend we offend somebody with our very wrong opinion.  Play out the scenario in your mind of expressing your horrendous, misguided opinion to an angry person who becomes so offended by your belief that he/she explodes in a fit of rage.  Let your imagination run wild.  Imagine the worst possible outcome.  What happens? They: storm off, cuss you out, threaten you, tell you where to shove it, and then the world keeps moving on.

Now let’s ask a question: Which is worse? To live a long, safe life of never taking a stand or losing your life fighting for a noble cause?

neutral stance

People with bad/wrong/unjust opinions are not afraid to share them and they don’t care if they offend anyone, so why should you, intelligent, aspiring, ambitious, wonderful you, be afraid to share your beliefs?

There is a lot that is wrong with our world, but I believe we have what it takes to make it a better one.  Do not apologize for your presence or ideals.  Square your shoulders, straighten your back, lift your head, smile, and calmly state your opinion/belief/idea without apologizing.  You cannot break the world by doing so – it is already broken.  Who knows, you might end up fixing it.

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