Friday, September 30, 2011

Walking in Wonderland

I'm believing God to show up and do something big this weekend.  I have to believe that because quite honestly Deanna can't create miracles, she can only surrender to and flow with a mighty God who wants to do them.

I never, ever lose the wonder that anybody shows up to hear anything I have to say.  I mean, it sincerely shocks me. 

You can ask the people at Celebration Church where we pastor.  Every week I thank them for showing up.   I'm like, "Wow!  You're here again!"  I know they are there for Jesus but really they could be going to thousands of other places to worship Jesus but they choose to come to CC.

My favorite thing to do is sit in a room by myself and write to my heart's content.   Well, actually I like to sit with Max silently next to me for hours, writing.  I could be happy just writing, but God has given me additional opportunities.

It never fails that anytime I go anywhere to speak before I get up and actually talk I think to myself, "why in the world am I here?  Are these people crazy?"

When I went to Africa to be the speaker for the national AG women's convention, I actually got saved before I went up on the platform.  You think I'm kidding?  No, I'm serious.  After hearing them pray before the service, I realized they had something I had never experienced.  I wasn't sure if I really knew Jesus anymore.  I prayed a salvation prayer and cried out to God during worship saying, "Dear God, I am a spiritual tinker-tot compared to these women.  P-L-E-A-S-E help me now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I have no clue!!"  I really thought they were going to wonder why in the world I ever came all those thousands of miles away to tell them what they already knew.  I was ready for an epic fail.

Then God showed up.  Like a Holy Ghost bomb going off in the place.  I've made three trips there now, for the same purpose.  I can't wait to go again!

But today I'm in North Carolina.  God loves the women of North Carolina.  He's going to show up and rescue me again today, and in the process, help these ladies.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Up in the air!


That's where I'm at today -- headed to North Carolina for a few days.  I'm the speaker for the NC District of the AG's Women's Breakaway Conference this weekend. 

I'm gonna do it again next weekend too!  (They have two breakaway conferences on either end of the state...isn't that cool?) 

I'll be back for Sunday services each week, getting back in the nick of time.  My schedule is crazy the next two weeks.  I'll be preaching in four different locations the next two weeks, NOT counting our church.

I covet your prayers, for powerful services, and lives changed in these coming days. Pray for my family too, while I'm away.

Everyone always asks me if I get excited to speak at places.  Quite honestly it's hard to be excited until I'm actually on the way there, whether in the car or in a plane.  Until then the wrapping up of loose ends at home, church & coaching plus the warfare is complicated.  No one has any idea what someone goes through simply to say what God tells you to say.

Once I'm on the plane this afternoon I'm gonna be like, "Snap...the Holy Ghost is fixin' to do something BIG!!!"

I'm ready!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The mosaic that is you

Do you ever feel like nobody understands the unique road that you walk?

You're right.  Although some can understand parts of it, they can't understand the totality of it.  They never will because the only two who understand the complexity of the road you walk are God and you.

This is why it's so important to hold to His unchanging hand.

Cling to His ever present help.

Did you ever receive unworkable advice?  I receive it all the time.   

Suddenly yesterday I had an epiphany that the lack of understanding makes perfect sense.  Nobody except for God is privy to the sum total of what makes things so complicated.

You and He are the only ones who comprehend the entire mosaic of your life.  Even those people who may claim, "I know you better than you know yourself" are fooled.  Really.  It's just you and God who are in the know about every single thing that has happened to you since you've been on this earth.

No wonder people feel hopeless and alone when they don't know Him.  They don't even know WHY most times, but this is one of the big reasons  Although friends are necessary and they can help with pieces of your life, no one can speak to the whole thing at once with absolute knowledge and understanding.

Talk to Him today.

I am.

I crave moments exclusively with Him.  He's the only one who understands without explaining, and speaks to the mosaic, being trusted with complete certainty.

The greatest cry of my heart is to be alone with Him, listening for hours on end.  It's in that place that I can believe whatever I hear, and have hope and strength for today and always. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We're fighting over BOWLS

This is what happens every time I'm getting ready to preach somewhere.  My husband and I start to have some very intense moments of fellowship.  ::smiles::   Sometimes it's over big things and sometimes it's over stuff like bowls.

You might want to click this link before you go any further, and come back, just to have a good understanding on what I'm about to say here.  I know many pastors won't admit stuff like this, but Larry and I aren't most pastors and we will tell you right up front that what you see it what you get.  The other night,  Jeff Staudte,  our missionary guest at Celebration said, "This is the most REAL church I've been to in a long, long time!"  Well it starts with the pastors. This is real life, folks. 

Men stereotypically accuse women of being complicated.  We get accused of playing games, not really saying what we mean, saying one thing and meaning another, yada yada yada.

I often tell my husband how blessed I think he is because if I'm the opposite of anything it's vague.  He NEVER has to wonder what I'm thinking.  I don't play games.  The downside of this is, I do have the tendency to be too demanding.  For 25 years I have told him what's important to me with absolutely no complication involved.  The problem comes in when I articulate that clearly and we are diametrically opposed.  Saying exactly what you mean or what you want in the clearest fashion possible doesn't matter if two people don't agree on something.

Today we got in a fight about bowls.  And bless God, we were both holding our ground, not giving an inch! 

Yeah, seriously.  We're fighting about bowls.  We're fighting about it like our lives depend on it.  In my opinion, they do.  But I'll get to that in a minute...

 I'm not surprised at this sudden argument.  We are experiencing an amazing breakthrough at Celebration Church.  We just had our biggest Sunday EVER.  And,  I'm getting ready to travel and preach in four locations the next two weeks and that doesn't count our church!  I know God is getting ready to do big things in all these places.  Whenever something big is getting ready to happen spiritually, Larry and I argue more.  It's a spiritual warfare thing. 

He came home from the office today and announced to me that he had to go out and get some things to make a repair here at the house and then quickly and nonchalantly added, "I'm also getting some plastic bowls."

[gasp]

He knows how I feel about this.  He's been married to me for almost 25 years so he knows his calm little announcement about the bowls was a warning to me about what he was about to do.  Bowls, arsenic, to me it's all the same.

I hate plastic.  I never use it in eating or drinking unless I'm at somebody else's house or event where I absolutely HAVE to.  I don't complain if I'm somewhere else.  (Obviously I've been to third world countries to minister and eaten in slums let alone off of plastic.)  But when I'm home I have a choice.  I have all glass stuff in my office and home, except for what Larry sneaks in.  Some people are hoping their husband won't sneak porn or beer, I'm praying against plastic. In particular I don't want plastic anything going in the microwave, for this reason.    It's been scientifically proven to be dangerous, unless it's the specially treated kind of plastic that's not.  I am always harping on the kids about not leaving plastic water bottles in the car and then drinking from them again.  Really, it's not good for you.

Larry says he just gets the bowls for cereal, which is cold.  I understand his point, and the truth is, that's not all they are used for.  The kids use them in the microwave, especially when we aren't around and there are no clean glass bowls and they don't feel like washing them.  Kids can be lazy that way, even my three darlings.  They leave the dirty glass bowls in the sink and  grab a plastic one from the cupboard and stick it in the microwave.  They do this the same way they refuse to use their sunscreen when they are away at camp for a week and we aren't watching them.  They always come home with sunburn and I get upset.  The first thing I say is, "Tell me the amazing things God did in your life this week!"  The second thing I say after hearing the spiritual report is, "Why didn't you listen to me about the sunscreen?"  I know if these are the worst things my kids do, I'm in great shape!  Most people are praying their kids stay off of drugs.  Meanwhile I'm praying mine don't use plastic bowls or go out in the sun without protection.

Stop laughing.

I care about the health of my family.  

So I don't want plastic stuff in the house where they can eat off of it, period.

Larry seems focused on getting these plastic bowls. No, he's not doing this just to assert his manhood.  As much as I hate plastic, he seems to love it.  I notice that when we're out somewhere most times he will actually CHOOSE a plastic cup to drink from.   Maybe he's trying to commit suicide? (Have I been that demanding?)  

I expressed exactly how I feel about this - but he still seems to think we need plastic bowls because they won't break.  And glass things have a tendency to break.   A lot of our glass bowls have broken.  He's right about that.  He is tired of things breaking.  I understand.  No problem, I'll gladly clean it up myself if it's saving lives.

So when he boldly declared his intentions to purchase these plastic bowls come heck or high water, I said, "Whatever Larry!  Get your plastic bowls but the moment I see the kids put one in the microwave or you pull one out when we have guests here, I don't know if I'll be able to control myself.  Postal-Deanna will be in full mode at the moment I see one of these with a residue of oatmeal or chili or after one of your nights where you have the guys over for football!!!"

[Larry rolls his eyes and shakes his head and walks out to go to the store.  I think he might be convinced he is married to a psycho or at least someone who is really hormonally challenged.  Maybe he is.  Whatever, at least I'm an honest hormonally challenged psycho.]

He may be right but one thing I know is, when we're fighting over BOWLS... bowls for God's sake, I know the Holy Ghost is getting ready to bowl somebody over big time when I preach in North Carolina this weekend.

Hold on to your seats!


p.s.  Larry just came  home from the store.  With six bowls.  All glass.  Thank you Jesus!!!!!!!

Thanks too babe, for considering my words and my desires once you got to the store.  I love you and I'm so glad you're going to live longer.  You're my world.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I hate this dumb question


I read an article today that frustrated me.  Perhaps I was so disappointed because I've read so many like it, and feel even more pressure when I receive what I view as unworkable advice.  The article was about time management, scheduling and stress.  The basic premise of this article was the question: "What if you knew you only had six months to live?  How would that impact your daily decisions on what to do or not do?"  The article went on to advise that however you would live if you only had six months should be how you are living right now.  

Although I'm all for asking people powerful questions, I don't believe this question always works in the real world.

If I only had six months to live, I'd stop flossing my teeth.  Right now.  I'd never do it again.

If I only had six months to live, I'd forget about having my mammogram this year.

Forget the pap smear too.

See what I mean?  It's a bad idea to just stop doing everything you would never do again if you only had six months to live. 

Another thing is that people treat you differently when they know you've only got six months to live.

People who have been given a supposed around-the-corner-expiration-date that everyone knows about get a free pass on a lot of stuff.   Or, they have people suddenly rise up to help who would honestly never help unless they were dying.  People do whatever needs to be done to help dying people because they're...DYING!  Like dying now, not dying later.

If anything tragic happens, or even really serious happens to you NOW, you get exceptions made for you.  Otherwise, not so much.

Whenever I have a job seeker who has an open heart surgery, or their spouse just suddenly dies or something equally serious/tragic, the company makes an exception for them.  The powers that be alter anything from the date they can engage our services to the length of time they can receive coaching, and often make special accommodations for people who have these issues.  However, if somebody was just having an overwhelming week, no special favor would be granted.

I agree with my company's policies on this completely. They are very generous.   I am simply using this to prove a point.  The point is that let's say someone was having an overwhelming week however they had no operation, no heart attack, no major family crisis -- and they just started to act like they only had six months to live.  Who wants to meet with a job coach when you can go skip in the sunshine?   So, what if, instead of meeting with me, they didn't show up to their meetings and went to go skip in the sunshine?   The fact of the matter is, there would be no special favor granted to them.  If I said to my boss, "Job Seeker Johnny went to skip in the sunshine because he didn't feel like coming to his meetings the past nine weeks.  His time is set to expire this week.  Can you extend it?" you would hear my boss's laughter from here to Japan.  Johnny would lose his coaching package completely and no special arrangements would be made for him.

If I decided to not do the things I just don't want to do today, I would face whatever penalties we all face in life for not doing them under what people consider "normal circumstances."

Life might actually start to get worse, not better.

I am not sure if this resonates with anyone else but me.  It probably will make sense to Kimberly Jones.  We have the same Meyer Briggs personality type (the rarest type) and often feel alone.  If nothing else she and I can go cry on one another's shoulders when we are feeling stressed but not enough that we're going to die momentarily, thus escaping the free pass given to those who are dying.

I'm dying sometime...I just don't know when.

Does that count?

I don't think it does.  When I wake up tomorrow, I'll still be doing the same stuff, some of which is very difficult.

The author went on to say that we shouldn't spend any time doing things that aren't our passion.  She said, "get rid of everything you have zero passion for!"

Cleaning in any way shape and form is not my passion.
Answering the phone is not my passion.
Social gatherings are not my passion.

You can start to see, my life may turn into a disaster if I just decide to altogether stop doing things that aren't my passion.

I'm really starting to abhor wisdom that is so freely dispensed along these lines, because it just feels so impossible, at least without repercussions that might be worse than the original problem.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Til' the blessed end!

Ever heard people say, "they stayed until the bitter end?"  At Celebration we don't have people who stay until the bitter end, they stayed until the blessed end!

I would estimate that the attendance for our Fall Connection today was about double what we normally have on a Sunday morning.  There was a buzz on the entire church campus.  Kidzone surpassed their next attendance goal and not only did Miss Michele get a pie in the face, but the kids got the "largest ice cream sundae EVER!  It was a huge ice cream sundae made in a (clean) gutter and all the kids got to line up and eat it.     

Although it rained outside everyone hung in there with us and just went with it.  It didn't seem to phase anybody that it was raining.  As long as there wasn't thunder and lightening, the kids went on the 18 ft. water slide and jumped in the two bounce houses. 

A very special group of people so dear to my heart stayed til' the very end -- the blessed end - and helped clean up.  Pastor Adam enjoyed himself on the water slide and had it all to himself after the kids were gone.  (See photo above.)

The greatest joys come at the end of the day when the work is done and you look back on the memories that are now treasured.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stop wasting time chasing the vacuum cleaner


Yesterday I was vacuuming the house.  As usual Max was trying to eat the vacuum cleaner while I did.

I have no idea why he does that.  He sees that the vacuum is powerless all by itself and does nothing until I plug it in and start to use it, but as soon as I turn it on he goes postal.

He chases after it as I go around the room, trying to get his mouth around it anywhere he can to bite it.  He never accomplishes it because I vacuum too fast.  I would put him in his kennel while I vacuum but I'm a little particular about my dogs never going into their kennel unless they absolutely have to.  [The only time I make them go in there is to sleep for the night, and then anytime I'm gone and none of the kids are home.  If any of the kids are home I want the dogs to be out.]

Max is convinced there's something going on with the vacuum cleaner.  There's some reason he feels the need to chase it although the vacuum is neither aware of Max nor doing anything to harm him.  The vacuum cleaner could care less about Max.

How many things or people do we chase in life or even try to "go after" that are neither aware of us, nor trying to harm us?

Don't laugh at Max for chasing the vacuum.  I'm sure you've chased a lot of them too, just in different forms.

We waste a lot of time.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A huge key to getting what you need

We all need help from somebody at some time.  When we need help, it's obviously important to us, and we want the best care we can receive.   So then why don't we all receive what we desire?

A lot of it has to do with timing.  Being both a pastor and a coach, working in the church world and the business world at the same time I realize most people in this world have little regard for timing.  


I do not refer to extremes, like, "call me in 2014 and I'll see what I can do for you..."

There's a big difference between 2014 and next Tuesday.

I'm also not referring to emergencies.  Obviously in a crisis, you need help NOW, not next Tuesday.  The one caveat here is that a lot of people don't realize the true definition of emergency.  I once had a lady call me about her marriage problems, during an important family celebration we were having.  I told her I couldn't help her right then - we were in the midst of a family occasion.  I offered to return her call the next day.  She said, "but this is an emergency."  I said, "How long have you had these marriage problems?"  She said, "Since 1975."

Seriously, I don't make this stuff up.

I recently had a client ignore me for two whole weeks when I tried to set an appointment with her.  Then at 4 pm on Thursday she suddenly said, "can you meet with me now?"  No.  No I could not.  I had been trying to reach her for two weeks and it was like trying to nail jello to a wall.  Now she wanted me to drop everything?   I had appointments scheduled through Thursday night, and Friday is my sacred day.  I did offer to meet her on the weekend, but most clients want their weekends off too. 

Then I recently got a call from a missionary, at home.  They called the church on a Friday morning, got the machine, so they immediately just switched gears and called my home number.  Here's how the conversation went:

Me: [caught off guard] "Oh..... this happens to be my sacred day off so I'm at home.  Did you try leaving a message at the church for me to return your call on Monday?" 

Them:  "I got the machine but no, I didn't leave a message  I figured that this may be your day off so I got your home phone number out of the district book and called you.  I have 300 calls to make today and I didn't want to wait to get this call done and cross it off my list.  Calling you at home was easier for me."

Then they went on to give me a 15 minute spiel about what they needed.  It was no emergency, just an update on their current project.  While listening to this spiel I kept doing what I was doing before they called.  I fed my dogs, took them out to potty, washed my hands, got a fresh cup of tea, took out the trash, wiped down the countertops in my kitchen, etc.  It was easy to do because I wasn't the one talking for 15 straight minutes, all that was required was listening.  They never came up for air. When they were done their spiel they said, "So, what do you think?"

Me:  "Well to be honest my brain is not engaged in matters like this today.  This is my day to decompress, a day to focus on things in my home, not a day to make decisions like this one.  I'll consider this on Monday and get back to you."

Them:  "Oh..............................um......................mmmkay.  Well, like I said I have so many calls to make I just didn't want to have to wait."

What's more important?  Not having to wait or getting the help you need?

Just a tip - when you are wanting help from anybody and specifically of the professional kind - be careful of the timing.  Even in my relationship with my husband, the most intimate person in my life, I'm very careful about the timing with which I approach him about something.  If I know he's tired, stressed, pre-occupied, I wait to ask him something.  If it's something I'm wanting to talk about concerning the church I never bring it up on a Friday.  The timing of my approaching something greatly impacts the outcome of what we discuss.

When I do call someone, I always say, "is this a good time?"  If not I totally respect that and say, "when would a good time be, for you?"

Right now I'm in need of help from someone professionally and they've been so gracious to give it.  They are giving me their time gratis, just out of the kindness of their heart.  They are giving me far beyond what I dreamed and quite frankly more than I deserve.  I deserve nothing, really.  But they are investing in me.  One of the reasons I'm convinced I'm receiving so much from them is because:

1)  Each time they spend time with me, I let them know often how grateful I am.  (I really am!)
2)  I am respectful of their schedule.

These are two great principles to live by with anyone.  And I'm convinced it's just one reason I'm getting so much.  That, and the grace of God.

Try it.  You might be surprised at how much watching the timing of things affects your outcomes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What's the biggest hindrance to you growing?

PRIDE.

How do I know this?  Because it's the biggest hindrance to my personal growth too, of course.

Your biggest hindrance is not your schedule, your husband, your wife, your kids, your lack of money, your boss, your pastor, your extended family, your skills or lack thereof.

The biggest hindrance to anyone's growth is pride.

Pride says, "I know that already."
Humility says, "Even if I know it already, it's always good to be reminded again."

Humility never minds reminders.
Pride chafes against reminders and thinks, "what do they think I am?  A novice?  Stupid?  Clueless?"

I always know when I'm working with someone in the church  or coaching someone outside the church who is simply not ready for my investment into their life.  When I try to teach them something they quickly pipe up and say things like, "Yeah, I know."
"I already know that."
"I've been told that before."
"This is old news to me."


Usually with such a person I know nothing I say or do is going to make any difference until they drop their pride.

Do I ever have someone invest in my life who tells me something I already heard before?  Of course.  What is my thought on that when it's happening?  "God must want me to hear this again for some reason.  Thank you Lord, for this reminder, and thank you for putting the person in my life who is taking time to invest in me."

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."  Proverbs 16:18

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

3 Ways to Evaluate Yourself to the Next Level

Evaluation is not always easy but it's always profitable if our heart is open.  Yesterday I promised to share some things I do to get the right kind of feedback to bring improvement in preaching.  Here are three things I do:

Evaluate Myself
Without a doubt I'm my own toughest evaluator.   Back when I started 25 years ago I would listen to  obsess over cassette tapes of my preaching every time.   (Yeah, remember cassette tapes?  I remember 8 tracks too, although we didn't have them as sermon tapes.  Classic!!)  Then CD's came into existence and I started evaluating those, and now I review the messages online when our sound person e-mails them to me.

I will often put a message on my iPod and listen to it later while I walk or exercise.  I think, "let me detach and pretend I don't know myself and am listening to a stranger.  What would my first impression be of this person talking?  Would I be inclined to keep listening?  To open my heart to what she's saying?  Does this lady keep me engaged?"

One of the first things I do is listen for obvious bad habits.  I think, "what about this woman's preaching distracts me?"  I used to say, "you know" all the time.  For example, I'd say something like, "God wants to change your life, you know?" but I'd say it way too much and more of a nervous habit than a statement of fact.   I worked relentlessly to get rid of the "you knows".  I also worked hard to get rid of the "and...um's".  That took a while in fact I'm still getting rid of every single one of them.  Sometimes one still slips in.

I usually listen to a message recording more than once.  I also evaluate it for passion, flow, response, etc.  I make note of what might be changed the next time around, not necessarily in preaching the message but just in the structure of preparing one for effectiveness.   

Ask Family/Friends
I always ask my husband what he thinks.  Nobody knows me better and he always gives me an honest evaluation.  I know when he tells me that I've hit it out of the park, it's probably true, because he's told me plenty of times that I haven't!  I know I can trust his judgment. 

I also had doubts that I was catching all of the bad habits myself or by asking Larry so I asked friends who listen to me preach every week, "what do I say all the time, good or bad?"  They were more than happy to repeat back to me stuff that I do.  Everyone had a great laugh over it -- myself included.  It's important to be able to laugh at yourself.  I believe this is one of the greatest keys to emotional and leadership health.  Don't be wrapped so tight that you can't laugh at your mistakes.  


Listening to CD's will not give you a complete evaluation because the visual is missing.  If you have video that's even better to evaluate or ask friends about physical traits you have that may be hindering you as well.  If my hair is not styled a certain way I end up pushing it out of my eyes all the time.  I either make sure it's styled/sprayed right or I don't touch it no matter how irritating it is.  A lot of speakers also do repeated things such as adjust their jacket, or other "nervous gestures."  When wearing a jacket I used to do that but have trained myself not to now.  It's all about being aware and re-programming.  Why are you doing this intense evaluation?  Is this all about showmanship or entertainment?  No. Not at all.  You are eliminating distraction so nothing gets in the way of what God wants to do.  You don't want anything to hinder your message and want what you are saying to come through loud and clear and not have people focused on whatever you're adjusting.  Do you want people to remember that God wants them to bring their pain to Him and be healed, or do you want them to remember that you pulled on your bra strap that kept crawling down your arm because it was too loose?  

Consider Enemies
Some of my greatest growth came through the challenge of an enemy.  I didn't set her up as my enemy but she unfortunately wanted me as one.  She was a lady I formerly pastored and had issue with most everything I did.  This was primarily because she wanted the position I held, and what manifested most of the time from her was criticism.  It was searing and it hurt.  I had to become a secure enough leader to look beyond the hurt and use the opportunity to grow.

One thing she constantly criticized was my preaching.  Was all of what she said true?  No, but I've learned there's usually a shred of truth in every lie.  I chose to look for the shred and learn.  Through doing that I got sharper, and can pinpoint strategic times when I went to the next level back then, pushing harder to improve admist all that this lady would say.  At times it was simply in an effort to prove her wrong.  What I realized in the end was that for whatever reason, I did move forward.  She was "God's sandpaper" in my life, for sure.   I could have been bitter, or chosen better.  I chose better.

God will use your enemies to propel you to the next level.  "You prepare a table for me, in the presence of my enemies." Psalm 23:5

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why most preachers never significantly improve

I'm about to step into a controversial minefield.  I know that.  It happens.  It's why my husband has called me, "Sassy" for 25 years.  I tend to dare to say things that nobody else will verbalize which is why I keep getting invitations to teach about sex.   Don't worry, I'm not going to talk about sex in this post.  I'm kind of tired of talking about sex, at least this morning.  ::smiles::

How many preachers do you know who are basically the same this year as they were last year?  I know most people are better than the first time they preached.  That would pretty much be everybody.  But this post is about significant improvement and reaching your full potential -- not just a little tweaking here and there or the fact that less people are going to sleep when you preach.

I'm just going to cut to the chase and say that most male preachers never improve much because the person they trust most has lied to them.  And they are perfectly content to let them lie because truth-telling in this case would require two things:  discomfort and hard work.

In "pastors' wives school" (a combination of input from older PW's, seminars, retreats, etc.) you are taught to never criticize your husband, to always build him up, to tell him, "you did amazing!" no matter how the sermon went.  At the last pastors' wives retreat I attended, the keynote speaker said, "Ladies, don't ever criticize your husband's sermon. No matter how he did, you say, 'YOU DID GREAT, BABY!' when you get in the car.  You'd better believe, if he did bomb, somebody else in the church is going to tell him anyway, so he's going to hear it.  But he doesn't need to hear it from YOU." 

The problem with that is first of all, you're lying.

Second, when the person in the church gives him the feedback on the sermon, he won't believe it, because the person he trusts more than anyone in his life has just told him otherwise.  So he now thinks this person in the church is a "problem person", someone negative whose feedback should be disregarded.   He will probably start avoiding that person because to hear what they have to say brings discomfort.  In reality that person just might be someone who helps him get to the next level.

Just to be clear, I am never an advocate of destructive criticism in any fashion.  Certainly I believe it's important to encourage, support and build up my husband.  I am also a believer in constructive feedback.  And powerful, constructive feedback is something that is sorely missing for most preachers, especially from the sources where they would trust it most.  Because those sources have been trained to keep quiet about their deficiencies and tell them how wonderful they are all the time.

Why, I'm not sure. I'm not sure how this got started in ministry because we don't advocate it any other sphere of life.  If our children are on a little league team and they keep striking out or losing games we don't just say, "you did great baby!" and give them no tools to improve.  No, we go out in the yard with them and we practice catching and hitting, and we work with them to help them improve.  Of course there are bad parents who tear down their self worth by handling it the wrong way, but good parents jump in and give constructive feedback and help their child.

When it comes to male preachers, we have been trained to just tell them how great they are, and amazingly pastors' wives are even cautioned that their ego demands it!  As if this is a God-thing that they were "made this way" instead of questioning instead whether a man should submit his ego to the Lord.  Just an idea.

Now, here I am talking about man-preachers, and you might think, "whoa, whoa, whoa, do you not think that women preachers have issues?"  Oh my, do they ever.  I am one.  So I know.

The problem in women preachers not improving is that everyone is so in awe that you are showing up to play the game, that they don't comment on how you actually played it.  They think you've a novelty of sorts.

I hear it again and again:

"Wow, you're a woman preacher.  That's different!"
"Kudos to you."
"Wow, you've got guts."
"You don't see too many lady preachers..."

Most people would never give me constructive feedback unless I asked them to.  They are either in the camp that doesn't believe in women preachers and would tune out or even walk out when I speak, or if they are in agreement with the concept they are just surprised they are hearing me as opposed to a man.

This is why women preachers get away with sharing little of the Word at times or really preaching anything meaty and they get up and tell jokes about menopause, or banter about the difference between men and women (sometimes even male bash), or read poems about being a mom, and everyone just goes, "oh, isn't she great?"

Yeah.

I believe there are different reasons men or women preachers rarely make significant improvement but it all boils down to one thing:  most people are trained to lie to them, and it's even spiritualized when we do that it's ultimately for the glory of God because preachers will be encouraged and keep going.  Did you ever think that maybe we're not meant to keep going...at least, the way we are?  

I'm not content to just tell poems or jokes, or be told how great I am when I know deep inside that I have a long way to go to reach the potential that God has for me.  I'm never going to reach that potential if I keep doing the exact same thing I'm doing.  But how will I know what to do different unless I closely examine what I'm doing now?   How will I go to the next level unless I ask other trusted people to give me an honest evaluation of what I might do differently next time to reach greater effectiveness?

All that's standing in the way is pride.

Once I get that out of the way, anything is possible.

Tomorrow I'm going to share about how I go about getting the right kind of feedback, to make personal improvements.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Who wants to speak and transform the world?


One of my goals is to communicate a life changing word to people every week.  I am one of those rare women who preaches every week and most times more  than once a week.  I have a lot of opportunities to practice but by far my most important experience isn’t actually in the pulpit.

My most important tool of growth in communication happens afterwards, and that is in evaluation.  I have come to believe that the reason most speakers never move forward is because they simply don’t honestly evaluate.  The vast majority of people are scared of evaluation and their fear keeps them from ever moving from where they are to where they want to be.

I’ve been mercilessly evaluating every single message for 25 years.  My messages aren’t just evaluated by me – I always request other people’s brutally honest evaluations.  There’s a difference between evaluations and accolades.  The majority of speakers I know request accolades because their insecurity or ego needs it.  This makes you feel good for about five minutes but does nothing to help you long term. 

Most preachers ask people, “Hey, how do you think it went?” or “How did I do?”  This usually elicits responses like, “Awesome!  You rocked it!”  even if you totally blew it.  Just sayin’.  Most people will never tell you the truth unless you ask strategic questions.  Powerful questions are designed to elicit a response that will help you move forward, not just keep you where you are. 
       
How badly DO you really want the next level?

More on this tomorrow.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I want you to burn


I'm burning.

I hope you are too.

The world needs you to BURN.

"If you catch on fire, people will come to watch you burn."  ~ John Wesley

Saturday, September 17, 2011

True Church Stories #38

This true story in the "True Church Stories" series comes from the Experience Conference this past weekend.  In addition to being privileged to share in the opening general session Friday morning I also was asked to teach a workshop on both Friday and Saturday afternoon entitled, "Hot and Holy Matrimony." Both times this workshop was packed, and this afternoon we even had people sitting on the floor so many had interest in this topic.  I'm just setting the tone for you here that a lot of people evidently have interest in "Hot and Holy Matrimony"!!  ::smiles::

To further set the stage, I was rolling full steam ahead in teaching, and due to the volume of material I had to present, we had no time for a question/answer session.  If someone said something during this particular session, it would be classified as an interruption.  Some who were actually in the session later referred to the interruption as "heckling" but I'll let you decide.

I was in the midst of teaching about the importance of developing a deep friendship in marriage - characterized by mutual respect.  I spoke of both husband and wife accepting and even celebrating one another's differences. I went on to give illustration of how my husband and I have learned this in our marriage, through many ups and downs over the last 25 years.  I said, "Larry and I have discovered our marriage doesn't work without mutual respect as an essential ingredient.  All of a sudden a man sitting on the back row, someone I'd describe as a "big 'ol country boy" piped up and said, "Yeah, but who wears the pants in your marriage?"  

I simply answered, "My husband actually prefers it when neither of us wears any pants."

He never said another word the rest of the time.

And yes, everyone else in the room laughed hysterically.

Judging by how many district officers who shall not be named came to me afterward to tell me word had gotten to them of my comment and found it hysterical...I don't think my credentials are in jeopardy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pursue Your Potential: CONNECT

It's the end of the day and I'm just getting around to blogging.  I have been going at warp speed all day.  My day began by speaking for the general session of our district's "Experience" Conference.  I was given the assignment of speaking on the topic of "Experiencing Our Potential to Connect."  I was honored and very excited to speak on this particular topic as it's one of the things I'm passionate about.

With the way communication potential has exploded across the world, we all have the ability to speak into people's lives, and with people at any given moment We are only limited by our own issues of inconvenience, and the decision to connect, or not, is ours.

People are showing up 24/7 these days.  It's up to us to decide if we'll meet them where they're at and join the conversation.  I believe it's not only important for us to "speak into people's lives" but to actually JOIN A CONVERSATION.

A lot of people that we're ministering to these days want and need ministry before they ever step foot in the doors of the church.  I Corinthians 9:22,23 says, "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I might share in it's blessings."   

Will we become all things, or will we insist on our traditional means of connection?  That is the question.

I greatly enjoyed bringing this message at Experience today and it was really well received.

In the afternoon, I presented a workshop as well that was requested of me, "Hot and Holy Matrimony."   I'll be presenting it tomorrow as well.  The funniest thing ever happened in this marriage workshop today and I will share it as one of the "True Church Stories" on the blog in the next few days.  Trust me folks, this is one you don't want to miss.  



Thursday, September 15, 2011

True Church Stories #37

I've omitted all names in this post for anyone who might want to remain anonymous.

Last night the topic for our Fusion service at Celebration was Toxic Health and what the Bible says about it.  (Yes, God does give us clear direction in His Word to be good stewards of our bodies.)  After I taught on the subject we divided into groups to discuss/pray about it.  I usually visit a different fusion group every week.  The group I visited this week never disappoints - they have fantastic discussion and lots of fun.

One lady shared with the group that she has insomnia and her health is really affected by it.  She doesn't know what to do about it.  A man in the group says, "I'll tell you how to solve it!  You need to spoon with your husband!"

"What's that?" she said.

And with a surprised reaction he said, "spooning?  You don't know what spooning is?"

[insert lots of laughter here from the fusion group]

And she shyly says, "No, I don't know what it is..."

So he says, "Here I'll show you..." and says to his wife of like 35 years, "Honey, come over here and let's show her..."

And right there in the circle the two of them get in "position" to show this other lady what spooning is.

HYSTERICAL!

I laughed so hard I cried.

And I laughed some more.

I didn't even try to hide my amusement with this, I thought it was the funniest thing ever.

And then the group leader says, "this discussion is getting out of control so let's close in prayer.

And then the person she picked to close in prayer begins his prayer by saying, "Father God, help us to get a grip..." and  the group further dissolves into a pile of laughter.  He didn't mean the prayer in a funny way but it just came out that way.

Needless to say by the time I left the fusion group my stomach was hurting from laughing so hard and actually it felt great!   I love times with God's people where you never know what to expect.  I love the times of laughing til' we cry together.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

When you're frustrated because everything's not "perfect"...

One of my favorite songs is Sara Evans, "Perfect".  The lyrics speak to the fact that everything in a relationship doesn't have to be "perfect" ~ dinners by candlelight, trips to Paris, lingerie, for a relationship to be great.  Thank God for THAT!  Cause' every day of my marriage doesn't consist of those things, only sometimes.  Today Larry and I didn't have a dinner by candlelight, we had a cuban sandwich lunch out of a paper bag.

Last night after our women's connection night at Celebration I needed a place to take our guest speaker, Tammy Young, for dinner.  Karen, a friend of Tammy's, was assisting her on this trip, and we were also joined by my husband.  We dined at a place called Taco Bus. We've been hearing rave reviews of the Taco Bus from our presbyter, Mike Tedder and his youth pastors, Mark and Allison Goss-Lara.  They talk about Taco Bus alllll the time.  How much they love the tacos, the tamales, and more.  Mark informed us that they are open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day and whether you go at 3 pm, or 3 am, there's ALWAYS a line.


I needed to find somewhere that was open late.  I knew although I hadn't tried Taco Bus before even if it was horrible Tammy wouldn't  hold it against me, good friend that she is.  Well, not only did she LOOOOoooooooove Taco Bus, but she says she's going to make some trips to Tampa to bring some people.  It was a hit!

 Taco Bus is a true experience.  You DO feel like you're literally in Mexico, and you DO eat out of a bus.  Best of all for Larry & I watching our weight, they do NOT fry their tacos and we figured them up to be 150 calories a piece. 

I realized something last night and that is if you have great food you can even serve it out of a bus and people will come.  How many times have I thought everything in the church needed to be "perfect" for people to come?  There are Sundays I cringe because certain facilities things are out of place.  While I'm not minimizing the wisdom of those things being fixed, the fact is, if there is great spiritual food, people will come.

Let this be an encouragement to all of you leaders who, like me, sometimes want to scream about your facilities problems.  People want great food.  They don't always have to eat it by crystal and candelight.  In fact sometimes I've gone to an expensive place and gotten a small tasteless meal.

Great food matters a great deal.  So serve it up, even if one of your ceiling tiles is fixin' to fall down. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

3 Simple Ways to Stand Out

1)  Answer your mail.  

Give a response to everything that's in your inbox, within 24 hours.

There's a huge connection between those who are most successful/effective in life and how prompt they are with responding.  My friend Sue Duffield is a well known gospel music artist, speaker and minister in her own right and a phenomenal leader who moves in both the church and the marketplace.  Sue says this:  "The higher you go in leadership, the more in touch you (should) become with those around you. I get quicker e-mail replies from CEO's than I do from some in church leadership. It's time to learn from the business community - where connection is vital for life."  

I believe the one exception to this would be one's day off.  A sabbath, even from mail is wisdom.


2)  Respond to voicemails.


Set a certain amount of time per day that you're going to return calls and then do it.  Returning a call doesn't have to be lengthy.  I do realize that learning to return calls and not allow people to take undue time takes skill.  That's a skill that has taken a lot of learning for me.  I feared upsettting people if I let them know my time is limited and I resisted telling them exactly how much time I had for a call.  I've learned that in life we teach people how to treat us.  Letting them know our "phone call boundaries" is a part of that.  When people call and say, "do you have a minute?" I might say, "Actually I have ten to talk right now.  I have a hard stop at 11:30 for a meeting.  What's up?"  I find they stay within the boundary.  If I return a call I start by saying something like, "Hello Jane.  I have ten minutes before I go into my next meeting, but wanted to return your call..."  Letting people know up front what your boundaries are makes a difference.  One time I had a client very angry with me for cutting him off for a hard stop because I needed to get to another meeting.  Weeks later he said to me, "you know I just have to say, I was really upset a few weeks ago when you couldn't stay on the line with me because you had to talk with someone else.  But then I realized that you are on time for literally every one of our meetings.  The same priority you give to me in being on time, you gave to that person but I just couldn't see it that day.  He went on to say he's known few people as prompt as me in his business dealings, and thanked me for it.  That brings me to my next point...

3)  Be prompt and reward promptness.

It's not rocket science -- if you're on time you get more done.  Build time into your schedule to arrive at a meeting a few minutes early.  (This ensures if factors like traffic, etc. are an issue you'll still get there on time.)  As a leader I reward people who are on time by starting on time.  People who are punctual get frustrated when they show up on time and then sit there for 20 minutes while the leader waits for all the latecomers to get started.  This is why I start the church service on time, even if half the people aren't there.  Latecomers will complain that they missed the praise and worship but I let it be their problem -- because it is. 


I've learned that prompt people are usually leaders or leadership material.  I'd rather reward leaders or up and coming leaders and disappoint followers than reward followers and disappoint leaders or those who are about to become one.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I peek

Sorry, I just can't help it.

I peek every time.  I'm thinking maybe other pastors' wives do the same thing.  Matter of fact I'm thinking they have to.   You might even do it if you're not a pastor's wife.

Peeking when the altar call is going on.

Yep, I do it every week.  Most times I don't even hide the fact that I'm peeking, I just do it.  I think it's something that most people give the pastors' wife a pass on.

I want to see whose life is being changed, and I wanna see it as it's happening!  Cuz' this is what I live for.

I peeked yesterday.  Five people responded.

It was glorious.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Reasons Why My Dog Max is an Ideal Church Member


1)  Max loves being in the house.  He wouldn't have it any other way.  In his eyes, better is one day in our house than a thousand elsewhere.  When we are out on a walk and he sees our house, he immediately gets excited and starts walking, sometimes even running faster to get there.  

2)  I am very careful to make sure Max is fed daily.  He never comes up to me and complains, "Hey, I'm not being fed."  Max is grateful and lives a life of thanksgiving.

3)  Max has mastered the Apostle Paul's biblical admonition about contentment.  He likes his food to be mixed with yogurt everyday but even if it's not he's happy to eat it dry.  He never barks, "Hey! You forgot to get yogurt!!!"  

4)  Max has so much joy, everyday.  He rejoices when he wakes up, and again and again, he says, "rejoice".  Every time somebody walks in the door he rejoices.  When he eats he rejoices.  When he sleeps, he rejoices.  When you snuggle with him, he rejoices.  If you go out to the mailbox and come back in, he acts like you just came in for the first time and rejoices all over again.

5)  Max isn't going through a transition, getting married, taking a job across the country or entering a new season that won't include me. Max is very stable and dependable.  You can count on him

6)  Max just loves to be together.  He's all about community.  He doesn't have unrealistic expectations.  Just sitting next to me while I work or laying down to take a nap or watch a movie is Max's idea of heaven.  He doesn't push me any further for extra bells and whistles...he just loves fellowshipping.

7)  Max is a connector.  He doesn't complain that no one is coming up to him.  He takes the first initiative and says, "Hey, I'm here!"  Max lets everyone know he's on the scene and shows himself friendly.  If someone doesn't reciprocate he doesn't put his tail between his legs and walk away.  He simply goes and finds the next person to introduce himself to.

8)  Max is very caring.  He knows how to bear other people's burdens.  If someone is upset -- crying, yelling or depressed he walks over to see what's wrong.  He will lick your hand or face until you let him know you are really okay.  I don't recommend for Christians to lick others until they tell them they are fine, however for Max, it works.

9)  Max is a very peaceful dog.  He's never been in a fight.   

10)  Max has pure motivations.  There really isn't a manipulative, ill motivated bone in him.  There is no hidden agenda with Max -- he is who he is - and everyone around him clearly sees that.  What you see is what you get, and what you get is pure love.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What I've learned about leading leaders better

I've learned to ...

Listen ~ Value ~ Include ~ Appreciate

These things are more important than most people realize.

I've learned that most any difference or storm can be navigated successfully by doing these four things with those I lead.

I've learned about the importance of getting the right person in the right place.  A lot of frustration has come for me when I've simply misplaced a leader.  It really isn't their fault that they aren't producing if they are in the wrong spot.

I've learned how important it is to consider people for leadership even when and perhaps especially when we are really different people.  Yesterday I had a great conversation with my husband about a few people on our team that I'm so different from in world views on different things yet in ministry we mesh together like mashed potatoes and gravy!  A beautiful combination. 

I've learned how respect for one another despite our differing viewpoints is so important at the end of the day.  

I've learned how important it is to work on any insecurities I may have.  Nothing threatens my ability to lead as much as insecurity.  How can I fully release someone if I am insecure? And how can I grow as a person or as a leader if I am insecure?

Once somebody is in the right spot - release them to flourish.

Realize, the more they flourish the better it is for the both of us.

Something Rick Warren said sums it up for me:  "All of us are smarter than one of us."

Friday, September 09, 2011

The difference between leading a follower and leading a leader

Yesterday I began to write about the difference between leading leaders and leading followers.  I said I'd rather lead a leader any day than lead a follower.  Before you finish reading this post you might want to lay a foundation for today's post by going back and reading yesterday's post if you haven't already.

On our Celebration Church leadership team we have everybody from an engineer to a director of Human Resources, to a few medical researchers, to several teachers serving with us.  In fact, I lead our worship team at the church and both the local public high school and the middle school choral directors are on the team!  We have 32 people currently on our top leadership team at Celebration and most every one of them are leaders outside the church, many of them at the highest levels of their company.  I am not only very comfortable with this -- I prefer it.  I don't just want to be surrounded by a bunch of followers because quite truthfully, followers don't have what it takes to get you to the next level.  It takes LEADERSHIP to get to the next level and on any successful team that takes more than just the point person.

Is it more challenging to lead people who are strong leaders in their own right?  At times, absolutely.  The stronger those I lead are, the more it requires me to go to new levels in improving my leadership skills.  Although I'm a very strong leader, being around our leaders stretches  and challenges me on a constant basis.

Today I'm going to share a few sharp differences I've noticed in leading others who are leaders vs. those who are followers.   

Here are a few things to know about true leaders... (notice I said true leaders...it's not just people with "titles" I refer to but people who are bona fide leaders.)


Leaders who contribute value to a team long term are those whose expertise is valued.  Andy Stanley says:  "Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing significant to say."  

Leaders have not checked their brains at the door when they became Christians or joined a leadership team. They know how to think for themselves and know how to articulate themselves.  Followers on the other hand may never question what they are told.  Followers are often content to be blindly led and have no idea what's going on. 


Leaders have a life.  If somebody is a leader they have something going besides you.  It's always good to keep this in mind and avoids a lot of frustration on both he part of the leader and the person who happens to be the team leader.

Leaders don't just want to know what to do - they want to know WHY.  Something has to make sense for them to buy into it.

Leaders aren't simply interested in filling a slot.  They have tons of opportunities in life to do that.  They need to make a difference in something meaningful.  If you have them bogged down in counting paper clips or something equally as menial as their main function they probably won't last long.  And in my experience, even if their body is still there for whatever reason, their minds and hearts have checked out long ago.

Leaders always have thoughts about how something could be done better and will often want to share that.  Improving things is what they do.  They are actively involved in other areas of their lives in sharpening processes, analyzing problems and creating solutions.  It's only natural that they would want to be a part of that in anything they do. When they can't, they usually check out - even if they are still on your team physically. 

Leaders will devote energy to a task if fully given the opportunity to express themselves and collectively will bring greater results than anything you could possibly do alone.  A group of capable leaders has amazing soaring power.

Leaders will always use their influence to get something done if they see the value in it.


Leaders have invaluable insight and talent to share and only have so much bandwidth in their lives to do so.  This means they have to make hard decisions about where to invest their time or even their emotional energy.

Leaders are very supportive of things they have ownership in.

Leaders think strategically and need more than emotional appeals to get them on board. 

Leaders don't wait for permission to follow a dream.  They criticize by creating and do it whether anybody gives permission or not.

Leaders are going to flourish somewhere -- it might be with you, it might not be -- but they are going to find a way to be a good steward and bring full expression to the gifts God has given them.

Leaders function best on a team when they are led by other secure leaders.  Someone may lead strongly, yet not securely.  I've learned there's a huge difference between strong and secure.


Tomorrow I'll share what I've learned I need to do to lead leaders better.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Who else want to lead leaders?

Here's something I've come to a conclusion about...

Some people can lead followers, but they can't lead leaders, at least well.

Some people can lead followers, but would rather lead leaders.

I would choose to lead a leader over leading a follower any day of the week.

Leading leaders requires more skill but there is so much more that becomes possible when you lead leaders vs. leading followers.

Followers will just do what you tell them to do.
Followers will make you feel good about yourself most of the time.
Followers will not ever challenge your thought processes, plans or assumptions.
Followers are great at covering menial tasks that you don't want to do or have time to do.

But you won't ever get as far with followers as you could with leaders.

Tomorrow I'll share what leaders will do.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

What to do when people keep trying to tell you who you are

Do you have the courage to live out your identity and calling even if it isn't accepted by others?  I'd like to suggest one of my personal techniques today which is to INTRODUCE YOURSELF to people who already THINK they know you.  Warning:  they may rebuff this attempt but that doesn't mean it's not successful!   

Yesterday my friend Sandy Aguilar, leader of IMPACT Leadership Resources had this to say on her Facebook page:  "What's it take to really change???  Repetition, repetition, repetition...repeat the new you that you choose...whether anyone else does or not." 

I believe the major key is in the last six words of that quote -- "WHETHER ANYONE ELSE DOES OR NOT."

Did you ever have someone in your life who keeps wanting to put you back where you were?  To who you USED to be?  To old habits you USED to have?  To old things you USED to do?   For some reason they try to keep you in the past.

I lost a friend that way a while back.  They were really unhappy with some decisions I made, and didn't accept how God has shaped me for my next level.  I had a choice - to keep letting them pull me back to my old place, or take a stand.  I had to literally say to them, "Maybe you haven't met me, so let me introduce myself." Unfortunately that introduction was the end of our relationship.  Actually  I thought they were going to go postal.  I'm surprised I got out of the room without a black eye!  But it was the best thing that could have ever happened.  I had a choice -- to slip back to the old me, even if it was just around them so as to make them comfortable to continue our relationship, or fully grasp my identity.

When something is God given, you have to ask yourself what you are going to value more -- what God has designed for your life, or the opinion of a friend or family member. 

Walking away when someone doesn't accept who you are isn't easy but just remember at the same time you walk away from something you also walk toward something else.  Make sure what you're walking toward is worth it and indeed God-ordained and not just the fact that you ate too much pizza last night.

Repeat the new you that you choose...whether anyone else does or not.  Introduce yourself and let the chips fall where they may.  You may also want to be prepared to duck, or at least take a self defense class or two.  :)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

3 Ways to Get Stuff Done When You Feel Overwhelmed


Every week I talk to people who feel overwhelmed and unprepared.  Some sigh and say, "I have so much to do and don't even know where to begin."  This seems to be a common problem and people often ask me about this because one thing I do have the ability to do is get a lot of stuff done.  Today I'm going to share 3 key things that help me. 

1)  Develop a list of initiatives

If you have no idea of what you're going to get done before you go into the week, you probably won't get much done.  This is the difference between merely existing and thriving.   I live by my list and make it by Thursday of each week for the coming week ahead.  The way to do this is to make a list of the basics that you need to get done -- things you know you're automatically going to do.  Put those on the list even though they're a given.  It will give you great joy to check them off as you accomplish them.  When making your "basics" list, branch out from there and just pick one or two other things you want to get done and put them on the list.  I know you probably  have about 50 of those kind of things and that's why it feels insurmountable to you.   If you can't do 50, you just decide to do nothing.  Stop that line of thinking!!  Don't worry about 50 right now, concern yourself with one or two.  It's a better alternative to do this, and achieve those one or two things than to go another week and just squeak by with the basics for another week.

2)  Divide your list by the number of days you are working this week

If you have a five day work week (some people have two days a week off, others like me have one) then take your initiative list and divide it by 5.  This gives you the number of things you need to get done each day before you do whatever else it is that you long to do.

3)  Don't go to sleep each night without the number of initiatives for the day accomplished.

Don't veer from this, unless there is a natural disaster, or your kid runs in the room bleeding from the head or something.

Seriously.

People ask me, "how do you get it all done?"  Well, most times I do, and in the event of emergencies like the above, I sometimes don't.  During the majority of times I do accomplish everything on my list and the way I do it is by this principle.  When people call me and say, "Hey, do you wanna go to a movie?"  I say, "Sure but I have two more items on my list today and it's going to take me until 6:30.  Does that work for you?"  If not I take a pass on the movie.

"That's no fun!" you say.   Well, lacking productivity is also no fun and creates chaos in your life.  So weigh it out.  Do you want to live occasionally missing a movie, or do you want to live in chaos?

Speaking of thinking ahead and being prepared, I'm also talking about preparedness over at Sisterhood, the blog of my good friend Sandy van der Meulen.  I invite you to click over there and check out my guest post.