Saturday, June 30, 2007

the i's have it

well, maybe they don't HAVE it, but....

i took a Myers-Briggs assessment this week which reinforced my introvert-ness.
For those who may not know, Myers-Briggs is a kind of personality assessment that breaks personality down into four different dimensions and two different preferences within each dimension. The first dimension is extrovert/introvert and it has more to do with how a person recharges than whether or not they like people.

And yes, I have a slight tendency towards introvert-ness. It's something that was called out in me several weeks ago by a good friend of mine, but was confirmed by the assessment. I have to say, it's given me a lot of freedom. Because - the truth is that as much as I love people, I really do need that time by myself to reflect and recharge. I enjoy being alone or being with one or two close friends.

The other thing that's been confirmed in me lately is my "relator" strength. This is from a different assessment called StrengthsFinder. A relator values deep relationships with a handful of people. I've learned over the last few weeks just how much I value friendships that have true depth. Not friendships that are necessarily easy, but that are real. I enjoy the responsibility of relationships and want to be in relationship with people who enjoy it as well. There's something so beautiful about being willing to take care of one another. Put another person's feelings first or well-being ahead of your own. One of the verses that God has brought to mind lately is from 1Corinthians 13.. "love always protects, always trusts...."
It's the "always protects" part that gets me. I have a deeper appreciation now than ever before of our charge to look after one another. It's something that I used to feel burdened by, but that I now find beautiful and holy.

It's fun to see God develop me and to see Him developing those around me. I was reflecting earlier that my life looks so much more different now than I thought it would. Even a year ago I feel like my life was on a totally different path. Then God brought some people into my life that seemed to change my direction. I don't understand it. But I like it.

Monday, June 18, 2007

something old or something new?

I've been thinking a lot lately about... well... this world and the way it is compared to the way God intended it. I've been thinking about miracles. The miracle of salvation, miraculous healings, the miracle of addiction recovery or a restored relationship... things like that. And I wonder if we view miracles wrongly. Is a miracle really an invasion of something other-worldly? Or is it God's way of showing us how this world is supposed to be?

In my visits to Amsterdam, I've gone on some prayer walks through the Red Light District. And in the midst of all the depravity and sin, all I can think is "this isn't how it's supposed to be." The drug addicts, drug dealers, and prostitutes weren't created to be drug addicts, drug dealers and prostitutes. They were created to be so much more. God didn't create that area of Amsterdam so that it could become the Red Light District. I'm certain that his original intent for that place was much higher.

So which is really more unusual? The "miracle" that restores a place or person, or the sin that covers over and destroys? Maybe we've gotten so used to the way the world is, that "how it's supposed to be" seems out of place.

This poem is the result of all that contemplation.

The radical shifting of shapes and things.
A new picture framed in my window pane.
Things of old being made anew.
The face in the mirror looking back at you
looks different than the time before.
Is it something new beginning to unfold?
Or something existing before time untold?
A new creation - like a baby born?
Or a stretched rubber band, returned to it's original form?
What do I see looking back at me?
A new way that things are?
Or a way that things have been,
and were always meant to be?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

we're chosen

I'm currently re-reading the book In the Meantime, by Rob Brendle.
I don't usually re-read books, but I needed to be reminded of the truths this one contains.
The basic premise of the book is how we live into the calling God has for our lives. The author, through the stories of people like David, reminds us that our calling, or God's purpose, isn't about something we strive to achieve but about a person we strive to become. He reminds us that faithfully following God day by day leads to a life of devotion and a life spent living out our purposes and designs.

This is one of my favorite quotes:
"Over the past several years, I have come to believe that the sincerely meant and dramatically expressed petitions ["God, use me!!"] of my early adulthood were entirely off the mark. In fact, it's clear to me now that my pleas for God to use me were nonsensical, and here's why. Passionately pleading for God to use us is like passionately pleading for fire to be hot or for water to be wet. God by his very nature uses people. Yet we have cultivated for ourselves an unwritten theology that we must persuade God to use us to accomplish his plans... Understand that serving God to advance his kingdom's dominion on the earth is not something we have to beg him to do; it's something he has chosen for us."

If you ever wonder, worry, or doubt your ability to or the likelihood of living out God's call for your life, I highly, highly recommend this book.

Friday, June 08, 2007

the inevitable has happened

Well, I guess it was going to happen sooner or later.
I've been on staff with Genesis for about 5 months now, and today I had my first fight with a co-worker.

It was over something simple, really. Something I needed this co-worker to do for me. I explained everything as best I could, but my co-worker kept doing things wrong. No matter how many different ways I tried to explain myself, he just didn't seem to get what I was saying. To his credit, he was trying as best he could to take the information I gave him and create a finished project that would satisfy me. But he just wasn't getting it right.

Finally, at the peak of my frustration, I walked into the room where he was working and stated (rather loudly) "I don't like you at all right now!". Despite my scathing words, he continued working, trying his best to make me happy.

As his motor turned and wheels spun, I checked the paper tray one more time.
Nope still not right.
Our new copier simply wouldn't do what I asked him to.

Then... finally... after 20 minutes spent trying different combinations of print and paper set-ups, I found the problem. I hadn't told my co-worker that I was printing *up* from a 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 sheet of paper to a standard 8 1/2 x ll. That was all I needed to do. And as soon as I did it, everything printed perfectly. I quickly expressed my sincere and humble apologies to my co-worker; thankful that he was - in fact - a machine and not a person.

But the experience got me thinking about the ways that I *do* communicate with people, and the eerie similarities between the frustrations I'd just experienced. So often, I try my best to express myself. I try to be clear about what I want, need, or feel about a certain situation. I think I'm being clear (*I* know what I'm saying... the other person should to) only to find out the other person's interpretation (what comes out on the paper tray) is completely different.

Often, just like my copier experience, the solution is simple. It just takes one "selection" - one phrase worded differently, one tone-of-voice softened slightly - and everything comes out just right.

But I wonder how many of those "just right" moments I miss because I'm not as tenacious with people as I am with machinery. I'm determined not to let a copier get the best of me. I'm determined to make myself heard, and heard clearly. But in my relationships with people, I don't fight nearly as hard when I'm misunderstood. Even if the misunderstanding leads to hurt feelings.

So, Mr. Minolta reminded me of something important today:
Effective communication is all about trial and error, and being willing to try until things come out right.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

boys to men

yeah, I know, the picture is pretty blurry. but what else can you expect from a camera phone? :D

ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce to you - Annica and Garret Hunter. (blurry though they may be) :-) Annica (on the left) is 4, and Garret (on the right - not facing the camera) is 2.

this picture is from a few months ago, taken at the Hunter's home.

Getting to know these kids has been so much fun. And over the last couple of months I've gotten to witness and experience the coolest change in Garrett. He really is becoming a little boy. No longer a toddler, he has his own opinions (about everything), and his communication has progressed from mainly nouns and verbs ("have truck") to complete sentences ("I have a dump truck"). The most enjoyable part has been watching his personality emerge. He has a wonderful, bubbly personality. He's goofy, and loves making people laugh. Over the last 4 - 6 weeks his personality has just exploded into existence. Kind of like flowers blooming in the spring. You see a little something peeking out of the ground and you anxiously wait and watch... but nothing seems to be happening. Then, one day, you're leaving for work, you look over at your flower garden and presto! it's in full bloom. That's how it seemed to happen with Garrett. Before, you could see little hints of his personality; his easy disposition, his bright smile, his ready laugh (or giggle...). But almost overnight it's bloomed.

The personality differences between Annica and Garrett reinforce for me the truth that God hand designs who we are - each and every one of us. Annica has a much stronger personality. She's a lot of fun, though not nearly as goofy as Garrett. And while she likes to make people laugh sometimes, she prefers being made to laugh. Garrett is more independent - he can entertain himself pretty well. Annica prefers to play or watch a movie with someone. She's quick to invite people to join in whatever she's doing (of course... if you join, you'll probably have to play *her* way...) :-) They have the same parents, live in the same house, have experienced many of the same things - yet they're so vastly different.

Personality isn't something that can be explained away by science. I'm sure scientists will try (and probably already have), but ultimately, it's a mystery. An awesome mystery that no one but God truly understands.