Process People

How do you define success? Most people feel successful when they get results or are rewarded for their hard work. You made it! You did it! You got there! You earned that! Voila! Most people are product people. To do something is to be worth something, right? Wrong. This kind of thinking pokes holes in a heart and sucks out joy. 

For many years, I defined success as “A job well done”, and I felt most valuable when projects were finished and goals reached. The problem is, what happens to the process? It gets diminished and even resented.

We were made to grab hold of life’s processes with both hands, release the fear of failure, and bask in the steps that may or may not lead to a destination.  We spend most of life in process. Training. Watching. Writing. Cooking. Driving. Planting. Weeding. Reading. Fixing. Learning. Sure – there is great satisfaction when a person sees the fruit of their labour, but very soon we are enveloped in the next process, and the next. If we can’t learn to embrace and enjoy process, we will spend our lives chasing joy – always legging a few steps behind it. 

God says you are enough- today – in the midst of life’s messes – Just the way you are, exactly where you are. Your value as a person is received, never achieved. When you choose to believe this, you  become free to embrace the old cliche, “Enjoy the journey.”  Then, this cliche can jump off the wall plaque and into your heart, igniting sparks of joy. Success is not a finish line, and it’s not “tomorrow.” Success is staying committed to the processes God is calling you to today. True tenacity and grit is required in the process, before you see results, and should be celebrated!

This week I’ve noticed the joy of some particular process lovers. My new art-jiving friend Haley described vividly the hours she spends sculpting small figurines … Not to show, sell or to finish – simply because the process sends enthusiasm through her views. Brooklynn was radiant talking about the sunset she beheld on her parents farm – even though she had nothing to show for it. Anaya’s eyes were animated as she chose the colours to fill the lines scrawled in her colouring book. The act of colouring was the fun part! Jess spent invigorating days planning and remodelling her living room. This week, Haley, Anaya, Brooklynn and Jess chose to “Enjoy the journey.” For real. They chose to be process people.

 

 

 

Own It

When God put you together, he packaged you specifically and particularly. He didn’t make mistakes, or forget to add anything. You have unique knacks and aptitudes He gave you deliberately. If he didn’t give you something, you don’t need it to do what you were made for. If you have a pulse, you have a purpose.

There is something incredible that happens to the human soul when its passion gets stirred and it invests pieces of itself into the creation of something, contributes to the solving of a problem or the development of a strategy. Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl spent years in Nazi death camps and wrote, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’” Unshakable strength is infused in people who live with purpose.

I recently spent time in my hometown reconnecting with friends and family. I was blown away by the vitality and fulfillment some are experiencing as they use their gifts to rock this world.

Meet Alyssa. Crossfit coach extraordinaire. Designing a fitness program for you would thrill her in the weirdest way.

This is Kirstie. Nail artistry is her thing. Her smile gets out of hand when she talks about her esthetics business.

Say hey to Jessica. (Don’t be alarmed by the dirt under this farm girl’s nails) For her, soil research is equated with cookie dough ice cream. Bizarre enthusiasm overflows when she describes writing the protocol and procedure for plant trials.

Finally, Uncle Dave. He’s got unrestrained hype for his new bike (Perhaps I have discovered a new passion of my own?)

 

Take time to do those things that you could talk about endlessly – those things that fill your eyes with sparkle. Whether at work, enjoying a hobby, or honing a skill; don’t be a sleep walker. Have the courage to invest yourself, and feel your soul come alive. Own it.

Building Your Tombstone

Take a few moments to consider this: At the end of your life, what do you want your epitaph to look like? What would you like scripted on it? For many of us: Our greatest fear is that we will live lives that don’t matter, and then be forgotten. We think an important life leaves an outstanding legacy.

Recently, I had an opportunity to go to Los Angeles on a volunteer trip. My desire to go sparked strongly one night as I delved into Facebook scrolling and saw a friend’s post about her plans to go on the trip – it all looked so exciting! I thought: I want to serve God in important ways, make a difference, and fight injustice too! I decided to go. Unfortunately, after signing myself up, a clumsy tumble down the slopes of Kimberly with a snowboard strapped to my feet kept me from making the trip.

My plans for the month of May changed. Instead of jetting to LA, I headed to help my dad on the farm during seeding season. Even though I love seeding, this did not sound as glorious or significant as a volunteer trip to the Dream Center in LA. As I later pondered the fact I couldn’t go, God reminded me my life has incredible value weather or not I do anything “extraordinary” in the world’s eyes, and so does yours.

Don’t get me wrong, you may accomplish great things. You may move and shake the ground and fight against all kinds of injustice and advocate for the disempowered. You may live a life of astonishing influence. You may not. Either way, your worth is unchanged.

Your are valuable.

Simply because He says you are.

Period.

Mother Teresa said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.” When we embrace this, we are free to enjoy life’s expeditions.

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Instead of trotting anxiously, trying to stand out, be important or leave an impression – we can simply love the person in front of us.

A few days ago I sat with friends and family enjoying a simple picnic in the park. As we sat at the small town picnic table with paint peeling like lady bug wings, my friend’s eyes welled big as he reminisced about his mother who had recently passed away. He talked about standing at his dad’s graveside with her, as they planned what her tombstone would look like beside her husband’s. She had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and knew her time was short. She was adamant her tombstone would not be standing up, but instead, low to the ground. Simple. Humble. She wanted it to blend with all the others, no need to be outstanding. This woman lived what many may consider a simple life. She was a prairie woman – a faith-filled farm wife. She gave herself to sandwiches, gardens, laundry, and neighbors. She made church organ music, muffins, meals and poured medicine when kids were sick. She loved in the simple ways with absurd abandonment.

She lived at rest, and she died that way too.

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More and more all the time, I want my tombstone to be like hers. I want it to read: “Loved and valued by God. Loved and valued others.” To live and die by these words is to enjoy peace-filled, joy-splashed days.

Instead of being in Los Angeles this morning as I thought I would be, I spent it with electrical wires, canola seeds and the funniest farmer I know; my papa. And for me, that was wonderfully enough.

 

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Hope’s Chirp Anthem

Some call me strange. My favorite day is Thursday because I can smell the weekend coming, I find the bustle of Christmas Eve more alluring than the big-deal-real-day, and morning bird chirps that call forth the rising sun captivate me. I am enthralled with the anticipation of the extraordinary, much more than the actual unfolding of wonderful happenings. I think this is why I have always been enchanted by early mornings. A fresh slate. New mercy from God. A white canvass. Yes, the anticipation of something great is exquisite.

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At about 4:23 AM, I was sung to life by a litany of high and low pitched chants and tones outside my window this morning, as I often am lately. These are anticipation chirps sending warning dawn is about to split the sky into wild color. This springtime alarm clock brings anticipation of a new season.

There are other areas of life I am hearing figurative bird chirps warn of positive change too. Lately, I am noticing the ways authenticity brings newness and positive change in communities. It doesn’t matter the age, gender, race, or profession of the people…

If you are human, you have experienced some dysfunction; and yes, to some degree, you yourself, are dysfunctional. We all are.

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Why is it so difficult for the high school student to squeeze out the word “depression”, or the mom of three little ones to say she is “overwhelmed”? Where does this pressure come from to appear as though we are untouched by the qualms of life? Why do our difficulties isolate us, when in fact, it is our struggles that make us all imperfect and collectively human. Brene Brown writes in her book Daring Greatly that the two most powerful words in the human language are “Me too.” I’ve seen the power of these two words spread hope like bird chirps.

I was recently with several friends, and after many got real audacious by sharing some honest battles, one woman in her sixties responded by saying, “Tonight is the first time in my life I actually feel normal.” She felt normal because she had a few scrapes and bruises from life too. We all do. I heard those figurative birds chirping as tears slid from the eyes of all around the table.

If getting real is so freeing, why is it so hard?

Learning to be real takes some work and courage.

At my piano lesson last month, my teacher explained why it is so difficult for people to learn new things. He said the bottom line is that people hate appearing and feeling incompetent. However, in order for a person to grow, there is always a period of struggle – of unstable development. The skill has not yet been honed, and the lesson not yet learned. This is transformation. Unfortunately, too often, our pride prevents us from getting there. In order to grow, we need to take our ducks out of their perfect row, and admit we don’t have all the answers. We are all still searching, learning, stumbling, snagging and growing, along with everyone else.

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It takes courage to look incompetent you know. Trust me, my piano teacher would tell you I am quite good at it.

 

Billy Graham writes, “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”

 

The chirp anthems are waking people to arise with courage to be real, and experience sweet freedom. The ground is shaking from their marching and moving. I invite you to join the advance.