The High Why

“Why? Why? Why? Why?” Have you ever been around a “Why” child who cannot stop pondering the purpose behind the existence of things? Why is the sky blue? Why is that dog barking? Why is it raining? Too much time around a tyke like this, and your default response to every question becomes, It just is, ok?!

The countless “Why” questions of curious kids reflect the human need to know purpose. From banking to groceries to family to work to leisure – Why do we do what we do? This pondering is not a bad thing. If we didn’t ponder problems, we would never embrace purpose by pursuing solutions. We naturally look for purpose in the systems and realities we see around us. We also naturally desire and explore purpose in our own lives asking, Why am I even here?

This question pops from the intense craving in every human to know they matter. Just like the child considering the ocean colored hues of the sky and the designs of the universe, we all want to know the destiny connected to our design.

My Grandpa is a deep thinker and distinguished storyteller. There is one particular story he shares often with family because of his marked passion for it’s message (I’m not talking a small family here … eighteen kids makes for countless story times with Dad and Grandpa).

At a Retreat Centre in Saskatoon years ago, he sat in a lecture contemplating some big “Why” questions … The Priest used a powerful analogy to connect design to destiny, among other fascinating astronomical arguments. He compared the moving parts of a watch to the order and patterns of the universe. The Priest explained that if he shook the parts of a watch in a box, no matter how long he rattled the gears, they would never come together to form a watch. Not unless a crafter got busy with the parts. This is true of the universe. It is true for the blue sky, and it is remarkably true for you. For the details of your DNA, your personality and your passions. Someone had to put you together – your life is not arbitrary or haphazard.

Not only have you been designed for destiny, but by someone fantastically creative, full of honor, with the ability to think reflectively and make decisions. Our favorite furry friends do not have these characteristics or abilities, but we have been made in His imagePeople have been designed for destiny, uniquely. We have been made to reflect His dazzling attributes through creativity, wise decision making and spiritual power that comes from the cross of Christ.

When our decision-making tore us from perfect relationship with God, He solved the problem. He loved on a tree. He was held there by nail-weapons designed by humans to hold structures in place; He poured blood, like we do. He made the wrong of our decisions right by one act. Forgiveness extended to those willing to accept. He hung high so that we can walk in our “Why?” … Our purpose. You were made to know God, to be fulfilled by that relationship, and to partner with Him on an incredible adventure.  Purpose-tinted days have been designed for you, ordered for you, like the moving parts of a watch. Today, may you find the High Why of your life, and walk there.

Rash Advice Please!

“Ok. I need some advice. I have a pretty serious rash under my arms and it’s causing a very foul odour. Any thoughts on how I could address this?”

Last week I received a warm welcome to the Elim Church Staff. One employee showed his kindness by allowing me to borrow his brand-new-shiny-macbook. Then he displayed some other qualities (plotter, conspirator, slyness) by opening my facebook account and crafting a comical status for the world to see … What the world thinks is not supposed to matter, right? Not necessarily.

Shortly after borrowing the laptop, I opened my own, and a tiny box appeared in the corner of my screen showing my recent status had been liked and commented on. This is typically a positive thing showing that other people can relate to what I am thinking or feeling, or are jazzed about something that excites me too. However, this time – red color glazed my cheeks and my heart rate increased slightly as I read the fine-tuned status. Subconsciously, the thoughts spun Ah! Are people going to think this was for real? This is so embarrassing! What if people think this is true?! Do I remove it? What if people have already seen it, and I don’t get to explain it’s not true!?

A quick distraction removed the dilemma of deciding whether or not to delete the wily status, and it remained. Some thought the status was serious and were kind enough to send thoughtful messages; some knew that my office is not far from the likes of one particular Elim employee … These people knew better. The status update was hilarious, and provided jovial office entertainment, I didn’t mind it one bit … but it got me thinking about the statement: “What people think about me doesn’t matter.” In one sense, this statement rings with bold truth. In another, it’s bogus.

Yes! We can all be free of people pleasing “Shoulds” that can run our lives, or the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) that can dictate our decision-making. We can embrace who we are – the full spectrum of our own identity; likes, dislikes, preferences, tastes, interests, struggles, fears, joys, talents, skills, abilities, senses of humor, freckles, laugh snorts and all. We have been made well, and are innately valuable. This is all fantastically true.

From another vantage point though, the statement can mislead. What people see when they look at your life does matter, because you are important and have purpose. One definition of leadership is to have influence. Everyday we influence the people we interact with positively or negatively. You influence your friends, family, coworkers, the drivers on the freeway, the passers on the street … even the pedestrian that takes the liberty to J-walk right in front of you … It all matters. Simply being in the world carries a responsibility with it – and this is a good thing. We are made to live purpose marked, fulfilling days. What people see, think and feel when they are around us does indeed matter. In fact, I believe it matters profoundly.

Days slip quickly and moments seep swiftly and the famous country singer Tracy Lawrence would say, Time Marches On. Thankfully though, there is much we can do with our time that is lasting and consequential! God has given all of us mighty power to be people builders and life-infusers. We can leave a wake of confidence and liveliness in others, or we can leave odour – we are all leaving something. 

Power Outage

We depend heavily on electricity. This is most apparent when lightening darts and alarm clocks tell flashing lies in the morning … Oops! That alarm should have went off a few hours ago and the workday was supposed to be underway… We’ve all been there. Sometimes, an evening to rough it without power creates space for a game of hide and go seek, or perhaps a much needed candle light vigil. A short-term power outage can be a fun adventure.

However, when the furnace dies and the water currents cease for long periods of time, danger encroaches.

The same is true in our lives. When we feel temporarily zapped of strength, this can be a blazing opportunity to dig deep, and discover new heights in our faith and our lives. Challenges can produce deep character. God uses this fresh-formed character to give the world love transfusions through the actions of His people.

However, when a power outage sets in for too long in our lives, serious hazards emerge. Sometimes, people in your world will make you feel powerless. Whether through words, actions or attitudes – they can leave negative soap scum on your heart if you let them … sometimes the challenges of life shout loud that you are helpless, toothless and immobilized. It can be tempting to believe the power is out and will never come back on.

The truth is … we are not powerless people. The power is on in your life because it never dies out … because once and for all the switch was flipped, the flame was lit and the source was secured. God has given you the ability to choose how you think.

“Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” – 1 Peter 3:18. You’ve been given access to the greatest power fountain imaginable, and He has authorized you to choose your thoughts.

You are not powerless. You are full of the stuff … however, if someone has convinced you that you’re experiencing an ongoing outage … eventually, you will stop trying to turn on the light in your life. One flip of your belief can reveal sweet light. Light changes everything. Light allows people to walk in proper and helpful directions, and to navigate unruly terrain. Light reveals hidden pitfalls and brings health and vigor to the body and soul. We were made to walk in light … the light reminds us that joy is not subject to our conditions, but instead our beliefs. Thoughts that are true, noble, right, admirable, excellent, and praise-worthy (Phil 4:8) are just a choice away. Be encouraged to flip the switch, moment by moment, and notice how shafts of light poke holes through gloom.

Check out how the incredible Sam Berns keeps the power on in his life! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36m1o-tM05g

Picture Perfect

Brene Brown, the Queen of Ted Talks and whole-hearted living, defines perfectionism as “The belief that if we live perfect, look perfect and act perfect we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame … It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.” According to this definition, I have spent too much time tucked within the confines of perfectionism.

Today is picture day for this teacher. Students and staff are getting gussied up this morning for the big flash. You can bet hands across the city are reaching for some extra hair gel, ruby cheek powder and some concealer to cover the imperfections for the ultimate school snap. A notorious perfectionist might already have “re-take day” scheduled into the old cell calendar, confident that the first self-portrait won’t be wall-worthy.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all about snapping a praise-worthy pic on this famous fall school day. However, when it comes to living a picture perfect life, what if the mirror-practiced poses and gobs of concealer don’t actually enhance the image? What if it only makes others feel like they need to measure up too?

Perfectionism is defeating because it pushes us towards a goal that cannot be reached. This leaves us feeling like we don’t make the cut and must continue to try to be good enough. We can become paralyzed by the need to appear perfect and unable to live authentic lives from our core values. Author and leadership development expert Henna Inam explains that we live most authentically when we make decisions and live in alignment with our core values and beliefs, instead of trying to be the person we think we should be.

Brown reminds the world, “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders what we’re all in this together.” Real courage lives in the honesty of tooth gaps and unpopped pimples (Yes, I went there), and in the double chin that naturally bulges with loud laughter. When we ditch the need to live “picture perfect” lives, we gain the freedom to create incredible life moments that are empowering and worth framing. Fear flees when we drop the need to be perfect, or to be perceived as such. Let’s say a sweet goodbye to the fear of failure, of not measuring up, of making mistakes, and of being rejected or judged and dive into the flaw-filled fearless realm of risk-taking and originality.

Today, whether you are flashing your face for school photos, showing up at the breakfast table with toddlers, a board room with city slickers or the hospital café with heart tickers … Be courageous enough to show up and be you, and watch how others are empowered around you to be themselves too. Perfectionism silences, suffocates and exasperates while imperfections create conversations, open up real relationships and energize families and communities. When you drop the need to be picture perfect, your real life becomes truly wall-worthy. As my life-long mentor and trusted advisor would say, “Take chances, make mistakes and get messy!” – The Frizz

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Get Gifts

Tinsel is flying, kids are buzzing in a tree-obsessed craze with their eyes pinching the life out of the stacked colored boxes at the bottoms of decorated trees. Songs with bells and good cheer rouse the spirits of many. Even the family dogs and swimming guppies seem to know there is something emaculate taking place on this morning – something divine about the giving and receiving of thoughtfully purchased and masterfully packaged presents. Lights and coffee are on early for the mamas and papas and the kids have been lying awake dreaming of the evidence of Santa’s presence. Yes, Christmas morning is enchanting.

On my twelfth birthday instead of opening gifts plopped in front of me – my dad took me shopping and said, “Kait, get some gifts.” That day, I was given permission and license to go choose gifts for myself (dad’s trusty credit card in hand). You also have been released to go get gifts. The biggest barrier between you and countless presents today might just be … you. Your dad has given you the freedom to go get ‘em!

The problem is we can only get presents when we are present enough to see them. Yesterday marked the beginning of a wild and rangy new season for many schools and families. There were funny and sarcastic jokes cracked about the drag of returning to school, however the truth is every new season has presents. Too often we act like gifts live in the future or were best in the past – we count the days until the next holiday, the next lake day, the next, the next, the next … And we don’t get the gifts meant for now. Unfortunately – we cannot experience the joy of the future in the present.

So be present now and let yourself fall for the energizing autumn leaf dances about to envelop the city. Go get the smells of the pumpkin lattés, the crisp air, the mingling fall colors, and at sunset, grab the vibrant hues of God closing down shop for the day. Listen to the whistling wind from inside your warm home, and notice the combine dust hanging in the air. See the red noses, the new gloves that emerge from coat cuffs, and the clicking leather boots that express the luxury of our nation. Notice the fun of women flaunting darker polishes, lip smackers and hair tones and the men freely letting scruff grow and beards glow. … Sometimes the desire to get gifts goes out the window – every good thing looses its luster and surviving becomes the priority. This happens to everyone. That’s why it’s so important to remember we don’t need to wait for presents to be stacked before our eyes to get gifts – we’ve been given license to be persistent, and even when it’s hard, to live present and to get gifts.

I, like the Christmas morning kids, want to be tree-obsessed too. That wooden blood stained tree makes me right with God and unleashes His love on all of my present moments. Let’s all be present today, so we can get the presents we were made to pursue and unpeel.