A Resolution from a friend…

Breaking free is sometimes hard.

It was a delightful birthday meal with friends….great Cuban food, laughter, plans for future vacations. My heart felt safe and warm and reveled in feeling of it all.

This time of year, my good friend, Alisa, is all about the resolutions. She’s one of the few people I know that actually writes them down and tracks her progress throughout the year and it is always great fun to hear what crazy antics she is planning for herself each year. I think it drives her nuts that I don’t set resolutions anymore…so in a moment of seriousness, she leveled her gaze at me and said, “Let’s set each other a resolution for this year and promise to keep it.”

Ya’ll this is a loaded request. Alisa doesn’t play with her resolutions. They are hard! From run a marathon and jump out of a plane, to read a book a week and cut sugar out of your diet….they tend to be full on life changing type statements that she takes seriously. I looked at my husband, he nodded slightly, and I said, “Ok…let’s do it!”

We went around the table…some resolutions were immediately rejected. It was honestly difficult to come up with something as I love these people in their current state so much. It came time to receive my resolution from Alisa and she looked at me hard…pursed her lips…leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. This one was gonna be difficult. I could tell by her posture.

“Your resolution is to forgive all the stuff that happened this year and move on. Let it all go.”

Crap.

Ya’ll this year has been the hardest of my life. There are people who have hurt and wronged me beyond what I thought was possible. There were relationships that dismantled my identity to the point that I considered ending my life. There was cancer and systemic infection and cures that seemed as bad as both. There was a loss of a dream that I thought was from God and in result, the shaking of what I had previously thought was an unshakable faith. I stopped writing, painting and creating…I stopped speaking and teaching…I stopped living and started surviving and it nearly killed me.

Through it all, the people at the table with me had held me up and walked me along. They (and so many others) had fought for my heart and reminded me who I was and just wouldn’t let me give up, but, Dear God- it was so close! And now, she was challenging me to “Let it all go.”

There is so much wrapped up in that statement. Forgiveness foremost. Of people…of myself….OF GOD. On (mostly) the other side of things, I can see all the things that I have learned and all the beauty that has started to blossom from the ash, but it doesn’t make the hurt less and I am reminded of it each day. Each day, as I see it, the grieving I thought was grieved wells up alongside the tears in my eyes, and I feel the ache of the loss I have avoided dealing with for the last few months.

Checking your bags is hard when you are in the middle of unpacking them, but I met her gaze and said, “Ouch….OK.” I agreed to something I honestly have NO IDEA HOW TO ACCOMPLISH, but I know this pack of mine will surround me and help…and I guess I’ll bring you guys along with me as well. Buckle up, ya’ll, we may be in for some turbulence!

Vision-Casting for Your Ministry- Pt 1

It’s that time of year again….
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You know the time of year when you put on your rose colored glasses and look bright-eyed into the future…

The time of year when you take a serious look at all that you are discontent with, and, with hope rather than our usual resignation look forward to a better you…

A skinnier you.
A healthier you.
A wealthier you.
A more deeply in-tuned to the Spirit you.

At this time of year you can google “New Year’s Resolutions” and literally get 135,000,000 results.  I’m actually working through Donald Miller’s Storyline this year and loving it so far.  The thought is to use a story to create a narrative that compels you to reach your goals and there is a an awesome online resource that can help you through that- you can go start your own storyline or simply root me on as I write my story here.

And guess what? Your ministry needs a fresh vision every year.  Not resolutions that will get shelved by Valentine’s Day and not a re-branding that confuses all the folks that follow and support you, but a fresh look at the plan God is working through you.  You need a strategic plan just like any other business.

For me, this starts with a question my friend and mentor asked me a couple of years ago.

“What is your philosophy of ministry?”

Your theology determines your philosophy, which THEN determines your methodology.

So your philosophy of ministry then is the attitude that acts as the guiding principle for your ministry.In Christian terminology, we’ll call that your ‘calling’.  What is your ministry called to do?

This question is such a vital part of planning your strategy for, well, anything- events, engagements, blog posts, books…whatever it is you are doing- this question should be the VERY first step.

A philosophy of ministry isn’t a one-line mission statement, although it is what shapes and forms that statement.  Philosophy of ministry is a well-thought out framework that becomes the filter through which you filter everything you decide to do.  It’s an amazing resource when the calendar begins to fill up and distractions start flying at you.  And while it requires some thought and prayer and a little bit of elbow grease, it is well worth the work and thought.  In the coming weeks, I will post my own philosophy of ministry as we talk through this subject of vision-casting for your ministry.  But until then, maybe you would like to start on yours?  The guys at the Resurgence have a great free resource that will walk you through it.  Over the next month, we will be working through the development of a strategic plan for your ministry- starting with the writing of your philosophy of ministry.

So let’s travel the journey together, shall we?