Are you a Facebook Fear Monger?

Have you ever gotten on social media out of boredom and seen something that completely derailed you emotionally? I have a friend who always posts angry rants about people he thinks are stupid, another friend who posts articles about animal abuse, or how kids brains are rotting because of iPads and another friend who makes “vague book” posts- you know, things like “I just wish today would be over. I don’t think my life is ever going to get better.” Total click bait for some sympathy.

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Why do people post stuff like this? I think it’s because most of us are angry and afraid. Facebook has become a dumping ground for all of our emotional baggage because we just need to get it out somewhere. But it doesn’t just float out into the ether on the winds of the world wide web (yes, I just used that phrase). It gets lodged into our hearts and minds. We begin to become afraid that those friends are struggling in ways we can’t help them, that our kids brains are indeed rotting away as they watch PBS or play Angry Birds. We begin to think all of our neighbors are running illegal dog fighting schemes in their garages and abusing those poor dogs.

How about we just stop? Instead of perpetuating fear, encourage love today. Let’s stop putting our fears out there and put something out into the digital world that brings hope and love. Simple things can change us and remind us that each of us have a choice with how we use our digital spaces and our words. Use your digital power to help people know that there is a God who loves them.

Fearless happens with friends,
Jessica

Show Some Love

Do you ever get jealous of fictional characters?  I find myself envying Zoey Deschenel’s wardrobe in New Girl, and that Wonder Woman can roam around with a lasso of truth in some killer red boots. I also get jealous of real people- random friends on social media I see who seem to be having amazing time connecting with friends, and bloggers who seem to effortlessly crank out content that throngs of people love, and marriages where breakfast in bed is a normal occurance.

You know what happens when I start to focus on all of the ways I’m not being loved? I get crusty, bitter, resentful and wish I could just fly away in an invisible jet like Wonder Woman.  The reality is if we focus on all the ways we aren’t receiving the kind of love we want we prevent ourselves from loving others.

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In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis wrote about the nature of love from a Christian perspective. These 4 kinds of love he explores are affection, friendship, erotic love and the love of God. I think we need to demonstrate more varieties of love than what we see in commercials, movies or instagram.

Text a friend, bake some cookies, demonstrate to the people in your life that you love them. You value them. Don’t wait around for the kind of love you wish you were being shown to you. Scripture tells us “We are able to love because God first loved us.” God is the one who gives us love to show it to others no matter where they’re at spiritually.

In the Four Loves, Lewis wrote: “We need others physically, emotionally, intellectually; we need them if we are to know anything, even ourselves.”

In loving others we discover more about who we are and who God is.  Instead of fearing that you are unloved, unlovable and alone, reach out to someone who may not even know that God loves them. To someone who might need the reassurance that there are people in their life who see them and care about them. It doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to happen.

 

Fearless happens with friends,

 

Jessica

Tell Fear to Skedaddle

I’m not entirely sure skedaddle is a real word. But I know fear is real. I know it lurks in the places where we start to think about trying something new, especially when it comes to spirituality.

You may be a Christian & feel afraid of taking a step of faith to follow him in an area he’s been challenging you about.
You might not be a Christian and be scared of going to church, exploring Jesus or even opening up that can of worms.
You mighty be struggling in your faith and fear that things will never change and doubt that God even cares for you.

Fear is legit. But it doesn’t have to control you. One of the basic ideas of prayer is that God can take what is in bad our hearts and replace it with with something good. Consider the scripture from today’s calendar:

“No fear exists where his love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involved punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love.” 1 John 4:18

God can push the fear out of your heart and replace it with love. He can do that for friends who know him and friends that don’t know him.  Ask him to take the fear out of your heart and replace it with his perfect love.
Fearless happens with friends,

 

Jessica

This is My Life

A couple years ago someone made the comment about a fashion blogger they read regularly- “why does she post about her kids? If I wanted to know about toddlers I’d read mom blogs, which I’m totally not interested in. I just want to know how to tie a scarf 27 ways or what flats are in style for the spring. Who cares that her toddler says the f-word when he asks for his truck! ”  As a blogger who writes about lots of different things this struck fear into my heart and raised all kinds of questions like:

  • “Am I seen as dorky or out of touch if I post about my kids?”
  • “Will it seem “unprofessional” in the blogosphere even as I write about faith, leadership and Jesus?”
  • “Will I seem too sentimental, mushy or emotional if I write about my kids? I don’t want to alienate readers.”
  • “I don’t see many men writing about their families or life as a dad in the blogosphere- unless it’s about some sort of leadership lesson they’ve learned as a dad. If I’m to be taken seriously should I leave out that part of my life?”
  • “Blogging is all about finding your niche- but life doesn’t fit into neat boxes, being a mom spills out into every area of my life and relationships (sometimes literally). Should I make it seem like my life fits into well crafted little blog posts?”

I just don’t care any more. I don’t care about having a perfect little “niche” so my blog reaches my “target audience” (wow, I’m using a lot of air quotes here). I don’t care that I might come off seeming like a softie when I post about my kids because they bring me so much joy, frustration, laughter, confusion, and delight on a daily basis.  And your life doesn’t fit into neat boxes or blog posts either.

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My life is about knowing how to tie a scarf 27 different ways AND delighting at Ozzy sticking his tongue out in concentration as he builds Duplos on the rug. It’s about finding a healthy recipe to make for my family that won’t take too long and still taste good AND working really hard to write a sermon that will influence how others love God. It’s about taking naps because my body is tired AND staying up late to respond to emails from colleagues. It’s about being amazed that Reuben picked up his Highlights because he wants to “exercise his brain” instead of watching another episode of Phineas and Ferb AND sitting on the couch watching another episode of Phineas and Ferb together.

 

I don’t know if this is a gender thing but when I see so many male leaders isolating their lives into work/home/friends/hobbies it makes me feel like I need to as well. I know male leaders aren’t the only ones who do this but many of the models I see are more interested in posting about the latest leadership book they read rather than their frustration that their baby kept them up all night and then pooped all over them when they got up to change her.

My life is integrated and all that I am and am called to be flows into every area. My leadership skills help me to be a better mom when I think about how to organize my days at home with the kids.  My tender heart towards my kids helps me to have compassion as a preacher to parents who are delighting or struggling with their kids. My love of fashion helps people to see that you can live simply and beautifully because when they ask where I got that fabulous shirt they are astounded to learn that  I buy most of my clothing from thrift stores.

I’m sorry bloggy friends (who lurk and who occasionally comment) if I’ve given you the impression that my life fits into neat blog posts. It doesn’t. And I hope that if you’ve come here looking for 27 ways to tie a scarf you’ll stick around to read about the hilarious things my kids do, what I’m thinking about leadership and gender, and see just how great popping tags can be.

 

God grant me the serenity to accept the ideas I cannot execute

Recently I led a seminar with my colleague Doug at InterVarsity‘s national staff conference. When we were debriefing how it went he told me frankly “your creativity stresses me out.” This is something coming from one of the most creative people in our movement who has literally helped create a program called “start something new.” Then my friend Adam posted this blog that I totally stole the title, idea and the picture from. I left such a long comment on his post I thought, “what the heck, I should just post this on my own blog!”

This is an area of growth for me. I have so many ideas that I can barely sit still at times. I think it stresses a lot of people out. As Adam wrote in his original post:

“For idea people, this is a core competency to learn–which ideas to execute (i.e. kill) and which ideas to execute (i.e start, perform, do). And my boss has helped me see that a key area for growth for me is making this call. It’s really hard, as my “idea engine” is always revving.” Yep. Can totally relate.

 My brilliant husband asked me recently- “why don’t you just do the things you’re about instead of all the other things you’re thinking about?” Simple question. Brilliant question.
 So I thought of a few questions to help my idea propellor to slow down a little bit. And to dial back the amount of things I share with others because I really am driving them crazy.

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1. Does this idea fit with the current mission God has given me? Does it distract from the main purpose which he’s called me to? (this requires having some sense of what those things are).

2. Do I have the time to put energy into actually making this idea happen? I recently wanted to rearrange my whole living room but axed the idea because we were having company for the weekend.  I realized they would probably enjoy a clean kitchen and clean dishes to eat from more than a rearranged living room.

3. Do I have the money to make this happen? My ideas always begin BIG BIG BIG. And I have to scale them back reminding myself- take small steps. I recently pitched an idea to my friend Jessica about starting a direct sales jewelry business that benefits single moms in Kenya. Though I was picturing a chain of stores and thousands of Kenyan moms being employed and able to make a living wage for their families I needed to pick one place to start.  I am pursuing this by having my sister-in-law bring some of the beads back from Kenya and having one in-home party to see how it goes. Small investment, small steps, still pursuing it but on a much reasonable scale than opening a store and needing to invest thousands of dollars.
 Thankfully my friend Jessica who I pitched this idea to loves me, laughs and rolls her eyes every time I share another crazy idea- thanks Jess 🙂

4. What is this going to cost my family if I pursue this idea? I’d love to do a triathlon some day. Is this the right time to do that with a first grader, a preschooler, a husband in a rigorous cohort for work, a book I’m supposed to be writing and living in freezing cold Cleveland? Right now is not the right time. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be the right time in the future.

5. How can I internally process all my ideas before sharing them with others so I don’t stress them out?  I realized that writing my ideas down is helpful so I can get them out but then only pitch a couple to people that are appropriately sized to what we are working on.
 Thankfully, Doug was gracious and helped me to come up with this idea. Thanks Doug!

6. Recognize there are very few people who know me well enough to let me talk and spew all the ideas and it won’t stress them out. My husband is one of them. My mentor York is another. They have both known me long enough to realize that probably only 2% of what I come up with will only happen. And then that 2% will likely look entirely different than it’s original iteration.

How do you decide what ideas to pursue? Do you have more trouble coming up with ideas or containing them?

 

 

Thoughts on Leadership While the Nail Polish Dries

I love nail polish. It’s a low-commitment, low-cost vanity/beauty splurge that when used properly forces me to slow down and not do a whole lot. Which is why I am typing slowly and not moving my feet right now – pink on the toes and a french mani.

Guest post from my friend and fellow-lover of nail polish Kathy Khang. Check out her blog at http://morethanservingtea.wordpress.com/

And when life slows I can breathe, pray, think and reflect.

Tonight I’m thinking a lot about leadership – the privilege, the joys and the costs. In a matter of a week’s time I saw how God was using me to develop a new generation of leaders (Pacific Northwest Asian American InterVarsity students, YOU ARE AMAZING!) and how God was still buffing and shining the rough edges of my leadership. There were moments of fear and confidence, of joy and anger, of front-door leadership like “fill in the blank with a Biblical patriarch) and back-door influence (Ruth, Esther, Mary, the Samaritan woman, the bleeding woman, the servant girl, etc.).

All while rocking lavender nail polish (last week’s color), telling funny family stories about rice cookers and kimchee refrigerator, and wearing a bra, which apparently is still enough of a novelty that as I head into the final week before I speak on leadership fails at the Asian Pacific Islander Women’s Leadership Conference next week, I reminding myself of how important it is to remember God created me and knew me before I was even born as 1.75-gen Korean American Christian woman, let alone a wife, mother of three, writer, speaker, yoga junkie and nail polish addict.

Gender or ethnicity doesn’t trump my identity as a Christian, but they are integrated, enmeshed in blessed and God-ordained ways and in broken and needing Jesus’ redemption ways, because Christians are not meant to be eunuchs. Embodied. Gendered. Which for me means wearing a bra and the great option of many nail polish colors. My seasons or micro-seasons of leadership are acutely tied to my physical state – pregnant, post-partum, nursing, PMS, exhausted from the gift and plain old work of raising children, peri-menopausal, and all of that is tied to my gender. And my embodied, gendered life is also wrapped and engrained with the values and mores of my Korean ancestors with a clashing or enhancing palette from my American host. How can that not affect, change, impact, enhance, and challenge my ability to lead?

It does. It’s not all negative, and I’m not surprised…unless I meet and talk with someone who has never considered her/his leadership through their cultural/racial/gendered lens.

What lessons have you learned about leadership, your own and that of others as well as how you are perceived and how you perceive others? Need some time to think? Do your nails.