Monthly Archives: May 2011

All Stars…This Is How We Do It

I have gotten several emails lately asking ‘How do you do it all.” I have kids, I’m adopting, I am involved in church planting, I write for several blogs, I am developing several projects, and I am attempting to keep a clean house…How DO I do it all? The answer is quite simply actually. I don’t do it all. Not even a tiny bit. No way do all of those things happen within the same week. At least not for me.

Sometimes I feel like I should be able to. I mean with the internet shouldn’t we all run our own little businesses, teach our kids several languages during their preschool years, and go to school via-internet at night? Not sure about you, but it seems as if so much is expected these days.

So, to dispel any false ideas…I don’t do it all. I have tons of dreams in my heart, and sure I can do them all. Just not at the same time. I will probably write more on this later, especially geared for the mom readers, but to some extent all of us feel a bit baffled at trying to figure out what we should be doing in any given season of our lives. Here are a few thoughts on how I decide what I am giving myself to.

1. What do I have to do? I would like to think that I don’t have to organize toys, clean the bathrooms or fold the laundry…but I do. There are the daily things all of us have to do. Maybe it is work an 8-5 job to provide, or change diapers and pick up half chewed crayons all day. Whatever your life looks like, your ‘daily’ has to happen. Don’t be irresponsible.

2. What are my vision & values? I use this lens all the time. What things do I want my life to be about & how can I flesh that out in my daily life. I have tons of ideas and other things presented to me. But, will they distract from things I know I am called to do? And does it serve the values I want my life to be about? If I only have an hour to give this week, what is going to be the best long term investment for what I want to build into. Even the little things we take on shape the life we are creating for ourselves. I want to build my house, even if it is one little stone at a time. I have to be fine with saying ‘no’. No, I can’t disciple 20 girls each week in my living room, and no I can’t start a non-profit for stray cats. Just because it is a great idea doesn’t mean it is a great idea for me.

3. Fun is not an option. It HAS to happen. Life should have very fun moments. The kind that you laugh so hard you can’t catch your breath. It should have conversations that leave you dreaming and wondering…if you are too busy, or too heavy all the time for relationships and experiences that are fun, then you are too busy. And you are probably a bit boring. This isn’t good & it isn’t what you were made for. Lighten up & you can carry more.

4. Can I put my head on the pillow at night and rest? If I lay in bed and think about all that didn’t get done that day or if I find myself anxious about how I am going to get things done tomorrow…it’s a red flag. I am either doing too much, or being a bit of a performer. Either way, it means that my expectations are too high. I’m not going to get everything done. Some weeks the laundry will be behind, but Sophie has mastered her alphabet. Other weeks each sock is folded in a drawer, but I didn’t write much on my blog. Either is okay. If I am doing my best to be faithful to what God has set before me, He will make up for every place I have lack.

The Bible says many are the ways in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord who directs their steps. He has your back. Do your best, but don’t try to do it all. At least not at the same time.

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Where The Water Runs Red

I wrote a poem in high school once. It was titled ‘Where The Water Runs Red’. It was about a young soldier who lay dying in a river. The long battle had gone through the night. Morning was beginning to break & he watched what he knew would be his last sunrise. His breath was shallow and the wounds were deep. A few tears escaped his eyes thinking of the woman he never loved and the child he never had. Dreams that would die with him this day. As he laid there he thought about what he was dying for. Freedom. Hope. A dream of justice for humanity. He knew no one would even know his name. Or what his last few minutes of life had been like. His heart was a little sad at the thought, but he looked around and saw hundreds of others dying a similar death. They were all just snapshots of a greater portrait. As his vision faded, he watched as his blood swirled with the chilly, pure water of the river… And thats how my poem ended.

It is one of my favorite things I have ever written. I bawled when I wrote it. Literally, I couldn’t stop crying. I just thought of all the people who have died similar deaths throughout history. Lonely, painful, yet deeply meaningful. They died not just to win a war, but to promote something greater than themselves.

In history class I would always think about my dad or brother when we studied battles. Imagining them in that place. I envisioned my brother when I wrote the poem in high school. They were all someone’s son or brother.

I love Memorial Day. What a powerful time to remember the genuine sacrifice of men, women and their families. Of generations. Heros no one ever knew the name of. Sometimes I wish that I could sit next to a dying soldier. Like the soldier I wrote about, and look him in the eyes. Tell him what a difference he made. I would want him to know that people may not know his name, but they will always remember his cause. Freedom. It’s a battle cry that will never die within the hearts of men.

I can’t visit the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC , or The Battle of Normandy in June of 1944. But I can remember the cause of freedom which they all fought for. I can carry it in my heart as well. Tomorrow is Memorial Day. I will remember. I will probably cry thinking of the sacrifice of others. Most of all I will honor those who fought with courage. Those who gave their lives for something greater. And I will pray. I will pray that God will give me the courage to live my life for something greater than myself.

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How To…Survive In Retail

This is the first of my “How To…” posts which will be posted every Wednesday. I realized that I know lots of interesting people who know lots of interesting things…so I asked different ones to share with us. Kicking us off is Kendall Hopkins. She makes her living selling dresses at a high end department store. Many of us have worked in retail at one point, but Kendall is good at it. So, I asked her to share her insights. Enjoy! :

To say I am good at selling dresses is an understatement. Fantastic. Exceptional. Lucrative? I could keep going…but I won’t. I’ll spare you. And practice humility.

I sold $1,400 worth of dresses to a lady…then turned around to sell another $800 to a different lady. This is just the tip of the iceberg for a Tuesday. You should see me on a Saturday.

Why am I good? Not sure. Perhaps it’s the lineage of salesmen blood in my veins. Or my thick skin I developed from evangelistic endeavors gone awkward. Or the years I spent cheerleading?

Who cares why I’m good? What a waste of time in over analyzing my greatness in this area…

The Basics of Being a Baller Dress Seller:

1. MOVE IT OR LOOSE IT SISTER. If you’re not moving you’re loosing. Stay busy. I move around. I never stand still and twiddle my thumbs. Leaning on the counter or fixing your pony tail in the mirror makes you look lazy, unapproachable, and inexpert-like. Customers will ask the girl for help that looks helpful. Not the girl who is standing around chatting it up about how she and her boyfriend got in the worst fight over his cat Trickles. My co-workers would get mad at me because I would have 3 customers and then get 2 more. It was not because I wanted to help them…but really they wanted me to help them. They saw I was busy and that looked better than the girls that were not. Perhaps this is why talented people get more talented…

2. POUNCE ON IT. You must be the first to initiate. Say hello. But hello is boring and so last year. Comment on their Venti Starbucks. Large chubby kid in the stroller with fantastic eyes and drool down the chin. Bracelet that you wish you could afford. Anything. Comment & greet.

3. MOVE IN FOR THE KILL. Cut straight to the chase. None of this dancing around business. I have no time for that. I never say “Are you looking for a dress?” That my friend. Is Stupid. Of course she is looking for a dress. She is standing in the middle of the dress department. I start asking questions…”Why are you looking for a dress?” Then I listen. And look at her closely. To whatever she has to say. And pay close attention. Not to just what she says. But how she says it. Her body language. Her eyes. Did they light up? Or look dreary? Was her voice timid or tenacious? Was her answer short and abrupt or long with way too much detail. Depending on this…Leads me into number 4…

4. SERVE WHILE SERVING DIFFERENTLY. You have to be good at reading people. If you’re not. Give up. Do something else. Depending on how a person is…is how you sell to them. Some people want you to wait on them hand and foot…others want to be left alone. Your job…is to give them the kind of service in the manner they want it. Those that want to be left alone…leave them alone. Those that want your suggestions, feedback, encouragement, opinion…give it to them. And be ready to run around…

5. WRAP BACON AROUND A VITAMIN AND FEED IT TO THE DOG. You must master the art of telling ladies the truth. If it looks bad. It does. And let’s not lie for money. That is greed. And makes the world a less attractive place. The last thing we need is women showing up to places looking silly. Shoot them straight. When you tell them the truth about something that looks bad, they will believe you more when you tell them that something looks good. You must be kind in doing so. How you word it matters.

For example:
I never say “Your butt looks horrible…I can see all your flab.”
But I do sat…”I love that blue on you. It brings out your eyes. All you need is Spanx to make it more seamless.”

Seamless vs. fat butt. I was getting to the same point…but one goes over way better. There is an art to this. One must figure it out. It does wonders to one’s success.

6. GET EXCITED. You must get excited about their life…the backstory. Why are they buying the dress? Where are they going tonight? When did they get engaged? How long have the boy and you been together? How many kids do you have? Why are you going to the south of France? What kind of law do you practice? Get excited about the clothes…but more importantly get excited on where they are wearing the clothes…

People like going to the sales person who knows their backstory. That cares about their backstory. Like a person who does set designs for movies. Set designers have to read the script. They know where the move started and where it needs to end up.

That my friends is how you survive in retail.

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Worst Song Lyrics Ever

I’m not a poet, nor a musician. No, really, I’m not. But, sometimes I catch myself singing along to a song & I think “wait? What? That doesn’t make any sense…” I thought tonight I would jot down a few lyrics I have heard recently that cause me to question the intelligence of the music industry. Not some weird obscure song, but mainstream songs we have all heard. It was hard to narrow it down, but here are the finalists.

“Coast to Coast
L.A. to Chicago ”
– Sade ‘Smooth Operator’

Hmm…yeah, not quite. Keep going east just a big further.

“I don’t like cities, but I like New York
Other places make me feel like a dork.”
– Madonna “I love New York”

Well, it rhymes I suppose.

“There were plants , and birds, and rocks, and things..”
– America ‘Horse with no name’

Things??? How about coyotes, snakes, sand…I dunno, but things??? No wonder your horse doesn’t have a name.

“If I was a sculptor , but then again, no. “
– Elton John “Your Song’

I had an Elton John’s Greatest Hits CD in high school. (I will pause while you laugh and
jest at my expense) This song always bothered me. If “no” then why mention it at all.
Just delete the line.

“She’s a brick house. She’s the one, the only one built like an amazon.”
– The Commodores ‘Brick House’

It’s not only the lyrics I wonder about…but why do white people still dance to this at
weddings.

“I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, what you did…As long as you love me.”
– Backstreet Boys

Set the standard a bit higher boys. Its lyrics like this that caused me to go to the
NSync concert instead of the Backstreet Boys. Oh, yeah. American Airlines Center in
Dallas. Spring of 2000…I was there.

“If I was invisible, I would be the smartest man.”
– Clay Aiken ‘Invisible’

I’m really trying…no, I don’t get it.

“I’m turning Japanese , I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so.”
-The Vapors ‘Turning Japanese’

No, no you’re not. You aren’t turning Japanese. Stop saying it.

“MmmBop. Bop. Bop. MmmBop. Dibby Dop Dop. MmmBop…”
-Hanson ‘MmmBop”

If you can pronounce the lyrics of a song without needing any teeth, it’s probably not
the best idea.

“Your lipstick stains, on the front lobe of my left side brains…”
– Train ‘Hey Soul Sister’

I don’t actually hate this song, but left side brains… you lost me there.

“You love me for who I am, like the stars hold the moon.”
-Miley Cyrus ‘When I look at you’

The stars don’t hold the moon…which means that he doesn’t love her for who she is?
Kinda looses the effect there.

“You look so deep, you know that it humbles me.”
-Justin Bieber ‘One Time’

Oh, the Biebs…I actually do like Justin Bieber, but this line…This line does not give
me the fever of the Bieber. (pop culture analogy if you don’t know)

I’m not saying that these people are idiots, they just had a bit of a lapse of judgement in choosing lyrics. Goodness knows I have said plenty of stupid things. Thankfully they aren’t in the heads of millions of people. Goodnight & share in the comments any other bad lyrics you can think of!

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Rapture, Doomsday, End of the World, May 21st – My Thoughts

I’m sure you have all heard that the world is ending tomorrow. Millions of people are anxious – if that is you, please keep reading. Everyone is laughing nervously and making jokes…but I’m sure it is making people think. People will put their heads on their pillows saying that it is ridiculous, but they are a bit fearful anyway. Especially considering what a crazy year it has been. Earthquakes, nuclear leaks, flooding and all…

People have been selling rapture insurance. It’s all over the news. You can buy a special rapture insurance so that if you get raptured people will come & place your pets in a new home. I think that of all the people left behind, I wouldn’t be so concerned about my pets…but then again I didn’t buy the insurance.

The topic of the world ending is out there. Amazing the conversation that one man can start. There are two people I want to talk to tonight. I know from looking at my stats that there are people who find my posts through random google searches. Many I assume do not know Jesus. The second are regular readers, most but not all of whom are Christians.

Some of you are finding yourself searching for answers tonight. Pushing through fear and uncertainty to explore the question of the earth’s destiny & yours. If that is you, please know that Jesus loves you very much. His desire for you is that you would be in a relationship with Him. In Jesus there is complete peace, fullness of joy, acceptance like you never imagined and freedom that will make you cry. He has plans and purposes for your life. God made you with a beautiful plan in mind. He is extending His hand to you tonight. I don’t think that the rapture is tomorrow, but God is still pursuing you. You can choose to follow Jesus right now. Tell Him that you are an imperfect, broken & sinful person (God loves those by the way). Tell God that you receive the salvation that Jesus paid for on the Cross & then ask Jesus to come into your life and fill you. Then listen. Sit still and listen because God wants to talk to you. You can email me at the email listed in the “about lark & bloom section”. I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions.

For the rest of you…The whole world is talking about the return of Jesus…lets talk about it with them. I know we are all annoyed by the doomsday prophets. What if we were just as loud as they were? Prophesying hope, joy, salvation and freedom. Take advantage of this global conversation to portray the heart of God. The world is awake to the Gospel this weekend. Participate.

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Courage Like Lady Gaga

The obvious choice of photo for this post would be a picture of Lady Gaga herself. However, I couldn’t get any to load ( tech support please ). So, I choose a picture of Sophie dressed in a ridiculous outfit, much like Lady Gaga does.

I have been thinking about courage lately and why it is so necessary in our lives. Some of you hate Lady Gaga, maybe some like her. I’m not endorsing her lifestyle or her music. Personally, I am not a fan of hers. But, the woman has some courage. Forbes magazine just ranked her the #1 most influential celebrity. She beat Oprah…OPRAH. No one beats Oprah…except Gaga. But, don’t worry. This isn’t a story about Lady Gaga.

I simply mention her because she is a girl who was rejected most of her life. But, she was fearless and kept moving forward the dreams in her heart. She had some serious courage. She wore an egg costume to the Grammys. C-O-U-R-A-G-E. And this courage has brought her amazing influence. I follow Jesus. He has my back. Surely, with Him I can have more courage than Lady Gaga.

Personally, I believe that God has big dreams for each of us. We don’t all need to be famous or do outlandish things…just have the courage to do what God has put in our heart. We are courageous because God is with us. He is in us. Being famous or influential doesn’t necessarily take courage. Life does though.

Life should take courage. If you aren’t repeatedly hitting a place that you have to dig up more courage in the Spirit, then you probably aren’t going anywhere. Maintaining the status quo isn’t difficult. We are made to do things. Big things. Historic things. Life should take courage.

We think courage is only needed for leaders or people who God has asked to do risky things. It’s just not true. Anything that causes us to step out of our control of a situation and rely on God to come through is significant, a momentum builder and takes… yes, courage.

Sometimes “small” things take huge amounts of courage. Forgiveness takes courage. It is risky to live in community with vulnerability. But when we risk, community is nurtured, and a group of people living in Biblical community will change the world. It always has.

Maybe you need courage to start a relationship. Or to end a relationship. You need courage to be honest and confident about who God has made you. Not living to please people, but living to accomplish the call of God on your life.

God’s Kingdom is advanced when we respond to who He has called us to be. David didn’t defeat giants fighting as Saul. He fought as himself. With a sling, rocks, and no armor. He fought as himself and he won. He had courage.

I got a lot of feedback from my last post. The stories of injustice stir us all and cause most of us to be overwhelmed. Many of you felt inadequate and incompetent to make a difference. But you are not. You won’t be Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, or Mother Theresa. You certainly won’t be Jesus. But you are called to risk and rise up in courage. As yourself. With the weapons, personality, gifting and history that you have. When you fight as yourself, you win your battles.

We walk out in courage knowing that we are not alone. You aren’t the only teacher believing for his students to be changed. You aren’t the only doctor believing for your patients to be healed. Not the only barista dreaming of being a CEO and funding HIV prevention in Africa. You are not the only mother of a child with special needs contending for your son or daughter. You are not alone. You are a part of an Army. A great company of men and women. A giant, loud roar of God’s people crying out for more.

When we each fix our eyes on the larger picture happening we are no longer paralyzed with our inability. We walk in confidence and courage to take hold of the promise. Risking in our little area makes big impact when we all do it together. That is the glory of the Church.

When we walk in courage God is glorified. And isn’t that the point?

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The Speck and The Plank

Today, I would like to re-tell the tale of the speck and the plank. If you have ever been in Sunday school you have heard it many times. The story comes out of Matthew 7. I’ll summarize it for you now. There are two men. Each have a foreign object in their eye. The first man throws a fit about the other guy’s eye problem and is trying to fix it for him. Jesus then says at the end of the story that it is hypocritical to try and fix the other person’s problem without addressing the issue with your own eye.

Why in the world am I telling you this? Well, here is the rough part. Rough, but real. Happening now. Before I go further, here are some things I think you should know:

* More than 2 million children are exploited by sex trafficking each year
* On the planet today 27 million people are slaves.
* 1 in 5 women today are victims of rape or attempted rape
* 1 in 3 women today have been beaten or violently abused in some way.
* The market value of the sex trade is estimated at over $32 billion dollars.
* If you adjust the price of a slave in the 1850s it would be $40,000 in today’s money. Right now in the world the average slave costs $90.
* Many slaves are “paid” only enough rice to keep them alive and able to work.
* Due to all of the advances in today’s technology, transportation and international relationships people are much easier to exploit. It is easier to gain access to the poor and vulnerable, making people more ‘disposable’.

The roots of these injustices are control and an overall belief that another human doesn’t hold the same value…pride at it’s grandest.

These facts enrage me. I want to walk into a brothel and declare their freedom. Find the lonely child making bricks and carry him away. We were made to execute justice. Part of the Church’s calling is to right that which is wrong. To bring order to God’s earth.

So, why the Sunday School lesson at the beginning? Well, if we are going to be effective at winning this battle with injustice we better get our planks & specks out. Sure, we don’t have slaves. We aren’t engaging in sexual exploitation…I have never beaten anyone & most of you haven’t either.

But, I have snubbed my nose at the homeless person annoying me with their requests for money. I have gossiped and said things which abused the emotions of others. I have controlled people through manipulated words.

Control, abuse, thinking I am better than the poor… Perhaps I am a slaveholder in my own right? Perhaps you are too? It seems like much easier offenses to overlook. But they are the same root problems. Yes, its big scale vs small scale. A speck vs. a plank.

The passage ends with these words “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” As followers of Jesus, we need to address the “planks” and injust actions of others. Millions of people’s lives are counting on our action.

But, it isn’t only signing petitions, giving money, and serving in various capacities. We have to fight this war. According to this passage, the key to doing so effectively lies in getting rid of the enemy’s desception in our own lives.

Injustice must stop. Slaves must be freed and the broken are destined to be made whole. That is how Jesus works. Lets do it with Matthew 7 strategy. Let’s remove the speck from our brother’s eye but only after tending to our own. Love people today. It’s part of the battle. An Epic Battle.

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