Authenticity, Blessings, Christian Maturity, Conversations, Life Lessons, Listening

LET’S DO LUNCH

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Do you like to go out to lunch with friends?

I do.

After I retired, I ate out a lot.

A. Whole. Lot.

During one period, I repeatedly ran into our new minister at restaurants all over town while he was getting acquainted with church members.

One day, he said, “Dorothy, you must eat out every day. Everywhere I go, I see you.”

I’m pretty sure he rolled his eyes when I laughingly quipped that was because I had a Lunch Ministry.

A MINISTRY OF LUNCHES

It’d be a big stretch to say I have a lunch ministry in the sense that I’m an all-wise counselor. I’m not. But in another sense, there are times, I’m a pretty good listener, and we all need a safe place to talk about what’s bothering us.

 We learn which people are safe–which people will keep our confidences–by experience.

ARE YOU SAFE?

I wish I could say I’ve always been a safe listener, but sadly, I remember two specific instances in junior high when I let friends down after they confided in me by telling another friend. Looking back, I think it was because in both situations what I heard was too much for me to handle on my own.

But I should have gone to an adult instead of sharing it with a peer, who unfortunately passed it on to someone, who promised not tell but did–you know how that goes. Offering apologies afterward felt inadequate.

However, I learned from my failure. After seeing the pain I caused–and having borne the brunt of other people’s loose lips myself, becoming a trustworthy confidant became a lifelong pursuit for me.

HEART CONNECTIONS

God seems to show up when we honestly share our lives and faith over a simple meal. And although we rejoice at one another’s victories, I’ve come to see that it’s seldom our accomplishments that bind us together. More often, it’s when we dare to share our fears, failures, and pain that we form strong heart connections.

642a7-heart2bchainThrough the years, I’ve been the recipient of encouragement and good advice as often as I’ve listened. Some of my most precious friendships grew from such times.

These days, I’m more likely to meet for coffee than go out to lunch. Oh, wait a minute–I did go out to eat twice this week and gathered for coffee once. So I’ll just say, it’s not what we consume or where we get together that counts as much as whether we offer one another a listening ear and compassionate heart. And I’m always up for praying for God’s answer to our problems.

What about you?

Do you like to go out to eat?

If you’re interested in doing lunch, give me a call.

 

The Lord God gives me the right words to encourage the weary.
Each morning he awakens me eager to learn his teaching;
he made me willing to listen and not rebel or run away.

Isaiah 50:4-5 (CEV)

 

Authenticity, Blogging, courage, Encouragement, Individuality, Support

THE POWER OF THREE

Timmy, Max & Lucy are poster children for competing and comparing at dinnertime.

Anytime I read or hear something three times, I stop and take note, which is one of the reasons my experience at the 2013 Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged Conference was so meaningful.
Arkansas Women Bloggers


Although the offerings and speakers varied, each person, in her own unique way, presented some of the same principles I’ve been hearing at gatherings of writers over the past year. Each AWB speaker confirmed the advice of a previous mentor. Which takes me back my Rule of Three: Pay attention to the truth of a repeated message.

Here are some of the things I’ve heard again and again over past twelve months.

Don’t Compare!    Don’t Compete!     Don’t Compromise!

Wait a minute! If we’re going for the gold or a big scholarship, we’d be foolish not to compare our performance with others seeking the same thing. How can you break a record if you don’t know how you line up with your competition?

It’s a given that no one wants to lose that tennis game or play on a noncompetitive team. But that will happen if we don’t compete. Right?

And anyone who has been in a close relationship knows that compromise is important when family, colleagues or friends disagree. It’s a sign of maturity not to always demand your way. Maybe their way is better.

If Competition, Comparison and Compromise are such important components of our culture and obviously a part of human DNA, why don’t they belong in the world of writing?

Perhaps it’s partly because the creative arts are subjective. They can’t be evaluated by a stopwatch, scoreboard or test key. Even though there are guidelines in writing, we’ve all read things that appeal to us that aren’t the norm. Throw out a topic and take note of how differently individuals approach it.

I’m blessed to be in a critique group that meets once a  month to discuss one another’s writing. For the most part, our group focuses on the positive, but we also challenge each other to do our best work. Otherwise, why meet? It has stretched me at times, but my writing is better for  it. And we’ve formed friendships because our work is done in a spirit of encouragement, not comparison and competition.

Recognizing our natural tendencies to compete and compare is the first step in creating a healthy support group. If we don’t, the Three Cs will separate and reduce us both individually and collectively. As with much of life, these challenges are intertwined, so the answers to them overlap.

Here are just a few of the things I heard at AWB and other gatherings this year that resounded with me. Most can be applied to other facets of our lives, too. 

DON’T COMPARE

It’s Okay to Be Who You Are!

To find my voice, I must Be Relentlessly Authentic.

To be Truly Authentic, I must write from my Own Experiences.

The answer to “Who am I to blog?” is:
I am a Person with Stories.

We’re all on Individual Journeys, but they all involve the same Universal Truths.

Don’t look at numbers, just write what’s on your heart.

Your message Won’t Appeal to everyone, but Your Audience Will Find You.

Authenticity is a Powerful Force.

DON’T COMPETE


I lost track of the number times we were reminded to look for ways to encourage and promote one another at AWBU. In this dog-eat-dog world, it doesn’t come naturally. But when you realize the other person is pulling for you, it’s easier to do the same.

Don’t be a Blog Snob, Promote Others.

         Invite people to Guest Post.

Find blogs that Nourish Your Soul. Read. Comment. Interact.

 DON’T COMPROMISE

It’s so important that I’m going to say it again:

It’s Okay for Us to Be Who We Are!

That involves accepting ourselves – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Just find the middle ground. Don’t blast your readers with a daily dose of angst, complaints or too much information.

Be Fearless.

Stop doing what the other guy is doing.

Ask yourself: What is my passion?

What do I know to be true

                                                                                       Curly Girl (Leigh Standley) is my inspiration


Remember that accepting and owning your own individual strengths, weaknesses and experiences makes you unique.

Don’t discount the power of your voice.

There was enough wisdom dispensed at AWBU to fill several posts. The bottom line for me is that I felt empowered by the support and encouragement of the women I met and the speakers I heard that weekend. I’m encouraging my blogging friends to join Arkansas Women Bloggers www.arkansaswomenbloggers.com and to attend the 2014 AWBU with me! 
 
We need each other. We’re more powerful when we band together.


I have to express special appreciation to my friend, Talya Boerner, for prodding me to start a blog, helping me set it up, holding my hand all along the way and for telling me, “You need to join Arkansas Women Bloggers. You need to go to this conference.” 
Talya is the perfect role model for this wonderful organization!

If you haven’t read her blog http://gracegritsgarden.com, I hope you will today.

T, You’re the best! I love you!

And thanks to all my friends who take time to read, like, share and comment on my blog. You are Wonderful!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Cor. 5:11