Sunday, August 23, 2009

Social Filters

For some reason this has come up a lot lately. You know when it happens. Someone says something in a group and every one thinks "I was thinking it but wow - she said it OUT LOUD!". Not that this is always a problem. At times we need to tell the Emperor that he has no clothes on. But other times we just need to keep our mouths shut.

This is something that people generally learn with maturity. Kids are the worst. They'll tell your deepest darkest secrets to anyone. I will admit it now that I love working with children at the church because I know the monetary, sleeping, and eating habits of most of the parents at our church. In a way I guess that makes me a stalker but if the kids going to offer it I can't not listen - plus I'm pretty good about keeping things in the vault.

I digress - although I'd like to think that I've become wise to the nuances of social filters, alas I really am not all that good at them myself. I remember one instance when I was working with someone that I'd known for a few weeks when I discovered he was in remission from cancer. I was fascinated. He was so young and had done really well and I'd like to say that I was just curious about the miracle that God had done in his life but I found myself wanting to know if all cancer patients have similar experiences to chemo and I ended up asking a question about "body hair" loss-age and the inevitable growing back of said "body hair". Now... I'm trying to use a social filter in telling this tale (as I'm not really sure who is reading) but I want you to be clear that I asked someone about their "body hair" that grows in places I'll never (and never care to) see and I'd only known him for about three weeks. I clearly remember walking back to my cube and thinking "Did I REALLY ask that?" "OUT LOUD?????"

So for those of you who may need some assistance in either using social filters or leading others in using social filters, here are a few tips:

1) The Motion Picture Association of America's film rating system has some good guidelines for what constitutes adult content, youth content, and children's content. If anything, say to yourself "Would this make the cut in a PG-13 movie or a PG movie?" If is clearly a PG-13 conversation, keep it away from the 10 year olds. I don't care how mature they are unless their parent initiates the conversation: zip-your-lip.

2) Although sexual innuendos and off color jokes may be very funny at times, if it would offend my grandma and I've known the person less than a year then I'll try to refrain. I know that you may not have known my grandma but just think of a very introverted "church lady" and you'll get the picture. This rule can get tricky if I feel that I know someone better than I really do. Then I may tend to open up which sometimes works fine and other times really gets messy.

3) Remember in Dirty Dancing when Patrick Swayze says "This is your dancing space. This is my dancing space." The same holds true for public conversation and private conversation. A large group setting (unless specifically designated otherwise) is for "safe" conversation. Private conversation should be held in - PRIVATE. Not in the middle of the public setting.

There are many other unofficial rules about social filters that I could go on about but as many of you know me - I'm not so good at these. I'm still learning and trying to see where my boundaries lie. I'm doing my best and so are most of you. Just remember that not everyone is at the level you are at when it comes to these kinds of things so if you see someone "breaking the rules", give them the discreet "look" that'll tell them "this isn't the place." They'll thank you for it later.

Until Everyone Hears,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Share the Love

Today I did something that I've been waiting 2.5 years to do. I cut my hair off and donated it to Locks of Love. I'm a slow grower (or so I'm told) so you can image that I never thought this day would finally come. I had to grow enough to donate 10 inches and still have some hair left for me.

When I started this adventure, I wanted to do something that didn't require a lot of effort on my part, that would be a small sacrifice, and could help someone else. What I didn't realize is that for the past two years, every time I looked in the mirror, I was reminded that I have something that others don't. I know that we all appreciate many things in life: a job, family, food, health, eyesight, ability to walk, facebook, etc. But in a society where looks are so over valued, it was strange to think of the need for hair.

Now my husband can fully attest to this need. Even today he is wondering why I didn't donate my locks to him for a toupee. But even he realizes that there is a double standard. He can shave his thinning/balding head and look stylish. Women and especially girls cannot. And when they have lost their hair and are going through their teen years I can only imagine that this can be devastating.

I was ready today. That hair had seen me through the death of a friend, the start of our church, the birth of my daughter. And even though there were several instances where I wanted to pull it out due to a situation or people driving me crazy - I refrained. I tried to take care of it so that someone else could enjoy it.

And that is the lesson that I think I learned. Take care of things so that someone else will be able to enjoy it after. These things can be hair, furniture, clothes, the church, your children and especially yourself. Taking care can lead to all sorts of fun and happiness in the future.

So did my small bit of good today. I cut my hair. It only took 30 seconds to snip it off. 2 years, 6 months, 5 days, 10 hours, 33 minutes, and 30 seconds and hopefully in a few weeks it'll make someone's day. It sure made mine.

Until Everyone Hears,

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Funkalicious shAnnostyLe

I just finished preaching at this morning's service and still have a bit of the Holy Spirit desparately trying to get out of me so I of course feel the need to blog.

Good preacher's have different styles or trademarks if you will. Andy Stanley has his "Listen, listen, listen" phrase. Rick Warren wears his hawaain shirts. Pastor Mark likes to asks questions that he whispers the answers to.

But for some reason I never really thought I had a style. I like to use a specific model for forming the organization of the sermon (personal story, bigger story, scripture, solution to a problem, how to apply it) and I ALWAYS want to use humor in my sermons. God gave us life so that we may have it abundantly and I don't think we can truly live with out some laughter in our life.

So I was shocked this morning when someone said I had a "style". A "style"? Me? Before I got too excited that I'm the next female Andy Stanley of the UMC, I had to ask... what do you mean by that? Because unfortunately I grew up listening to a few different styles that weren't so good. There was the "Letsprayforeveryoneintheworldstylesowedontforgettoleaveanyoneout" and the "anyonewhoplaysthelotteryisgoingtohell-style". Both of which did not impress me too much.

But then I got an answer I was looking for - a name for my style. Funkaliscious shAnnostyLe. I have to admit that I was NOT the one that came up with this - thanks @turff (just like "Dr. K" all good nicknames are thrust upon you). But I DO like it!

So in thinking about this style of mine, I've come up with the major characteristics of the funkalicious shAnnosyLe that are evolving:

1) LAUGH LAUGH LAUGH - because God is good and it should make us happy

2) I always try to use the word "poop" in an appropriate context in every sermon. This started after I had boys and was still working with youth. They tended to pay more attention to clean potty humor (an oxymoron I know) so I used it frequently. By the time I got around to preaching again, it was just part of who I was. Yes it makes some people uncomfortable, but it's who I am and it seems to work for some.

3) I CANNOT USE NOTES! This may be hard for some people to understand but I've tried it both ways and ANY kind of notes that I may have really hinder me. They are a crutch I don't need. After having Dori and going through many months of sleep deprivation I went back to using a few notes. I was just too nervous to go it alone. In my opinion it showed poor faith that God would get me through. My sermons suffered. Today was probably the best one I've delivered since she was born and although I was disciplined to spend some good time in prayer working on it, I'm convinced that my lack of notes this morning really allowed me to rely on the Spirit and let God speak through me.

That's all for now. My "style" is evolving. Oh and I preached on "Greatness" today. If you keep striving to be closer to God and be like God and stick with God - then we can be "great" like God. I hope my style is great, effective, and God-like (even when I say poop).

Until Everyone Hears,

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