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Join me! Live Church Online Events in England & Ireland

LifeChurch.tv Church Online events in England & Ireland June 2013

LifeChurch.tv Church Online events in England & Ireland June 2013

Willow Creek UK & Ireland is partnering with Lifechurch.tv for a special regional event. As Lifechurch.tv’s Church Online Community Pastor, I am honored to share about the global reach of Church Online and how a partnership might play a part in local church mission in the UK. 

Come and join with other leaders in your region and explore the opportunities that a partnership with Church Online presents. You will be inspired by what you hear!

June 3 Stafford, England
June 4 Scunthorpe, England
June 5 London, England (SW11 1EJ)
June 6 Bracknell, England
June 7 Bangor, N. Ireland

For more specific details on the events in June, check out http://willowuki.eventbrite.co.uk/.

What is Church Online?

As long as there is even one soul hurting, Church Online will be a place to encounter God and people who care through:

Global Reach. Church Online reaches people who live in countries without the freedom to worship Christ, people who don’t live near a LifeChurch.tv campus, military families stationed abroad, those searching for answers online, and millions more. In 2012, 4.8 million unique visitors in more than 220 countries and territories attended Church Online at LifeChurch.tv.

Shared Experience. There are more than 50 experience times at Church Online that share worship, a community pastor, and a powerful message delivered by Pastor Craig Groeschel just like at a LifeChurch.tv location.

Real Community. Church Online at LifeChurch.tv is a community of people all over the world experiencing God and connecting with one another like never before in history. People from all walks of life experience church together in real-time including live chat and one-on-one prayer with a passionate volunteer.

Changed Lives. You can change the life of someone you know who lives far from a your physical location or isn’t quite ready to walk through the doors. Invite someone you know to attend a Church Online at LifeChurch.tv service at live.lifechurch.tv.

Join the Team. By accepting people where they are with love, incredible life change happens every week. That’s only possible because of the hundreds of volunteers with a passion to serve. This is your chance to be a global missionary in a digital world. Details at http://churchonline.lifechurch.tv/volunteer/.

An open letter to my kids: Guatemala follow-up

Our kids in Guatemala this week

Our kids in Guatemala this week

Gosh, BC and Mac, it can’t be easy being our kids. Your dad and I can’t explain why both of us are so passionate about collaborating with people in other countries around the purpose of advancing the gospel. There’s no easy answer to why we are so pro-adoption. It can’t be fully understood why adventure is often part of our lives. Except that God created us this way, united us, and now He’s multiplied our joy to have you two along on our journey of faith and obedience. Every international friend we have is also an ally to both of you. Each time we invest time or money in a cause near to our hearts we do it for God’s glory and to see if we can’t pencil out a path for each of you to explore. God is using our family’s story to develop you. You are already gifted leaders and your education and development are a key focus of ours.

Today it’s only a little visible, but I believe God is at work revealing to us tiny pieces of the grand puzzles that are your lives’ purposes. This week in Guatemala you saw pain and poverty like most adults never see in their entire lives. You asked questions, offered prayer, and accepted the confusion that these circumstances bring. You gave hugs, offered smiles, and courageously trusted us to lead you each day despite the smells, sights, and sounds you were confronted with. I loved seeing you introduce yourselves to new people using broken Spanish. You watched teachers wash blood out of the road in front of a school following a crime and never asked to go home. You took a leap of faith by joining Dad and me on this trip and wound up being sad about leaving after such a great experience. Blake and Mackenzie – you are not complainers; you are are grateful…and watching you this week makes my heart swell with joy.

Who knows? One of you could be an artist, the other an activist. Perhaps one of you will invest your gifts in the local church or a global mission? It might come to pass that you’re entrepreneurs. We won’t dare make the plans for you, but we aim to expose you to all God offers us. Over time we will see the light within you both growing ever brighter until you’re engaged in living out your passions just like Daddy and I do.

My sweeties – if you are so blessed as to raise children someday, please take them along with you on the journey. Watching them follow you into God-sized dreams with trust will bless you immeasureably, just as your willingness to pursue our dreams together as a family has blessed your Daddy and me.

I love you like crazy cakes,
Mom

Prayer Needs: The 2013 Lemonade International Bloggers’ Trip

Our sweet Mackenzie represents only a small portion of how wonderful Guatemala and its people are.

Our sweet Mackenzie represents only a small portion of how wonderful Guatemala and its people are.

Our family leaves for Guatemala Saturday, and we would appreciate your prayers. To put it simply, this trip is among my “what matters most” for 2013.

  • Safe travel for all of the bloggers
  • Unified group (I have a hunch we’ll be making some great friends in the short amount of time we’ll be gone.)
  • That we would honor the La Limonada community by the time we spend together and the blog posts you will see come out of our shared experiences.
  • For all of the La Limonada children to be sponsored next week (see their precious faces by clicking on the banner to the right.)
  • For health for us all (no food allergy reactions, migraines, or digestive issues)
  • That God’s favor and protection would surround our team
  • For each of us to become more like Jesus, changed by our time spent in the La Limonada community

This journey began in 1995, when I first knew I wanted to adopt a child. It continues as Chris and I seek opportunities to expand our kids’ global perspectives and dive into the awkwardness of spiritual and financial poverty with them. I truly pray the blog posts from this trip compel action resulting in all of the La Limonada children being sponsored, but I know even more can happen. I hope my desire for each of the La Limonada children to live in safety, have meals every day, receive an education, find employment, and live in a healthy community is something that grows even more deeply in my heart and is transplanted into the hearts of my children.

Oh, poo. Am I supposed to be happy crying about this trip before we even board the plane?

Q&A: Guatemala Bloggers’ Trip with Lemonade International

Lemonade International Bloggers Trip 2013

Is this a short-term missions trip?
No. We are not going to Guatemala City to provide a service or money and walk away. We are going to bring awareness to a group of people (Lemonade International) who live in the city, have ongoing relationships with the residents of La Limonada, and are devoting their lives to the economic development of the community.

Is this a LifeChurch.tv-related event?
No. While I am on staff at LifeChurch.tv, this trip is not related to the ministry I’m part of there. Our family has a love for Guatemala and its people due to it being our daughter’s home country, and this trip was planned based out of this personal interest in our lives.

What are your thoughts on missions work in general?
When our family moved overseas to help churches launch online ministries, we learned first-hand a very important lesson: it’s always a mistake to go anywhere thinking you have all the answers. That’s why we operated our non-profit organization with the goal of training and empowering indigenous leaders who know the culture, are passionate about their country, and are committed to meeting the needs of their community in a unique way.

Some missions organizations or trips have good intentions but perpetuate dependence on others when they could provide opportunities instead. I can’t wait to show you on the blog next week how Lemonade International is providing opportunities for the people of the La Limonada community to improve their lives. (To learn more about this missions approach, go to http://www.whenhelpinghurts.org/).

10 Days to Guatemala: La Limonada

10 Days to Guatemala: La Limonada

10 Days to Guatemala: La Limonada

Reparando – Embracing the pain of their past to heal the next generation

(The video clip above is a preview of the La Limonada area we’ll visit.)

Guatemala is our daughter’s home country. Like her story, Guatemala’s history is full of pain, brokenness, redemption, and hope. In 10 days our family leaves to participate in the Lemonade International Blogger’s Trip to shed light on the hope that’s rising in La Limonada, Central America’s largest urban slum. I will post again about our trip before we leave, but today I want you to have a 2 minute primer course for what’s to come on my blog while we’re in Guatemala City.

Lemonade International empowers local leaders to develop their community through micro-finance, education, and biblical community. I look forward to sharing our adventure with you! I believe you will hear stories that cause you to stop and think about what really, really matters to you. I’m praying that the photos you see from our trip will lead you to wrestle with the way you spend time or money. And most of all, I trust that this experience will bring a fresh perspective into our lives as to how we should define joy.

This is going to be awesome.

dlb

 

How I Decided to Fire Myself

How I Decided to Fire Myself

How I Decided to Fire Myself

About 12 years ago I was part of a business opportunity for women that’s well-known in the United States. It had been a goal of mine to try  this business since I had been about 10 years old. I found the nearest director with whom I could partner, Chris and I made an investment to start my business, and I got to work. It was rewarding using my gifts to build a business and empower women. In a short amount of time, I built a team across three states and earned a car. (Ever the practical person, I took the cash option, however. :)) I had become part of a network of excellent business women and was challenged  to develop as a leader in ways I’d never experienced before.

But then something happened: I became better acquainted with myself. 

  • I learned that I was not interested in working in an organization that employed and served women exclusively.
  • I discovered that I perform best in the mornings (and this business focused almost exclusively around evening events).
  • It became clear that my work day is optimized in an office setting with other leaders instead of working at home, alone.
  • I realized that money (which was the primary reward for my business expansion) did not motivate me.

Knowing all of this in my early 20′s was a blessing, but I felt I had no options to make a change. The opportunity came a few months later when I noticed work habits of my direct leader in the organization that didn’t jive with my values. She was not behaving in an immoral way, but I realized that being associated with her team meant others assumed I operated the same way she did. I identified this as an opportunity to differentiate myself, and kept going. Then my leader confronted me for slowing down my work schedule during a difficult pregnancy. A few other awkward and eye-opening conversations came to pass and I realized I’d made a mistake.

Here’s the important part: The error was not in beginning the business but in the way I began it. You’ll see above that I said I found the nearest director to me and dove in. I did no research. My decision points were simply location and immediacy – a short-sighted error that ended up affecting my entire business and experience.

There was only one way out: to fire myself. Taking those four points above which I’d learned about myself those few years and combining that knowledge with my all-too-quick business decision meant it was time for me to walk away. I cherish all the things I learned during those years and value the self-discovery the opportunity gave me, but I hope to never forget the lesson of acting too quickly and winding up needing to fire myself.

Are you in a situation in which it’s time to face the music? Maybe you’re performing well but not operating out of your strengths. Perhaps you’ve signed on to support something that doesn’t line up with your values. It could very well be time to fire yourself.

The Right Size Matters

The Right Size Matters

The Right Size Matters

If you don’t believe that size matters, let me ask you this: Have you ever worn a pair of shoes that was too small? Or pants that were a few sizes too large? I’m often asked how I know when enough is enough of anything in my life, and I have to say much of our approach to simple living has to do with assessing whether or not things are right-sized in our life.

I was introduced to the term “right-sizing” while serving as a volunteer in my church about 8 years ago. Right-sizing is the idea of keeping the correct tension of not too many or to few of anything. I was fascinated by the term and believe it applies in all areas of life. While right-sizing is not necessarily the act of keeping things in balance (I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s possible), it can dramatically improve processes and experiences.

Here are a few examples:

  • Family sizes – I have friends who say they’re certain their family isn’t finished yet and they’re pursuing having more kids. Chris and I are content with our family size but would welcome the opportunity to adopt if it came along. Because we don’t like to make big decisions on the “just in case” principle (such as home or vehicle size) we’re making decisions on what seems likely and will accept a happy surprise should it come along and make adjustments to our plan accordingly.
  • Home sizes – The work load of maintaining a home and lawn depends on your family size & lifestyle. I’m unwilling to spend more time or money on space or features we don’t need. When we lived in London, we only had 700 square feet of living space and no garage. That’s because we were car-free and owned very little. Back in America, we’re on the path to cutting back our home size by 40% in the next few months. Experiencing too big (our current rental home) and too little for this point in our lives (the London flat) helped us go into our decision with more clarity than picking a size and hoping it works out.
  • Toy Collections – Most of you reading this post are grown ups. But we all have toys. Maybe it’s your DVD collection, shoes, or the kids’ artwork displayed all over your home. We collect what we like, but it can become overwhelming in the blink of an eye. Do you have more books than you need? Could you actually use a few more key tools in your kitchen to make it right-sized?
  • Work Teams – Every organization experiences a diminished return in hiring at some point. Your army should match the true demand, not the potential demand. Think of it this way: each time the team is busy you could add a member or keep it lean. Adding a person unnecessarily means having too many people, and passion and ownership among the team can wane. Everyone assumes someone else will take care of what needs to be done. But if you keep the team lean and at the right size, with just enough people working interdependently, you’ll see great results.
In which area of your life are you under or over size? Consider making an adjustment to create a custom fit.

Is It a Season or a Lifestyle?

Our family has been through many seasons, but sometimes we wind up letting the season turn into a lifestyle. Has this ever happened to you? Perhaps you agreed to work late a few nights a week on a short-term project but didn’t stop working late after the project ended. Maybe you quit attending a small group when your baby was born, but now he’s no longer a newborn and you’ve not yet returned to the community. These things happen. But they won’t shift until you tell them to.
Some choices we make intentionally, others we don’t realize we’ve made until a short-term adjustment turns into a habit and then becomes a lifestyle. While there’s no hard and fast rules to this, I’d have to say from personal experience that anything we do for a month becomes a habit in our family’s expenditure of time and money, and any habit that stays in place for more than 6 weeks to 2 months is well on its way to becoming part of our lifestyle.
Here are some ways to find out if you’re in a season or into a full-blown lifestyle:
  1. Ask your kids or closest friends, “In your opinion, how do we spend most of our time?” or “What is our family known for?”
  2. Make a critical review of your evening and weekend calendar for the past 2 months.
  3. Consider your expenditures over the past 6-8 weeks. Are you spending haphazardly? Are you saving for a purpose? Where do the dollars go?
If you identify that you’re in a full-blown lifestyle that you don’t want to continue, write out a statement that makes note of what you value and how you will protect this value. It’s very motivating! Here are a few examples to get you rolling:
  • Because we want our kids to know we value spending time together as a family, we won’t be out more than 2 nights a week.
  • Because our marriage won’t maintain itself and we want a thriving relationship, we commit to scheduling a babysitter for a date night every other week.
  • Because we don’t value taking on debt, we will purchase a home that’s valued only 30% higher than our annual salary.
Is there anything in your life that you intended to be for only a season that is now a defining part of your lifestyle?

How to Optimize Your Decision Making Process

How to Optimize Your Decision Making Process

How to Optimize Your Decision Making Process

When’s your optimal decision making time? Is it now, in the morning, or even later, perhaps? Determining if a decision requires immediate attention and whether you’re in the right frame of mind to respond can save you loads of future frustration.

Sometimes we can’t wait to make decision. There’s a queue behind you of people with their money out ready to pay, and you can’t decide whether you want bargain meal #3 or #2. Choose one and move on. No biggie, right?

At other times, we can actually wait to make a decision. But living in today’s fast-paced world leads us to think some things are an emergency of sorts or at the very least in need of immediate direction.

Don’t believe me? Let me give you a few personal examples to ponder.

  1. Delayed Decision: Our family began renting a home 9 months ago when we moved to Oklahoma. It was a 6 month lease. We gave ourselves a deadline of December 1 to determine whether we’d stay in the home, even though we weren’t necessarily wanting to. Chris and I agreed that, when December 1 arrived, if we had no viable opportunities of homes to buy (we were unwilling to move into another rental) we would stay put. Not only did we not find a home that we felt would be the right fit for our family, but (as you can imagine) the holidays were a busy enough time that we agreed it would be best for our family to extend our lease another 6 months. By choosing to extend the lease, we didn’t land on a final solution but prevented rushing into one we’d regret.
  2. Too-Quick Decision: Recently we were invited to take part in something on the weekend. Chris called to inform me of it on a Monday morning when I was at work experiencing bright, sunny skies and rainbows. (I love mornings, and I love my job, so this is only a slight exaggeration.) I made the mistake of applying that moment’s euphoria to the invitation and agreed to participate in the weekend event. The problem? I had time to think, but didn’t use it. You see, our family has to defend our weekends carefully because my husband travels for work every week and weekends are our key time together. I was still experiencing my relaxed weekend “high” when the invitation arrived and had forgotten to consider that the biggest personal struggle I’m facing right now is having enough time alone for myself and with my family. Needless to say, the weekend busyness made for regret on my part for having made a rash decision.

So is there a secret formula to making decisions? Some say so. I don’t know about that, but here are some questions I’ve identified to ask myself the next time I’m faced with a decision whose answer is not clear:

  • Do I have to decide today? (When is a final decision needed?)
  • Am I too overwhelmed or tired at the moment to make this decision well?
  • Whom will this decision directly affect?
  • What do I need to say no to in order to take this opportunity?
  • Am I stretching my resources of time or money too far by saying yes?

Now I’m tossing this idea to you. What’s your approach to making the best decisions possible?

The Morning Routine: Review & Correct

The Morning Routine: Review & Correct for a Great Day

The Morning Routine: Review & Correct for a Great Day

I think having a good morning routine can positively affect an entire day. Apart from receiving productive feedback, the only way I’ve improved at anything is to review my actions and correct them as needed.

* When I trained to run a half marathon, I made notes of which foods best fueled me.
* At work, I’m currently undergoing a review process to look at the projects I’ve taken part in this year, what I learned, and where I can improve.
* If I’m frustrated by the time I arrive at my desk in the office on any given morning, I stop to review what’s happened to put me out of sorts.

No matter whether you work in an office with others or alone or if you spend your day in a delivery truck or caring for little ones: we all experience morning every day.

So, how was the start to your day? Grouchy, happy, filled with excitement, or rushed? I’ve experience all types of mornings, and I’m sure you have, too. If you’d like to nearly guarantee a lovely and simple start to your day, take a few minutes to review around 9:00am or 10:00am and ask yourself these questions:

1) What made my day start (not so) well?
2) Did I forget to do anything last night or this morning?
3) Am I hungry or tired?

The answers to these questions will help you determine whether you need to pack your lunch the night before, get to sleep 30 minutes earlier, keep a healthy snack in your desk drawer (I prefer pistachios or almonds), set your clothes out in advance, or establish a place near the back door of your home to put all the items you need to accompany you when you leave in the morning.

Last week I stayed up too late one evening and once forgot to replenish my mid-morning snack.The results weren’t awful, of course, but taking stock of where I went wrong helped me commit to correcting my actions for a better following day.

What is of necessity to you to help your morning routine benefit the rest of your day?

FOR FURTHER READING ON THIS TOPIC:

12 Ways to Maximize Your Mornings

Minimize Morning Stress in 20 Magic Minutes

 

 

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