I learned to make guacamole from my dear aunt, Liz, a number of years ago. She taught me a certain way and for a while, I did exactly what she had showed me: I diced the avocado, tomato and red onion, added in some lime juice and cilantro, and stirred it all together. Then one day, my husband asked me to mash it all together, providing me an opportunity to stop and think.
That moment, that decision, was a gift. It allowed me to truly examine why I was doing what I was doing. It presented a crossroads to either continue with the way I had been going along or to take a turn and change directions. So often we choose to continue on down the way we have been going without thought, on auto pilot. But when we embrace the pause, we take a step back and evaluate the WHY of our actions.
Another gift was presented to me in the guise of guacamole. I chose to mash the avocado into a creamy paste and fold the tomatoes in. My husband and I chose to substitute milder green onions for the stronger red onions and we incorporated garlic powder, because we like garlic. Each decision was reached together.
This is the power of compromise. Finding something that bridges the gap without either party feeling like they have gotten less. We may not get everything we want, but sometimes what we get is even better than what we wanted in the first place.
In The Journey Training I learned tools that help to bridge the gap in communication and find solutions that benefit both parties. I also learned the value of pausing my life for the training weekends and discovered the most amazing things about myself and others.
When you come visit me, you’ll come to an apartment complex that was selected by a friend as likely being the perfect one for me. You’ll be 2 miles from my work place, where coworkers generously pick me up and take me home every day. You’ll walk into my home and see furniture transported and assembled by wonderful friends. You’ll see evidence of my parents’ unceasing generosity in the form of a washer/dryer and patio furniture. You’ll see items on the walls, hung by a handy friend, and there’s a custom-built mantle over the fireplace. You’ll see a magnificent work of art on the wall, painted just for me! You’ll see lamps and tables freely given and painted by friends. You can even trust the safety of my smoke detector, thanks to the battery replacement by one friend during an ice storm.
I couldn’t do this alone. I will be the first to admit I’m not the decorating type. I know people with an eye for that. I may be single, but have wonderful men in my life to move, assemble, and hang pictures on the walls. I wouldn’t have known how to best tackle an apartment hunt, but I have an amazing friend with great knowledge and instinct. I couldn’t buy something even a fraction as phenomenal as the piece my friend painted.
It’s not about the stuff. It’s about the love behind the stuff. It’s about being exceedingly blessed and surrounding myself with amazing people with beautiful gifts of love.
Before The Journey Training, I would have felt like I had to do something in return. I felt like I could I could not possibly reciprocate. The Journey Training taught me how to accept love and gifts from others, not as pity that demands a response, but as love and support, and the blessings they are intended to be.
The training also helped me see gifts in myself and I found value in my own gifts like I’d never known. I may not be able to hang art on the wall, but I can spend a few hours with a friend in a wheelchair to give her company and her parents a break. I can listen to a friend and give advice at 10:30 at night. I can pray anytime and anywhere for my loved ones. Oh, and when people do come by to visit or help, I can serve them the best coffee in town!
Mother Teresa once said, “Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.” It’s not about the stuff or the amount of things you can do. It’s about the love!
Do you want to experience giving and receiving extraordinary love in your life? Consider enrolling in the next class!
True fulfillment sometimes eludes us at every turn. We grind through everyday life doing what we do, and sometimes we pause for a moment, only to find ourselves feeling empty. We ask ourselves, “Is this all life has to offer? Is this all I can expect out of my journey?”
So we set goals, create dream boards, and make ourselves promises – composed of the things we think will fulfill us. These things might include money, title, a dream car or new toy, or maybe a new home. Sometimes, we blame our lack of fulfillment on our spouses and carry resentments, or we choose to separate, or even divorce, in search of what will fulfill us. And our church – if they’d only see things my way and treat me better I’d feel fulfilled. I’ve seen this “hamster wheel” go on and on in people’s lives, including mine, and it’s time for all of this to stop.
Searching turns up little fulfillment
I’ve found that those who leave their church, spouse, or job in search of fulfillment often find themselves leaving their new one when they feel unfulfilled again, sometimes in just a few years. This is because outside influences cannot bring us fulfillment. And neither will achieved goals, the dream car or the new house. They might for a while, but we soon find that wherever we go, there we are. The common denominator is us, not others or other things.
Now, I am not saying to just sit idle and not strive for what you want. That is a part of life! But I am saying that things, title, money or others will never make you feel fulfilled. These things are great, but can often be distractions for what we are truly called to do.
The Flow is what Fulfills
Matthew 26:6-13 tells of a woman who poured out everything she had for Jesus. Some proclaimed it was a waste, and it could have been used for something better. That is when Jesus answered them and explained that in her heart, she had done a beautiful thing! Do you think she felt fulfilled when Jesus said this? What would you give to hear those words out of His mouth? He also said in Matthew 25:31-46, ‘‘truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” He is describing “The Flow.”
My good friend Bob Harrison often talks of The Dead Sea. It is dead because there is only inflow and no outflow, and all of the minerals and normally healthy things that flow are trapped and can’t flow out again. This causes the water to become so toxic that nothing can live in it.
I believe our lives are like the sea. We were meant to pour out what we have so we can be filled again. If we don’t, we soon find that we are unhappy in our Dead Sea of a life. This is where we ask ourselves, “Really? I thought money would make me happy. Now I find I still have the same problems I did when I was broke – they’re just more expensive!” The same happens in marriages, churches, and in every area of life.
The journey to fulfillment isn’t found by filling yourself up. True fulfillment comes by pouring yourself out. It begins with your love, moves to your time and energy, and finishes with whatever you have to give. And it’s the one thing God guarantees – that if you test him in your tithe, or pouring yourself out to the things of God – you’ll see a blessing that is “pressed down, of good measure!” That, my friends, is the definition of fulfillment!
So I ask you, what are you running from? What are you chasing that you believe will fulfill you? Life is full of seasons, and we are filled up to be poured out. Where in your marriage can you sow seeds? Where in your church can you plug in and find relationship? What do you have to give that will bring the true fulfillment you are looking for? Listen to Desert Song carefully and ask yourself: what season am I in? What season am I headed for? And what purpose can I find for the struggle I am in?
I identify with this in my food addition and compulsive overeating. In fact, I believe that all of our addictions stem from searching for something that only Jesus can fulfill. His instructions to us weren’t to labor to find things to fulfill us – they were to labor to rest in what He has done. And when we pour out by loving and serving others, we find the peace that surpasses understanding that we long for, and the fulfillment we have always dreamed of. When we do this, I believe our focus turns from our addictions to Jesus, and we can finally rest in that peace – His peace. And then we can quit trying to find it by running from our current situations or chasing a “fix” that will make us feel better.
Christmas! The most wonderful time of the year! A time filled with breaks from school, parties, shopping, pictures with Santa Claus, decorating the tree, hanging the stockings, family get-togethers, huge meals, cookies, and opening gifts. As children, we dream constantly about all the gifts we want and hope to get. As adults, we strive for finding the perfect gifts for everyone on our lists and the anticipation of watching the happy reactions of our loved ones and friends as the gifts are opened. What a wonderful time indeed!
The True Gift
The wonder of this holiday season and the gifts we give and receive can be so overwhelming that we often lose sight of the real reason for the season. God gave us the true gift of Christmas when He placed His love for all of us in the form of a baby named Jesus. “And when they came into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
Our Gift to God
God came down to earth as a baby to ultimately show us how to love one another and to be in communion with Him. So what can we give God in return? I don’t think He’s looking for more gold, frankincense, or myrrh. It’s actually much simpler than that. We can give gifts back to God everyday by the way we live! When we choose to treat each other with kindness, mercy, grace, compassion, and love, God receives an incredible gift. That is what our Father would want more than anything and He gives us a way to do that in His word. It costs us nothing but our time and action. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
In The Journey Training, we teach a simple tool for following God’s word. We call it “Giving Gifts”. Gifts are all positive words used to affirm the best things about another person. All you have to do is go to the person you want to give the gifts to, look them in the eyes, and say “The gifts I see in you are…” If I were doing this with my beautiful wife, Lisa, it might sound something like this: “Lisa, the gifts I see in you are unconditional love, patience, courage, a sweet, sweet spirit, a great mom, and captivating beauty.” That’s really all there is to it! You can do this with anyone at any time. You will make the other person feel better about themselves and you will feel better about yourself. It can completely change the dynamics of the relationships in your life and even change you!
I encourage you to try using this tool with your family and friends throughout this holiday season. You really have nothing to lose by trying, but you have everything to gain. The person receiving your gifts might just cherish your words more than any gift you could buy. Life is short and it is precious! How we live is our gift to God.
From the entire Journey Training team, we wish you a very
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What is it that defines you? Is it your Job that defines who you are? Is it your money that defines who you are? Maybe it’s your stature, your looks, or your title? It might even be who you’re married to. If any of these define who you are, BEWARE! They all can be taken away.
Change your definition
If you define yourself by works, material possessions, or even your name (if I were a Kennedy, I might feel entitled), then maybe it’s time for you to change your definition of you!
So what are you worth? That is a loaded question. If you believe your worth is tied to any of these things, you are fighting a losing battle. You will never be able to do enough, have enough money, or even have a title high enough to be immune to the world’s definition of failure. I’m not saying that money, great works, or nice possessions are wrong. But if you place your worth in these things, one of two things usually happens: you’ll either find that there is never enough, or you’ll soon find out that you cannot be content without them.
Define your worth in your purpose
Defining yourself in what you do or what you have will eventually lead to a great big failure. You’ll never be able to “do” enough to feel complete. It is a thirst that can never be quenched, so you’ve got to change your definition from your “stuff” and your “works” to who you were created to be.
It’s not a feeling or a title that will fill your soul, it is serving others that will fill you up! The Beatles had it right when they said, “All you need is love.”
It’s a way of life. You see, if we spend our time trying to do things to make us feel good, or we think that if we have what we want we’ll feel worthy, then we’ve got it all wrong. It’s in our being that defines who we are. That’s why we are not human hav-ings or human do-ings – we are human BE-ings! We must learn to reach deep inside of ourselves to find our worth. Validation cannot come from outside of us. And it can’t come from only you. But alongside a God that has defined you with an infinite worth, you’ll find your purpose.
Two lines stand out to me in The Beatles song, “All You Need Is Love”.
The first is “Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time.”
The second is “Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.”
Do you want to change your definition of you? I do. Look around right where you are – not where you wish you were – and find an area to serve or a person to help. Through that you will quench your thirst, and possibly stop trying to quench it with other things.
Each month in The Journey Training we meet people with a false or low opinion of themselves. Often they are oblivious to the changes that need to take place. Invariably, by the end of their Threshold weekend we see them leave invigorated, ready to change the world that they are a part of – right now – which in turn is a stepping stone to being who they really want to be.
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