Monday, October 20, 2014

Starring Role or Supporting Actor?

Did you know the phrase "always a bridesmaid, never a bride," was coined in 1925 in a Listerine advertisement? It's a phrase we've probably all used at one time or another, without giving second thought to where it came from. Beyond its literal translation, its definition implies describing a person who's potential is never fulfilled. Leaving something on the table. Not cashing in on the hand you're dealt. A good supporting actor, but not star material. Use of the word always seems to insinuate that the personality trait can't ever be shaken. Are some are born to be indians, never to be chiefs? Just as a person is either an introvert or an extrovert, are we destined to either sing lead or sing backup?

Over the last 30 days, I've had the privilege of having a front row seat to watch someone else's dream unfold. In my new role at Loehr Chiropractic & Acupuncture, I'm a part of an awesome team that supports the vision and dreams of one entrepreneurial doctor. Not that Springfield Ballet was my dream, by any means, but in my previous role, I carried out the dreams of a founding Board no longer involved in the day to day operations of the organization. I was in the driver's seat. After my career transition, some might argue I've gone from a starring role to a supporting part. A bride turned bridesmaid. A chief turned indian. But here's the thing I'm finding out. Following your own dream, or sharing in someone else's, are equally emotional and equally rewarding experiences. 

Growing up, my mother (a retired speech/drama teacher) always told me, "there are no small parts, just small actors." Now, I know there were times when I rolled my eyes and assumed that this only applied when you didn't get the part you wanted! It went in one ear as a sugar-coated consolation prize, and out the other with a chip on my shoulder. The more I study leaders and teams, though, I think she was right. (This is what happens as you get older, right? You start to realize that maybe your parents did know what they were talking about...) Without a good tribe of indians, who needs a chief? And without a lead singer, the backup singers are out of business. God has gifted each of His children with unique gifts and talents, but unless they are combined, they aren't fully effective. 

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously;if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:3-8)

Clearly, God has given us gifts, talents, strengths, and functions. Being in the starring role is not a gift, it's one way to use a gift, but not the only. God allows us to use our gifts in starring and supporting roles, sometimes in the same year, heck, sometimes in the same day! So my challenge (to you and to me) is this, let's define success less by a title and more by an impact on our communities and the people we interact with. Let's applaud the whole band and celebrate the whole cast of characters...our Heavenly Father sure does!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Coffee Houses - Hold the Coffee

I have a serious love affair with coffee houses. This may not seem so strange, except for the fact that those of you who know me know that I don't like coffee. I don't like mochas, or lattes, or anything "coffee-ish" really (unless I'm going to a) fall asleep in class or b) fall asleep on the road, and then I'll drink it out of necessity. There's just something about coffee houses, however, that brings comfort to my soul. 

I've been using the Time Hop app lately to see daily reminders of pictures and thoughts I've posted for the last six or seven years. The pictures are fun, some should never resurface, and all serve as a good reminder that what you put on social media is NEVER going away! Back to coffee houses though. The other day, a post popped up from several years back that read, "Sits in coffee houses and talks to college women about Jesus - how do I get that on my business card?" See? Love affair with coffee houses.

As I sit in one now and think about just what it is I love so much, a few thoughts come to mind. First, they just seem peaceful. For the most part, coffee houses are pretty slow and quiet. (**I've been to the original Starbucks in Seattle, and NOTHING about that place says slow or quiet, but I digress.**) Likely, this stems from my love of libraries - literally my FAVORITE place to sit during college, just getting swallowed by the silence that is so hard to find in our noisy lives. Speaking of college, I also LOVE coffee houses because they're normally filled with college students (in downtown Springfield at least). From the moment I graduated and started traveling as a Leadership Development Consultant with Pi Phi, The Lord has continued to develop a deep passion for college students in my heart. While that is a topic for an entirely separate post (or series of posts), just sitting and observing and listening to the students around me is comforting. Often, I'll just sit and silently pray for the students I can see. I pray for their growth and development, their safety and health, and their hearts. Satan is thriving on college campuses, and oh how they all need our prayers. Strong coffee and strong prayers.

Coffee houses also tend to be a breeding ground for learning. Surrounded by people with laptops and books, it's like (silent) music to my ears to watch the knowledge absorption happening. I can think of few better places to sit and read, even if it is a Strategic Management textbook! Maybe part of the reason I'd be a student forever (if it paid better!) is that I subconciously equate that with spending a lot more time in coffee houses!

Besides learning, coffee houses are the perfect setting for relationship building. Whether it's two young lovers on an afternoon date, new friends who've just barely met, an informal job interview, or a budding mentorship/discipleship relationship, what better place to gather than a quiet coffee house filled with soothing scents and warm beverages? There's a lot of learning and a lot of loving going on.

Some people are serious about their coffee! Just search for coffee quotes on Pinterest and you'll get endless amounts of t-shirts, mugs, and word art expressing the java obsession. I have to confess I'm not one of them, but...if there's a shirt for loving coffee houses? Send one my way.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Why (I imagine) Getting a Masters is a Lot Like Having a Child

Having been married for 4+ years now, and slowly but surely approaching the upper end of my twenties, I (not so shockingly) get asked frequently when we're going to have children. Not so much by our families (my father-in-law knows better ever since I told him asking that question was like lightning at the pool, every time he asked, I restarted the clock!), but by concerned citizens who must be very worried that our fabulous genes won't get passed on (hey, if I get teased, I can dish it back, right?)! Lately, I've begun giving a response that I do in fact have a child - it's name is a masters degree - and I can quite convincingly compare the two. So, for your entertainment, here are the Top 10 Reasons, I imagine, Getting a Masters is a lot like Having a Child:

  1. Since beginning my masters, I've gotten a lot less sleep. Masters work keeps me up at night, babies keep people up at night. Or, if I try to go to sleep, I instead typically lie awake thinking about what masters work I should be completing. I'm not making this up - the black circles under my eyes and my bloodshot right eye are proof.
  2. Masters degrees are expensive. While (thank goodness) not quite the cost of raising a child for 18 years, still not chump change. To raise a child born in 2013 to the age of 18, it will cost a middle-income couple just over $245,000, according to newly released estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  3. I cannot neglect my Masters degree. Without a lot of care and attention, it would die. Babies require quite a bit of attention too (so I've been told).
  4. My masters degree is aging me. Since beginning my masters, I've gotten reading glasses, developed horribly slumped "computer" posture, and experienced a plethora of aches and pains. Kind of like my mother telling me I was giving her grey hair!
  5. Some days I love my masters more than others. My mom used to tell me, "I don't always like you, but I'll always love you." There are definitely days (and nights) when I don't like this degree, but for some underlying attraction, I keep on trucking.
  6. I'm proud of my masters degree. I image the day I get that hood and the letters MOL after my name, I will shed a few tears. The kind of tears moms and dads shed at their child's graduation.
  7. I celebrate little victories along the way. With the completion of each project, test, and class, I celebrate a little bit. Like first steps or first words, each credit hour is a small but significant victory!
  8. This masters degree has put some serious strain on my social life! Many evenings have been spent at the computer or parked in front of a book instead of out to dinner with friends. Weekends at the lake have been encroached on as I holed away with a textbook while everyone else was having fun.
  9. Sometimes corrections are necessary and well-deserved in a masters program. Sometimes you get an A, sometimes you don't. When I was briefly running this theory by a friend of mine who's a wonderful mama to three little people, she exclaimed, "thank goodness I don't get a grade in parenting, some days I'd get an F. But, the good thing is, the next day, I can start all over!"
  10. Despite the sleep deprivation, anxiety, expense, sacrifice, and difficulty, in the end, I know getting my masters will be more than worth it. Nothing worth having comes easy, right?