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Posts Tagged ‘mentoring’

Why does God teach me the most valuable lessons at the center of my rawest moments? Whether I’m humiliated, embarrassed, ashamed or aching—those are the times He reveals the deepest truths.

For the fourth year in a row, I attended the annual North Texas Christian Writer’s conference held in mid-September. As usual, the workshops offered impressive teachers and valuable information, but what I took away from the weekend had nothing to do with writing tips. God had a bigger revelation for me—that words, often spoken without thought, can construct and create or damage and destroy.

I wish I could tell you I gleaned this pearl of wisdom from dancing out of the conference on a high. However, God rarely teaches me during a happy moment—maybe because I don’t always listen when I’m confident, secure, and delighted with myself.

Instead, He used a disappointing critique with one of the faculty to illustrate how flippant words do more harm than no words at all. Despite how desperate I am to hit the “rewind” button on the little breakdown I had Saturday morning at the conference—a meltdown large enough to prompt a dash out to my car where I could hide until my mascara stopped running down my face—God moved my heart in a major way. Using humility. I hate that word, almost as much as I hate the word patience. I try not to ask Him for either of those lessons. But He always knows what I need.

Being an artist, any kind of artist, makes for an emotional rollercoaster ride. What we write and paint illustrates the essence of who we are, and when other people don’t love our art, it feels as though they don’t love us.

I’m pretty certain I’m not alone on this rollercoaster. We all hold something close to our heart—our job, hobby, skill, talent, our children, marriage, or friendships. I know that as a mom who strives to build my kids’ character nothing pops my balloon faster than a well-placed dart targeted toward my deficiencies as a parent.

Yes, I want to stretch and grow as a person and a writer. In order to do that, my heart must be teachable. Yet, no matter how willing I am to learn, I still ache when someone criticizes my work or dismisses my effort—constructively or otherwise.

Hard work and perseverance will move me toward my goals. Poorly placed criticism can still be useful. There’s always a small truth that I can take away, but I work so much better with encouragement. None of us was made to walk alone. I Thessalonians 5:11 says “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (NIV). We need each other. Having someone push you up the mountain, in the midst of crippling criticism or personal crisis, makes the difference between falling down and re-energizing for the climb.

I choose to take what I learned at the bottom of the rollercoaster and use it as momentum to scale the rise and take another ride. And when I get to the top? I will remember that meltdown in the parking lot and remind myself that anyone can criticize, but it takes a special person to encourage, and that’s the person I want to be.

I challenge you to carefully consider the words of your mouth. Be an encourager, not a destroyer. Open your mouth and spread the love!

Link to this article in Crosswalk: http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/women/the-power-of-the-tongue.html

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In the state of Indiana, automated toll machines stand in place of live operators. Makes sense. More profit. No need for on-site restrooms.

During a recent road trip with my mom, I experienced this marvel of technology. Entering the toll way worked out fine—even though the wind tried to call dibs on my ticket as it spit out of the machine.

Exiting proved more difficult. Desperate for a restroom break, I took the off-ramp and waited behind a red pick-up. Never having used an automated machine, I rolled down my window and read the instructions.

Insert ticket according to picture.

Not too hard. I leaned out the window and popped in my ticket according to the diagram. The slot spit the ticket out. I studied the picture and tried again. This time the breeze caught it before I did.

I threw the shifter in park and rushed out to grab the ticket from underneath my front tire. By now, twelve cars waited behind me. Reinserting the ticket ten additional times did nothing for my emotional distress, the disposition of the other drivers, or my chances for finding a restroom anytime soon.

Decoding diagrams and maps isn’t my thing. What happened to throwing change into a basket? My hands shook and a trickle of sweat ran down my back as I slid in the car and looked at my mom. Even though I am a mom, letting someone else be the mom for a moment can sometimes take the pressure off. “Any ideas?” I asked her.

“Let’s just go through it and pay later.”

I nodded and put the car in drive. Her mom wisdom would have been great, had a long wooden arm not blocked our way. I took a deep breath and begged my bladder to hang on.

My wise mom pointed to the machine. “There’s a help button.”

Help. That’s exactly what I needed.

After I pushed the button, a scratchy voice prompted, “What’s your problem?”

I yelled over the honking behind me. “You mean besides the fifteen cars of aggravated people behind me?”

“Where did you get on the toll road, Ma’am?”

I gave my entrance point and seconds later, the correct exit fee popped up on the Pay This Amount screen. Ever helpful, my mom passed me a cupful of change. The woman in the Hummer inches from my bumper got out of her car. “It’s good,” I held up the change. “Be out of here in just a sec.”

She raised her eyebrows, punctuated her irritation with a sigh, and slid back into her car.

With shaky hands, I force fed the machine. It spit out every other coin. $3.25 and many coin feeds later, the arm raised. I escaped before it fell back down.

Whose idea was it to get rid of the live operators—the people who knew what to do and acted before one stuck traveler multiplied into many?

Not too long after my harrowing ticket booth debacle my oldest son, Kyle, returned from youth camp pumped-up on a vital message—Get a mentor. Be a mentor. People need people.

The message stuck. My tollbooth fiasco would have been a non-event had an attendant been there to help me. I need a mentor to steer me in the right direction when I’m stuck. I need to be a mentor and share the wisdom I’ve learned from others who have taken time to guide me.

“Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (I Thessalonians 5:12-14 NIV).

Link to this article in The Christian Pulse  http://www.thechristianpulse.com/2011/09/16/a-mentor%e2%80%99s-worth/

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