Take a Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

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I’m an introvert. ISFP according to this free test. I actually scored really heavily on the Introvert side of the scale (74%), so doing anything with people I don’t know is really hard for me. Sometimes, though, it can be a really good thing for me to take a step out of my comfort zone. This past weekend, I took a HUGE step by going to the (in)courage (in)RealLife meet-up (also known as (in)RL) in Nashville. When I left my house, I did not know a single other person who would be there, even though my hubby knew of 2 of his blogging friends who were also going.

The (in)RL event was on Friday and Saturday. Friday was a webcast, shown 4 times throughout the day, and Saturday’s event was the meet-up. As much as I tried, my schedule did not allow me to watch the webcast during any of the 4 showings on Friday (thankfully they kept the link up through the weekend). I never did get to watch all of the webcast because our internet decided to be extra S.L.O.W. on Saturday when I finally had the chance to watch. Because of that, I am so thankful that Dayspring will be releasing a DVD of all the videos and a companion workbook in a couple of weeks (you can sign up to be notified when they’re available here).

On Saturday evening, I left the house with a lot of anxiety about the night. It was my understanding that Nashville had the largest of the (in)RL meet-ups worldwide. Would I meet people? Would I make a total fool out of myself trying to talk to a stranger? Was there going to be forced conversation (you know the type: Find 4 people you don’t know and ask them these 3 questions.)? Or, would it be easy to meet people, find things to talk about, and feel comfortable? When I found the church where the meet-up was taking place, I parked & got out of my car, not knowing which door I should go in. Thankfully, I found another woman wandering, obviously looking for the (in)RL event (the boxes of donuts she carried were my clue!). Together, we found the right door, and conversation started easily. I ended up meeting 2 other women (both of whom my hubby had told me would be there).

I admit it took me the first 30-45 minutes to really feel comfortable in the room full of women that I didn’t know, but once I let my guard down, God really used the night to speak to me about community. In my next post, I’ll explore the importance of community in our lives.

In the mean time, what does the word “Community” mean to you (other than a TV show)?

10 Books I Love, 1 I Hate, and 7 I Want To Read

Photo by Daniel Y. Go (Creative Commons)

I  love to read. Books, magazines, blogs…you name it, I will probably read it. I was the kid that sat in the  backseat on long car rides reading the entire time (or at least until it got so dark that I couldn’t read  anymore). I have always loved the way a book can take you to another place, give you better understanding  of a topic, or even help you learn more about yourself. As I’ve gotten older, my love for the written word has  not diminished, but sadly the amount of time I give myself to read seems to have shrunk. Even though I don’t  read as much as I’d like, I would love to share some of my favorite books with you.
  1. A book that changed your life: The Bible, still changing my life! You’re Already Amazing (Holley Gerth), Same Kind of Different as Me (Ron Hall & Denver Moore)
  2. Books you’ve read more than once: Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers) Tons of kids’ books (The Very Hungry CaterpillarBark GeorgeThe Little Engine that CouldLittle Quackthe list goes on. I am the mother of a 2 year old and a former K-2 teacher!)
  3. One book you’d want on a desert island: The Bible
  4. A book that made you laugh: No David!
  5. A book that made you cry: Redeeming Love – made me laugh, cry, angry, and everythign in between!!
  6. One book you wish had been written: Wow…that’s a tough one! I honestly have no idea!
  7. One book you wish had never been written: Walden, (Henry David Thoreau). I had to read it in college, and was seriously bored to tears. Immaturity or is it really that boring?
  8. Books you’re currently reading: You’re Already Amazing (Holley Gerth), What Women Fear (Angie Smith)
  9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Just one?? My Kindle has a “Books to Read” folder. Currently in that folder are: The Fitting Room (Kelly Minter), Erasing Hell (Francis Chan), Forgotten God (Chan), A Confident Heart (Renee Swope), The Holiness of God (RC Sproul), Leota’s Garden (Francine Rivers), 31 Days to Clean (Sarah Mae). I probably should add a little fiction to that list…

OK, so I know some of you are readers. What are you currently reading? I am always looking for additions to my “Books to Read’ list!

My Three Most Important Things

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ending to my post about awkward sales pitches. In the last paragraph of that post, I said:

“I want the women I approach to see passion, hope, and joy in my eyes. I want them to see a woman who, even if she’s running errands with her  two year old, is composed, confident, and approachable.”

Followed shortly by:

“It is an experience that has given me confidence and has helped me to grow as a wife and mom. I’ve gained friendships and been pushed out of my comfort zones. I’ve learned to think positively about life, and to laugh off some of the stressful days (OK, so I’m not always laughing in the midst of the stress, but usually a day or two later, I can look back and laugh about how stressed I was over something so minor). Because of those things, I don’t want to be a walking sales pitch. I want to share the joy I’ve found with other women!”

I’ve realized that I said these things about my Mary Kay business, but am I able to say the same things about my relationship with Christ? You see, even before Mary Kay became a part of my life, Jesus came into my life. And my relationship with Him should be so much more important to me than anything else. In fact, I’m even encouraged to run my business with the mindset of God first, Family second, and Career third. The strong Christian values are one of the things that drew me to Mary Kay when I began looking for a small work-from-home business. However, as I sit here typing this today, reflecting on my life and priorities, I have to wonder…am I really living out God first, Family second, Career third? I’ll be honest, I think I tend to put my Family first, and then let God and Career flip-flop for second and third position.

So, today, I’m making a commitment. I am going to spend time every. single. day reading Scripture, praying, and listening to what God has for me. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, that’s more than I’m doing every day right now. Then, I’ll keep my Family in second place, and focus on my Career last.

Question: How do you keep your priorities in the proper order?

The Most Awkward Sales Pitch Ever

Photo by DS Williams (Creative Commons)

A few weeks ago, I was cooking dinner when our doorbell rang. I answered the door, and found a young (late teens-early twenties) girl, dressed sloppily, with a bag full of bottles of what appeared to be cleaning solution. She did not introduce herself, but instead immediately jumped into a sales pitch by asking “What is the hardest part of cleaning your home…windows? bathrooms? carpet?” When I answered that it was “trying to maintain a semblance of clean with a toddler running around”, she said “Oh, do you have any carpet stains you’d like me to get out for you?” I told her “No, thank you” and was ready to close the door when she continued her pitch.

She talked about all the perks of her cleaning solution, how it was made, on what surfaces it was safe for use, and more. Then, right as my toddler walked over, she opened one of the spray bottles and put the plastic tube in her mouth to LICK OFF THE CLEANER! This was her way of showing me that this product was non-toxic and therefore safe if my toddler happened to get into it. Ummm…really???  YIKES and EWWWWWW!

This has to have been one of the most awkward sales pitches I’ve ever witnessed. Did I buy her product? NO WAY! Honestly, I almost called the police when she left my house. There is, in fact, a No Soliciting sign at the entrance to our neighborhood.

As a sales consultant for one of the most well-known and respected Direct Marketing companies (Mary Kay Cosmetics), I often worry about being too sales-y when talking with new people or doing facials and skin care parties. I don’t ever want to come off as pushy or overly selling my product. Instead, I want people to see that I have a great product about which I’m passionate. I want them to try the product for themselves, and to feel confident in their decision to purchase (or not) the items from me. I think that’s why I often stop myself before I approach a potential new client when I’m out and about. I don’t want to seem fake. I want to have a genuine conversation with women and for them to feel like I was truly interested in what they had to say. I want to be respectful of their time…yet I also want to be able to offer a sample or my business card without being pushy or awkward about it.

In contrast to the desperation I saw in the girl trying to sell cleaning products, I want the women I approach to see passion, hope, and joy in my eyes. I want them to see a woman who, even if she’s running errands with her  two year old, is composed, confident, and approachable. You see, being a Mary Kay consultant isn’t just about making money to me. It is an experience that has given me confidence and has helped me to grow as a wife and mom. I’ve gained friendships and been pushed out of my comfort zones. I’ve learned to think positively about life, and to laugh off some of the stressful days (OK, so I’m not always laughing in the midst of the stress, but usually a day or two later, I can look back and laugh about how stressed I was over something so minor). Because of those things, I don’t want to be a walking sales pitch. I want to share the joy I’ve found with other women!

Tell me: What are the BEST and WORST sales pitches ever thrown your way?

Good Friday Reflections

Photo by Jason St Peter (Creative Commons

I set out this week trying to be intentional in preparing my heart for Easter. I’ll go ahead and confess that by the time we left for church last Sunday, I was so focused on ME that my heart was nowhere near ready for church, communion, or the week ahead. Sadly, I have done very little all week to actively pursue Christ. Just being gut-level honest with you, here.

Today is Good Friday, the day we remember Christ being hung on the cross as a sacrifice for each of us. As I sit here in my comfortable house, watching my daughter play, I can’t get the song “In Christ Alone” out of my head…this verse in particular:

Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There, on the cross, Jesus Christ died in my place so that I could have eternal life with Him. WOW! He loves us that much!

I was given plenty of opportunity to really ponder God’s love today as well. It was a rough day with my 2 year old. She has been battling bedtime like crazy over the last few weeks, and today she decided to bring that fight to her nap. After a 20 minute fight to get her to sleep, she slept for just 20 minutes before I suddenly heard her yell out, “I LIKE VEGGIETALES!!” Umm…what??? And, apparently, she thought that the 20 minutes of sleep was all she needed for the day. I continued to try to get her to sleep for another 45 minutes before giving up completely.

It was during those 45 minutes, as I prayed for wisdom, guidance, and peace for my daughter, that I began to feel the Lord speaking to my heart. I began to see the parallel of my relationship with Him to my daughter’s relationship with me. I love my daughter with everything that I have. It is an unconditional love, one that wants what is best for her. That love, however, does not stop me from becoming frustrated when she repeatedly disobeys me or fights what I know is best for her. God loves us unconditionally, vastly more than I can even begin to imagine, and wants what is best for us. He KNOWS us better than we know ourselves. Yet, we fight what He knows is best for us and we disobey Him daily. Here’s the HUGE difference: I most often sin in my frustration with my daughter. I yell, I grumble, I complain. I call my husband to vent. I rant to a friend. What does God do? He forgives. He loves anyway. He disciplines out of love, not out of anger. He corrects. He sends His only Son to be the sacrifice to atone for my sin. He washes me with the blood of Calvary. He gives me LIFE.

Finding Your Inner-Artist

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A couple of weeks ago, I downloaded the Draw Something app on my iPod Touch. Since then, I have struggled to draw accurate portrayals of everything from a worm to the Rugrats (linked for those of you far younger than me who may not remember the show). I have also had to guess some pretty interesting artistic expressions of words like chef, fairy, peacock, and more. This app has been so much fun, but has also caused a little frustration here and there as I try my hardest to draw or guess the given word.

Here’s the funny part, though: I have NEVER considered myself creative, artistic, or to have the ability to draw ANYTHING! Sure, the kids I taught in Kindergarten (and my own 2 1/2 year old daughter) think I can draw an amazing stick person, firetruck, or tree. Ask me to draw something that isn’t a basic shape, however, and you never know what might show up on the page.

Put my lack of artistic ability together with my new-found app addiction, and you can see where I get the title of this post. I have actually drawn some pictures that I’ve been quite proud of…and a few that I wanted to send an “I’m sorry this is so bad…the answer is _______” message along with the image. I wish I would remember to take screenshots of these pictures to share. I’m sure you would get a kick out of them.

Now that I have developed the Draw Something addiction, I guess I’ll have to add it to my list of other app addictions (Words with Friends, anyone?). As if I needed more things to keep my mind off the tasks I need to be doing. This week, I’m going to have to work on setting aside specific times of the day to play my games. Maybe I’ll turn the notifications off so that I don’t get bombarded all day by dings and badges yelling that it’s my turn.

What are your biggest time-stealers? What tips have you found to help you keep your time well-managed?