November 15, 2014

Staying in the Room with Difference


Thanks to a friend, Amy, my friend Denise and I found out about a presentation called the Jim and Casper show that was brought to Abilene by Hardin Simmons University.

I had never heard of Jim and Casper before.
So who is Jim? He is a Seattle pastor that isn't fond of "religion". He is about practicing faith and love through Christ.

Who is Casper? He is an atheist who was sought after by Jim to travel to different congregations through out the States with Jim. With Casper's perceptions and thoughts as an atheist Jim was able to see church through the eyes of the "other." Other not being a bad connotation, but just someone other than a Christian who doesn't know the church speak, theological references,...

Their talk wasn't long. Maybe 30 minutes.

The main point of Jim's presentation, which was basically an informal conversation with Casper and the audience, was how valuable it is for everyone, but especially for Christians to learn to stay in the room with difference. Not that we need to agree with difference, but that there is value in just listening, conversation, finding commonness with another.

This staying in the room with difference could even be practiced in two short weeks when families from far and wide come together to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Here are some points I wrote down:

"We don't need the 'other' to be the enemy."

How to learn to stay in the room with difference- 
Practicing Otherliness: -Being unusually interested in others. (Out-listen people) 
Practice staying in the room with difference. (Don't break up with people) 
Stop comparing my best with another's worst. 

Some basics for us Christians to be aware of that could be a problem:
Certainty has replaced faith. To me this means that our firmness of belief can be used as something that can wound people. Jim spoke of being humane with other humans. 

Fixed ideology can be destructive.
A fundamentalist is someone who is mad and mean, not helpful. (side note: a fundamentalist does not necessarily limit itself to Christianity, it could be an atheist or politician...who is mad, mean and not helpful. However, as Jesus followers we are called to not be mean, mad and we are commanded to be helpful)
A test for yourself in this is are you building people up or tearing them down while living out your faith.

-----------------
I was blessed through this conversation.

The other for me is generally not the sinner (as I am one, like Paul I am one of the worst), the homosexual, the poor, the homeless. Maybe there was a time that the fear of the unknown brought fear into the equation, and in those times I saw that fear was my driving force so I would serve the population that seemed unknown to me. I knew that I needed to look into the eyes, hold hands, give hugs, speak words of kindness and life to those that I did not know. God did not change them, but me. The one that needed the change.
Satan uses our fear against us and against our witness for Christ.
For me the other is the fundamentalist, the proof texters, the one's who looks are filled with arrows if you don't believe the way they do. So my challenge is to stay in the room with the differences and find commonness in life with those that make me uncomfortable.
Jim asked Casper to share with us how we should go about trying to "save" the lost. Casper shared that it is much easier to believe in God than to believe in the Bible when you don't believe in either. So it is not helpful to throw verses at people. It is helpful to live life alongside others so through our love and kindness we could be a witness to what a life looks life when following Christ.

It is love that saves.

I know many years ago before I came to know Christ that scripture pelted at me had no effect. But I can surely tell you the names and still see the faces of those who loved me in my mess. Just loved me, mess and all. It was the love of Christ that drew me in, and He used the kindness of His followers to melt my frozen heart.

Here is a link to Jim and Casper's first book: http://www.amazon.com/Jim-Casper-Church-Conversation-Well-Meaning/dp/141435858X
Their second book is called "Saving Casper." I haven't read either but have ordered used copies from Amazon and I anticipate reading them both.

I pray that we can practice staying in the room with difference and that when others see us they see kindness, love and interest in their lives. They are the children of God as we are.

January 23, 2014

No Master's...How about a Butter Braid Pastry instead?

What's with all the frozen storage inquiry? Why did I go to Iowa in the middle of winter?

The last four months have been somewhat cryptic if you are a friend of mine on Facebook. But, as of today I am the proud mama to a new company called RED BIRD FUNDRAISING.

I am an exclusive dealer for this part of Texas for Butter Braid Pastry. My territory has just over 500,000 people in it. So Abilene is my hub but I will travel a couple of hours in each direction to reach it's borders. What is a Butter Braid Pastry? You can click over here to see some up close and personal pictures...www.butterbraid.com

And can I say I am excited? Because I am,...really excited.

My weeks will be filled with baking Butter Braid Pastries and delivering these yummy braided and filled loaves to schools, non-profits, day cares,...you name it, if they do fundraisers they are going to get a free Butter Braid Pastry from me, and then helping the organization with their fundraisers. This is a full-time business that is perfect for me. I will be my own boss with lots of oversight from the makers of Butter Braid Pastry. I will have a job that will help people, help themselves. I get to visit with new people every day. It really is a dream come true for me. I have for years been keeping my open for a niche market that was needed in Abilene and thanks be to God I have found it.

How did I find this company? Out of desperation. Our fundraising options in Abilene are somewhat limited. I am not going to belittle the options at all, there is a place for all types. However, as a parent I was frustrated that my boys were unable to sell 1 item this year and it was not for lack of trying. It had to do with timing, and an item that once you have 1 you don't need any more. If you aren't the first school to get this item then your quite out of luck. I was feeling frustrated because I had two chorus trips to pay for fully. We had all tried our best with the fundraiser because it was going to make a difference of how much cold hard cash I had to cough up 2 weeks before Christmas time. No deal.

That same day my sister-in-law who lives in Arizona posted that my niece's dance company was doing a fundraiser and the amazing Butter Braid Pastries were back. Within a half an hour her feed blew up with all sorts of orders, and raves. "We have been waiting for this." Well I don't know about you but there are a couple of fundraisers that go on that I anticipate, but generally they have the words, "thin mint" in them. I was intrigued. I kept on checking back and the orders grew, and the excitement over the Butter Braid Pastry grew. So I decided then and there...I am getting this information and passing it on to my kids school.

 But, there wasn't a dealer for this area.

Hmmmm.

I couldn't get the whole Butter Braid Dealer thing out of my head. It was with me when I went to sleep at night, and with me in the morning when I woke up.
I sent an inquiry about the dealership. They emailed me back. I sent another email. They emailed me back.

About 3 weeks into this 4 month process of acquiring a dealership I had some serious decisions to make. I had already applied for my Master's program at ACU in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program. I had been envisioning myself a therapist for 3 straight years. However, along with those thoughts there was always a back door. I always knew I was committed to get a Masters if it would be the right thing for not only myself but my family. I would take a fresh look at everyone's schedules and what their needs were this year and then pray A LOT and seek God's guidance on it. There was never peace. This program is particularly time consuming. No peace. To top that all off in our Bible Class at church two men were facilitating an Andy Stanley 6 week series on margins - margins in time, margins in money, margins in emotional life, margins in work, margins in relationships. One of the facilitators was a therapist and he spoke openly about how difficult it was for him to have margins in his life as far as time and work. When you are a therapist - people need you. Rob and I were in marriage therapy a couple of years ago and our therapist needed to skip a week because of a court case he was testifying in and I was panicked. How could he take a week off? I quickly envisioned me wanting to take a 2 week vacation with my husband and thought about all the people who would be let down because of it. Then I thought about my friend who recently became a grandma and was spending two weeks with her daughter and son in law to help as they were adjusting to new sleep schedules. I will be the first to tell you that God has got it all figured out and He does not need me to think the world weighs on my shoulders, but I also know myself well enough that it would be difficult for me to not be at my clients beck and call. Being a therapist all of a sudden began to feel very heavy. I do love to encourage people, I love to help people see and seek God in their walk, I love to see people with expectation, knowing that they are valued and loved. I wanted joy and I didn't want to have to climb out from a day of really difficult listening to find that each night. I wanted to come home and tell my husband about my day and all that happened, I couldn't do that.

I wanted something different. So God gave my lots of clarity. He has opened every door with this business. He has made it clear in every way that this has His blessing. I flew to Iowa last week for my final interview to be a Butter Braid Pastry dealer. In May I will finish school for good and walk across that stage as one happy camper. I will have accomplished just what I set out to. I learned more about myself and determination and worthiness than I ever dreamed I would. School was a true gift to me, not a minute wasted. And as of the end of February, Lord willing and if all goes as expected my pallet of Butter Braid Pastries will be in 5 chest freezers and I will be working full-time as a dealer for Butter Braid Pastry and be my boss in my Red Bird Fundraising company. I had worked out my schedule for school to be doable to also work full time.

So...that's my story and I am sticking with it. If you are someone who runs a fundraiser, has a kid who is going on a mission trip and needs to raise funds, knows of someone who might need a fundraiser. I am your gal!! Thanks to you all for your amazing support!

Did I mention they serve 11, (For my family about 6 or 7, we always have some left over), they come frozen, when you are ready to make one you set them out to rise at night and in the morning you put a sweet yeast pastry in your oven that makes your whole house smell divine, you frost it with the frosting that comes with...and serve. I will have 5 flavors. The price point is $14 each and if you are doing the fundraising you earn $6 per pastry...that's amazing!!