This One Party that One Time

Last night I hosted a party for my daughter’s Marching Band rank. Well, technically, she hosted the party. I just provided some of the food, only to realize that she already shopped for the treats everyone wanted.

But I did make some food. And I know this about teen parties: You put out the platters of food, and then you retreat.

Sometimes, you engage, but never long enough to embarrass anyone. In this new world, parents are neither seen nor heard. How different from our preschool craft parties and elementary school sleepover parties where I held my audience captive with games and funny stories!

No longer. But the good news is, nobody needed me. And they cleaned up after themselves, so it’s like the whole thing never happened. I’m not exhausted by this party that happened. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t invited. It wasn’t my party.

So today, I’m happy for the party I didn’t host and didn’t attend. I’d even do it again next weekend.


Learn From Those You Lead

Today I remember to learn from those I lead. In my teaching seminar, instead of lecturing the entire time, I’ve learned to ask the participants, “How would you teach this? or What’s your best tip on teaching this?”

In a larger sense, I love to believe that every person I meet has something to teach me. It fosters a curious mindset, a hopeful expectation, and a certain joy. Over the years, the belief continues to build humility to fight arrogance and a sense of having already arrived at wisdom.

Every person we meet has a unique story, beautiful dignity, astonishing complexity, and insight just because of who they are.


Get Up. Walk Around. Then Get Back to It.

I’m in the thick of my Monday / Wednesday / Friday writing schedule (I teach on Tuesday / Thursday and stay on campus all day.) The writing schedule looks like this:

8:30 AM-9:30 AM: At my computer to write. Coffee or nice beverage nearby. Cat sleeping close. 9:30-9:45 AM: Break for folding laundry, emptying dishwasher, and walking around the block. Maybe a snack. 9:45-10:45: Write. Drink water. 10:45-11:00: Break to walk. Fix lunch if I’m hungry. Fold more laundry or any other chore on the list. 11:00-11:30: Answer emails or any phone calls. 11:30-12:30: Write. 12:30-12:45: Get up and walk around.

You get the idea. The point is to work for about an hour and then get up and do something for 15 minutes or so to stretch and move your body.

Normally, around 1:00 PM, I’ll pause to reflect and write a blog (like I’m doing right now!). By 1:30, I’ll have been working 5 hours, so I’ll sometimes take an hour walk or switch to grading papers or preparing lesson plans. I normally never write for more than 4-5 hours a day.

I find that scheduling writing helps keep me focused. And scheduling those walking breaks helps keep me healthy. So for all of you writers who have been sitting too long, now is your cue to get up, walk around, and then get back to it!


When All Else Fails, Bring Chocolate

I love my “writing workshop” days with students. I typically bring some kind of treat. I take seriously Proverbs 18:16 (NLT): “Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people!”

When I want to open the door of someone’s heart or mind, I bring a gift. I think of a little treat as a gift that opens doors and grants access. It’s become a hallmark of my teaching philosophy to bring unexpected treats. It’s part of my professional life, too. I’ll give the lecturers in my seminar on teaching a new pen or a treat when they least expect it. I’ll also have treats or little gifts in my office for anyone stopping by. You’ll find chocolates, flavored waters, packages of almonds, and all sorts of little treats.

A gift opens the door.

Try giving a gift when you want the door to open for you.


Growing in Curiosity

I love asking questions to learn from other people. I truly believe God places people in our lives to teach us, to bless us, or reveal more of Himself to us. I love gleaning wisdom, elevating others, and asking the kinds of questions that lead to unique stories. Here are my five favorite questions:

What do you love about your work?

What brought you to this decision you’ve made?

What have you been learning lately?

What shows have you been watching or music have you been listening to? Why do you love it?

What lingering questions do you have about anything?


The Words From Another Kingdom

I spoke with a wise woman about why she’s still using the spiritual language that so many people think is “churchy” “outdated” “confusing” and too “Christian.”

She’s talking about words like saved, lost, salvation, sanctification, justification, eternal life, sin, repentance, the flesh, or any other word you see in scripture that helps explain the gospel and the Christian life. It’s not Christian jargon to her.

She exclaims, “Those words were given to us by God! It is Kingdom Language!”

It is indeed a foreign language these days, a tongue from a distant kingdom that’s slowly slipping away. But my friend argues that we should keep using these words and revive them, not change them or use different and more relevant words.

She’s right. We have kingdom language given to us by the King we serve. So it’s not only OK to speak the language, but we might expect outsiders to need the translation. That’s normal, too. But we don’t stop speaking simply because the words sound strange in an increasingly biblically illiterate culture.


Treats Along the Way

I love observing demonstrations of God’s love and goodness when I travel far from home. During my trip to Kansas, I loved the nature surrounding the retreat center that included finding a Kansas ornate box turtle.

My host also treated me to something special: a trip to my birthplace in Fort Leavenworth!

What a fun weekend!


Headed to Kansas

I’ve discovered one of the best parts of traveling to speak: meeting new people! I love experiencing true fellowship with those who love Jesus. It’s a taste of heaven.

Please pray that God’s word comes alive this weekend for these ladies in Kansas!