Thursday, December 31, 2009

A typical day.... In the life of this momma!

It's been a few crazy busy weeks!    The last few months have gone by extremely fast!  I've come to understand and appreciate that right now, I don't have typical days.    It's Christmas break for us at Hope Christian Academy and we are LOVIN' IT!   Now that the family visiting and traveling is completed and we are recovered from our sleep... I thought I'd share a few things crossing my mind.

Over Thanksgiving a few family members asked what my typical day was like now that I'm homeschooling.  It hasn't really changed that much.   My typical day includes the normal tasks most moms & dads check off their list.... laundry, meals, shopping, appointments,  carpools, practices, homeschooling or homework, music lessons, calls to friends and family,  quiet time,  exercise,  connecting w/ pals, referee sibling squabbles ...  you know how the list rolls.   I'm still normal and even push the snooze button frequently to help sustain my day.  As far as I know, green little aliens haven't taken over my mind.   Many in my family think I'm nuts for taking on this journey of being a full time mommy, much less that scary world of HOMESCHOOLING!  (Screeching children, weird hair do's,  smarty pants images floating in your mind?)   You will still catch me giving my kids "the look" to help enforce the rules while we are waiting in line at Target, oh and if I'm really gonna be honest, you may catch me wearing two different shoes to church on Sunday cause I didn't pay close attention as we walked out the door.  Yes, this has happened twice over the last 5 years!   I need a better varied shoe collection!   Anyway, my point..... I'm still normal.   Now isn't that refreshing? 

On we go!    Thanksgiving arrived quickly - did we eat?  Christmas was a blur - I think we still have our lights up and on!  

Today, December 31st... I'm finally taking today as a jammies day and "hunkering" down at home.  (I declare this at 1:12 AM!)   Today is my REST day to RELAX!    

Why? ...  Because I can!   I can push aside that last pile of laundry for today.  I can use my crock-pot to make soup for tonight's fun.   I can snuggle with my kiddo's, puppy & honey all day.   I can enjoy my quiet time searching the Word for instruction, wisdom and correction.   I can get beat by Daniel in Lego Rock Band and at the same time get "fancied" up by Eliana the make-up artist at her "beauty shop".   I can write a few notes to dear friends on the other side of our country, without the intense threat of crayon marks interrupting or adding to the artwork.   I may even try to get a work-out in to prep my physical purge in preparation for this 10K I'm doing in March.  All because I can!    All because I'm pretty normal and me.

I'm so blessed to be able to be with our children and with my husband during this season.  These last few weeks have been really an awakening time for me.  I've realized more and more how God has prepared this season for me.  He's had this in his mind for me.  He's been setting things up for me.  Setting things in place, intimately,  passionately,  lovingly - thinking about me.   Normal me.  I am loving this season of working along side my husband in our home, together we are educating, loving, ministering, preparing and living full, blessed, highly favored lives.     I love it!   I love it!   I love it!

I'm thankful today for healthy bodies, strong - alert minds and a spirit that seeks after God's heart.

I'm thankful that God takes care of all parts... the big stuff and the intimate details.  

I'm thankful that I have God's Word and His Holy Spirit to equip me for each step and each season.

I'm thankful for today!  

I'm thankful that I'm ME and God would bless me with this pretty amazing life!

Now... I'm ready and thankful for this next year, this 2010 beginning!   No looking back!   I don't want to stumble over what may be waiting in front of me!

My 2010 calendar is pretty open right now.... want to meet for coffee, meet for a run, connect and laugh?

We're off and running, and we are not turning back. Philippians 3:14

Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new. Isaiah 43:19

Recovering From Ministry Burnout

Recovering From Ministry Burnout

I don't know about you, but in serving God and people, I don't want to be a part of this statistic.

This was posted on a friends blog and I had to share.   It was sooooo good!   We've seen so many loose focus and balance, and at times it's been tempting to fall in with that flow for us too.   We are not perfect in attaining, but the Haas' want to be more purposed in how we live.  


The following are simple things to try to do in your family and personal lives to keep that focused, balanced, healthy perspective.

By Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church. Shared in his staff meeting.

1. Fill your plate — In a conversation with Pastor Wayne Cordeiro of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii, he gave some very sagely advice. He said that each person’s plate is a different size; each person needs to first find the size of their plate and then fill it only with those things that are of highest priority. And, before adding any additional things to our full plate, we must take something else off to leave space for the new duty. Finding the size of one’s plate takes time and attention. For example, I have personally seen that high-level leaders have an energy level that is unusually high and those working under them who seek to keep up with their pace find themselves quickly burning out.

2. Exercise — Sadly, most pastors and Christian leaders I know are woefully out of shape. Many of them pound their pulpits against rock music and alcohol while their huge gut jiggles in mockery of their own gluttony. In the early years of our church plant, I ate poorly, slept infrequently, and lived off of the constant adrenaline of perpetual stress. As a result, I weighed 235 pounds at my highest point. Through regular diet and exercise I dropped back down to a lean 190 pounds. But in the past year I have seen my weight climb back up to 210 pounds as my diet and exercise routine has been trashed by laziness, travel, and the constant state of emergency. So, yesterday I cleaned out my garage and plugged my treadmill back in so I can resume daily running and lifting conveniently at home. I got started exercising this morning. I find that when I work out, I drop weight, feel better, sleep better, and am better able to lead out of health with energy. The experts say the best time to exercise is in the morning and those who work out early in the day are most likely to remain on an exercise regimen.

3. Do not allow technology to be your Lord — A recent issue of Fortune magazine had an insightful article about the average day of some of the most successful CEOs in the country. These people lived lives ruled by technology, including spending whole days each week doing nothing but obsessively responding to every single email they received. The article mentioned that the average American worker is interrupted once every eleven minutes and takes twenty-five minutes to refocus on their original task. The problem is that the alarms and bells of our technology deceive us into reacting to them even when the matter they call us to is neither urgent or important. So, turning off the chime and vibrate on your phone, only checking your voicemail and email on certain days at certain times, and turning the notification off on your email will itself go a long way toward your healing. You won’t have the unpredictable fire drill caused by the bells of technology. Imagine what the world must have been like before the 1200s when the first mechanical clock was invented, or before minute and second hands were added in the 1600s, or before 1879 when Edison produced the first light bulb, thereby enabling us to stay up all night.

4. Sabbath — This includes taking five minutes off every hour to catch your breath, go for a walk, stand up at your desk, etc. It includes taking thirty to sixty minutes off a day to nap, go for a walk, read, garden, or whatever else releases your pressure and helps you to relax. This also means taking one day off a week to Sabbath, including a date night if you are in a serious relationship or married. This also includes a day or two off a month for silence and solitude and a few weeks a year for an actual vacation that does not leave you more tired than before it began.

5. Pick a release valve — Because ministry causes pressure, any leader without an acceptable release valve will either burn out from stress or blow up from sin. So, the key to releasing pressure is to find and use an acceptable release valve. This may include exercise, gardening, a hobby, journaling, or my favorite, dropping the top on my Jeep and heading into the mountains for a day of adventure to find new lakes to swim in.

6. Work on your life, not just in it — Rather than just pulling more hours and trying harder, time needs to be regularly taken to pull back and look at your life so that you can work on it rather than just run in it. For me this includes printing out my schedule every few months to review how I spent my time and inform my assistant of what was a waste of time that should not happen again. This also means taking time to read books on the issue of time management and burnout and biographies of great leaders to learn from their lives, and possibly even taking time to meet with a Biblical counselor to get insight on your own life and tendencies.

7. Leave margin — When we push our bodies, schedules, minds, and budgets to the point where there is no margin, all that it takes to destroy us is one unforeseen expense, one small emergency, or one small cold. Therefore, leaving margin is the key to not being crushed when life does not go according to plan. This means leaving extra money in the bank, leaving extra time between appointments, and preparing to arrive at places early so that if there is traffic you will still be on time and not stressed.

8. Spend most of your time training leaders — While thousands of people came to see Jesus, only a handful really knew Him, and only three knew Him intimately. This is because Jesus spent his time training leaders to do ministry and without doing the same we will die from our work and sadly see it die with us as well.

9. Work from conviction, not guilt — Conviction comes from God and guilt comes from people. The key to being both fruitful and healthy is to do what God wants and not always say yes to or let yourself be pushed around by people who are demanding and have perfected the art of making you feel guilty if you do not do what they demand.

* Originally prepared for an elders’ meeting at Mars Hill Church on May 22, 2006.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Are Introverts Good Leaders?

My pastors had this article on her blog and it's so good.. had to share!

Are Introverts Good Leaders?

. . . . They draw on important strengths that extroverts may not have.

“Most people don’t know that I’m an introvert.”

I hear this confession from surprisingly many successful executives. Quite a few, in fact, talk at length with me about their introversion, speaking candidly and often cathartically about their experiences. Most also admit that at some point in their leadership journey they’ve had to work to overcome being disregarded or misunderstood because of their quiet temperament.

How do these introverted leaders do it? How do they thrive in the extroverted business world? They seek to understand–and play to–their strengths.

It has been reported that a full 40% of executives describe themselves as introverts, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates, the ├╝ber-investors Warren Buffett and Charles Schwab, Avon’s chief executive, Andrea Jung, and the late publishing giant Katharine Graham. Odds are President Barack Obama is an innie as well. What does that mean? That introverts, not just extroverts, have the right stuff to lead organizations in a go-go, extroverted business culture

Here are five key characteristics that help introverted leaders build on their quiet strength and succeed.

1. They think first, talk later. Introverted leaders think before they speak. Even in casual conversations, they consider others’ comments carefully, and they stop and reflect before responding. One executive tells me that he sits back and listens to his leadership team’s ideas and proposals, often using silence to allow even more thoughts to bubble up. Learning by listening, not talking, is a trait that introverts consistently demonstrate. They also use their calm, quiet demeanors to be heard amid all the organizational noise and chatter. (One thoughtful, reasoned comment in a meeting can move a group forward by leaps and bounds.) In fact, the most powerful person in the room is often the most quiet. Additionally, an introvert’s tendency to be more measured with words is a major asset in the current economy, when no leader can afford to make costly gaffes.

2. They focus on depth. Introverted leaders seek depth over breadth. They like to dig deep, delving into issues and ideas before moving on to new ones. They are drawn to meaningful conversations, not superficial chitchat, and they know how to ask great questions and really listen to the answers. In a recent interview with TheNew York Times, Deborah Dunsire, M.D., president and chief executive of Millennium, a Cambridge, Mass., biopharmaceutical company, said, “In addition to conducting organizational surveys and holding town hall meetings, I schedule walk around time, just stopping by offices. … I would just say, ‘Hey, what is keeping you up nights? What are you working on? What’s most exciting to you right now? Where do you see we can improve?’” Dr. Dunsire maintains that by pursuing this kind of in-depth questioning–something that introverted leaders do exceptionally well–executives can learn what’s actually happening in the far reaches of their organizations and engage and retain their top talent.

3. They exude calm. Introverted leaders are low-key. In times of crisis, they project a reassuring, calm confidence–think President Obama–and they speak softly and slowly regardless of the heat of the conversation or circumstances. Whenever they get ready for a meeting, a speech or a special event, their secret to success can be summed up in one word: preparation. They often plan and write out their meeting questions well in advance, and for important talks and speeches, they rehearse out loud. They also act “as if”: One executive tells me that he pretends to be James Bond before major industry conferences. It makes him feel more cool and confident. They psych themselves up internally, too, by quieting negative thoughts and framing the upcoming experience more positively. Prior to networking events, Bob Goodyear, an Atlanta-based information technology leader, tells himself, “I can do anything for 30 minutes.”

4. They let their fingers do the talking. Introverted leaders usually prefer writing to talking. This comfort with the written word often helps them better articulate their positions and document their actions. It also helps them leverage online social networking tools such as Twitter, creating new opportunities to be out there with employees, customers and other stakeholders. For instance, using Best Buy’s (Blue Shirt Nation, an internal social network for employees at the electronics superstore, senior management and sales associates can connect continuously to discussing workers’ feedback and ideas. I know one chief financial officer who writes a daily internal blog and in a recent posting described how he made “a good presentation great” by practicing. In so sharing his experience, he not only showed openness and honesty but also provided coaching to thousands of employees.

5. They embrace solitude. Introverted leaders are energized by spending time alone. They suffer from people exhaustion and need to retreat to recharge their batteries frequently. These regular timeouts actually fuel their thinking, creativity and decision-making and, when the pressure is on, help them be responsive, not reactive. When introverts honor that inner pull, they can do their best work. In managing interruptions, they also manage people’s expectations. When asked to respond to requests or ideas, Martin Schmidler, a vice president at a national food service organization, often tells his team that he needs time to absorb what’s being asked or presented. He’s clear on how and when he’ll get back to people, and he consistently follows through on his commitments. This clarity and consistency helps him build trust with his team.

Jennifer B. Kahnweiler is the author of The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength. She is founder and president of AboutYOU, an Atlanta-based leadership consultancy, and is an executive coach and corporate speaker.

Thanksgiving Part 2 - Let it continue!

I’ve been in the kitchen, on the road, in our "classroom" and zoning out due to some good cough meds so much these last two weeks, I haven’t had time to blog. But I have had plenty of time to ponder the bountiful blessings which fill my life. With connecting with all sides of our family this week — and a few friends we had the chance to connect with — it just doesn’t get any better than this!

Even though the official day of "Thanksgiving" has come and gone, I want to keep this heart of gratitude,

I’m thankful for the men and women who had the vision and the courage to pursue their dream of a land in which we could be free to worship God. For those in ensuing years who have preserved and defended our freedoms. And for the Lord whose grace has blessed this land.

I’m thankful for the gift of our children and freedom to homeschool them. Even on those exhausting, frustrating days that seem to never end...for those I am thankful.  For a husband who has been given a great skill to work in his giftings and be a blessing to our family and for enabling me to fulfill this calling of being a full time mommy, teacher, wife and friend. For God’s peace, provision, and power that encourage and strengthen me in each of these vital tasks.   I love our God passionately and I am thankful for His love for me.

I’m thankful for my husband’s spiritual leadership in our home as we seek to guide our children to love and serve God.  I am thankful for his wisdom and even his "organizational" gifts.  I am thankful for the passion and potential for His Kingdom being manifested in our kids lives.  I am thankful that they are healthy, strong and have a heard to learn about God.

I’m thankful for the gracious plenty that we enjoy each day, not just at this time of year.   We've all gone through seasons where we think we are "lacking" or have "lost".   I can tell you, we haven't.  God has bene so faithful to us in providing "great hope" for us.   Even down to the last second,  the last possible moment.  I am thankful today for clean water to be able to wash all those dishes in my sink — a luxury unknown in many parts of the world, but available to us instantly in both hot and cold versions.  For all the daily blessings that are so easy to take for granted—food, shelter, clothing, each breath I take.

I’m thankful for the Creator who made this beautiful world with its changing seasons.  Each given an apporpriate time and theme.   This appliese to both our earth and our spirit.   For an amazing new church family with a heart for the least and the lost.  I am thankful for the love and trasparency of  Godly leaders who search after God intensely.  

Off to warm up that dish water....  time to get back to work.  Thankful that I can.