What’s my capacity?
The question has been rattling around in my brain for a few days now. I often think in terms of energy, values or even seasons of life to describe what I can or can’t, will or won’t do. But I’m wondering if I need to expand my categories.
To be sure, available energy at any point in life plays a key role in my degree of involvement. In younger years I could sleep less, do more and carry on effectively. Or did I?
In the season of pain, surgery and recovery, participation in activities of any sort was carefully weighed and measured by their significance. If they didn’t connect with my core values - and sometimes even when they did - I bowed out. Survival depended on those choices.
So what about capacity?
The term “capacity” has eight definitions; almost all of them refer to the highest limit something or someone can hold or take in, put out or produce. It’s about a full cup.
When my children were preschoolers I recall being a little judgmental of 50-something women, wondering what they spent their time doing and why they weren’t more involved in church ministries I led. I’m sorry, ladies. I get it now.
The breadth to which I can be spread as my family grows and my body ages is simply different now. No longer can I bounce from activity to involvement without some downtime between to reflect and sort. The longer I live I gain riches from experience, and sorrows from losses. I am not interested in glossing over either. I want to soak in and drink up both for they add to the fabric of who I am.
It seems to me that capacity is more fluid than static, subjective than clear cut. And, more and more I see it needing to be frequently revisited to ask, “Does this activity still fit or do I need to let it go to make room for less doing and more being or something different?” Or maybe I need to ponder, “How are the emotional, spiritual, psychological, relational pulls in my life adding joy or creating stress? Do I need to create margin to allow God time to help me process those areas?”
With love and gratitude,
I am an older woman.
By virtue of common sense, that means the world is full of people younger than me. It’s something I take seriously.
It can be intimidating working among the generation whose answer to my every computer question is, “Did you Google it?” And there are times where my inability to Snapchat makes me wonder about my relevance. But is that really what those junior-in-age want from me?
I think not.
I recall an opportunity a friend and I had a couple of years ago to speak on sexuality to a room filled with numerous pregnant or nursing mothers. Maybe I thought the prevalence of information available to this generation would make the stories of two middle aged+ women boring.
Not so. Younger women are asking questions that sound much like the ones I had at their stage. And, they are just as hungry for input and support.
Women long for meaningful connection. Period. It looks different based on personality and other factors but the essence is the same. Who can I share my heart with? Who can I entrust with my fears, hopes and dreams? Who has gone before me and can reassure me that God is faithful and that I’m not alone? Who is willing to normalize my struggles and desires?
God’s directive for older women to be teachers of good, training younger women to love their husbands and children, is no less important than it was 30 years ago.
Perhaps in this world of instant connection, constant superficial communication and sensory overload, good old-fashioned face-to-face, heart-to-heart talks are more valuable than ever.
I have found this to be true in my own life.
With love and gratitude,
Three from Saskatchewan. One from Alberta. Three from BC.
Relative strangers came for a weekend of training and left a team. How did that happen?
In my work with Food for the Hungry, I am responsible for equipping trainers to lead Ending Poverty Together Boot Camps, a workshop designed to assist Canadian churches gain understanding of issues related to poverty – its origins, causes, and possible solutions (to help without hurting).
It’s highly purposeful work.
And the trainers who came to be trained share a common vision – to serve churches by facilitating these sessions and providing a safe place for people to consider their beliefs about poverty and be encouraged in their part toward its alleviation.
Step one accomplished. We are on the same page, going in the same direction, and desiring a shared outcome—critical elements to a successful team.
We also ate together.
Several trainers commented on how meaningful it was to have our initial “get-to-know-you” as a BC salmon BBQ at my home. The relaxed atmosphere created a feeling of welcome, and as one participant stated, “I feel like you really value us as part of the organization, not just as contractors.”
Experience in team building has taught me that this isn’t just a one-off. People will flourish – and the company benefit – when investment is made in ongoing ways in employees’ professional development. It’s a win, win when someone increases their skill set, expands their knowledge base, and adds tools to their kit.
In fact, we’re all better when one of us grows.
And that’s what I love about team. As we engaged with the newly revised Ending Poverty Together materials, someone would share a story that beautifully illustrates a point and immediately our collection of examples expanded. Or I would ask the question, “This is a sensitive topic for many people. How will you address it?” and was met with thoughtful, other-centered consideration for how to proceed in a manner that we can all implement.
I am confident going forward that the group I assembled and have the privilege of training and coaching will do an excellent job of facilitating the material. I have every reason to believe that lives will be impacted and that God will use these seminars to effect change. And, I am grateful to work with people who are eager learners and teachers.
After all, teams can provide invaluable opportunities to learn and grow in every category, even for the leader. Who are you surrounded by?
With love and gratitude,
If you’re interested in learning more about Ending Poverty Together Boot Camps or would like to know how your church can host one, here’s the link to a short video to check out.
Summer ended abruptly for us in BC.
The set-up day for our son’s wedding, August 20th, peaked at 38 degrees Celsius – or 100.4 for those who think in Fahrenheit. Two short weeks later, 14 C is the warmest we felt. The mercury has stayed on the lower end of the thermometer.
Leaves are turning, falling and crunching under our tires as we bike rural paths. Mornings are crisp and daylights hours receding. Fall is upon us, even if the calendar promises a couple more weeks of summer.
In previous years, I remember putting on a pair of jeans and relishing the feeling of finally being cool enough to do so. A marker of change. Kids going back to school also indicated passage of time. But this year, I didn’t tire of wearing shorts and we have no offspring heading into educational pursuits for the first time in 21 years.
Even the signs of change change.
God never intended life to be stagnant. He wants me to learn and grow, and I love how the seasons model this for me. Summer is buoyant with gardens yielding veggies and flowers bursting with colorful blooms.
But summer couldn’t happen without the dormant, resting period winter provides.
And spring, full of life and hope needs the compost of fall to protect and fertilize, preparing the soil for another season of new growth.
So here I am in fall, attempting to establish routines in a stage of life unlike any other. Since this time last year there is hardly a category untouched by significant shifts – family, health, work. Even positives require adjustment. Thankfully, we still live at the same address.
And the One who oversees and orchestrates the leaves turning red remains unchanged. Thankfully.
With love and gratitude,
Ah, the wedding.
The bride exuded joy, confidence and beauty. The groom stood tall, handsome, and beamed as he gazed into his new wife’s eyes. Their personalized vows left guests asking for a copy and remarking at the God-honoring day. Weather, while hot, provided near perfect conditions in a stunning venue.
It was an amazing day. So many expectations met and exceeded.
Expectations. By definition: to look forward to; regard as likely to happen; anticipate the occurrence or the coming of. Or, as I like to think of it, having my mind set on something going a specific direction or anticipating a certain outcome. Generally speaking, I have not found that holding firm expectations is a particularly successful way to live.
Expectations come in all shapes and sizes and they sneak into our daily choices and conversations, often without recognition. I wake on a work morning believing that I’ll have breakfast, gather my belongings and head to the office. But what if my car won’t start or I get a flat tire en route? I may not have articulated my expectation of a reliable vehicle but it was there and when the engine doesn’t turn over, I am disappointed, annoyed, perhaps even angry that my car let me down.
It begs the question, do expectations lead to entitlement? They certainly lurk in the shadows of conflict, internal and with others, and mingle with motives and choices. Do I take time to consider what I’m really hoping for and is it in keeping with God’s best for me?
Paula Rinehart says it this way:
“Where dreams and expectations don’t work out—you are being issued the invitation of your life. Disappointment is, strangely enough, a doorway to the real adventure. It’s the point where you start to leave behind most of your notions of how your story should read—and enter into your relationship with God as a journey.”
I have found a great deal of freedom in opening my hands to the Lord – physically unclenching fists and laying open palms up – as a deliberate act of letting go of the outcome. My life has taken unanticipated twists, valleys, stalls and accelerations, most of which I didn’t see coming yet stitch together the fabric of who I am.
Perhaps C.S. Lewis sums it up best:
“The greatest thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s imagination.”
What do you expect today?
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst