Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Jonita & Jesus Project

Hi, friends! you get the inside scoop: I'm on to a new project called the Jonita & Jesus Project.

This past weekend, I saw the movie Julie & Julia and it inspired me. Like one of the lead characters (Julie Powell played by Amy Adams), I am tackling a year-long, life-changing project.

The assignment: Read the entire Bible in one year and blog about the experience.

The deadline: August 14, 2010 (I’ll be almost 30 when I’m done—OH. MY. GOSH!)

If I've tagged you in this post, it could be because...

  • You've read my blog posts before.
  • I thought you might want to participate with me or add your own (amazingly brilliant, insightful or thought-provoking) comments.
  • I thought you might want to invite friends to participate with us.
  • You might just be a fantastic friend who I can trust to pray for me (and anyone else this project reaches) throughout the process.
Want to learn more--or read with me? Here's the link for all the details:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fear, love and freedom

"I will not fear
I will not deny Your love...
All of my life
I could not deny Your love."

When I sang these words for the first time, I didn't really think about them. It was about mechanics. Memorization. Music notes.

But music is so much more than notes. Words like these were designed to mean something.

They're from a song called "Freedom is here" by Hillsong United. It's a song to (and about) God.

When I started thinking about the lyrics, I thought they were about having courage to share my faith…to live for God. Maybe that is true. But maybe it’s about something more.

As I again contemplated the song lyrics above, I realized that when I live in fear, it can be a form of denying God’s love. Because when I live as if I know I’m loved, it’s virtually impossible to be afraid.

Let me explain...when people see me, it’s like they’re watching a little girl standing on the edge of a diving board. The girl who knows and trusts her Dad to catch her approaches the edge differently than the girl who doesn’t trust her dad at all…or the one who doesn’t believe anyone is in the pool waiting for her with open arms.

I’m not diving into a pool today, but every day I dive into situations, relationships, work…you name it. Do I jump with confidence? Or hesitate?

In the words of another musician (Dave Barnes—my fave—to be exact), “Where love is, fear won’t tread.”

I believe with all my heart that there’s a freedom found in Love alone.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cheap & chic fashion find

Shh…I have a secret for any of my chic and cheap fashionista friends.

I just bought this Norma Kamali top online for $20. It looked a little strange upon arrival…but I’m in awe of all the different ways to wear it (halter, asymmetrical, boatneck, top, skirt, dress…and more).

I’ll be honest--not all of the convertible wonder-garment options looked great on me (the halter on the right is my personal fave)…but to get more than one option from an inexpensive piece that also travels well? It’s a beautiful thing.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Change - Part 3: When change just happens

“What have you been up to the past year?”

I paused before answering, “In a lot ways, my life is basically the same—I have the same job, live in the same house, attend the same church. But it seems really weird to say that…because so much has changed.”

As I was catching up with a friend recently, I thought about some of the changes I’ve experienced since the beginning of 2008 (not in chronological order or order of importance by any means!). Some of them are good. Some of them are bad. And some of them, I’m honestly not sure about yet.

Here’s the short list (NOTE: These are mostly changes tied to “events”—we all go through intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical changes, too—but I’ll spare you from reading about all of those!):

  • I had my first-ever surgery (on a broken arm), went through weeks of physical therapy and am now back to normal. :)

  • Our young adults’ service at church was revamped and renamed.

  • Some friends moved away.

  • My company’s CEO changed—and so did some of our senior leadership team.

  • My parents started considering moving to Arizona (we’ll see…).

  • My best friend got married.

  • The financial markets went into a rollercoaster environment—greatly impacting my day-to-day work (and stress levels!).

  • My boss was laid off.

  • I have a new boss (who, thankfully, I also like).

  • Some friends moved back home.

  • My middle sister Hannah (and co-owner of my house) was laid off.

  • My little sister got married. Congrats Kevin & Holly!

  • Our company laid off approx. 20% of people globally, including over 60% of my team—great friends and talented team members are definitely missed.

  • Hannah got a great job—and a nice pay increase. Yay!

Some of these bullet points represent major life changes for people I care about deeply—and have significantly impacted my relationships with them. Other changes have impacted me directly—and shaped my day-to-day life.

But guess what? I honestly couldn’t have said or done anything to stop these changes from occurring. In some cases, these events have been exciting…and others have been brutally painful. But these are all changes that “just happened.”

So…what can you (and I!) do when change “just happens”?

This is a tough question and something I'm still trying to figure out. To be honest, I don't know if I ever could figure it out (see #1), but it's a topic you and I will probably wrestle with our entire lives. That said, here's what I'm learning now:

1. Let go...of the need to know "why?"

Particularly when bad, sad or difficult things happen, many of us want to know "why?" And in many cases where I can't control anything, letting go of the need to know "why?" can be healthy (yet especially hard for any "inquiring minds" who have ever been news reporters at any level!).
The drive to know "why?" can be unhealthy in these cases because:

a) Sometimes being a little in the dark is a good thing--with knowledge comes responsibility.

b) The drive to know "why?" can easily morph into a "digging for dirt" mission focused on finding the negative--about people, organizations or situations.

c) The drive to know "why?" can lead you to dive in to situations you were never meant to be in.

2. Let go...of trying to control the things you can't.

This probably sounds like common sense, given the defintion of change that "just happens." But it's not. Sometimes when change happens, an initial reaction is to ask, "What if...?" questions.

But "What if...?" questions are focused on the past. You can't change that. When change "just happens", I think it can be more effective to ask the, "What now...?" questions.

That said, no matter which questions we ask or what actions we take, there are some things outside our control. And I personally believe that's where faith comes in.

3. Hold the things that really matter (and things don't really matter).

It's really interesting to see how people respond to change--especially life-threatening or life-altering circumstances. I've been blessed enough to know some amazing people who, when faced with horrible circumstances, can look for the good.

When my sister lost her job...and I wasn't sure I would keep mine...we would say things like, "No matter what happens, God is still God. We still have our family, our friends, our church, our health. There's a lot to be thankful for!"

Have you ever known someone who has faced a life threatening illness or situation? It's interesting to see their perspectives and how they spend their time. I only wish more of us (myself included!) could live that way always.

4. Hold on...your story isn't over.

One of my friends frequently says, "This too shall pass!" (usually with some laughter) to cope with rocky situations (or crazy annoying people--and let's be honest--we all know them...and we've all probably BEEN them to someone else!). :)

Whenever change "just happens", it can make you feel powerless. Although I can't control the kind of change that just happens to me, I CAN have a say in how it affects my attitude and choices...which affect my future.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Change Part Two: Piercings, tatoos and transformation

I first read Kaitlyn's story about a month ago.

We've never met. I simply had a glimpse into her life by reading a post on a Starbucks customer Web site. But it's something that stuck with me.

Partners and piercings
Kaitlyn works at Starbucks--she's been a partner for two years. She loves her co-workers, customers and company. But Kaitlyn's Starbucks world was "turned upside down." Why?

Her manager asked her to remove her nose piercing or cover it up with a Band-aid while working. Here's a little bit of what Kaitlyn wrote:

I want to stand for something.
Yes, it's a hole in my nose,
and I can leave the company at a later point
and just have it redone if I so choose.
I don't want to leave.
I would love to stick with this company,
I can see myself still with this company years from now.
I would like the policy on piercings to be straightened out.
If the cost of this is my job, I suppose it is the price I must pay.

I should start by saying that I actually agree with Kaitlyn's basic argument--personally, I think baristas should be allowed to show (non-offensive) piercings and tatoos. However, what struck me about Kaitlyn's post and rationale is that, whether you agree with her or not, she went about creating change the wrong way.

First, Kaitlyn made this post on a public forum mainly designed for Starbucks' customers. Instead, she should have shared her feelings one-on-one with her manager or maybe on the Starbucks' Web site specifically for employees.

Secondly, based on other content in her posting, Kaitlyn knew the "no piercings" rule when she started working at Starbucks...before she got her piercing. Instead of breaking the rule and then expecting the entire global company to change its policy, she could have a) tried to change the rule first or b) moved on to work at another company before getting her piercing.

Finally (and perhaps most importantly!), I think Kaitlyn's biggest flaw was neglecting the big picture. She has a job...that she actually likes. She enjoys her company. She's working...while thousands of other Starbucks partners have been laid off. She can even keep her piercing...the company just asks that she cover it up (like with a tiny Band-aid) while working.

Maybe it's just me...but a policy that forbids showing a piercing at work? Not really worth arguing about in the grand scheme of things. I bet hundreds of laid off people would love her job and all it's perks (hello, health insurance! 401(k)! Discounted coffee!) in the current economy.

Change through transformation

The fact that I remember Kaitlyn's story or that I'm writing about it here may seem silly to you. But as I read it, it struck me as exemplifying how so many people (especially young adults like Kaitlyn and I ) sometimes try to create change.

Our generation may think it's noble to "buck the system", create our own rules, complain (to the wrong people!) and disregard rules or leaders we find irrelevant, unrealistic or just plain pointless.

But does that approach to creating change really work? And even if it does work, is it the optimal way to create change?

One thing I'm recognizing lately is that those who bring about change best--whether it's history-making or just something that alters their families, companies or schools--transform systems and cultures. They don't usually fight, protest or break the rules--they become the best and brightest leaders and examples--from whatever "positions" they have.

A few transformational leaders…

I think President Obama is a transformational leader…and so is Sarah Palin. I don’t agree with either of them 100%, but I have to give both of them kudos for breaking through barriers of race, gender, economic background—to try and DO SOMETHING to change our government.

For example, President Obama could have been satisfied to say, “It’s unfair that we’ve never had an African-American president.” His criticism would have right…but it wouldn’t have changed anything. Instead, I think that disappointing statistic (and a passion to lead change) motivated him to succeed and transform America’s history.

In the Bible, Esther is one example of a transformational leader. I think Esther is often simply labeled by Christians as “beautiful” or “one who God used to save Israel.” Those things are true…but Esther was also a leader. Her beauty may have brought her to a position as queen, but it probably didn’t keep her there…or serve as the sole factor that allowed her to influence the king. She was a leader who had some brainpower, too—and used her position of leadership to transform an anti-Semitic culture and save her people.

Putting the pieces together…

In this post, I’ve talked about bringing about change through transformation. But that approach only works if you’re the one who wants change.

What about the cases where change just happens—and you’re just left to pick up the pieces? That’s my next topic…and one I’ve experienced a bit this year. Stay tuned…

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Change - Part One: What a difference a year makes

If there's one word that could sum up the last year for me, it would be "change."

(Thanks, Mr. President, for the hint!)

I don't know about you, but the last 12 months have brought a lot of changes in my life ranging from stitches and scars (literally) to new family members (yes, I have a brother-in-law now!) to unexpected career turns.

And then there are the other changes in the lives of my friends, family members, church, office, the economy, our country…you name it…that in turn affect my relationship with these people, organizations and entities.

Being the artistic/analytical girl that I am (yeah, I’ll admit it’s kind of a weird combo—but it’s just me), I’ve been thinking about change a lot lately. So I’ll start sharing some of those thoughts with you in a little blog series…just in case you were wondering.

A few things I know for sure?

Change happens. And it happens all the time. There are changes I can’t control. There are others I can. Knowing the difference? Could change my life. (And maybe yours, too.)

Also crucial? Knowing how to lead change…or lead in the midst of change…and they’re not always the same either.

I’ve heard it said that, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” But I also believe that sometimes, “The more things stay the same, the more they desperately NEED to change.”

Change can be AMAZINGLY good, scary, overwhelming, exciting, life-altering, devastating, inspiring—and sometimes all of those things put together in a kaleidoscope of crazy we call “life”. Here’s to the adventure.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Love lesson from a crazy lady...and God

"You're really pretty...I just thought you should know that."

If it were a movie, I would have heard the line from a single Christian guy my age who I also found attractive (on multiple levels).

But it wasn't a movie. It was my life...which meant the line came from a crazy middle-aged woman yelling from across the street in the middle of downtown Tacoma...shouting at me or the two girls I was with?...I don't honestly know. :)

Laugh with me if you will, but so many people on this planet want to be noticed...not solely for the sake of recognition, but just to know that what we do...or who we are...matters to somebody else.

There are moments where I've tried to go the extra mile. At work, it happens when I take on an extremely tough (or dull) assignment with a tight deadline and, in the words of Tim Gunn, "make it work." In my personal life, I may wear extremely uncomfortable shoes, clothes or a certain hairstyle in an attempt to just look better...or perhaps catch the attention of a specific guy.

And guess what? Sometimes no one at work says "thank you" or the guy I was interested in doesn't appear to notice or even care.

I was thinking about that after my run-in with the crazy lady this week when I felt like God spoke to my heart...

"Sometimes I feel that way about I'm here with you always and you don't notice Me or the things I've done."


I've heard it said that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. And when it comes to my relationship with God and what He wants, I know that's true (see Rev.3:16). He deserves so much more than I could ever offer...but I can give Him my best. My best is more than my money (though it does include that, too!)--it's my whole heart.

In the busyness (or challenging circumstances) of life, it can take effort to notice God's voice,
presence or blessings, but that doesn't mean He's absent, silent or not blessing me (hello--every day...every a gift).

Many people think that to please God, you have to be perfect. But now I think of it like the crazy lady's street shout out: even though the compliment was delivered through an imperfect person in a non-movie moment, it still meant something to me.

When I take notice of God and thank Him for who He is, it's usually not perfect. I probably don't notice everything (is that even possible?). I may not say all the right things at the right time. But I bet He still appreciates it.

Maybe to God, I'm a little like the crazy lady.