Fired-Up

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Aragorn:  “The beacons. The beacons of Minas Tirith have been lit! Gondor calls for aid.”

Theoden: “And Rohan will answer!”

 

So, my mission president summoned all of the veteran missionary leaders to Lyon this week for a special Leadership Council. Every single missionary I go home with has been a Leader at some point in their mission, which doesn’t happen often, apparently. And all of us were gathered at this grand meeting for the sole purpose of figuring out what we could do to fire-up the missionaries.

Finding the Fire
Fire was a big part of the conference. There is a rising number of missionaries who have lost their spark and are struggling.  And with a large batch of new missionaries coming in, well, the president’s charge to us was to inspire others to rise up, and ignite the work again.  We all sat down in council and discussed it.

How do you inspire someone out of a slump?  What does it take to get someone from the doldrums on to high ground? From snuffed-out to burning bright? Continue reading

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Change, Oh Goodness!

Connor at the Airport

Connor at the Airport

 

“I need to let him go.”
Marie Lu, Prodigy

“When I leave, I won’t tell you goodbye—but only because I’m taking you with me.”
Jarod Kintz, Whenever You’re Gone, I’m Here for You

“Thank God I found the GOOD in goodbye.”
Beyonce Knowles

 

You’d think that sending out your third kid on a mission would make one a seasoned, poised veteran of goodbyes.

Nope.

Bidding farewell to my son, Connor, was a compounded kind of difficult. I was a massive ball of nerves. Partly because he was younger (he was 18. Ashley was 22 when she left on her mission, Lauren 19), and a great deal to do with is he ready?

Oh, don’t get me wrong. He is beyond his years brilliant, responsible, highly social, and has a commanding knowledge of the gospel, but organized…weeell, somehow that gene did not latch on to his DNA.

So I fretted about things that mothers are good at fretting: I worried he would lose his wallet or forget his credit card at a store. I envisioned him leaving behind a suit when moving apartments or misplacing his head if it weren’t screwed on tight.  How do you imbue someone with more awareness?  I’ll tell you, you can’t. You just cross your fingers that when they know mom’s not around, the efficiency kicks in gear.

There were many sleepless nights before Connor left. Surprisingly too many. Why am I such a nervous-wreck boob?  To me, the fear seemed beyond worry-wart mom allowance. So I’d question.  Am I not trusting God? Do I not trust Connor? What’s really going on here?

Then the answer hit me:   Continue reading

Don’t Judge, Because You Just Don’t Know

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“Be kind, for everyone you know is facing a great battle.”
Philo of Alexandria

Don’t judge what you don’t know, because you just don’t know.

 

I was in the checkout line with my small pile of necessities for dinner-makins plus a large box of Haagen Dazs chocolate almond covered ice cream bars (don’t judge. It was one of those days). The woman in front of me was fussing over her items as the clerk was scanning and carefully bagging her groceries. “No, no, no!” she snapped at the clerk, “I don’t want those things put together.” She hastily took a couple of things out of one bag and put them in another. “I like them like this!”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, ma’am,” the clerk was patiently accommodating. When her things were organized just-so, she paid the bill and walked out the door.

My turn. Her prickly attitude made me a little more conscious of my favorite clerk. I flashed a warm smile, “Looks like you’re having another busy day!” It was a feeble attempt to undo the bad energy that had just wafted through his checkstand. He smiled, trying to hide his embarrassment.  And just as he was scanning my Haagen Dazs, the lady returned, this time without her bags. Continue reading

Success Inspires, But Failure Connects

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“You are human and mortal; we are the sum of our weak moments and our strong.”
Mercedes Lackey

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”
Criss Jami

“Failure makes your story worth telling.”
Jer Monson

How we portray our success as well as our failures has a great deal to do with how we relate to others.

It took me years to get this. I grew up with the “never let them see you sweat” mentality. And, because people only saw the polished success, they only got half the story.

“Success and failure are two halves of the same coin.  If we want our lives to be as impactful as possible, it’s important to share both!  By presenting a full picture, we can use our experiences to help other people acknowledge their individual potential, mitigate their fear of failure, and capitalize on their opportunities.”
Jer Monson

Success inspires, but failure connects.

So, what do you stink at?  Tell you what – I’ll go first. Continue reading

Theodora & Justinian: Reign of Equals

Port of Constantinople by Ivan Aivazovsky

Port of Constantinople by Ivan Aivazovsky

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“One’s not half of two; two are halves of one.”
― E.E. Cummings
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Why write about an Emperor and Empress who ruled a forgotten empire 1500 years ago?

Sure, they lived around 500 AD in what is now Istanbul, Turkey. They spoke the dead languages of ancient Greek and Latin. Most of us have a hard time even pronouncing “byzantine” (biz-an-teen). But I like to think that Theodora and Justinian have more to teach us than we might realize.

As I explained in my last post, they lived something close to a fairy tale –  two ordinary kids from the lowest social classes one day found themselves Emperor and Empress of the Byzantine Empire. Yet the story of Justinian and Theodora endures beyond their rise and flows into their reign: one that defined their empire for nearly 1000 years, and still stands as one of the greatest examples of a power couple at work in history.

And I’ll be the first to admit it: I am a huge fan of Theodora.

Let me back up a little bit and give you a sense of what this very strange Byzantine Empire was. Continue reading

Beware the Ides of March

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”
Matthew 26:52

March 15, 44 BC Julius Caesar was killed in the Capitol by members of the Roman Senate.

NEWSHe had been warned this day would come. A soothsayer had hailed him one day on the streets and said, “Beware the Ides of March!” (Ides meaning the day dividing the month in half – March 15). Then his wife started having dreams about him being murdered. He received notes and hints from several men of plots to kill him. But Caesar had ignored these portents and walked merrily into work one fine March morning and wound up in a pool of his own blood on the marble floor.

It’s a pretty big bummer to be stabbed 23 times by colleagues and rumored family members. But I don’t think the real loser here was Julius Caesar. He’s got a Shakespeare play bearing his name, not to mention a pizza joint and a pretty delicious salad.

Nah, I think the assassins got the bigger disappointment.

Continue reading

Odysseus & Penelope: Enduring Love

“Love suffereth long….beareth all things, believeth all things,
hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth.”
1 Corinthians 3:4, 7-8 (ASV)

And then he spoke of a girl of surpassing beauty and faithfulness.
I can only assume he meant you.”
– The Princess Bride

By Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

By Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

One of my favorite stories of all time is one of the oldest stories of all time. It also happens to be one of the best love stories.

They call it the Odyssey – the story of the Greek hero Odysseus, written about 3,000 years ago by a man named Homer; but tales of the Greek hero had been passed around by word of mouth for many, many years before that.

Odysseus was a king, a soldier, a genius, and easily the most beloved character in all of Greek history. But he is remembered first and foremost as a father and husband because the Odyssey is his struggle to return to the home and family he was forced to leave behind.

Long story short: Odysseus is called to fight in a war that lasts 10 years, and then takes another 10 years on top of that to get home, making it 20 years round-trip. All that time, his beloved wife Penelope waits for her husband’s return – a return which never seems to come for those 2 very long decades.

Teaser: there’s a happy ending to this story, which is one reason why it is so beloved. But let me tell you a bit about Odysseus and Penelope’s story, and why I love them so much. Continue reading