I wear my heart on my sleeveBarcelonahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/I-wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeveI wear my heart on my sleeveBy Joshua Garber


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Three missionary mythshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Three-missionary-mythsThree missionary mythsBy Joshua Garber <p><strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Three missionary myths</strong></p><p><strong>Note: </strong>This is the introduction and the first of a three-part series that addresses some of the common myths and misconceptions we experience most regularly as international service workers for Mennonite Mission Network in Barcelona.<br></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Some time ago, I talked to my friend Daniel, a monthly donor to our ministry, about challenges we face in maintaining connections with folks in the United States while serving abroad. Our communication becomes increasingly challenging and distorted. And folks who care about us a great deal can end up saying the most hurtful, deflating things.</span><br></p><p>"<em>'You out drinkin' with my gifts?!'</em>" he said in his best "church-person" voice with a laugh. "Wow, it seems you guys have a double standard for having fun!"</p><p>I love Daniel's way of keeping things in perspective. The reality is the work we do<a href="http://worthwhileadventures.org/blog/2016/10/5/rationale-for-european-missions"> in Barcelona</a> (and before<a href="http://worthwhileadventures.org/blog/2014/03/ukraine-and-russia-and-lcc.html"> in Lithuania</a>) does not fit the classical missionary stereotype. We serve in a first-world country riddled by<a href="http://worthwhileadventures.org/mission"> spiritual poverty</a>. Often, the baggage of the institutional church does more to create barriers between people and Jesus rather than facilitate connections.<br></p><p>For example, we're not digging wells, converting villages of poor people and dressing in some relatively exotic fashion. That's not to say those types of missions are unimportant. And in many contexts, this work has been done by amazing, faithful people responding to God's call. But that's not who <em>we</em> are and that's <em>not who we should be</em> in <em>our</em> context.</p><p><strong>For our first two years in Barcelona, our stated objectives have been:</strong></p><ol style="list-style-type:decimal;"><li>Learn the language well.</li><li>Engage in the local culture and figure out how to fit into it.</li><li>Build relationships.</li></ol><p>We are doing foundation work that is as challenging to portray as it is meaningful and important.</p><p><a href="http://worthwhileadventures.org/blog/2017/9/29/resurrecting-the-church">Ministry happens as we carry out our objectives</a>. Most of our supporters know and understand this … but the legacy image of what international missions should look like always seems to linger. The dissonance that image creates with the parts of our experience we're able to communicate, combined with the hallmark American fear of getting duped or flimflammed, often results in some unfortunate encounters and assumptions.</p><p><strong><em>The following is the first of a three-part series that addresses some of the common myths and misconceptions we experience most regularly while serving with </em></strong><a href="http://mennonitemission.net/"><strong><em>Mennonite Mission Network</em></strong></a><strong><em> in Barcelona.</em></strong></p><p><strong>Myth #1: Our European Vacation</strong></p><p>We love to travel and likely would not have found ourselves living outside the United States were this not the case. Maybe that's why this first myth gets under our skin so much:</p><p><strong><em>"You're just getting people to pay for your European vacation."</em></strong></p><p>While we don't hear this first statement from our ministry partners who support us, it <em>is</em> a serious accusation.</p><p>Is Barcelona an amazing city? <em>Totally!</em> Do we enjoy living here? <em>Yup!</em> Is it a huge tourist destination? <em>Annoyingly so!</em></p><p>However, living where people love to visit does not make <em>us</em> tourists. We´ve also lived in another major tourist destination: <a href="http://www.amishcountry.org/">Amish country</a>. Growing up in Goshen, Indiana, I never felt like a tourist even though that's a definite aspect of the area's culture. Phoenix, a place we lovingly called home for about eight years, is also <a href="https://tourism.az.gov/economic-impact/">a major tourist destination</a>. Even a sleepy city like <a href="https://www.klaipedainfo.lt/en/">Klaipeda, Lithuania</a>, draws lots of visitors during its summer months.</p><p>Everywhere we've lived is touristy to someone who hasn't been there.<em> </em>In fact, stereotypical settings for missions such as Africa and South America are also where countless people visit and drop lots of money to go on safaris, visit historical sites and consume culture — living life in a fashion that's completely separate from the locals.</p><p><strong><em>The same is true for Barcelona </em></strong></p><p>Our travel here is limited to what we can access via the subway and bus. Occasionally, we find ourselves outside Barcelona for a ministry-related trip or conference. A few times we've visited some good friends who live a two-hour train ride away. Most days, however, we're grinding away with meetings, office work, language courses, getting groceries, going on family outings.<br></p><p>This myth is most hurtful because to imply we're on a perpetual vacation is to say we don't work — an easy assumption to make as our work doesn't all fit into a 9-to-5 window.  And to say that we've somehow tricked folks into paying for a life of leisure implies we are being disingenuous about our call to serve.</p><p>I would love to travel more as a family. Regional travel in Europe is amazing: for the same cost as traveling from Phoenix to southern California or Indianapolis to Chicago, we could see and do some amazing things. But we travel less now than ever. Usually there's too much work to do at home in Barcelona and, often, it just doesn't feel like it's worth the juggling.</p><p><strong><em>Questions for reflection: </em></strong><br></p><p><em>How important is recreational travel for me/my family? </em></p><p><em>In what ways might where I live and my lifestyle be exotic to someone from another part of the world?</em></p>
Letting others be Christ to youhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Letting-others-be-Christ-to-youLetting others be Christ to youby Jenna Baldwin <p><span lang="EN">My term of service in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with Service Adventure was both the best and toughest year of my young life. A highlight of my year was my job placement. I worked at Our House: Bright Futures, a day program for adults with disabilities. I was surrounded daily with individuals who greeted me with a hug as they walked in the door. It was the place where I grew into the person I am today. </span></p><p><span lang="EN">Yet this place that was such a source of joy in my life also provided one of my toughest lessons in service: learning how to step back and be served. </span></p><p><span lang="EN">At the beginning of the year, our unit talked about how we were not only in Service Adventure to serve, but also to be served. This was not something that I felt familiar or comfortable with initially. </span></p><p><span lang="EN">Towards the start of my time at Our House: Bright Futures, I noticed an individual standing and hand signing with a care provider. I walked over and introduced myself by signing – the extent of my knowledge. Eventually, he taught me more sign language. First the practical, then the ones that made us chuckle. When this ritual began, I considered it a learning opportunity for myself; but it turned into much more than that. By his teaching me, I was backing down and simply being served, just as our unit had talked about.<br></span></p><p><span lang="EN">As Mennonites, we often talk about being the hands and feet of Jesus in our communities. Yet, sometimes we need to sit down and let others wash our feet. This is often the image that comes to mind when I think of being served by others—a parallel frequently drawn by theologists. As a person who is always eager to help others, I often struggle with this widely accepted interpretation of the scripture. I was generally uncomfortable with the idea of being vulnerable and letting others serve me. </span></p><p><span lang="EN">Yet I was also being served by my housemates from day one. When I touched down in Colorado Springs, I was terrified of what would await me. But I found some of the most understanding, compassionate and loving friends that I could ask for. That’s apart from the issue of whether they were intentionally serving me on a daily basis. We often sat together, discussing our days, which could be anything from giving advice regarding a difficult work situation or the offering of a hug or a cup of tea. I learned that it was okay to let my housemates help me through difficult times, because we were all experiencing them. That’s a part of the beauty of living in community. You have people to walk with you through a season of life. </span></p><p><span lang="EN">Service is often mischaracterized as only serving others. Yet the people surrounding you have just as much to give to you as you do to them. Give them the chance to be Christ in your life. You’ll thank them for it.</span></p>
No one wants to be your mentorhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/no-one-wants-to-be-your-mentorNo one wants to be your mentorBy Carmen Hoober<p>Yes, you heard me. No one wants to be your mentor. I know what you're thinking, "Really? No one? Isn't that kind of harsh?" OK, let me think about it some more. Hemming … hawing … STILL NO. No one wants to be your mentor. Of course, there are going to be exceptions to the rule, but just plan on not being one of them.</p><p>Here is why:</p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:medium none;padding:0px;"><p><strong>1. Time</strong></p><p>This is arguably the biggest reason no one wants to be your mentor. Even if the spirit is willing, the schedule is probably full. The most worthwhile, sought-after mentors are knowledgeable, insightful, and in demand. Being asked to add one more (unpaid) task or responsibility to their list feels overwhelming. Plus, a common (if unfair) stereotype is that today's younger workers are entitled and extra needy. This sounds exhausting! <strong>Time is a busy person's most precious commodity.</strong></p><p><strong><br></strong></p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:medium none;padding:0px;"><p dir="ltr" style="text-align:left;"><strong>2. #soawkward</strong></p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align:left;">I'm going to assume that you're likeable, but sometimes you just don't click with people. And that's OK! Just think if someone you only faintly knew walked up and asked, "Would you like to be my boyfriend/girlfriend?" Unless you were in third grade, that would feel a little weird. Asking someone you don't already have an established relationship with to be your mentor is kind of the same thing. (In theory, it's possible someone will want to mentor you who you don't particularly connect with as well, which is also awkward!)</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align:left;"><br></p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:medium none;padding:0px;"><p><strong>3. What's in it for me?</strong></p><p>A real, genuine, authentic, mentoring relationship must be a two-way street. What do you have to offer a mentor? If all you can think of is "potential," you need to keep thinking. From the perspective of a lot of executive-types, mentoring is a big investment of their time and energy. Are you going to make <em>them </em>look good? Have you proven to be a good bet? In <em>Lean In</em>, Sheryl Sandberg writes, "We need to stop telling [women], 'Get a mentor and you will excel.' Instead, we need to tell them, 'Excel and you will get a mentor.'"</p><p><br></p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:medium none;padding:0px;"><p><strong>4. Your expectations</strong></p><p>Last fall I decided I wanted bangs, so I got them. Imagine my astonishment when my life did not immediately change for the better. Then it hit me: I was turning 40. <em>I didn't need bangs! I needed therapy! And probably Botox!</em> I realized that my expectations for what bangs were going to do for my life were completely unrealistic. Likewise, you might <em>think </em>you want a mentor, but what you <em>actually </em>want is a cross between Yoda and a fairy godmother. No wonder no one wants to be your mentor!</p></blockquote><p><br></p><p>Even if someone does agree to mentor you, it's not going to catapult you into instant career success. It's important to remember that people who might want to become a mentor don't feel they can live up to a potential mentee's expectations. And for good reason. </p><p>            <br></p><p><strong>Take responsibility for your own career development.</strong></p><p>I'm not going to dispute that mentors are important — in fact, they are critical to personal and professional success. And never are you more in need of a mentor than when you are fresh out of college, in a career transition, or in a new role of any kind.</p><p><br></p><p>However, no one is entitled to mentoring. Are you entitled to adequate supervision and training? Yes. But they are not the same thing. Let's actually define mentoring. There are a LOT of definitions (which is part of the problem), but <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentorship">here is one</a> that I think contains the most general understanding.  </p><p><br></p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:medium none;padding:0px;"><p>Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé).[8]</p></blockquote><p><br></p><p>I think the key word here is "informal." True mentorship happens organically, over time, and through genuine relationship. Sometimes you won't even be aware you've been mentored until years later. True mentoring does not always need a DTR (define the relationship) conversation. Some organizations even provide mentoring programs — which might be great, or might not be.  </p><p><br></p><p>Basically, if you're lucky to have a mentor, then you're lucky enough.</p><p><br></p><p>So then. What's a sad, mentor-less person supposed to do? Luckily, there are a couple of other ways you can think about this.</p><p><br></p><p>Instead of a mentor, consider:</p><ul><li><strong>Forming a board of advisors.</strong> <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/02/20/everyone-needs-a-personal-board-of-directors/#314267ab2bbc">A personal board of advisors</a> (or board of directors) is a group of people who you can go to individually for specific advice on a particular issue. Just like companies have boards that utilize the expertise of their members to propel the organization forward, so can individuals. Seeking a wider range of opinions broadens both your perspective and your network. This has a less personal feel than a mentor, but you might also get better, more focused advice.</li></ul><p><br></p><ul><li><strong>Finding an <a href="http://www.mscareergirl.com/career-boosters-mentors-advocates-sponsors/">advocate or a sponsor</a>.</strong> An advocate is someone who will talk you up when you're not in the room, and a sponsor is someone who can pull strings on your behalf. Advocates are often those you work more closely with (coworkers, supervisors) who see the great work that you do and make sure you get the credit for it. A sponsor is someone who might make a phone call on your behalf or offer you their connections.</li></ul><p><br></p><ul><li><strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Joining a mastermind group.</strong><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> Mastermind groups are big in entrepreneurial and personal development circles these days. A mastermind group is a facilitated, peer advisory group that meets regularly to work toward a common goal (i.e., I participate in and facilitate one for women entrepreneurs). If you can't find one to join, organize your own! Read more about mastermind groups </span><a href="https://www.thesuccessalliance.com/what-is-a-mastermind-group/" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;">here</a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">.</span></li></ul><p></p><p></p><p><br></p><ul><li><strong>Letting people know you're looking for a mentor.</strong> Professional matchmakers will tell you that if you are looking for a romantic relationship, you should tell everyone you know. Why? Beyond the whole "law of attraction" stuff, it's because by doing so you put people in your network on notice that this is something you desire. And it may even result in an introduction!</li></ul><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:medium none;padding:0px;"><p>    You further <em>help them help you</em> by telling them what qualities you're looking for in a potential partner: "I'm hoping to find someone who is musically inclined and shares my love of the outdoors." It's not an exhaustive list (which people will tune out anyway), but it's enough to give people some direction.</p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:medium none;padding:0px;"><p>    You can use a similar approach while you continue your search for a mentor. You can say something like, "I'm hoping to find a mentor that ____" (will help me learn the ins and outs of nonprofit management/has successfully navigated the med school application process/has made the transition from education to sales, etc.).<br></p><p><br></p></blockquote><ul><li><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><strong>Offer yourself as a living sacrifice. </strong>Just kidding … kind of. &#128522; If you see a problem, offer to help. Become an unpaid apprentice. Identify a pain point that you can remedy, and offer to do so in exchange for a chance to get some exposure to what it is you're after. This approach involves a fair bit of hustle, but it can also pay huge dividends and allow you to leapfrog over other roles on the traditional career path.</span></li></ul><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:medium none;padding:0px;"><p>    One of my favorite stories from grad school was a guy from my program who needed to do an internship. He lived in southern Florida and there was a movie being shot in a neighborhood near him. He walked onto the set one day and offered to be the go-between for the movie people and the local businesses (who were being negatively impacted by how the movie production was hampering their ability to be open to the public). The production people didn't want to deal with the locals, so they gladly let him. Guess who's now working in Hollywood as a conflict management consultant for production companies?</p></blockquote><p><br></p><ul><li><strong>Hiring a career coach. </strong>This is a great way to really accelerate your career, ESPECIALLY if you've got a lot of big picture "what is my purpose anyway?" kinds of questions. A career coach is a neutral, supportive presence who is part cheerleader, part challenger. Career coaches are great for helping you create CLARITY about your next career steps. It won't be free, but if your trajectory isn't super clear, a mentor may not be what you need anyway. (MVSers interested in receiving free career coaching can contact Carmen for more info!) </li></ul><p><br></p><p>Now, for any upper level, management, or executive types who are reading this, you might be saying, "Hey! I'd mentor someone!" My question to you is WHY AREN'T YOU? You don't need an engraved invitation to say to a younger person, "I see something in you, and I'd be happy to work with you on your career or professional development."<br></p><p><br></p><p>The takeaway is this: Just because no one wants to be your mentor doesn't mean people don't want to help you. Maybe, after reading this, you realize what you need most isn't a mentor but a sponsor. Or a coach. Or a therapist. Or a new hair stylist. Take your pick. The career development lexicon is always evolving.<br></p><p><br></p><p>There isn't just one, cookie-cutter approach to enlisting the support of others in your professional development. In the year it's taken me to grow out those bangs, I've learned that it's wise to truly consider the "why" behind what I think I want. Once you've identified what you truly need, the search to find it becomes less overwhelming. Depending on your circumstances, there <strong>could be</strong> a better path to the same result.   <br></p>
Star Trek and faith: a cosmology of reconciliationhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Star-Trek-and-faith-a-cosmology-of-reconciliationStar Trek and faith: a cosmology of reconciliationBy Zachary Headings<p>Space and the unknown have called to me since childhood. Astronomy and travel among the galaxies fascinate me. The theoretical stuff, like the things you see in science fiction: <em>Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica</em>. It's fascinating what we imagine as feasible. </p><p>But with those interests came some confusion: I didn't know how to reconcile scientific knowledge with what the Bible says about the creation of the universe. </p><p>I was raised in a conservative environment where science and faith were kept separate. I was told to ignore the theories of evolution and the big bang. Anything that contradicted the explicit words of Genesis was not worthy of acknowledgement. No discussion. No debate. Full stop.</p><p>I first forayed into the reconciliation of science and faith at Hesston (Kansas) College where I took an astronomy course with Jim Yoder, who quickly became my favorite professor. He taught us that there is a distinction between the things that we know and the things that we believe. We <em>know </em>that the universe is hundreds of billions of years old and we <em>believe</em><em><strong> </strong></em>that God created the universe with spoken word. Those can be separate, and both still be true.</p><p>This was further clarified for me by a minor character in my favorite science fiction series, <em>The Expanse</em>, which explores the social, economic and physical implications of colonization within the solar system in a realistic and gritty way. Pastor Anna Volovodov is a Methodist minister on Earth in the show. When she is confronted by an alien technology that serves as the catalyst of the plot, someone asks her if she sees "her God" in this unknown thing. </p><p>She responds by quoting St. Augustine: "God gave us two texts: Scripture and creation, and if they seem to contradict, it's because we haven't understood one of them yet."</p><p>In my mind, there is no need for reconciliation. My favorite example of this line of thinking comes from imagining the writing of the book of Genesis. I see that God spent a few days explaining to Moses about the ins and outs of the big bang. God then talked about the development of living molecules in mud puddles, which eventually became human beings over the course of billions of years. Moses, of course, understands none of this, so God reframes it for him, explaining the creation of the universe as a seven-day process with spoken word and metaphor. Moses understands this version better, as it fits with the cosmology of the early Israelites.</p><p>My cosmology, based on God's "two texts," gives me hope for a "Star Trek future," where humanity lives together in harmony with itself in a post-scarcity society. Everyone is cared for and they have the things they need to survive. That seems millions of miles away right now, but the hope for that future is the only thing that keeps me sane at times.</p><p>A post-scarcity society like that can't exist without scientific and technological advancement. It also can't exist with a human desire to simply <em>be good</em>, which comes from God. That's how I reconcile faith and science. I don't. They're different ways of looking at God's work. If we as a people realize that, we might save this planet that we are ever-so-quickly destroying. And maybe we'll get to that far-off future. Who knows?</p><p>The understanding of God's "two texts" fuels my desire to become better at creation care and to hold the big corporations accountable for their contribution to humanity's carbon footprint. </p><p>It also fuels a desire for me to see humanity expand beyond this planet. I think God placed a curiosity and a desire to explore in humanity and wants us to do this. Imagine the mission field expanding to the stars: SOOP placements on Mars and a Service Adventure house beneath the surface of Ganymede. That sounds like a future I'd love to be a part of. I hope we can get there.<br></p>
New Zealand’s prime minister, trees teach compassionate justicehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/New-Zealand’s-prime-minister,-trees-teach-compassionate-justiceNew Zealand’s prime minister, trees teach compassionate justiceBy Mark Hurst<p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">We've moved into Magpie Hollow, a large house on a property of about 90 acres on the western edge of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia. We hope to provide retreat space to host workshops on everything from peacemaking to quilting. </span><br></p><p>There are many trees here. Aboriginal Peoples worldwide have always understood trees to be community members – not entities that exist in some biological separateness, but part of the human world and active members of our communities with lives, loves and feelings. <br></p><p>The April 11 issue of <em>The Guardian, </em>an Australian newspaper, published "<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/12/the-government-wants-to-bulldoze-my-inheritance-800-year-old-sacred-trees">The Government Wants to Bulldoze My Inheritance: 800-Year-Old Sacred Trees.</a>" In this opinion piece, Nayuka Gorrie wrote about trees slated to be removed to put in a road meant to save drivers two minutes in their travel: <br></p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>To sit in a tree that saw your people birthed, massacred, and now resist is a feeling that the English language will never be able to capture. What is two minutes to 800 years? These trees are my inheritance, our inheritance. Their survival and our fight to keep them alive and safe are a cultural obligation and an assertion of our sovereignty. This sovereignty is a threat to the state.<br></p><p><br></p></blockquote><p>Reading this news article, I was reminded of how Palestinian olive groves today are being bulldozed by Israeli occupiers. Destroying trees is a form of warfare as old as the Bible. For example, Deuteronomy 20:19-20: <br></p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field<em> </em>human beings that they should come under siege from you? </p><p><br></p></blockquote><p>Most Jewish commentators interpret the words, "Are trees in the field<em> </em>human," not as a rhetorical question, but as a statement stressing the relationship or similarity between trees and humans. Rashi, the 11th-century Jewish authority, said that since the tree is not an enemy, we have no right to destroy it or make it suffer because of disputes between human beings. <br></p><p>One might expect religious Jews to respect olive trees owned and cultivated by human beings who, although not Jewish, were created in the image of God. Yet, religious Jews are the most frequent perpetrators of terror attacks on trees that are used neither as military bulwarks, nor as cover for would-be snipers, but as sustenance for Palestinian livelihood. <br></p><p>According to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/oct/14/palestine-economy-how-does-it-work">Visualizing Palestine</a>, as of October 2013, more than 800,000 trees were uprooted, with $12.3 million lost each year by the 80,000 families depending on the olive harvest. <br></p><p>One of the first parables in the Bible in Judges 9 involves trees, a common metaphor for Israel. After Gideon's victory over the Midianites, the elders of Israel tempted Gideon with power and prestige. His response provides a critical lead-in to the parable of Judges 9, which opens with one of Gideon's sons, Abimelech, and his ruthless pursuit of power. Abimelech murdered 69 of his brothers. The youngest, Jotham, hid himself and escaped the slaughter (Judges 9:5). <br></p><p>Jotham's creative and courageous response came in the form of a parable about trees searching for a king. After refusals from the olive and fig trees and the grapevine, the thorn bush is approached with the request to rule over the forest. These four "trees" are significantly smaller than the cedars of Lebanon (the species requesting a king), and thus incapable of fulfilling the request to "reign over" the cedars by virtue of their relative size.<br></p><p>The parable addresses Abimelech's lack of formal son status, which disqualifies him from service as the primary leader to replace Gideon. The first three "trees" knew what they were created for and were not successfully tempted to covet a role that was not theirs in order to gain power and the glory of position. <br></p><p>The thorn bush was a different sort of candidate. The thorn bush was lying in wait for an opportunity to dominate and rule. The thorn bush certainly has a legitimate purpose in the ecology of God's creation, but that purpose is not attended by the prestige or public honor that is granted to the olive, the fig, the vine, or the Cedar of Lebanon. <br></p><p>When we lived in Atlanta, Georgia, Mary and I learned about the kudzu plant. While certainly not the species referenced in Judges 9, the kudzu qualifies as a pesky plant of the highest order. It is opportunistic and voracious in its quest for dominance. It can grow as much as three feet on a warm summer day and can envelop and kill trees by dominating the source of sunlight so completely that the tree starves, even though there is a surface appearance of lush growth.<br></p><p>The thorn bush's eager acceptance and subsequent threat, "Yes, I will [be your king]. In fact, if you don't allow me to sway over you, I will personally destroy you by fire," shelter a tragic lie. The truth is that dominant coercive leadership brings decay and death. <br></p><p>We were in New Zealand when mosque shootings in Christchurch occurred. The tragedy dominated the news and people's conversations for weeks. One clear story emerged involving leadership. The New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did an excellent job of leading her country through the horrors that shocked the whole nation. <br></p><p>Chris Marshall, a Victoria University professor in New Zealand, wrote that "[Jacinda] is being hailed around the world as a beacon of hope for a new kind of political leadership. In an international arena increasingly dominated by thugs, bullies and strongmen, Jacinda Ardern has provided a masterclass in what I call 'compassionate justice.'"<br></p><p>May we all be people who let compassion and love rule in our lives.<br></p>
What to do with back-to-school energy when you’re not going back to schoolhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/What-to-do-with-back-to-school-energy-when-you’re-not-going-back-to-school-What to do with back-to-school energy when you’re not going back to schoolBy Carmen Hoober<div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"></span></p></div><p>Since you were a kid, you've likely learned to associate fall with fresh starts. Back-to-school mania meant shopping for new school supplies and the excitement of learning who your new teacher and classmates would be. This is the time of year when you can walk into a Target store at any given moment and hear a daughter pleading her case to her harried mother about why she neeeeds a chandelier for her locker. (By the way, I am the harried mother.) </p><p>Even for adults who are no longer linked to the school calendar, the muscle memory of fall still lingers. Whatever the reason, we gain energy and momentum in this short-but-sweet season that has as much to do with beginnings as it does with endings. <strong>Fall will always feel like a time to start new things.</strong> </p><p>You know what's weird? The first fall when you're no longer in school. It feels like you should be doing something, right? But what? You no longer need a locker chandelier, a dorm fridge, or overpriced textbooks. You're not "leveling up" to the next grade as you've been accustomed to your whole life. Leaving behind academia is a jolt to the senses (and even beginning grad school doesn't quite have the same feel to it). Your peers have scattered to the winds and everyone is pursuing something new and different. Maybe you feel a little … lost.<br></p><p>You've entered <strong>The Twilight Zone</strong> of emerging adulthood and everything feels off. The rhythm of life you've known heretofore has been disrupted. In <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Exit-Endings-That-Set-Free/dp/0374533903/ref=sr_1_1?crid=QDCZ2IYMTVU4&keywords=exit+the+endings+that+set+us+free&qid=1564595814&s=gateway&sprefix=exit+the+end%2caps%2c203&sr=8-1">Exit: The Endings That Set Us Free</a>, author Sara Lightfoot Lawrence writes that famous psychologist Erik Erikson "envisioned each stage [of lifelong development] as a conflict between progression and regression — an inevitable tension between staying put and moving on, between sticking with the familiar and moving toward the strange." </p><p>"Moving toward the strange" is a good way to describe this transitional time (also maybe a good name for a band). Fair warning: the unknowns of what lies ahead can cause you more anxiety than what you may even be aware of.</p><p>From what I hear from young adults (and what I remember myself), the liminal space of post-graduation adulthood is often felt most keenly as summer winds down and fall approaches. You have all the familiar, back-to-school energy, but nowhere to put it! </p><p>On the bright side, the rituals of falls-past are so embedded in our psyches that they continue to offer up a type of magic that is available to us in our post-academic lives, long after we've turned in our last papers or completed our final projects. I loved <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/scientific-reason-we-love-fall_n_57f41713e4b04c71d6f0979f">this article</a> from the Huffington Post that explains why I am a fall-o-phile and why I shouldn't apologize for it. Because of science! It has to do with temporal landmarks and social constructs that are wired into our brains as children. </p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p><em>"According to </em><a href="http://dartmouth.edu/faculty-directory/kathryn-j-lively"><em>Kathryn Lively</em></a><em>, professor of sociology at Dartmouth College, our obsession with the season is a social construct that starts when we're children.</em></p><p><em>'We're conditioned from a very early age that the autumn comes with all these exciting things,' Lively told the Huffington Post. 'As children, we come to associate fall with going back to school, new school supplies, seeing friends. It's exciting, for most. We still respond to this pattern that we experienced for 18 years.'"</em></p></blockquote><p>For those who attend college after high school, we have even more years to become entrenched in those rhythms. The academic pattern shifts but only slightly. I have been out of school for going on 20 years and I still look forward to fall because (besides flannel, falling leaves, and football) I know I will have a little extra energy/motivation/enthusiasm to tackle life. In the fall, we can do things we can't do the rest of the year.     </p><p>From the very practical to the somewhat woo-woo, here are three ways I've learned to use this displaced autumnal energy to my benefit.</p><p><strong>1. Take control of your space.</strong></p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>An obvious way to start funneling some of that extra mojo is to start a project. One of the most immediate ways to relieve anxiety comes from managing your physical environment, so that's a great place to start. If you're in a new location and still haven't unpacked your boxes, make it a priority. Clean your home top-to-bottom. Make your space your own! Your physical environment creates energy … which impacts your mood, which impacts your relationships, which impacts your work, which impacts your ability to show up in the world the way you want to.   </p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>This fall, my project is going to be cleaning out the storage area in my home. In my digital space, I also want to go through the pictures on my phone and figure out how to organize them. Need some other ideas?</p></blockquote><ul><ul><li><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Get a password organizing app. I use a free one called </span><a href="https://keepersecurity.com/" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;">Keeper</a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">.</span></li><li>Perform a ruthless inventory of each item of clothing you own. I have a rule that if it's in my closet, I HAVE TO WEAR IT. (Part of my lifelong mission to prove the 80/20 rule doesn't. own. me.)</li><li>Take a look around your living space. Knock down cobwebs, scrub floors and counters. If you have roommates, call a house meeting about who will do what. Use a free app such as <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.roommate.android&hl=en_US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;">RoomMate</a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> or </span><a href="http://ourhomeapp.com/" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;">OurHome</a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> to create some external accountability.</span></li></ul></ul><p>Pick the one task you've been avoiding and just go for it. What have you been putting off? Now is the time to act. </p><p><strong>2. Establish routines that lead to the kind of life you want.</strong></p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>Here's the thing. You WILL establish routines in the first month or two post-graduation whether you're trying to or not. The trick is self-awareness and intentionality. Establish healthy, life-giving routines before you develop unhealthy, life-depleting routines. After all, it's harder to break bad habits than it is to start them. <strong>"Someday" has arrived and the choices you make today are now a part of your adult life. </strong><br></p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>You go the way you walk, my friends. Want to commit to waking up early to work out? Then set your alarm across the room and lay out your running shoes. Want to get in the habit of eating a healthy breakfast? Stock bananas instead of Pop-Tarts. Yes, your routines will evolve over time with maturity and changes in life circumstances … but beware of things that just kind of happen.  </p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">For m</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">ore resources on establishing routines and goal setting, check out the following:</span></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"></span></p></blockquote><ul><ul><li><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Listen to </span><a href="https://www.jordanharbinger.com/benjamin-hardy-what-to-do-when-willpower-doesnt-work/" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;">this podcast</a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> interview with Benjamin Hardy, author of </span><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Willpower-Doesnt-Work-Discover-Success/dp/0316441325/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2TGCSQ1K5E30T&keywords=willpower+doesn%27t+work&qid=1564511894&s=gateway&sprefix=willpower+doesn%27t+%2caps%2c161&sr=8-1" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;">Willpower Doesn't Work</a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">, and learn how to optimize your environment for success. Skip to the last 15 minutes to hear the part about "forcing functions." According to Hardy, "If you have to use willpower, it's because you actually haven't made a choice yet." (Intriguing, no?)</span></li><li><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"></span>Find a routine you can transform into a ritual. While routines are a set of behaviors that we do on autopilot, ritualizing a behavior imparts a "sacred" aspect to the same exact action. There's no real trick here other than paying attention. Simply being mindful of the sights and sounds on your early morning run makes it an altogether different experience than a run that takes place in a veritable fugue state. Focus more on the activity itself than on checking something off your to-do list. Rituals help us see "magic in the mundane."</li><li>Have a goal-setting sesh! I love talking about goal setting and the best framework I've found is the <a href="https://www.mindtools.com/page6.html" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;">SMART goal</a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Here is a </span><a href="https://www.someka.net/excel-template/smart-goals-template/" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;">free Excel SMART goal template</a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">, or you can go the hand-written route (which I actually believe is more powerful) </span><a href="https://www.youngsurvival.org/uploads/audio-visual-library/ReadySetGo.pdf" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;">here</a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">. As of this writing, I haven't found a goal-setting app I just love, but I have tried </span><a href="https://apps.apple.com/us/app/productive-habit-tracker/id983826477" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;">this one</a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> and found it very intuitive. (If you have any recommendations, make sure to let me know!)  </span></li></ul></ul><p><strong>3. Do a little dreaming.</strong><br></p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>Do you have a vision for your life? A mission statement? Probably not. Most people don't. (<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Path-Creating-Your-Mission-Statement/dp/0786882417/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=the+path&qid=1564355152&s=gateway&sr=8-4">Here's a great resource for developing one</a>.) But you know what you do have? You have an imagination and you have desires. In my experience, fall is the best time of year to explore them.</p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Before going back to school as a kid, you might have imagined walking into your new classroom with a cool shirt or an edgy new haircut and people being like, "Whoa! What happened to so-and-so over the summer?" In your summer daydreaming, you became the cool kid or the best soccer player on the team. </span></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Visualization is just day-dreaming's big brother. You're already wired to do this! Visualization is an activity scientifically proven to help you achieve the exact goals you picture in your mind. Research shows that your brain doesn't recognize the difference between a real memory and an imagined memory. According to </span><a href="https://entrepreneurs.maqtoob.com/4-scientific-reasons-why-visualization-will-increase-your-chances-to-succeed-5515ef2dbdb7" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;">this</a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> article,</span></p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"><em>"If you can vividly imagine and visualize a future situation, your mind will record it as a real memory; the situation will become something known, something you've 'already experienced.' Not only will the feelings of insecurity be reduced, but you'll feel confident in your ability to go through the situation because you will have successfully done it before (although only in your mind)."</em></span></p></blockquote></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>This kind of mental rehearsal is common to Olympic athletes who make it a practice to envision themselves standing at the top of the podium. But you don't have to be Simone Biles or Michael Phelps to use this technique.</p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p><em>"Visualize the most amazing life imaginable to you. Close your eyes and see it clearly. Then hold the vision for as long as you can. Now place the vision in God's hands and consider it done."</em></p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p><em>-Marianne Williamson</em></p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>What would your "most amazing life imaginable" be?  <br></p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p><strong>Try this exercise:</strong></p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>Clear your head with a practice like the ones found <a href="https://mindfulminutes.com/ease-anxiety-with-visualization-techniques/">here</a>. (I am partial to the Blue Light and the Double-Paned Window.) </p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>Close your eyes and imagine your best life: the goals you will achieve, the lifestyle you will enjoy, the impact you will make, the people you will help, the paychecks you will cash, etc.</p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>Now, pause the scene and focus in.</p></blockquote><ul><ul><li><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Where are you?</span></li><li><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"></span>What does the room look like? </li><li>What are you seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing and feeling</li><li>What are you doing?</li><li>What are other people saying to you and about you?</li><li>What emotions and feelings are you experiencing?</li><li>What else are you paying attention to?</li></ul></ul><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>To finish, prayerfully offer this vision to God, and allow yourself time to listen for what God might be saying to you. (For maximum impact, write down or journal what you visualize and what you hear that still, small voice saying in response.)</p></blockquote><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>Do this for just five minutes a day and see what happens! <br></p></blockquote><p><br></p><p>Leaning into discomfort is part of the process of maturing. Let's face it, there's no getting around the weirdness that happens the first fall after you graduate. But, like the ideas I've listed above, there ARE some ways to make it a little less taxing, a little more fun, and A LOT more productive. Don't let adulting get you down! The ground might feel a little shaky when you first step off the USS Academia, but being a landlubber has its perks. </p><p>If you're having a little trouble finding that spark as you embark upon this new season (literally and figuratively), I invite you to visit a Target store anywhere between August and mid-September. <strong>You're not there to buy anything</strong> (unless you're at a Target with a Starbucks, then you have my permission to grab a PSL). Instead, <strong>you're going to stock up on (free) motivational neurotransmitters, </strong>that you can then release on planning a project, setting a goal, or envisioning what matters to you in this phase of life. Spend five minutes in the school supply section alone and I guarantee you will walk out buzzing — and not JUST from your coffee! And make sure you say hi! I'll probably still be there, waged in a battle over locker décor. I might look harried, but rest assured that I will go home that night and follow my own advice. I'll be doing some visualization — most likely of a big, yellow bus pulling away from my house.<br></p>



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