Sunday, February 27, 2011

Selective Dietary Discipline

I mentioned this to my table on our metting on Saturday, but I thought I'd share it with all of you fellow slices!  So a few of my friends from back home (Sacramento area...) decided to give up something food related every month for this year.  I'm been having a difficult time defining it for people, but it's a mix between a lent type thing, a diet, and a simple discipline exercise.  The other requirement for this is that each month needs a catchy name for its theme--so either a rhyme or alliteration. 

For example:  Thus far we've had No Dairy January and No Fried Food February.  And as someone who is terrible at living up to diets/food related discipline it's actually been going really well!  I've been forced to branch out in my food knowledge and I am also more conscious of what I'm actually eating because I have to stop before I prepare a meal (or order a meal...sometimes....a lot of times...I'm a bit lazy with cooking) and ensure that it doesn't have whatever it is that we have given up that month.  For the No Dairy month I had to get creative with different types of soy milk and non dairy substitues.  I found that because of my lack of dairy, I had a lot more energy throughout the day!  Which was really nice.  No Fried Food has been a lot easier that I thought it was going to be.  I'm not sure if it's just an easier topic, or if the success of January has inspired me.  I think that swtiching it up every month and setting up a time short time frame is what is making this so obtainable for us.  I've been trying to fuse more discipline into my life lately and this has certainly been an inventive challenge.  I'm just trying to glorify God in the little things--even if it's not eating french fries or tostada chips.

Next month isn't quite decided yet--we're throwing around the idea of either No Starch March or No Meat March.  If we use meat now I'm not sure what we'll do for May though.  So if you have any suggestions or if you want to join us, feel free!  I would love more people to keep me accountable for this!  And more people means more brainstorming for pithy themes and names.  Thanks everybody!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Something I've been trying to do lately is really listen to God's whispers.  If I feel an impulse or God tugging on my heart, I'm trying to follow through on it.  Keeping that in mind, I've been noticing a certain topic come up time and time again over the last month or so. I have absolutely no idea how I made this far in my life without giving the idea of spiritual gifts any considerable amount of thought, but God has been flashing it onto the neon signs and billboards of my life of late.  Seriously every time I listen to a podcast, a sermon, open a book, whatever, it's ALL about spiritual gifts!  Or at least that's what God wants me to get out of it.  So needless to say I have felt the need to scour the Internet for a decent spiritual gifts test.  

Now, I love God's timing on this whole spiritual gifts soul searching intervention.  I have to make some pretty big decisions involving graduate school over the next year, and I've been praying for guidance for what I should go into.  Before I found and took the test I felt pretty confident that I already had at least idea as to what my tendencies might be.  I guess taking the test would just be an affirmation of the gifts I've always had, but perhaps never embraced.  So my results were as follows:

-first: encouragement
-two way tie for second: administration and writing
-three way tie for third: leadership, pastoring, and faith
-two way tie for fourth: teaching and exhortation
-fifth: helps

I may have mentioned before that I have spent a significant amount of years teaching Sunday school--especially considering that I began teaching at a relatively young age.  I have had people tell me that I have a knack for it and that I should go into teaching, but for some odd reason I always resented that idea.  It's hard to describe why I felt this way.  Looking back on it now, I think the responsibility of creating curriculum seemed intimidating to me.  What's more I think I was mostly intimidated by the leadership and authoritative role I would have to play.  I know I've mentioned before that I am incredibly passive, but what's strange about my personality is that I also have this out of the blue competitive streak.  These seem like really contrasting traits, but they culminate together in me to create this terrible fear of failing.  

We spoke about failures and success this past weekend and I couldn't help but to think of my own definition of success and failure.  I set the bar high for myself, and so do the influential people in my life.  I have always been pushed rather hard to meet expectations and goals.  I joke around sometimes that my childhood had elements of the one Amy Chua describes in her controversial article, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior".  I mean my mom drilled me on flashcards and made me do those "get ahead" educational workbooks for every summer I was in grade school.  But the thing is that when I don't meet expectations or the bars set in place for me, I consider that a failure.  And in all honesty, I don't take it very well.  So when a compliment is extended to me it suddenly becomes an expectation.  I really enjoy teaching and I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I relish the fact that I'm actually really good at it.  Once I realize this the pressure of expectations is suddenly on. 

So though, I am incredibly intimidated by the idea, I can feel God calling me back into the teaching arena.  I feel confident that this is what I should do, or at least it's something I should explore.  I think I overheard that there might be an opportunity to teach for the high school group, so perhaps I should think about that--or at least sit in on the planning discussions for the lesson.  I almost feel silly explaining this over the course of this lengthy blog, but I just feel like God is really pushing me to explore my spiritual gifts--especially the teaching and leadership gifts.  So I would love some prayer about this and some guidance on this one.  I'm so intimidated, but at the same time I know that I can't ignore these feelings because they've been gnawing at the back of my mind for a while now.  So I guess I'd like to wrap this up by saying that I am thankful that God has given me these spiritual gifts and that I can feel his presence in persuading me to use them.  Now I just need the confidence and the strength to live up to them.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This Weekend...

I will be going home this weekend to see my family in Folsom.  I know it seems like a random time for a trip in the middle of February. But my mother has been set on bringing me home once a month since the beginning of the school year, plus she found really cheap flights through Southwest.  I have been looking forward to this quick trip home over the past few weeks, but due to recent events I'm a little apprehensive about the whole thing. I mentioned on our facebook group page that a coworker of mine passed away over the weekend.  When I come home I will be attending her funeral and all that that entails.  I have been fortunate in my life thus far as to have never had anyone close to me pass away.  I couldn't say that Kaylee and I were particularly close intimate friends, but she was certainly someone that I considered a friend in addition to being someone I saw almost everyday that I worked over the past year and a half.  Her passing was sudden and I'm having a hard time letting it sink in-- it just doesn't seem real.  I just feel very distant from this entire ordeal.  This may be amplified by the fact that I moved away from that environment some five months ago and I'm geographically far away from everyone involved.  I really don't have any analytical or profound revealations to share about this.  And anything I could think of to say probably just some sort of cliche or regurgitated hallmark card saying.  
     I know that I've certainly been shaken by her passing, but I am grateful that I will soon be in the company of many friends and coworkers who can share these feelings of shock and loss with me.  I'm so glad that God instilled in us a longing for community with one another.  It's time like these that the importance of togetherness is realized.  What has really been resonating with me lately are the chapters in Nouwen's book that discuss joy and finding joy in everything because of God's love.  This weekend is going to be very difficult, but my intentions are to keep in mind that "joy is based on the spiritual knowledge that, while the world in which we live is shrouded in darkness, God has overcome the world." 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Combating Passivity

Maybe it's just the culmination of a long and exhausting week, but I just need to vent here for a minute.  It's been building over the last week or so, but I have just been getting incredibly burnt out and frustrated at my job lately.  It's only a serving job--so most definitely not a career path--but I have just been so appalled by the unprofessionalism and just down right laziness in my workplace.  Now maybe I have a slight go getter personality and at times I teeter on the verge of workaholic, but I really don't think that it's asking too much for people to do the bare minimum for the requirements of their job.  On top of lazy servers our restaurant itself is just not doing very well.  Our numbers are bad, I was recently asked to fill out a corporate complaint about a manager, and I even had to confirm complaints about sexual harassment incidents among our staff.
It's really difficult for me to say those things, because I actually really like my job and I really enjoy serving. I also really like the people I work with on a personal level, but in a lot of ways, their professionalism could really be kicked up a notch.  
I think the main issue that's been getting to me is that because I'm not the kind of person who can allow myself to cut corners or slack off--people will often times take advantage of me.  My restaurant has this "team service" system where they divide up the stations on the floor with two servers sharing one station.  So basically you have a "buddy".  You're supposed to help them out throughout your shift and then you are supposed to complete your side work together--and at Chili's it's a lot of work because we cut bussers last year....but that's grievance for another time.  Lately it's been really frustrating for me because almost every single time I work, my "buddy" will leave and leave me with the majority of the work.  Or they will not complete something accurately so I will have to come over and fix it once they are gone.  Too many times I find myself still at the restaurant a good hour and a half after my "buddy" has left.
I guess where all of this venting is going is to confess that what lies in the center of all of this is a weakness that I have really been struggling with recently.  Well perhaps recently is a terrible word to use.  I've always struggled with passiveness.  I go to great lengths to avoid confrontation.  There have been many times in my life when I have been a flat out doormat.  The other week in church we had to fill out cards with something that we struggle with or retreat into in our moments of weakness.  Or at least that's how I interpreted it anyway, because I found that God was really bringing that particular weakness to my attention.  This is obviously something I struggle with very deeply because upon deeper reflection I find that it is at the root of many of the darker events in my life.  It's something I certainly need prayer about and something that I really need to work on.  I am happy to report that this last week I mustered up the courage to finally tell my manager about a particular server who was continuously slacking off.  It was terrifying and liberating at the same time.   still not sure if it will amount to much, but at least it's a step in the right direction.  I always worry about people seeing me as overbearing or controlling.  And I certainly don't want to come off as arrogant as I tell them how to do their jobs.  But this is something I'm going to have to get better at, especially since I was just recently put on the training team at work.  Hopefully that step up in authority will give me more confidence to stand up for myself and to crack down on people when they are not doing their jobs.  It'll certainly be a struggle, but I will certainly be working on that.  So thanks for listening to me vent, I feel much better already!

Friday, February 4, 2011

"I Will"

This has certainly been an eventful week with many all-nighters and a surplus of espresso.  In short, it's midterm week.  But amongst my own personal trials and anxieties this week, it became quite clear to me that I would have to put my own concerns on hold.  Multiple close friends have chosen this week to make their struggles known to me.  It seems that our discussion on listening and speaking from the past two weeks could not have come at a more perfect time.  It really puts things into perspective when people open up their world to you.  Somehow all of your own annoyances and problems seem petty and insignificant in comparison.  I find it incredibly flattering that these people would hold me in confidence and that they would seek my advice.  This is also incredibly intimidating for me.  I feel a lot of pressure to be there for them and to say the right words.  The words that will give them clarity and comfort.  The words that just may very well solve their problems.  I put a lot of pressure on myself like that.  Many times when I don’t see immediate results or get that immediate gratification, I get discouraged. 
This week as I was grappling with all of these issues—both my friends’ struggles and my own inadequacies in helping them—I was inspired and encouraged by a note card pinned up on my desk.  I’m one of those types of people who tack a lot of things up on my walls and on my desk.  Empty spaces on a wall kind of make me uneasy.  Because of the amount of things pinned up on my desk I find that they almost become a visible white noise.  They all fade together and I can kind of ignore the chaos.  This one note card in particular was from a Women’s Ministry gathering I went to some months ago and it says simply, “I Will” Luke 5:5.  I vaguely remember putting it up there, originally hoping that it would inspire me daily.  And luckily, this week, it did.  This verse is from the story of how Simon, after a night of unsuccessful fishing, tells Jesus that he will cast down his nets, simply because Jesus told him to.  What really struck me about that story was the blind and trusting faith Simon had in Jesus.  God put it upon the hearts of these people to share with me, and I know that God will find a way to use me to encourage them.  I’m still not one hundred percent sure of what my advice to them will be, but I am striving to trust that to God.  Another encouraging verse I found this week (also pinned up on my desk) is Philippians 4:9, “Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”  I have been really focusing on letting that peace of God flow into my life rather than stress or anxiety.  For me that certainly is a daily struggle, but I find that anytime I have any sort of success in that, the reward is overwhelmingly satisfying.  So I guess for I could use prayer for myself, in my dealings with advice-giving, but also for those close friends of mine. I pray that I can give them the support and encouragement they need by being a good listener and then I pray that with the help of the Holy Spirit I can be an equally good speaker.