Building Up Others

I enjoy working with teams of people.

I enjoy serving others, equipping them to come together as individuals and accomplish things as a team that they could never do on their own.

I enjoy equipping others.

I’ve had several opportunities in recent months, working alongside and on teams to get big tasks done.

While I appreciate others’ “thanks,” I don’t rely on them. And to be honest, too many thanks makes me a bit uncomfortable. After all, I’m simply doing what needs to get done for us to all come together and take the next step.

I had received several thanks from individuals on the team. It was enough. Seeing them feel confidently prepared was enough. But just before the event began, they came together and thanked me again.

I tried to graciously say, “You’re welcome. It’s been a joy.” But I knew I was sheepish as said the words. Someone said, “I think Susan is one of those people who likes to help others but doesn’t want much recognition.” He let me off the hook. He basically gave the final “thank you” with a period. No need for anyone to thank me anymore for what I had done.

Building up others is good work but tricky at times. We can have mixed motivations and mixed responses when we receive (or don’t receive) recognition. We need to keep ourselves in check as we build other up. And we need to keep ourselves in check as we give and receive thanks



The Power of Words

a5c18d16393601.562ab10c526d0Words are powerful but not in and of themselves.

We all realize the adage that “sticks and stones can break our bones but words can never hurt us” isn’t true. Words can hurt.

And words can build us up. So can sticks and stones. They are excellent building materials.

What we think is constructive can be destructive and vice versa.

The power of words can be the manner in which we give or receive them. We can assign or dismiss much of the weight.

And as we trust God, we come to realize the power isn’t just ours to determine.

In recent months, I’ve noticed how the same words can contain different power and impact, not because of the person who delivers them to me but because of God’s purpose. God-filled words spoken to me are so much more powerful then very similar words that are spoken from a worldly perspective.

For instance, I’ve heard the words “you’re strong enough” many times. Sometimes the words seem empty. They float through the air and don’t nourish or fill me, just like those puffy cheese snacks. They might taste good for a moment, but they don’t stick with me or equip me to do much.

Other times, those same words are as much of an energy boost as banana after a long run.

Same words, different power.

We don’t have to determine the weight of the words we receive. When we trust Him to do so, God boosts or drains words of their power. He determines their truth and timing. He entwines them with our purpose and path.

He decides the sticks and stones (and words) that build and those that destroy. And both building and destruction are important to us. We simply don’t have the right perspective and authority to determine all those details.

Good thing God does.

Real Fake Drama

tumblr_static_dramaLife has drama. As long as we have life, we will have some drama.

But there is drama and there is manufactured drama. We deal with the first. It’s a fact of life. We’re going to find ourselves in a variety of dramatic situations whether we like it or not.

But the manufactured drama is a bit more difficult to deal with. I’m not talking about differing perspectives on drama, one person defining something as drama while another says it’s not drama.

We rarely admit to manufacturing drama, but we often blame others for it. We point the finger and proclaim someone is being dramatic about something (and it’s obvious we don’t approve and see ourselves as “so beyond” whatever their drama is). But we refuse to see their perspective. Perhaps there’s more real drama than we understand. Perhaps we’re not willing to step into the mess long enough to see the reality of the drama. Perhaps there’s a confluence of several contributing factors that makes one person see it differently – more or less dramatic – than another.

Claiming someone is dramatic has become a popular, socially-acceptable way to judge someone for responding to a situation in a way we don’t approve, just as the term “passive-aggressive” has been generalized and misapplied to blame people for a wide variety of ways we feel they mistreat us.


We need to get to the truth.

Ironically, we are being dramatic when we exaggerate someone else’s response as dramatic. In reality, someone might simply want to talk about an issue. That’s not necessarily being dramatic. It might be the responsible, honest way to deal with something. Or someone might be passionate about another person or issue. That’s not necessarily being dramatic. It might be helpful and generous.

Just because someone doesn’t deal with an issue or person in the same way you prefer doesn’t means there’s drama. Drama and difference aren’t the same thing.

It’s a good thing we have different perspectives about things. It’s how we can problem-solve, cooperate, and cope together. Why waste our time and energy pointing fingers at each other? Dealing with the everyday reality of life is challenging enough without adding to the drama of it all.

A Better View

I spent the day at an area business, a large plant that intrigues me with the scale of its equipment and production. This is the third year I’ve visited, and I learn more every year. For the first time, I went to the roof.

I could see for miles even though the person with me said the haze limited how far I would have been able to see on a perfectly clear day.

Perfectly clear days don’t come often. I appreciated how far I could see, because I knew my view could have been much more obscured.

As I stood on the roof and looked all around me, I was thankful for the view God gives me. Sometimes I am “down below,” working away in my small world, only glimpsing the bigger picture in my mind and memory. Other times, I try so hard to see the bigger picture, but everything is cloudy. There are moments of clarity and a reminder of how big yet detailed God and His purpose are. But there is often at least some sort of obstruction or haze.

My limited view (or my refusal to open my eyes or take the time to authentically look and search) doesn’t change the reality around me. My ability to see or my vantage point doesn’t determine the world. My experiences and perspective don’t determine truth and reality.

What a confusing world that would be.

And it’s already confusing enough.

I am thankful for a vantage point larger than mind. I’m thankful for a reality more detailed than I can define. I’m thankful for glimpses that amaze and remind me without overwhelming me.

I am for God.

You will listen and listen, yet never understand; and you will look and look, yet never  perceive. For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn back—and I would cure them.

But your eyes are blessed because they do see, and your ears because they do hear! (Matthew 13:14b-16)


Is It True?


It’s interesting what we share on social media or even in our face-to-face conversations. What do we pay attention to, absorb, and begin to live out?

We can find anything that affirms us. The issue is “Is it true?”

If we’re not discerning in the beginning, we begin to build on something that is not reliable and accurate. It might feel good for a bit but it will ultimately betray us. It might be time to tear down and dismantle something in order to build whatever is true, noble, and pure.

Boomerang Encouragement


Boomerang encouragement: when my daughter takes some of the cards I sent her through her college years and repurposes them into a cheerful collage to encourage me through a tough season.

I know it was a sacrifice. She kept every single card I sent her while she was at college, which was about one card each week. And she can quickly recall what was going on during the season she received many of the cards. She had mentioned many times that she’d like to do something with them someday. I thought about confiscating them a couple times and creating something new with them, but I didn’t want to disappoint her if I created something she didn’t love.

Then she gave them back to me. I don’t know when she had the time to do it, because it was a hectic, emotionally-exhausting time, not just for me but for her, too. But perhaps creating this for me was somehow healing. Whatever her experience with it, it has become one of the very favorite gifts I have ever received.

I don’t encourage others with the intent to have them encourage me in return. In fact, I think that defeats the purpose and purity of encouragement. But sometimes it comes back hundredfold.

Perhaps you could reflect some encouragement back to someone today, someone who has encourage you through the years. You don’t have to be as creative as my daughter.

Simply encourage.