Active Listening

Working for Lifechurch is definitely an adventure.  It is fast-paced, ever-changing, but most of all, rich in development.  Whether it is due to the demand for excellence or maybe the call to live in Christ’s image, you are constantly aware of your ineptness or as we say, your “opportunities for growth.”

That being said, I have recently recognized my need to develop better listening skills.  I have tried to implement several tactics for becoming a better listener; however, I’ve found that my natural tendency is to jump ahead, finish your sentence and even cut you off (because I know exactly where you are going).  How have I never seen this?  And how can I be so rude?

Well, as I sat down to read tonight, I came across a passage concerning Active Listening (Lord, you are so funny).  So, in case I’m not alone in this struggle, I thought I would share it with all of you.

Many people wrongly assume that listening is a passive process of being silent while another person speaks.  We may even believe that we are good listeners, but what we are often doing is listening selectively, making judgments about what is being said, and thinking of ways to end the conversation or redirect the conversation in ways more pleasing to ourselves.  Will Rogers once said that if we didn’t know it was our turn to speak next, nobody would listen.

We can all think roughly four times faster than others can speak.  Consequently, there is generally a lot noise – internal conversation – going on up in our heads as we’re listening.  Active listening requires a disciplined effort to silence all that internal conversation while we’re attempting to listen to another human being.  It requires a sacrifice, an extension of ourselves, to block out the noise and truly enter another person’s world – even for a few minutes.  Active listening is attempting to see things as the speaker sees them and attempting to feel things as the speaker feels them.  This identification with the speaker is referred to as empathy and requires a great deal of effort. ~ The Servant, James C. Hunter

Simply put, but difficult to put into action.  At the end of the day, when we are willing to set aside all distractions, even mental distractions, we’ll finally accomplish the idea of listening.  More importantly, each person we interact with will feel valued and significant.

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” ~John 13:34-35

The Lord is my Rock

As I sat down to write, I really didn’t know where to start.  God has really been taking me through a journey recently, one that has been hard and, at times, seems unbearable.

The Bible tells us that on this earth we will have trial and tribulations, but to take heart, for Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33).  As much as I knew this in my heart and fully trusted God to get me exactly where I needed to be, going through the process was and is painful.

This is where God has been teaching me the most.

While God asks us to take courage in knowing His outcome, part of me hoped this meant protection from pain.  However, the only thing it really guarantees is victory, with a promise that if we look to God, He will give us a great story that glorifies Him.  Imagine, Our story will glorify Him!

As painful as these last few weeks have seemed, I can’t help but be excited to see how God uses my story, little ole’ Amy.  And even though I am still in the middle of my story and my human eyes see no ending, I trust that me Leader will get me there.  So for now, I write you to say that if you’re in a time of tribulation, be comforted.  Know that God is organizing every detail, every moment, every day to create a beautiful story in your life, one that FULLY glorifies Him.  Although this earth will bring much pain, death, sickness, loss and heartache, know that God is moving in everything.  He loves you.  This BIG, AMAZING, OMNIPOTENT, POWERFUL God loves you.

When the waters rise
My hope is sure
When my world falls apart
I stand secure

When my way is dark
Your light breaks through
When i don’t feel you near
Your word is true

Jesus your love surrounds me
You’re holding my life
Holding my life

The Lord is my rock
And I won’t be afraid
I wont be afraid
You’re with me

Oh God you carry us
You rise above
You lift us up

The Lord is my Rock”  ~Elevation Worship

The Pursuit of God

“Oh God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.  I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace.  I am ashamed of my lack of desire.  O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.  Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed.  Begin in mercy a new work of love within me.  Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’  Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”

- A. W. Tozer

A Champion’s Legacy

I will open up the windows of heaven for you and pour out a blessing so great you won’t have room enough to take it in!” (Malachi 3:10)

 

“You have the legacy and heritage of a champion. You have a just need to believe for and expect the great things that God has in store for you. You have to expect God’s favor, abundance, and blessing in every area of your life, because He wants to give you victory in each and every situation and circumstance. You probably have many things in your past that you are thankful for, but even greater things are in the near future for you! The Bible says you won’t even have enough room to hold everything that God wants to pour out on you. It is impossible to out-give God, and you should be thankful for that, because He continues to give you His victorious legacy.” – Joel Osteen

 

What an empowering way to wake up every morning and realize we have an AMAZING, POWERFUL and LOVING God. We are Champions in Him and victorious through His promises, “for He will crush Satan under OUR feet!”

She was Love

As you go through life there are many things that mold your character.  You would think character is mostly shaped in your childhood, as you learn right from wrong or the value of honesty.  But, in reality, your values and character are defined by the circumstances that push you to grow.  Through this, you realize traits you weren’t willing to sacrifice and hopefully grasp hold of a person who chases the image of Christ.

The last few weeks have been rather hard for me.  We’ve had a lot going on at work and my plate got really full, really quick.  I’ve noticed when working for a church, God tends to move in a form that creates an instant reality.  Maybe it’s because you have a mix of people that are right in line with the Spirit and pushing those who are struggling to become more.  Or maybe it’s because you’re trained to recognize the whispers from Christ pulling you back in line.  For me, the latter was the case.  

I’ve never been a prideful person, but the ugliest part of me crept up in the last few weeks.  The funny thing is I thought my reactions were completely justifiable.  It seems sometimes we make a claim that outside circumstances have created our state of being, but we hold no responsibility for our attitude playing any part.  What we don’t grasp hold of is that even if “outside circumstances” could validate our reaction in a “normal” situation, we’re followers of Christ and normal doesn’t apply to us.

So as I walked through this sudden awakening, I felt quite foolish.  I watched this pride consume my entire attitude and pretty soon I became Negative Nancy.  Luckily, God saves His children from their frailty.  He offers grace and new beginnings.  Through this process, however, it prompted several questions…

First of all, what would the world be like if love and humility poured out in every circumstance, despite the setbacks created? What if we viewed these setbacks as setUPS for a pouring out of blessings from God?  What if we lived our life in such a way that when we left this earth they would call us love?  LOVE…the very thing that Christ IS and asked us to be.

Imagine…Amy Kirkpatrick…she was love.  Wouldn’t that be such an honor?

A Little Bit of Encouragement

Wow, it’s 2009!  Can you believe it?  Even though it’s just January, I feel as though 2009 has been crazier than ever.  With the rush of all the extra events that take up our every free moment, or the questions/call from year-end statements, or even just the stress of a normal day; 2009 has already become many moments of pressure, frustration, but most of all God moving in big ways.  I recently had 2 amazing friends send me some great words of wisdom and encouragement that I want to share with you.  In moments of chaos it’s always nice to have something to help realign our thoughts to God.

 

This first one is simply about TAKING A BREATH

Whenever life interrupts your plans- whether it’s an unexpected caller, a long line a the grocery store, icy weather, or school closings on the day you hoped to finish a project or focus on something else- make a practice of saying this prayer: “Lord, my times are in your hands. Don’t let me be ruled by my schedule. Keep me flexible enough to hear Your voice whispering through my life’s interruptions.”

 

This second one is a prayer that most everyone has heard, the Prayer of Saint Francis.  When I received this, my friend had inserted my name at every point the prayer had the words “me” or “I.”  It was the most encouraging thing to read, so I encourage you to read this prayer often and to also insert your name wherever you see “me” or “I.” 

 

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

 

Have a beautiful week of Peace!!

Impressions

As most of you know, my Great-Grandmother passed away last Wednesday.  I sat by her side and held her hand as she took her last breath.  As she passed, I told her how much we all loved her and touched her face so that she felt me there.  Moments like these are always hard to get through, but in retrospect I am so grateful that God chose me to be the last voice she heard and the last kiss she felt.  Even more than that, I am grateful for the peace in knowing that she was going to be with the Lord.  It’s peace like this that allows me to focus on the blessings her life brought.  Even in the memories, I find much love, grace, and strength.  She was a woman who feared the Lord and she raised a family who was blessed by her love.  This sweet poem was read on her behalf at the funeral service and I wanted to share it with all of you.  It’s a good reminder of how our actions truly leave an impression on the people we pass in life.  The little things really do matter and I only pray that I can leave such a loving impression as my great-grandma, for she truly understood the idea of God’s love.  Have a beautiful week, my friends!

 

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you hang my first picture on the refrigerator,
and I wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, 
I saw you feed a stray cat, and I thought
it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake for me,
and I knew that little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I heard you say a prayer, 
and I believed there was a God that I
could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I felt you kiss me good night,
and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned
that sometimes things hurt,
but it’s all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw that you cared and I wanted to be
everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I looked….and now I want to say thanks
for all the things I saw,
when you thought I wasn’t looking.