Monday, August 13, 2018

Mountaintop Momentum for the School Year

Similar to this blog post, there is the occasional ministerial idea with which one struggles with knowing where to start. What committee can coordinate this? Is there enough in the budget for this? If so, what line-item do we use? Who’s an expert on this subject? What PR pieces are needed? What’s our church’s history with ideas similar to this one? What skill sets are needed to pull this off well? Is the fellowship hall already booked that day? In the slew of questions that usually catapult us towards a solid execution, Henri Nouwen counters this rush with an invitation to pause (say what?!) and seek the Holy Spirit’s perspective.

“So often in ministry,  I wanted to do it by myself. If it didn’t work, I went to others and said, “Please!” Searching for a community to help me. If that didn’t work, maybe I’d start praying. But the order that Jesus teaches us [in Luke 6:12-19] is the reverse. It begins with being with God in solitude; then it creates a fellowship, a community of people with whom the mission is being lived; and finally this community goes out together to heal and to proclaim the Good News.” 1

Ministry must begin with solitude because it is in this sacred space where we claim our belovedness in Christ. With this, one can handle any amount of failure or success (and the stress that accompanies both). Moments with God alone gradually rid us of any need to prove anything to anyone; because we are already beloved. This freedom permits us to authentically guide others in discovering their belovedness.

Similar to Jesus praying all night on a mountaintop, culminating his community of disciples, and then ministering together around Judea in Luke 6, our strongest start for the Fall is to make time to be with God and God alone.

Due to the variety of personalities, life stages, and daily rhythms the spiritual discipline of solitude will look different for everyone . For some it will be during long commutes, for others, it might be walking around the lake. My time of solitude is in the still hours of the morning. Ever since Lent last year, I decreased my nightly TV time by an hour so I could wake up early for prayer and study. While my family is still asleep I rediscover my belovedness at my kitchen table.   Spotify’s “Deep focus” station, Starbucks’ “Breakfast Blend”, and my Doterra oil diffuser set the stage for a sacred time of solitude. I open up my the Upper Room’s  “Disciplines” and dive into The Word heart first.

It is in these mountaintop moments that the questions worth asking and the path towards the answers reside. The following are some for this new school year that have bubbled up recently at my kitchen table. I pray they add to your moments of solitude as they have mine. May the Holy Spirit speak to you through questions and in time, the answers.
  • Is each of the children’s and family ministry team members serving out of his/her gifts? 
  • Is joy easily cultivated while CFM teammates serve? How can I better support them in this endeavor? 
  • I have entered a holy covenant with my staff. There will be days when loving will not come easily. Am I in tune with the Holy Spirit in my efforts to love them well? 
  • Is there someone I love that is living in “darkness”? Am I avoiding an uncomfortable conversation with them because I have forgotten that Christ calls me to take the healing light into the world? Is it possible that God has created me for such a time as this? Am I needed to speak life and light into this moment? Do I  know that darkness cannot overcome light?
  • Are there portions of my heart that need to be purified? Any thoughts or feelings that reveal my own brokenness? Have I repented over these lately? 
  • As I peek into the new year, are there any seasons that could unintentionally threaten my discipline of solitude? How is the Holy Spirit guiding me to protect this time? 

 Leadership Magazine Spring 1995 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Seeing God in the the Giggles of Your Summer Binge Watches

While some watch sports or cooking shows, I am slightly obsessed with well-written comedies. So much so, that my friends threw me a shower that was themed Saturday Night Live. There was a “Mom Jeans” skit and more Chris Farley impersonations than one could imagine.  My utmost respect & admiration is given to comedic writers. Laughter is the sweet fruit of the highest form of happiness and these literary geniuses bare this in a simple sentence. Ha! Just like that, that stressful work memory is now silenced by the sound of one’s own glee.

As Proverbs 17:22 teaches, “A cheerful heart is good medicine”. Studies have pointed to the healing power of laughter time and time again. A few belly laughs naturally open the floodgates of oxytocin in the brain. This hormone (found in both genders) not only fills one with love and joy, but it is also a bonding agent in relationships. Sharing a good laugh biologically binds us together. Chuckling is a day at the spa for your psyche, i.e. it’s a natural de-stress tool -and it’s way cheaper than therapy!

So if you are seeking some R&R from your vocational ministry, I would like to share with you one of my greatest loves. While the church realm can be a tense place to serve, it can also be quite humorous, and nothing makes that more apparent than the shows below. They each serve up some freshly diced chuckles and some pippin’ hot theology. And if you’re like me, you have an appetite for both.

With this list, please know I am not suggesting the following:

  • The theology presented in these shows is 100% sound.
  • These shows should be watched by your students. Although, they are full of quality clips for sermons or lessons.
  • Binge watching all 5 of these shows before school returns should be a goal.  #challengeaccepted

All of these can either be streamed on Hulu or Netflix. Along with the links to the show’s page, I have added some of their main theological themes. Feel free to add any that I missed in the comment section.

    • Spiritual disciplines
    • Christology (the study of Jesus Christ)
    • Pneumatology  (the study of the work of the Holy Spirit)
    • Communal living
    • The cloud of witnesses of our faith
    • Vocational calling
    • Forgiveness/Mercy
    • Justice
    • Theodicy (the problem of evil)
    • The separation of Church and state #giveuntoceaser
    • God’s Sovereignty

    • Soteriology (the study of salvation)
    • Grace (God’s unmerited favor)
    • Works righteousness (Can grace be earned?)
    • Vocational calling
    • Immortal Souls
    • The religious pluralism of our culture

    • Vocational calling
    • The Domestic Church
    • Stewardship
    • Grace

    • Eschatology (the end of days)
    • Our fallen nature/Sin (The destruction that can be done with the misused power of religion is quite sad in this show.)
    • Forgiveness/Mercy

    • Is this finally a Protestant example?! (yes.)
    • Although this show is laugh-till-you-hurt-good, one specific episode puts it on this list. It is the first season’s fifth episode, called “Godfellas”. This hilariously portrays a praise band forming and the lead trying out for altar boy. Holy Moly! Talk about funny!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

One-Year Anniversary of the Bluebonnet Child Book

A year ago today, the Bluebonnet Child book was printed for publication by Wipf and Stock. I viewed this as an omen of sorts since July 7th is my best friend's birthday. While seeing one's idea printed on paper is exhilarating, hearing folks share of how this lil' book has enhanced their serve to kids truly takes the cake! In honor of this day, I suggest that we all eat cake and that I repost the original PR blog that was shared many moons ago. 

Can you picture a child who has fallen through the cracks? You know--that student who makes your job ten-times harder, but it's impossible to stay mad because you know what darkness awaits him at home? Though we don’t quite know how to address it, there are kids like this in every church and I call them Bluebonnet Children. This is their book, and if you have a heart for kids, this books is for you.

The renowned bluebonnet flower grows in poor soil.  One would never guess this to be true, but the bright, proud bonnet tells no lies.  Not even unkempt soil can keep a bluebonnet from producing its lovely blossoms. People can be similar to the bluebonnet flower.  They too can be born into poor soil with environmental and contextual challenges.  Kids from neglectful or abusive families are called Bluebonnet Children.

We are trained in Children’s and Family Ministry that the parent is the primary faith nurturer.  But what happens to a child who does not have a healthy parent to nourish him?

While it is tempting to leave such work up to the professionals of the courtroom and counseling sessions, the faith community can also play a formative role and act as a supplemental family.  This book offers helpful tools and inspiring stories to catalyze the entire congregation towards action. The tale of the Bluebonnet Child is heavy, but in Christ there is hope.

The Bluebonnet Child: Finding Grace in Poor Soil is a ministerial resource that guides readers to adopt the Triple-A Approach. With this approach, they can become more aware of the child’s story, advocate for her needs, and theologically articulate how the healing power of Christ is at work in her life.  Each chapter is full of concrete examples and educational tactics that are immediately applicable in one's ministry setting. This is an intentionally short work (twenty-four-thousand words) for the busy practitioner. 

The Bluebonnet Child brings a unique voice to the conversation on healing through trauma because it is written from a theological perspective, as opposed to an autobiographical,  or psychological/ legal one.  Its foundation is James 1:27 which calls the Body of Christ to care for the orphan, the loveless and the fatherless.  Unlike similar reads, this book seeks to improve the systemic issues latent within Children’s Ministry programs.  The author is well-versed in developing healthy volunteer teams - the bedrock of a Children’s Ministry system. Regardless of a reader’s prior knowledge of theology, psychology, or educational theory, this book will hold his hand and lead him into the light of this dark work. Readers can also earn CEUs for this book through a two-week online class/book club where they can discuss its contents right along with Meg and others.

So if a kid's face came to mind as you read this, may I encourage you?😌 Don't be intimidated by this dark topic. Don't think that only counselors and caseworkers can make a real difference. Don't think praying as you turn down the other aisle is enough. You are needed, and this book will hold your hand as you extend the other out in hope. 

Get your copy of The Bluebonnet Child: Finding Grace in Poor Soil on Amazon or shop local at Graves Drug Store Online

Sunday, July 1, 2018

"Where Jesus Prayed", By Danielle Shroyer: A Book Review By Meg

This scrumtrelescent read will fill you up like Thanksgiving Dinner (minus the Tums). It is a rich dish that covers many facets of the Christian faith. It is hearty in the sense that it is satisfying to those of all levels of Biblical literacy.   With each page, readers are led into a different time and culture by Pastor Danielle Shroyer’s authentically wise and witty voice. She is both a credentialed spiritual director and tour guide.

Upon traveling to the Holy Land with her fellow pilgrims, Shroyer had planned to take a break from her “word-crammed” life.  A desire to do more sensing and less talking filled her as she discovered that “Jesus was more human, more real, more divine and more beautiful” than she had ever imagined. Thankfully this break was short-lived, and this literary souvenir can now be shared with the masses. If one is on the fence about checking out this masterful two-hour-read, prepare to be persuaded.
  • Each chapter is based on a  word or line of the Lord’s Prayer that thematically intertwines with a specific destination on her tour. This makes this book a versatile resource for any small group or sermon series. 
  • Carter Rose’s photography is a life-giving spiritual discipline all on its own.
  • While some might be weary of a boring geography lesson, they can expect the exact opposite. Shroyer has a magical way of getting her readers emotionally attached to each timeline and map that her words depict. She writes, “ The air in Galilee feels...FULL. [...]It’s as if the air had more energy in it.[...]I wonder if that’s because Jesus’ imprint is still here, somehow, as he left behind a trace of his own  life-giving force that even two thousand years cannot erase.” She describes the sea of Galilee as Jesus’ routine commute (Galilee’s borders had been divided into quadrants), “Jesus spent much of his life traversing boundaries. Where others were labeled by place or tribe or religious affiliation, Jesus saw fractured hearts, dismembered dreams, the ache of alienation, hopes faint as a whisper.”
sea of g .jpeg
  • Each chapter drips with mind-boggling facts of our Christian story. She writes of the Synagogue in Magdala that was discovered in 2009. It remained in nearly pristine condition for two-thousand years safe underground. To add to the surprise, it was hidden less than two feet below the earth. Amazing!  The new sanctuary in Magdala, Duc in Altum (“into the deep”) honors all women ( named and unnamed) who had walked with Jesus and led others on their walk as well. This part of the book is truly empowering. Tissues will be needed. 
  • Shroyer would not be doing her job as a Pastor if she did not close the book with a booming benediction, and that is exactly what she does. The final destination on the tour is the Chapel at Shepherd’s Field.  Here where the Shepherds heard angelic sounds, Shroyer sends her readers out with, “You remember that you were made for: praise, and joy, and a heart that delights in the glories of this world and its Maker, Savior, and Keeper. You were made to be loved and to discover that love with boundless overflowing joy. You were made to see stars, to witness miracles, to watch love be born into this world, to proclaim it ever new each morning.” 

Monday, June 25, 2018

An Ode to My Donaghy: The Dance of a Senior Pastor & a Children's Pastor

Like Liz Lemon on NBC’s 30 Rock, I too have been richly blessed by the professional friendship of a suave, very-opposite-of-me mentor who has been in the biz for quite a while. For a decade now, similar scenes of me rushing into his office to be either picked up or patted on the back have occurred. He has encouraged me to: grow my position, use our “company” as a writing laboratory, and to “get a life outside of work so I can survive work”.

Many a meeting have I sat across from him studying his techniques with hopes of one day replicating them. He’s keenly aware of the undertones and red-tape of our faith community. His stealthy strategies never cease to amaze. While he’s much more humble than Jack Donaghy his confidence is rooted in his calling and I feel every church employee should get a cup of coffee with this guy.

As Lemon beautifully illustrates, one’s vocation can leave her high on a mountain one minute, then feeling hopelessly ill-equipped the next. A kind mentor is needed to survive this roller-coaster. I know I would have burnt out years ago if not for the confidence, creative freedom, and Michael-Scott-like-wit of my senior pastor.

Similar to Donaghy, Dave would humbly brush off the label of a mentor at first-but for different reasons. There have been times when he denied being my boss when introduced, “I’m a work colleague”, he would say, “a teammate”. I realize now that instead of me gluing my identity to him and striving to write my story as his, he was implicitly nudging me to trust myself more. Who doesn't need this lesson?! Instead of using my days to impress him as the authority in my “real-world” life, he desired for me to focus this energy on impressing the only one worth imitating -Christ.

The time has come, in fact, some would say it’s long overdue. It’s time for an ode to my Doneghy-an ode to my senior pastor. I shall no longer see you as a master and I the young grasshopper. I shall now see you as a friend. Know that whatever type of servant-leader I am in my fifties and sixties will be greatly due to serving alongside you in my twenties and thirties. Before the relationship status is altered, and we become equals, here are the top ten things I have learned from you.
  1. Make the white elephant in a meeting the centerpiece on the table so everyone can get a good look at it. 
  2. Never triangulate between teammates-ever. (DON’T DO IT!) 
  3. Quirky humor has a life-giving and morale-boosting effect at even the most life-sucking, tactical and operational meeting. 
  4. Strive to love (really love) every member of your team, and may your prayer-life be infused with this love. 
  5. Assume the best in people. 
  6. Celebrate your teammate’s strengths, and honor their weaknesses. Realign your expectations of them based on these so they are set up for success.
  7. Make a point to acknowledge the sacrifices your teammates make-in private AND in public.
  8. Know how to intentionally use silence as a tool for powerful conversations or brainstorming sessions.
  9. Timing is EVERYTHING; new programs, funding, the flow of formative worship-it’s everything. 
  10. There is a healthy balance of an “open-door” policy and also maintaining healthy work-life boundaries and you, Sir, wrote the book on it. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Hoy Celebramos El Amor: Officiating My Grandparent's Vow Renewal

This past Monday I had the joy of officiating a vow renewal ceremony in Destin, Fl for my Dad's parents, Belen and Guadalupe. Since I have been studying Spanish for a little over a year now and am a minister, my Dad thought a comedic touch could be added with me upfront.😂 

A big thank you to my tutor, Tessa Olney,, and my Aunt, Yrma Mojica, for helping me to translate this. Their guidance added to what was already holy ground. Along with the holy, came the unexpected and the hilarious. I was not expecting to become a blubbering fool when I saw my Dad walking his mom down the aisle, and it was positively hilarious that two phones were recording right behind my head. 😅 But this is how the Holy Spirit moves, right? Sometimes unexpectedly, occasionally hilariously, and always sacredly. 

I will post the Spanish translation of the vows first (since that's how they were presented) and the English translation will be posted below. Disfruta, amigos! 

Hola, el placer es mio a estoy con ustedes hoy. Me llamo Meg, y yo soy la hija de Santos. Mientras estoy  aprendiendo español, todavía no aprendí a memorizar en espanol.

Hoy pide mucha celebración.

Hoy nosotros celebramos  el crecimiento de Belen y Guadalupe como individuos y nosotros celebramos todo lo que existe debido a la unión de sus vidas hace muchos años.

Y aunque algunas partes del viaje no fueron fáciles de amar, hoy celebramos el amor.

Similar a los pilotos que tienen una ruta de vuelo prevista, sin embargo, a pesar de sus mejores esfuerzos, que están solo en la ruta diez por ciento del vuelo debido a los factores ambientales, hay veces en matrimonio cuando no nos sentimos como si estuviéramos en la pista-en el camino con nosotros mismos o con nuestra pareja.

Pero similar al piloto, que constantemente  está tratando de volver a la pista, y quien por lo general aterriza un vuelo exitoso, el mejor de los compañeros apuntan constantemente a la mejor versión de su matrimonio y mantienen el otro responsable de las mejores versiones de sí mismos.

Cuando un compañero vira lejos de su fuerza y está operando por miedo, el otro le ayuda a volver a la pista.

Cuando la línea de visión de uno está bloqueada por la tristeza brumosa,el otro  limpia el parabrisas con una perspectiva esperanzadora.

Cuando un compañero  tomó un mal giro de confusión, el otro le lanza un compás de claridad.

y cuando un compañero piensa que todo está perdido, y que nunca va a encontrar su destino, sólo se puede encontrar en trabajar juntos.

Este tipo de compromiso amoroso no sólo beneficia a la pareja, sino también a otros; de su amor fluirá un amor de Cristo a los demás.

Como nos enseña en primera de Juan, Capitulo cuatro, Versiculo doce. , "Nunca nadie ha visto a Dios, pero si nos amamos el uno al otro, Dios vive en nosotros y el amor de Dios se hace perfecto a través de nosotros."

Trabajar duro en amar bien siempre vale la pena porque es a través de estos esfuerzos que experimentamos la vida verdadera con Dios.

Así que ahora, vamos a unirnos a Belen y Guad mientras ellos renuevan su compromiso el uno con el otro.

Belen, por favor repita después de mí.

una vez antes, he estado contigo antes que los seres queridos y Dios;

una vez más, tomo tu mano como mi compañera.

Guad, te tomo este día, y por todos los días, como mi marido. (muchas gracias)

Guad, por favor, repita después de mí.

una vez antes, he estado contigo antes que los seres queridos y Dios;

una vez más, tomo tu mano como mi compañera.

Belen, te tomo este día, y por todos los días, como mi esposa.

Ahora puede sellar esto con un beso y elevarse a los años venideros.

Les presento a la Sra. y al Sr. Mojica.

And now for the english translation...

Hello, it is my pleasure to be here with you all today. My name is Meg, and I am the daughter of Santos. While I am learning to speak Spanish, I have not yet learned how to memorize in Spanish.

Today calls for much celebration.

Today we celebrate the growth of Belen and Guadalupe as individuals and we celebrate all that exists because they joined their lives many years ago.

And even though some parts of the journey were not easy to love, today we celebrate love.

Similar to pilots having an intended flight path, yet despite their best efforts, they are only on track 10% of the flight due to environmental factors, there are times in marriage when we don’t feel like we are on track--on track with ourselves or with our partner.

But like the pilot, who is consistently trying to get back on track, and who usually lands a successful flight, the best of partners constantly aim for the best version of their marriage and hold the other accountable to the best versions of themselves.

When one partner veers away from her strength and is operating out of fear, the other helps her to get back on track.

When one’s line of sight is blocked by foggy sadness, the other cleans the windshield with a hopeful perspective.

When one partner took a wrong turn out of confusion, the other tosses him a compass of clarity.

And when one partner thinks all is lost, and that they will never find their destination, it is only found in working together.

This type of loving commitment does not just benefit the couple, but others as well; for out of their love will flow a Christ-like love onto others.

As it teaches in 1 John 4:12, “No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and God’s love is made perfect through us.”

Working hard at loving well is always worth it because it is through these efforts that we experience true life with God.

So now, let us join Belen and Guadalupe as they renew their commitment to one another.

Belen, please repeat after me.

Once before, I have stood with you before loved ones and God;

once again, I take your hand as my partner.

Guadalupe, I take you this day, and for all days, as my husband.

Guadalupe, please repeat after me.

Once before, I have stood with you before loved ones and God;

once again, I take your hand as my partner.

Belen, I take you this day, and for all days, as my wife.

You may now seal this with a kiss and soar into the years ahead.

I present to you Mrs. and Mr. Mojica.❤👫💪

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Top 6 Takeaways of My Hometown Conference

A beloved tradition of mine is to venture to my hometown each summer and help at my mom's conference. Know Your Impact is a cost-efficient and highly-equipping opportunity for educators of all settings.  In the above pic, the keynote speaker is presenting my mom with a gift of appreciation. What fun! 😁

From "Mrs. Beautiful of MHS '04" telling me that I get prettier with age, 😂 (#ConfidenceBoost) to learning new ways of using technology in the learning space, KYI was filled with takeaways, but for now, we will start with the top six.

Doc Brown getting rid of implicit biasses one amAzing talk at a time. 

Doc Brown sets the standard for Keynote addresses. 
  • Every second of Doctor Adolf Brown's address was infused with his endless knowledge of behavioral science. From laughing to dancing to crying and creating, my brain has never held so much oxytocin/many endorphins in a lecture hall. I loved how his vocational calling as a professor/dean/author/speaker was so beautifully integrated into his life as a dad and husband. His wife was even on his PR and Tech teams--so.Cool! He had many tweetable tidbits, but my fav might have been, "Genetics may lower the gun, but environment pulls the trigger." If your event is needing a keynote speaker, check out his website and search no further. Seriously, if you want motivation with some sharp undertones of spirituality and heaping doses of research, he's your guy. 
The fantastic musician, Mitch Michael with my Mom, my sister from another mister, Hilary, and future YA Author, Anna Rhea

When you're following a divine nudge, God will bring about the "right" people to partner with you towards the goal.
  • Back in January, my mom joined me as I presented at a Children's Pastors Conference in Orlando. While she was there she was recruiting musicians for KYI. As we dined at the Royal Caribe Hotel, we heard the glorious sounds of Mitch Micheal and he agreed to offer up some tunes at her KYI conference. He is an insanely versatile pop rock/acoustic/acoustic rock artist. He can do Cash one second then jump up three octaves and do Coldplay. Insane! He's amazing on guitar and his voice is beyond lovely. Check him out! 😍
  • As I have shared before, my favorite teacher of all-time is my choir teacher from middle school and high school, Mrs. Catherine Lindsley. Two years ago, I met her partner-in-crime, Hilary Strum and she and I have since bonded. Although I only get to connect with her when I am in Mabank, I honestly feel that she is my sister from another mister. 😂 Her friendship has been a blessing on both a personal and professional level. 
  • One workshop that I attended was on using Google forms to connect with the parents you serve. Anna Rhea was the presenter and after one-minute into her content, I knew I was learning from a highly creative, competent, and hilarious person. As we got to talking, I found out that she is an aspiring YA writer with some books already completed. I connected her to another Winfield author, Andrea Berthort, and I can't wait to buy her first book. ❤ To add to this, Anna and I are now niche-mates and will be trading publishing advice for editorial work on my next book. How fun is that?! 
Christian parenting resource author, Callie Grant
  • I also had an awesome conversation with Christian parenting resource author, Callie Grant. She was another one who my mom recruited while at the Children's Pastor's Conference in Orlando. Instead of premarital counseling books, she writes resources for parents to use while they are expecting a child. Her work is beautiful and unique. Click on the above link and see how it can enhance your church's serve. 

Region 10 Autism Consultant, Layne Pethick 

Layne Pethic taught me to move differently with my toddler and screen time. 
  • Did you know that both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates limited their kids to twenty-minutes of screen time a day? 😕 Yep, it's true. This is shocking considering that the average kid in America spends seven hours a day in front of a screen when kids really should not be in front of a screen for more than two hours a day (and kids under five should only be in front of a screen one-hour a day). Layne taught us that too much screen time increases cravings, alters kid's mood and causes inconsistencies in speech. After being in front of any screen, all of us need around five minutes for our brains to scramble back into place before transitioning on to the next thing. 
  • Layne's presentation was based on 55 neuroscientific studies and he shared that the latest research is pointing to the sad increase of anxiety and depression in teens due to increased screen time. 😢
  • The three things we need to support healthy brain development at any age? Layne proclaimed, "conversations, play and being in nature". (It's really not that surprising, right?) 
While I was presenting at KYI, my Aunt Nancy (and Dad, and Grandparents) 
filled Henley's days with fun. 

I am (almost) ready for Henley to go to preschool. 
  • Fear has been overwhelming me lately as a parent. Pour on the courage, Lord! Help me to gather up my gumption! 😆 As my offspring turns four in the fall, I am shockingly terrified of sending her off to preschool. However, as I saw how much fun she had with my Aunt, and all of the neat things my Aunt taught her, it gave me a glimpse into our new chapter. And what I saw made this wimp-of-a-parent a lil' bit bolder.  

Me and my bold offspring, Henley June

Here we are exploring the "7 Dwarfs of Setting the Brain up for Success: The Internal and External Factors that Affect Every Learner".

As a presenter, it is helpful to set out promotional materials on the tables/chairs before folks arrive. 
  • When I have presented in the past, I always waited until the end to share fliers on my book, workshops or online book club. And I always wait for folks to ask for them first, as to not come off as pushy or cocky. However, since I was offering three different workshops at KYI, I figured I had nothing to lose in doing a little experimenting. With this said, during my last workshop, all of my promo materials were awaiting folks at their tables as they arrived. The timing of this experiment was also golden because most of the people got there twenty-minutes early. (Who are these people?!)To my surprise, people were actually interested in them.😆 Most took them home, some took pictures of them, and the rush of book sales after my presentation was more than those of the past. (Insane!) Most importantly, this intentional time for them to explore what I was all about enriched our conversations because they knew the ways that my services could help them. From now on, promo materials will always be set out at the start! 💪💓🙋

My fav hometown dining spot, Vetonis

There is just as much comfort found in change as there is when things stay the same. 
  • In the fourteen years since I flew north, it seems that one of the rare things that remains unchanged in my hometown is my fav restaurant, Vetonis. This place is very near and dear to my heart. I learned how to go on dates here. I won a speech scholarship here. I got shot looks from my mom for eating an entire calzone (on multiple occasions) here. 😅(#NotAshamed) When I think of my years in Texas--I taste the sub-par pizza of this almost out-of-place mom-and-pop joint. It nurtures me on every level, and I am so thankful that the menu, like the wallpaper, has not changed in two decades.  On the flip side, I am thankful for the change in my relationships. My Dad and I are much more capable of healthy convos now then when I was in school, and I am so grateful. I am thankful that we have both evolved as emotionally mature humans (for the most part). I have also reconnected with friends from my teen years in new and fresh ways because of KYI, and this calls for much rejoicing as well. 
Thanks, Mabank, for a refreshing time, and in closing, I will share two of your eye-catching murals.

"The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese." Prez. Willie