The Need to Know

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Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent. – Dalai Lama

I am in the department of research and development. I research testing trends – what works, what doesn’t. I design tests based on our customer’s needs and based on data. These tests are taken throughout the school year in various school districts across the country.

We build the test, we pilot the test, then we score the test. The results that come back indicate our next plan of action. We may find that an item was bad because nearly every student missed it. So, we toss it out and replace it with a new one. We might find one item was totally bias, so we toss it out too.

Our customer can be demanding too. They want perfection. Nine times out of 10, today’s work ends up in tomorrow’s trash. It’s all a part of the game. In this business, we grow thick skin and roll with the punches.

My need for research often trickles out into my personal life. My guilty pleasure is kicking back with a People magazine and “researching” the celebrity gossip as my friends call it. Yes, I need to know what life is like for the Gosselin’s after reality t.v. Did Mattie Gosselin grow out of her bratty stage? Lord, I hope so 🙂 I want to know how baby George is adjusting to his new life in the royal family. Is he sleeping at night? How is Kate adjusting? I can’t help it. I’m a “need to know” kind of girl. 🙂

This “need to know business” sometimes gets me in trouble in social media. Let’s face it. I have trust issues. If you are willing to put your business in the street, then I’m pretty sure I’m just as willing to pick it up and read it. It’s so easy. It’s right at the tip of my fingers.

Recently, I was called out for my “stalking”. He said, “I know you stalk me.” Listen here buddy, it is not “stalking” it is researching, remember? Besides, stalking equates to crazy and I don’t consider myself to be crazy (or at least I hope not).

To prove to myself that I am not a stalker, I decided to fast Facebook for a few days. I’m happy to report that I made it day one – 24 long hours. It was tough though. I kept finding myself craving the updates and news feeds. What’s going on? Is my cousin Shelly eating lunch somewhere cool today? Did Lori get her workout in at the Y? Did Dana have a mishap in the airport again? I can’t help it. It’s like a drug. Just let me take a drag. All I need is one, just one hit to satisfy my craving.

No. Continue on. You need to break from this need of constantly knowing.

I’m happy to say that I have landed in day two. Whew! I know it’s early to claim victory, but I think the hard part is behind me. The cravings have subsided. Well, out of habit this morning, I found myself typing in the browser “www.facebook.com”, but then I hit me, oh, you are fasting, find something else to do like work 🙂

In our constant need to know and to share “what’s on our mind”, I can’t help keep thinking are we sharing just to share or are we sharing to prove something to the world? Does the world need to know just how great we are? Do we need this format to show them or can they see it just by our actions?

I read this passage in the book, Love Gives Life.

Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter encourage focusing on what is distinctive about us, what we are good at, and what people will notice about our contribution in our every day life.

I agree.

The book went on further to say,

We can fall for the delusion that what makes us significant is mainly what causes us to stand out from everyone else, rather than what helps us to serve everyone else.

I agree with that too.

In our need to stand out, we forget we are here to serve others, bless others. We lose sight of our purpose.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it is wrong to share. I love sharing. I share positive quotes and big wins. I think it motivates people to keep marching on. Look she held on and it paid off.  I love to share pictures of my travel. There is a great big beautiful world out there and everyone should have a chance to see it. I want to share to inspire, not share to boast.

As I continue on my break from the “devil’s playground”, I am learning it is more about what I am sharing and not just about what I am “researching”. If that fool is lying to me, then the truth will surface. Truth always wins. I don’t need to research his updates to ease my fears and doubts. I simply need trust, trust that he is who he says he is.

Social media is just like the tests I create. From time to time, I need to go in and evaluate the data. How did the test score? Do I need to toss out an update because it will hurt someone instead of help them? Do I need to toss it out because it has been found to be biased – prejudiced or unfair?

If this hit home for you, then I’m sorry. This is tough for me too. I’ve been called a “stalker”. That’s a bit tough to swallow. It’s time to develop tough skin and roll with the punches. It’s time to evaluate the data and toss out some things that are just not working or not beneficial.

I’m not saying you have to join my wild crusade, but a little evaluation couldn’t hurt. As for me, I’m marching on. I am determined to see out day 3. Who knows, I might even make a full seven 🙂

P.S. This post feeds to Facebook. I am resisting the temptation to see if it linked correctly or not (yes I am O.C.D. 🙂

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Killing Two Birds…

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When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you. – African Proverb quotes

You know the saying, “Killing two birds with one stone.” It means to accomplish two jobs, two tasks, with one single action. One stone can make quite the impact. For the past few weeks, my Pastor has been preaching a series titled 5 Stone Ready. In borrowing his words, he describes the process as this,

When David volunteered to fight Goliath, he did so without even seeing what the giant looked like. David didn’t have to see the size of his enemy, because he knew the size of his God. David was carrying what was considered to be a poor man’s weapon…a sling. However, after killing a bear and a lion, he believed that what had worked in the past will continue to work in present. He had no desire to try something new in this battle. He had his sling and his shepherd’s bag…now it was time to choose the stones. 

He knelt down at a brook and began to feel for smooth stones. He needed them to all be the same size and shape. Each one would be about he size of a tennis ball or a baseball. He would only need one, but he wanted to have “5 ready”.

Our lives are somewhat like David’s. We’ve been anointed to do something great in the Kingdom of God, but a giant is standing between us and our destiny. If we avoid the giant, we’ll miss our opportunity.

Now it’s time to take a trip to the brook. When we walk away, we need to make sure we have five stones ready for the battle. No one stone is greater than the other, in fact, any single one can do the job but we must have all “5 ready” because You may only have enough time to reach in the bag and load the sling.

According to my Pastor, you need a stone of prayer, fasting, Bible study, faithfulness, and praise. I’ve already taken the trip to the brook. I took the trip some time ago. I gathered my stones too. My stones were ready, but I was not, not until recently.

My greatest adversary, the high-profile, power-driven, Director of Mathematics for the leading consortium in assessments, the one who wreaked havoc on me and my co-workers for a year and a half, suddenly decided to pay me a visit (please pardon the major run-on sentence). There were five other offices for her to choose from and she settled on mine. Really? Her trip caught me off guard. No client had ever visited our office before. This was not standard protocol either. We always visited them.

I spent the days prior, working myself up, imagining the worse, until I made myself sick. I can’t do this. I can’t represent the company. Who am I to take on such a responsibility as this? Then, I remembered little David – a young shepherd boy who defeated a giant.

Thursday morning, bright and early, my adversary walked through my office doors. It was now or never.  I greeted her with pleasantries, but in my mind, I was psyching myself up for battle. Mentally, I dusted off the ol’ sling shot and stretched the pulley back, but the Lord stopped me dead in my tracks.

Wait, don’t fire. You are not ready. You have another enemy to conquer first.

Wait, who?

Yourself.

What do you mean? I am not the enemy. She is.

True. She is the enemy, but she will no longer have that effect, that hold on you until you deal with your own demons first.

My instant reaction was to run and I gave it my best effort too. My plan to avoid the situation did not last very long. The Lord dealt with me and dealt with me until I surrendered. The moment I faced my hard truth, the stone I was so eager to fire, killed not one “bird”, but two.

One stone – two enemies.

You may be guilty like me thinking the “enemy” is always attacking you. When in reality, you are the enemy. You are actually attacking yourself. You are the giant standing in the way of your destiny. You can never outrun yourself either. Eventually, you will have to face what lies within. Once you come to terms with yourself and destroy the enemy within, the one on the outside can never hurt you again.

So I ask you, what does your enemy look like?

Is fear your enemy?

You can’t confront someone. You are easily manipulated or controlled.

Is pride your enemy?

You can’t humble yourself to accept help even though your family needs it desperately. You can’t see that your neglect caused your child harm, so instead of facing the truth, you point your fingers elsewhere.

Is intimidation your enemy?

Are your words harsh, belittling, or damaging? Does your presence instill fear in others?

I know. This is tough to process. No one ever wants to hear they have flaws and those flaws can hurt someone else. So, I caution you. Before you fire the stone, make sure you know who your enemy is. You only have fives stones, and you may only have once shot at defeating the enemy.

Standing in the conference room of my office, the enemy was defeated – both internally and externally. My adversary and I were on a level playing field for once. I was no longer ready to fight, I was ready to make peace. In the end, I won her over with my southern hospitality and charm. To beat all, we shared an embrace, not only once but twice 🙂

On that day, former enemies became partners. The battle was over. It was a day I had prayed for a very long time. It changed the course of my history.

So, I urge you. Go ahead and get your five stones ready, your battle awaits you.  If you find that you are the enemy after all, don’t avoid the opportunity. It might just cost you your destiny.

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I Met a Boy

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I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference. ― Ellen Goodman

My friend Nikki posted this status yesterday on Facebook.

Thing that this mom was not ready to hear when she picked her little boy up from his 2nd day of school….”Mom, I met a girl!” What??…..I’m in trouble!

I know her son. I know him well and yes, Nikki is in trouble. Preston is a charmer, sweet, innocent, and makes an impact on those he meets, yet he is only five years old. I know this because I am his Sunday school teacher. My face lights up when I see him. I am constantly correcting him too. “Preston, stop jumping off the chair.” “Preston, this is not the WWF.” He’ll flash that little smile and say, “Ok, teacher.” Then he is off doing it again, but I love him all the same.

I know the pain Nikki is feeling, because a few months back, I met a boy. It was on the second day of his job actually.  I did not run home excited about meeting him. I ran home crying. I knew he was trouble the moment I laid eyes on him. He was too much for me to handle. He would just show in my office unannounced. He would jump in the elevator with me and say “Where are we going to lunch?” In my head, I said, “Who is this ‘we’ business? Last time I checked, I did not invite you to lunch.” That wouldn’t be the only time he showed up uninvited.

On one random Friday night, a girlfriend and I were grabbing a late dinner. When lo and behold, look who walked in?  That boy. I think our mouths both dropped when we made contact. As you can expect, he just pushed his way in, had a seat, and took a sip of my drink.

I didn’t know if I was coming or going. He made me nervous and often words failed me. I didn’t like this situation and I wanted out. Clearly, he did not comprehend my non-verbal queues to leave me be so I tried using my mouth instead.

Being outside of work, there was no need for professionalism. I could get straight to the point. I told him he was too good to be true and a bull shitter (pardon my french). My words didn’t phase him either. As you might expect, on Monday morning, he was standing in the doorway of my office saying, “What are we doing for lunch?”. This boy was here to stay whether I liked it or not.

His efforts to prove me wrong succeeded. He won me over and I let him in. A beautiful friendship began to blossom over casual drop-ins and lunch at Harris Teeter. As time went on, I learned there was more to him than just good looks and charm. There was something substantial within.

As his layers began to peel back, there stood a boy who longed to be loved and accepted. Life swept him up and carried him through obstacle after obstacle. He had the scars to prove it. But through it all, his love and care for others was unscathed. He had a heart of gold. Any time day or night, he is just a phone call away. If you need a laugh, he’ll show up with a goofy “knock knock” joke. He can’t stand to see you cry. If you need a ride, he’ll pick you up and even open the door for you. He would move heaven and earth to be where you are and give you what you need.

Not only has he shown up in my time of need, he has inspired me to seek the truth and to find the good in every situation. He has restored my faith in men. Considering my opinion of men is that of a bottom dweller, this is a monumental feat.

I watch him tirelessly fight to be with his children even though he faces set back after set back. I watch him give when he often doesn’t even have a dime to his name. I watch him easily be manipulated by his children when the disciplinarian in me wants to scream, “NOOOO!”. Let’s face it. He dissolves into a pile of mush concerning his kids. It’s so refreshing 🙂

I often wonder if he is sure of his worth. I pick up clues here and there. To be honest, I don’t think he has any idea of the impact that he makes on the lives he encounters. He is humble that way. Although this boy exudes confidence in some areas, he is insecure all the same. Whatever you do, don’t tell him he smells like sweat. He bruises easily. I have spent weeks trying to heal this wound 🙂

If you were to meet a girl, you would find that behind her strength and confidence stands a girl who longs to be loved and accepted too. She struggles with her own worth as well. She too has walked a long road of hardships and has many scars to prove it. It’s the thread that holds this boy and girl together.

Nichole age 5

She hopes by sharing her story, she can inspire, motivate people to seek the truth, to climb higher, and to believe just like this boy has done for her. If she could make a fraction of an impact he has made, the world would be truly better.

So I ask you, “What are you doing to make a difference?” Have you shared your story? Have you shared your heart? Have you simply shown up?

Whatever you do, whether it be big or small, it will make a difference. It sure has for this little girl. If you are struggling and think you have nothing to give, no worries, goofy “knock knock” jokes will do 🙂

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The Gap

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Thanksgiving for the past makes us thankful in the present and hopeful for the future. – A.C.A. Hall

Twenty years ago, I said goodbye to Hopkinsville High School. I packed up my diploma, what belongings I had, and never turned back. I ran actually. I was quick to leave the past that caused me a great deal of pain and ready to start something new.

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Twenty years later, I found myself sitting at Senior Lopez, a local Mexican restaurant, celebrating my 20 year reunion.  So much has changed, yet so much remains the same. My friends and I screamed with excitement at the first point of contact. We hugged. We embraced. We shared stories. We laughed until we cried. In that brief moment, we were reminded of who we were and how far we’ve come.

senior lopezThe day after, I took a stroll down memory lane to see all that I had and all that I was.  I drove downtown to the Alhambra, the theater where I performed tap and ballet recitals for 12 years. I stopped at Ferrell’s, one of our favorite late night hotspots, peeked my head in so I could breathe in the greasy onion filled air. I cruised through our public library and found the pillow filled claw tub where I read my library books. I walked along the banks of the Little River reminiscing about the canoe races in “Little River” Days.

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The final night of the reunion was wrapped up with dinner and dancing. The D.J. played all of our favorite tunes from the 90’s. Yes, we took more pictures 🙂

class picWith any reunion, comes awards – most changed, least changed, longest marriage, and most kids. We were posed with the following questions:

  1. How many kids do you have?
  2. How old is your oldest kid?
  3. How long have you been married?
  4. Who is the least changed?

Zero, zero, zero, were my responses to the first three questions. Where was the question about who has never been married or ever birthed a child? Isn’t that important? 🙂

I hesitated on the last question. I actually I left it blank. Was there a correct answer? Haven’t we all changed? Haven’t we grown and been altered by life’s experiences? Haven’t we all let go of our childish ways and matured into healthy, secure adults?

If I had the chance to poll my classmates, I would have asked them this.

“What have you done in the 20 year gap of time?”

  • Have you lived or just gone through the motions?
  • Have you suffered at the hands of defeat?
  • Have you tasted success?
  • Have you loved passionately?
  • Have you failed miserably?
  • Have you lost something precious to you?
  • Have you received something better?
  • Have you made a life better?
  • Have you given when you had nothing to give?
  • Have you humbled yourself to receive?
  • Have you laughed?
  • Have you cried?
  • Have you held on tightly?
  • Have you let go?

To answer the questions, I would say yes to all. Yes, I have lived, I have loved, I have lost, I have gained, I have held on and I have let go. I have walked many miles of hardship during this gap of time, but I have also experienced more joy than I ever thought possible.

We get so wrapped up our status (single, married, divorced) and our looks that we lose sight of what is really important – relationships, experiences, and what we can offer to the world.

As it turns out, I was not voted the least changed, nor did I win an award for the only single person in the place. However, I reconnected with old friends, made a few new ones, and embraced the past that I so quickly left behind.

So, if you were to answer the questions I raised, how would you respond? Have you embraced the life you have been given, or would you still be sitting there unchanged?

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