Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Life Happens

When I first began this blog, I explained my theme thus: 

"And then, the theme. What is the point? What is the common thread that ties all my letters together? It hit me about a year ago. They're about becoming. Life really does have meaning. Even in the little, ordinary, sometimes dreary details. It's all a process. And the verses in Jeremiah 29 came to me (vs 11-14): "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive." No, I don't think Mississippi is captivity! (Is it apropo to say "LOL" in blogging?) It's all about His Plan For Me. It is a journey, and I love it!"

My next letter is from Christmas 1999.  The one reference I want to take from that letter is one of those instances where an almost tragedy in the present time can be viewed from the future with more wisdom and hindsight to realize that it is a part of His Plan as well.  It certainly taught me about trust.  Trust in God and His response to that trust.   Desperation can affect our posture towards God and indeed increase our faith.  God, you have to do this for me.  I cannot do anything about it but You can and I need You to take care of it!  I do not minimize it to the point of it being the "rain" that showers on the just and the unjust alike, but, many times, it is a part of life. . . and life happens.  And I quote:

"Delbert finished his first year of college this year.  He did very well - especially in the bands, of course.  We did a lot of traveling to hear him play and he and several of his friends from Bruce High School were featured a lot as soloists in the Jazz Band - especially Jeremy Freelon, who plays the drums really well.  (Jeremy came to our family reunion with us in September and played with Delbert and I as part of the entertainment.  We also performed for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Oxford.)  Even though he did well at Northwest Mississippi Community College, Delbert was not really happy and was very confused as to what to do with his life - at least as far as his education was concerned.  One thing he was and is very sure about is his main purpose in life - serving God.  He accepted his call into the ministry this year - a fact about which we are extremely pleased.  He considered going to Bible College but knew that he would have to work a year to be able to afford to do so.  He worked a short while at Office Max in Tupelo and then went to work at Southern Quality Meats in Pontotoc.  On July 29th he was on his way home from work and apparently fell asleep at the wheel.  He lost control of the car and had a "run-in" with two big trees.  The lady who got to him first felt sure he was dying.  His car was totally demolished and he was trapped in it.  It took the EMT's almost an hour to extricate him from the car with the "jaws of life" tool.  They felt sure his legs were all broken up and his shoes are still "buried" in the car.  They said that he had several broken vertebrae in his neck.  X-rays at the Pontotoc Hospital confirmed the fractured vertebrae.  He was very disoriented and could only get his last name out at first.  It seems a tiny bubble of air had gotten into the lining of his brain through a deep laceration above his left eye and was causing the disorientation.  Needless to say, I was very distraught when they finally located me and I got to the hospital.  Delbert looked a mess!  There is no way I can describe how I felt, but you mothers probably have a good idea.  They transported him to the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo and I rode in the ambulance with Him and prayed all the way.  I told the Lord I needed Him to touch Delbert - especially his neck.  I was so very scared.  God is truly a miracle worker!  When we got to Tupelo, they x-rayed him from one end to the other!  They did a Cat Scan and all kinds of tests.  Their x-rays showed NO FRACTURED VERTEBRAE, NO CONCUSSION OR BRAIN DAMAGE, and only a tiny piece of bone pulled away with a ligament under his left knee.  He has a plate and a screw in the orbital socket above his left eye, two plates in his left hand and a screw under his left knee.  The small scar above his left eye only adds "character" to his already handsome face!  The bubble of air dissipated and Delbert finally realized where he was.  (At first, every time someone asked him if he knew where he was, he replied, "At Church." - I believe he was.  In his spirit - resting in the arms of his Lord.  I wished that I could read minds!  Nevertheless, Delbert is a changed person!  His speech, his preaching, his whole outlook on life is transformed!  He now has a new job with Presley Publications and Fax of the Day as their Web Administrator.  He does their e-mail and Internet work, designing and maintaining their Web Page, etc.  He loves it and finally feels that he may have found his niche vocationally.  He's taking Web design and other computer and Internet classes and takes his work quite seriously."

I can still recall those same intense feelings of desperation I had back then when I think about it.  I'm so very thankful when I look at him now . . . at the fine man he has become . . . and the beautiful grandchildren he has given me!  Which thought requires me to give you the next little paragraph of my Christmas 1999 letter:

"Do you recall in my letter last year the "female" friend that I hoped I would be able to write more about this year?  Well, I got my wish!  Her name is Jennifer Ervin and she is a sweetheart!  I could not wish for anyone more perfect for Delbert to have in his life.  She's beautiful, talented (sings like an angel and plays the piano wonderfully), very good natured and gracious, and, best of all, she adores Delbert.  (She even likes me, too.  :o)  )  Needless to say, the feeling is very mutual!  Jennifer begins her last semester of nursing school in January after which she will be an RN.  I can't say enough good about this subject and, I'm sorry, but I can't hide how I feel about it, either.  Jennifer's parents are really super people and they have done an excellent job in raising the daughter!"  And, as they say, the rest is history!

Just another example of how Life Happens in this wonderful journey of His Plan For Me!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Leaders Have Leaders

 Confused?    Don't be.

I have been conducting a discussion with a group that I created on a social networking site about John Maxwell's book, "Everyone Communicates, Few Connect" for quite some time now.  I have mentioned this book in my blog to you previously as well.  This, my latest message to the group, was something that I feel very strongly about and thought you might find it interesting as well.  I began my message as follows:

Confused?  Don't be.  I want to take a little break from my discussion of John Maxwell's book to talk a little bit about a very important aspect of leadership. The book we've been discussing is about leaders connecting with their "audience" (whatever shape that term takes). And this is a good place in our discussion to detour somewhat because we have covered the five principles of connecting and part 2 is about connecting practices - putting those principles into action. In other words, we know what and why, we now need to know how. So, here in the middle, I want to give you a little insight of my own.

I've had some experiences this week that have really brought what I'm about to discuss to the forefront on my mind. I don't want my title to confuse you, but maybe you'll understand if I say it a different way.

Leaders are followers. Plain and simple. You cannot lead if you do not know how to follow. For one thing, you will not be able to relate to your followers because you will have never been in their shoes, so to speak. How can you teach if you've not been taught? You first had to learn. And some may say, "Yes, I had a leader, a teacher, but now I'm the leader and teacher." The thing is, if you quit learning you become stagnant. If you quit receiving, you begin to dry up. If you quit growing, you begin to die.

And so, it is extremely important that you, as a leader, have a leader. Or you could use the term Mentor. I'm very thankful for the leaders in my life. I believe they have taught me well. I lead in many different arenas. I've managed employees. I've raised children, for sure. I've run several offices. I am a musician and I lead in that area, as well, as a teacher, a director, and a department head. I could never do any of these things if I was not willing to be taught and to learn from others.

I know that some of you probably have different opinions from myself where spiritual matters are concerned, but I am thankful for my spiritual leader. I actually have two of those. Biblically speaking (contrary to popular belief) my husband is a spiritual leader in my life, and then I have an awesome Pastor. I am not afraid, ashamed, or threatened to submit to good leadership. In fact, that leadership gives me the confidence to aspire to and achieve greater things in life than I could have ever imagined.

Some leaders in my life, don't even know me. I have submitted myself to their teachings of my own accord because I believe that what they have to teach me is of great value. I will readily admit that I don't know it all. I follow these individuals' writings and attempt to assimilate the principles they teach into my own life because I want to be as successful as they are. You can probably guess that one of these individuals is John Maxwell. And Darren Hardy is another, along with the late Jim Rohn and others.

It's all about submission, really. And I know that that word is not a popular word in this society. I'm sure that when some think of the word submission they put it in a wrong context. It's not about slavery. It's about taking advantage of the knowledge and expertise of that leader and being willing to learn from them and glean all that you can. You must have a hunger for knowledge. And then, what you receive, you can turn around and let it flow out of you to someone else and the circle will be complete.

I concluded my message in a different way than I want to conclude it here, although, you may be interested in checking out one particular site that I encourage the group to check out.  There is great value to be had in learning how to be successful and the pitfalls to look for when searching out money making opportunities:

But, to conclude my message here. . . .

The last point I want to make about following in order to lead is that one must be willing to put aside preconceived ideas and notions of self-promotion and take instruction, which could (and probably would) include constructive criticism, before learning could ever occur.  You've probably heard the term, "Man up!"  We have to swallow our pride, admit that we need instruction, and "take it like a man!"  We have to remember that others are following us and they learn from our actions.  Let's teach them to be great leaders and give them the knowledge that Leaders have Leaders.