Are you losing the sale?

Yesterday, while watching a sales webinar, I was struck by how relevant the information was for sharing Christ with others. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not talking about hawking your faith to people like you’re ready to hit the next tier of your MLM pyramid!

The whole webinar was about relating to potential clients in a way that draws them in. The educator offered some highly useful business tips that I’ve already begun to utilize so, if you’re not a person who’s comfortable or intent on sharing your faith then use this blog post for sales strategy. Either way I hope it’s helpful!

Sales Tip #1: By the time someone reaches out to you they’ve eliminated a lot of your competitors already.

If a client takes the time to reach out to me about my company’s services they are already interested in what I have to offer. Have you found this to be true when friends ask about your faith in Christ? In my experience, the ones who’ve reached out to me have ‘shopped’ other religions or belief systems without finding the one that fit their needs. Business wise and evangelically, this was a wake up call for me to be more mindful of the potential for relationship.

Sales Tip #2: Don’t adopt a different persona when you reach out to people.

Learning how to be ‘me’ in email correspondence was hard! At the start of our company I thought I had to be super businessy and formal to be taken seriously. The reality was I turned off some potential clients because they couldn’t sense the real me. My relating lacked congruence and they could feel it. At some point I came to terms with the fact that I’m an exclamation point and emoji type of person. If you like that – I’m your girl. If you don’t- I’m not. And that’s OK!

If someone asks you what you believe and why, don’t answer them like you have a doctorate in Theology (unless of course you do . Go you!) You can’t talk about a real faith in a real Saviour by acting fake. It doesn’t work. You be you.

Sales Tip #3: Don’t answer questions they haven’t asked yet.

Oh boy! I’ve made this mistake in sales and telling people about Jesus so. many . times!! When a prospective bridal client asks me about what to do with her hair I don’t give her makeup tips. Now, she might want makeup tips, but that’s not what she asked. If I flood her with info about ALLL the things there are two very possible outcomes. Either A. she doesn’t feel heard or B. she gets overwhelmed. I believe the same is true when answering questions about God and faith. If the initial question is about prayer, I’m not going to give advice on tithing. I’ve found both in sales and in faith talks, that a give and take conversation works best. They ask- I respond and counter by asking for more information to figure out specifically what they need. We might have 100% of the facts but if they only need or want 10% of it then we should find out which 10%.

Sales Tip #4: Serve don’t Sell

There’s a marked difference when my initial conversation with a bridal client is born out of a desire to give rather than to get. The minute I start focusing on ‘getting the sale’ rather than offering her something that I truly believe will make her wedding experience better I become disconnected from her. The minute we talk about our Christian faith and all we can think of is getting them to say the Salvation Prayer the conversation becomes about us and not them.

There’s a tiny French bakery named Collet’s by my gym that has a Starbucks across the street from it. The Starbucks is much larger , but I will choose Collet’s for my business meetings every time. Why? Because when I’m enjoying my fabulous cappuccino, Collet comes over to give us a Madeline cookie or ask us if we would like some water. She serves her clients with love.We don’t need to sell people on God. All we need to do is serve them. Serve with your kindness. Serve with your love. Serve with your listening. Answer their interest in Jesus by living a life that reflects him. Passing out cookies is a nice touch too though.

Feeling Empty

No one really likes Empty. No one wants Empty. Definitely, no one wants to Feel Empty.

Empty promises. Empty bank account. Empty fridge. Empty nest. Empty headed. Empty bucket. Running on Empty. Empty words. Empty wine glass. *gasp!!

All of it denotes having less , feeling less, being less and in our culture less is never positive.

I want Full instead! Full sounds fun! Full feels better. Full means I’m not lacking for anything.

Full belly. Full schedule. Full life. Full on. Full of laughter. Full assurance.

If fullness is the goal then why does it so often leave us feeling empty?

I heard a pastor on the radio today saying that ‘if your mind is always full of your own ideas you will never have the mind of Christ.’ And there it is. There’s our answer. We are full, but of the wrong things. I am full of the wrong things.

I have agendas and deadlines. I have goals to attain, new skills to learn, and accomplishments to reach. I want to meet people and go places. I want to be known. I want to make my mark. Leave my legacy. Don’t we all??

None of these things I desire is inherently bad unless you notice the common theme. I , I, I, me, me ,me…….I’m full….. Of Me. So many times the things I’m loading up on are meant to Fill the void. Fill the loneliness. Fill the Time. Fill the Silence. I stuff my time and my life and my thoughts so completely there’s no room for anything new.

Sometimes I don’t leave room for Jesus.

God wants to pour himself into me. More than rivulets into the narrow gaps He wants to flood into my Whole heart. He can give me more fulfillment than any worldly goal or possession I might chase.Emptying my heart of loving anything that takes Christs’ place makes no sense to the world. But the funny thing about Jesus is he rarely made sense to his disciples either. When the disciples argued among themselves about which of them was the greatest; Christ told them that ‘it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.’ Luke 9:48

Say what? He was basically saying ‘Hey! Stop filling yourself with yourself and instead be emptied out for others and full of me! The kind of status you’re looking for lacks substance and will never keep you satiated. If you make room for what I offer you will never thirst again. Never be hungry again. Never strive again. Make . Room. For . Me.”

Jesus desperately wants to give us the best gift we could ever receive. But you can only grab onto it if you let go and reach for it with empty hands. For me it’s a daily intentional choice between staying full of what I want vs. what God wants. While it’s sometimes a struggle to get there, empty doesn’t scare me like it used to. Now, I crave it knowing God’s plans for me far exceed anything I’ve ever concocted myself!

This Easter, I ask you to try something that might be new and scary. Close your eyes and take a deep breath- then release something that you’ve been clutching tightly with both hands.(not your phone. Put your phone down before attempting this) ūüôā Ask God to empty you of it so you can take in whatever He has for you.

Trust me when I tell you that being receptive and empty for God will fill you with more peace than you could imagine. After all, He gave us an empty tomb and nothing has ever filled the world as much as that.

Getting to God: 3 Tips on Prayer

Have you ever felt like you just weren’t hearing from God? Or that your prayers were words uttered in an empty room and instead of them floating up to heavenly ears they crashed to the floor?

No? ……Just me?

Recently, a dear friend shared with me that she didn’t know ‘how’ to pray. My well thought out and deeply theological response was,

“Just talk to Him.”

Friend: “Yeah, but How? I just don’t get what I’m supposed to do

I think this is a very common question. I mean, if we’re going to take the time to pray to the God of all Creation we want to do it right! Right? But here’s a truth that should take away some performance anxiety for you-there is no perfect way to pray. Prayer and how it’s done is as unique as the person praying it. That being said, there are a few guidelines I discovered from reading about what men and women of the Bible did. Incorporating these 3 simple ideas that I’m about to share with you helped build my prayer life.

  1. Get Away

A prayer closet, bathroom, garage, car, pantry, treehouse…..it doesn’t matter where as long as it works for you. When my kids were small Jesus and I hung out in the bathroom a lot! Even if it was only 1 minute 10 times a day and those prayers were just for patience and sanity, God obviously met me there because we all survived the toddler years. Seriously, if you need to go hang out in the laundry room to be with God , I promise He’ll meet you there. When He does, ask Him how to get formula stains out, would you? I was never able to do it so I’m pretty sure it takes divine intervention.

2. Get Quiet

You might think that this belongs in the last suggestion. But getting away and getting quiet are two different things. Sometimes we spend all of our prayer time talking to God and we never pause to listen. It’s easy to want to tell God about everything that’s worrying us, everyone that needs help, every future fear, and every need. Don’t get me wrong- He wants to hear it!There’s nothing too insignificant for us to share with our Father. Phillipians 4:6 says , “Do not worry about anything; instead pray about EVERYTHING. Tell God what you need and thank Him for what He has done.” Heck, I’ve prayed for a good parking space before when I had a horribly sprained ankle and I’m quite sure it was no coincidence I got one!

However, equally important, or even more so ,than God hearing us is the importance of US hearing Him. The Holy Spirit is a ‘still small voice’. We need to become comfortable in the silence of prayer. Those times we just close our eyes and ask God ‘what do you need me to hear today, Lord?’ can be some of the most peace bringing and powerful meetings. And again, even if at this time of your life you can only get 2 minutes of quiet- that’s ok! God can speak as fast as He needs to.

3. Get Real

I used to feel so intimidated at church when I’d hear people come out with these Uber spiritual and eloquent prayers. I’d go home and try out their brand of prayer speech and think, ‘who IS this person?!’ . God doesn’t want us to try to sound like anyone else. He’s not looking for poems or your best Billy Graham imitation. He doesn’t care about our grammar or our delivery or our vocabulary. He Knows what you sound like! Don’t worry if you forget what you were going to say mid sentence (this is why I pray out loud. I’m too ADD to stay in my head. It’s busy in there.) Tell Him you’re angry about what’s happening. Tell Him you Do. Not. Appreciate. what ever lesson He’s teaching you and that you’d like Him to find another way thankyouverymuch. Yell at Him if you need to. If you don’t know what to pray- tell Him that. He already knows how you feel in your heart any way so there’s no point in pretending it’s ‘fine’. Wearing a mask of ‘I’m fine’ with God only keeps Him at arms length. Be honest ; be real; be raw. God’s just waiting to turn arm’s length into an embrace.

I hope this helps anyone struggling with their prayer life. If it did , let me know! And if you have something that’s been beneficial to your own prayer life- please share with me!

[Funny side note; when I was writing this and said we don’t have to be poets, this popped into my head. I think my last haiku was in seventh grade. LOL!!]

A Haiku on Prayer

Open wide your heart

Lift your eyes to Heaven

You are the Poem

Taking my place in the Pews

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ‘new’ Christians. People who’ve just decided to accept Jesus or maybe they haven’t accepted him yet but they are ‘trying on’ the Christian life. I have some good friends who have just begun attending church. In fact, they were previously pretty Anti-church. So now when they sit next to me, I’m keenly aware of all the nuances of the service. How church members relate to each other. The rituals and habits we have. It must seem so foreign to them! I remember when it was foreign to me. The churchy language, the small groups, full immersion baptism. Oh man , THAT one used to freak me out! (I worked hard on my hair and makeup and you want to ruin it? In public??) I’m also aware of the expectations that can sometimes accompany church membership.

giphy

One of the things I dearly want for my friends is not to confuse who they are to the church with who they are to God.

I ¬†started attending church again regularly after a lengthy almost ¬†two decades ¬†hiatus during which I royally screwed up life (another¬†many stories for another time) I was happy to be there but I felt like such an outsider. It was like being the new kid in middle school and all the other kids had been friends since they were in Kindergarten. Fortunately, the congregation was incredibly friendly and welcoming. Plus they served snacks after service. Bonus! They drew me into their tribe, their culture, their lives, their conversations. It was amazing! I couldn’t get enough. After 14 years in my ¬†2nd abusive marriage (no judging) my self esteem was next to nothing and I didn’t feel like I had anything of value to offer other than my hairstyling skills. But these people-they seemed to love ME and that’s what I so desperately needed. So, in true over achiever fashion I jumped right in to everything they had to offer. And there was a lot!! I did women’s ministry. I did Bible studies. I attended conferences. I helped with and planned events, dinners, children’s ministry puppet shows. You name it, I said YES. Heck , I even went to Bible college and graduated Valedictorian! I drank ALL the Kool Aid! I was killing this Christian thing!! And for a while it felt awesome! I was accepted. I was praised. I was wanted. I was appreciated.

.giphy

When I was at my lowest God knew what I needed and He generously supplied.However, while I was moving up in church leadership I began to realize that something was off. My church family seemed more interested in what I was producing rather than what I was becoming. I was a major player. One of the ‘special’ ones. I also felt tired, judged, confused, stretched thin, and vaguely empty.

I began to realize that I wasn’t doing all this for God. I was more concerned with what people would think of me if I Didn’t do #allthethings ¬†all the time.¬†Ashamedly, ¬†I also realized that I was addicted to the accolades that I got from being ‘one of the chosen’ who sat at the front of the church. Or being one of the few that attended the inner circle meetings of church hierarchy. I’d become one of the cool kids and I liked it. It made me feel special. Somewhere along the line I’d gotten it wrong. I’d come back to church and to Jesus because he accepted and loved ¬†ME. ¬†Not because of Anything that I did. He loved me when I wasn’t doing anything ‘special’. I didn’t want to have to do all the right things to be accepted anymore. Jesus had only one qualification for me to follow him and that is that I am totally Unqualified.

My marriage(s) ¬†had left me with the wound of ‘ never good enough’. Even though I thought I’d left that at the door, all I did was bring it with me and put a Sunday suit on it. I’d moved my hamster wheel of worthiness from home to church. I’d spent years and years trying to become whatever people wanted me to be so that I’d be valuable to them. Constantly trying to figure out what they wanted from me.

What I didn’t understand was that all God wanted from me was– Me.giphy (1).gif

 

Because God likes to mess with my comfort zones, He led us away from that particular church and all the activities I’d put in His place. He removed my protective Armor of Productivity and put me on a ‘Busyness Time Out’. ¬†I no longer had my committees and bible studies and women’s groups to take up my time. In the absence of movement there was only me…..and God. And you know what I began to realize? I didn’t need all the busy work. Not once. Not one single time did I feel any less loved for not ‘producing’ . In fact, I felt peaceful and comforted and accepted again. As I spent my time with God and reading His word it slowly dawned on me that He just wants me to love Him. Trust Him. Love others. Be kind. It doesn’t matter if I do that for 300 people or just the guy bagging my groceries. ¬†I don’t need to do something that looks Big and Amazing to people. To God the smallest gestures of love ARE big and amazing. He knows that my giving of love produces far more results than anything else.

So, if you want to find me at church don’t go looking where the volunteers are. That may come at another season of my life again; but not now. For now, you can find me sitting in the aisles next to my newbie church friends and just being with them.

Building the Butterfly

“The caterpillar is a necessary stage but becomes unsustainable once it’s job is done. There is no point in being angry with it and there is no need to worry about defeating it. The task is to focus on building the butterfly, the success of which depends on powerful positive and creative efforts in all aspects….” Elizabet Sahtouris¬†

butterfly (1)

I’ve been thinking a lot about butterflies lately. Like there aren’t far more important things, right? I know it’s weird but whenever something sticks in my mind like this I usually know that God has something for me to share. So stick with me on this one even if it gets a bit ‘science-y’ okay? It’s fascinating. Truly.

It started when I went to see my dear friend and business partner, Patti, in the hospital after she suffered a horrible car accident. This was not the type of accident where you have a few broken bones and some whiplash. This was a stay in the hospital three weeks, wheelchair, home care nurse,six month rehab, let’s hope you heal normally type¬†of an accident. LIFE Altering!

One of the first things she said to me in the hospital was, “I just want to hurry up and get this (recovery) over with!” Well, yeah! I mean, who wouldn’t ?! As I looked around her room at the cards and children’s drawings meant to cheer her up I noticed how many butterflies were on them. Patti. Loves. Butterflies. They are all over her house. And I thought, how funny that we always see the beautiful butterflies but not the cocoon.

As a culture we are obsessed with the pretty. Me included. #shinysyndrome .We love the ‘before and after’ photos of people who’ve gone from obese to gym beast. We can relate to a Before photo and we ¬†desire to be the After, but we ignore the getting there part. Why do we celebrate the butterfly and despise the chrysalis? It’s in the butterflies getting there stage that all the magic happens. That’s when I realized how much we have in common with these little winged creatures.

Butterfly 2

Although we can’t see it, I’d imagine that being stuffed in a cocoon is ¬†cramped , uncomfortable, and dark. Isn’t this pretty much how we feel when going through a transformation? I know I do! ¬†The stretching , molding, breaking down and building up again into a new creation generally sucks when it’s happening. It’s painful. Caterpillars can totally relate to this. ¬†(Get ready! Science-y part coming!) Inside the cocoon, they go through a stage called histolysis¬†which is defined as “the breaking down [of tissues] during the process of metamorphosis.” ¬†Ok, first off , Eewwww!!! Secondly, Holy wow! have I been there! The last 15 years of fully turning my life over to God I’ve changed in a million ways. Every habit , attitude, or belief I hold now required the tearing down of one I held before. Old dreams perished and new ones were fashioned. Goals I’d had, no longer seemed worthy of pursuing. Huge parts of me had to disintegrate and die in order for new ones to be born. People knew something was going on WITH me but they couldn’t see what was going on IN me. And, just like Patti, I wanted to hurry up the ‘getting there ‘ process and reach my ‘After’.

Ok, here’s my last ‘science-y’ butterfly fact. When I read it, it blew my mind. Inside of these insects are structures called Imaginal Discs.These discs are responsible for the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. They are what actually becomes the wings. AND¬†they are only activated once they are in the cocoon!¬†¬†Why does a caterpillar even form a cocoon? I’m so glad you asked…. Because they run out of something called juvenile hormone. Basically, their carefree days of living off the tree and eating free leaves are over and they have to get out and get a job.Seriously, I’m not making this up. Can’t you see how this is so much like us?

At some point, being juvenile doesn’t serve us -it stunts our growth. God knows the potential He’s placed in us and He loves us too much to let us stay as children in our faith. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like He loves us because the whole ‘getting mature’ thing is even More painful than staying immature. For me,I wanted IMMEDIATE change, not months or years of angsty self examination. I reached out to God looking for light and freedom and it felt like He put me into a dark crampy¬†cocoon. Then He made me stay there. Well, I really made myself stay in the dark. I remained until all the lies I’d believed about myself were crushed and my mind was renewed with God’s truth of who I really am. I am made in God’s image and everything I needed to be a butterfly was already in me.

Because here’s the thing about us humans, we will happily walk around consuming things of this world until something forces us to seek God and the change that comes with that. We don’t just wake up one day and think, ‘Today I want to question all my motives, goals, and relationships. Then I’ll reexamine my dreams and where I put my finances. Yeah! This is gonna be awesome!” #no ¬†. It takes the cocoon; the journey through the dark, to find your wings. When your time comes to go through transformation, embrace it. It’s in the dark that we find the power of Christ that is in us. It’s that power that will give you your wings.

renewing-your-mind-3-728

A Declined Invitation

Have you ever had someone turn down your invitation to join you for a party or an event? It stinks, doesn’t it? I mean, the whole point in asking them to come is because you want to be with them. You want to share the experience with them. Partake in the enjoyment of it together.

This happened to me last week. I sent an invite to someone I really wanted to spend time with. It wasn’t just that they declined, they didn’t even bother to respond.Initially. I gave them the benifit of the doubt thinking they must not have seen the invitation.We’ve all missed evites that got buried under the spam mail, right? So, when I saw them I asked, ‘hey, did you see my invitation? I didn’t want you to miss it!’ Yep….they’d seen it. Seen and Dismissed. Ouch! Not only did they not answer, but they couldn’t give me an explanation as to Why they didn’t want to attend. All I got was shrugged shoulders and a mumbled “Idunno’. Dannggggg ya’ll. I’m not going to lie, I was pissed. And hurt.¬†RSVP

Issuing an invitation entails a certain degree of trust.

You trust that:

they will share your interest

they will make an effort to attend if possible

they will, at the very least, RSVP.

Here is the thing about Invitations though. They come with options.

Yes. No. Maybe.(like those notes we passed in elementary school)

Invitations don’t guarantee someone’s presence or participation. They are not commands bereft of ¬†a choice. The invited are allowed to exercise free will.

And really isn’t this the way it should be? If I invite someone to be with me I want them to attend with the same enthusiasm that I invited them with. Attendance out of obligation is meaningless.

Issuing an invitation is an act of vulnerability. We put our hearts out with every invite by offering a piece of ourselves to the other person. We are saying ‘I want you. You matter to me and I want to share some of my time with you’. That’s why it hurts so much when we get declined.It doesn’t just feel like a negative response to the event it feels like a rejection of US. ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†expectation

So, as I was licking my wounds and being really ticked off, I started wondering how God would want me to respond. I was pretty sure that my initial reaction of being sullen and snarky wasn’t the proper way to handle it. It made me think of how many times He issues invitations to me that I decline. Or invitations I don’t even acknowledge. How many times does God beckon me to come spend time with Him? How many times has He asked me to do something with Him and I just hit delete without responding? The awesome thing about God not being me is that He never gets sullen and snarky about my lack of response. He just keeps inviting as if I never rejected Him. He’s far more secure in His worth than I am in mine.

In thinking of how God responds to me I came up with a few guidelines for me to remember when my invitations get rejected:

A negative response does not determine my worth or value.It’s never personal¬†When I say no to God it doesn’t mean I don’t love Him. My response is solely based on what I’m feeling or focusing on at the moment. Yes, I know that’s selfish. Don’t judge me.

My joy is not based on their presence or absence. I have expectations of people and when they aren’t met I get hurt and disappointed and sad. I don’t think God has these unrealistic expectations of us. He wants us to decide to be with Him. I believe He’s delighted for US when we choose to accept His invitation but I don’t think it ruins His day when we don’t.

I can’t control what people will say Yes to or when.I can only hope they will. And they will, when the time is right for them. I say ‘yes’ to God when I’m ready. He doesn’t try to control my decision, He just keeps issuing the invitation. No pressure. No expectations. Just patient and continual offering. He doesn’t give up on me because I initially reject His offer. He knows that being with Him is awesome! ¬†(that is some amazing self esteem) The ones who think that being with me is awesome will accept my invitation. The ones that keep ignoring it…well they’re going to miss out but it’s no longer going to ruin my day.god pursues

I’ll be honest. Even with this insight my feelings are still bruised. Except now instead of being a deep purplish one it’s turning into a pale yellow one. A few more days and I should be healed. Maybe next time I’ll dodge the blow altogether.

 

 

 

Dawn Chorus

I’m an early bird. There is something soul nourishing about being awake in the stillness. The crisp morning air . The scent of clean earth. There is so much hope and promise in a sunrise. Nothing has been done yet. No decisions or mistakes. No conversations that you wish you could do over. And the birdsong. I love the birdsong. I make my coffee (#priorities) and snuggle down in my favorite place; a big oversized chair in our living room that looks out through a bay window. In front of the window is a bird feeder. I can sit for hours just watching every sort of chickadee and sparrow flit down to peck a few seeds and fly away. They are a delight to watch and their plumage never ceases to amaze me. But it’s their song I love the most. Before the first rays appear, while it is still dark, they begin.

.bird singing

How do we sing in the shadowed places?¬†The birds sing in anticipation of the first glimmers of dawn. Long before the arrival of the first light they sing with assurance the sun will rise again like it’s done thousands of times before. They sing of hope and faithfulness. Not every song is buoyant.Beside the joyful twitter of the bluebird is the haunting coo of the mourning dove.There have been so many times when I thought midnight would last forever.When my song was nothing more than the choked out sobs of despair. But I kept scanning the horizon, looking for the dimmest glow in anticipation of it’s arrival.¬†It’s not that I’m the eternal optimist.(though my rose colored glasses are well used). It’s the fact that no matter my situation God has been faithful to me. Whether you sing a melody or a dirge I promise you God is listening and He is faithful to you when you call to Him. Always. Even when it feels like you’ve been singing for an eternity without an audience.

.flock of birds singing

Tomorrow morning I urge you to go outside and listen to the chorus.¬†The lyrics intertwined, overlapped, a blended cacophony of unique¬†warbles, twitters, and trills. Not one more important than the other This is their Dawn Chorus not a Dawn Solo. The birds don’t sing alone and we aren’t meant to either. We have to find our flock. When we intone our hymns of grief there will be others grieving with you. When we explode with uncontained¬†joy there will be others who rejoice with us! Their voices lifting up our own song in solidarity. Find the ones who remember the light that came after their darkness. Those are flock. Your people. The ones who will help you remember the sunrises of your past.Search the horizon together and sing your Chorus of anticipation to the God who shines light in the dark.

God sunrise