This is who I said I am

I was one of those kids who wanted to get their little hands into everything. I wanted to be a part of everything. I wanted to be in the “in-crowd” but I didn’t want to be excluded from the “outsiders”. I floated from group to group and was accepted by every group but never identified with one group. Then, there were my personal habits. I could be watching tv, listening to music, doing my homework all while chatting with friends. I always loved multi-tasking and really, I felt pretty invincible in some respects.

Then, last year happened. As everything unfolds and I reflect upon all that was, I have come to realize who I am and who I am not. I may have touted that I could do many things. Actually, a friend who was a boss called me out on it last year. I had told him that it was my specialty to be able to do what I do, jumping from task to task, having much on my plate. Then, I lived out my reality on how much I couldn’t do what I thought I could. Over the years, I have grown to be very passionate about all the things I do and what I feel like I have been called to. With that much passion, I couldn’t work for a corporate firm, a church and a non-profit all at once. It was as if my heart was getting pulled in every direction while my body and my mind were nearing exhaustion.

The words that I had spoken came to haunt me each and every day as I struggled to get things done. My mind jumped from graphic design to vendor relations to budgets to scheduling volunteers to social media to solving technical issues to designing systems to event planning… and that was only a part of my life. I wanted to be driven by my passion but how could I be? Where is my passion and where is my focus?

At any point in time, we can think that this is who we are. We can tell the world, this is who we are. Then, there comes an opportunity to live out the who you think you are. It is then that the rubber meets the road and you find out just how much you know you. I had a chance to live out who I thought and who I said I am. I learned, I am not. But really, what better way to learn the things I am not than to go through it. That discontent drives a hunger in you to release that tension and find what satisfies.

Enjoying the good things

NY Style inspired pizza with a Hannah twist

NY Style inspired pizza with a Hannah twist… Really, yum!

The other night, I made some good ol’ New York style pizza. As a native New Yorker, we’re very particular about our pizzas. I’ve learned to love other styles just as much but please don’t call it New York style if it isn’t. It’s gotta have the right sauce as well as the right amount, with cheese that is delicious, gooey and stringy when you bite into it and just enough dough to balance out the rest of the pizza. Now, my pizza as much as I call it New York style, had a few elements just a little different. Part of it is that I’m still learning, part is that there are some uncontrollable factors and the other part is that I love new creations. As much as I love New York style pizza, I know the best is in New York and I’m ok with them keeping that title because it gives me an awesome thing to look forward to when I’m up there.

Now, I’m in the lovely Rio de Janeiro of Brazil. It really is a beautiful city. May be one of the most naturally beautiful cities I have ever seen. Anyway, in every culture I travel to, I see the limitations of what people know is good. As a seasoned traveler (I’m self-titling that one but perhaps not fully attained to some standards), one thing I really miss is some of those really awesome things I have had around the world. Perhaps its the alfajores of Peru, the empanadas of Argentina, the pasta of Italy, an American juicy burger, bread and cheese in France…Mmm! Whatever it is, the diversity just doesn’t exist when you leave the States but really, the States do not even begin to compare with the real thing. So sorry America, but olive oil is better in Greece no matter what you try (but I do hope that you/we get it right!).

So when I start to meet people and get to know people, part of the love I have for them is for them to experience some of the awesome things that I have. If I can replicate the awesomeness that I once enjoyed, it is a great way to share it with them. I have worked on recipes not for my own sake but so that someone can try the best they have ever tasted even if it is better than I have ever tasted. On top of that, what is better is when you get to enjoy it with them. It’s like you have this memory with them and no one can take that away from you. Sharing the memory you once had, allows you to bring those closest to you into the secret places you have. So the other night, when I was making that pizza, knowing this is one I can do very well regardless of the tools I have or do not have such as fennel (not readily available in Brazil), I was sad to learn that one person had a meeting and another was skipping dinner. It was one of those moments where I knew it was going to be a great one to share, the one I wanted to see as they experience something I love for the first time. The one you know they’re going to say something great but you just want to capture the moment.

This is the kind of passion I want to carry with everything that I find is good. I want to keep looking for better and greater things but I want to have a heart to share the good things with those I love, that I may share in their great experiences. How wonderful it is! What do you love to share?

The Heart Message

Some Brazilian friends who I know we share much heart language

Some Brazilian friends who I know we share much heart language – They hate this picture, but I love it!

I have been immersed in a number of cultures as of late. Translation, it means I am in the midst of many languages, many accents and needing much translation. Throughout the years, I have been learning something very signficant. Many times, when your hearts are in alignment, translation is unnecessary and interpretation comes naturally. Words become superfluous and understanding sets in.

I am so grateful of all the experiences that I have had in the last few years. I got to say, that at first, it was quite frustrating not being able to understand what was being spoken. I felt like I was in the dark a lot. As an American, we just have to know things, right? However, the more I was in these unknown situations, the more I felt comfortable not knowing what I did not need to know. I started to get a feel for what was and wasn’t important. I learned through this that we spend a lot of our time talking about things that really don’t matter on a heart level. Now, it is frustrating in the other extreme. I rather be left in the dark about some things especially ones that I can’t feel your heart in.

I feel like I can feel that moment that someone starts to share their heart. It’s like I need to lean in just a little bit closer, try just a little bit harder and tune in just a little bit louder. You don’t have to ask me if I understand because if I don’t, I will ask you simply because I feel like this is something I want to know and something I want to share with you. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t quite get all the words but somehow I understand completely. It’s like my internal being is saying: heart message received.

In all of my travels, I learned that relationship is the reward to be valued. At the end of the day, experiences are great but they are greater when they are shared with those you love and those you grow with. I want my heart message to be received no matter where I go, who I am with and what langauge I am speaking. What’s your heart saying these days?

Being a work in progress


One of my favorite irons in the world

It’s been an exciting ride for sure. But you know when you get to those junctions and realize that it’s been kind of a blur. That’s where I feel I am at right now. It just feels like I’ve done so much but not enough at the same time because I haven’t always stopped to smell the roses so to speak. It’s in those very moments, though, that you can see how much you’ve grown. It’s so easy to get focused on the wrong thing when you’re going so fast.

I actually love high pressured situations. I love problem solving and you need to have problems in order to solve them. It’s not always true as depending on which meters are getting pushed, I have a higher tendency to go the wrong direction. Hey, what can I say, I’m a “work in progress” as my friend Wendy always says. However, I think Dwight L. Moody hit it on the nail when he said, “Character is what you are in the dark”. Whether that means you are alone or stuck in some high stress position, when you get squeezed, it so shows on you what’s really inside.

As a consultant, I’ve had an incredible opportunity to witness, experience and encounter a plethora of scenarios. It’s always been really interesting and intriguing. Can you tell I get excited about the human psyche? Anyway, I have really been pressed to learn about boundaries in the last few years. They’re important. In Great Falls, Montana, we have certain intersections that have no indication of who will go first when approaching that intersection. That means at any given moment, a car could blow through. It’s scary. When there are set rules that are recognized by the people, a safe atmosphere is created. As Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. Charles Townsend say in their book, Boundaries, “You need to know where you end to know where the other person begins”. Lacking a sense of self awareness will push you beyond your limits real quick. That means you will be one hot-tempered individual, often unpleasant if you’re in that pressure cooker environment.

Working with people, it’s a science. It’s so intricately complex what comes up and out as a result of hanging with people that are not like you. I’ve heard it said that when something bothers you about another, it’s usually because that very thing is rising up within you. That poses a very interesting theory. Could it be that opposing situations are not actually what it looks like but rather an indicator for areas that we can improve in our own lives? Recently, I had one of those moments. You know, the moments where you say something absolutely profound and say, “thank you Jesus!”  I said to this friend, “When you’re car is leaking gas, you can’t blame the road for stealing your gas. You have to check out your tank and fix the hole”. People are not your enemy. Other people can’t make you feel anything. You choose it. If someone is exhausting you, it’s not their fault you don’t have the emotional capacity to be with them anymore. You’re spent. It happens. Be bold and say no. It’s ok. No is a valid choice because if it wasn’t, yes wouldn’t be an option.

So let’s call it like it is. We’re not perfect and we aren’t getting anywhere closer blaming others. Let’s allow the character shaping process in ourselves to continue by admitting when and why things bother us so we can continue to progress.

Iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

You don’t need a title but perhaps you do

My dad getting access to my office as a visitor!

My dad getting access to my office as a visitor!

When I was working as a consultant, I used to hear that book title fly around all the time, “You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader”. I do agree with that because leadership is simply a characteristic. Some people have it and some people don’t. No matter who you are, whether you have it or not, you can get it and you can get more of it. However, many people try to find their identities, who they are, in a mere makeup of letters. They strive their whole lives in an ambition for a title. They think that having one they will finally arrive at their destination. I think this is a severe misconception of what a title actually is and what a title actually does.

Now, I’m serving as an “intern” at a church in Montana. That’s a title. I don’t really find my identity in it nor do I derive any bit of who I am as a person from that title. I don’t mind when people call me by intern and when people don’t call me by that title. I could really care less. I’m not offended either way. I was the same when I was working as a consultant. When I got promoted, it required a new title by company policy. I felt pretty jazzed and grateful that I’m fulfilling this new position but it didn’t make me any more or any less of who I already was.

A lot of people think they need to have access to get a title but that’s completely backwards thinking! Titles aren’t an ends to something but a means to it! Titles actually give you access to what you are supposed to be doing, what you’re called to do. Yeah, your destiny! Titles equip you and give you a means to arrive at that next destination. For example, since I am an intern, I have access to the church’s projected calendar, the pastor’s office even while she may not be there, the passwords for the computers, etc.

So, while I’m not hung up on my title, I’m not opposed to them either because I know its value as a currency to get what I need. There have been people throughout the history that have misused and abused their titles or hurt others by giving them the wrong title. While titles may seem insignificant, it has a significant value in its appropriate context and when it goes wrong, in a very inappropriate context. My title as “intern” really has no value outside the church I serve in, if it did, I might have to question the weight I’m giving this title upon my identity.

Titles carry with them a weight of responsibility and a destination map. Let’s not be so frivolous with how we give them out or how we hold them.

Inheritance is a funny thing

As my mom would call this picture, like mother like daughter. Sou and I on our "hang out in town day".

As my mom would call this picture, “like mother like daughter”. Sou and I on our “hang out in town day”.

My mom says I write about Sou and the organization too much but let’s be honest, that’s been my life this last month and a half. It’s been an honor to be here and get to be a part of all that’s going on here. I’m always surprised at what God can do in such a short amount of time. Sou feels like a mom to me and I’m pretty sure (from her words) that I feel like a daughter to her. I often think, her daughter, also Hannah, and I are either the same person or they just miss her a lot as I seem to remind them of her.

Last month, I read through Deuteronomy, which is a book very intriguing to me. If laws aren’t about the letter but about the Spirit, then, this book is exactly what will perplex you enough to discover the Spirit as it is a book of laws. It talks about how Israelites were going to get an inheritance that they never earned because really, how do you actually earn an inheritance. Inheritance is about relationships and what flows from those relationships.

I probably should have learned this from my own family but it’s when you are taken out of your own element that you can start to see the very things you are missing. I feel utterly blessed because it’s true, I’m standing upon the shoulders of the leaders here. I don’t have to discover all over again what they have already gained and what they have already learned. I think any sort of successful business is probably like that.

It’s especially in the small things that I get to see this. For example, Ted and Sou have gone through their struggles and hard times where they did their own dishes, cleaned their own house, built things from the ground up so to speak; however, now their operations with FCOP International have grown so large that they had to delegate some tasks. But if I’m frank, from what I’ve noticed, the people that are completing the tasks don’t do it for money or some kind of earthly reward, they are simply expressing the depths of their hearts and their gratitude for all that they’ve done.

So, back to my point, I’ve been here and I don’t always have to do my own dishes, have to cook or have to clean my own messes. It’s not because of their (the workers) love for me or what I can offer but what has already been afforded to them through Ted and Sou. They have treated me like a daughter and so now I get to reap the benefits. What did I do to afford this? Absolutely nothing. I just lived as who I am, daughter of God and somehow that afforded me additional earthly parents here in Cambodia in the stead of my parents back in America. Because Ted and Sou have loved and trusted me, it’s like they can do. Relationships are funny but for that reason inheritance is even funnier.

I’ve had a great life inheriting from others things that I myself have not earned. I had food and places to live based on the earnings of my parents. I went to college to get degrees by what others have researched and already discovered and tested. I went into companies that were already established. My resume is built upon people and organizations that have already done the hard work, so to speak. It is in realizing what kind of inheritance you are gaining that you truly know the right starting point and your projection of what is to come. Also, then, you can truly appreciate all that you have instead of focusing on all that you don’t have. If you know me, you know I hate rework, so why take the time to do redundant tasks when you could be propelling forward?

“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers… with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant..take care lest you forget the Lord” – Deuteronomy 6:10-12

If you want something done right, do it yourself


Sou showing us how dragonfruit cutting is done

Sou showing us how dragonfruit cutting is done

Ok, let me first caveat this with your way isn’t always the only way and your way isn’t always the right way. Also, what works isn’t always right either, it’s just enough.

So this past week has been slightly frustrating. Incredibly rewarding but frustrating nonetheless. I have been on the phone with at least eight different countries and many parties were involved in this whole shindig. We were setting up for a large international conference and there were so many odds and ends details that needed to be settled when it came down to the wire. I was working with the hotel, the tour agency, the church organization and the organization I was working with.

Many moments, it felt like there were too many cooks in the kitchen and at the same time, it felt like not enough. Information was sporadic and held in too many places making it incredibly difficult to find out what I actually needed to know or even know what I needed to know. It’s amazing and an utter miracle that we pulled this off in such a short amount of time. The event went seamless and no one even noticed the little mishaps. However, I find that when you are working in a spirit of excellence and doing all you can, there’s an incredible grace to cover those mistakes.

Anyway, back to the subject. Many times, we either had a lack of information, misinformation or miscommunication. In the end, what I found is that even if I delegated the job, it wouldn’t have been done right simply from lack of training or an inability to communicate accurately how it needs to be done. This is where that funky title comes from.

You can’t ask someone to do something that they have never seen before or you are a sure winner of disappointment. Just like children grow up learning from their environment, everyone is the same even when older. Life is a learning process. We are continuously learning. We need our environments and the people around us to teach us the way things are done and done right. There are levels of right and of excellence so make sure we are all growing in that as well with the people around us that know more and have experienced more.

So that brings me back to the point, if you want things done the right way that you know others have not experienced, make sure you’re the first to try it out. Show others what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Demonstrate the fruit of the results. Make it a replicable process but also one that allows growth in another by allowing them to input their creativity to make what you have given them even better. This is where I have trouble with internships. Many people need an extra hand that they don’t want to pay full price for or even at all, not an intern. An intern means that you know how to do their job better than the interns do. You have to be a teacher, demonstrating all that needs to be done. An intern means you have learning that is valuable for them to get from you! So let’s get real. Don’t be frustrated that someone isn’t doing something right or better, simply show them the higher road!

“let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance” Proverbs 1:5