Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I have a passion for not cooking

I'm a people pleaser. I admit it. I like to help other people and I like to see them be happy. Because of that, I often find myself in stressful situations trying to juggle all my "yeses" at one time.

(Cue Jimmy Fallon's thank-you note music.)

So thank you, Lysa TerKeurst, for writing The Best Yes and teaching me that saying "yes" to baking goods for a fundraiser is not helping anyone. At all. 

You see...I am not a cook. I don't pretend to be - even after staying at a Holiday Inn Express. And I don't play one on tv. It's just not my gift. I know, I know. All you cooks out there are shaking your heads and judging me - "It's not that hard. Just follow a recipe, for the love." I hear you. And I see your heads shaking. And I'm ok with your judgement because I know cooking is not my gift, nor is it something I enjoy. Even slightly. (And now you're worried about the well-being of my family, right?)

And those who really know me, know that. They know I have a limited repertoire from which to pull things from and they really don't ask me to cook anymore. They offer up the "Will you take care of the paper goods?" option when planning get togethers - because cute napkins and plates? Now you're speaking my language. Or maybe a "Could you grab some drinks?" because that I can do also. And if I compliment them on something they've cooked, any instructive explanations are quickly prefaced with "It's so easy!"

I get it and I own it, people. 

So each year, our local church has a bazaar (and some of the white elephant gifts truly are truly bazaar!) and all the sweet ladies in our community bake their best cakes and pies and can their yummy fruits and vegetables. And I, well, I contribute nothing. They asked me to make cookies our first year in the FUMC Louisville family, and I'm pretty sure my sweet husband ended up buying them so he didn't have to listen to me cry about how no one bought my cookies. Bless him. Seriously.

Every few years, some new poor soul will get the task of calling all the church ladies and asking them to make something for the bake sale...and she -- because the "Do Not Call" sticky note next to my name has obviously fallen off -- calls me. There's the awkward moment where the people pleaser in me wants to shout "YES! I'll be happy to make some cookies or a pie or bake a beautiful cake!" 

And then reality hits. (Cue deflating balloon noise falling to the ground) 

The reality is that my sweet husband will likely be forced to hear me stress over what to make for several days before I throw together some list of obscure baking items to I have to find at the grocery store and then stress for a few more days about messing up whatever delicacy (I use that word with air quotes and eye roll inserted) I've decided to try before I FINALLY deliver said goods to the bake sale...only to have them sit unpurchased because people KNOW I don't cook.

So, as sad as it makes me because the proceeds of the Bazaar benefit MISSIONS, for Pete's sake,  I have learned to say to the sweet lady, "No, I just can't contribute to the Bazaar in that way this year." And, hopefully, that dear sweet lady will find that sticky note before next year so neither of us has to face that awkward moment again. Amen?

I own it. I cannot cook. And saying "yes" to helping with the Bazaar in this way would be beneficial to no one. But, I can do other things in my church family that are my best "yes" and don't cause unnecessary amounts of stress and strain on myself (or others).

I'm (slowly, and often painfully) learning what my best yes looks like and how to find JOY in saying "no" rather than being overwhelmed with guilt from letting someone down. It hasn't been easy and I sometimes slip up and a reflexive "yes" sneaks in before I can stop it.

Do you struggle with finding your best yes in similar situations? Are you able to say "no" without feeling guilt? Would love for you to share your suggestions!

Sidenote: The FUMC Louisville Fall Bazaar is Saturday, November 1 in the Family Life Center. There will be lots of yumminess - that I didn't make - so do swing by and check it out if you're in the Louisville area. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cutting Away the Nets...

Last year, our family took a (BIG!) step of faith. I left my full-time job at Mississippi State University and began working with Hispaniola Mountain Ministries as its part-time Director of Communication while also maintaining a half-time appointment at the MSU Social Science Research Center and being a Noonday Collection Ambassador. Busy, much?

It's been an amazing year - certainly not an easy one, but an amazing one! God has shown up BIG in our lives in ways that we could have never anticipated and could not have seen had we not taken that initial (and oh-so-scary) step. He has provided for us and we have never gone without.

And now, He's taking away the safety nets. We are out on the tightrope -- and the safety harness and nets are being cut away...

As of October 31, I am resigning from Miss State...completely.

I stare at those words and wonder how my hands could have possibly just typed them.

 I did not go to school at Miss State, but my love for this great campus, its lively community, and its amazing people has grown deep over the years. The Miss State Department of Communication and the Social Science Research Center are filled with people who have encouraged me, challenged me and mentored me over these last 11 years... and ok, and some have driven me a little nuts at times, too! "Professor at Miss State" has become a bit of my worldly identity...and it feels oddly surreal to be walking away.

My heart is filled with hope and anticipation of great things to come with HMM, but there is also a little sadness. My job at Miss State was - at one point - my dream job! I loved the students. I had good colleagues. I was doing what I loved and had planned to do.

 And then I went to Haiti.

It turned my perspective - and honestly, my world - upside down. As much as I love Miss State, God is calling me to use the gifts He's given me in a new way. He's called me to support HMM with my gifts, my talents, and now, more of my time. The last year has been a difficult one for our growing organization and its Ameri-Domini-Haitian family. But I am optimistically excited and filled with great anticipation of how God is moving on the island and stirring hearts here in the US to partner with HMM in a number of ways.

The Waltons are now "all in" with a life in ministry. I covet your prayers for my family as we take these (scary and still a little shaky) steps. I am a planner and giving up my retirement and insurance plan is not something that comes easy for people like me. I need security and a plan for the future. But God is (oftentimes painfully) showing me that His plans and my plans are not always the same...but HIS plans are so much greater. 

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us,
 to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 
Ephesians 3:20

Do I know what the next year will hold? No, I have no idea. Am I fearful? I'd be lying if I didn't say there was a part of me that was terrified by this decision. My entire career path has been turned on its end and my 10-year plan (including early retirement, btw) - has been completely interrupted. What that does to a planner-type personality is not even right!

But I know who holds my future and who has forgiven my past. I know my God is a God of truth and is a promise keeper. I know if He has called me to it, He will strengthen me, provide for me and never leave me alone. I can be confident in His promises...

Please pray for our family as we transition to this new situation, specifically for financial provision and peace as we move forward. We have been blessed by an amazing group of praying family and friends as well as those who have supported us financially through giving to HMM and supporting my Noonday Collection business and I am confident that God will continue to provide.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord
“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 
In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 
Jeremiah 29:11-13

NOTE: If you would like to partner with us financially through a gift to HMM or by purchasing Noonday, use the active links above!