Superpowers

Nothing can dim the light which shines from within. – Maya Angelou

Have you seen those superpower t-shirts? They say something like “I’m a teacher. What’s your superpower?” Or “Growing stuff is my superpower. What’s yours?” Or “Coffee is my superpower.” Then there are all those superhero movies that have come out over the last few years. Each hero has their own unique set of powers that they wield against some archenemy.

It’s no wonder we’ve become caught up with the idea of  having superpowers. I’ve said this before; if I had a superpower, it would be to fly. Why? Because I dislike road trips. Not just a little – exceedingly dislike. I would much rather fly to where I want to go and be done with it. Driving for long distances is not only boring to me but, is also a complete waste of time in my humble opinion. Therefore if I had the ability to just leap into the air and fly to my destination – Great! No problemo! I’ll be there in a jiffy. Flying to other countries or tropical destinations? Aloha! Not only would flying save on time but it would be cost-effective, too. It would save on airfare, gas, lodging, etc. Luggage? Psh. You go shopping when you get there, hel-lo?! How is this a bad plan?

Well clearly I can’t fly and I’m pretty sure you can’t see through walls (maybe that’s a blessing in disguise; I’m just sayin’) but in reality, we do possess superpowers. No, really we do.

Superpower1

I recently read the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath and Gallup. The premise is that each of us possess a set of strengths – natural talents, skills and knowledge (born-with-it traits) – that if we were to operate and function from those strengths, we would perform at near-perfect efficacy every time. Furthermore, we would experience a greater sense of happiness and satisfaction with our lives. Unfortunately we don’t necessarily know our strengths. Most of the time we focus on our weaknesses (consider all the self-help resources out there) and all the ways we aren’t. We end up spending a lot of our energy focusing on how to overcome our weaknesses, attempting to turn them into strengths but generally to no avail.  Usually it’s because we try to function in ways we weren’t designed.

For instance, math is not my forte. Oh I can add, subtract, divide and multiple just fine and I know enough about Excel to be dangerous, but if you tell me I need to do an algorithm, I can’t do it much less spell it (I had to look it up…a.l.g.o.r.i.t.h.m.). Math is not my jam. I struggled with it all through school. It makes little-to-no sense to me. You can explain it to me every which way ’til Sunday, but I still may not get it. But if you give me some elaborate word like pulchritudinous and tell me to use it correctly in a sentence, I’m all over it like white on rice. Not only will I know how to spell it, use it in a sentence, but I will know the etymology of it, and most likely will start using it in my every day verbiage. I love words! They speak to me (ahem). Words aren’t just my jam, they’re my marmalade. Turns out, that’s a strength for me. Math – weakness. Words – strength. So then why in the Sam Hill would I ever pick a job or do things that require me to do math? Answer – I wouldn’t. I would avoid them like the plague.

Discovering my core strengths was a real eye opener. I learned things about myself that I hadn’t really considered before. Kind of like Superman discovering he had all these great powers only after finding out who he really was. He knew he was different. He knew he could do certain things naturally but until his ‘space dad’, Jor-El, told him who he really was, he had no true idea. Same thing here. I had ideas of what I could. I gravitated toward certain things; could do certain things naturally; things that were simple for me, but I didn’t really consider those to be strengths that I could capitalize on until I read the book and took the assessment. (By the way, my comments and opinions about this book are all my own. I am not receiving any compensation for them).

Superpower2

Not only did I get affirmation about my natural strengths, I realized that these are my true superpowers. Superpowers are God-given talents, skills and knowledge that God, Himself, has graciously endowed each of us with. He hardwired us in these ways so that we will have fulfillment, purpose and joy in our lives. Otherwise, we’d be nothing but a bunch of mindless dolts aimlessly wandering throughout life for no other reason than to breathe air. No, God loved us much more than that and declared that we have intrinsic value by bestowing His gifts to us – our superpowers, our strengths. I don’t know about you, but I am grateful God values me and decided I was worth receiving His gifts. I, of course, don’t want to let Him down by squandering that which He has given. It’s up to me to use those superpowers for the benefit of others. Because just like a superhero, what would be the point of a superpower if you don’t use it to help others? If you selfishly keep it to yourself, it will wither and rot.

Now, that’s not say that we should ignore our weaknesses or act like they don’t exist. On the contrary, we need to keep a weather eye on them but realize that not all weaknesses can be turned into strengths. If we didn’t have some weaknesses, then we wouldn’t need God in our lives. His strength is made great in our weakness. In other words, when we rely on Him in our weakness, He can be the Hero of our story. He can swoop in on an eagle or a white stallion to save the day for us, because, let’s face it, we all need a hero (just ask Bonnie Tyler – lol). We all need saving. And that’s OK. God is greater than anyone or anything we can encounter.

We weren’t put on this earth for our own gain. We were put here to be a blessing. Each of us – you, me – we all have strengths to help one another. Where I have weaknesses, you may be strong and where you are weak, I may have strength. So we can lean on one another, encourage one another, build up one another, not for our glory but for God’s.

Superpower4

Jesus said for us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Love is strength, my friend. (Psst – it’s a superpower). Probably one of the hardest things for someone to do is love themselves. Why? Because they’re usually so focused on what they think is ‘wrong’ with themselves that they can’t see what’s right. Hence, they can’t love others for the same reason. But love doesn’t keep track of wrongs. It’s not prideful, boastful or envious. It’s patient and kind. Love isn’t dishonoring or easily angered. Love revels in the truth. Love is selfless.  It’s protective; it trusts; it hopes and perseveres. Love. Never. Fails. And if we can love ourselves, then we can love those around us. Not with an intimate kind of love but with patience and kindness, civility, trust, hope, selflessness, and forgiveness.

There’s just one caveat to our superpowers. Too much of a strength can become a weakness. For instance, showing love to someone by not keeping a laundry list of their wrongs is a good thing (it’s a Martha Stewart thing). But when we turn a blind eye towards bad or destructive behavior, it’s no longer love. It’s enabling. We distort love’s true power. So it’s important to keep our superpowers balanced.

So my fellow superhero, what are your superpowers? Not sure? Try something like StrengthsFinder 2.0. Or maybe write down things you have a natural knack for doing, your passions; things that come easy for you. More than likely those are your strengths. And remember, no two superheros are alike. You don’t have to be like anyone else; you’re not supposed to be. You’re meant to be exactly as God intended – precious in His sight.

Many Blessings!

 

Ronny

P.S. The bride was nothing short of a pulchritudinous vision as she walked down the aisle.

Pulchritudinous means physically beautiful and is from the Latin pulchritudino meaning “beauty”.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. – Isaiah 40:29

…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:31

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17

Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank. – Proverbs 22:29

…and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills… – Exodus 31:3

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 4:10-11

 

Just The Other Day…

Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale. – Unknown 

I love weddings. I think they’re magical. From the romantic setting of the venue, to the personalized touches of that are symbolic of the wedding couple, and everything in between that tells a love story – the wedding couple’s love story.

And as a matter of fact, it was just the other day that my youngest daughter was married. It was a glorious day! The weather was perfect; the venue was quaint and picturesque. Family and friends were smiling and happy. The groomsmen were spiffy and dashing. The bridesmaids were delicate and lovely. The bride was nothing short of a beautiful princess, and the groom was more handsome than Prince Charming ever thought about. It was most decidedly the perfect wedding day.

I keep tearing up every time I think about it.

I tear up every time I think about my little girl being married. Married to the love of her life, and how that love of her life was so overcome by the sight of her on their wedding day. Besotted, as Jane Austin would say. Actually, we were all besotted by the two of them.

However, I couldn’t help but be a just a bit sad at the same time. This glorious day meant our family wouldn’t quite be the same ever again. Not in a bad way, mind you. Just that all we once were was going to change. Change is sometimes hard no matter how much you prepare for it. It’s constant. It happens right before our eyes without us even realizing it, which is what made me sad. It’s a mother realizing that her daughter isn’t the little girl she once was but is now a grown, capable woman who has found the one with whom she will spend her life and love.

And so I penned those thoughts and memories for my daughter and her bridegroom.

Moon and Stars

Photos by Ruben Gonzales

To my daughter,

I am at a loss as to how we arrived at this day so suddenly. Because I’m pretty sure it was just the other day that I held you in my arms for the first time and I was instantly in love with you.

I’m pretty sure it was just the other day that we brought you home from the hospital.

I’m pretty sure it was just the other day that I danced around the room with you and sang to you.

I’m pretty sure it was just the other day that you said “mommy” and “daddy” for the first time.

I’m pretty sure it was just the other day that you took your first steps.

Shakespeare

Photo by Sarah Morris

I’m pretty sure it was just the other day that I heard you laugh and held you when you cried.

I’m pretty sure it was just the other day that you insisted on picking out your own outfit. So when you came out dressed from head to toe in pink and purple, I realized you had your own sense of style, and from then on we dubbed you our little hippy chick.

I’m pretty sure it was just the other day that I was reading adventure stories to you and your brother about distant lands, dragons and magic.

I’m pretty sure it was just the other day that you shared with me your hopes and dreams.

And just like the other day, I told you today how proud I am of you.

And just like the other day, I told you today how beautiful you are.

And just like the other day, I told you today that I love you.

So you see? This day can’t be here already because you were my little girl just the other day.

Into my heart

Photo by Crystal Nichole Drobeck Hobby Photography

To [my new son-in-law]:

While all these ‘just the other days’ were happening, I couldn’t help but think about the one who would steal my daughter’s heart…because, you see, it couldn’t be just anyone.

It couldn’t be just anyone to take one look at her and be truly in love with her.

Dr. Seuss

Photo by Crystal Nichole Drobeck Hobby Photography

It couldn’t be just anyone to make her laugh or to hold her when she cried.

It couldn’t be just anyone to appreciate her sense of style.

It couldn’t be just anyone to go on adventures with her and create cherished memories with her.

It couldn’t be just anyone to share her hopes and dreams.

It couldn’t be just anyone to tell her she’s beautiful and to say “I love you.”

So when she brought you around and told us how she felt about you, I knew that you weren’t just anyone; you were the one for her.

FOTR

Photo by Crystal Nichole Drobeck Hobby Photography

Which means you are the one for us, too. You are now as much a part of our family as she is yours. And we are proud to call you our son-in-law.

Lastly to you both with regards to [your son]. Know that his ‘just the other days’ have already begun.

It was just the other day that you held him in your arms for the first time and were instantly in love with him.

It was just the other day that you brought him home from the hospital.

It was just the other day when you helped him take his first steps.

And it was just the other day when he called you both “Babe“.

And while all these days are occurring, know that out there somewhere is a little girl who will become the one for him.

But until that day, [Son-in-Law], emulate the man you want him to become by the way you love and honor [your wife].

[Daughter], emulate the woman you want [your son] to find by the way you respect and cherish [your husband]. 

100 Hearts

Photos by Sarah Morris

And to both of you, show [your son] what true love really is by remembering that:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
Love never fails. 
If you do that, not only will your marriage be blessed but [his] life will be also.

All my love,

Mom

I have found the one whom my soul loves. – Song of Solomon 3:4

Do everything in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:14

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8 

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. – Ephesians 5:25

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. – Ephesians 5:33

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24

So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. – Mark 10:9

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised. – Song of Solomon 8:6-7

There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don’t understand: how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman. – Proverbs 30:18-19

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:10 

Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:32

I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. – Song of Solomon 2:16

Love yesterday, today and forever. – Jeremiah 31:3

I hold you in my heart, for we have shared together God’s blessings. – Philippians 1:7

In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. – 1 Peter 3:7

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. – 1 John 4:16

Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another.- Romans 12:10

So she became his wife, and he loved her. – Genesis 24:64

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. – Colossians 3:14

Title photos courtesy of Crystal Nichole Drobeck Hobby Photography

In The Interest of Others

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4

A few months ago I was promoted at work. I went from being the Executive Assistant to the Director to being the Human Resources Manager. Cool, huh? I had never been an HR manager before so some of the mechanics of the job are new to me. But what wasn’t new, and quite frankly one of the reasons I received this promotion, was my interest in others.

For the last three years as the Executive Assistant I had been something of an advocate for our employees. When Corporate said they wanted each of our locations to focus on customer service and what that should look like, I literally volunteered to be the trainer. (Nuts, right?) Suddenly my mind was swimming with ideas of how to train our employees on providing better customer service.

I’ll be honest my initial trainings were pretty good, even if I do say so myself. I quickly discovered that humor, not just practical skills application, was a good avenue at connecting with the staff. But there always seemed to be one component I was missing and never could quite put my finger on. That is until one day a colleague of mine said my last talk came off sounding preachy. Ouch. Preachy? I never thought I sounded preachy, nor did I ever want to but there it was. At first I dismissed this notion as some snarky, nonsensical flim-flam (yes, that’s a real word) because we had different public speaking styles. That is until I had to do a talk on our company’s code of conduct. That’s when I finally hit on the missing element and fully understood that preachy comment.

How You Treat Others2

Let’s be honest, a talk on a company’s code of conduct doesn’t sound very sexy or exciting and won’t exactly have people beating down the door to hear it, and ours would be no exception. The HR Manager at the time was originally given this dubious task of reviewing the three-page list with everyone. Eh. How do you present a laundry list of presumed do’s and don’t’s to your staff without either putting them to sleep or annoying the life out of them? That’s when my mind started clicking. Whenever someone says they have a problem, I immediately start thinking of ways to solve it.

Well, it ended up turning into a training…presented by…well, me. I let that HR Manager off the hook (I hope she appreciated that! Lol). As I began composing my talk, I was fearful I was going to, at the very least, bore the staff to death; at worst, chide them like spoiled, irreverent children.

Smile Is the Light (b)

So when the day finally arrived for my code of conduct training, I remember sending up a fervent prayer asking God to let His words be my words and help me make this count because I still wasn’t sure I could pull this off. What resulted was one of the best trainings I had ever done (yay God!). It was still a three-page laundry list but the words God gave me weren’t word of criticism or chastising, they were words of encouragement. Instead of telling our staff “you will do thus and so”, I told them how they had intrinsic value (a fav expression of mine now). I explained that the items in this code of conduct defined not only how we should treat and respect others but how they were to be treated with respect and consideration too. That the company we work for truly cares for them (which is true, they do), and wants them to find working there a joy, not a chore. That the reason this code of conduct was drafted in the first place was out of genuine concern for the well-being of our staff not just those we serve.

I never had so many staff members come up and thank me for my talk.  That it was inspiring and encouraging; that they felt appreciated. (Again, yay God!) As I reflected on my talk, I discovered what I had been missing. To think, to act in the interest of others. That’s not to say I had been doing my trainings without any consideration for my audience. On the contrary, I’ve always made it a point to connect with my audience; to benefit them with useful information; to build them up. And I think I have done that. Many have told me as much. But I still needed to learn that one component to really drive home what I was sharing.

Okay, so what is this mysterious “in the interest of others”? Well, the short answer is just being cognitive of the fact that what you say and do affects others. Good, bad or indifferent. But to truly think or act in the interest of others is about being selfless. It’s being self-aware of your words, your actions and the impact they have on another.

This morning I was playing with my 15-month-old grandson (yes, I have grandchildren, but no I’m not as old as you think, so hush). He likes it when I get down on the floor with him so he can hand me all of his toys or wallow all over me. He giggles and laughs; plays peek-a-boo; gives me kisses, and makes my hands clap so I’ll play patty cake with him. He and I were having fun, and it was about my interest in him. It was me taking time to focus on him; to show him how much he means to me; to show him he has intrinsic value. To take that precious time and just ‘be’ with him.

Be Thoughtful (b)

In the interest of others doesn’t have to be elaborate or over the top to have an impact. It can be as simple as asking someone how they’re doing and really meaning it rather than just a passing greeting. It can be a smile – a genuine smile with eye contact and everything – that can make someone feel good.

A former mentor of mine gave a talk on how she showed her family how much they meant to her. She said whenever she would pass by one of her kids or her husband, she would always reach out and lovingly touch them. She’d rub their back, squeeze their shoulder or kiss them on the head. She would never let an opportunity go by without showing them some kind of motherly affection. That resonated with me. From that point on, I made it a point to do the same with my family. I began to act in the loving interest of my family.

Acting in the interest of others also means having a genuine concern for another. What is that you do that let’s someone know they matter? Recently one of our employees experienced a traumatic event. She was really struggling with trying to cope and came to me to share her fears. I listened and tried to offer words of encouragement and ways that might help her.

A few weeks passed since then so when I saw her going by the other day I seized the opportunity to ask how she was doing. She told me she was much better and had been meaning to come let me know but was glad I came to ask after her; that it made her feel good to know I was concerned.

In the interest of others.

Now this is not about me tooting my horn or to say “Look at me! Aren’t I great?” No, it’s just a friendly reminder – a self reminder – to realize that when we act in the interest of others, we take the focus off of us and put it on someone who may very well need it in that moment. This world is tough enough to get along in, so it can make all the difference when we extend some courtesy and concern for others. We truly can make the world a better place with small acts of kindness if we are willing.

Principles in Life (b)

So what can you do to act in the interest of others? What things have you done in the interest of others? I have no doubt you do them everyday without even realizing it. But I would challenge you to actively engage in the interest of others; become even more cognitive of your ‘code of conduct’ and let others know they have intrinsic value.

As a footnote, you may have noticed that I don’t post regularly like so many bloggers do. Aside from the fact that I work full-time, I also value my time with my family, as well as making sure to carve out some regular me-time. That being said, I also take the topics of my blog posts very seriously. I don’t have a set schedule of when I post because I really take a lot of time thinking through what I’m going to blog. I pray about what I should write; that what I share has value and meaning, and doesn’t end up being a bunch of mindless words on a screen. I don’t want to sound preachy. I want to be encouraging, inspiring and uplifting right when someone needs it most. I want what I do to be in the interest of you. So thank you, kind reader, for your time, for your interest. I sincerely hope I bring a little joy, a little laughter, a little hope and a little inspiration to you.

Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen. – Ephesians 4:29

Be pleasant and hold their interest when you speak the message. Choose your words carefully and be ready to give answers to anyone who asks questions. – Colossians 4:6

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. – Proverbs 25:11

A man takes joy in a fitting reply, and how good is a timely word! – Proverbs 15:23