Monday, October 29, 2007
Of course, the flipside of our greatest strengths is the fact that they are often our greatest weaknesses as well. Yeah. Such fun. This is the other reason that I wanted to revisit them. To see where I am most vulnerable. Of course, it is really no surprise that, pretty much, all of my strengths are relational or at least play out in a more relational way. They are (with descriptions):
You can sense the emotions of those around you. You can feel what they are feeling as though their feelings are your own. Intuitively, you are able to see the world through their eyes and share their perspective. You do not necessarily agree with each person's perspective. You do not necessarily feel pity for each person's predicament: this would be sympathy, not Empathy. You do not necessarily condone the choices each person makes, but you do understand. This instinctive ability to understand is powerful. You hear the unvoiced questions. You anticipate the need. Where others grapple for words, you seem to find the right words and the right tone. You help people find the right phrases to express their feelings to themselves as well as to others. You help them give voice to their emotional life. For all these reasons other people are drawn to you.
You see the potential in others. Very often, in fact, potential is all you see. In your view no individual is fully formed. On the contrary, each individual is a work in progress, alive with possibilities. And you are drawn toward people for this very reason. When you interact with others, your goal is to help them experience success. You look for ways to challenge them. You devise interesting experiences that can stretch them and help them grow. And all the while you are on the lookout for the signs of growth, a new behavior learned or modified, a slight improvement in a skill, a glimpse of excellence or of "flow" where previously there were only halting steps. For you these small increments, invisible to some, are designs of potential being realized. These signs of growth in others are your fuel. They bring you strength and satisfaction. Over time many will seek you out for help and encouragement because on some level they know that your helpfulness is both genuine and fulfilling to you.
You live in the moment. You don't see the future as a fixed destination. Instead, you see it as a place that you create out of the choices that you make right now. And so you discover your future one choice at a time. This doesn't mean that you don't have plans. You probably do. But his theme of Adaptability does enable you to respond willingly to the demands of the moment even if they pull you away from your plans. Unlike some, you don't resent sudden requests or unforeseen detours. You expect them. They are inevitable. Indeed, on some level you actually look forward to them. You are, at heart, a very flexible person who can stay productive when the demands of work are pulling you in many different directions at once.
Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it. You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our own judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger. Some may call it the collective unconscious. Others may label it spirit or life force. But whatever your word of choice, you gain confidence from knowing that we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it. This feeling of Connectedness implies certain responsibilities. If we are all part of a larger picture, then we must not harm others because we will be harming ourselves. We must not exploit because we will be exploiting ourselves. Your awareness of these responsibilities creates your value system. You are considerate, caring and accepting. Certain of the unity of humankind, you are a bridge builder for people of different cultures. Sensitive to the invisible hand, you can give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond our humdrum lives. The exact articles of your faith will depend on your upbringing and our culture, but your faith is strong. It sustains you and your close friends in the face of life's mysteries.
You like to think. You like mental activity. You like exercising the "muscles" of your brain, stretching them in multiple directions. This need for mental activity may be focused; for example, you may be trying to solve a problem or develop an idea or understand another person's feelings. The exact focus will depend on your other strengths. On the other hand, this mental activity may very well lack focus. The theme of Intellection does not dictate what you are thinking about; it simply describes that you like to think. You are the kind of person who enjoys your time alone because it is your time for musing and reflection. You are introspective. In a sense you are your own best companion, as you pose yourself questions and try out answers on yourself to see how they sound. This introspection may lead you to a slight sense of discontent as you compare what you are actually doing with all the thoughts and ideas that your mind conceives. Or this introspection may tend toward more pragmatic matters such as the events of the day or a conversation that you plan to have later. Wherever it leads you, this mental hum is one of the constants of your life.
So, yeah. Basically that would mean that I feel other people's emotions as I'm seeing their potential in the unforeseen circumstances, realizing that there is a greater force behind it as I process all of it over and over again until every possible scenario has been played out. What the heck?!? No wonder I'm so exhausted all the time!
Since I wrote this on the plane last night, I bought "StrengthsFinder 2.0" and plan to retake the test to see if my strengths are still what they were 6 years ago. So, stay tuned folks. I'm determined to figure out this jumbled mess inside my head.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Our hope is that this Rabbit Room will likewise be a place for people who get the feeling that there's more truth and beauty around us than this world can contain. Windows on that truth and beauty are opened, sometimes quite by accident, by tale-spinners, world-makers, and bards.
Doesn't that make you want to read more? Good. Now go and do it!
(So I'm sassy. Deal with it.)
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
(Listening to: "Keep Breathing", Ingrid Michaelson)
Have you ever looked up and thought that you saw someone that you recognized? Someone that you haven't seen in a very long time, but you're certain that you know. I have. The stranger part is that I realized that she was me. I looked up and saw the me that is usually hiding somewhere deep inside. Somehow she worked her way out. I don't know how she did it, but I'm glad that she did. I have felt more me in the past few weeks than I have in the past few years. I'm dancing again. I laugh a lot. I have no problem being my silly, crazy self. I'm still processing it all, but I know that this is a good thing. I let her sleep for too long.
And yes, you heard me right: I'm dancing again. I've been swing dancing for the last month after almost a 7 year hiatus. My friend, Tom, mentioned that he had been going dancing and invited a bunch of us to go. That was at the end of August and I've been going ever since. I even competed in a Jack and Jill (when they pair you up with random partners) Jitterbug Competition on Sunday night at the weekly dance. (Yes, I know...I assure you that this really is Heather writing this) As if that wasn't enough, the weekend of October 5th-7th, I'm going to the Swing Dance USA Convention in St. Petersburg. In fact, the only reason that I'm not dancing tonight is because I was supposed to have Community Group. Unfortunately, I am sick and couldn't even get up the energy to do that. I have already decided that I will be better by Thursday night so that I can go. (Yes, I go approx. 3 times a week...why don't you?) Hopefully that will be the case.
So, I guess that's where September has gone in part. All I know is that it's now fall and that makes me smile. All I need now is for the trees to change and for the leaves to fall so that I can go sit and read in a pile of leaves. I suppose that I will have to wait until the end of the month when I go up to Greenville for Homecoming/Reunion weekend. That's right! Look out GC, here I come! Until then I'll just have to pretend that it's sweater weather by playing my "autumn albums" and burning my candles.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
I wasn't tired yet, so I haven't been able to even think about going to bed. Instead, I started looking through the things that I received from my grandmother after she passed away this spring. I was very blessed to get several of her hymnals and songbooks. My grandmother was a pianist and organist from her teens all the way up until a few years ago when the Parkinson's made it too difficult for her to play any longer. I was flipping through some of the books (VERY carefully, since they are quite old!) and looking for some of the "good old hymns" that I remember from when I was growing up. While I was looking through the last book, "Favorite Radio Hymns and Stories:, I came across one of my favorites, "The Love of God." I love the imagery in the song, especially the last verse. I've had the last verse posted on my myspace page for some time now. I was very surprised when I read the footnote at the bottom of the hymn. It reads,
*The last stanza of this song was penciled on the wall of a narrow room of an asylum by a man said to have been demented. The profound lines were discovered after his death.
I keep getting goosebumps.
I can't even fathom that. I'm going to let that simmer in my mind for now. And I'll leave you with the last verse to let it rattle in your heads as well:
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Tho' stretched from sky to sky.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Autumn Wreath and Cider candles lit. A cup of Apple Cinnamon tea. Listening to Coldplay's "Parachutes." A good end to the day, even I have been sick all week. If I close my eyes, it almost feels like October. The only albums that make me think of fall more would be Bebo Norman's "Try" and Damien Rice's "O". Good music. Good times. I know why those 2 make me think of fall, because I got them both about the same time in the fall of 2004, but I still don't know why Parachutes makes me think of it. I guess it's just mellow enough. And now as the CD is ending, it is time for me to sleep.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. (Psalm 51:12-13)
This is our memory verse in Community Bible Reading (www.joincbr.com) for this week. I have it taped up on my computer at work and as I was looking at it this morning it struck me that so often you see the first verse, but that the following verse is left out. Actually, more often that not, it is just the beginning of the first verse: Restore to me the joy of your salvation! Why? For the good of me, right? Wrong! Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Wait, I have to work? It's amazing that we forget that part of it. I know that I do. Most days, I'm content knowing that I have the joy of His salvation. I don't really want to think about having a willing spirit and certainly don't want to think about teaching transgressors your ways. Am I really that selfish? Apparently, the answer is "yes." These are the kinds of things that we need to check ourselves on. And it would seem that I am coming up lacking. Luckily, it isn't completely up to me. This is where the second part of verse 12 comes in: ...and uphold me with a willing spirit. It isn't our spirit after all. We are being upheld by His spirit. Once we know what to ask for it doesn't make the task seem as daunting. Of course, the only way to know is to read intently. (I'll just add that to the list of things that I want to improve that keeps growing longer...) Feel free to comment and/or add insight.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Ok, so I know that I don't have THAT many readers, but I wanted to share this with the ones that do read. One of my favorite Nashvillians, Andrew Osenga, has just released a new EP. It's available for download HERE. Here's the interesting part about said EP. The idea for it was thrown out to those of us in the blogosphere on May 23rd. He asked for stories, ideas, pictures, etc to be inspiration for the songs and artwork for the album. Then, and this is what I find to be the coolest idea ever, he asked for people to download the songs in their rough form and add "webground" vocals (a.k.a. background vocals sent via the web). And now, three weeks after the first mention, we have the finished product. And it's great. To top all that off, Andy had been getting calls and emails about the album, telling him what a great job his promoters are doing. Well, that's the funny part. He doesn't have promoters; he just has us, the crazy bloggers and fans that are spreading the love of music all around the internet. So, take a listen, send him a few bucks through paypal, support good music, give 2 little girls more time with their dad because he's not having to go out on the road.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
So, I'm taking a break from my exciting evening to write. This is how exciting it is: I've been solving sudoku puzzles (I have reached the intermediate level in my book. Wahoo.) I've been watching 30 Rock and The Office, Scrubs (the musical...hilarious), and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. By myself. Such excitement. But really, I have wanted to write since yesterday.
As I was driving around the lake yesterday on my way to make a bank deposit for work, I was quickly reminded that it was summer. There were kids everywhere, running and playing. I wanted to be one of those kids. I miss the days when I could grab a book and go read outside...all day. I could hop on my bike and ride down to the library and then ride over to the lakes. The trails were supposed to be only for the people that lived in the neighborhood, but my dad and I would ride there sometimes. I hate being an adult sometimes. This is one of those times. Summer. I wish that I still had summers that were free. When making the numbers meant reading enough books to get free pizza or ice cream from the library. (For your information, reading one book a day is a great plan for free food!) When the worst thing you had to look forward to was coming inside for lunch. I want to be a kid again!! Or at least spend more time with them. When I was watching the boys and Anne back in Greenville, I at least had more of a feeling of being a kid. We got to play and run almost all afternoon. Of course, I was the one telling them that they had to come inside and take a nap, but I still felt like a kid. Of course, I hope to someday have that part again when I'm a parent. I just need to work on that one essential thing...the other parent. ;-)
Anyway, changing the subject. So, it's getting hot out, eh? And I've been really craving ice cream. Yeah. That really didn't work, did it? And now I should go to bed. Tomorrow is another day. Maybe I'll wake up and I'll be 8 years old. I'll let you know.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Ok, I know that I have once again been a colossally bad blogger. But wait, my friends...there is still hope! I would like to sum up my weekend community group retreat with a few haikus written on the trip. These first few are ones that I wrote about beauty:
watching children play
hearing their laughter resound
knowing they are loved
a symphony plays
the notes linger in the air
my breath is taken
the sun hanging low
colors burst from the water
another day ends
flowers fill the field
the summer air hangs heavy
with rain close behind
And then, there is the one that I helped Joe and Greg write with Joe's "words of wisdom":
Don't run with scissors
Never pet a burning dog
Live by these sayings
More to come if my life ever gets exciting. Don't hold your breath, though...
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
Saturday, March 3, 2007
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Today is my dad's birthday. He is 54 today. And as he said to me this afternoon, at least he's still "driving under the speed limit" for another year. This morning, his dad, my grandpa, Benjamin Franklin Mann, passed away at 4:45 am. He was 89. I didn't know him all that well because weren't up in Orlando all that much and when we were, we would usually spend one afternoon over at his house. I do know that he was a proud man. I pulled out all of my family history papers that I've collected over the years and this is that they said regarding him:
He was born in Boston in March of 1917. He enlisted as an army private in March of 1941. He married my grandma, Mae Dolores Sacki, on Aug. 14, 1943 in GA. He was a Browning automatic gunner and a radio operator. In 1943, he transferred to the Army Air Corp for training as an aerial navigator, resulting in his commission as a second-lieutenant. During World War Two, he was stationed in Italy and flew 43 combat missions in Europe as a navigator. His last mission was on May 7, 1945, the day before the war ended. He made the military his career for 29 years- 15 as Chief Warrant Officer, 4 as a commissioned officer with the Reserve rank of Lt. Colonel, and the last 10 as a Master Sergeant. His overseas stations were in Italy, Ankara and Izmir (Turkey), and West Berlin. His man decorations and awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross and four U.S. Air Force Commendation Medals.
I wish that I had known him better. I would have loved to have heard stories about living overseas. It's actually really interesting now, as I think about it, that I would be reflecting on a member of my family who lived a good deal of his life overseas as I am strongly considering the possibility of someday living overseas, whichever sea that ends up being. I'll write more later when I know more.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Ok, I've been working on this for about a week. You know, back when I didn't have anything of substance to post. Well, we all know that I've written more in the past two days than I have in the past four months! But, since I've been working on my fun little list, here it is:
Random things that few people know about me:
I love the sound of trains. If I could, I would wear jeans, a T-shirt and my Birkenstocks all the time...and my Braves cap. I love to be outside, even though I barely ever get to be. Some days I think I could live on sweet tea. At some point I want to live overseas, although the location keeps changing. I love road trips and enjoy them even more when the windows are down and the music is loud. I love to go swing dancing. In college I took rock-climbing, ballet, & golf and really would like to try all of them again. I'm messy. (Just ask my roommate!) At some point in life I want to live in Tennessee. I've only been camping once (with my youth group, in Tennessee right before we rafted down the Ocoee river!!). I've been teaching myself the guitar for 8 ½ years. I've lived in 4 states: Florida, Alabama, Georgia, & Illinois. I used to have a reading tree that I spent my time in until Hurricane Andrew blew it down. I speak a little French, a little more Spanish, and I can pronounce Italian, German, and Latin really well thanks to vocal diction classes! Oh, and I can speak Pig Latin too! I love to watch the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and PBS. And the last one for now, thanks to Brian, I realized tonight that I can sing all of "Matthew's Begats" by Andrew Peterson! (That's quite a feat!)
Sometimes, the best way to gain a clear focus is to go back and trace your steps. That's what I've just been doing. I've been reading over my blogs from the last year. It's a really interesting thing to do. It's especially interesting looking at when I wrote things. I think that I can safely say that the journey that I'm tracking right now started just one week shy of a year ago. (I've rewritten that sentence four times and I'm still not sure if that's how I would say it, but you get the gist of it!) On February 26th, 2006 (technically, February 27th, by the time I actually got it posted), I wrote this blog: Invisible Children. This was my first night going to Refuge. I remember that night. I remember us watching the video. I remember Brian leading us in "You Said" and thinking what a perfect song that was to end on. I remember wanting to do something. I also remember the feeling that I couldnâ€™t do all the things that I would want to do because of my current circumstances. I remember feeling called to do more than what I wrote about, but afraid to talk about it, because then it would be real. I remember resigning myself to the fact that I would have to simply raise awareness. It broke my heart to see the kids in Uganda. I really did just want to pick them all up and hold them. It's the way I feel about all kids. They were meant to be loved. They were meant to be protected. They were meant to be nurtured.
This weekend at the conference, they asked us to examine ourselves and find what our passion is. Mine came to me quickly: children. It always has been. I am happiest when I'm around them. The Lord speaks to me through them and they feed my soul in a way that nothing else can. I have tried to see music as my passion for a long time, but I know now that it is more of an outlet than a passion. I enjoy making music. I love being with children.
Then I found this post from September: singin' in the rain. The second half of this post was a VERY short version of all the coincidental things that happened that week. One of the things that I left out, once again, because I would then have to think about it, was something that my boss said to me the week before. She looked at me when we were in the stockroom and just stared at me for a minute. She then said something that completely shocked me. She said, "You've been thinking about missions, haven't you? I know you have. I can just tell." I had not breathed a word to anyone regarding it until then. It had been bumping around in my heart, trying to get out, but I had never let it out until then. So, that weekend, when Drew preached on Gen 12:1-10, "A Vision Worth Dying For", speaking about Abraham's call and our call as well, to leave country and our father's house, I almost couldn't handle it. That, coupled with the passages in "My Utmost For His Highest" that week almost sent me over the edge. I didn't know what to do with it all. (It didn't help that my attitude at that time was not exactly one that I am proud of.) I have been processing it all since then and have talked to a few select people about it since.
And now, here I am. Still more confused than ever. It's been a year and I still don't know what this call means. The "Next Step Lunch" that I went to yesterday at the end of Fusion was with the Rafiki Foundation, which is an organization that has set up "villages" in ten countries in Africa: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zambia, with villages still under construction in Ethiopia, Liberia, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Right now, they take in teenagers and orphans under 6. Their mission is to educate and equip the next generation so that they can be leaders in their communities. It was a really interesting presentation, but I don't think it's an organization that I would necessarily be able to work with. Mostly, because what they need are teachers with certification. I, obviously, am not a certified teacher. So, that's that.
There is almost too much for me to process right now. I guess I felt that if I shared it, rather than keeping it inside like I normally do, maybe I can find some clarity. Right now, I'm just scared looking at all that I've just typed, knowing that I've just bared my soul. That's a new step for me. Maybe it's the first of many...
Saturday, February 17, 2007
This weekend, I had the chance to go to the Fusion conference in Orlando. It was a last minute thing and a real blessing to me. I found out about it on Wednesday afternoon and decided to take my friend's ticket on Thursday. Then I found out that some guys from our church were going, which meant that I didn't have to just go and sit by myself. Oh, and the worship band? Yeah, that would be none other than the David Crowder Band!!! They were amazing, but that wasn't the point of the conference. Yes, it was the reason that I was coming to the conference, but luckily God had better ideas. He usually does. That's why I'm glad that He's in control and not me. After listening to the speakers, I have a lot of heart-searching to do. Now, I don't want to sound all cheesy and stuff, saying that I'm convicted of things now because I heard people talking about them. I've been processing this all day and I'm still not through with whole thought, but this is my response so far. It is one thing to latch onto what a speaker says for a short period of time and it's a whole other thing to have a speaker speak to something that has been on your heart and mind that you just hadn't completely worked out. I feel that the latter is where I am. I've been to conferences before. I went to Acquire the Fire my freshman year of college. It was a good conference. Did I feel convicted? Sure. Was it short-lived? Absolutely. I got back up to Greenville and went back to "daily life" and pretty much forgot about things. I don't think I can do that this time. My heart is involved this time. I can feel that He is working something in me, though I'm not sure what it is. It excites and scares me at the same time. Where does this leave me? For the time being, it leaves me here in Lakeland. But then what? Only He knows and in due time, He'll share that.
So, yeah. What a week. From a Wednesday that was horrendous to a Friday and Saturday that were completely blessed. God is good and faithful. I'm not going to promise to write more frequently, because every time I do that, I don't write for 2-3 months. I do feel like I need to write more, though, once I've processed some more of what this means for me. Until then,
Grace and peace,