Friday, January 29, 2010

Thank God for the Introvert's Verbal Filter

One of the common (MBTI) characteristics of an Introvert (I) is that we typically have a well developed verbal filter. Since my other Type characteristics (NTJ) tend to make my thoughts critical, direct and sarcastic, I’m very appreciative that most of those thoughts remain thoughts and don’t actually come out of my mouth.

Last summer, my friend Tracey posted this Bob Newhart video on her blog, reflecting how she was appreciative that her husband Roy was the counselor in the family, because if she were the counselor, the sessions would likely go like this:

I do a lot of counseling in my job and I have to confess that this clip runs in my head from time to time. Sometimes you just want to say “stop it!”… but you don’t.

Another one of my favorite TV counselors/therapists is Jane Lynch’s Dr. Linda Freeman from “Two and a Half Men.” If Jane weren’t so busy on “Glee” (another favorite of mine) I’d petition for Dr. Linda Freeman to get her own spin off show. I could easily watch 30 minutes of this every week. Couldn’t you?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

To FB or Not to FB? That is the Question.

An INTJ perspective on Facebook & Social Media

I recently wrote an article for my company on Social Media about how it’s being used in business and it got me thinking about how I personally participated in Social Media and how that might be influenced by my Myers-Brigg (MBTI) type of Introversion, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging (INTJ).

When you think about it, Social Media really hasn’t been around that long, but it’s
caught on like a wildfire. Blogging became mainstream between 2002 and 2004 and there are already an estimated 133 million new blogs indexed since that time. LinkedIn was launched in 2003 and has 55 million members. Twitter was launched in 2006 and has about 44.5 million members, and Facebook had its “public” launch later in 2006 but tops the group at 350 million members.

I use each of those platforms through company profiles and saw quickly the business applications, but struggled a bit with why I would use them personally which I attribute to my INTJ personality.
This blog, for example, I started in April of 2007 but it collected digital dust for about two years before I started posting regularly (despite the fact that had been maintaining blogs at work for years). I’ve been on LinkedIn since March of 2008, but that really is more of a professional tool than social (to me).

The one that made the most sense to me was Twitter. I got on board with
Twitter (work and personal) in April 2009 and became quickly prolific. Interestingly, there have been at least two MBTI surveys of Twitter users and the first survey had INTJs topping the “most common Type using Twitter” list. After the follow up survey run 6 months later, INTJs have to share the top spot with INFPs. If you’re an INTJ, you probably already know why, but there’s a nice Type-based analysis of “who’s on Twitter and why” here: Which Personality Types Love Twitter?

The one I’ve been resisting is Facebook. Even though at work, we’re using all the business and professional networking applications, as an individual, what’s left is exclusively social. As an INTJ that’s a tough reconciliation. I think I’ve also resisted Facebook to avoid becoming the Sheldon-cliché. Rather than having 212 friends I’ve never met, shouldn’t I (especially as an MBTI practitioner) be exercising my non-preferences to develop authentic and personal connections with the friends I have? A small circle, admittedly, but good people that I enjoy and don’t give nearly the attention they deserve. Even if I only use Facebook to connect with that small circle in a more frequent way, isn’t that cheating? How easy it would be to default to a cyber relationship in lieu of real relationship.

My kids are on Facebook (even my mother is on Facebook) and I confess that I enjoy

looking over my son’s shoulder to see what everyone’s up too, but as a very-self-aware-INTJ I fear that if I were on Facebook myself, I would feel compelled to comment on every status update, annoying or alienating the limited circle I have.

So chime in – To FB or not to FB? And why?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Vision Toronto: Fair Oaks Church’s Adventure in Church Planting

It’s hard to believe it’s been just over a year now (January 10th) since Fair Oaks Church held the church-wide mini-conference “PIVOT” at which the LOUD ON POURPOSE vision was launched and it was announced that Fair Oaks Church would be planting a church in Toronto (yes, Canada) in about 18 months… a church to be led by our own Pastor Roy Dowdy and his family.

How exciting! A church-planting! Bitter-sweet, yes. The Dowdy family is an integral part of Fair Oaks' creative and family ministries. Irreplaceable. But God’s call to be the seeds of a church-planting is awesome – awesome for the Dowdy’s, awesome for Fair Oaks, awesome for the Great Commission and awesome for the kingdom of God!

My husband, Edward, grew up in the Christian Missionary Alliance (CMA) church. And although I was raised in the Catholic church, I began attending the CMA church when Edward and I were dating, I was saved in the CMA church, it’s the church we were married in and it’s the church we served in until God called us to Fair Oaks in 2005. Church-planting is one of the CMA’s core values in fulfilling the Great Commission so when we heard Fair Oaks was planting a church in Toronto, we totally “got it” and supported it 100%.

I recently visited the CMA website and pulled an article about the biblical perspective of church planting. Here are some of the highlights:
Key Biblical X Factors / X Equals Multiplication
August 22, 2006
A look at the Acts of the Apostles from the perspective of the multiplying church . . .

Ten Behaviors of Church-Multipliers
1. Wait for the Holy Spirit’s Power - Acts 1:4, 1:14, 15, 16-26 & 2:1, 19:13-16 - Don’t miss the activity surrounding the word WAIT. WAIT did not, and does not mean be idle!2.
Trust God to Provide - Acts 1:8-8:1, 16:6, 19:10, 5:1-11 - Today more than ever we need to hear from God and receive His direction.3. Anticipate Victories Emerging from God’s Control - Acts 8:1-8, 12:1-19 - Multiplication attracts opposition and God leverages all of this for His purposes.4. Expect and Discern Divine Appointments - Acts 5:16-39, 8:26-40 - The church multiplier properly aligned with God is now confident to observe and go with what God is doing.5. Observe and Join what God is Doing - Acts 9:1-31, 17:16-17 - The best multipliers don’t get so lost in activity that they miss the circumstance. They have good timing. They are moving.6. Stand Strong Even in the Face of Opposition - Acts 5:40-6:1, 7:59-60 - Church multipliers are more influenced by the eternal than preoccupied by the temporal.7. Praise First - In and Out of Adversity - Acts 3:6-10, 16:22-30 - Church multipliers recognize that praise is potent. God receives it and deserves it. He lives in this praise! He multiplies in the environment of praise.8. Build Bridges to the People - Acts 10:1-29, 11:18 - Being immovably certain of how we should minister will blind us to incredible opportunities.9. Empower and Release Your Best People - Acts 6:5-7:60, Acts 13:1-3, Acts 13:5 - Multiplying churches are the residual of multiplying leaders.10. Relentlessly Focus on Bringing People to Christ and His Kingdom - Acts 20:24 - This is why we multiply leaders. This is why we multiply churches. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Jesus

If people have never been exposed to the church-planting model, there’s an unfortunate opportunity for misunderstanding and interpreting the church pastoral growth as “leaving” their home church. I’m sure there was a small element of that, it would be natural. But it broke my heart when I read on Tracey Dowdy’s blog that there were members of our church family who immediately cut off their relationship with them when Vision Toronto was announced.

Really? This is a God-led Fair Oaks initiative that everyone should be supporting – spiritually, logistically, financially and relationally. The Dowdy’s are not really leaving – not spiritually, just physically. It’s an opportunity to pull together, not pull away.

Please go visit their blog “Vision Toronto” (go now) and let them know much you love and support them.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

From TurboTax to TurboTithe – Letting God be Your Accountant

I’m one of those people who files their taxes as soon as all the paperwork is in (I know, big shock) and today was that day. Having been in charge of payroll – either directly or indirectly – for 20 years, I know exactly how to manage my deductions to get exactly the small refund I want (not too much, I don’t believe in giving my money to Uncle Sam interest free for a year, but I sure don’t want to pay at the end of the year either).

These last couple of years that’s been harder to do because my husband’s been out of work for almost two years now. The logic behind how they calculate the taxes on unemployment seems to elude me, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect today when I plugged everything in, but I was praying for a windfall.

Obviously, money’s been tight but we have faithfully tithed to our church and continued many (but not all) of our regular charitable donations having solid faith that God would provide and HE HAS – beyond what is mathematically possible.

Adding to the financial stress was my transition to a high deductable health plan on January 1st and a major surgery (i.e. very expensive surgery) on January 8th (nothing like getting that high deductible thingy out of the way, eh?).

So here’s the miracle of God’s blessing and faithfulness returned … When I clicked “Done” in TurboTax, my combined Federal & State return was almost EXACTLY the amount of my high deductable … plus $40.10 (hey, dinner!). God is so AMAZING. You will never be disappointed when you trust Him.

Tithing is one of my “soap box” issues – I’ve written have several blog posts about it. Back in 2007, Fair Oaks Church did a really creative promo for a tithing sermon that made fun of TurboTax and the PC/Mac commercials all in a minute and fifty seconds. It’s one of my favorites. Check it out:

God’s Hand in Everything – My 40-day Journey

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 40 days since I got the urgent call from my general practitioner’s office that I needed to get an emergency appointment with an oncologist and the word “Cancer” rolled uncomfortably off her tongue (she’s young and new to the practice so I think I may have been the first person she ever had to deliver that kind of news to).

When she already had the referral ready, the oncologist approved on my plan, the phone number and address, had already faxed them my lab results and insisted she was going to call me back in two hours to make sure I got an appointment within 48 hours or she was going to call them herself to get me in, I knew I better give this one my attention.

I happen to be home on the day I got the call, so my dear husband Edward over heard the conversation and came and sat by my side as I jotted down all the information my GP was giving me, “now write this down, Mrs. Yost – a-d-e-n-o-c-a-r-c-e-n-o-m-a.” When I hung up the phone all I could do is laugh, which I’m sure horrified my poor husband who surely thought I was insane. But I could almost hear the voice of God, who knew it would take something as dramatic as the “C” word to get me to stop and focus on my own needs and health. He’d given me a subtle nudge the year before and I blew him off (note to self: don’t blow off God).

Isn’t it amazing how many times “40 days” occurs in scripture?
· It rained for 40 days and 40 nights when God wanted to cleanse the world and start over. (Gen 7:12 KJV)
· Noah waited another 40 days after it rained before he opened a window in the Ark. (Gen 8:6 KJV)
· Embalming required 40 days (although this was an Egyptian custom, the Egyptians recognized the period of 40 for the preparation of going into a new life, what they called the afterlife) (Gen 50:3 KJV)
· Moses was on the mountain with God for 40 days (TWICE) (Exo 24:18 KJV) (Exo 34:28-29 KJV) (Deu 10:10 NIV)
· Moses' face shone after the 40 days on the mountain. (Exo 34:29 KJV)
· It took the spies 40 days to search out the promised land and bring back fruit (Num 13:25 KJV)
· The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness, one year for each day they explored the Promised Land. (Exo 16:35 KJV) (Num 14:33-34 NIV)
· Goliath came for forty days before being killed by David (1 Sam 17:16 NLT)
· Elijah strengthened by one angelic meal went forty days to Mount Horeb where the Lord passed by and he heard the voice of God (1 Ki 19:8 KJV)
· Jonah warned the City of Nineveh they had 40 days until God would overthrow the city. The people repented in those 40 days and God spared the city. (Jonah 3:4 and 10 KJV)
· Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness (Mat 3:17 KJV) (Mat 4:1-2 KJV) Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
· Jesus was seen in the earth 40 days after His crucifixion (Acts 1:3 NIV)
· There’s another half a dozen “40s” in the book Revelation alone, but that could be a whole separate blog post!

As yesterday, the day of my surgical follow up, marked day 40, I had to marvel at this whirlwind journey that feels like it ended almost as soon as it began (praise God!) when my oncologist gave me the “all clear” that I am officially cancer free. They did find some additional lesions during the hysterectomy that they didn’t expect, but all were benign and I will be off short-term-disability after, you guessed it, 40 DAYS.

I’ve never been the kind of person to ask “why” (oh, why, me God? Why cancer, God?) – it’s not my style. I’m more of “what” and “how” person (What I’m I supposed to learn from this? How will God have me use it for His glory?). God knows He has to flick me pretty hard in the forehead to get my attention (after all, he wired me that way) and that it would take something pretty drastic to get me to slow down (it was cancer or getting hit by a bus… I’m sure it was a heavenly coin toss).

I don’t believe in coincidences, I believe God’s hand is in everything – big and small. There was a moment about two-thirds of the way through my 40-day journey after the pathology from the cervical surgery came back negative for cancer (pre-cancer only) where my oncologist put the option out there that we could cancel the hysterectomy and go with a therapy alternative, but something inside of me (voice of God?) was telling me I was really supposed to have this last surgery.

…and so I listened, and God revealed why…

In addition the pre-cancerous lesions that the oncologist didn’t expect to find during the surgery, the hospital stay itself revealed an unrelated health problem that needed attention that I had been ignoring for about two years. You see, the “cancer call” was a surprise – the result of a routine annual exam for which I was experiencing NO symptoms or signs that indicated I had a problem. But there was a different issue that I did have symptoms for that I had been ignoring the importance of. Part of me feels like God used this 40-second-cancer-scare to make me deal with the other issue. A pretty hard flick in the forehead, God! But one I am grateful for because if not for the hospital stay with this last surgery I would have never had the medical corroboration to accompany my unvoiced complaint about symptoms that I was blowing off as just “in my head.”

God was clearly telling me to slow down and take a break and He knew I would never voluntarily take time off from work to take care of myself. Remember note to self– don’t blow off God.

Of course, God knows me, He made me, and He knows how focused, driven and stubborn I am – I can’t wait to see what He uses next to flick me in the forehead and how long it takes for me to notice. :-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Under the Wire, Over in Words

Just days before I realized I was going to be having two surgeries and would be out on medical leave for a month, I accepted an assignment from our magazine's Editor in Chief to write a feature piece on Social Media that was due January 18th. It had to include interviews from leaders in our industry and be about 2100 words.

Well, I ended up conducting the interviews via email between my two surgeries and, after putting off actually keying in the first word until January 14th, I actually hit "send" on the article yesterday afternoon (2 days early).... but it ended up being about 2250 in words.

I've published 8 print articles and countless web articles with my company (NRPA) in the five years I've been with them and there's one thing I've learned - WORD COUNT IS INFLEXIBLE IN PRINT.

I feel like I gave birth to that article at this point and couldn't cut a word, but I know 150 words will hit the editing room floor between now and the February issue of P & R Magazine and it will probably be my favorite part - the "warm, personal part."

Here's the section I expect 21,000 print subscribers won't get to see:

Change at the Speed of Light

Futurist and innovation expert Jim Carroll made the comment at NRPA’s 2009 Congress that, in the technology arena, over half of what today’s college freshman learn will be obsolete by the time they graduate. That made me think of my own technology transformation (albeit over a 20 year period) from my college days in the ‘80s when “social media” amounted to saving a favorite joke on a 5 ¼ inch floppy disk and giving
it to a friend so the next time he or she went to the computer lab (no one had their own PCs) they could pop it in and laugh at it… to the Blogging, Tweeting, web-surfing techno-geek I’m proud to be today.

Fun Fact - Although mainframe-based inter-office email was used as early as 1965, the World Wide Web was publicly launched in April of 1993 facilitating email as a global
communication tool.

Today’s Social Media is certainly more than just having the technology to email that favorite joke and have your friend instantly receive it and even send back a quick “LOL” all in a matter of seconds, but a buffet of digital opportunities to connect with people around the world in real time. “Social Media” itself has changed so rapidly since the phrase was coined in 2004 that the original Wikipedia definition posted in July of 2006 has had over 500 revisions to date.
I know what you're thinking ... THAT was warm and personal? (yeah, I know, eye of the beholder) Or were you thinking "5 ¼ inch floppy? What's that?"

I wanted to post the article to my blog "as is" but I don't have personal permission to reprint the interviews and quotes... so I stripped them out and posted it to our consulting blog... of course now, without the interviews and quotes, it's only 1500 words. But THAT won't be what gets cut, will it?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Future of Your Childhood Memories Has Arrived

I remember being in high school and everyone joking about the book “1984” because here it was, 1984, and that 1949 George Orwell vision of the future hadn’t come to pass (although Big Brother was just around the corner).

Now dial back eight years to one of my favorite Sci-Fi flicks “Logan’s Run”… I have no idea why I liked it so much – it really was a disturbing concept in retrospect – but there was one part of it that came to mind recently when I went into the hospital for a hysterectomy. Here’s the 1976 concept of the future of surgery …

My surgery was performed by the Da Vinci Surgical Robot (with my surgeon at the game controls, of course – certified by Nintendo I think) and I had a momentary flash of a 2010 sequel “Lauren’s Run.” It’s actually quite cool. Check this thing out:

If you’d asked me in 1976 if I ever thought I’d be operated on by a robot, I surely would have laughed at you. Isn’t technology amazing?