Theological Essay: What pastoral and ethical issues did Jesus face during his life and ministry? How do these relate to modern ethics and ministry?

Theological Essay: What pastoral and ethical issues did Jesus face during his life and ministry?  How do these relate to modern ethics and ministry?

This essay will examine Jesus’ interactions with women in three stories from Judith Kaye Jones’ book, ‘The Women in the Gospel of John: The Divine Feminine’ as a way to draw out ethical issues and analyse the ethical and pastoral care models Jesus uses in response: 

The Story of the Woman at the Well (John 4: 1 – 30)

The Story of the Woman Caught in Adultery (John 8: 1 – 11)

The Story of Mary and Martha and the Death of Lazarus (John 11: 17 – 44)

The Story of the Woman at the Well

This story raises ethical issues such as racism, prejudice, loneliness, exclusion and segregation. Jesus responds to the woman with grace and truth and treats her with value and in contrast to the cultural norms. This story highlights topical issues, such as unconscious bias, addressing social exclusion and ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities to help them thrive (which relates to Safeguarding) and also how to show love to people who are lonely and left out, such as single people.

The way Jesus treats the woman raises the question of human identity. One long-standing framework, influenced by Augustine, considers human beings’ will and thought and how that influences decisions, for instance the famous quotation of Descartes, ‘I think therefore I am.’

Another framework is the Post-Modernist construct around individual cultural stories, which mirrors and also contrasts with the idea of ‘Storied-individuals, that connects with the framework of Imago Dei – that we are made in God’s image. Christian Smith addresses this idea in ‘Moral Believing Animals’, ‘The human-being is a moral, believing animal – inescapably so.’ He also describes the Christian narrative as, ‘The origin and purpose of the cosmos, about the nature and destiny of humanity, about fundamental moral order.’

The third framework is Imago Dei. This is what Jesus demonstrates in his treatment of the woman at the well. The first concept of Imago Dei is that we are made in the image of God, as stated by Deborah Krause, quoting Plato: `The relationship between the ultimate cause of matter (God) and creation as the relationship of ‘image’ … for Plato it is clear that the created world bears the image of it’s creator.’’ 

The second concept addresses the idea that human beings are individually responsible for their actions, including sin, as Charles Sherlock, in ‘The Doctrine of Humanity’ stated: “It involves Christ dealing with sin, so that God and the human race may be reconciled’ 

Although both Sherlock and Kierkegaard suggest sin is a personal responsibility, there is also an importance of community and relationship as a part of this framework. This informs ethics around subjects such as society, creation-care, integrity and authenticity. David Kelsey, in the book ‘Eccentric Existence’ states: “This overall goal is to show that a ‘social’ that is, relational – understanding of the Imago Dei yields an anthropology that counters the postmodern loss of self.” 

A key element of Imago Dei considers that humans are made in the likeness of God, and indeed Jesus:  ‘God’s Proper Man,’ as Luther calls Him. 

There are some pastoral models modelled by Jesus in this encounter that can be identified and analysed. Here is a definition of Pastoral Care from Wesley Carr: 

Those activities of the Church which are directed towards maintaining or restoring health and wholeness of individuals and communities in the context of God’s redemptive purposes for all creation.

George Herbert’s description of the ‘Cure of Souls’ in ‘The Country Parson’ is also similar to Jesus’ approach, showing how Herbert authentically embodied his Christ-like descriptions of pastoral care, such as visiting his flock, helping them with disagreements, discipling them and offering prayer for healing.

 Jesus demonstrates the ethical and pastoral framework of Safeguarding in his pastoral care for the woman at the well. He talks to her as an equal; explaining complicated theological questions, offering grace alongside challenge and also the opportunity for freedom, empowerment, discipleship and transformation as a result of the encounter. This is reminiscent of the Development Right of Safeguarding, which asserts that every child and vulnerable person deserves equal opportunities to develop and thrive. The Safeguarding framework was established by Eglantyne Jebb, who founded ‘Save the Children.’

Jesus demonstrates active listening with the Woman at the well. He listens to her without judgement or prejudice, allows her to question and offers answers and leading questions himself, which was more common with men than women at that time. He is not afraid to offer advice, correction and truth in response. An active listening methodology is suggested in the book, ‘The Human Face of the Church’, with three parts: mirroring, validating and empathising, which we see Jesus embody in this passage.

Jesus demonstrates the model of a theological reflection in this story. Theological reflection is a useful tool for pastoral ministry, both for the person being ministered to and the minister, to ensure that reflection and also theological grounding is addressed. Laurie Green describes a model with four stages which I will list below and link to how Jesus follows the stages with the Samaritan woman:

Experience – what is going on: Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at midday at Jacob’s well and asks for a drink. She is surprised he would ask her, based on the traditional treatment of her race by Jewish people.

Explore – what issues are at play here and what are the implications: Jesus can see the woman has experienced racism and exclusion, and it highlights the treatment of Samaritans and also issues around women’s rights.

Reflect – what does the bible have to say: Jesus compares the water from the well to the Holy Spirit and the coming of the Messiah – language the woman would have recognised from the Old Testament prophecies.  

Respond – what action will be taken from this reflection: In this case Jesus explains who He is to the woman and as a result she shares her encounter with Jesus and many people are saved. 

We notice here that Jesus helps the woman to understand scripture and its implication. Ministers can follow this example in pastoral care, offering to translate and interpret complicated ethical issues. 

The Story of the Woman caught in Adultery

This story raises issues such as: justice and injustice, human rights and women’s rights, which relate to issues raised by David Gushee’s chapter on life being sacred, judgement and condemnation versus grace, conflict resolution and following the law versus forgiveness. 

The law element is reminiscent of the Deontological ethic framework. The Pharisees are following what is lawfully right or wrong in their condemnation of the woman. Jesus’ forgiveness and grace, lead by love and relationship, rather than the law, demonstrates the Situational Ethic framework.

Jesus demonstrates an aspect of pastoral care by ensuring the woman feels safe, which informs the Safeguarding framework. This framework, informed by the Deontological Ethics, addresses value, dignity, justice, and how to stand up to people wielding power inappropriately with grace and truth. Jesus also literally keeps the woman safe, as he saves her life. 

Safeguarding challenges power structures. It is of utmost importance to prioritise the needs and intrinsic value of the person who is being mistreated rather than the institution involved. Jesus tackles the spiritual abuse that is occuring (and potentially sexual abuse if the woman was semi-naked when she was seized) by putting the dignity of the woman before the needs of the Pharisees (who are the institution here and unjustly hold the power).

Jesus also employs Boundaries; he refuses to be manipulated by the Pharisees trying to trick him and thereby protects himself from harm. The model of boundaries is explored by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, which gives a framework for maintaining good well-being and showing how to minister to people in a way that enables them to own their actions.

Jesus models a situational approach to pastoral care in this passage. He takes time to understand the situation and not to be influenced by pressure or opinions. He demonstrates conflict resolution techniques in the actions he takes, as Sara Savage comments: ‘He dared to confront, face anger and forgive. Far from avoiding conflict, he welcomed it, as an opportunity to create an even better relationship.’

The story of Mary and Martha and the death of Lazarus

Jesus’ actions raise ethical and pastoral issues such as: bereavement, listening well, how to be servant-hearted and how to adopt different approaches for different temperaments and personality types, such as Mary and Martha.

Jesus offers comfort to both sisters by differentiating his listening, questioning and answering. This demonstrates the close relationship He shares with the sisters; his knowledge of how to effectively minister to them.

The passage also shows how Jesus ministered to those in Bereavement, in this case, in the event of a death. There are three main Bereavement Care models. The first is ‘Stages’ – ministering by being aware of a grieving cycle with some recognisable stages: denial, bargaining, anger, guilt, depression, acceptance

The second model is ‘Phases’, recognising that there are a series of phases in mourning: numbness, yearning, disorganisation and despair and reorganised behaviour .

The third model is ‘Tasks’, helping the bereaved to accept the loss first, then process the grief and then adjust to the new reality while keeping the memory of the deceased alive.

The model that is most similar to Jesus’ ministry to Mary and Martha is The ‘Stages’ model. He recognises there is a process and grieving takes time. 

Also, He allows the sisters to express their lament, grief and anger before then offering them hope. Hope is a key part of what Jesus’ death and resurrection embodies. We can offer this uniquely in ministry to those in bereavement as Christian ministers, as Daniel Migliore states: ‘Christians hope [is] in the final victory of the creative, self-expending, community-forming love of the triune God’. Jesus himself reminds his followers of the hope beyond this earthly life that awaits those who follow him, in ‘Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.’ (John: 14: 2)

Chapman describes the need for the pastor to echo the bereavement and grief of the bereaved by going downwards with them in their grief, as Jesus did with the sisters and also physically, when He died, defeated death and rose again. He describes this act as, ‘An inward and downward shift by speaking of contemplation, meditation and integrity.’ 

A Summary of Ethical Frameworks and which one Jesus uses most

There are five main frameworks for ethics that are widely recognised. The first is Deontological Ethics, which addresses the idea of duty and knowing what is right and wrong. Emmanuel Kant was a key figure.

The second framework is Consequential Ethics, which addresses ideas around personal freedom and tolerance and that actions have consequences; Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill put forward these ideas.

The third framework is the ethic of Natural Law, informed by ideas from Aquinas, around the natural order of life and God as the creator.

The fourth and fifth ethical frameworks are Situational Ethics and Virtue Ethics, which Jesus uses in particular in his pastoral care and ministry.

Joseph Fletcher was a key figure in the formation of the Situational Ethics framework. He writes about the idea of ‘Agape Love’ being of key importance, ‘ Giving love, non-reciprocal, neighbour-regarding – “neighbour” meaning everybody,”, even an enemy.’ He suggests we should follow Jesus’ example: to do what shows love; ‘Whatever is loving in any particular situation is good!’ This ethic helps us frame a pastoral or ethical issue and ensure we treat the person or group with love, care and grace. 

Jesus‘ interactions with the woman at the well are situational, as they differ from the customs of the law around Samaritans and indeed women. He speaks with her as he would with a man and even accepts a drink from her, when the Jewish community have declared her as unclean because of her race and ostracised her because of her actions.  

We also see the application of Situational Ethics in the story of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus shows love and kindness to this woman, and openly challenges the supposed keepers of the law, the Pharisees. He treats the woman and the Pharisees very differently. He shows grace, forgiveness and truth to the woman, when she was sentenced (unjustly) to death, whereas he condemns the Pharisees.  It would not have been expected for Jesus to challenge the Pharisees in the way He did.

Situational Ethics provide of a framework for deciding what is the right thing to do, and this leads to the framework of ‘Virtue Ethics’, which is informed by the writing of Aristotle, ‘[T]he good for man is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue, or if there are more kinds of virtue than one, in accordance with the best and most perfect kind.’ 

The theologian, Alistair MacIntyre, studies Aristotle’s writings in his book, ‘After Virtue: A study in Moral Theory’. He proposes an interesting idea that considers a devil’s-advocate approach to considering ethical responses to a situation. This is  a useful tool to weigh an issue, consider the other side, just as Jesus does before he responds to the Pharisees. Jesus carefully navigates doing what is right, good and lawful, but also shows the woman grace and forgiveness.

Conclusion

It has been a fruitful exercise to analyse Jesus’ methods to make women feel safe, heard, empowered and discipled, and to use these as a model for ethical pioneering. Jesus is a far better example when serving women in Pioneer Ministry than being influenced by the myriad of voices in the world with questionable ethics, such as LinkedIn, magazines or self-help books.

Citations

1  Judith Kay Jones, The Women in the Gospel of John: The Divine Feminine (Saint Louis, MO, USA: Chalice Press, 2008)

2  Taken from Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method 1637 but referenced from a lecture by Stephen Backhouse 10/10/11

3  Christian Smith, Moral Believing Animals (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2023)  pg. 67.

4  Ibid pg. 69.

5  Deborah Krause, Keeping it real: The Image of God in the New Testament Interpretation 59 (4) (Eden Theological Seminary, 2005) pg. 359.

6  Charles Sherlock, The Doctrine of Humanity (IVP Academic, 1996) pg. 35.

7  Soren Kierkegaard, Sickness Unto Death (London: Penguin, 1989)

8  David Kelsey, Eccentric Existence (Westminster, John Knox Press, 2009) pg. 902. 

9  Martin Luther, cited in Vanhoozer Human Being, Individual and Social (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997) pg. 165.

10  Wesley Carr, The New Dictionary of Pastoral Studies (London: SPCK 2002)

11  George Herbert, A Priest to the Temple or the Country Parson: With Selected Poems (London: Canterbury Press Norwich, 2014)

12  A summary of the United Nations Convention on The Rights of a Child<https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/content/dam/gb/reports/humanitarian/uncrc19-summary2.pdf&gt; [accessed 5th February, 2022]

13  Sara Savage, and Eugene Boyd-Macmillan, The Human Face of Church (Hymns Ancient & Modern) <https://www.perlego.com/book/2057913/the-human-face-of-church-pdf&gt; [accessed 3 February 2022]

14  Laurie Green, 2009. Let’s Do Theology, 2nd edn (Bloomsbury Publishing) <https://www.perlego.com/book/392442/lets-do-theology-pdf&gt; [accessed 2 February 2022]

15  David Gushee, What It Means That Human Life Is Sacred (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: William B Eerdmans Publishing, 2013) Ch 1.

16  Henry Cloud, Dr John Townsend, Boundaries (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Zondervan 2017)

17  Savage & Eolene Boyd-MacMillan, pg. 59.

18  Watts, pg. 154.

19  Ibid, pg. 154.

20  J William Worden, Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy (Routledge 1983) 

21  Ibid, pg. 154.

22  Daniel Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: William B Eerdmans Publishing, 1996) pg. 338.

23 Justine-Allen Chapman, Resilient Pastors (London, SPCK Publishing, 2012)’ pg. 113.

24  Joseph Fletcher, Situation Ethics (London, SCM Press, 2012 ) pg. 79.

25  Ibid, pg. 61.

26  Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics (JAK Thomson London Penguin: 1976) Book 1, Chapter 7.

27  Alistair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study of Moral Theory (London: Gerald Duckworth, 1985)

Theological Reflection – what are the ethical considerations of marketing?

Theological Reflection – what are the ethical considerations of marketing?

Introduction

This theological reflection explores ethical marketing, inspired by personal reflections around leaving Facebook and becoming more of a ‘country parson’, like George Herbert. I want to reflect on my marketing and business ethics for my business, Joy Factory, in the light of learning more about ethical frameworks and where we find them in the bible. I will be using Laurie Green’s model of Experience, Explore, Respond and Reflect.

Experience

My reflections have raised questions around how to live life more by spiritual discipline and being present, rather than by the social media algorithm and my phone. Lush (inventor of the very picturesque bath bombs) have left Instagram to deliver on their mission and aim to help their customers relax: “Social media platforms have become the antithesis of this aim, with algorithms designed to keep people scrolling and stop them from switching off and relaxing.”

Smartphones are a big part of this problem. Philosopher, Ian Bogestin described our smartphones as the ‘cigarette of this century’. Psychiatrist Gloria Mark and gambling studies professor Mark Griffiths described our phones as our appendages, almost being part of our bodies.

Consumerism has changed the way we spend our time as well as our money, as Kathryn Wheeler from the ‘School of Life’ writes: 

We meet friends at restaurants and bars which automatically includes spending money; we are told that we will create a special bond with people, including our family, thanks to expensive holidays.

This control via clever marketing and sales is completely at odds with God’s idea of being a merchant for the common good in the marketplace. I want to serve customers in my business, with ethical and godly marketing, networking and customer service. 

I want to be Christ-like in my business dealings; rejecting competition and ambition that doesn’t come from God. Ken Costa writes about good and bad ambition in the book, ‘God at Work’’: ‘When our ambition becomes divorced from the context of extending God’s kingdom, it risks destroying us.’

Explore

The idea of forwarding God’s Kingdom and purposes in marketing and business points towards the Deontological and Virtue ethical frameworks. The Deontological framework considers fixed ideas of what is right and wrong and is informed by God’s righteousness; Google’s mission statement, ‘Do the right thing’ addresses this idea.

The idea of love and service links to the Virtue Ethic, which asks what is the most loving and Christ-like thing to do. It also concerns goodness, which Paul writes about: ‘For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.’ (Phillipians 2: 13) Willard examines the writings of John Ruskin and Louis Brandeis, suggesting ways to be a good merchant (i.e. operating your business in the marketplace): we are to provide for the nation products and services men and women care about, and he summarises his point by saying, ‘Serving really involves giving people what is good for them, not merely pursuing their approval and granting their desires.’

The description of markets in the bible can inform my practice. Christopher J.H Wright says, ‘Israel was reminded repeatedly that God calls for justice “in the gate,” which is, in contemporary terms, the marketplace.’ This shows that God cares and is watching what goes on in the marketplace. He goes on to say, ‘Christians should be among those who bring the greatest public good to the marketplace and who thereby commend the biblical gospel.’ Merchants in the marketplace must not make the market the idol, but God, and in modern terms this is using online and face-to-face marketing appropriately and considering what is a Godly way to market our offering and indeed how to network.

John Lee, writing for ‘Christianity Today’, suggests that Paul was an effective networker. Lee talks about Mark Granovetter’s networking theory of weak and strong ties. Paul is able to spread the gospel more quickly by using ‘weak ties’: talking with people he didn’t know so well, reaching the other people within that person’s network. This is a principle I can use in my own networking.

The concept of ‘reaping and sowing’ from 2 Corinthians 9: 6 – 8 is also relevant: ‘Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.’ This suggests that we need to be servant-hearted first and aim to help people and we will likely get more back in return. In terms of the marketplace, this would be: clearly laying out the offer, being able to identify customers who might be interested, telling them about how it will help them solve their problem and giving them more of what they care about.

John Mark Comer, in ‘Live no Lies’ talks about the importance of cultivating the right things in our hearts and minds in our business practice, using the metaphor of a garden:

 ‘The Christian tradition has understood the human vocation to be to take chaos and make order. To “make order” is to take the chaos of the planet and turn it into a garden-like city in which human beings can flourish and thrive in relationship to each other’

The idea of agriculture and cultivating led me to Ecclesiastes 11, where the writer extols the virtue of having a range of endeavours and being generous and also to trust God in the process, not in our own strength. This gave me a framework for considering what I should reap and sow and how I might cultivate my spiritual disciplines to ensure I serve and love people in my business practice.

Reflect

In order to live by Jesus’ greatest commandment to firstly love God and then to love one another like we love ourselves (Matthew 22: 34 – 40), I need to treat my customers in the way I want to be treated. I want to strengthen my spiritual disciplines to ensure I am constantly coming back to God and seeking his guidance, rather than falling foul of the world, the algorithm and the temptation to please people. Comer describes this as the rule of life; ‘A schedule and set of practices and relational rhythms that organise our lives around Jesus’s invitation to abide in the vine. It is how we live in alignment with our deepest desires for life with God in his kingdom.’ 

This vocabulary of cultivation is reminiscent of the idea of reaping and sowing: that we will get back what we put in. A good ‘rule of life’ that I have developed includes daily bible study, spiritual direction, journaling, retreats and also my study. These practices ensure I stay focused on God’s calling on my life. 

The study of growing wheat provided some useful metaphors for cultivating the ‘garden’ or land God has given me and planting my ‘endeavours’ (such as projects, campaigns or clients’ work) mentioned in Ecclesiastes 11. Firstly the ground is turned over, which is a good metaphor for research and reflection. Next the seed is scattered; this would be an endeavour (such as a marketing campaign, a project or an event). The farmer then looks after the plants and protects them from weeds as they germinate; this could be project management, being agile and flexible, being on guard for un-Christ-like influences and allowing the truth to set me free (John 8: 31 – 32). Next the grain is harvested, winnowed and stored, which is reminiscent of discernment and deciding what is important to God and what isn’t. Then the wheat would be milled and sold at the marketplace. This represents the promotional, marketing and networking side of my work.

The marketplace, the birthplace of marketing, was intended to be a meeting place, where people knew each other and the merchants were accountable. People would share ideas, socialise and and find the common ground, as Avi Friedman states: ‘Citizens and governments defined the shared values of the community.’ This is the kind of marketing I want to do. The marketplace is somewhere you visit, share ideas, meet people and be accountable, ultimately to God, as Willard points out: ‘We actually live as if God creates, audits, governs, and redeems the marketplace.’

Respond

These reflections have led me to a theology that fits my business. The antithesis of competing with others and being pushy like the rest of the world is to become a servant, to listen and to help. A good merchant at a market knows when to speak and when to listen and can describe to the buyer what they are selling. Also, the merchant goes home when the market is finished. I want to carry out my marketing in the market place and then be able to rest, away from it, as God commands us to. This also encourages me to not be anxious about my endeavours and to trust God to provide rather than doing it all myself. 

I will treat each digital platform, such as LinkedIn, email and WhatsApp, like a stall in the actual marketplace where people come to share ideas and merchants aim to do good. I will use Instagram as a platform to declare God’s kingdom, rather than marketing. In networking I will think of others, not myself and will aim to find clients in real-life situations. I will communicate with my customers in ways I would appreciate myself; within working hours, by being clear and simple and not adding more noise and stress to people’s busy lives and I will advocate they do the same with their own clients.

Conclusion

Johann Hari writes in the Guardian about the French legal law of ‘The right to disconnect’, where an employer is fined for contacting an employee outside of the agreed hours. I want this right for myself and my customers. ‘Disconnecting’ links with the idea of the ‘rule of life’, which I address with my ‘Joy Diary’, where I plot in diary appointments that are important to God, my calling and my soul, such as holidays with my family, time to be inspired by nature and art and also lectures to further my business and spiritual formation. I want to provide services and products for my customers that make space for their own ‘Joy Diaries’ and to reduce stress in their work and rest. Jesus has come to set us free from the world in our work and rest, as Willard writes: 

‘‘The only place we can stand is in the teachings of Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can give us the guidance we need in order to serve others, whatever our line of work may be.’

I aim to go forward with a stronger ‘rule of life’ as an antithesis to the modern digital marketing methods of being available 24-7 and fighting for attention. I want to always abide in Jesus’ vine.

Citations:

1 George Herbert, A Priest to the Temple or the Country Parson: With Selected Poems (London: Canterbury Press Norwich, 2014)

2  Laurie Green, 2009. Let’s Do Theology, 2nd edn (Bloomsbury Publishing) <https://www.perlego.com/book/392442/lets-do-theology-pdf&gt; [accessed 2 February 2022]

3  Nike Levin, This is why Lush Just Quit TikTok, Instagram & Other Social Media Platforms (2021) <https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/why-lush-quit-social-media&gt; [accessed 05.02.22].

4  Io Dodds, ‘Addicted’, The Telegraph Magazine, 8th January, 2022, pg. 20.

5 Ibid pg. 18.

6  Kathryn Wheeler, The Truth about work-life balance (2021) https://happiful.com/the-truth-about-work-life-balance/ [accessed 5th February, 2022]

7  Ken Costa, God at Work (London, Continuum, 2007) pg. 65.

8 David Mayer,‘Why Google was smart to drop its “Don’t Be Evil” motto (2016) <https://www.fastcompany.com/3056389/why-google-was-smart-to-drop-its-dont-be-evil-motto&gt; [accessed 5th February, 2022]

9  Willard, pg. 29.

10 Ibid. pg. 3

11 Ibid pg. 17

12 Christopher J.H Wright, Saints in the Marketplace: a biblical perspective on the world of work (2010) <https://theotherjournal.com/2010/09/29/saints-in-the-marketplace-a-biblical-perspective-on-the-world-of-work/&gt; [accessed 5th February, 2022]

13  Ibid Footnote 12

14  John Lee, Learning from Paul to Leverage Networking for Missions (2017) <https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/august-web-only/learning-from-paul-networking-evangelism.html&gt; [accessed 5th February, 2022]

15  Comer, pg. 33. 

16  Ibid pg. 235.

17 Karen Bertelsen, How to grow & harvest wheat on a small scale (2021) <https://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/im-growing-wheat-this-year-and-you-can-too/&gt; [accessed 5th February, 2020]

18  Avi Fredman, The history of markets reveals a lot about the state of the economy and society (2017) <https://qz.com/895122/the-history-of-markets-reveals-a-lot-about-the-state-of-the-economy-and-society/&gt; [accessed 5th February, 2022]

19 <https://theotherjournal.com/2010/09/29/saints-in-the-marketplace-a-biblical-perspective-on-the-world-of-work/&gt;

20 Johann Hari, Your attention didn’t collapse. It was stolen. (2022) <https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/jan/02/attention-span-focus-screens-apps-smartphones-social-media/&gt; {accessed 5th February, 2022]

21 Willard, pg. 15.

A ‘God-Story’: Is *nothing* impossible for God?

Worth knowing: this is a story about God, Jesus, Christianity. Also possibly TMI discussion of womens’ ‘time of the month’ type things and mental health potential triggering…Feel free to read on or pass by!

I am still blown away by something that has happened this week. I have been a Christian for twenty-plus years and seen God do some mad things (like seeing people get out of wheelchairs, seeing a leg grow, God telling me I was going to get engaged a certain night…) but still, what has happened I simply *can’t believe*!

Or maybe a better way of putting it is I am in awe of God’s amazing power and being reminded that truly, nothing is impossible for him. Even being lifted out of a deep depression and anxiety to go to my first day of Pioneer training!

A bit more context and back story. I have a complicated PMS condition which I’ve learnt to balance through carefully tweaked treatment over nearly ten years (and managed to have a miracle child). I have had severe episodes of depression and anxiety caused by my hormones going nuts where it is like someone has pulled out my plug; no light behind the eyes, unable to reply to messages, can’t work, string a sentance together, have to do jigsaws or Lego to recover from terrible weeping fits or panic attacks. Painting a picture?

Also, I have been thinking and praying about the next chapter of my life and how I can serve God, and the shape of this looking like ‘Pioneer Ministry’, which is basically finding new and creative ways to show people the love of Jesus when 85% of the population would never step foot in a church building apparently. So, doing charity shops, breweries, caravans, whatever seems to meet the needs when you listen to the community where you live.

This summer I found out to my delight the Portsmouth Diocese (sort of church head office for Portsmouth) had agreed to pay my fees to do a two-year diploma in Pioneer Ministry. This was such an affirming thing for me. I’d been accepted by my college, CMS to start training this year and my first day was the 13th September.

And then last Monday the 5th September, I crashed. After four years of having no episodes I found myself in the familiar muted struggle of depression and anxiety and all I described above. I realised that a part of my treatment (in addition to the patches and injection) which is my Mirena Coil was about to run out. So my hormones went haywire.

I was resigned to (and crushed about) the fact I’d not be able to start my course, while fighting the daily fog and panic of a mental health episode. It came to Sunday, the day before my course was meant to be starting. I was still feeling very ill, beating myself up, trying every little mindful thing to will myself better. I decided to go to a church launch of our friends with my hub and son. As soon as I got in the door, I crumbled and started crying, shrinking into the smallest I could make myself in a corner.

My friend Abi and then my friend Rachael came up and gave me a big hug. They offered to pray for me. I mentioned that I was meant to be starting my course in Pioneering the next day and they both said, aha, well that’s why you’re ill! (Here comes the crazy Christian stuff btw) It’s an attack. Whatever it might be, the opposite to God, doesn’t want you to start the course and to be able to follow God’s will for my life. They prayed for me to be better and to be able to start the course the next day. (Which of course, seemed totally impossible.)

Another friend (I won’t name her) approached me and said she didn’t have the faith to pray for me to be healed but did have faith to pray I could go to uni the next day. I said that if that happened, then it *was* praying for healing! Just as I was leaving, Abi and Rachel prayed for me again, and Abi suggested I should pray that night that I would be able to go, to go to prayer war, so to speak!

So that night, still depressed, I told my hub we needed to pray. I gave it all I had and also shared my prayer request to an awesome Christian ladies Whatsapp group I’m in. One of the ladies asked me to ask God what he was doing and to partner with Him.

So…over the night I got better! I simply could not believe it. On the drive to Oxford to start my course I rang each person who’d prayed for me and shared my total amazement! I guess you *could* say it was a coincidence and I just got better, but that’ s not how I see it. I was and am totally amazed that nothing was going to stop me starting that course and all God wants to do through me for my community through it.

Miraculously reaching the CMS entrance

Miraculously reaching the CMS entrance for the first day at uni after a severe hormone crash and depressive episode…

One last thing. I asked God what he was saying. And he said…leave Facebook. What? I said. A song based on a scripture came to mind

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are saved.

And I came to think about the story in the Bible about the Tower of Babel. Here is the scripture:

11 At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia[a] and settled there.

They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”

But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”

In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel,[b] because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.

Genesis 11, the Bible!

What I think this passage is about, having studied it a bit more today is this. The people of Babylon wanted to build a whole city, including the tower, to protect them from a flood (i.e. the Noah, ark story) so they are essentially trying to be as big as God and to do things without Him. God had told his people to go all over the world and instead folks had decided to settle. So, God changed all their languages to enable them to be more dispersed.

So…my reflection is that things like Facebook, my beloved Heat, fashion etc are towers that have set themselves up as equal to God or a way to find purpose in life but actually, the Lord’s tower is strong and a shelter for the courageous.

I’ve been reading a book called ‘The Relentless Elimination of Hurry’ and in the book it talks about every possession we have takes time to maintain and keep and I’ve had this desire to simplify my life, to do life with people who live where I live, or for people further afield to ring them up or go visit or go to stay. I’ve been noticing how odd it is that we all share pictures of our cake, party, holiday etc with folks we aren’t that close to physically or emotionally.

And also Facebook (and Heat, celebrity, fashion etc) is the mother of comparison, either feeling better than others or feeling less than them. The thought of giving up Facebook makes me feel so happy, excited and free that I think I am *actually going to do it*!

I plan to download albums, share my contact details and find someone to manage my Kickass Women group on Facebook (as that has huge value and significance to me) and then go! Pretty counter-cultural to be a person in marketing and not be on Facebook, huh? Well, I’m wanting to be my authentic self and look after my wellbeing. I will still continue to advise my clients on the best ethical and healthy ways to serve their audiences on there. And after all, Social Media is nothing but ‘medium’ from the Greek, it’s simply like a pencil, megaphone or newspaper!

So I plan to find my Babel towers and knock them down. Facebook. My beloved Heat magazine (sniff) and other things that I discern in my spirit aren’t helpful.

Well, hey if you’re still here and thank you for reading. I hope it encourages you and makes you feel seen and represented if you’re having a crap time, encouraged in your faith if you’re a Christian and well, informed if you’re kindly watching my life story as it unfolds.

If you’re not a Christian and you’re still reading and you are intrigued then please google ‘Alpha‘ and look up a local course.

Katie over and out!

Why does life have to be so fast? Lessons from the river.

I had a retreat day today so I went down to the river to think and reflect. I’m pondering my next steps for my life.

I sat on a bench drinking my coffee and eating some chocolate looking out at the river as rain dropped on my glasses. I felt my heart slow and my eyes open and my ears start to hear. I could hear the motorway in the far distance cutting across the silence. I’ve been thinking about perseverance lately, and how a river perseveres to cut through the landscape, bit my bit, day by day, year by year. It supports a whole ecosystem. It ebbs, it flows. People travel down it to get somewhere, but also for joy.

It has a danger, we didn’t make it. It moves. It changes. Think about last time you saw a river.

And then, as I walked I saw the motorway that crossed the river. Modern life, and certainly social media, marketing etc, feels like the motorway. Man-made. Chocca block. Stressed. Grey. Hurried. That’s what hustling, selling, buying fans on Facebook etc can feel like.

River v motorway

I’d much rather get into my rowing boat, and meander down the river. Be able to see the colours change (as they did in my painting I did above) see birds dive in, see paddleboarders and wave at them. In my business, this looks like networking, helping, teaching, coaching, noticing, innovating, asking questions, sharing.

A river is also a channel, which is what we call social media. It’s just that, a channel. I care about relationships, creativity, connection and honesty. I don’t advocate hard selling, buying fans, funnels etc. The most enjoyable work I do is really based around relationships and helping people to free themselves from fear (yes even with social media, branding and websites!)

I’m thinking about my plans next year and beyond. I plan to study Pioneer Ministry (doing church for those who don’t want to go in church buildings, eg caravans, shops, cafes etc) but I also love my work helping people with Joy Factory. I really want my activities each day to be like a journey on the river. Ebb and flow. I don’t want to be fixed in one place. I want to be able to see a need and respond and help. I care deeply about my Kickass Women network and I see that as a way of sharing the joy and love of life and God, too. Do I need a collar to do this? I’m not sure.

I guess my point is that we can slow down. So much of the hustle and hurry is just an illusion. What is it all for? What really matters? Why do we need to get to ‘x’ so fast? What if the journey is just as important?

People go on the river to mess around and play. Who does that on a motorway?

So get yourself a boat, get on the river and see where you end up and look around as you travel. If reading this has got you thinking then feel free to get in touch or comment. I’d love to hear!

A vision that makes your eyes sparkle and your heart beat faster…

A vision that makes your eyes sparkle...
A vision that makes your eyes sparkle…

There is a great quote from Richard Branson about your vision:

If your dreams don’t scare you, they are too small.

– Richard Branson

Whenever I do one of these exercises about my calling, or my business goals, I write down one dream that seems too big, impossible and scary. Today I thought I would put it on paper and put it out there. But first a little about how I arrived at my heart-beating-faster, eyes sparkling vision…

I’ve been to a number of online events recently, and I keep on hearing the message that it is profitable as well as fulfilling to pursue the thing we really love and that we need to tell people what that is. Our personal brand if you will.

I have another guiding principle which I created from a quote from Bill Hybels (let’s put the news aside and just take his good quote on surface level right now…)

Your schedule is less about what you want to get done, but what you want to become.

– Bill Hybels

From this I created my ‘becoming’ principles – i.e. what do I want to be doing in my future, who do I want to be and therefore, who am I now, and what is going in my diary towards this aim.

My twelve values are:

  1. Be happy and healthy
  2. Put Mike (my husband) and Isaac (my son) first
  3. Prioritise mine and Isaac’s character
  4. Be fully me
  5. A leader and mentor
  6. A loyal friend and relative
  7. A kind advocate and activist
  8. Always curious
  9. A lifelong adventurer
  10. Doing meaningful work
  11. An active artist
  12. Welcoming

These twelve values are my guiding lights when something comes in my inbox. Number 10 represents my work I do for Joy Factory but number 5 is around Pioneering, leadership and mentoring and number 7 represents my mental health advocacy work and Kickass Women (my women’s network). And most of all, number 1 represents my ethics, ethos in work and leisure.

So my dream, or as my business coach, Sean Kennedy puts it in his book, ‘Loved, Called, Gifted’

“What would you do if you threw all caution to the wind or what would your most wild or audacious self do…’

– Sean Kennedy, Katherine Powell – Loved, Called, Gifted.

Is…

This picture, I thought I’d draw it. I’d love your thoughts about what you think it is in the comments, or on social whatever, where you read this:

My 'Joy Bubble' vision
My ‘Joy Bubble’ vision

I’m putting it out there so people know where my heart lies, what my dream looks like, what matters to me. Maybe you have an empty unit, or want to invest in something or maybe you’re a tired parent who’d love 30 minutes in the ‘Nap’ bubble! This idea came from a sense that there’s a lot of mums who would kill for 30 minutes to themselves, un-interrupted. I asked women on my Kickass Women members group what they’d do with that time and these are their great suggestions.

And I’d love to do church in this way, business in this way. But it’s just a sketch, but I thought I’d put it out there, lay out my stall, whatever. Take a risk, I am an entrepreneur, after all!

Would love to hear your thoughts.

What are your dreams that scare you…or are they not big enough..?

That new term feeling | The Deep Work Diaries

That September, new stationery feeling…

So, I’ve decided to try to write a new blog post once a month, when I have my ‘Deep Work’ day (to find out what deep work is check out my past blog post here…).

Also, I’ve been feeling quite deep anyways, for a number of reasons.

Firstly my little boy Isaac is off to school…

My little genius is going to school…

Which is a real milestone but also means I get 9 to 5 (well, maybe 3…) back again. So what will I do with all that time?

Secondly, it’s that new term feeling we all have come September, after all those years of going to school. Which makes us reflective, hopeful, focused etc, particularly after I find, those walks on holiday where you have time and space to have those ‘10,000 feet’ moments to be objective about our careers, dreams, calling…

10,000 foot perspective on life.

Thirdly, I am in a formal ‘discernment’ process to work out if I want to do authorised ministry for church ( probably more on the ground, new forms eg cafes etc, called ‘Pioneer Ministry’) This time involves big questions like, what do I enjoy doing, what have I had success doing in the past etc.

Where am I going next?

And fourthly, a bit random, I had a job interview for a one-day-a-week social media and website management job for a Christian charity, ReSource. It came out of the blue, thanks to a tip off from a work associate and has left just as fast as I was their second choice, probably had too a strategic plan for a simpler process.

How do I feel about that? Ok, actually. It was another 10,000 foot chance to feel deeply grateful for the varied, creative and interesting work I am paid to do. Also kind comments from friends that I’m a leader, visionary and very creative.

But…do I want to apply for other jobs? I *could* but do I want to? I guess if any of you reading see a job I might like then please send it my way!

But one common theme and an interesting reflection from the ReSource director, is that I’m passionate about equipping people. What does that look like? Training people, do that. Equipping women? About time to do another Kickass Women event (find out more here!) Bringing people into joy and freedom? Mmm…that sounds a bit like a Pioneer minister…

Equipping people to find creative freedom?

I’ve been musing on something I saw this morning. I went for brekky with my hub at Leon’s cafe at Lee on the Solent and was met with the most amazing sky – the Isle of Wight was barely visible and the horizon line looked like it really was the edge of the world. As we ate breakfast I enjoyed watching this view change.

As I’ve thought about this today, I feel a bit like this sky. My mum then told me they call a weather condition like that a ‘sea change’. I think I need to just sit and wait for a bit, see what comes up. Wait before I jump in.

The ‘sea change’ sky at Lee on the Solent this morning.

So what about you reader, what does this time of year bring up for you? Any helpful tips for us on how to navigate children going to school and the space that creates?

Or maybe you’re a bit deep-thinking like me right now. If this applies to your career, then please do sign up for a free 30-minute review just below, to do your own deep work.

Did God Speak to Moses through a burning bush…and did He speak to me through this watch?

Do you think God has anything to say to us in this day and age? Or is it all nonsense?

Well, let me tell you a little story about a watch.

Disclaimer – this blog post *definitely discusses Christian matters.*

It’s quite a journey, but worth it, I think! Also I’ve been itching to tell you this amazing story about what I believe is God’s goodness, especially Christ Church family, who have been faithfully praying for us for many years.

It all begins about five years ago, when my husband Mike was thinking about whether he should train to become a priest. We made a new friend at the time, who didn’t know anything about us. He said he’d had a vision (which was very unusual for him) of Mike teaching a group of men in a bible study in Portsmouth.

 

This was enough, alongside some other confirmations for Mike to decide to train. He enrolled at St. Mellitus for three years study. About this time last year, we were still waiting for a curacy position to be confirmed (his first job after being ordained.) Lots of his peers had found out where they were going and we had no idea and were pretty concerned about this.

Mike was doing a placement at Harbour Church in Portsmouth, as a way of exploring this calling to Portsmouth. We were still unsure what the future held. I asked for prayer and a young member of Christ Church had, what he believed was a picture from God of an anchor and wave…a bit like this…

This made me chuckle knowingly, as the Harbour Church is very similar to this. I thought this was a sign that we were meant to go there. But, it didn’t work out. And there were other opportunities in Portsmouth that didn’t happen, either. So we felt dejected again. At about the same time, I found this watch below in Mind Charity Shop where I volunteer…

 

Looks a bit familiar? So I bought it, to see if God would speak to me through it perhaps. I wore it, and over the next few days I found that it would stop and run slow and I’d wind it up and it would work again. Eventually it stopped all together. Mmm, I thought, that’s odd. I wonder what God could be saying. So I drew something in my journal, just taking a line for a walk (like Pollock used to say) with God. I drew this…

Showing the watch with the hands falling off and also the battery falling out of the back. I felt God was saying there was no rush, no deadline, we weren’t going to miss something. I also drew this, and I felt it was about us being anchored while we wait, for the wind to blow again. One friend said the sea looked a bit like England and the anchor was pointing to Portsmouth…

Anyhoo. A few weeks passed and in that time Mike was sent a job advert for a curacy in a church called St. John’s, in the parish of…Portsmouth. He didn’t take it very seriously, until his tutor and his wife mentioned the vicar there was their close friend. So Mike decided to go for an interview.

At the same time, I’d asked Mike to wear the non-working watch, to see if God would speak to him and encourage him, as he was feeling pretty downcast by this point. He said no at first, thinking it was silly then said he would. The day before the interview, he came rushing home and told me that he’d been wearing the watch and it was itchy, so he put it in his pocket. Then, it fell out of his pocket, fell to the ground, the battery was jolted and guess what? The watch started again!

We laughed joyfully to ourselves, suspecting God was saying the interview the next day was the one. On the day I was praying for Mike in the car, and I got the word ‘laurel’ in my head. I shared it with him and suggested he meditated on it, to see if it became relevent.

As Bruce Collins would say…we are coming in to land.

So a couple of weeks later, we were in St. John’s undercover, checking it out. I was wandering around, looking for something to do with laurel, and guess what I found…

With an anchor too! That’s pretty amazing, right? But I’m not *quite* finished. A few weeks later, we were at St. John’s again, having lunch with Gavin and Hazel, the leaders. Gavin said we should go for it, that Mike would take the curacy. At that point, I shared this story to this point with him, to encourage him and the members of St. Johns.

But then! He said…

“Katie, you do know that the road you’re living on is called…”

 

And then when we went to visit our house, what is growing in the front garden? A laurel tree.

 

So, make of that what you will.

I have an invitation for you.

I am renewing my Baptism vows on the 9th June, 21 years after I became a Christian (athiest came to Christ Church thinking it was a date…another long story.)

This entails me confirming my Baptism vows, sharing my faith story and being submerged in water (cunning pool under the church stage). It’s quite a spectacle, at the very least. And I’d really like a chance to share my faith with you, especially those reading who aren’t Christians. I promise I will try my hardest on my part to remove the jargon and make it a positive, welcoming experience.

Mike will be preaching too. It’s our chance to say a heartfelt goodbye and thanks to all our family at Christ Church and Harrow and also to share my story with you. You might have known me a while, (even our whole lives!) but I’m really hoping you might encounter Jesus (eek, I said that word!) in a new way.

So, please click the graphic below for all the details and I really hope you will join me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Keep Habits | The Parenting Diaries

I’ve been wondering recently, can I think of a new way to help me to keep my habits? I’ve decided to start by making it public, putting it out there and allowing you, readers, to ask me how I’m doing!

I realised that habits were helpful things and also a bit of a lifeline when I was ill with depression (I have a hormone condition which gives me episodes). When my brain was dead and fuzzy and I struggled to look human, wear earrings, work, talk or eat, I was still able to a) have a shower and b) go to my church.

This was because they were ingrained habits, that ran themselves. For instance, I’ve been going to Church every Sunday, for twenty years, so even when I felt like crap, I found myself trundling up the hill, which ultimately helped me with my mood and lifted the fog for a short while.

So I looked further into habits. I am a great fan of Gretchen Rubin, and she’s written a book on habit keeping and understanding your personality type and how best to keep habits going.

Better than Before – Gretchen Rubin

If you can lock in a habit for 21 days then you won’t need any self-control or discipline to keep it going. I wanted a range of daily, weekly, monthly and annual habits, that would help me work with my hormone condition and remain well. To have things I do, without work, that are good for my well-being and run themselves.

Steve Jobs and Barack Obama had a habit of wearing the same thing everyday as it was one less decision to make, and gave him headspace for more important things.

I’ve worked hard to identify the motivation behind my resolution to keep habits. This is covered in my post about my ‘Who I’m becoming’ life aims, which you can read here, if you’re interested to learn more.

My habit type, identified in Gretchen Rubin’s book is that I need external accountability to keep a habit. So I’m putting on here what my habits are, what ones I want to adopt and which ones I find impossible to keep (which are in pink)

Disclaimer – mum/women-type issues discussed below!

Daily Habits:

  • Glass of water when I wake up
  • No mobile for one hour
  • Make breakfast for Mike and Isaac (husband and son)
  • Half an hour of prayer and worship
  • Ok here goes the honesty…pelvic floor exercises on app (the one I find impossible to keep, even though they take, like, one minute!)
  • Habit I’d like to add to my day and struggle to do – short physical exercises for me and Isaac for PC muscles
  • Get up and dressed
  • Brush teeth (wish I could get discipline for brushing Isaac’s at this moment…)
  • Tidy kitchen, water plants, tidy lounge
  • Check my inboxes
  • Lunch with Isaac
  • Do some work/ have some me-time (might involve watching Hollyoaks) while Isaac naps
  • Go for a walk and see a human being in the afternoon
  • Dinner with Mike and Isaac
  • Clear up dinner (if it’s my week not cooking) straight after dinner. (Sometimes do this, sometimes not, always regret it the next morning when I haven’t done it…)
  • Clear up toys with Isaac (with the most wonderful ‘Tidy Up’ song (sometimes we manage this and sometimes we don’t…)
  • Put Isaac to bed and brush his teeth
  • Collapse. No not really. Well, a little bit.
  • Do something friend/ date night/ TV (doh) based. (Although I wish I could spend this time doing more enriching things like editing my photos, baking, painting my nails – how, how to do this when you’re knackered by this point? And when I do manage it, I feel so much better for it.)
  • Do mindfulness and Examen in living room (so as not to fall asleep so easily…)
  • No phone in the bedroom. I have an alarm clock. 5 – 10 minutes reading
  • I wish I could nail the habit to brush my teeth at this point – I confess I don’t always manage this…
  • Glass of water

Weekly Habits

  • Plan my week on Sunday night (sometimes manage this, always better when I do!)
  • Phone my mum
  • Phone my closest friends
  • Do housework and a wash (who am I kidding, this is most days…)
  • Water the plants
  • Change Isaac’s sheets
  • Do work on a Friday
  • Volunteer for Mind Charity Shop
  • I wish I could go to a weekly core group to share my faith with other Christians. Hopefully sometime soon.
  • Have date night with my hubby
  • Go through my budget
  • Go through my photos on my phone
  • Do Lifemin. Hit and miss.
  • Go to Church
  • Have some time for me.

Monthly Habits

  • See my Spiritual Director
  • See my best friend
  • Have a family day with Mike and Isaac

Quarterly Habits

  • Have a work retreat day. I sometimes manage this and sometimes don’t. My business and cash flow always benefits when I do!
  • Have my hormone injection
  • Have a mini-break with Mike and Isaac
  • Go to a Theme Park to scream my head off
  • Enjoy being outside in the Seasons – i.e. bluebells, the seaside, fireworks and winter illuminations
  • Go to a gig?
  • Take part or host an art exhibition to show and sell my art
  • Go to my hormone clinic
  • Go to training events to grow my knowledge

Yearly Habits

  • Go on a hot holiday just before the busy Christmas season
  • Celebrate mine, Mike and Isaac’s birthday
  • Go and see my Dad and my step mum in France
  • Go to Spring Harvest
  • Go to the Mind and Soul Conference
  • Have my ‘Thanks’ party in grey January

Here’s the point of this blog post…

The reason I’m writing this blog post in the first place is that try as I might, I can’t ingrain the habit of doing my daily pelvic floor exercises. I don’t know why, because they only take a short while.

My motivations for wanting to nail this habit are:

  • Jumping on bouncy castles
  • Jumping on trampolines
  • Going nuts in a ball pool
  • Dancing like no-one is watching
  • Not having a ‘problem’ when I get scared or surprised or fall down a step (or trip up, let’s be honest)
  • Not having a ‘big problem’ when I have a stinking cold and am coughing all the time

Here is me doing some of my favourite things that are a lot less carefree and more difficult these days…

Bouncy Castle Habit Motivation!
Bouncy Castle Habit Motivation!

Ball Pool Habit Motivation!

So, I’ve put it out there. Said what every mum and or woman is thinking, probably. I’d love encouragement, ideas, stories etc on how I can really nail this one elusive habit!

I hope you might find something useful in this post, too.

 

My Framework for Growth – ‘Who I’m Becoming’.

I’ve been reading a book by Bill Hybels, called, ‘Simplify’. One chapter is about your schedule (or diary). There is a quote which I have really taken to heart:

'Who I'm Becoming' Quote from Bill Hybels.
‘Who I’m Becoming’ Quote from Bill Hybels.

This means that we put in our diary not what is coming at us, but the appointments, meetings and events that will help us become who we want to be in the future.

With that in mind, I have created twelve ‘Becoming Tiles’, which are in order of importance, to help guide me in my decisions and what I allow in my diary:

1) Be Happy and Healthy.

This means, put my physical and mental health before anything else. If I go down with mental or physical illness, then the whole family goes down, my work and ministry is affected and I can’t care for anyone.

These things need to go in my diary:

  • Doing mindfulness every day
  • Taking time out for myself
  • Having boundaries with friends, family and work
  • Making time for God and Church
  • Making time to be with friends and family
  • Doing exercise
  • Eating well
  • Having days off and holidays
  • Dealing with issues promptly and directly.

2) Always put Mike and Isaac first.

This means putting my husband, Mike and my son, Isaac, above all the other items on my list and in my diary.

These things will go in my diary:

  • Spending family time together
  • Supporting Mike in his ministry
  • Taking Isaac places and showing him things that will help him grow
  • Championing my family
  • Spending enough time at home
  • Date Night.

3) Prioritising Mine and Isaac’s Character.

This means considering my character in my decisions, and also helping Isaac to grow in character. When he’s an adult I want him to be a catch, a good employee, friend and a polite chap.

Things like these will go in the diary:

  • Regular time with wise friends and family
  • Imput into my discipleship, such as Spring Harvest, training days and workshops
  • Attending the ‘Mind and Soul’ conference
  • Reading books and attending talks on parenting
  • Seeing my Spiritual Director

4) Being Fully Me.

I don’t want to be anyone else. I don’t want to water myself down for anyone. I want to be fully me.

This means putting things in my diary like:

  • Being inspired by art, design and style
  • Taking photos
  • Being silly and joyful
  • Going to Theme Parks
  • Seeing plays
  • Going to gigs
  • Enjoying the seasons outside
  • Going to water parks
  • Singing Karaoke
  • Trying new things
  • Spending time on my hobbies, like gardening, calligraphy and nail art.

5) Be a Leader and Mentor.

I might be a vicar one day…it might happen. I’ve lead what was really a church in Harrow, Get Together, with forty guests a week and enough laughs and problems to start a sitcom…I have several adult Godchildren, who asked me to be that guide in their life. I am a mentor in my work and also in my Church. I run my own business!

To keep going in this direction, these things need to go in my diary:

  • Attending events at the City Hall to consult around diversity in the workplace
  • Being a mentor professionally
  • Offering my services as a voluntary Mentor
  • Having connections with young people
  • Helping out Mental Health charities
  • Going to Theology talks and Leadership events.

6) A Loyal Friend and Relative.

I want to put my friends and family before my work. I want to invest in particular in those that I support, and also support me. I want to be there for important milestones and celebrations. I want to rejoice and commiserate with those I love.

I want these sorts of things to go in my diary:

  • Regular time with my most closest friends
  • Regular quality time with my parents and in-laws
  • Celebrations
  • Time to meet new friends
  • Planning time for special events and celebrations.

7) A Kind Advocate and Activist.

I am passionate about standing up for justice and I’m not afraid to speak up. However, I am also a communicator and educator, so it’s important I do this kindly, in particular with those who need education around certain issues. I want to have increasing impact and really make a difference where I am.

These sorts of things will go in my diary:

  • Putting on Kickass Women events (my women’s networking group)
  • Investing in equipping women with the Kickass Women Facebook group
  • Attending events around equality, diversity and women’s issues, such as Leap, Stylist, Red events and Mind events
  • Speaking with my coach to learn how to communicate more effectively and hone my skills.

8) Always Curious.

I love learning and I want to keep putting aside time to learn new skills for my business and clients and also just widening my mind and inspiring me.

I want to put in my diary things like:

  • Going to workshops to learn new things
  • Going to art exhibitions
  • Attending Red, Stylist, Figaro Digital and Council events to keep my learning up-to-date.
  • Reading relevant books and articles
  • Going on retreat each season to think how to develop Joy Factory.

9) A Lifelong Adventurer

I love going to new places and having adventures. Going on holiday is very important to me, for my soul, my art and deepening relationships with my family and friends.

I want to make time for:

  • A hot holiday in the winter months to raise my family’s spirits
  • Half-term breaks to refresh us
  • A yearly weekend break with my husband
  • A week in France with my Dad and Bean
  • Weekends with my mum
  • Trips with ECC (my rollercoaster club)
  • Crossing places off my travel list, like New York, Helsinki and Sicily.

10) Doing Meaningful Work.

It is important to me to do my work with Joy Factory. I want to be a witness to Isaac, my son, to show a woman can carry on the work she loves and is good at, rather than waiting till nursery. I enjoy my work and it’s good for my wellbeing. And I work to be able to pay for holidays for my family to support my husbands’ small income.

That said, any work I do I have to want to do, as I’m away from my son. And also, work I enjoy with people I like is usually more profitable anyway. I go away each season to review the work I’m doing, partnerships and where I’m going.

I want to keep putting in my diary:

  • Seasonal Retreats
  • Priority time with key partners
  • Time in the Harrow Work Hub
  • Meeting with new clients and customers
  • Time to review feedback from clients.

11) An Active Artist.

I want to find more time in my diary to make new art. I’ve realised that when I do any art, it’s on my phone, doing digital paintings. I’m usually rushing as I’m with my family! I miss time spent playing with new media and experimenting. I also want to do new exhibitions, so I can sell my work to encourage me to make new work.

I’d like these sorts of things to go in my diary:

  • Sketching days
  • Studio days
  • Putting on or taking part in exhibitions
  • Thinking about other revenue streams, like Etsy and creating prints, etc.

12) Hospitable

I love opening my home to people and I love parties. People who come to our gatherings always meet new people., laugh, eat, sing, share and feel at home.

I want to keep these sorts of things in my diary:

  • Celebrating birthdays
  • Having a ‘Thanks’ party in dreary, grey January
  • Marking Advent with Christmas prep then celebrating all twelve days of Christmas
  • Having dinner parties and playdates
  • Playing board games
  • Having movie nights
  • Having a big do at my mum’s once a year, to give people a mini holiday and a chance to dress up!

So there we have it. My ‘Becoming’ tiles and my hopes and dreams for them. I hope this might have inspired folks reading to maybe do their own. Feel free to ask me how I’m doing!

I plan on posting on Social Media about my ‘Becoming’ list as a focus for what I use Facebook, Instagram for etc and also to create a conversation. I also have Pinterest boards I’m working on, which you’re welcome to look at – just search for ‘katiejmoritz’ on Pinterest.

Parenting Diaries: the Quest for ‘Deep Work’…

I just don’t *do* busy.

So, I am a mother of Isaac, a delightful seven-month old noisy mini-me with lots of energy, I have my own business, Joy Factory, doing marketing consultation, design and selling my art, I do mental health advocacy, I’m a business mentor, I volunteer at my church…people often ask me how do I manage to do it all. I’m not sure, but I think it might be because I’m not ‘busy‘, but ‘focused’.

Gratuitous cute picture of my son, Isaac (and my lovely hub, Mike)
Gratuitous cute picture of my son, Isaac (and my lovely hub, Mike)

I don’t do that word. I’m not being pedantic – I just believe the power our own words can have over your life. So, to me…’busy‘ is not a good state. It could mean a badge of honour, a way to feel important or successful but in my eyes it means I’d be stressed, over-worked, people pleasing and had a bout of not saying no.

What is ‘deep work‘?

So what is ‘deep work‘, then? Instead of ‘busy‘, I use the words ‘purposeful‘, or ‘focused‘ but the other day I read an article that just summed up what I’m aiming for. ‘Deep work‘ is that time where you get your head down and manage to work on projects, activities etc that align and work towards your values and mission. Not getting caught in the trap of nervously watching emails come in or social media notifications (that make your heart flutter), or going off on tangents or answering the door or phone.

Just say
Just say “no” – get more done!

Just say “no”

So how do you manage to get some deep work done? By saying “no”. All the things we say “yes” to, we are saying “no” to something we were going to do.

And we can also say “no” to ourselves. As a creative and organised person, I can easily be drawn off on tangents and do a whole host of things where I was just trying to do one, as my mind makes galloping leaps. (e.g. some thoughts from this morning… “Right, I’m just going to take these cups to the kitchen so I can finish this blog post. Oh yes, I must hoover the hall. Ah yes, those seeds on the kitchen counter there, must plant those. Ooh, only got two eggs, need some more to cook that cake…right let’s go to Waitrose…”)

If I think about my aims for that day, hour, week or even year, it focuses my thoughts and actions. It’s so easy though, to get whirled along by life, people, marketing etc etc and not manage to carve out the time to consider what actually matters. It’s so easy to just shelve that time you put aside to evaluate a work project, back up the laptop (hello, that’s me) or just have a day retreat.

But, as it says in ‘Seven Habits of Effective People‘, the most important tasks to complete are those that are ‘Important, and not urgent‘. Not…”oh the photocopier is broken, the delivery’s not come, we need more post-its” etc…those fire-fighting ones that take up the whole day somehow.

'Deep Work' - free from distraction.
‘Deep Work’ – free from distraction.

Stocking a ‘Deep work’ toolkit

So, how do I do this already? How could I do this better? Here are some thoughts and ideas:

Get things done with Evernote - free up at least an hour a day.
Get things done with Evernote – free up at least an hour a day.

Getting Things Done

My life is so much easier (and less stressful) now I use Evernote, with a ‘Getting Things Done‘ mentality. If this is new to you, then I promise implementing this system will open up at least an hour a day, and you’ll be less stressed and have more amazing ideas.

Mindfulness

It’s so important for me to take a moment or an extended amount of time out during the day, at the end of the day and periodically throughout the year to take stock, be grateful, critically review, play and make big plans. Otherwise stuff just happens to me I didn’t plan or want. I try to do just one thing at a time, and be fully present.

The power of habits, according to Gretchen Rubin.
The power of habits, according to Gretchen Rubin.

Build habits

Habit-building is something I’m doing more intentionally these days. I read the fab book, ‘Better than Before‘, by Gretchen Rubin. If you spend just twenty-one days working hard on a new habit, it will then run itself and you need no will power or self-control. I now have a strict routine each day, which includes a walk, mindfulness and even doing my Pelvic Floor exercises.

My hope is that if I got mentally ill again (heaven forbid) that these habits would continue. I realised that on even the very worst day of my life when I was depressed and anxious I still cleaned the shower screen because it’s an ingrained habit.

I hate to say it, but work ‘SMART’

I’m sure we all know this one; are our projects specific, measured, achievable, realistic and time-based? I have now made myself a checklist for my habits and also set myself some targets for the things I want to achieve, both personally, as a mother and in work.

I discovered through ‘Better than Before‘ that our success in keeping habits is determined by our personality type. I’m an ‘obliger‘, which means I can do things very easily for others, but not so much for myself. If I am accountable to someone, i.e. I say “please ask me about my pelvic floor practice, or have I been on the exercise bike, or have I had enough ‘me-time'”, I am far more likely to do these things.

Know yourself enough to say “no”

One amazing blessing that’s come from being depressed and anxious several times over the last few years has been the sharpening effect. When you’ve been through some of the worst days of your life and you come out of them, I’ve found that nothing really scares me anymore. I don’t have time to waste on toxic people, work I don’t want to do or things I don’t want to do. Life is short!

I think saying “no”, is hard because of the fear of upsetting someone or letting someone down and therefore how we will be seen by them. When you know yourself, and what you really want to do in life and what you care about, you can say “no”, politely though, with confidence. If the person is offended then a) that is their choice, their decision and their prerogative, and b) maybe I don’t need that person in my life.

Don’t chase people

So let’s say you make an invitation or offer (e.g. someone asks for a business card, you arrange to meet up with someone you don’t know very well, or you’re meeting up with someone who you are patching things up with). Then *don’t* chase it. Have some respect for yourself. Take a leaf out of ‘The Rules’. If your invitation or offer matters to the other person, they will get back to you. Then you don’t waste your time.

And lastly some random things (in no particular order of importance) I find helpful:

  • Post-its, my beloved label maker and my in-tray
  • Days off doing something I really enjoy, like Stealth!
  • Letting God into the problem
  • The Konmarie method: only keep in your life things that spark ‘joy’.
  • Google products
  • Just keeping on doing it, no matter who shows up or cares, if you believe in it then it’s worth doing
  • The Wisdom of Crowds and online forums
  • Just start, then ask for feedback, then do again (Agile project planning)

My last thought comes from my Bible study today. Time is the great leveler, we all have the same amount, we just spend it differently. I want to spend mine on the things that matter. Here’s the original article on ‘deep work’. Would love people’s thoughts and tips, please do comment.