Saturday, November 17, 2018

Another coaching class, asking, listening, and wondering

I signed up for another coaching class this week: Asking Powerful Questions. It is an E-class from Coach Approach Ministries. I used to be licensed through this group, and I don't know that this will be anything new for me, but it's one of those things I feel like I can use to improve myself and my interaction with others. Anyway, the class is online and self-paced, so I hope to start working through it this week.

Along those lines, I also happened onto this article yesterday: "What Great Listeners Actually Do." It seems just about everything I do anymore involves being a better listen. Whether work, ministry, or everyday relationships in general, good listening skills are something we could probably all use some help with. And... it fits right into the coaching classes I've been taking.

As the article states, most of us believe good listening boils down to these three things:
  • Not talking when others are speaking
  • Letting others know you’re listening through facial expressions and verbal sounds (“Mmm-hmm”)
  • Being able to repeat what others have said
Certainly that is helpful... but good listening skills really go much deeper. It's the difference between input-based and out-come based theory (imho): what are we really after? According to their studies...
  • Good listening is much more than being silent while the other person talks.
  • Good listening included interactions that build a person’s self-esteem.
  • Good listening was seen as a cooperative conversation.
  • Good listeners tended to make suggestions
The article expands and explains each of these, and I found it quite helpful and probably something I need to re-read from time to time.

So, in case you're wondering why I included "wondering" in the title... I don't know. I guess I'm wondering what all this means in my life. I think I'm beyond seeking a "career" per-se, but I know I always want to be learning. It does seem a little ironic that all my learning seems geared toward the same things. Yet I don't know if it's because this is something I want to do, or if it's something I really need to get better at. So... I'm still just sort of wondering what I want to do when I grow up. Sad, isn't it?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Home again, home again

Minus the jiggety jig, our house guests of the past 26 days have now gone home again. And with that, we have our home back too! :)

Daughter Carrie and her family - plus the cat - moved in with us on Saturday, October 20th, for what everyone thought was going to be a brief stay. They had an electrical fire on the outside of their home, and it turned into much more than any of us expected. Finally, after Drew had to deal with insurance, inspectors, electricians, the electric company, the city and their neighborhood association... the condemned sign was removed from their front door yesterday afternoon and all is right with the world.

Fortunately we have plenty of space, and were even able to keep the cats separate the entire time, so that was never a problem. It was more just everyone being thrown off their normal routines. I think the three kids (7, 6 and 4) were starting to feel a little cramped all in the same bed. Work schedules were also a factor. I always felt bad when I got up at 3:55 am and tried to get ready for work without waking up the other 6 people still sleeping. Then there were just the mere logistics of food, clothes, dishes, parking spots, who controlled the TV remote and things like that.

Not that there weren't a few moments we didn't turn into GRUMPY grandma and grandpa... Especially me. I think my blood pressure was elevated most of the month... but we all survived and no one really got hurt (all that much). I do not know how families live together all the time though. I suppose it's a matter of setting boundaries.

Anyway, now the Feipels have a much safer house with brighter lights and everyone is back in their own bed. We no longer have to worry about little munchkins jumping over the couch or playing on the stairway, or Caleb turning off the furnace. The only one still struggling is our cat. After spending almost a month in the basement, she still hasn't ventured upstairs. I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

Jiggety. Jig.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Where are they supposed to go?

I've been thinking about this for awhile now... and I can't seem to find the words to even address it. So let me just write for awhile and see what comes out...

I see a fair number of homeless and under-served people in my work downtown. I am also familiar with some folk who have various mental health issues, criminal records, and other types society would rather not think about. It seems to be common knowledge - even if it's never spoken - that most of the world would like these people to be... elsewhere. If possible, couldn't they just... "go away?"

But where are they supposed to go? Fort Wayne is no different than many cities trying to revitalize their downtown area. One component of this is removing the homeless and other unsightly poorer dwellers - at best attempting to relocate them somewhere on the outskirts of the city. Yet for those with no transportation this only makes it more difficult, if not impossible, to utilize the few services they already struggle to get.

Of course, there's always the oft-mentioned refrain of, "Well, why don't they just get a job?" Well, why don't they? Maybe because they have mental or physical health issues; or a criminal record; Or again, if you already lack resources - transportation, clothes, food, social networks, etc. - a job may be the least of your concerns if you're just trying to make it through the day.

Another thing I've wondered... What about those who have committed serious crimes or major moral failure? Take, for instance, someone accused of child molestation... or a former Catholic Priest... where are these people supposed to go and what are they to do? I'm not saying there should be no consequence for their actions, but they don't just disappear from the face of the earth. They still have lives.

Even someone like me... I committed no crime and suffered no moral failure, yet I must have been so bad at something that, not only was I asked to resign my position, but the people who asked me have still refused to give me a reason or say anything at all for five years since! Granted, no one told me I couldn't hold a respectable job afterward, but by my own admission in the way I've so poorly handled the situation, I don't feel remotely capable of doing such... So where do I go? What do I do? Am I forever sentenced to folding towels and cleaning up people's sweat (or "flipping burgers")??

I still marvel at the people who complain about the low percentage of people who vote in each election. Like we somehow think MORE people voting is going to solve anything. I'm sorry, but I have no such faith in "people" being able to do anything right. You know what people voting has resulted in?? Donald Trump, that's what! Why do we think MORE people voting would make it any better?!?

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." (H.L. Mencken)

I think the world is full of wrong answers (many of which are really questions): "Why don't they just get a job?" "Why don't they clean themselves up?" Why don't they learn to function as part of society?" Or... "They should have known." "They should have thought of that before they ______." "They need to learn their place." And I could go on...

What do we do with the people society does not want? Where are they/we supposed to go? How then should we live???

Usually it's the people who have never been in such straights who believe they hold the answer. Yet, if you've never struggled with an addiction... you can't possibly know how to deal with one. If you've never been depressed... you can't possibly know the battle within. If your mind or body has never betrayed you... you can't pretend to relate. If you've never known what it's like to wonder if or when you may ever eat again... you just can't understand.

I have no answers. Shoot, I don't think I even know the questions. What I do know, though, is there are no simple solutions. And yet, here we are. Here we are...

I'm trying to listen, Lord.....

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Discipleship coaching

I finished my discipleship coaching class last week (through I was sort of a last-minute add to the class because my pastor is the instructor, and since I'm part of the church and he had some open spots, he let me take it for free. I'm glad I did!

I had actually started something very similar to this course before through 3dm. Home Grown actually grew out of that - the leader was a former 3dm coach - so some of the teaching was the same and some was not.

To kind of put it in a nutshell:
  • This is 6-month, 24-week course that meets for roughly an hour a week (online) and requires 80% attendance to complete (although we only ended up meeting 21 times, I think). We met on Thursdays at 2:30 pm.
  • The main communication tool is "" - an audio/video online format (which I liked much better than the old days of just audio).
  • The main sources of information were the books "Building A Discipling Culture" from Mike Breen, and "The Discipleship Difference" by Robert Logan.
  • The course centered around the ideas of what it means to be a "disciple," and how to do "discipleship." So we worked at developing the right MINDSET, SKILLSET, and TOOLSET
What I want to leave here today is a basic run-down of what we covered each week, and some of the specific resources used during the course. This is more for my own recollection as anything, but it is some good and worthwhile stuff. I was honestly not expecting to get much out of this group, but it turned out to be way more helpful than I expected.

So, as best as I can recall (and had recorded in my notes) these are the bones of what it looked like week to week:
  1. Get acquainted, basics of the group, introduction.
  2. The idea of simple, reproducible practices; Journaling based on the Moravian daily texts.
  3. "What Is God Saying To You?" and "What Will You Actually Do About It?" from Ben Sternke, and an introduction to 'The Learning Circle.'
  4. Practicing 'The Learning Circle.'
  5. Definitions of disciple and discipleship.
  6. Introduction to "Dimensions of Discipleship" handout (taken from 'The Discipleship Difference').
  7. continued...
  8. "Engaging in Spiritual Conversations with Those Who Are Not Yet Followers of Jesus" handout, and practice.
  9. "What IS Discipleship, Really?" handout from Ben Hardman
  10. The 7 Basic Learning Styles discussion
  11. continued...
  12. (I was absent, but it covered the "rest & work" semicircle from 3dm).
  13. Accountability questions/huddle skills & character guides
  14. continued...
  15. The 'Leadership Square' from 3dm
  16. 'Persons of Peace' handout from Ben Sternke
  17. continued...
  18. Five-Fold ministry survey and handout, plus "The Five Equippers of Churches" videos from JR Woodward (
  19. 'Pathway to Mission' handout
  20. Last class (I think) - Q & A
  21. Individual meetings with the leader...
I suppose it's worth noting - in the event someone may happen along here unintentionally - if this is something you're interested in, I would check out for coaching. Brian is a great teacher and it's not only packed full of great resources, but practical teaching and useful skill development. Good stuff!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Raking of the leaves

We spent yesterday afternoon raking leaves out to the curb. It was a nice and sunny 40 degrees and, if there is such a thing as a good time to do it, I suppose this was it. The wee ones in the bottom photo "helped," but the bulk of the raking was done by daughter Carrie and "grandma Jane." I used the blower to get the hard to reach spots.

The city comes through twice to pick up our leaves along the curb. Of course the first time for our neighborhood was last Monday - when we barely had any leaves on the ground - and the next time isn't until the first week of December. As is the case most years, we very well may have snow by then, so they don't pick up the leaves after that.

Anyway, I am glad that's done. I am not a big fan of leaf raking. It messes with my head and sinuses. Any leaves still on the trees will have to stay in the yard. My raking is done for the year. Although I may run the mower over the lawn one more time. We will see...