|Posted on November 19, 2015 at 8:35 AM||comments (0)|
Life Changing Statements For All of Us, No Matter Your Age:
“Do the next right thing” and “What did you expect to happen next?”
As a kid my dad would tell me to “do the next right thing,” knowing that what I’d just done was off the chart ridiculous and couldn’t be saved; yes, my parents had their hands full most of the time with me as I have been strong willed my entire life. I am the only girl of three children and my parents struggled epically financially almost always. It was in their advice and direction –and love- where we received our greatest gifts. My mother had to have spent every day of her life simply praying I wouldn’t blow something up as a result of extreme passion and my immaturity in delivering what I thought was right.
Dad was pretty hard core and extremely funny, but had the absolute patience of Job with love; and absolutely no patience at all for the seriously unkind of the world. He and my mom were constantly the most forgiving people in my life and well demonstrated their values and life’s principles in every action and words spoken. They were extremely different people and I am a healthy mix of each today. As I grew older my father and I went from the very stern “do the next right thing, Jane” to “what did you expect to happen next” when clearly I’d not thought for even a moment about what could occur do to my actions. My dad was an “actions” guy and believed that people were exactly who they presented themselves to be. All great teachings and problem solving skills learned at a very early age, for sure.
Learning to always call on these two questions in life was a slow process for me, but today makes great sense to me personally, spiritually, and in leadership. I’ve abandoned the idea of changing anyone, I mean after all I know how to – not! No matter how bad I want to or how long I walk with someone it isn’t my job to change people. That will always rest with Jesus. My job is to get them to His feet. Talk about transition – I don’t have to save people? Wow! Make no mistake that does not mean I do not have a responsibility to serve them, teach them, and love them. That is my calling!
Today in my work I’ve found these two questions can be the saving force to a teen or adult. At our teen center, with my own son, with the women that I’m blessed to work with and workout with the rules of “Do the next right thing” and “What did you expect to happen next?” have become my most cherished directional statements in love and life coaching. Every person I work is old enough and well equipped to take these two statements and impact their own lives forever!
- It gives total power back to the individual to make a decision based on the beautiful person God has created them to be.
They know themselves best and I don’t need to know more than them about who they are in this life; and I accepted many years ago that I cannot know everything.
God holds the keys to all things and when a moment is taken to stop and check who you are in your own actions you will try to do THE NEXT RIGHT THING and will totally eliminate the need for WHAT DID YOU EXPECT TO HAPPEN NEXT.
- James 4:17 ESV - So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
It isn’t you or I that can make these decisions for them; they must decide to or not to “do the next right thing.”
|Posted on November 9, 2015 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
“Wait, that was my idea!” – JWT
1st Peter 4:10 (NIV) – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
Stupid HUMAN moment! Ever had that moment when you know what you see happening is something you set into motion through a conversation or brainstorming session, and then a few months later you go to a gathering and see it lived out through the efforts of another? That “hey, that’s my idea” moment? Who knows, maybe this was just my hang up during a time in life when I was being molded and shaped through EVERYTHING I was doing – a time when I needed to have others know it was ME that was just so brilliant!
Setting the stage for others to be seen was part of my calling and I had no idea at the time that these instances were preparing me for my next works. In my career and journey I will never be able to recap the number of times I’d given away a money making idea or fundraiser, and definitely the number of coffee dates with my BF complaining that it had HAPPENED AGAIN! As an event planner and community programmer for years, with an attitude of working together I could not understand of myself at the time, I used to share everything that was in my head and heart and that has never changed. But, back then, I would find a year later how very successful it was for the person or organization that took off with my idea and you can trust that no credit was given to the “idea girl” for her contributions. Talk about beating up my self-esteem; I used to get so angry that I had not been included in my own idea that I would begin to separate myself with the attitude of “I’m not sharing not even one more idea”only to find myself at the next meeting brainstorming away and giving it all I had. God preparing me all the way! If I could not learn that it wasn’t about me and my efforts, then serving would become something that would never be sustainable in life.
It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I found I own no part of any effort I lead and I actually learned this through a nasty political campaign – that if I am to do the work of God, then all things are for His glory and not the glory of Jane or some other name associated with the effort. It is funny to me these days as I think back about my journey and the frustrations of a young servant and then compare them to now as I grow into later seasons of life. The absolute thankfulness I celebrate to not have to live out every idea that I’ve ever had makes my heart smile; sort of like how thankful I am when not all of my prayers are answered.
I am a visionary and blessed with an understanding of strategy that belongs to God. Through my years of success and failure what I can see in these days within community, servantly, and as a child of God is that nothing can be done numbers of ONE. That for the good of all many must participate because we’ve all been gifted differently for intention and purpose of the Heavens or God’s glory.
Today I am very thankful to be in a committee meeting where I can share everything that is in my head and heart in full confidence that the person who MOST NEEDS the blessing of THAT IDEA will receive it and run with it all the way to success. To watch others successful for God, there is no greater call in this life.
God gives me and you exactly what it is that we are to do in action for Him daily. I find in sharing my journey with others these days I no longer say “That was my idea.” I most often say “I always think I have a good idea and then God shows me what to do next –it’s really always just His idea!” to be lived out in the life of the one most needing or prepared to carry it to success.
These days I would not seek that my name be found in my efforts, ideas, or thoughts.
I hope to be known as God’s greatest Return on Investment!
|Posted on October 28, 2015 at 4:30 AM||comments (0)|
Random thoughts of an afterschool director at a teen center - after listening to teens talk to one another about their real life:
I often wonder if fast food restaurants, entry level retail, and hospitality companies realize that they are promoting the continuance in the cycle of poverty in not hiring teens to work in their entry level positions. Hiring adults to do what teens once did only gives their family enough money to do limited anything in helping to break a cycle. Most often these funds take care of basic food, because that is the resource that MUST be met first in every family, and at the close of purchasing food there is almost no money for any other life necessity.
My first job was my uncle’s restaurant cutting potatoes to be fried at 13 years old, then my first "real" job was Publix at 16. I turned 16 and walked in with an application. Teens today want the very same things that you and I did. I believe that it was my generation that may have been last of everyone had an afterschool job and it was weird if you did not.
It is our hospitality, food, and retail industries that best teach through employment basic life skills such as customer service, exchange of goods for money, protocol for hierarchy in systems of management, and KINDNESS. It reduces the expectation that society should just take care of them…it is the start that can break a cycle of poverty. Sure it takes time to train teenagers, but it also costs extreme amounts of money to keep families in cycle of welfare.
- As a society of visionaries and leaders in a now global community, many have seemed to abandon solid practices for taking care of our very own villages by simply ignoring what is happening.
Profile of teen that makes me think: Male. Michael and he is 16 (almost 17 as he always tells me). He is a strong B and C student that is street wise like nothing understood. He is a brilliant artist and escapes as often as he can through the manipulation of pastels, paints, and sketch pads. He is real with real dreams and a heart for Christ and a reality that is crushing some days. He cries, gets hurt, feels alone, and like the world doesn’t care about him. He is overwhelmingly sweet and LOVES girls. He is real!
- On a daily basis for the kids I serve there can be nothing more important than the urban slang term, “The struggle is real!” I keep it as “real” as I can be with our teens and when they say something that is just outside of what I know I tell them to explain it to me. It’s about stopping and hearing their heart.
Conversation with Michael:
“So, your struggle is real? Define the struggle.” He begins to explain “struggle” and starts by saying, “you won’t understand Jane. I have to get a job NOW! I have to help my mom and dad out; they got bills to pay, Jane.” This is a kid with so much potential that it hurts my heart that he can use this term on a regular basis. So I reassure him to the best of my ability and say with a hug, "l I know adults that would cave under the pressure of what you live, stay strong Kid. We’ll get through this.”
- As I shared with this teen, years ago any company would hire him for afterschool work; explaining the change in global economics and the dynamics of the working poor and how adults out of work now get those positions now.
Michael and I begin to laugh (both with tears in our eyes) and I try to make light of what any adult on the planet would cry for if they found themselves in the middle of what this young man was facing. I reminded him that prayer and dedication to getting to his goals would keep him focused to what he needs. He reminds me in no uncertain terms that the lights will be turned off or they will be evicted if he doesn’t do his part. His heart is that of any kid that loves their parents, he wants to help ease their suffering AND BECAUSE THE STRUGGLE IS REAL school is hard to keep up with. This would be any other A student if handed a different life, yet he manages even with the difficulty.
One of my greatest “struggles” is getting adults in leadership to actually stop and listen with an open heart to kids like this one - It's the stopping and listening part they have the hardest time with. Personally, I believe that it is an inability to step out of their leadership/adult jaded space on the planet and dare to enter the world of a real teen in the middle of epic struggle. It's just too real and for most because they don't feel they can FIX IT ALL they just do nothing for one.
Teens in poverty aren’t' expecting anything as a generation and I get offended when I hear this as a general statement for all teens today. Teens in poverty or great need want out and we are their only hope. In wrapping back to the start of this conversation - our teens need to be working part-time jobs afterschool and they want to. If we take the time the greatest workforce we could hire is hanging out on the streets and they are sincerely not expecting anything to happen for them. In fact, they expect nothing to happen at all for them.
|Posted on October 19, 2015 at 2:10 PM||comments (0)|
Welcome to the JWT Ministries blog!
Jane Waters Thomas, Executive Director, Arts Ensemble Education Foundation and Door2Change (Arts2Doors.com)
Here I will share and discuss topics found in everyday outreach; aka, ministry. Our specific topics will include God Speaks, journaling with God; The Struggle is Real, Teen Outreach; and Like a Warrior, Women’s Outreach. Through the experiences of my personal journey, I will share what outreach looks like in real touch with individuals, groups, and government that can lead to dynamic change or shift in perception within our touch.
It is my hope that through the God Speaks portion of the blog readers find hope and unfailing love as our team travels this life with others. The Struggle is Real is dedicated to the teens of our community who rightly deserve a voice and a lift to possibility. Like a Warrior is my heart! It is the fighter within me that once broken became a fighter within God for those in need of love and protection at a depth that I could have never known was in me.
My past and life has been brilliantly designed by God to meet the needs of the exact time of NOW in touching lives and lifting individuals. I am not alone and am never enough on this journey as needs remain constant and ever changing in my small community, state, and our nation. I constantly refer to a quote by Louie Giglio that well stated how I feel about where I am: “We are all specs in the amazing universe created by God.” I follow that with: I may be small but like static electricity God will work through those that will to bring others to his light and love.
I spent 12 years in political campaigning and management, and more than 20 years in community programming. Always doing “the next right thing” to the best of my ability and obviously failing it from time to time. God moved me into a community 11 years ago, however, where he would pull all that I’d experienced into one place and change my life forever – Eloise, Florida. I laugh when I say I landed in Eloise in a 3-piece light pink business suit, only to find myself 5 years later in kicks, jeans, t-shirts and with paint brushes in hand serving God. But, that’s real and that’s God! I have served on numerous boards and committees in my career and spent many hours lobbying – from Winter Haven to Tallahassee – for the efforts and needs of those who felt they had no voice. When God said “NOW” in my life, I could have never estimated what that would be; this blog is greatly about that: What it looks like to be in the middle of spiritual warfare as a chic-warrior.
God is my leader and Christ my Savior, and I spend my days serving those in need, teaching those who will share time with me, and loving as many as I can in a day. Art is my tool and love my sheild. I am blessed because He lives and it is my prayer it is seen in all that I do. The “I am” in who I hope to be is Christ; the who that I am on this planet serves others and leads in love. My heart is to teens and women and my strength is in God alone. I am blessed to work in the arts and I am honored to work with those in need.