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Archive for the ‘what is ministry?’ Category

The Secret Voice of Pleasure

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Difference-2-20160708

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Image Credit: Kirk Livingston

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Empathy Versus Sympathy

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“What makes something better is  connection.”

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Via Conversation Agent

Written by kirkistan

June 17, 2015 at 7:54 am

Cottonwood and Woolgathering

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Many small impressions add to something—or not.

Cottonwood is everywhere this time of year in Minnesota. When driving at night, it looks like a snowstorm—light reflects off the airborne wooly-white so you ask yourself “What season is this?” Cottonwood catkins collect in inconvenient places (Example A). With all these loose seeds flying about, it’s a wonder Cottonwood trees are not sprouting from every bit of available soil.

Example A.

Example A.

June cottonwood blizzards remind me of the collection of loose fears and wonderments that have been rolling through my brain lately. Little silences and absences that mean nothing until they gather into a solid-seeming impression. My friend whose cancer is in remission but whom I have not heard from for a long time. Couples I have not talked to together for many months. The out of work friend (s)—what are they doing and why have I not asked them?

As I combat cottonwood seeds today, I think I’ll see how my friend is doing.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

June 4, 2015 at 9:45 am

Praise an Adult: “You’re a good eater and sleeper.”

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And that’s saying something.

According to Mrs. Kirkistan, these are two of my (many?) positive traits:

You’re a good sleeper and a good eater.

She is right: I am. Both.

That’s the kind of stuff we say about an infant, in which case it is high praise indeed: getting that little human to sleep and eat bodes well for future growth. It’s some of the first stuff we can say with any authority about a newborn.

But we struggle to praise an adult.

If we look at those same qualities on the other end of the lifespan, “good sleeper” remains a positive. Older folks have a hard time sleeping (it turns out all sorts and ages of people have a hard time sleeping). What constitutes a “good eater” changes through the years as well. Moving from a voracious eater to a judicious eater seems an especially praiseworthy approach that can span the years.

Still, how can we offer praise to one another in a meaningful way? The trophy for “just showing up” is nearly worthless and most of us see through that. But acknowledging the contributions we each make goes a huge way toward helping each other find and lay hold of our better meaning-making activities.GreatBlur-05202015

Yesterday my client drew a red star next to a paragraph he liked. It’s a small thing, but in conversation I told him it was meaningful that he did that. Our best work, it seems, goes by mostly unremarked. That’s how we know it is good—no one says anything. This is in contrast to when we are kids and our parents praise us for picking up our toys or finishing our Brussel sprouts. Even in school we look for praise from teachers and professors to know that we are doing the right thing/on the right track. But most of life doesn’t work that way.

Giving feedback can help us close the circuit for each other. Even if barely acknowledged, a complement does a whole lotta good.

But it better be true. Otherwise it’s just pandering.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

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