Eve Annunziato

STILL THE SAME SINNER September 29, 2008

Filed under: Just thinking... — Eve Annunziato @ 2:04 am
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Just returned from my High School reunion back in Philadelphia.  We had such a wonderful time and I enjoyed being reunited with my amazing friends – especially my best friends that I still remain in touch with and continue to do life beside.  Each reunion, I’m in charge of  “check-in” and I enjoy and look forward to my designated post.  I get to welcome all that walk in the door and hand them their nametag.  Although, we have a graduating class of almost 600, I pride myself of knowing and recognize almost everyone who enters – probably because I used to socialize with my peers and talked to everyone and anyone who would listen.   (I know those of you who know me find that very difficult to imagine!). I had so many great conversations and lovely visits during the pre-party the night before, the party, and the after-party.  And, I could post every day for weeks sharing many funny stories as we waxed poetically over many memories with these  inspiring friends.   But there’s one conversation, which I took to heart.

I was talking to a good friend of mine who I’ve known since 6th grade.  He’s a person I occasionally keep in touch with over the years and consider someone I can trust – a guy of character and integrity as well as a wonderful father and husband to his beautiful family.  He was telling me that he reads my blog, but that at times it’s hard for him to think of me as Christian when he vividly remembers the free spirited, risk taking, fearless, wild, energized girl who did this and that in her past (I would gladly list specifics, but my parents are my most loyal readers so I will spare them the details – although I’m sure they know more than they like to admit!). I smiled and listened, and said, “But, I do self disclose some of my failures and imperfections in my posts.”  He agreed, reiterating that I do allude to my pitfalls and that does help.  I would have liked to continue a further and deeper dialogue, but we were abruptly interrupted by the chaos and excitement of the evening.

On the flight home I started to unpack his words.  He made a fair and valid point that provokes much pondering. He made a comment many want to make to many Christ followers.  How can we, as Christians, claim to follow the God of the universe with all of our imperfections and inadequacies? Now, if I were to tell you that my sin was instantly alleviated, disappeared into thin air, I would be a big, fat liar!  The fact is, Pre-Christian I was a sinner.  I made mistakes. I made stupid decisions. I took too many risks and had the tendency to be wild and care free.  As for my Christian life now? I’m still a sinner. I still make mistakes. I still make bad decisions.  I take too many risks and have the tendency to be free-spirited.  You see, I have the same temptations and challenges that have always caused me to stumble. Fortunately for me, for all of us, there’s a God that allows for my redemption, renovation, and transformation, the same God of grace and mercy and Agape love who cares about me more than I deserve.

My very wise pastor teaches, “Good people DO NOT go to heaven, FORGIVEN people do.”  In other words, our laurels can’t lead us to eternal life, but our hearts certainly can. After all, even after we confess Christ into our life, aren’t we all still the same sinner?

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Gifted To Lead PART 2 September 25, 2008

I could talk about this subject all day.  But instead, I’ll just dedicate one final post. As a refresher, we’re exploring the book by Author Nancy Beach called, Gifted to Lead, an inspiring and refreshing journey in which Nancy poignantly explores the art of leading as a woman (Men, don’t stop reading, this will help you manage, teach, lead, and understand the women in your world more). The following will resonate with women and men of influence:


“I believe it is no accident that Jesus was the first rabbi to teach women, to include them in his circles, to give them a level of dignity and opportunity that had been unknown.  We’re told in the eighth chapter of Luke that when Jesus traveled around, he went in a community that included the Twelve, along with women who, in some cases, came from pretty shady backgrounds.  Imagine in that day, a little group of men and women, mostly single, traveling together from town to town. Imagine the rumors and gossip!  Yet Jesus was so committed to creating a new kind of community where it was possible for men and women to relate to each other as brothers and sisters that he was courageously willing to run the risk.  And, so was born a new kind of community, where in Christ there was no longer male and female to stand as a barrier that divided humanity.”
John Ortberg, Forward in Gifted To Lead

Wow!  I love that.  This week a wise man pointed out that at the core of who we are, man and woman, we are the same.  Jesus looked directly into our heart, not our sex.  Leadership is an act of the spirit, an immense responsibility, an earned respect, a presence, a skill not to be taken for granted.  After all, on some level, whether mother, wife, employer, employee, volunteer, homeroom mom, community group facilitator, friend or daughter, we all lead in some capacity.  Embrace it, enjoy it, and accept it.

“I challenge all leaders – women and men – to discover their unique style of leadership and then to live it out with confidence and passion.  The church and our world need all kinds of leaders!  When I see a man lead a team by building strong community, or a woman who displays amazing skills of strategy or vision, I celebrate.  Being true to how God made us makes leadership less of a burden and more of a natural outpouring of how we function best.”  Nancy Beach, Gifted To Lead

I’ll leave you with that.  It will have to be all for now.  I have to sew a flag costume that includes a red, white, and blue wig for my son’s history project this week.  If you know me, I give you permission to laugh aloud.  Alas, it’s time for me to lead this costume making undertaking (Pray for me!).

 

Gifted To Lead Like It Or Not September 13, 2008

I remember it well.  It was our 8th grade end of the year assembly right before 4th period.  Time to hand out the scholastic and academic annual awards.  I got up three times to receive my Captain of the Field Hockey, Captain of the Basketball and Captain of the Lacrosse letters.  Then unbeknownst to me, Ms. Macklin, our athletic director, got up and announced that they had a special medal this year to one of the only female athletes to receive 3 Captain titles in the history of our middle school.  As she announced my name, I went up to receive my special award and when I turned around there he was.  My father was cheering from the back row standing and clapping (he was easy to spot, since he was the only person in the room standing and frankly I don’t even think he realized it or cared).   Surprised to see my dad, I ran up to him and gave him a big hug.  My dad never missed a game or an opportunity to encourage me.  Dad leaned over to me and said with a smile, “Eve, I don’t know what you’re going to decide do with your life, or all the places you’ll go, all I can tell you is, like it or not, you’re going to lead and people are going to follow.”

It was at that point I had my defining moment.  And from that instant on I set out to do just that – figure out how, what, and who to lead.   Sometimes liking it and sometimes not.  But, what my father neglected to tell me is that I was going to be one of the only women in my management circles.  He never warned me that the other department heads hanging out at “mahogany hall” weren’t going to look like me.  He didn’t elaborate that I was going to have to work smarter, try harder, and accomplish more than my male collogues while yearning for respect.  He didn’t share the stats that show women earn less money, get less important job titles and smaller office space (crazy isn’t it – but think about your work, do the men have bigger offices, better titles and more pay?).  And it never crossed my dad’s mind to make a list of setbacks that would befall me if, and when, I ever chose to start a family.  He didn’t advise me of the enormous challenges ahead whilst trying to balance being a wife, mother and employee that can sometimes result to even more gender hurdles, resistance, and loneliness. No, my father never put it that way. However, Author Nancy Beach poignantly illustrate this exact journey in her latest book, “Gifted To Lead: The Art Of Leading As A Woman In The Church.”  It’s inspiring, refreshing and filled with guidance, hope and truth coupled with Nancy’s passion and grace to help women navigate leadership roles in a man’s world.  Such experience from this pioneer, (that makes her sound too old) rather, this revolutionary woman of influence.   I’m going to spend some time unpacking her discoveries that will resonate with every leader – men leading other women leaders, women leading their household and/or the PTA or folks leading a team of any kind with her hard-earned wisdom such as:

“No mistake was made in heaven when God gave you a gift of leadership or teaching. …We must stop apologizing for our gifts and opportunities!  We are not taking up too much room if we are seeking to fulfill a God ordained calling – a calling which may just require us to get over ourselves, take a deep breath, and simply start leading.”

My dear friend, amazing leader and woman of influence presented this book as a gift with the following inscription:

“I love the leader that you are – encouraging, generous, selfless, humble, loving.”

Not quite sure I can live up to her kind words, but I’m going to work really hard trying. Sure, I’m going to fail along the way, and probably often. But no matter what, I’m going to follow my calling whether I like it or not.

 

DOING IT GOD’S WAY September 8, 2008

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cut-throat competition; all consuming-yet-never satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life; serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Galatians 5:19-23 (The Message)

The above ancient writings found in the word of God contain truth, substance, and validity espoused in our relevant life.

Today at Cross Point Church, I witnessed the body of Christ, doing just that – being the body of Christ. I watched people living as selfless servants and as true testaments of the above words of wisdom. It was the first KidStuff worship service of the 2008 season. As more than 70 volunteers, including dozens of kids, showed up this Sunday morning, many of whom worked for over a month, together to create an incredible experience and provide a place where kids and parents can worship together all for His glory. From painting walls, building graphics, scrubbing floors (literally), turning buttons, decorating, singing, dancing, banging on drums, memorizing lines and much more, there was no task too small.

These KidStuff volunteers made clear one thing – they care about building a community, building an environment that’s safe, loving, warm, inviting and fun where folks can worship together and where every person, either for the first time or last time, can walk through the church doors and know that EVERYBODY IS WELCOME AND ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! I’m honored, humbled, and blessed to serve by their sides. Thanks guys, for talking the talk, walking the walk and doing it God’s way!