Gravity & Granite

We recently had some work done on our kitchen that included replacing the countertops with granite. While the granite is very beautiful, it’s SUPER heavy. Imagine the shock when it started to become unglued & fall off the support wall! Thankfully, no one was hurt but it brought to light some interesting thoughts. The glue wasn’t strong enough to keep the granite attached, so we not only re-glued the granite but now we’re also installing corbels (a fancy architectural term for bracket). 
For me, I see this granite adventure kind of like the Holy Spirit working in my daily living. Not only do I need the Holy Spirit to keep me glued together, but I need all of the Holy Spirit support that’s possible to keep me in a functional mindset & to prevent me from falling apart. My flesh is like gravity – pulls me to the lowest level possible. The Holy Spirit keeps me upright, living in truth & holds me together 🙂

Anti-Clone

In Romans 12, Paul tells us not to be conformed to the world but rather transformed by renewing our minds. I really like this verse because I’m not very good at conforming, or so I think. I want to think that I march to the heartbeat of the Holy Spirit & that my decisions are grounded in the love of God. But the key to these goals is living from a transformed mind. Indeed, our thoughts are the battlefield for what comes out of our mouths & the decisions we make with our time, money & energy. 
Being conformed to the world around us isn’t nearly as important as being transformed by Holy Spirit’s presence within us!  

Some questions to consider over this holiday weekend:

  • In what ways have you possibly cloned to the world around you?
  • In what ways do your thoughts need to be transformed?
  • How can we better allow God’s love to influence our decisions, conversations & mindset?

Get Better!

I like to improve in whatever I do. So when I was learning to snowboard, I took lessons to get better. When I was cooking skewers, I wanted my veggies to be as tasty as the meat, so I learned to marinate the veggies & not just the meat. I think life should be an ongoing improvement process & that can be fun!  
And sometimes not. 

Sometimes the process for improving includes correction & that’s a tricky path to navigate. It can be difficult for lots of reasons, but how we receive correction is an essential ingredient for growing & improvement. Here are a few helpful ideas about receiving correction

  • Choose to see the input as an investment rather than a put down
  • Don’t deflect correction – process it & get the best out of it
  • Change – correction without change is wasted energy

Hot Topic:  Gravity Prayers

I like to pray because in my mind, praying is simply conversing with God. Prayer is a dialogue between God & me, not just a monologue shopping list. From time to time, however, I sense God challenging me to make known my requests & not just stay in the listening mode. Over time, I’m learning to take very seriously what these requests can be for the simple reason that God answers our prayers. 
Consider these weighty requests:

  • Patience – when we ask God to help us be more patient, often the resulting journey to that destination can be tumultuous
  • Trust – help me trust You more / better; the places in our lives that need this work can get very uncomfortable from the Holy Spirit answering this request
  • Love – I’ve asked God to help me love better & despite some hotspots, the results are worth the risks

It’s not bad to make weighty prayers, but let’s be prepared to make the changes such prayers require. 

Pass on the Poison

Sometimes my thoughts are poisonous. For example, I’m currently writing a book & from time to time I think that what I’m writing is a garbled mess & worthless. There are times when I get in a group of people & I get frozen with insecurity. Occasionally, fear creeps around my thoughts leaving little whispers of doubt. 
All of these things are poison. If I let these thoughts run lose in my mind, I turn into a shriveled little person, ineffective & irrelevant. 

I would speculate that you might have your own versions of poisonous thoughts so let’s help each other out & agree to pass on the poison. How can we do this? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take captive every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God – refuse to let these poisonous thoughts run amuck in your mind
  • Replace the poison with probiotic verses – Gods word is alive & effective so let’s allow it to firmly root & flourish in our thoughts!
  • Take a walk – sometimes it helps to clear the cobwebs when we get some physical exercise. 

No matter what, let’s actively choose to pass on the poison!

Fat or Phat?

Seems like we prefer skinny to fat, but there’s some good value to considering “phat”, in the sense of Jehoshaphat the King of Judah in 1 Kings. I like this king because he’s flawed but he keeps trying. He also seems to make some really stupid decisions & God still keeps him regardless of his stupidity. 
For example, Jehoshaphat really tried to reconcile with his counterpart, Ahab, a godless king of the northern kingdom. You might recognize Ahab as Jezebel’s husband & she was the epitome of wicked, full stop. Back to Jehoshaphat, there was a battle that Jehoshaphat & Ahab fought together but Ahab disguised himself as a common soldier & Jehoshaphat stayed attired in his kingly garb – seems stupid to me. Nonetheless, Ahab was randomly shot in the battle & died but Jehoshaphat survived. 

After reading about this battle in my Bible time this morning, I was encouraged that God helps me even when I make stupid decisions. It’s ok to be phat, learn & make new mistakes! Happy phat Monday ,)

Friendly Friday

Sometimes when I get to the end of a week, I can get cranky because I’m worn out. For example, I had a chat this morning with a friend who was trying to express some struggles they’re trying to navigate. Unfortunately, I was impatient & insensitive so I took a pause & circled back to apologize & listen better. Sometimes the disappointing events from a week can seem to stockpile on Fridays & I can be cranky from this accumulation. And sometimes there seems to be more work than week, making Friday’s potentially frustrating. 
But I’m choosing to exhale & be friendly. Thankfully, I get to choose my attitude because I’m not merely a porcupine byproduct of various challenges or frustrations. It also helps me to be thankful about specific things:  having an enjoyable lunch with my husband, the beautiful weather, the nice birthday lunch with my friend yesterday & tasty family dinner last night. 

So let’s be friendly on this Friday & thankful because today is truly a gift from God!

Shocking!!

Some of us do shock better than others. Some of us need an hourly stability infusion & others need a more steady supply of edgy & unpredictable. Seems to me that Jesus fits the bill for each of these mindsets & He gives us stability when we need it & unpredictable when that’s what’s necessary. 
Consider that Jesus was the steady Eddy for His disciples & earned their trust being His continuous faithfulness to them. He was also a shocker from time to time:

  • The walking on the water thing completely freaked out His disciples – Jesus walking on the water was the last thing they expected to see at 3am in the middle of a storm!
  • The multiple resurrection appearances was seriously shocking – a wake up call for sure!
  • Jesus’ disappearance after the Emmaus road chat made those guys recognize the holy heartburn from their traveling conversation w Him

Let’s be clear that whether we’re in a discouraging storm, or we’ve endured a tragic loss or we can’t understand what God is going, Jesus is fully capable to continue doing supernatural & shocking things. Let’s keep our eyes peeled & hearts open to Jesus throughout this day!

Raise the Tide

Last night my daughter was clocking in some driving time so she can have enough hours to get her drivers license. I was flabbergasted by the quantity of rude drivers even at 8:30pm, unbelievable. I jokingly said to her, “Let that guy who honked at you for driving the speed limit, let him pull up beside us & I’ll do something rude back to him.” Of course I understand that I need to model for my daughter good behavior, so I wasn’t very serious about my comment. 
Nonetheless, I started thinking about my frustrations with other drivers & here’s where it gets dicey: if I mirror back another person’s rude behavior, then I’m making decisions at the lowest common denominator. Living at the lowest common denominator isn’t the life that Jesus describes to His followers in the Beatitudes – specifically as it relates to being merciful & receiving mercy. 

Let’s raise the tide more than we lower our behaviors 🙂

Raise the Tide

Last night my daughter was clocking in some driving time so she can have enough hours to get her drivers license. I was flabbergasted by the quantity of rude drivers even at 8:30pm, unbelievable. I jokingly said to her, “Let that guy who honked at you for driving the speed limit, let him pull up beside us & I’ll do something rude back to him.” Of course I understand that I need to model for my daughter good behavior, so I wasn’t very serious about my comment. 
Nonetheless, I started thinking about my frustrations with other drivers & here’s where it gets dicey: if I mirror back another person’s rude behavior, then I’m making decisions at the lowest common denominator. Living at the lowest common denominator isn’t the life that Jesus describes to His followers in the Beatitudes – specifically as it relates to being merciful & receiving mercy. 

Let’s raise the tide more than we lower our behaviors 🙂

Being Offended

There’s enough content to talk about offenses for endless years and I’m sure I couldeasily describe various situations & people who have offended us. Seems to me that being offended isn’t as much an issue as getting over an offense. Here are some ideas that might help:

  • Quit thinking about ways to get even or pay them back – the revenge thing lays squarely in God’s portfolio
  • Stop talking about it – prayer groups, venting & rehearsing merely fester the wound rather closing it to infection & poison
  • Pray for the person who offended you – private prayers that God would help you to forgive & that God would bless the offending person seem to be healing balm
  • Decide to be a proficient forgiver more than a bitter hater

Like Elsa says in Frozen, “Let it go!”  

Managing Stress

It’s not 9am yet & I think I’ve already endured a week’s worth of stress. Ok, that’s an overreaction, but my daughter just drove me home & she’s just beginning to learn how to drive.  We also just dropped off my son for his first day of high school, so I’m sitting at home endeavoring to calm my frayed nerves. Normally, I’m a relatively relaxed person but I can get pretty jittery when it comes to stuff with my kids. 

Seems to me that we have have areas in our lives that make us jittery & it’s not possible to always avoid these stressors. Sometimes we have to go through stress & get better at managing it rather than stress managing us. 

So here are some pointers that could be helpful to you or someone you know who’s in a stressful season:

  • it can help to take a pause, close your eyes & catch your breath
  • consider if you’re stressed about an event or if there’s a deeper issue that is happening in your emotions / thoughts 
  • stress is usually limited in time or to a situation – it can pass or get smaller when we think about the big picture
  • pray & ask the Holy Spirit to help you have peace that is bigger / stronger than any stress

Sometimes stress can help us lean into God more & rely on ourselves less. In this context, God can get some excellent mileage out of stress & we can have a more intimate relationship with God. That seems to be one of the things that God does so very well in our lives – turning to broken into beautiful & stress into cozy communion with the Holy Spirit!

Hot Topic: Be An Olympian!

I seriously love watching amatuer athletes obliterate records and defy conventional thinking.  In this year’s Olympics, I’ve dropped my teeth on more than one occassion:

  • watching Ledeky become la pescada with her 800m swim that left me speechless
  • seeing Simone Biles defy gravity, celebrating her epic tenacity & talent
  • observing the winning exchange between Nikki Hamblin & Abbey D’Agostino in the 500m qualifying race

The Olympics this year have been very incredible in many different ways.  As I’ve thought about some of stand-out moments & athletes, I asked myself the questions, “In what way would I want to be an Olympian & not just in an athletic context?  How could I be an olympian person in a spiritual context?”  As I thought about these questions, I remembered the story of Perpetua, a third century martyr, who died as she said, “stand fast in the faith and love one another.”  I applaud the athletic achievements that have marked the Olympics this year, but may our love for Jesus and others be every bit as olympian, with the help of the Holy Spirit!

An Earful

Do you ever get frustrated with or mad at God? No matter what your religious background or training has been, I think we have all had times & seasons when we’ve been mad at & frustrated with God. And I don’t think this is a bad thing. 
This morning during my prayer time, I had some heated words with God. I expressed some frustrations & took some time to listen for a reply & feedback. Did I hear lots of input from my diatribe? Not heaps, but I did sense the Holy Spirit with me, listening & with loving presence. In these times when I get frustrated, I never sense that God is displeased with me when I’m upset or angry with God. I think God can be more disturbed with us when we don’t engage or when we withdraw. People in the Bible who argued with God include: Abraham, Moses, Job, David, Elijah, Peter & lots of other folk. Let’s keep talking with God even when we’re upset or frustrated! 🙂

Win the Race!!!

I’m a very competitive person and that can be really bad.  For example, I used to play in our church’s an annual flag football tournament.  After a few years, I decided to remove myself from playing because I couldn’t find a way to compete with a friendly demeanor.  So when Paul says in 1 Cor 9:24, “. . . , run in such as way as to win the prize, ” I would use this phrase to justify my poor behavior.  Of course I took the verse out of context and this verse can often be misappropriated & rationalized to accommodate personal success rather than transformed redemption.  But as followers of Jesus, winning the prize doesn’t align with the world’s definition of victory & success.  Indeed, consider the recent Olympic illustration of “winning the prize”:  running to win

Let’s enedeavor to be successful by the definition of following Jesus rather than letting our flesh or the world define success for us!

Feeling Deficient

Do you ever feel like you’re not enough? Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough energy, wisdom, stamina, etc? Sometimes I feel like Bilbo Baggins when he says , “. . . like butter scraped over too much bread.” We all have stuff for which we’re responsible, but sometimes all of these responsibilities can seem overwhelming. So what should we do on the days when we feel spread too thin? 
Here are some ideas that might help:

  • Pray & ask for divine help, then watch for the ways that the Holy Spirit will give you help with strength & wisdom or even eliminate some of the demands of that day
  • Pause – take a step back & consider if you can let a few things go to make life more manageable & less insane
  • Play – the last thing I feel like doing when I’m stressed & max’ed out is playing & yet sometimes being playful is the exact stress reliever I need to stay the course & not disappear into a mountain hideaway. 

Let’s remember that we always have access to Heavenly Help for wisdom, strength & divine help 🙂

A Little Sugar


The proverbial sugarbowl

I like savory over sweet but in my family, certain members prefer sweet to savory. For example, if I set out a jar of dill pickles some of us could empty that jar lickety split. On the flip side, I could easily forget about some ice cream in the freezer for months while other members of my family wouldn’t let the ice cream survive until the morning. 
Regardless of your taste preferences, there are occasions when a little sugar is always nice:

  • When someone is having a bad day, being sweet can sometimes make the day better for them
  • When someone is angry, Proverbs says that a soft answer turns away wrath
  • Encouragement is a little bit of sugar & I have yet to meet a person who abhors encouragement
  • Soft, gentle, sweet & sincere words can be helpful in any relationship, but perhaps we can the most benefit from giving sweet words more than receiving them

Let’s add some sugar to our interactions today 🙂

A Little Sugar


The proverbial sugarbowl

I like savory over sweet but in my family, certain members prefer sweet to savory. For example, if I set out a jar of dill pickles some of us could empty that jar lickety split. On the flip side, I could easily forget about some ice cream in the freezer for months while other members of my family wouldn’t let the ice cream survive until the morning. 
Regardless of your taste preferences, there are occasions when a little sugar is always nice:

  • When someone is having a bad day, being sweet can sometimes make the day better for them
  • When someone is angry, Proverbs says that a soft answer turns away wrath
  • Encouragement is a little bit of sugar & I have yet to meet a person who abhors encouragement
  • Soft, gentle, sweet & sincere words can be helpful in any relationship, but perhaps we can the most benefit from giving sweet words more than receiving them

Let’s add some sugar to our interactions today 🙂

Keep Looking

“Where is Jo-Jo?”  I’d circled through the stark malnutrition clinic in Angola with Saving Moses, looking for the struggling little baby that I’d met just before we took a break for lunch.  I remembered seeing Jo-Jo’s mom: she was extremely tired and her nerves were obviously frayed.  But I was hopeful for Jo-Jo, since she was in our clinic now and could receive some medical care and a steady supply of the malnutrition formula that has kept literally thousands of babies from dying.

I talked with my friends about Jo-Jo over lunch and I was eager return to the clinic and  encourage her mom that we would do our level best to help her frail daughter to survive and even thrive.  I walked through our clinic again, slower this time, looking for little Jo-Jo in her bright red shirt.  I couldn’t find her so I asked our translator to check in with the nurse to see where Jo-Jo was.  “Her mom took her and left,” was the nurse’s reply.  “We have to find her!  She doesn’t stand a chance of surviving without our help!  Where’s her file, find her address, call the phone number, let’s go to her house, let DO SOMETHING!!!”  I was really upset and I could tell the nurse was also very disturbed.  We looked at Jo-Jo’s chart, found a phone number and only the name of the neighborhood where she lived, since Angola doesn’t use an address system like we do in the US. There was no chance of finding her in the neighborhood listed, it was HUGE.  When we called the number listed on the chart, there was no answer.  So how could we keep trying to find Jo-Jo?  Could we send someone to her neighborhood in the very remote chance we’d find her?

We did this and we kept calling the phone number, but we never found Jo-Jo and given the extremely frail state of her little body, I would suppose that she died.  This has really bothered me for a very long time because Jo-Jo’s mom seemed to have given up all hope for her daughter to live.  What kind of hell does a mom go through to get to the point of giving up hope for her baby to live?  Could I have been more sensitive to the mom’s exhausted state?  What would I do differently in this situation for the future?

Some things are deeply disturbing and this is probably a good thing because such experiences can interrupt our comfortable living and provoke us to bring genuine love and life to the world in which we live.  Let’s keep looking for ways to let God love the world through us.

Loving Well

I love my family, full stop. Sometimes it’s easier to love than others, but my love for each member of my family is embedded deep in my heart. Regardless of my deep feelings & commitment of love, it’s important that I express this love to each individual & that requires me to pay attention really well. Expressing the love that’s in our hearts is an essential ingredient for remaining connected but how I express this love has to be meaningful to the person receiving my loving expression. So for example, one of my family members really like to hold hands, hug & cuddle. So for this person, I need to remember that love in their perspective is most meaningful by touch. I have another family member who likes to have time & a listening ear, not holding hands as much. So with this member, I endeavor to keep some dates on the calendar to have some one-to-one time.

The premise for loving well is grounded in the 5 love languages: touch, gifts, service, time & affirmation. Let’s learn what is a meaningful expression of love to the people we love so that we can love them in ways that nurture our connection with them! Let’s remember to love well!