Including

play on a softball team & we aren’t very good. But we have HEAPS of fun & one of the things I like the most about our team is that we include everyone, full stop. Additionally, we’re really encouraging & help each other with sharing equipment, being patient with the learning curve & applauding effort not just achievement. I think anyone could play on our team & likely have a great time.

Would that we could take this mindset into our daily living to be a encouraging, inclusive, supportive & helpful!  Instead of being concerned about being excluded, maybe it would be better to work at being inclusive with gentle attention & care 🙂

Truth Serum

Did you ever see a movie where they used truth serum to interrogate someone?  Supposedly, the truth serum  thing is a hoax or urban legend but wants to find out??  So no matter what you think about truth serum, truth is massively important!

  • Truth guards us from deception & ultimately destruction.
  • Truth helps us make healthy decisions.
  • Truth is a beacon of light when life can seem foggy, murky, unclear or even dark.

To this end, Jesus calls Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth & Jesus tells us that Holy Spirit leads us into truth. So let’s remember that Holy Spirit is our best truth serum!

Flexible and Responsible

This week has lots of moving parts.  My kids are finishing out the schoolyear, taking finals and doing work to get moving toward Summer.  My daughter is graduating high school this week, so we’re hosting a graduation party at the end of the week.  Additionally, there are some things at work that need some flexibility because of deadlines and workload.  So all of this is requiring me to be flexible to adapt to these moving parts.

At the same time, being flexible doesn’t mean I get a free pass to be irresponsible.  Indeed, being flexible lets me do what’s responsible in different and creative ways.  So I’m adjusting my schedule, shifting days and events, so that I can continue to be responsible and attentive to the things that are priorities in my life:  God, family and work.  With God’s help, we can be both responsible and flexible in ways we don’t always consider 🙂

Happy Monday to you!

Preparing for Mother’s Day

On Sunday, we celebrate the annual holiday, Mother’s Day. For lots of people, this is a wonderful day to remember the great care, nurture, sacrifices & relationships with their moms. And for other peeps, this holiday pokes a wound to remind them who their moms were not. So this holiday has a wide spectrum of reaction in consideration of our upbringing.
But more importantly, let’s be committed to the truth that God is our Heavenly Father, as reveled & confirmed to us by Holy Spirit, based on Romans 8:16. Let’s be certain that we honor our earthly moms but let’s live from the reality that we are the sons & daughters of our Heavenly Father. In this truth, we have our true identity, genuine love, unlimited power, eternal life, infinite resources & grace beyond the sky. Happy Mother’s Day!

Waiting for Change

I would like to see some changes in my life with stuff like losing some weight, being more steady with exercise, having more patience with my kids, being less skittery about meeting new people, etc.  With some of these things, I need to take the proverbial bull by the horns & get after it.

But some changes take time & require me to wait. With some changes, I’ve learned that when I meddle & tinker with the stuff that needs to change, my efforts only make things worse.  And if you’re a “make it happen” person, then “wait” is the very close relative to other four letter cuss words.

Here are some benefits to waiting:

  • Slow change often lasts longer than quick changes;
  • the Bible says, “In patience, posses your soul”;
  • Sometimes our wisdom grows in the waiting time

Have a fantastic weekend!

Wrestling with Forgiveness

Doing forgiveness is more difficult than talking about it.  Full stop.

And yet, it’s one of the only cause and affect activities Jesus talks about, based on Matt 6:14.  This is where Jesus says that if we forgive others, our Heavenly Father will forgive us.  And Lord knows that I needs heaps of forgiveness!  I suspect you might need alot of forgiveness as well 🙂

So what does it look like when we don’t forgive?  Here are a few things for your consideration.  When we don’t forgive, we:

  • nurse and rehearse the offense / wound in our thoughts & other people who will sympathize with our pain
  • look for opportunities to lash out or pay back the hurt
  • refuse to let the person “off the hook” or recognize and accept God’s grace for them

At the same time, when we forgive it doesn’t mean that we:

  • position ourself to get repeatedly hurt
  • excuse, dismiss or ignore the hurtful behavior
  • continually bring up the offense with the person who was hurtful

Even though forgiveness can be tricky, we need to be forgiving people and we need to keep our forgiveness fresh!

Getting Help

This morning, my husband told me that I could go buy some stylish clothes since I haven’t bought any for awhile. He said “stylish” as the operative word, because my idea of clothes shopping is to get what’s comfortable at Costco & downplay the style concern.  My strategy doesn’t play out so well for public speaking, media work, leadership image, etc.  And in full disclosure, shopping for “stylish” clothes almost makes me physically sick.  Why I struggle with this is fodder for a future blog.

Nevertheless, my daughter happened to hear what my husband said & she’s the style guru in our house.  She immediately hopped on the bandwagon, “Mom!!  I can help you with that!!”  She proceeded to tell me about a “painless” way to order stylish clothes online, so I gave her the green light to give it a try.  She’s helping me with this adventure & only the Lord knows how much I need help with this!!

I’m really glad that we have Holy Spirit as our continuous Help, expressed in a variety of contexts and methods.  Let’s do our best to let Holy Spirit help us with various troublesome areas in our lives 🙂

Project, Function or Person?

I came home yesterday from some travel over the weekend and had some rough interaction with one of my kids. I had reviewed some of their grades and had some email exchanges with a teacher which weren’t pleasant. So when I got home, I was prickly with my kid. And this child pushed back on my prickly with a sizable dose of snarky such that our exchanges weren’t constructive. Short story: I was really ticked off.

Thankfully, I’ve had a mental reset this morning. I see where I was treating my child as a project and function, expecting them to change, be productive and fix their grades. Instead, it would be better had I come home and started from a place of genuine love in my heart rather than treating them like an object or project. Let’s be committed to seeing people instead of outcomes, projects or functions. We can do this because this is how our Heavenly Father sees us, from a heart of genuine love, connection and deep affection 🙂

Not Done

Time is an interesting ingredient. I say this because my kids took me to my bus stop today so I could catch the bus to the airport. It felt a bit surreal to get dropped off by my daughter at my bus stop. And there’s lots to be said for the taste improvement that can happen when meat gets some time to be marinated. The same is true for a cake baking in the oven – take it out too early & it’s more like thick soup. 

The common denominator for these experiences is time. Time is very interesting. We can often have very strong opinions about time when we don’t have enough, when it moves too fast, when we have uncertainty about the future or when it seems to age us in ways we don’t appreciate. 

With that said, I can appreciate that in God’s time, we are improved, we grow, learn, get wise and see things from different perspectives. I’m grateful that God isn’t done with me & uses time to make me better 🙂

Connect or Obstruct

“Zip it!!!”  This is what everyone told blind Bartimaus when he was yelling, fussing & making a scene. He wanted to get Jesus’ attention so that maybe he could get a miracle from Jesus & see again, in Luke 18. 

I wonder what it was like to be in that crowd who was following Jesus & to be accosted by this desperate man. Their reply, “Zip it!!” tells me that the crowd didn’t have any interest in helping this desperate man. Indeed, they obstructed Bartimeus & attempted to discourage his efforts. 

Let’s be careful that we help people to connect:  find & experience Jesus, when someone seems to be annoying or a nuisance. 

I Disagree!!

I have three wonderful teenage children, very intelligent & sometimes opinionated. And it’s not uncommon to have some very interesting & heated discussions at dinner time about all kinds of topics including politics, musical taste, movie preferences, Hollywood, current events, government policies, theological questions, historical events, recipes & a plethora of random topics. In addition to our wonderful kids, my husband & I have our own perspectives & opinions.  So our dinner conversations can be both diverse & intense. 

As I think about these conversations, it’s important to consider not only what is being said, but also the tone & context for these interactions. If we are going to maintain close relationships, disagreements are inevitable. Here are some helpful thoughts related to disagreements:

  • Seek to understand more than being understood
  • A sincere apology is helpful when there’s misunderstanding 
  • If you’re trying to “win” an argument, appreciate that someone will lose & maybe that’s not a good goal
  • Respect is essential for constructive disagreement 
  • We can disagree without being disagreeable 🙂

Roots & Reactions

I need to dye my hair roots, soon!  The brown is getting displaced by white & I could look like a skunk very quickly 🙂

This makes me think about how I react on certain things like when I’m impatient with my kids, or prickly with someone at church, snarky with person at the grocery store, etc. 

Here’s the important truth:  how we react is based on the roots in our heart. I say this based on Jesus’ words in Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”

So let’s pay attention to what is in our hearts so that our reactions can be fruitful results of healthy heart roots 🙂

Command Sabbath

“Shalom Sabbath!” Having recently returned from Israel, the whole Sabbath thing, taking a day of rest once a week to honor God, is relatively fresh. In Israel, the Sabbath is super important! They organize their elevators to comply with Sabbath regulations, there’s meal guidelines, work closes down for a day & it seems like the entire nation takes a pause. I found the whole experience to be curious & refreshing.

So yesterday, I experienced kind of a “command Sabbath.” We had a really big snowstorm here in Denver, so my kids were home from school & I rested for much of the day. Since I don’t often pause for an entire day, it was an interesting experience. I appreciated getting some extra sleep, along with forcing my mind to disconnect from work stuff. It was nice to enjoy some quiet reading and even catch a great college basketball game!

The “command Sabbath” reminds me that what I do is never as important to God as who I am. And having a day of rest makes me want to be all the more productive today!! 🙂

Where Are My Socks?

Now that my kids have grown into adult bodies, I can’t find my socks because I keep seeing them on my kids feet :). This makes me smile for lots of reasons:  their socks don’t match, my men randomly wear flower socks & socks sizes are irrelevant. 

So our feet are important because they help us walk, they’re the base on which we stand, we use them for beat tapping, kicking, hacky sack, ballet, skiing & loads more!  

Let’s invite God to guide our feet, our steps & direction!  

And a helpful prayer: 

Ps 40:2, “You brought me up out of the pit of destruction & miry clay;  You set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm.”

Tourist or Pilgrim?

I’m in Jerusalem with my family, friends & church family seeing loads of biblical stuff that is nothing short of epic!  For example, we’ve seen the synagogue where Jesus taught in Capernaum, Gethsemane, David’s palace, the Temple Mount & heaps more.  I feel like a kid in a candy store to the 10th power!!  

And as I walk around all these sites, reflecting on the associated Bible verses, I’m deeply moved. If I’m only a tourist, then this is a journey of visual information, interesting to my mind but not so much for my heart. As a pilgrim, however, I participate in this journey realizing that my heart could change along the way & I could be different from having taken this journey.  A tourist could have less risk but a pilgrim could have more reward.

So I pose to you the question: will you be a tourist or a pilgrim on this day?  We get to make this decision everyday 🙂

Timeless

I’m in Israel & just visited the house of Simon the Tanner where Peter had a vision & learned that God is including the Gentiles for redemption (Acts 9-10). It’s mind blowing to visit such an historical site & consider the ramifications of Peters experience but even more so God’s character, which is timeless.  

When I get to visit these kinds of historical sites, it refreshes my gratitude that God is loving, inclusive, patient & forgiving. And no matter where you are today, what is happening in your life & regardless of your feelings / emotions, God is never changing & God’s character is genuine love, full stop. 

House of Simon the Tanner

Walking Alongside Difficult

Yesterday, a few of my friends told me some heartbreaking news. One friend is facing a monstrous health crisis & another friend has a family crisis that’s is beyond sad. I deeply love these friends & learning of these crises touches me to my core. 

So what to do?  Should I give them key Bible verses that could “fix” their situation? Should I tell them to be strong in their faith?  Should I rebuke any negative words? What should I do?

When I look in the Bible for some help & direction, it’s noteworthy that Job’s friends sat with him for an entire week before they said anything. And maybe that was their best input because their words don’t seem very comforting to me. 

Here are some ideas that might be helpful:

  • Be present – pay attention to not only the words being spoken, but also the body language & emotions that are being felt
  • Be steady – I’ve found that people who go through traumatic experiences can often crave someone being consistent & steady
  • Be gentle – instead of assuming you know what the person needs or wants, it’s better to ask. 
  • Be prayerful – it’s very helpful to sincerely pray even on your own for the person & not just with or around them. 

Short Supply

“Can I borrow some milk?” My former neighbor & I used to always borrow ingredients for cooking. Both of us were always busy, so it was abundantly helpful that we could text each other & have one of our kids run over whatever was missing (eggs, flour, sugar, milk, cumin, celery salt, etc). And we would often talk about how we had run out of patience, or run out of time, so it was very nice to have a friend who could sympathize with the “short supply” challenge.

Sadly, she moved a few years ago and my cooking has never been the same 🙂

And I’m super grateful that Jesus is never in short supply of everything I need! Indeed, Jesus has an oversupply of patience, grace, wisdom, time, energy, faith, genuine love, help, strength, . . . . To be sure, Jesus is the ultimate Provision for everything we need for all of this week and beyond!

The Jesus Way

“Caught in the very act!” These were the words of the Jewish leaders when they interrupted Jesus’ teaching with an adulterous woman. Ultimately, Jesus told the woman that He didn’t condemn her, to go her way & sin no more.

“We don’t have enough bread to feed this mass of people.” These were the words of Jesus’ disciples when He told them to feed the crowd. Ultimately, Jesus asked what they had, started with that & multiplied from there.

“Jesus wept.” This was Jesus’ response to seeing the intense grief and mourning from Lazarus’ death. Ultimately, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, after conversing with his sisters who were deep in the throes of loss.

The Jesus Way, which we would do well to follow, includes these things:

  • the absence of judgment and the abundance of forgiveness
  • bless the provision instead of cursing the lack
  • being present in grief and pain rather distracted or numb

Let’s do the Jesus Way in our daily living, which is ultimately the Way of Genuine Love!

Not Ideal

We all have different ideas about perfect or ideal. Some of us would be perfectionists & we struggle to navigate sometimes in stuff that’s less than perfect. Some of us are kind of the middle of the road – we like ideal or perfect, but we can figure stuff out when life is imperfect. And for some of us, perfect is almost a joke & an elusive ideal. 

I find myself frequently in less than ideal situations & sometimes I flounder but other times I can flourish in the imperfection. Here are something’s that I’ve found to be helpful for flourishing in less than ideal situations:

  • Focal point: keeping my eyes on Jesus helps me not get so ruffled
  • Choose trust: it helps me to actively choose to trust Jesus & His love for me
  • Identify lemons: what are the less than perfect challenges?
  • Make lemonade: it really helps me to ask Holy Spirit how to make improvements in situations & experiences that aren’t ideal or perfect. Lots of times, the feedback I hear from from Holy Spirit is to shift my point of view & opinion 🙂