Routine or Monotony?

I’m a big fan of routines and daily habits because I’m entirely convinced that success can often be the result of daily habits added together over extended time.  I know this to be true from my dentist telling me to floss everyday, from making it a habit to write everyday and lots more!

At the same time, a routine can become mindless and mechanical muscle memory because of familiarity and practice.  This is the monotony quagmire where we get caught in the habit without getting our desired results.

The defining difference between mechanical muscle memory (monotony) and culminated success is attention and presence.  Just because we do something repetitiously doesn’t mean that we’re going to be successful with that activity.  I would suggest that we endeavor to be wholly present and attentive with our daily habits so they can have maximum impact and success.  To this end, let’s be careful to cultivate both intentional presence as well as daily habits!

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Weak Coffee

My dad used to say, “Weak coffee makes you sick.”  So whenever I can see through coffee, it reminds me of my dad & his helpful observations 🙂

Let’s also think about our Heavenly Father & His helpful observations, particularly about each of us. Here are some of God’s observations that can help us today:

  • God sees you through the lens of genuine love.
  • God says that nothing in your life is impossible.  
  • God has peace for your soul no matter what’s happening around you.

I’d encourage you to listen to God’s observations during this day & you’ll be very encouraged!

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My Smart Neighbor

We have new neighbors & it’s fun to watch them get settled in the neighborhood.  I recently discovered a “rogue garden” while I was taking a walk. This garden is outside the neighborhood fence & it’s very well cultivated. One day during my morning quiet time, I saw my neighbor walking with a bucket to the fence & I surmised that he’s watering his garden.  I’ve also noticed that my neighbor has stopped up the drainage culvert to make some fertilizer that he takes to his garden from time to time.

It’s really fun to watch my neighbor & learn about gardening, making fertilizer, weeding etc.  Whenever I talk with him, he tends to be friendly but not very expressive, so I smile & enjoy watching & learning 🙂

Watching my neighbor is a daily reminder to watch for Holy Spirit in my daily living – learning to cultivate Gods Word in my heart, using adversity as fertilizer & keeping the weeds minimized 🙂

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The Unexpected

Life is full of stuff we don’t expect.  For example, yesterday, a massive storm dumped an ocean load of rain in the afternoon, so my softball game was cancelled, unexptectedly.  And I read this morning about Jesus’ disciples eating heads of grain on the Sabbath, something very unexpected within the Jewish culture.

For some of us, the unexpected isn’t too disturbing (if it’s not traumatic) because we enjoy spontaneous.  For others of us, the unexpected is very disturbing because it interrupts our plans, compromises our productivity, distracts our focus and can throw us off balance.

Let’s appreciate that Holy Spirit often works in ways, through events, in conversations and experiences that we neither plan for nor expect.  To this end, let’s allow Holy Spirit to keep our hearts and mindsets flexible so we can follow Holy Spirit with lithe agility 🙂

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Keep Growing!!

I’ve recently learned a new sport called pickleball & I LOVE IT!! This is a fun adventure because I’m learning new skills, meeting great people, getting exercise that’s enjoyable, getting some competitive interaction & enjoying witty banter!  My first experiences weren’t too whippy & I was impatient with myself for not learning faster & doing better. Things are better now 🙂

Moses is a powerful example of ongoing growth. The lesson I’m integrating in my thoughts & emotions is that it’s important to keep growing. We grow by doing some helpful things:

  • Comfortable can be the enemy to growth
  • Age doesn’t need to control nor constrict our ability to grow
  • Growing is a mindset that translates to our decisions & daily living
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3 Relationship Principles :)

Since yesterday was Pentecost, I decided to look at ways Holy Spirit could improve my relationships & come up with 3 helpful keys:

1 – Communication essential:  Holy Spirit is a communication expert as we see on the Day of Pentecost with so many languages & people hearing about Jesus. Ask Holy Spirit to help you to communicate better. This can include listening, slowing down & being kind

2 – Truth essential: since Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, we could be wise to ask for truth in our relationships. When there’s an absence of truth, we invite deception & destruction as evidenced in Acts 5

3 – Definition essential:  let’s allow Holy Spirit to define our relationships to be acquaintances, friends or intimate confidants. In Acts 4, you can see how Holy Spirit defines these relationships for Peter & this was very to him!

Let’s invite Holy Spirit to participate in our relationships & then hold on for an incredible adventure!

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The Human Jesus

I totally dig Jesus, full stop!!  I love that He’s the friend to sinners, heals blindness, confronts religious insanity, loves fallen people, multiplies provisions and heaps more!  But what stops me in my tracks is when I see His humanity.

This morning, I read about Jesus in Gethsemane when He tells Peter, James and John that His soul is deeply grieved to the point of death (Matt 26:38).  And Gethsemane was on the heels of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, where Jesus wept.  This reminds me of Jesus being tired from His journey in John 4, where He takes a pause by a water well in Samaria and strikes up a transforming conversation with the very broken Samaritan woman.  And there’s also the time when He was sleeping in the boat when His disciples were freaked out by a massive storm on the Sea of Galilee.

In these common human experiences such as grief, sleep, being tired and weeping, it helps me know that Jesus has walked in human skin.  Jesus is Incarnate God:  fully God as though He were not man & fully man as though He were not God.  I can appreciate that it’s difficult to wrap our finite minds around how that works, but let’s be grateful that Genuine Love walks with us in our daily living and is compassionate with our human existence.

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3 Keys to Stay Vibrant!!

Yesterday was a very active day for me and super enjoyable!  I had some of the regular work stuff like meetings, emails, phone calls, etc.  But later in the afternoon, my husband & I joined a pickle ball boot camp, beginning to learn some fundamentals of this really fun sport.  And during the evening, I played softball with my church team (we lost but had heaps of fun)!  When I fell asleep, I was very tired and deeply content.  As I reflect on yesterday, here are some keys that could help you to live vibrantly and wholly content:

1 – Keep Moving!!  This applies not only for exercise, but in all areas of our lives.  Exercise in communicating, spiritual growth, community engagement, reading / learning and LOADS more helps us stay vibrant!

2 – Laugh Alot!!  More than anything, I laugh at myself and this helps me alot!  I don’t take myself so seriously and it helps me come to terms with my weaknesses & humanity

3 – Holy Spirit check-in’s:  throughout my day and evening, it was very settling to regularly check in with Holy Spirit for real time adjustments in my attitudes, outlook, conversations, internal audits & rich fellowship.

I sincerely believe that life with Holy Spirit is meant to be vibrant, challenging, fulfilling and transformational!

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On Being Gracious

There is much to be said for being gracious & all the more so in our snarky & sarcastic society, imo.  There are many times when witty banter is fun & enjoyable. But if our motive is to be superior, dismissive, belittling or caustic, then we should take a pause & adjust. While we can definitely make improvements in our communication, it’s even more powerful when we consider why we might have these negative motives.

What happens on our interior is where Holy Spirit can be illuminating & instructional.

To this end, let’s endeavor to be gracious & give Holy Spirit lots of permission & access to work on our interior living 🙂

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The “Enough” Factor

I want more!!!  All of us want more of various things. We want more time, more money, more health, more discipline, more achievements, more peace, . . . We want MORE!

Here’s an important secret for more: being thankful can help us see that what we have is enough for this day.  To this end, I have a friend who frequently reminds me to be thankful as the activity to facilitate enough.

May we also never forget that the way we enter Gods presence is through gratitude based on Ps 100:4.

Rather than seeing deficiency, let’s choose to be grateful for what is present. This could go something like, “Thanks God for a beautiful day!  Thank You for giving me strength.”  These are just a few examples to help us cultivate the habit of gratitude as the  “enough factor”!

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Not Me!!

“I’ll never deny You!”  These are the words Peter used to argue with Jesus about denying Him. Jesus answered by letting peter know that in less than 12 hours Peter would deny Jesus & in Luke 22, Jesus adds some instructional content for Peter after his denial fiasco.

I’ve been thinking about this conversation between Jesus & Peter for a few days now because it demonstrates our ability to deceive ourselves even in God’s presence. Whether we acknowledge or ignore it, we willingly & even joyfully think we are something we are not, or we don’t think we are something when we really are.

Jesus knows this about us & doesn’t withdraw His love nor relationship with us, as we see in His words to Peter.

Let’s take pause & consider that Jesus us knows us better than we know ourselves & that’s an essential demonstration of His genuine love for us!

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Milestone Markers

My daughter graduated from high school yesterday & when I sit down, there’s a lump in my throat. As long as I keep busy, I’m distracted & productive. But sitting down to write this blog forces me to pause. Now I have to keep the memories at bay or I’ll become a puddle of tears & I’m getting misty even as I write this.

We come to various milestones in our lives & it’s a healthy progression. In these moments we take in some of the scope of growth, achievements, recollections & shared moments, with lots more.  I’m grateful that God has wired us to be growing people. So be sure to take some moments to inventory how you’ve grown & changed, to help ensure that you’re going in the right direction & becoming the person consistent with your divine design 🙂

Happy Milestone!

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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 🙂

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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!

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The Steady Quotient

There are lots of factors that are important in our lives, such as our IQ, Emotional Intelligence, time management, financial wisdom, etc.  Sometimes the stuff that’s not so measurable or obvious doesn’t get the same attention as the stuff I just listed.  I would propose that being steady is one of those less sexy or noticeable factors but massively important nonetheless.

I say this because of what steady can accomplish:

  • less cavities with steady brushing and flossing
  • better weight control with steady exercise
  • deeper intimacy with steady presence
  • more awareness of God with steady / daily quiet times
  • better cooking skills with steady practice

As I write this and think about the value of being steady, it makes me wonder how many things in my life would be improved if I were more steadfast in my attention and energies in various areas.  Our daily routines / habits can predict our future 🙂

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The Faulty Dryer

As the season changes from Winter to Spring and dancing on the edge of Summer, I’m enjoying the moderate tempratures, chirping birds and some lovely porch time!  On the down side, I think our dryer is shrinking my clothes because surely I didn’t gain any weight over the Winter 🙂

When I blame my dryer for shrinking my clothes, it’s an easy way to ignore my possible weight gain and my need to exercise.  Indeed, it’s convenient to blame something external, when we don’t like what we might see inside of us.  To this end, finding scapegoats is the easy button to facilitate immaturity, deception, inconsistency and deflecting responsibility.

In full disclosure, there’s nothing wrong with my dryer.  When I admit the truth that I’ve gained weight and need to exercise, it’s a healthy step not only for my body, but for my emotions and thoughts.  Before we blame something external, let’s sit with what’s inside of us to make sure we’re dealing with reality and not distortion 🙂

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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!
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School Shootings

I live in Denver & yesterday we had another school shooting in a Denver suburb. It’s very unsettling to us because our city went through the Columbine school shooting 20 years ago, the Aurora theater shooting, etc. This kind of event triggers bad memories & feelings in us, causing some to have panic attacks, experience crippling fear, reliving PTSD experiences and lots of other stuff.  And it’s a very disturbing development in our country that schools have become unsafe and places to express violence, aggression, combative and hostile behaviors.

To this end, we all have experiences in our lives that have been traumatic and various things can be triggers to catapult panic, anxiety, fear, pain, etc into the front of our thoughts and feelings.  While these emotions can  natural and honest, let’s also be careful to bring these feelings and events to Jesus for prayer, help, courage, strength and grace.  And let’s pray for the people who are going through these traumatic experiences – may God give them grace, strength, wisdom and clarity to navigate this turbulent season / experience for peaceful resolution and redemptive outcomes!

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Measuring Spirituality

In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees, scribes & religious leaders considered themselves to be very spiritual. They ate the right stuff, kept religious holidays & the weekly Shabbat, meticulously observed social protocols, wore proper clothing, prayed with public observation & lots more. From a casual bystander, these leaders paid rigorous attention to religious details, procedures, pious particulars. By the  measures of these religious leaders, they were very spiritual.

Jesus didn’t agree nor did they agree with Him. Jesus was a friend of sinners, drunkards & tax collectors. He didn’t keep to religious protocols nor comply with fastidious piety.

If we measure our spirituality by Jesus’ standards, we’ll be loving, generous, compassionate, encouraging, forgiving & welcoming.  Let’s be careful about what we use to measure our spirituality!

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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!

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Help for Making Decisions

We are all faced with making decisions everyday.  In general, we can navigate the smaller decisions like clothing options, food choices, time usage, where we focus our attention, etc.  But sometimes we can struggle with making bigger decisions.  For example, making a decision about college, taking a job, marriage, buying a house and others can be really stressful.

I recently did a sermon about making decisions & this link might be helpful if you’d like to see the whole thing (the message starts around 1:03), including the wonderful joke at the beginning ,)

And here are some helpful hints from Jacob that could be useful to you when making decisions:

  • recognize that God stays with you, whatever you decide because God is omni-present
  • instead of waiting for a lightning bolt of revelation it can be more helpful to move in a direction and invite God to adjust the direction and tweak the pacing
  • appreciate that God can show up in a dark season and bring some necessary and life-infusing encouragement

Feel free to share this with your friends & subscribe to this blog 🙂

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Lessons from Softball :)

The snow was sifting slowly to the ground and my breath was forming mini-clouds to welcome the tiny flakes on their descent.  This is a friendly way to say that last night was very cold for playing softball.  To make it even more thrilling and chilling, we had a double header & our final game concluded just before 10pm.  I felt like a popsicle as my feet shuffled me to the car.  I learned some very good lessons from last night’s adventure:

  • have FUN!!  Despite the cold, snow and losing both games, it’s fun to get outside, banter, encourage and move my aging body for a little exercise!
  • look to serve:  our team joined a rec league, so it’s not highly competitive.  This makes it all the more enjoyable to serve the other team and look for ways to be helpful – carrying gear, collecting foul balls, sharing equipment, etc
  • be encouraging more than competitve:  this is a big one for me.  If I go down the competitive trail (which is more my natural instinct), it’s less enjoyable than when I stay in an encouragment groove.

God can teach us many wonderful lessons, using a variety of contexts and circumstances.  Let’s be willing and eager learners!

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Doing Difficult Projects

I need to do some heavy duty Spring cleaning, like cleaning out the kitchen drawers & window washing.   There are some other big projects I need to work on like finishing my Saving Moses book, having some difficult conversations, wrestling with some internal challenges and lots more.  Because these projects are hard for me, I tend to put them off, try to ignore them, justify not doing them because I’m busy, hope they’ll evaporate or do other stuff to avoid these difficult projects.

But alas, these difficult projects don’t disappear.  So now what?

Here are some things that are helping me to work on various difficulties:

  • prayerfully look the project square in the eye, so it can be less intimidating
  • consider a step to move forward with making some progress with this project
  • be gentle but firm with yourself to keep going forward
  • celebrate progress and not just perfection or completion
  • nestle into God’s unchanging and ever faithful love for you – this helps you to live from a more healthy mindset 🙂
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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!

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Recognizing Jesus

On the heals of Easter, it’s tempting to move on to what’s next.  Stuff such as Spring cleaning, Mother’s Day, graduation prep, etc can require our attention so much that Easter could quickly be forgotten.  But let’s keep in mind that after Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to folk unexpectedly.  And maybe it was difficult to recognize Jesus because there was lots of emotional intensity that made recognition more difficult.  Here are a few emotions that maybe cause us to struggle to recognize Jesus:

  • fear:  the disciples huddled together in fear after Jesus’ death.  Jesus appeared to them despite their fear
  • grief:  maybe it was difficult for Mary Magdalene to recognize Jesus in the Garden after His resurrection because grief was so overwhelming.  Jesus appeared to her, nonetheless
  • uncertainty:  on the road to Emmaus, some of Jesus followers were trying to figure out what had just happened after His crucifixion and “disappearance.”  Jesus walked with them on their journey and helped them understand what just happened
  • doubt:  Thomas was missing when Jesus made His first appearance to the disciples after His resurrection.  Jesus came back to untangle Thomas’ doubt.

Let’s keep looking for Jesus because we can find and experience Him everyday because He’s alive!

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