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!

The Accidental Hypocrite

I’ve never met a person who willingly nor joyfully self-identified as a hypocrite.  Indeed, hypocrite is a label we give other people, as we are grateful to not be “that kind of person.”

But I can’t help but feel, sometimes, that I am an accidental hypocrite.  I see this in myself when I:

  • judge someone for being intolerant
  • am disdainful of someone who seems insincere
  • allow myself to be critical but reject constructive input

There are lots of ways that we can be a hypocrite, whether purposeful or accidental.  And I would propose that an effective antidote for hypocrisy is humility.  While hypocrisy can flourish in the comparison fertilizer, humility is the truth serum that helps us appreciate that we are each struggling in unique ways and it’s better to encourage than compare.  Just a little food for thought for your wonderful weekend 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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!

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!

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!

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!

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 🙂

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!

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 🙂

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!

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!

Are You Ready for Easter?

Easter is just around the corner & maybe you’re scurrying to finish up this week, to get a few things done before the festivities of Good Friday & Easter.  Here’s a helpful resource to prepare for Easter.  This is short & really good to share with your friends!  🙂

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 🙂

What’s Concerning?

I read this morning, in Jesus’ Sermon in the Mount in Matthew, about eating, drinking, clothing & time. Jesus raises some questions we often think about:

What will I eat?  What will I wear? What will I drink? What’s going to happen tomorrow?  

These questions seem to be timeless human concerns, regardless of your quantity of income or deficiencies.  So it’s interesting that Jesus says not to worry about these issues (food, clothing & time). Instead, He tells us to spend a life in pursuit of Gods kingdom & these concerns will get resolved. 

So let’s sharpen our focus on letting Jesus be the supreme authority / Lord in our life. Let’s live in intentional surrender to Jesus’ lordship & trust that He can look after the food, clothing & time concerns that might arise today 🙂

Living in Abundance

I’ve met poor people who are massively generous and I’ve met rich people who are super stingy. And I’ve met folk who are poor and stingy, as well as peeps who are wealthy and generous. So I would suggest that abundance isn’t based on the quantity of our money or size of our bank account.

Instead, let’s consider that abundance is more accurately a reflection of the state of our heart, or our perspective. And with God’s help, we can adjust our outlook to come from an abundant heart. Here could be some helpful actions to facilitate abundance in your life:

  • gratitude makes everything enough and even more! We can find things to be thankful for, regardless of the size or quality
  • be positive by watching for good things, beauty, helpful stuff around you and stuff inside you that’s wonderful
  • encouraging others with sincere compliments, generous and constructive words, along with affirming actions is a wonderful way to reflect internal abundance

Let’s choose to live from abundance today!

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 🙂