Ugly or Beauty?

I’m presently riding through what seems to be a desert in Arizona, disappointed that there’s no In-n-Out burger stand anywhere on the horizon. It looks barren & desolate with little tufts of gray foliage scraggling it’s way on the endless sand, to the end of the horizon. 

For some folk, this vista is austere beauty in perfection. For others, the seeming absence of life & vacancy is nothing but unattractive. 

And I’m grateful that God has made not only this austere beauty along with rainforests & snowcapped mountains. Equally true is that God has made you beautiful & you’re highly desirable to Him, regardless of how your look, your talents or inadequacies, etc. You are never ugly nor repulsive to God!!

Not My Flavor

 I recently watched the NBA championship series between the Cavaliers & Warriors. Both teams have very different styles & it’s easy to find strong proponents for each style. There are heaps of folk who rightfully admire LeBron James, for the Cavs & heaps of folk who like the point spread among several players for the Warriors. 

Personally, I tend to admire the teamwork style of play over more of the superstar style.  With that said, I’ve been thinking about my distaste for styles that are different than my preference. And I’ve come to this conclusion: God has made each of us in unique & wonderful ways. Some individuals are wired up for massive individual achievements & some are wired up for the team approach. Being hostile & acrimonious against styles we don’t like can show not just a bias but also the refusal to grow & respect others who are different than ourselves. 

With this line of thinking, I would suggest that Paul is a phenomenal NT example of a massively high achiever, who valued Help along his various journeys. Maybe Barnabas would be an example of a team player, looking to include as many teammates as he possibly could throughout his life. Both men had unique gifts, contributions & value to add to God’s kingdom. Let’s be careful to respect others who have different giftings rather than belittle & deride them for not being like us 🙂

Traveling Tips

This week, I have a lot of traveling & I would suggest that these tips below can also be helpful throughout our journey in life:

  • Less is more:  I don’t need as much as I think & I don’t like carrying unnecessary things.
  • Security for safety:  human security is never as powerful as divine security.
  • Flexible keeps things fun:  hold lightly to your plans.
  • Wonderful people watching:  consider that God enjoys watching us because God is Love!

You Do You

This is a common phrase that I hear  when someone wants to acknowledge a difference & not be excessively hostile. In general, I like the premise of this phrase, but it unravels quickly when the other person oversteps their personhood & begins trampling on you. 

For example, even though Joseph had expressed clear limits to Potiphar’s wife, she exceeded his boundary & tried to force him to have sex with her. This turned out bad for Joseph, even though he did the right thing. While we may try to be respectful & do the right thing, not everyone follows those same convictions. And if things go south for you, like they did for Joseph, you can rest assured that God works everything to our good, as we keep loving God & stay true to His purposes. Just some food for thought for your wonderful weekend 🙂

Doing Difficult

As I parent my own teenagers, I am increasingly recognizing the boatloads of magnificent stuff my parents invested in me when I was growing up & I’m massively grateful!  Much of my appreciation for the Bible, beauty & creativity, as well as Holy Spirit can largely be attributed to my parents & their influence on me.  Additionally, my parents taught me heaps about doing what’s difficult, rather than shying away.

Do you have difficult things in your life?  Difficult things can include:  internal mindsets, challenging work situations, relationships, school classes, bad habits, etc.  Here are some verses that you could pray to help you do what’s difficult:

  • Phil 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengths me
  • 1John 4:4, Greater is He Who is in you than he that is in the world
  • 2Cor 2:14, God leads us into triumph
  • Rom 5:5, God’s love is poured into your heart through the Holy Spirit
  • James 1:5, Ask God for wisdom & He’ll give it to you liberally

Feel free to send this to anyone you know who could be struggling to do difficult things!

Useful Obstacles

I don’t like things that slow me down – cars, lines, crowds, etc.  So when things get in my way, I instinctually lock into the persist & overcome mindset.  For example, when a car in front of me drives slowly, I look for ways to get around the car. Sometimes, this backfires because my speeding up can position me to get a traffic ticket, which is worse than having to drive slower. 

With this thinking, we would be wise to not entirely dismiss things that are obstacles. We see this principle in the Bible in relation to Joseph getting thrown into a pit & prison. Clearly, these challenges weren’t pleasant & I’d wager that Joseph was looking for a shortcut or way to circumvent these obstacles. In hindsight, however, the obstacles & hindrances were very useful to his end destination. And there’s a good chance that the same could be true for us. The obstacles in our lives become instruments in God’s hands 🙂

Hurry Scurry

Summer has started in full swing so that means a big shift for me w the day to day schedule & my kids being done with school. So I feel like I’m in the middle of a hurry scurry season, running everywhere & trying to help my kids have an enjoyable & productive Summer. 

I think we all go through seasons in life where we are very busy & some not as much. No matter what the season of our life, let’s stay attentive to Jesus’ presence in our lives. Let’s stay steady with our daily prayer & Bible time to keep our hearts stable regardless of the season 🙂

Helpful Tips for Learning

My three teenage kids have learning curves with lots of stuff, as do I.  And part of what means to be human is learning. I think that it’s good to always be learning because this helps us to continually grow. So here are some helpful ideas for daily learning:

  • No shame – don’t belittle yourself or others for what is not known or the lack of proficiency.
  • Celebrate progress – don’t let “perfect” sabotage progress.
  • Learning differences – everyone learns in unique ways.
  • Committed to learn – may there never be a day when we don’t learn
  • Be gentle – we learn better with grace rather than harsh 🙂

Happy Friday to you!

Be Contagious

Recently, my kids picked up a congestion bug and they’ve been hacking  along the phlegm spectrum.  This started with one of my boys and the other two caught this bug.  In the last several days, I have felt some of these symptoms trying to creep into my breathing, so I’ve been vigilante to take extra vitamins and drink more water.

Usually, we don’t think of things that are contagious in very positive ways.  We don’t want to “catch” the cold, flu, yellow fever, etc.  But let’s also consider that sometimes, we can also “catch” another person’s insecurity, fear, arrogance and other such distasteful traits.  Instead, let’s make intentional decisions to be gracious, patient, compassionate, gentle, truthful (Fruits of the Spirit) and just maybe other people will “catch” some healthy traits for our communications and relationships!  Let’s allow Holy Spirit to work life and health into our souls so that we are contagions of genuine love!

Death Stinks

I found dead baby rabbits in our basement & it was disturbing. They found a hole under our front porch to burrow down & squeeze into our basement. So when I was changing the furnace filter, I found their decaying bodies much to my shock. I was really unnerved with finding them, so I made my boys use a snow shovel to scoop their bodies into the garage trash. Yesterday, I made the executive decision to keep the garage trash on the driveway outside, because the decomposing carcasses are beyond odious. 

Death stinks – full stop. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that the mind set on the flesh is death & a fleshly mindset is very noxious. So consider where there might be some smelly areas in your life because these areas might be rotting from fleshly thinking. Fumes like insecurity, pride, fear, deception, isolation, manipulation, blame, etc smell bad because they’re rooted in a mind set on the flesh. Let’s be committed to cultivating a mind set on Holy Spirit, so we can smell like life & peace!

What Is Success?

It’s interesting to scroll through various social media platforms & look at the abundant advice about how to be successful. When I read through some of this advice, I always walk away asking, “What is success?”  

Is success:

  • living a comfortable life, without conflict or drama? 
  • having heaps of money, recognition, achievements or a glam image? 
  • living a balanced life, all things regulated & controlled for maximum mediocrity?

What is success?  In Jeremiah 9:23-24 it says,  “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;  24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.”

So maybe the most simple definition of biblical success is knowing & loving God, as well as loving our neighbor & ourselves.  Have an awesome Memorial Day weekend living successfully!

Good for the Soul

This morning I tried a new breakfast: quinoa, almonds, blueberries & maple syrup. It was ok for my first attempt & I know it’s better for me than bacon & a cheese omelette  so you m endeavoring to make healthy decisions. 

The same can be said for decisions we make about our souls. Here are a few decisions that are good for the soul:

  • Forgiveness:  keeps the grudge venom neutralized
  • Encouragement:  keeps us with positive thoughts about people
  • Gratitude: keeps us looking for good
  • Trust: keeps us actively declining worry & leaning on God

Keep making healthy choice for your body & soul!

Everywhere A Lesson

Learning can be loads of fun, massively painful or somewhere in the middle. And thankfully, we don’t have to sit in a classroom to learn 🙂

Here are some recent examples of lessons I’m learning in life:

  • Insecurity Insurance: the softball team we played last night needed to feel superior and confident. I decided to be joyful that I could help them feel superior rather than sulk at getting trounced
  • Divine Provisions:  God supplies our needs and even teaches us to be content when there’s deficiency – Phil 4:11-12
  • Training for Success: learning the Romeo & Juliet monologue with my kid is a lesson in diligence & not just memory work
  • Trusting God:  this is a daily and even hourly decision based on Prov 22:19

What could be some everyday lessons Holy Spirit could be showing you?

Stormy Seasons

Life seems to have seasons that are stormy, despite our best efforts for stability, serenity & certainty.  Stormy seasons can include:  getting laid off from a job, a marital crisis, a literal tornado, health accident or diagnosis and LOADS more.  If we’ve invited Jesus into our lives as storm prevention insurance, there’s a good chance that we’ll be disappointed.  I say this because Jesus never promises us that walking with Him will prevent all storms.  Indeed, walking with Jesus can make for some stormy times in life, both in our interior and exterior.

The exterior stormy seasons happen for lots of reasons, but thankfully Jesus gives us peace on the inside that can be greater than the external storm.  Sometimes we have seasons in our lives where our guts feel stormy:  when we’re unsettled, hurt, disappointed with God, wrestling with temptation, feeling discouraged, depleted or depressed, etc.

I’m thankful that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that there is no storm, internal or external, that Jesus cannot calm.  Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, no matter the season of life in which we find ourselves!

Heroes & Villains

There’s running banter betweeen DC & Marvel fans about which brand of hero entertainment is better.  Each side seems to have it’s own strengths & shortfalls, each hero having a fatal flaw:  Superman has his kryptonite & Ironman has his arrogance (or whatever you deem to be his weakness).  And that’s the rub with the human race – we can have our moments of glory & splendor with dark quagmires nipping the heels of grandeur.

Enter Jesus who is the ultimate flawless superhero.  Jesus is all-powerful, all-knowing and present everywhere.  If Jesus has any weak spot, it would be His affection and devotion to you and me.  Jesus continues to go to inexplainable extremes to keep us reconciled to Himself, infused with genuine love.  Let’s be committed to worshipping the real hero of the human race:  Jesus Christ!

Overcoming Obstacles

“Here ya go!”  As I was standing on the sidewalk on cold winter day, my friend flung me a seriously AWESOME winter cap that she had made me.  I caught the cap with utter shock, checked it out & beamed from ear to ear.  She had knit me this thoroughly magnificnet blue & white cap that has been my favorite for years.  She later explained that she had to figure out a creative way to get the cap into my hands because of my difficulty to receive gifts.

Each of us have quirky hangups that can create obstacles for connecting in healthy ways with others.  Maybe you have a sense of superiority over others & feel the need to help them improve – that’s an obstacle for connecting.  Perhaps you see yourself as a victim from a past trauma or abuse, so it’s difficult for you to trust, another obstacle.  I could endlessly list all kinds of obstacles we may have for connecting with others, but let’s be thankful that God has already overcome all of our obstacles and quirks because of genuine love.  While there may be hindrances and obstacles along our horizontal journey, our vertical relationship with God is never in peril nor compromised – for the simple reason that God never stops loving us.  His lovingkindness is everlasting!

Easy or Hard?

I like the “easy button” and easy for me includes: washing dishes, ironing, international travel, languages, grocery shopping, simple cooking and reading my Bible.  In contrast, I don’t like to do stuff that’s hard, which includes:  getting in shape, seeing suffering babies, recovering from jet lag and being gracious rather than snarky.

No doubt, you have your own lists of things that are easy and hard.  But just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done or we shouldn’t try to do it.  I say this because of my morning Bible reading in Philippians 2:7, where Paul says about Jesus, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”  This verse speaks to Jesus entering the human race, from start to finish, and experiencing human existence.  From my perspective, I would think that might have been difficult for Jesus to do – but He did it nonetheless.

If God asks you to do hard stuff, ask for divine Help and try!  Whethere something is hard or easy, let’s pre-decide to remain obedient and faithful to God!

Skin Doctor

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ on your body?  This morning I had an appointment with the skin doctor to look at a spot that was suspicious. My dad had super fair skin, which I inherited, so I’m trying to pay attention to my skin & avoid bad stuff. 

The whole skin thing is yet another example of God’s grandeur & intricacy. Not only does God make our bodies with massive complexity, filled with elaborate parts & pieces all working together with symphonic elegance, but then all that sophistication gets squeezed into skin.  And skin is easily overlooked. 

Feel free to sit in the reality that you are fearfully & wonderfully made by your attentive & loving Heavenly Father! 

Doing More

I’m making my way back to Denver from Angola Africa, where I’ve been for a week working with our baby malnutrition initiative with Saving Moses. I think this is my 6th trip to Angola & it never fails to bring me to my knees, almost literally. 

On this trip, I’ve never seen, held or experienced so many malnourished babies possibly combined in my whole life – over the course of close to 5days. And I’m coming home with all of these experiences swirling in my heart, thoughts & emotions. Clearly, this will be a journey for processing, literally. And at the same time, I’m compelled to do more. 

It seems to me like we all want to do more. But I wonder if we want to do more of the right stuff?  Sometimes maybe we should think about what it means to “do more” prayerfully considering if our more is being directed by God.