Reinforce the Good

“I killed a lion & a bear, so this uncircumcised Philistine will be like them!” These were the words David to answer Saul’s uncertainty about David killing Goliath. While I appreciate that it’s very dangerous to live in a state of denial, it’s also essential to keep our focus on faith & not fear or doubt. We absolutely have challenges & struggles that have varying degrees of intensity & stress.

Let’s be careful, however, that we continue to reinforce the good things so we don’t get overwhelmed by giants, problems & pressure.
Here are some ideas that could help to reinforce the good:

  • Keep some encouraging Bible verses handy to review
  • Pay attention to negative stuff that could be tainting your thoughts (tv, social media, music, etc)
  • Encourage your friends & let them encourage you
  • Pray instead of complain

Feel free to share this with your friends / family!

Love on Valentines Day

This picture is the word “love” in 9 different languages. It took me awhile to practice the one in Mandarin & I think I kind of botched the Arabic one. But the idea remains the same regardless of the script or language.
Valentines Day is often attributed to expressing romantic love, but genuine love is WAY MORE than romance. Genuine love is grounded in the reality that God is love & nothing we do or don’t do will change Who God is, full stop. God will never stop loving you because God will never stop existing.
So let’s not only celebrate that God loves us, but let’s allow that opulent & lavish love God gives us to overflow through us today!

Can Gory Be Glory?

In many ways, gory seems to be the antonym of glory and I don’t commonly associate these words together besides the rhyming sound they make.  But there’s a stark and startling place where these words converge into one place and that would be Jesus when He was crucified.

If you saw the movie by Mel Gibson, “The Passion of the Christ”, it showed with disturbing clarity the gory nature of Jesus’ death on the cross.  I’ll never forget how deeply moved I was to the core of my soul when I saw this movie the first time.  As I watched, I found myself repeatedly thinking, “please stop, that’s enough!”  And at the end of the movie, I was entirely unraveled because I couldn’t escape the reality that Jesus endured this excrutiating experience entirely on the pure motivation of genuine love, full stop.

Jesus was glorified in the gory mess of human suffering, sin and sacrifice.  And this continues to give me the assurance that Jesus can redeem human gore and transform it into divine glory, a truth that we would be wise to ponder throughout this weekend 🙂

Same But Different

“You’re not going to North Korea are you?” I was driving my kids to school this morning & made a phone call to another ministry about some cool opportunities in North Korea. My kids immediately asked this question when I hung up & I assured them that I’m not going there this year. But it still sounds like an incredible opportunity to me!

Alas, not everyone thinks like I do & that’s altogether fantastic! Seems to me that God has uniquely created us for distinct purposes & designs. Some people are attracted to stable, predictable & familiar. Some folk have a little wanderlust in their souls. Some of us are pioneers & more than a little maverick-y. But each follower of Jesus has valid contributions to make to His kingdom!
Just because I’m different than you doesn’t make me superior or inferior any more than you are superior or inferior to me! Let’s remember that we are essential parts of one Body & we desperately need each other to fulfill our unique & divine purposes! I’m celebrating you today!!

Way Better!!

My husband & I use different routes for driving our kids to their various activities. Normally, I think my way is better: faster, less traffic, etc. Today, I see that I’m wrong. The route he uses is far superior to my way & I could’ve learned this much sooner had I not been so obstinate.

This seems to ring true between the Holy Spirit & me as well. How many times have I stayed glued to my methods & plans only to learn the hard way that the Holy Spirit always has better ways than me. Let’s live in the reality of Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
God’s ways are always the upgrade!!

Mix It Up!

What are you planning for your vacation this year? Are you going to do the regular stuff: pools, driving, sunburns, etc? Why not try something new?
Here’s a cool idea: come with me to Cambodia & make a vacation that you’ll never FORGET! I’m taking a small group with Saving Moses to help with our nightcare work in Phnom Penh. The cool stuff you’ll get to do includes:

  • experiencing a new & incredible culture,
  • meet babies & toddlers who will steal you heart,
  • do some cleaning, painting & renovating with our centers,
  • meet Jesus in the faces of desperate people

Let’s make your vacation this year something fresh, unique & possibly life changing!!

Here’s how to get started: LETS GO!!

Space is really limited, so apply fast before we fill up!

Love to Understand

“What’s wrong with her?” I was recently walking through the largest brothel in Bangledesh & noticed a lady sitting on a bench & she was crying. I immediately sat next to her & put my arm around her, feeling her sadness pouring out of her. Some people with me asked her in the Bengali language what was wrong & there was a brief dialogue where she said why she was crying in seemingly few words. I continued to hold this young lady, absorbing her pain & she began to cry heaps more.

She was crying because she was homesick for her parents who live in a different district & she had been working in this brothel for more than a year.

I could continue explaining more & more details of her life to help you, my reader, understand why she was crying.
But let’s be careful that we don’t qualify our love on understanding first. Indeed, I sincerely don’t think we begin to understand until we decide first to love.

If you truly want to begin understanding someone, decide that you will love them & you’ll find that you begin to understand them more & more!

Not Safe

It’s 3:45am & I’m in Bangledesh. Just when I thought I was safe to take out my ear plugs, the prayer call thing started up again. Maybe tonight is a special occasion for some city-wide prayer meeting via the Goliath loudspeakers blaring outside my window.

It’s one thing to struggle with changing time zones & getting decent sleep with the blaring city-wide prayer call. It’s another thing to think about the babies & toddlers I met yesterday whose moms work in the largest brothel in Bangledesh. When I asked these moms about where they keep their babies when they work, 7/10 said that their babies & toddlers are on the bed with them as they work because these moms have no other option for their babies. And many of these are at risk from being abused by their moms clients.

So these babies & toddlers are NOT SAFE. Enter nightcare with Saving Moses. In nightcare, we provide a safe place for the babies & toddlers of sex workers to sleep while their moms work. We have been doing nightcare in Cambodia for almost 5 years & I’m super keen / eager to open nightcare here in Bangledesh.

The moms of these babies desperately want to keep their babies safe so they’d can keep a “fresh mind.” This was a quote from one of the moms I interviewed. It unraveled me.

Love Is Light

There’s plenty of darkness in our world & lots of that darkness comes from letting hate & apathy into our hearts. For example, my friend was telling me about a brothel in Bangladesh where the underage workers are forced to take bovine steroids to force their bodies to develop & be more appealing to clients. Obviously, the steroids have very negative results on these girls’ bodies to say nothing about the babies born & toddlers raised in this environment. Truly, brothels like the one I described are dark & deplorable.

Enter nightcare with Saving Moses. In Cambodia, we have four nightcare centers where we look after the babies & toddlers of prostitutes while they work. These sex workers have no way to look after their babies or toddlers while they work, so our centers are essential to the nurture, upbringing & worldview for these lovely treasures! Jesus talks about caring for Him when we look after “the least of these” in Matthew 24.

Be sure to watch my blog over the next week as I visit Bangledesh to bring love & light to the least of these!

Liability or Strength?

What are your strengths?  Do you ever feel like your strengths are also your greatest liabilities?

I have a friend who says that I fire & then aim, or I leap & then look.  It’s true.  I tend to jump in with both feet & then cry about what I’ve gotten myself into.  I admire the people who are more methodical and take things a step at a time & I’ve sincerely tried to do this better.  But alas, I’m still learning, still.

In my thinking, this “all in” mindset has been a significant liability for me & I’ve berated myself repeatedly about not learning from my mistakes.  Except last night, I had a wonderful epiphany.

This “all in” strategy serves me really well in walking with God because I’m not half-hearted & I’m quick to turn up the heat if I feel like I’m being luke warm.

All of us are fearfully & wonderfully made!  We have definite strengths & with God’s help, the downside of these strength can be continually worked on so that we grow!   The enemy of our soul would have us minimize the gifts that God has given us, causing us to be less than the full person of God’s design!

Let’s be thankful that God made us with such careful & creative design, while remaining committed to the continual pruning and sculpting the Holy Spirit does with us every day!  You are AWESOME!

#heavenlyhelpmoment

2am Ladder

I was climbing up a ladder at 2am today, attempting to replace the dying battery on the blasted chirping smoke alarm. Needless to say, this wasn’t my ideal middle of the night wake up experience & for that matter, I don’t think there’s any ideal middle of the night wake up experience!

  • So how do I relate this to Jesus?
  • Jesus keeps us safe in unexpected situations – I don’t normally plan for ladder climbing & balance at 2am
  • Jesus gives us wisdom when we can’t figure out what to do – groggy thinking at 2am
  • Jesus restores us when we feel depleted – getting back to sleep wasn’t impossible

I love that Jesus does ladders with me at 2am!

Who’s Missing???

Every year, I make the Christmas season super fun by posting pictures & writing blogs about finding Jesus. I do this because I think it’s far too easy to lose track of why we celebrate Christmas with all of the festivities, hustle & bustle of the season. So I’m continuing my tradition this year & hopefully, these blogs will help you look for Jesus in places & times you’d not normally think of.
Let’s be sure to find Jesus everyday of this Christmas season no matter how busy we get or the responsibilities that we carry! Looking for Jesus in quotidian living!

Changing Things

Changing Things

Normally, the day before Thanksgiving our family goes skiing since we live fairly close to some epic vertical. But alas, today we are electing for the flatland because there’s almost no snow & the few runs that are open don’t tempt us enough to take the plunge.
Seems to me that change can be challenging to navigate but we need to change for lots of reasons:

  • Change indicates that we’re alive & not moribund in static rigamortis
  • We don’t grow if we’re unwilling to change
  • Change affords new adventures, delights, joys & discoveries
  • Our souls stay supple when we are willing to change, letting God love through us more thoroughly

Cheers to change & happy Thanksgiving!

I have the wonderful honor of getting to be around fabulous people, like Pam who did my makeup & Christie who did my hair today. Both of these wonderful ladies & a boatload of other fantastic peeps (like Demetria, Garrett, Molly, Ivorie & more) are folk behind the scenes in tv / webland for CBN with the 700 Club. These people are magnificent in glorious ways: kind, patient, FUN & super smart!

Everyone has unique strengths & we are at our best when we are ourselves & do what we are good at. Here are some ideas that might help us as we endeavor to be our best:

  • Be sincere – fake & pretentious can be repulsive
  • Be kind – there’s more than enough cranky to go around
  • Be forgiving – taking offense is the low road
  • Be YOU! You are fearfully & wonderfully made!

Cheeky Thoughts

I recently saw a FB post from a Christian about ditching needy, negative & ugly people. The post said something about eliminating these kinds of people from our lives & I was deeply unnerved, since the person posting this says they follow Jesus.

At any given moment, I can be needy, negative & ugly, so I guess I make the cut list for that person.
Thankfully, I’m not on Jesus’ cut list. Indeed, as followers of genuine Jesus, we would be wise to let His words shape our values, behaviors & words:

  1. Matt 5:39-44, “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

and the Cubs won the World Series last night, FYI 🙂

Change the Filters

This weekend, we changed the furnace & vacuum filters. It’s good to change the filters from time to time & the vacuum filter was long overdue – no wonder the carpet has been messy!

Let’s think about this in relation as well to our mental filters. Sometimes we see things through filters that can be dirty, tainted, distorted & ineffective. Consequently, our perspective is messed up & we can make dysfunctional decisions & carry on with messed up conversations / mindsets
Let’s be sure that we follow the Holy Spirit in truth. Maybe it’s time to let the Holy Spirit challenge your mental filters so that life works better & isn’t quite so messy!

How to Improve

I have a child who is in the process of a vertical learning curve related to blame or responsibility. This is a nice way to say that blaming other people facilitates irresponsibility & this is no bueno.
These conversations challenge me to look at areas in my life where I might be blaming people & not taking responsibility for my actions, words & attitudes.
I’m seeing with stark clarity that the attempts to blame others limits my ability to grow & improve.
Are there places in your life where you seem quagmired? Is it possible that you might need to think about being proactive & taking responsibility for the things you can change?
Let’s be sure that we let the Holy Spirit speak truth into our hearts so that we don’t deceive ourselves, limiting how much we grow & improve.

Still Motion

It seems of late that I’m always going somewhere – AZ, CA, NC, PA etc & it feels like I’m in perpetual motion. This is good because I get to share about the daily & supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit. On the other side, I find myself desiring that peace from being still & knowing that God is. With all of the traveling & stresses of work, home, schedules, family etc, we would be wise to learn about carrying peace on the inside.  In Job 20:20 it says, “Because he knew no quiet within him, he does not retain anything he desires.”
Here are some ideas about carrying some quiet in our heads wherever we go:

  • remember to give your anxieties to God
    turn to God as a habit & not just in overwhelm mode
  • let those unexpected cancelled events give you some pause space – don’t fill your schedule to the gills
  • life has seasons, ebb & flow & we would be wise to go with the flow
  • it helps me, on occasion, to sit in my car for a few minutes, with no phone or music & just be still

Carry some quiet in your heart wherever you go!

Getting Better

I was recently ministering at a seriously great women’s retreat & one of the ladies confronted me after one of my messages. She challenged me about a story I told about Gladys, a church lady from my childhood. In my story, I treated Gladys with disrespect & made her an example for mocking & scorn. The chick who confronted me was totally on the money – she was gentle, firm & biblical. At first, I tried to deflect her attempts to correct me, but I knew she was right.

That afternoon, I took some time to write & pray, asking God to forgive me & help me to love better.
Regardless of how a person behaves, genuine love doesn’t qualify the recipient. Just because it’s easy for me to love some rough people doesn’t give me a pass to be unloving with cranky peeps 🙂

Say Yes!!

“I need to think about that.” This is my classic answer to the majority of the things my kids ask from me. If I impulsively say yes or no, I’m likely going to get into some hot water rather quickly.

But with Jesus, I always want to say “yes!” When we say yes to Jesus, it can be saying yes to

  • being kind to a stranger,
  • loving our kids when they get under our skin,
  • being generous with our finances,
  • helping a prostitute look after her baby or toddler,
  • praying for someone who’s sick
  • and lots of other things!

Let’s decide before Jesus asks that we’ll say “Yes!”