What Smells?

How often have you smelled a perfume or cologne & it reminds you of someone you know?  Or maybe you played sports & when you smell a certain soap it brings back those memories from showering off the workout / practice sweat. 

In the same way, we can leave a lingering smell / residue in our interactions with people. To this end, think about the people who leave a “bad taste in your mouth” & how you might try avoiding them. On the other side, think about those people with whom you interact & you find yourself smiling, cozy on the inside & wanting more interaction. 

I would propose that genuine love is what all of us want & the exchanges that have genuine love leave a healthy & desirable residue. With Jesus’ help, let’s aim to leave a sweet smell from our people interactions!

What Do You Hear?

“That’s not what I said.”  A lot of times when I listen to someone talk, I have to realize that I don’t always hear what’s being said. And I don’t hear what’s actually being said because of my own perspectives / filters that obscure what is said. Consider that the religious leaders in Jesus’ day couldn’t hear His words because of their own filters. They were concerned about their position & power more than hearing Jesus’ truth & genuine love.

With this reality, we would be wise to consider what may be our filters. Here are some examples for your consideration:

Fear: failing & bad experiences can skew our ability to hear stuff clearly

Scarcity: lack skews our ability to hear clearly 

Shame / Embarrassment: when something has terribly wrong in our lives we can easily feel shame

Jesus tells us to be careful what we hear & we would be wise to consider what filters we might have that could be muddling what we hear!

Happy Advent!

The Attitude Factor

It’s easy for me to get a bad attitude when I’m tired, when I have jet lag, when a day is overflowing with bad stuff, etc. And I find that attitudes are important catalysts for how we experience life. In the Bible, we can see various people who wrestled with their attitudes & the outcomes. For example, David had good reasons to have a bad attitude with the Saul season & he endeavored to coach his attitude by keeping his focus on God – a really helpful principle!

Let’s also remember: a bad attitude ruins everything good & a good  attitude ruins everything bad 🙂

Who Is Aaron???

Moses is a familiar character particularly in the Old Testament but Aaron isn’t as known. And the truth is that Aaron was a massively significant partner to Moses to help him be effective & fulfill Moses’ divine destiny. God even assigned Aaron to be Moses’ mouthpiece for interacting w Pharaoh with the 10 Plague stuff. And Aaron was the first high priest in Israelite history, along w being a military support to Moses during a battle against the Amalakites.
Sometimes I think we mistake significance with fame or visibility. And even though Aaron messed up w the Golden Calif thing at Sinai, God didn’t shun Aaron & delete his participation in helping form Israel into a nation.
Let’s be sure that we stay engaged in community & a contributing partner no matter our shortfalls or visibility!

Doing Something Significant

I’ve been reading about Moses and the significance of his impact for the nation of Israel.  I appreciate that Moses had a plethora of significant impacts and here are a few concise take-aways from Moses’ life that we can apply:

  • age doesn’t need to be a limiting factor – Moses began his greatest impact when he was 80years old
  • teamwork is essential for significance – Moses partnered with Aaron who was God’s provision for Moses’ shortfalls
  • keep trying – Moses’ first interaction with Pharaoh seemed to backfire & make things worse for the Israelites
  • listen to God – this is the most important take-away that we can apply everday

Maybe when everything is said & done, probably the most significant thing we can do is obey God, with moment by moment help from Holy Spirit!

The Frozen Turkey

Imagine my surprise at 8:30am on Thanksgiving morning, when I unwrapped our turkey, only to discover that it was still frozen, with company expecting delicious & cooked turkey at 1pm.  My son was helping me & our faces reflected mutual freaking out!!  I was even pulling ice out of the cavity & trying to troubleshoot solutions.  Long story short, we had a delicious, fully cooked turkey & no one got sick eating it 🙂

In the meantime, my son was the hero who helped me avert a Thankgsiving disaster and here are a few things he did that could be helpful when you face a possible cataclysm or fiasco:

  • Assess the situation and don’t freak out – gather as much info as possible to grasp the extent of the possible disaster:  Everything was frozen on and in the turkey
  • Start thinking of little steps to make the situation better:  We ran hot water on the outside of the turkey, as well as in the cavity
  • Keep working with the incremental improvements:  We stopped up the sink so that hot water could get around the turkey as much as possible
  • Thoroughly inspect the progress:  We frequently inspected the mobility of the legs to see if they were unthawed (greater flexibility = less frozen)
  • Be positive & encouraging:  “Mom, I think we’re making some good headway in unthawing this bird!”  That was really encouraging to me!!!
  • Teamwork:  Appreciate that we are better together than trying to do catastrophes alone

The outcome of our efforts was a delicious turkey & a delightful meal.  Possibly more important, I learned LOADS of helpful tips on cooking turkeys, I had a significantly bonding experience with my son and I now know how to cook a turkey at a fast speed 🙂

Happy belated Thanksgiving to you!!

Managing Hiccups

Hiccups aren’t pleasant. Some ways people deal w hiccups include: a spoonful of sugar under the tongue, eating a dab of peanut butter, drinking water upside down, startling someone, etc. 

And what about the unexpected hiccups in one’s schedule or mishaps with various plans?  What are some ways we can cope with the unexpected?  Here are some ideas:

  • Take a deep breath & remember that nothing catches God by surprise
  • Recognize the surprises have an emotional toll & this can be part of the challenge to navigate
  • Look for the upside – finding some good can make surprises more palatable
  • Do healthy – drink water, get rest, make good eating decisions, take a walk / exercise
  • Step into it & make the best with what you’ve got, frequently asking for God’s help

Happy Monday!

Enjoying People

Over the last week, it’s been fun to be around LOADS of sexworkers in Bangledesh, nice church folk in America, random & fascinating travel peeps & best of all, my family. And I enjoyed each exchange & interaction. 

Were some people cranky?  Yes

Were some people strange? Yes

Were some people brilliant? Definitely 

Were some people hurting? Absolutely 

Were some people broken? Everyone 

And I’m so grateful that God is teaching & helping me to both enjoy & love people, full stop. Sometimes I do this better than others, to be sure. And it’s immensely helpful just to relax, smile & enjoy people no matter what!

Against the Grain

“We aren’t doing that!”  This morning, I read in Exodus about the Egyptian midwives who didn’t follow Pharoah’s command to kill all baby boys born to Hebrew moms.  They ran against the grain & took a risk when they didn’t comply.  Because they didn’t obey Pharaoh with his command, God blessed these midwives greatly!

I find the behaviors of these midwives to be very interesting:  they aligned themselves with a nation to whom they didn’t belong, they protected the most vulnerable, they were advocates of life and they found a “convenient reason” to explain their non-compliance to Pharaoh.

Sometimes we need to run against the grain of what’s popular around us to live as advocates & examples of genuine love!  🙂

Deeply Rewarding

It’s 5:30pm here in Bangledesh & I’m listening to happy little voices singing & chattering in the room behind me. So everything in me is smiling & deeply fulfilled. 

Last year, I came to Bangledesh four times & we worked really hard to open nightcare for the largest brothel in this country. Tonight, I’m sitting in our nightcare center & enjoying the sights & sounds of our firsts nightcare in this country. Nightcare is one of the things Saving Moses does, where we look after the babies & toddlers of sexworkers while they work. Without our center, 80% of these kids would be on the bed with their mom as she works. 

And this is the nature of nightcare – it’s deeply rewarding & painfully tragic, a roller coaster of rich satisfaction & abysmal horror. 

And tonight I’m celebrating progress & the power of genuine love. 

Daily Living

I’m in Bangledesh with Saving Moses. I love to watch the people here & reflect on their daily living. I see shopkeepers, garment factory workers, kids walking to school, brick makers, farmers, etc. There are lots of differences here in the daily living with what is familiar to us in America. 

As humans, however, there’s lots of commonality that we’d be wise to acknowledge. No matter the differences, let’s remember some helpful things:

  • Respect: being respectful of differences helps us learn & know people
  • Compassion: the road each person travels has unique struggles
  • Learning: new experiences can facilitate some incredible insights

At the core of these three things is an internal perspective that we can cultivate. When we lack these things, then it’s helpful to take an internal inventory to consider why something is missing. Selah 🙂

A Different World

Hello from Dhaka Bangledesh! Clearly, Dhaka is a very different place than my home city, Denver. 

Also, I’m continually astounded by the things I hear & see here in relation to the babies & toddlers of sex workers.  And I’m all the more astounded when I learn about the difficulties that floating sex workers have in particular when they work & looking after their babies & toddlers. 

A floating sex worker in Bangledesh does not have a permanent brothel & has many dangers they navigate daily. Such dangers include having their baby / toddler stolen & sold in a market for a minimum of $50 – an atrocity that unravels even the most hardened sex worker. 

While there are some organizations that help the moms, there is no assistance for their babies / toddlers. And that’s why Saving Moses is here today & we are making some headway to open nightcare for the babies & toddlers of these floating sex workers.  We are very serious about Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 to look after the least of these & I see the least of these, being the babies & toddlers of floating sex workers. 

Election Hangover

In America this week, we had a national & local election, so all media outlets were fully engaged with debates, advertisements, etc. There are plenty of folk who prefer less campaigning & not just a few of us are weary of the deceptions & hostile conflict that politics has become. As a follower off Jesus & His teachings, there are a few takeaways to maintain regardless of your political affiliations / preferences. 

  • Be compassionate – Jesus was helpful, kind, forgiving, healing & generous to marginalized people
  • Be prayerful – Jesus taught His disciples to pray, a constructive habit we would be wise to cultivate
  • Be loving – Jesus said that His followers would be recognized by their love for each other.

Show Up

Some things are difficult & we want to find excuses or reasons to avoid such difficulties. We might want to sidestep a challenging conversation or greeting a prickly person. We might prefer to ignore the scale in the bathroom since it may tell us something unpleasant. And there’s always the “busy” excuse that’s convenient for all kinds of stuff we’d prefer to avoid. 

Despite our best efforts, however, whatever we try to avoid, ignore, deflect, etc it’s still there & will likely remain present until we step into the issue. Here are a few ideas that might help us to show up:

  • Pray: let God know you don’t want to show up & ask for divine Help
  • Deep breath:  this can often help to clear the cobwebs in our thinking & give us some energy to take a step
  • Anticipate good: it’s possible that whatever we might be avoiding has some unexpected good stuff
  • Love truth: sometimes we avoid truth bc it might be painful or unpleasant. But ultimately, deception is more destructive than truth!

Hot Topic: Elections, Candidates & Politics

In America, we are in the full season of politics, elections, candidates, ballots, etc.  Two years ago, this space was toxic, combative & divisive on a good day.  I’m grateful that this political season isn’t quite as venomous as the one two years ago and we would be wise to pause and reflect.

Regardless of your political affiliations or bend, I’d like to propose a few questions for your consideration:

  • Have you educated yourself on the issues, candidates, platforms, etc?
  • Are your thoughts and emotions based around genuine love? Is there fear, greed, power, insecurity lurking in your soul that could influence your voting?
  • If someone votes or thinks different than you, can you maintain a respectful conversation?
  • Have you prayed for this election, the candidates, ballots, our nation, etc?

Regardless of how the elections turn out, let’s be committed to express genuine as followers of Jesus!  I say this because of His words in John 13:35, “They will know you follow Me by your love for one another.”

Have an AWESOME weekend!

In Your Skin

You are magnificent when you are you!!  When you try to blend, conform or be someone else, not so much.  I say this because I’ve brought my daughter for a college visit & I remember my insecurities in college & being uncomfortable in my skin.  I’ve always been a little quirky & when I’m settled with myself, that’s fun.  When I’m unsettled with myself, the quirky and fun side of me gets quiet and even disappears.

All of us have insecurities and internal struggles.  At the same time, let’s rest in the truth that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, in the image of our Heavenly Father.  We are valuable, important and have divine purposes and plans.  Indeed, in Ephesians 2:10, it says that God has already laid out good works for us to walk in and no one can do these good works, except you because they are divinely appointed for you, living in your skin and being wonderful YOU!!!

Celebrate Genuine Love!

Being that today is Halloween, the last day of October, it’s a great day to celebrate genuine love!  I say this because Halloween was always a scary holiday to me, with all the skeletons, tombstones, ghosts and macabre images.  When I was a kid, this day often left me fearful.  In contrast, 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear.  So instead of accentuating fear, today I choose to celebrate genuine love!

Here are a few suggestions that might help you celebrate genuine love today:

  • Look for people to encourage throughout today – what they’re wearing, nice hair, friendly smile, beautiful eyes, witty wisdom & LOADS more
  • Let Jesus love you throughout today – reject the enemy’s lies that say you’re inadequate, have no hope, going to fail, or that you’re a mutant
  • Smile & watch for gratitude opportunities – clean air, warm sun, nice coffee / tea, clean water, beautiful trees & HEAPS more!!

Happy Genuine Love day to you!!

Lemonade Comes From Lemons :)

We can go through seasons in our lives when there’s an abundance of lemons.  By this, I mean that sometimes life serves up lots of bitter stuff, such as:  a bad medical diagnosis, poor results on a test in school, an unexpected bill when the money isn’t there, emotional struggles, extra responsibilities in an overcrowded life, relationship catastrophes, etc.

So how do we make lemonade from the bitter experiences that can happen in life?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Prayer:  take whatever is bitter & bring it to Jesus for divine input
  • Choose to trust:  after prayer, make the consistent decisions to trust Jesus to bring good from bad, order from chaos, blessing from curse
  • Gratitude:  even though we don’t like hardships, struggles & lemons, James 1:2-4 says that such difficulties can work into a blessing & become lemonade.  So maybe gratitude is some sugar to sweeten the lemons

Here’s to letting God turn lemons into lemonade in our lives!

Proximity Alert

It’s getting colder & the days are getting shorter as we begin to move towards Winter.  In the southern hemisphere, they’re approaching Summer and it’s getting warmer there & the days are longer.  So it depends on your location on our planet, in approximation to the sun, whether you’re getting warmer or colder, more or less light. By default, heat & light also have a direct impact on how much life there is.  Where there is less light & more cold, life is less abundant.

Let’s make the same parallel for Jesus, God’s Son.  When we revolve our lives closely around the Son, we have more light, greater warmth & consequentially, more life.  We can also consider that perhaps there are some areas in our lives that need to be around Jesus more – particularly if we recognize the absence of light, warmth & life.  Jesus says that He’s come to give us life & life more abundantly – so let’s stay close to Jesus in every area of our lives!

Thats Crap!!

Philippians 3:8 (The Message):  “everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung.”

There are lots of things that we think are important: schedules, money, education, family, jobs, achievement, sports, entertainment, travel, etc. 

No doubt that these things are important, along w stuff I haven’t listed. But let’s be very clear about what is most important in our lives based on Phil 3:8. Paul said in these verses that nothing in is life was more important than knowing Jesus – not his education, his heritage nor his upbringing. Paul considered everything as literal “crap” compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus.  Let’s be like Paul & make knowing Jesus the most important focus & goal that steers our daily living!