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.
Questions express curiosity & questions are the starting point for learning. Indeed, were taught in basic English classes about the five main questions we should answer: who, what, where, when & why. As we age, however, I think that sometimes our curious edge wanes & gets stifled. Maybe we erroneously think we know more than we do so we stop asking questions. Maybe we received too many bad answers so we learned the dangerous lesson to stop asking questions. Maybe we haven’t received answers to some questions we deem important. Maybe we’ve been taught that questions are disrespectful or intrusive
Let’s be careful when we stop asking questions. Indeed, I think that part of why we exist is to learn about the intimate relationship that’s available to us with our Heavenly Father through Jesus. Let’s also remember that learning isn’t merely a cerebral activity, but when it comes to a deep abiding relationship with God, learning exceeds our mental limits & frailties. Let’s be lifelong learners as we grow daily in our intimacy with the Trinity!
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
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 🙂
Proficient is a consequence of practice & it seems to me that practice gives us the space to make mistakes, learn, improve & grow into proficiency. So these are the things that I am continually practicing:
Gratitude – I’m not sure that we can ever be fully proficient with being thankful, so let’s keep practicing
Forgiveness – it’s hard to forgive, particularly when a person who is very close to us causes us pain, but just because something is hard doesn’t mean we should quit trying; indeed, the person who gets the most benefit from is the forgiver more than the recipient
Learning – let’s be curious about beneficial things & not stuff that’s meaningless or hurtful
Patience – uggggh, this one can really get under my skin, which means I desperately need to practice it more so it’s not such a weak spot
So what would be good for you to start practicing more over this weekend?
One of the things from my parents that I deeply cherish, is the “try it!” attitude. So when I was growing up, I tried heaps of stuff: lacrosse, blue corn tortillas, clarinet, softball, Perry Mason tv mysteries, eating crawdads, swimming in canals, classical music, basketball, viola & loads more! Of course I wasn’t proficient in most of these things but my parents were always super encouraging, even when I miserably flopped. So to this day, I’m a “try it” kind of person & I love this mindset!
Indeed, I’d rather try & fail, then not try & succeed at not trying. Peter was like this with Jesus when he walked on the water. He tried it & had some failure, but it seems to me that he was the first human water walker just because he tried!
At the end of the last ski season, I had a really bad fall, sustained a concussion & have had subsequent balance problems. I’m doing some ongoing therapy so it’s getting better, but this makes me think about injuries in new ways.
I think that we can get hurt in various ways, like from a bad experience in a church, a hurtful conversation with our mate or friend, a bad interaction with a teacher & lots more. From these injuries, our internal balance can get misaligned & we may have some unhealthy ways to compensate for that imbalance.
An external imbalance often indicates an internal injury.
This is another reason we so desperately need the Holy Spirit, our Heavenly Help, to bring healing into our souls so we can keep a healthy balance in our lives. Be sure to read my book Heavenly Help to have a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit!
Yesterday, I was in a prayer meeting and this lady prayed, “Father, please help us not to get lost in the words of the enemy.” This prayer totally arrested my attention & echoed in my thoughts for the rest of the day.
How many times have I gotten lost in the accusing, degrading, deceptive & condemning words of the enemy? Even worse, how many times have I let the enemy influence a conversation with someone when I’ve been snarky, judgmental, sarcastic & condescending?
Talk about a wake up call!!!
Let’s be certain that our thoughts stay centered on Jesus & that we allow the Holy Spirit to pour God’s love into our hearts. Making these choices will help us not to get so lost in the words of the enemy of our soul!
Have you been through difficult seasons when your thoughts turn dark? Lately, it seems like this has been my lot. It’s certainly not as bad as Job in the Bible, but it’s not a smoothy groovy season for me at this time. A few of the challenges that have popped up lately include: a car meltdown, lost my credit card, my husband had a stroke, one of my kids had a crisis at school, some friend challenges and discouraging news from work.
As I’ve been navigating these difficulties, the Holy Spirit spoke to me this morning about how my thoughts were getting dark. It’s like I’ve started to see things in a warped way and I find myself thinking negatively and with grim expectations. This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus also calls the Spirit of Truth. In my prayer time today, the Holy Spirit reminded me about Phil 4:8 where Paul tells us to dwell on / think about what is: true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute, excellent and worthy of praise.
So with the help of the Holy Spirit, I’m re-directing my thoughts away from the dark stuff & onto things that are THRPLGR: true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute! Anyone care to join me???
This morning, I read a verse that hit me between the eyes – 2Kings 17:41, “So while these nations feared the Lord, they also served their idols; . . .” This verse really spoke to me about my passion to follow Jesus.
I think that we generally have respect for God, but all too often we serve idols. No one sets out, usually, to be an idolator but there are lots of subtle idols that can allure our attention. Greed seems to be the most obvious idol & it has certainly a firm foothold in our culture & values! Another subtle idol is image & vanity. Of course sports & fitness can be an distraction from serving Jesus & so can consumption & food. Comfort & convenience have also become significant values that often sway our priorities.
Let’s be sure that we respect & serve God with both feet!
Presently, I’m waiting for a tow truck as my car has overheated & there’s a leak in the cooling system. I like learning about car engine stuff, but not in emergency mode. Nevertheless, there’s no fire & the Holy Spirit is helping me with the practical stuff 🙂
Seems to me that the Holy Spirit is always my roadside assistance. But better than calling for help, the Holy Spirit is my ever present help & is more than capable of keeping the wheels on the bus, fireproofing my journey & keeping me company throughout the journey! The Holy Spirit is better than roadside assistance!
Yesterday, I had a few doctor appointments & receptionists were not friendly. One was condescending & the other was impatient. Thankfully, the doctors were pleasant. But the receptionists give the patients their first experience with the doctors office, so they are an important first impression. I was thinking of these experiences as they relate to how we represent Jesus. If we are followers of Jesus, it’s important to keep in mind that in our own ways, we are all receptionists for Jesus, so let’s stay friendly, humble & kind 🙂
In the summertime, matching socks is not a big problem because we mostly wear flip flops. However, Fall & Winter can prove to be an entirely different issue & particularly with 5 people. I’m grateful for the wonderful trend with my kids who think it’s hip to wear clashing socks – a big relief!
Finding God can seem like trying to match socks – looking for various sizes & shapes to match different challenges & needs in our lives. But the truth is that God is always looking for us, like in the Garden of Eden when He called out to Adam, “Where are you?” Of course God knew where Adam was, even though he tried to hide. God overwhelmingly matches every need in our lives, but most of all our need to be close & intimate with our Creator. Augustine said it best, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
I’m in Pittsburgh & the older gentleman driving me to the airport has blue eyes like my dad. He’s also kind like my dad was so this drive brings back fond memories. When I think about my dad, I often reflect on the Holy Spirit & how the Helper works in my life. In Romans 8, I learn that the Holy Spirit helps me know God as my Heavenly Father. In John 14, I understand that the Holy Spirit is my Heavenly Help throughout each day. I also understand, from John 14, that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, leading me into truth & away from deception.
My earthly dad was a big proponent of the Holy Spirit so it’s nice to have this gentle reminder as a whisper as I ride in the car with this nice older gentleman wth blue eyes.
When I return from an international trip, I’m usually hungry for something like a hamburger or a hearty salad. I really like American food & traveling oversees makes me appreciate it all the more.
Coming home from my most recent trip to Cambodia, I’ve found myself more hungry for the Holy Spirit & my appetite for flowing with the Holy Spirit in my daily living has significantly increased. Im really happy for this hunger & eager to see how that roles into daily living. I already saw evidence of this last night when I took my daughter dress shopping for Homecoming! We found something both beautiful & affordable!
Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to increase our appetite for a greater integration of His presence throughout our lives!
I have a friend who often forgets to put gas in her car, so it’s not shocking that she runs out of fuel from time to time. We put fuel in our cars to help us get from point A to point B & the same principle applies to the journey of life. We do the things to give us what we need for our journey. But alas, even with our best planning, sometimes the journey can exceed our fuel plans. And there’s always the unexpected hiccups that take some extra energy. Then what?
Last week in Cambodia, there was a day when I hit the wall, ran out of energy & was entirely exhausted, but I didn’t have the luxury to take off a day to rest & rejuvenate, so what to do?
Rather than looking at the entire day for energy, I felt the Holy Spirit coach me to nestle into His presence in smaller increments. In this way, I found strength for one hour at a time. Indeed, not only did I find the energy I needed in smaller bite sized, but there were a few things that were unexpectedly eliminated from the day – go figure 🙂
We can lean into the Holy Spirit for strength, comfort & wisdom for each step, not just for the long journey!
Yesterday, I listened to one of my kids rant about their school, the wicked teachers, awful students & deplorable work. I don’t mind listening and sometimes I’m good at listening, which is good because my kid needed a listening ear. After about 30-45min of this content, I felt it was time for some objectivity so we had an interesting chat. I applauded their willingness to acknowledge a few of their shortfalls, but I also pointed out that from this child’s perspective, the lion’s share of the problems belonged to everyone else. This kind of thinking was allowing my kid to frame themselves as the victim & that’s no bueno. Being a victim often leaves us powerless & inert, wallowing in self pity. Seems to me that this kind of thinking runs contrary to how God has designed us, back in the Garden of Eden with power & dominion.
At the minimum, we have authority & power over our attitude & the choices we make about our perspective. Let’s be careful about how we think because our thoughts affect our words, attitudes & actions!
Yesterday, I was sitting in the Angola consulate to finish my visa application & this is always a jittery experience. It’s stressful in lots of ways because it’s a really complicated process & even when I’ve done everything right, there has been an occasion when my application was denied.
So I can get stressed out as I wait or I can chose to trust God. These words, “trust God” are easier said than done. But when there’s nothing more that I can do, then I need to actively chose, even moment by moment, to trust God.
Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to coach our mental game & help us get better at trusting God 🙂
Sometimes I think these terms get mixed up in our lives & we don’t realize it. Insulation is to keep out unwanted things, like cold weather or extreme heat. We can also insulate ourselves from painful experiences or uncomfortable feelings. But without being careful, insulation can become isolation when we chose to withdraw & not engage.
I could easily justify insulating myself from seeing & hearing someone’s pain or struggles that I find repugnant. But when I do this, I isolate myself & restrict the Holy Spirit from moving through me, to touch & heal the world around me. Let’s be careful not to insulate ourselves with our wealth & ability to chose our focus from the suffering around us. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t insulate Himself when He lives among us.