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 🙂

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!

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 🙂

Live Full

In Israel today, we visited Masada, where 900 Jews kept a 3year stand off against 25,000 Romans. At the end, the Romans built a massive ramp & stormed the top of the desert plateau only to find there were no Jews alive with all the supplies & resources destroyed by fire. 

This is a very sobering site to visit, recognizing the resolve of these Jews to die free rather than live in slavery & abuse. 

To this end, I’m challenged to make my life count & to live full on, not half empty. Here are some things that we could employ to help us live full:

  • Be grateful for the small & not just big things
  • Be compassionate without requiring reasons to understand 
  • Be helpful in little ways every day to cultivate a helpful mindset
  • Smile because it can brighten your interior
this is the siege ramp the Romans built

The Jesus Way

“Caught in the very act!” These were the words of the Jewish leaders when they interrupted Jesus’ teaching with an adulterous woman. Ultimately, Jesus told the woman that He didn’t condemn her, to go her way & sin no more.

“We don’t have enough bread to feed this mass of people.” These were the words of Jesus’ disciples when He told them to feed the crowd. Ultimately, Jesus asked what they had, started with that & multiplied from there.

“Jesus wept.” This was Jesus’ response to seeing the intense grief and mourning from Lazarus’ death. Ultimately, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, after conversing with his sisters who were deep in the throes of loss.

The Jesus Way, which we would do well to follow, includes these things:

  • the absence of judgment and the abundance of forgiveness
  • bless the provision instead of cursing the lack
  • being present in grief and pain rather distracted or numb

Let’s do the Jesus Way in our daily living, which is ultimately the Way of Genuine Love!

Why Obey God?

This is a timeless question that maybe every human has asked, at some point in their life. And I suspect that Job, in the Bible, asked this question or some version of it, during the massively difficult season in his life. So do we obey God because there will be good outcomes? Do we obey God to avoid negative experiences? Do we obey God because life will go more smoothly? Do we obey God because it makes us feel good?

Why obey God?

During my life, I have obeyed God for the reasons I just listed and more. Sometimes, my obedience has facilitated good outcomes. And sometimes, I’ve obeyed God and stuff hasn’t turned out like I wanted. So I’m coming to the conclusion that I choose to obey God because I love God and more importantly, I’m loved by God. When I keep genuine love as a core motivation, my soul stays more tender and healthy 🙂

Will You Grow?

It never ceases to amaze me how much we grow, as humans, in our first two years of existence. Not only do we gain weight and increase in height, but we also massively grow in our cognitive, emotional, relational and identity capacities. And we continue the growing experience when we go to school, learning lots of stuff related to communication, fine motor skills, organization, moral quandaries, computational proficiencies and the list goes on.

Just because we become adults, doesn’t mean that we should stop growing. May we never limit our capacities nor abilities to:

  • be compassionate,
  • explore new things,
  • learn new communication skills,
  • get more proficient with forgiveness,
  • become more loving,
  • take on new ideas,
  • meet new people

Let’s keep growing!!

Doing Important Stuff

Doing important stuff can be intimidating & even overwhelming. And yet, I believe that we are on the planet to do important stuff. 

For example, today I’m joining an amazing team to do strategic planning for Saving Moses. It’s an important activity because today’s outcomes affect babies & toddlers who would die or suffer abuse / neglect without our efforts. So we are doing important stuff!!

So when you do important stuff, here are some things that might be helpful:

  • Pray: it’s necessary to include God with important stuff
  • Plan: my husband helps me remember that proper prior planning prevents poor performance
  • Do: take a step & start even with something small to do / make progress
  • Teamwork: include people & be a good team player
  • Measure:  it’s helpful to pause & take inventory of the progress & direction 

Let’s make progress w important stuff!

Let’s Pray

With the beginning of a new year comes lots of opportunities, quandries, questions and things to be resolved or addressed. For me, these things look like managing kids with changing schedules, planning international trips, navigating limited resources, strategizing for growth, resolving some conflicts and working through some unexpected hiccups.

I could easily get screwed into the ceiling with stress, worry, frustration, fear & anxiety. But a more helpful option is to pray. There’s a really old song about taking to the Lord, our worries, problems, etc . . . ” . . . . ,take it to the Lord in prayer.” Let’s make prayer our first reaction rather than our last resort!

Old and New

Happy 2019! Starting a new day, a new month and a new year is a nice way to think of a fresh start. In some respects, a new year is a little bit like a do-over, taking some of the mishaps, failures, lessons, progress and successes of 2018 and making improvements on these for 2019.

Where you’ve had failures & disasters in 2018, be careful not to allow shame, embarassment, defeat, fear or insecurity define your perspective on these things in 2019. Sometimes it’s helpful to think of failures, defeats, disasters and mishaps in terms of practice and progress. In this way, let’s make new mistakes in 2019 and not the same ones from 2018.

Where you’ve had success, improvement, maturation & progress, let’s take such momentum into 2019 and keep going! There’s a good chance that God would like to build on these things from 2018 and expand those victories!

It’s a new day, new month and new year – all aligned with God’s work because He makes all things new (Isaiah 43:18), including you and me!

Finding Jesus

In that today is Christmas Eve, or maybe Christmas when you read this, we might be thinking about Jesus’ birth 🙂

And in the story of Jesus coming to live among us, there are some interesting things we can consider for our daily living.

*Unexpected Coincidence: the shepherds in the field were doing a normal night of shepherding when there was a supernatural interruption. Let’s be mindful that a supernatural interruption can sometimes be dismissed as an unexpected coincidence, causing us to miss something God wants us to know or experience

*Inconvenient Journey: the wiseman took the Star as a signal to go on a journey to seek out something unknown but important. Let’s be mindful that what could be inconvenient and unfamiliar has the potential to lead us to know Jesus more deeply and in a richer experience.

*Unconventional Relationship: Joseph decided to keep Mary as his fiancé even though she was pregnant out of wedlock. Let’s be mindful that being merciful, gracious and generous can position us to bring Jesus to people in meaningful and life-giving experiences.

Let’s keep finding Jesus and helping others experience genuine love through finding Jesus!

Not Yesterday

The past is a really interesting thing to consider. Like me, you likely have some very fond memories as well as some experiences that you’d rather forget. And today is a new day, with new mercies, new experiences, new people, new minutes, new activities, new adventures, . . . . lots of new for new days!

And may we never forget that God’s mercies are new every morning because the faithfulness of God is infinite. Let’s allow each day to be new & have a fresh start. Yesterday is over & today is a new day 🙂

Failure or Practice?

Are you good at makeup, organizing, decorating, math, cleaning, cooking, exercise, socializing, baking, talking, etc?  I believe that God gives each of us unique talents and abilities, which we often take for granted because they seem “easy” to us.  

On the other side, I’ll bet there are some things that you’re good at doing now, but probably not very good when you started doing these things.  For example, when I first started ironing shirts, I was awful.  But over time, I’ve become more proficient with practice and now I’m much better.  

Instead of framing things from a failure and quitting perspective, let’s consider that most of the stuff we do is practice and we are on the journey of continual improvement.  For me, this helps me stay away from shame, discouragement and even quitting.  Let’s celebrate practice and stay away from failing 🙂


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 Abundance Factor

Little tweaks can make big impacts & I see evidence of this in lots of ways.  For example, I have a friend who regularly reminds me that gratitude makes everything enough.  She uses everyday examples of how she’s thankful & the impact this attitude makes on her thinking, conversations & decisions.  And she doesn’t just do this at Thanksgiving!

The same can also be true for a little tweak with treats we enjoy!  During this holiday season, I’m doing a #hungerstrike campaign with Saving Moses, asking everyone to forego one treat / indulgence & send that money to Saving Moses to help us feed a malnourished baby. A candy bar in America, or a pumpkin spice latte, or the extra pair of shoes that we forego, could make the difference between life and death for a baby in our malnourishment clinics.

Let’s remember that abundance can be a direct result of gratitude!

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!  🙂

When There’s Opposition

“You can’t do that!”  “That’s ridiculous & never been done before.”  “We aren’t interested in that kind of thing here.”  “NO!!!”

I’m in Bangledesh sitting with our Saving Moses nightcare team, comprised of nannies, administrative support, guards & assistants. This team looks after babies & toddlers every night while their moms work in the adjacent brothel. When I came to this area last year to present my idea for nightcare, I already had many years experience where people told me all the things I listed at the beginning of this blog & even more. Thankfully, the people in Bangledesh weren’t opposed to my idea, although definitely surprised. And today, I’m abundantly fulfilled to sit with this wonderful team – grateful for each of them & believing in nightcare!

So when you face opposition, here are some things I’ve found to be helpful:

  • See the goal – this helps to stay focused 
  • Take a step toward the goal, no matter how small
  • Be creative – there’s more than one way to achieve a goal
  • Failure is learning rather than defeat
  • Encourage someone else – it helps to keep your heart joyful

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.