Do You Need a New Beginning?

Do You Need a New Beginning?

January is often a month when we think of making a fresh start. Maybe we make New Years resolutions about exercise, weight, spending habits, reading goals, etc. 

take a quick minute to watch & share this short video to help you with new beginnings:  

Sunshine Mantra

Everything is great!  Life is fantastic! I’m blessed & highly favored!  Living’ the dream!

I’ve said these words more than occasionally when my life isn’t whipy, when I’m tired, sick & when stuff is awful.  So was I lying?  Was I making a faith confession?  Was I living in denial?  Depending on the day or hour, yes 🙂

If we want to love genuinely, let’s be ready for someone to be honest & say that stuff isn’t going well. Indeed, when Job went through a season of living hell, his friends stayed with him in silence for a week before they said a word. There was no sunshine mantra in the conversations w Job & his friends.  When a friend goes through a crisis, let’s be willing to walk alongside them with honesty & not get ruffled. 

As it relates to having a personal crisis, I recognize that not everyone can handle our honesty or when things aren’t going well.  And that’s ok!  Let’s allow God to bring people into our lives who don’t always settle for the sunshine mantra. 

Changing Conditions

Changing Conditions

Choppy or smooth? Icy or powder? Chunky or groomed?  These are all descriptions of the snow conditions when a person skis or snowboards. 

When I was first learning to snowboard, I struggled to navigate changing conditions. I was really good on groomed runs but ice caused me some significant problems. 

I’ve been snowboarding now for almost 15 years & I can navigate various conditions usually without injuries, although I have definite preferences. 

I think the same can hold true for us as we mature in our walk with Jesus. Early on, maybe we didn’t have the agility to navigate disappointment or unanswered prayers. As we mature in our walk w Jesus, it’s helpful to keep love as our top priority regardless of the changing conditions. I find that the more I stay in love w Jesus, regardless of what’s happening around me, the easier it can be to navigate changing conditions 🙂

Watching Wrestling

In high school, I never watched wrestling so I’m entirely clueless on this sport, except that I have an offspring who’s doing this sport now 🙂

So I’m learning things that are important & useful for daily living. 

Here’s some things I’m learning from watching wrestling:

Preparation is important: if you want to succeed, it’s helpful to more than show up

Mistakes foster learning: it takes lots of learning to win & mistakes can be helpful ingredients for learning 

Be willing to change: a flexible strategy can facilitate winning

Let’s not forget that Jacob wrestled with an angel of God all through the night in Genesis 32. He acquired.permanent limp & he was changed in both name & character. Sometimes we need to wrestle to grow & gain!

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!

Being Sick

Over the last few weeks, various members of my family have come down with some congestion, a sore throat, runny nose, etc. And in full disclosure, it likely all started with me back in November, when I’d finished an intense travel season and my body was tired and run down. So it’s highly probable that my family caught the crud from me.

I think this idea of being contagious rings true in lots of ways. For example, I’ve noticed that hurt people often hurt people. To this end, hurt can be contagious particularly when there’s an absence of forgiveness. On the positive side, let’s stay committed to genuine love because there’s a good chance that genuine love is also contagious. Indeed, I think we are the most healthy when we receive and express genuine love 🙂

Weight Class

There are kinda of weight classes: losing weight, boxing, weight training, wrestling etc. So dealing with weight can be an interesting concept which is frequently a popular topic at the beginning of each year. Here are a few thoughts that could be helpful when you think about weight:

**Future Preparation:  sometimes today’s weights are training for tomorrow’s responsibilities. What might seem heavy could actually be helpful for weightier matters in the future

**Losing Weight: anxieties, fears, failures, insecurities & other stuff can be weights we shed so we can be less weighed down

**Time Lever:  sometimes waiting can be weighty but as we wait on the Lord, we can gain new strength!  Consider Isaiah 40:31, “Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”

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!

Not Ready

The week between Christmas & New Year’s feels like a “not ready” week, maybe because of all the festivities, bustle & frenzy leading up to Christmas, . . . . . And then we pause 🙂

And for such a pause, I’m abundantly grateful. I don’t have to get ready for anything – no dinner guests, no events, no sermons, no parties, no gift wrapping or last minute presents to buy. In this week, it’s ok to be “not ready.” So I appreciate the opportunity to lounge in pjs, take time for reflection, watch birds and squirrels eat berries off the tree outside my window, get my vacuum into the shop for a much needed tune-up, sleep in a little bit and be entirely comfortable with being “not ready.”

Maybe this idea goes back to the concept of Sabbath, when we pause from our work and take a day of rest. I sincerely believe that such a pause is an essential ingredient for growing in our intimacy with God 🙂

Negative Spaces


Artists can often think about what they’re crafting, painting, sculpting, writing  or creating. They take whatever is their medium (a canvas, clay, marble, glass, pen & paper, etc) & begin to do their creative work. We can often concentrate on the medium & ignore or forget what isn’t there. And what isn’t there (the blank or void around the medium), is referred to as “negative space.”  In some respects, what isn’t present, what’s missing, can often be equally as important as what is present, observable & the creative content. The absence can accentuate the creative work. 

And to this end, let’s remember that what God does, divine creative work, is not only with & through us as the medium, but also in the pause, void & vacancy of what can seem to be missing. Don’t diminish or resent the negative spaces that might be happening in your life. Our Master Creator is doing divine work & you’re a masterpiece in the making 🙂

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 🙂


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 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!