Roots & Reactions

I need to dye my hair roots, soon!  The brown is getting displaced by white & I could look like a skunk very quickly 🙂

This makes me think about how I react on certain things like when I’m impatient with my kids, or prickly with someone at church, snarky with person at the grocery store, etc. 

Here’s the important truth:  how we react is based on the roots in our heart. I say this based on Jesus’ words in Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”

So let’s pay attention to what is in our hearts so that our reactions can be fruitful results of healthy heart roots 🙂

Real or Right?

I asked someone a question recently & when they replied, I asked, “Is that the real answer or the right answer?”  When I asked this question, it began to circulate in my mind & I wondered how many times I give the right answer but maybe not always the real answer. I know what I’m supposed to say, so I give the right words. And I do this because I know that the “real words” could be challenging not only to hear, but also to speak.  It’s very wonderful when both the real & right words are the same!

I’m grateful to realize that God can help us grow & change such that our real words can also be the right words more & more!  

Just a little friendly food for thought on this nice Monday 🙂

Command Sabbath

“Shalom Sabbath!” Having recently returned from Israel, the whole Sabbath thing, taking a day of rest once a week to honor God, is relatively fresh. In Israel, the Sabbath is super important! They organize their elevators to comply with Sabbath regulations, there’s meal guidelines, work closes down for a day & it seems like the entire nation takes a pause. I found the whole experience to be curious & refreshing.

So yesterday, I experienced kind of a “command Sabbath.” We had a really big snowstorm here in Denver, so my kids were home from school & I rested for much of the day. Since I don’t often pause for an entire day, it was an interesting experience. I appreciated getting some extra sleep, along with forcing my mind to disconnect from work stuff. It was nice to enjoy some quiet reading and even catch a great college basketball game!

The “command Sabbath” reminds me that what I do is never as important to God as who I am. And having a day of rest makes me want to be all the more productive today!! 🙂

Big Achievements!

In the Bible, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in a short time, hung the doors / gates for these walls & provided essential leadership to a broken & despondent people (those left behind from the exile who had been injured, suffered massive trauma & displaced). Nehemiah has big achievements in his life & we would be wise to apply some lessons to our lives from his achievements. 

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Obstacles: nothing big is achieved without overcoming obstacles. And sometimes the biggest obstacles are in our thoughts & outlook
  • Opposition: people opposed Nehemiah & people will oppose you. What you do with such opposition is frequently more important than the opposition itself
  • Focus: Nehemiah didn’t let obstacles, opposition nor hardship distract him from achieving his goal to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Stay on target!

Have a happy & restful weekend!

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

Tourist or Pilgrim?

I’m in Jerusalem with my family, friends & church family seeing loads of biblical stuff that is nothing short of epic!  For example, we’ve seen the synagogue where Jesus taught in Capernaum, Gethsemane, David’s palace, the Temple Mount & heaps more.  I feel like a kid in a candy store to the 10th power!!  

And as I walk around all these sites, reflecting on the associated Bible verses, I’m deeply moved. If I’m only a tourist, then this is a journey of visual information, interesting to my mind but not so much for my heart. As a pilgrim, however, I participate in this journey realizing that my heart could change along the way & I could be different from having taken this journey.  A tourist could have less risk but a pilgrim could have more reward.

So I pose to you the question: will you be a tourist or a pilgrim on this day?  We get to make this decision everyday 🙂

Peace in a Storm

Here in Israel today, we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee & heard about Jesus walking on the water & Peter joining Him. This was in the middle of a storm & in the middle of night, so there was lots of fear & anxiety. On another occasion, Jesus was sleeping in a boat somewhere in the Sea of Galilee also during a storm. In both scenarios, Jesus had affirmed the trip before the storm started. 

My point is that when we follow Jesus, we can’t assume that our lives will be storm free. Indeed, sometimes we will follow Jesus into a storm. And to get through the storm, we must keep following g Jesus. While we follow Jesus, it’s helpful to remember that He’s the Prince of Peace & His peace will overcome any storm 🙂

Timeless

I’m in Israel & just visited the house of Simon the Tanner where Peter had a vision & learned that God is including the Gentiles for redemption (Acts 9-10). It’s mind blowing to visit such an historical site & consider the ramifications of Peters experience but even more so God’s character, which is timeless.  

When I get to visit these kinds of historical sites, it refreshes my gratitude that God is loving, inclusive, patient & forgiving. And no matter where you are today, what is happening in your life & regardless of your feelings / emotions, God is never changing & God’s character is genuine love, full stop. 

House of Simon the Tanner

What Do You Hear?


“Did someone bring a bird on this plane?”  The passengers around me kept asking about the chirping sound that we were hearing when suddenly the light went on for me.

“I’m so sorry!” I felt like an idiot when I realized that the ambient forest sound on my phone was on full volume & everyone around me thought there were birds on the plane with us. Maybe everyone thought he airlines was trying to make the flying experience more natural :/

Sometimes I think Gods input in our lives is a little like the chirping bird sound on the plane. We can be “flying” & doing daily life, but the anomalies around us should make us listen & lean in to hear our shepherds voice more clearly 🙂

Remember that Jesus says in John 10 that we are His sheep & we know His voice!

Walking Alongside Difficult

Yesterday, a few of my friends told me some heartbreaking news. One friend is facing a monstrous health crisis & another friend has a family crisis that’s is beyond sad. I deeply love these friends & learning of these crises touches me to my core. 

So what to do?  Should I give them key Bible verses that could “fix” their situation? Should I tell them to be strong in their faith?  Should I rebuke any negative words? What should I do?

When I look in the Bible for some help & direction, it’s noteworthy that Job’s friends sat with him for an entire week before they said anything. And maybe that was their best input because their words don’t seem very comforting to me. 

Here are some ideas that might be helpful:

  • Be present – pay attention to not only the words being spoken, but also the body language & emotions that are being felt
  • Be steady – I’ve found that people who go through traumatic experiences can often crave someone being consistent & steady
  • Be gentle – instead of assuming you know what the person needs or wants, it’s better to ask. 
  • Be prayerful – it’s very helpful to sincerely pray even on your own for the person & not just with or around them. 

Short Supply

“Can I borrow some milk?” My former neighbor & I used to always borrow ingredients for cooking. Both of us were always busy, so it was abundantly helpful that we could text each other & have one of our kids run over whatever was missing (eggs, flour, sugar, milk, cumin, celery salt, etc). And we would often talk about how we had run out of patience, or run out of time, so it was very nice to have a friend who could sympathize with the “short supply” challenge.

Sadly, she moved a few years ago and my cooking has never been the same 🙂

And I’m super grateful that Jesus is never in short supply of everything I need! Indeed, Jesus has an oversupply of patience, grace, wisdom, time, energy, faith, genuine love, help, strength, . . . . To be sure, Jesus is the ultimate Provision for everything we need for all of this week and beyond!

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!

Not Ideal

We all have different ideas about perfect or ideal. Some of us would be perfectionists & we struggle to navigate sometimes in stuff that’s less than perfect. Some of us are kind of the middle of the road – we like ideal or perfect, but we can figure stuff out when life is imperfect. And for some of us, perfect is almost a joke & an elusive ideal. 

I find myself frequently in less than ideal situations & sometimes I flounder but other times I can flourish in the imperfection. Here are something’s that I’ve found to be helpful for flourishing in less than ideal situations:

  • Focal point: keeping my eyes on Jesus helps me not get so ruffled
  • Choose trust: it helps me to actively choose to trust Jesus & His love for me
  • Identify lemons: what are the less than perfect challenges?
  • Make lemonade: it really helps me to ask Holy Spirit how to make improvements in situations & experiences that aren’t ideal or perfect. Lots of times, the feedback I hear from from Holy Spirit is to shift my point of view & opinion 🙂

Timing Is Everything

“My time is not here yet, but your time is always opportune.” This is what Jesus said to his brothers in John 7:6, replying to their advice about His visibility and their marketing wisdom. And there’s lots of value in thinking about the right timing, alignment, relationships, resources, etc.

It seems to me that in our modern world, we don’t have much appetite for patience, refinement processes, aging, maturation and stuff like that. We want the results, but not the time that goes into having the results. And yet I see such massive value in the actual process, time spent, maturation journey. There is timeless wisdom and value in looking at life for the long view and not only the short-term gains. Indeed, since God is the author of time, we would be wise to trust in God’s timing and processes, but most of all that God deeply loves us!

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 🙂

The Tired Toaster

I cleaned out our toaster over the weekend & noticed that the knobs are broken off, the base comes off of the body and there are a few exposed electrical wires. A day later, my husband suggested that I buy a new toaster. I explained that I cleaned it out over the weekend and it should be good to go, knobs being nothing more than convenient accessories. He smirked and said, “Sarah, the base is separating from the toaster & it could be a fire hazard.”

Hmmmmmm.

Like my worn out toaster, sometimes we can get worn down from life and grow comfortable being broken or dysfunctional. But genuine love will step into that quagmire and speak truth, redemption, hope, transformation and life. Let’s be available to speak gentle and loving words of truth and redemption. And let’s be open to receiving truth and life with genuine love!

Snowplows and Stoplights

It’s a snowy day here in Denver, so the snowplows are out on the streets and most drivers are being cautious. This is good unless you’re running late and in a hurry, then it can seem to be not good. So I found myself coaching the mental game this morning, choosing to acknowledge that the driving conditions were improved with these adjustments.

I would suggest that the same holds true with God. There are times in our lives when things aren’t going as we want or had planned. Maybe there are some unexpected hiccups, unforeseen delays, extenuating circumstances, etc and such things can be abundantly frustrating. It’s also possible that God is working through such difficulties, hardships and hiccups for our best interest. I say this because of Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So let’s keep loving God, stay true to His purposes and trust that snowplows and stoplights are operational for our best interest!

Nutritional Value

My husband & I enjoyed a delightful dinner at a “healthy” restaurant last night. The menu overflowed with nutritional options, including the desserts. My indulgence was a chia parfait and I wasn’t expecting anything very tasty. Indeed, my kids will often associate consuming healthy stuff with things being flavorless, at best. More often they think that healthy is flavor repulsive. So it was nice to be pleasantly surprised with the delicious chia parfait!

I wonder if it wouldn’t be helpful to consider nutrition in not only a food context, but also in the contexts of our attention, spiritual disciplines, relationships, intellectual pursuits, time management, conversations, etc. And ultimately, no one & no thing is more tasty or healthy than a deepening walk with God! Indeed, let us taste and see that the Lord is good! Psalm 34:8 🙂

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!!