The snow was sifting slowly to the ground and my breath was forming mini-clouds to welcome the tiny flakes on their descent. This is a friendly way to say that last night was very cold for playing softball. To make it even more thrilling and chilling, we had a double header & our final game concluded just before 10pm. I felt like a popsicle as my feet shuffled me to the car. I learned some very good lessons from last night’s adventure:
have FUN!! Despite the cold, snow and losing both games, it’s fun to get outside, banter, encourage and move my aging body for a little exercise!
look to serve: our team joined a rec league, so it’s not highly competitive. This makes it all the more enjoyable to serve the other team and look for ways to be helpful – carrying gear, collecting foul balls, sharing equipment, etc
be encouraging more than competitve: this is a big one for me. If I go down the competitive trail (which is more my natural instinct), it’s less enjoyable than when I stay in an encouragment groove.
God can teach us many wonderful lessons, using a variety of contexts and circumstances. Let’s be willing and eager learners!
I need to do some heavy duty Spring cleaning, like cleaning out the kitchen drawers & window washing. There are some other big projects I need to work on like finishing my Saving Moses book, having some difficult conversations, wrestling with some internal challenges and lots more. Because these projects are hard for me, I tend to put them off, try to ignore them, justify not doing them because I’m busy, hope they’ll evaporate or do other stuff to avoid these difficult projects.
But alas, these difficult projects don’t disappear. So now what?
Here are some things that are helping me to work on various difficulties:
prayerfully look the project square in the eye, so it can be less intimidating
consider a step to move forward with making some progress with this project
be gentle but firm with yourself to keep going forward
celebrate progress and not just perfection or completion
nestle into God’s unchanging and ever faithful love for you – this helps you to live from a more healthy mindset 🙂
Doing forgiveness is more difficult than talking about it. Full stop.
And yet, it’s one of the only cause and affect activities Jesus talks about, based on Matt 6:14. This is where Jesus says that if we forgive others, our Heavenly Father will forgive us. And Lord knows that I needs heaps of forgiveness! I suspect you might need alot of forgiveness as well 🙂
So what does it look like when we don’t forgive? Here are a few things for your consideration. When we don’t forgive, we:
nurse and rehearse the offense / wound in our thoughts & other people who will sympathize with our pain
look for opportunities to lash out or pay back the hurt
refuse to let the person “off the hook” or recognize and accept God’s grace for them
At the same time, when we forgive it doesn’t mean that we:
position ourself to get repeatedly hurt
excuse, dismiss or ignore the hurtful behavior
continually bring up the offense with the person who was hurtful
Even though forgiveness can be tricky, we need to be forgiving people and we need to keep our forgiveness fresh!
On the heals of Easter, it’s tempting to move on to what’s next. Stuff such as Spring cleaning, Mother’s Day, graduation prep, etc can require our attention so much that Easter could quickly be forgotten. But let’s keep in mind that after Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to folk unexpectedly. And maybe it was difficult to recognize Jesus because there was lots of emotional intensity that made recognition more difficult. Here are a few emotions that maybe cause us to struggle to recognize Jesus:
fear: the disciples huddled together in fear after Jesus’ death. Jesus appeared to them despite their fear
grief: maybe it was difficult for Mary Magdalene to recognize Jesus in the Garden after His resurrection because grief was so overwhelming. Jesus appeared to her, nonetheless
uncertainty: on the road to Emmaus, some of Jesus followers were trying to figure out what had just happened after His crucifixion and “disappearance.” Jesus walked with them on their journey and helped them understand what just happened
doubt: Thomas was missing when Jesus made His first appearance to the disciples after His resurrection. Jesus came back to untangle Thomas’ doubt.
Let’s keep looking for Jesus because we can find and experience Him everyday because He’s alive!
Easter is just around the corner & maybe you’re scurrying to finish up this week, to get a few things done before the festivities of Good Friday & Easter. Here’s a helpful resource to prepare for Easter. This is short & really good to share with your friends! 🙂
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 🙂
I read this morning, in Jesus’ Sermon in the Mount in Matthew, about eating, drinking, clothing & time. Jesus raises some questions we often think about:
What will I eat? What will I wear? What will I drink? What’s going to happen tomorrow?
These questions seem to be timeless human concerns, regardless of your quantity of income or deficiencies. So it’s interesting that Jesus says not to worry about these issues (food, clothing & time). Instead, He tells us to spend a life in pursuit of Gods kingdom & these concerns will get resolved.
So let’s sharpen our focus on letting Jesus be the supreme authority / Lord in our life. Let’s live in intentional surrender to Jesus’ lordship & trust that He can look after the food, clothing & time concerns that might arise today 🙂
I’ve met poor people who are massively generous and I’ve met rich people who are super stingy. And I’ve met folk who are poor and stingy, as well as peeps who are wealthy and generous. So I would suggest that abundance isn’t based on the quantity of our money or size of our bank account.
Instead, let’s consider that abundance is more accurately a reflection of the state of our heart, or our perspective. And with God’s help, we can adjust our outlook to come from an abundant heart. Here could be some helpful actions to facilitate abundance in your life:
gratitude makes everything enough and even more! We can find things to be thankful for, regardless of the size or quality
be positive by watching for good things, beauty, helpful stuff around you and stuff inside you that’s wonderful
encouraging others with sincere compliments, generous and constructive words, along with affirming actions is a wonderful way to reflect internal abundance
I came home yesterday from some travel over the weekend and had some rough interaction with one of my kids. I had reviewed some of their grades and had some email exchanges with a teacher which weren’t pleasant. So when I got home, I was prickly with my kid. And this child pushed back on my prickly with a sizable dose of snarky such that our exchanges weren’t constructive. Short story: I was really ticked off.
Thankfully, I’ve had a mental reset this morning. I see where I was treating my child as a project and function, expecting them to change, be productive and fix their grades. Instead, it would be better had I come home and started from a place of genuine love in my heart rather than treating them like an object or project. Let’s be committed to seeing people instead of outcomes, projects or functions. We can do this because this is how our Heavenly Father sees us, from a heart of genuine love, connection and deep affection 🙂
Time is an interesting ingredient. I say this because my kids took me to my bus stop today so I could catch the bus to the airport. It felt a bit surreal to get dropped off by my daughter at my bus stop. And there’s lots to be said for the taste improvement that can happen when meat gets some time to be marinated. The same is true for a cake baking in the oven – take it out too early & it’s more like thick soup.
The common denominator for these experiences is time. Time is very interesting. We can often have very strong opinions about time when we don’t have enough, when it moves too fast, when we have uncertainty about the future or when it seems to age us in ways we don’t appreciate.
With that said, I can appreciate that in God’s time, we are improved, we grow, learn, get wise and see things from different perspectives. I’m grateful that God isn’t done with me & uses time to make me better 🙂
It’s nice to have a few minutes of unexpected pause, when you’re having a busy day. If you’re a Hugh achiever, these unexpected pauses can be wonderful opportunities to get more stuff done! And of course, that makes us feel good & it’s wonderful to be highly productive!
But here’s another possibility to consider for an unexpected pause: an invitation to tuck away with Jesus for a few minutes. In these moments, it can be very helpful, soothing & even healthy to take some minutes to engage with Jesus. Here could be some ideas for briefly engaging with Jesus in such pauses:
gratitude – express thanks for something real-time in that pause;
acknowledge: “Jesus, I know You’re here & im present with You;”
help!! consider that a pause could be a time to re-fuel with Jesus for what’s coming next 🙂
“Zip it!!!” This is what everyone told blind Bartimaus when he was yelling, fussing & making a scene. He wanted to get Jesus’ attention so that maybe he could get a miracle from Jesus & see again, in Luke 18.
I wonder what it was like to be in that crowd who was following Jesus & to be accosted by this desperate man. Their reply, “Zip it!!” tells me that the crowd didn’t have any interest in helping this desperate man. Indeed, they obstructed Bartimeus & attempted to discourage his efforts.
Let’s be careful that we help people to connect: find & experience Jesus, when someone seems to be annoying or a nuisance.
Have you ever been in the middle of something important & realized you’re not as prepared as you thought?? This happened to me last night, as I was speaking at the Wednesday night service at our church. Once I got up on the stage & opened my notes, I realized that I had the wrong notes. Attempting to think on my feet, I checked my phone for my notes because I’d sent them earlier in the day, only to discover that I’d sent the wrong notes! And all of these realizations were happening real-time in front of both our church & livestream audience! ARRRRRRGH!!!
In these moments when we are caught off guard or entirely unprepared, what can we do??
Upon realizing what I’d done, I took a few seconds to talk with Holy Spirit to ask for HELP!!!! I decided to settle into my Bible, lean into Holy Spirit & endeavor to follow Holy Spirit real time. After the sermon, as I was driving home, I was abundantly grateful to Holy Spirit for making the sermon impactful, clear & helpful to the audience! I’m learning to trust & flow with Holy Spirit, regardless of my circumstances or feelings. Would you like to join me on this adventure for your life? Feel free to check out my books on Holy Spirit (Heavenly Help & In Step), to grow in this adventure 🙂
I have three wonderful teenage children, very intelligent & sometimes opinionated. And it’s not uncommon to have some very interesting & heated discussions at dinner time about all kinds of topics including politics, musical taste, movie preferences, Hollywood, current events, government policies, theological questions, historical events, recipes & a plethora of random topics. In addition to our wonderful kids, my husband & I have our own perspectives & opinions. So our dinner conversations can be both diverse & intense.
As I think about these conversations, it’s important to consider not only what is being said, but also the tone & context for these interactions. If we are going to maintain close relationships, disagreements are inevitable. Here are some helpful thoughts related to disagreements:
Seek to understand more than being understood
A sincere apology is helpful when there’s misunderstanding
If you’re trying to “win” an argument, appreciate that someone will lose & maybe that’s not a good goal
Respect is essential for constructive disagreement
What is the right decision? What choice should I make? Which direction should I take?
All of us are faced with these kinds of questions for lots of things, from minor choices to major life decisions. So how should we navigate?
Throughout human history, mankind has used the stars & celestial bodies to navigate & guide their earthly journey. This is true for sailors, nomads in the desert, pioneers in prairie fields & loads more. Additionally, each of us have internal desires & goals. Nevertheless, let’s make our ultimate decisions based on the fundamental goal of knowing God better throughout each season & phase of our lives. Let’s make our decisions from facing God & orienteering for optimum intimacy & connection with God. Selah 🙂
Feel free to share this with your friends & social media groups 🙂
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 🙂
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 🙂
On any given day, we will have ups & downs. This is the nature of life. And sometimes we need a little help with our perspective so that we don’t get stuck in a down quagmire. Here’s something that could be helpful:
“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!! 🙂
Now that my kids have grown into adult bodies, I can’t find my socks because I keep seeing them on my kids feet :). This makes me smile for lots of reasons: their socks don’t match, my men randomly wear flower socks & socks sizes are irrelevant.
So our feet are important because they help us walk, they’re the base on which we stand, we use them for beat tapping, kicking, hacky sack, ballet, skiing & loads more!
Let’s invite God to guide our feet, our steps & direction!
And a helpful prayer:
Ps 40:2, “You brought me up out of the pit of destruction & miry clay; You set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm.”
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!
I think life can have lots of hard conversations. These can range from financial challenges, to relationship issues, job / education struggles, medical mishaps & loads more. Many times, we’d prefer to avoid these conversations, ignore them or pretend they’ll disappear. But difficult issues don’t usually go away & sometimes we only make the issues worse by not having the hard conversation.
So here might be some helpful ideas for hard conversations:
Pray & ask for wisdom, timing, right words & opportunity
Choose peace & resist anxiety/ fear
Give room for God to help
Check your motives for manipulation, distortion, hurt, revenge or control
Listen to understand more than argue
Some conversations need to happen in pieces & not just a full immersion
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
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 🙂
I’m in Israel today & we just visited the pagan temple of Pan, where they sacrificed holy goats, a very long time ago before Jesus was alive. The local people were very sincere & committed to their worship.
And I think that today we have our own versions of holy goat worship. Indeed, whatever we allow to consistently capture our attention & affection could be considered a holy goat.
Let’s be open for Holy Ghost to expose whatever may be “goats” in our lives where we should have the Lamb of God as our first & essential affection & worship!