Some of us are better at waiting than others. But waiting is a universal human experience. We wait for traffic, phone calls, relationships, promotions, grades, test results & in this season, Jesus’ birth.
Sometimes, what we anticipate when it arrives isn’t always what we expected – so we are surprised, disappointed or even perplexed.
When Jesus arrived as a baby, I think Mary was relieved to have completed her pregnancy & maybe she was surprised as well, given the unexpected appearances of shepherds & magi to celebrate Jesus’ arrival!
When Jesus landed at the temple at the beginning of Holy Week, he shocked everyone by driving out the money changers, healing the blind & sick & being celebrated by children w songs of hosanna in the highest (Matt 17). But the religious leaders weren’t remotely happy w Jesus’ arrival.
And when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection, she wasn’t expecting to meet the risen Christ!
When Jesus comes, let’s be ready to celebrate & also appreciate that we will likely be surprised because He isn’t always what we expect 🙂
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 🙂
I’m happy to announce a successful dentist appointment. I have no furry teeth 🙂
Doing these routine cleanings is an essential requirement for dental hygiene & this makes me think about mental as well as spiritual hygiene.
Just like we brush our teeth daily, we would be wise to do some daily prayer & Bible time to keep up our mental & spiritual hygiene. I’d also suggest that when we stay healthy mentally & spiritually we can be less prickly in our souls & interactions.
Let’s stay steady with our spiritual routines so they stay in the daily category with brushing our teeth 🙂
Over the last few months, I’ve been traveling a fair amount & almost every plane is packed to the gills, such that sardines might be an accurate metaphor. And we Americans have this major issue w personal space – don’t touch, don’t lean, don’t talk, etc. We all wear our headphones / earbuds, keep the arm rests down & send out nonverbal cues that say “unavailable.”
But today has been a nice exception to the standard porcupine posture. My seat mate engaged me in conversation & I learned some cool stuff! We didn’t solve any global crisis but the interaction reminds me to be hospitable & cordial.
Sometimes we have to be willing to go past our comfort & culture to having meaningful connections. It’s good to talk with people who don’t look nor act like we do!
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!
“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!
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 goodattitude ruins everything bad 🙂
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!
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!
Imagine my surprise at 8:30am on Thanksgiving morning, when I unwrapped our turkey, only to discover that it was still frozen, with company expecting delicious & cooked turkey at 1pm. My son was helping me & our faces reflected mutual freaking out!! I was even pulling ice out of the cavity & trying to troubleshoot solutions. Long story short, we had a delicious, fully cooked turkey & no one got sick eating it 🙂
In the meantime, my son was the hero who helped me avert a Thankgsiving disaster and here are a few things he did that could be helpful when you face a possible cataclysm or fiasco:
Assess the situation and don’t freak out – gather as much info as possible to grasp the extent of the possible disaster: Everything was frozen on and in the turkey
Start thinking of little steps to make the situation better: We ran hot water on the outside of the turkey, as well as in the cavity
Keep working with the incremental improvements: We stopped up the sink so that hot water could get around the turkey as much as possible
Thoroughly inspect the progress: We frequently inspected the mobility of the legs to see if they were unthawed (greater flexibility = less frozen)
Be positive & encouraging: “Mom, I think we’re making some good headway in unthawing this bird!” That was really encouraging to me!!!
Teamwork: Appreciate that we are better together than trying to do catastrophes alone
The outcome of our efforts was a delicious turkey & a delightful meal. Possibly more important, I learned LOADS of helpful tips on cooking turkeys, I had a significantly bonding experience with my son and I now know how to cook a turkey at a fast speed 🙂
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!
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!
“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! 🙂
“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
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.
I’m in Bangledesh with Saving Moses. I love to watch the people here & reflect on their daily living. I see shopkeepers, garment factory workers, kids walking to school, brick makers, farmers, etc. There are lots of differences here in the daily living with what is familiar to us in America.
As humans, however, there’s lots of commonality that we’d be wise to acknowledge. No matter the differences, let’s remember some helpful things:
Respect: being respectful of differences helps us learn & know people
Compassion: the road each person travels has unique struggles
Learning: new experiences can facilitate some incredible insights
At the core of these three things is an internal perspective that we can cultivate. When we lack these things, then it’s helpful to take an internal inventory to consider why something is missing. Selah 🙂
Hello from Dhaka Bangledesh! Clearly, Dhaka is a very different place than my home city, Denver.
Also, I’m continually astounded by the things I hear & see here in relation to the babies & toddlers of sex workers.And I’m all the more astounded when I learn about the difficulties that floating sex workers have in particular when they work & looking after their babies & toddlers.
A floating sex worker in Bangledesh does not have a permanent brothel & has many dangers they navigate daily. Such dangers include having their baby / toddler stolen & sold in a market for a minimum of $50 – an atrocity that unravels even the most hardened sex worker.
While there are some organizations that help the moms, there is no assistance for their babies / toddlers. And that’s why Saving Moses is here today & we are making some headway to open nightcare for the babies & toddlers of these floating sex workers.We are very serious about Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 to look after the least of these & I see the least of these, being the babies & toddlers of floating sex workers.
In America this week, we had a national & local election, so all media outlets were fully engaged with debates, advertisements, etc. There are plenty of folk who prefer less campaigning & not just a few of us are weary of the deceptions & hostile conflict that politics has become. As a follower off Jesus & His teachings, there are a few takeaways to maintain regardless of your political affiliations / preferences.
Be compassionate – Jesus was helpful, kind, forgiving, healing & generous to marginalized people
Be prayerful – Jesus taught His disciples to pray, a constructive habit we would be wise to cultivate
Be loving – Jesus said that His followers would be recognized by their love for each other.
Some things are difficult & we want to find excuses or reasons to avoid such difficulties. We might want to sidestep a challenging conversation or greeting a prickly person. We might prefer to ignore the scale in the bathroom since it may tell us something unpleasant. And there’s always the “busy” excuse that’s convenient for all kinds of stuff we’d prefer to avoid.
Despite our best efforts, however, whatever we try to avoid, ignore, deflect, etc it’s still there & will likely remain present until we step into the issue. Here are a few ideas that might help us to show up:
Pray: let God know you don’t want to show up & ask for divine Help
Deep breath: this can often help to clear the cobwebs in our thinking & give us some energy to take a step
Anticipate good: it’s possible that whatever we might be avoiding has some unexpected good stuff
Love truth: sometimes we avoid truth bc it might be painful or unpleasant. But ultimately, deception is more destructive than truth!