When Plans Don’t Work

Planning isn’t one of my natural strengths, so the Holy Spirit has helped me grow in this area over the course of many years.  I’ve come to appreciate that if I want to accomplish big dreams, then it’s important to develop some plans and structures for these dreams to become reality.  So what happens when the plans don’t seem to work?  Then what?

In the Gospel of Mark, I’ve been reading about how Jesus healed people, often not according to the human contrived plans, i.e,  the Syrophoenician woman whom Jesus calls a dog, the 4 guys who break through a roof to get a paralytic in front of Jesus & the blind guy whom Jesus spits on for his healing.  It seems to me that Jesus almost never follows our human plans, so it begs the question:  why plan?

When you have plans to seem to go awry, maybe these ideas could be helpful:

  • plans help us think in constructive steps to achieve goals & dreams.  No planning = no progress
  • planning with prayer is a massively helpful combination
  • consider Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

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In Step with the Holy Spirit!

Thanks For The Extra Grace

I have a pretty consistent morning routine that generally helps to frame each day with sturdy Bible applications & a prayerful mindset, usually. But this morning didn’t pan out that way. I didn’t get to have my normal quiet prayer & Bible time before my family stirs. So I ran out the door to start my day, not having the rich fellowship with God that often sustains me throughout the day. I don’t like it when that happens & I’m grateful that this is a rare occurrence.
And here’s the really magnificent thing today: I’m sensing the Holy Spirit very clearly throughout this day, despite not having my morning tuning & calibrating fellowship. Of course my absence of quiet & solitary fellowship with the Holy Spirit this morning won’t become a daily habit. Nevertheless, sensing the rich presence of the Holy Spirit throughout this day encourages me that the Holy Spirit enjoys my company & interaction, not withholding that intimacy when I fall short on my end.
Be very certain in your heart that you’re deeply valued, highly treasured & greatly celebrated by the Holy Spirit!

Clutter That Entangles

My husband & I were talking this morning about some of the clutter in our house. I’m nowhere close to being a perfectionist since my childhood had the steady tension between my dad with his clutter & the purges my mom would occasionally conduct. So I grew up in a spectrum between clutter & tidy.
Now as an adult, for me the problem with clutter is that it seems to have a creeping nature & before I realize it, there are piles & stacks of clutter that can be easily overlooked.
Sometimes sin is like clutter. It can creep & sneak along the edges of our thoughts & desires leaving little splotches & specks, easy to overlook. But if we allow these specks & splotches of sin to accumulate, then soon our souls become cluttered with sin & we lose of focus on Jesus.
Let’s endeavor to regularly allow the Holy Spirit to work holiness into our souls so that the clutter of sin doesn’t contaminate our affections or attention 🙂
Hebrews 12:1b, “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

The Opposites

Conventional thinking tells us that if we:

  • work harder, we’ll go farther;
  • study more, we’ll be smarter;
  • promote ourselves, we’ll gain notoriety;
  • exercise & eat right, we’ll feel better.

To a degree, these are all true. But the ultimate fulfillment to going father, being smarter (more wise), visibility & feel good about ourselves isn’t sustained in conventional nor fleshly thinking.
Jesus tells us that the way to being fulfilled is through being committed to kingdom opposites:

  • The last will be first;
  • the way ahead is through humility & service;
  • exercise & discipline are corollaries to soul health;
  • seeking God’s kingdom first sets everything in proper alignment to live a of fulfillment & reward!

Sniper Focus

I’m easily distracted & that can be very challenging. There are always external distractions like the phone alerts, watching people get upset about small stuff, podcasts for listening, multiple books I want to absorb, tasks undone, etc. Then there’s also the internal distractions – feelings that can be challenging, creative ideas that could be fun, stress from impending deadlines, etc.
Thankfully, I met a new friend this morning on my way to catch a plane. She was studying Philippians 4:7-8, which talks about keeping our thoughts focused on constructive & beneficial stuff. For me, this means that I stay intentional about not getting distracted. It also means that I keep my thoughts grounded in the Bible so I don’t mindlessly roam away from God. Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit gives us sniper focus so that we live a life that hits the mark & overflows with divine purpose.

The Greener Grass

There’s a common saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” And in our moments of honesty, we can often recognize the error of this thinking. This mindset happens when we look at another person & wish we had their life.

  • “I wish I was smart like they are”
  • “I wish I had their coordination or athleticism”
  • “They have their life totally scooped – I wish I could be like them”
  • “I wish I could be that kind of a leadyer, wife / husband, parent, worshipper, etc”

Here’s the truth: we are each uniquely designed with the suitable talents, gifts, opportunities, etc for the divine plan for which God made us. The grass for our path is appropriately green, distributed & manicured for the journey that God has designed for us. So my take-away point is this: keep you eyes on God & decide to trust God more than what you see, experience or feel

God’s Invitation

This morning I read about Noah leaving he ark after the flood & it struck me today that Noah didn’t leave the ark until God told him to. This was interesting to me because there were lots of indicators that it was safe to leave the ark. It had been stationary for quite awhile, a dove brought back an olive branch & when Noah released a dove after the olive branch, the dove didn’t return. Noah went into the ark with God’s direction & he didn’t leave the ark until God gave some clear direction.
Let’s be mindful that we don’t allow external circumstances to be the final deciding factor with our decisions.

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The Aquaman

This weekend, I learned about some swimming races near my house at the local reservoir. I learned about these “Aquaman” races from a nice lady after I attempted to do an open water swim at a pond near the mountains here in Denver. My swimming was very disappointing to me & when I got out of the pond, I didn’t feel friendly whatsoever. Nevertheless, I started chatting with the lady nearby & she was very kind & informative. We had a lovely conversation & she helped me know of some open water swimming options that sound really fun!
I say this to encourage you about those moments when you’re struggling or discouraged. Remember that God can encourage & strengthen you in a variety of ways that are often unexpected. Be careful if you’re discouraged not to turn inward so much that you don’t allow God to help or strengthen you with creative ideas & unexpected encouragement!

Breathing Room

Ever ridden in a crowded car, train or plane & felt squashed? I’ve had plenty of experiences where there’s been virtually no personal space & that can be very unnerving. For two weeks, my family & I are driving to the West Coast & back home to Denver. Consequently, breathing room can be a challenge – think three teenagers in a mini-van with two parents, luggage, cooler for food & no wifi 🙂
This morning, I got up early to have some quiet & solitude, personal time with God. Consequently, I feel more human & less prickly, which is good for everyone. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, regularly spending personal time with God is good for the spirit, emotions, thought life, relationships & mindset. Time with God breathes life into our existence!

Enough Is Enough

I’m not alone with feeling that I’m not enough. You & I both have our weak spots for feeling or thinking that we’re inadequate, be that smart enough, cool enough, pretty enough, social enough, rich enough, humble enough, strong enough, etc.
It’s very liberating to embrace the truth that we are NEVER enough, by ourselves. I’ve been in innumerable situations where it was more than obvious that I wasn’t adequate, not enough & in way over my head. In these occasions, it always helps me to remember that I have continuous access to more than abundant & adequate supply – the Holy Spirit, my Heavenly Help!
If you haven’t read my book, Heavenly Help, grab a copy so you can see how the Holy Spirit is more than enough in you for any situation you face!

Attention Deficit Disorder

While we often think of ADD being diagnosed in childhood or related to schoolwork, I’d suggest that all of us wrestle to varying degrees with keeping our attention & focus. We even have fidget toys to help our mind stay focused! Do you ever struggle with being able to focus? It seems like there are always interruptions, distractions & time stealers, to say nothing of the mental & emotional tendencies that can be challenging.

I’ve been really meditating and on the whole attention & distraction conundrum for a few weeks now. While it’s essential that we pay attention to what’s happening around us, our work, school, to-do lists, etc. I think we also have to consider what we think about & what our emotions focus on – internal focus & not just the outside.

If Elijah had been only focused on the external, he would have missed the still small voice. When Peter became scared (emotions), from looking at the wind, he began to sink in the water that he had just been walking on.

Be careful with your attention because it’s an essential ingredient for your destination!

Miraculous Provision

What areas in your life are needy? It seems that often the quick answer is “money.” But if we pause for a second, our answer might be more along the line of more time, wisdom, discipline, strength, better relationships, genuine love, courage, patience, etc.
This morning I read how Jesus multiplied the fish & bread to meet the hunger needs of thousands of people. His disciples came to Him with the need – too many people & a paltry amount of provision. To this problem, Jesus asked them what they had. After identifying what was there, Jesus blessed the provision rather than cursed the need or lack.
Let’s be sure that we’re grateful for what we have, even if it seems like it’s not enough. Then let’s utilize what we have with thanksgiving & our eyes on Jesus to keep providing & multiplying!

Watch OUT!!!!!

Don’t text & drive. Why? When our attention is divided, the quality of our focus decreases & our ability to engage declines. Simple translation: you’ll get in a wreck 🙂
I would suggest that the same principle applies to spiritual values as well. Because we live in a tangible & natural world, it’s easy to get our focus / attention on natural & flesh stuff. But if we become entirely absorbed with natural stuff, we’ll have a spiritual wreck. To be sure, we need to have balance with our focus & attention. Let’s be sure to give our attention to spiritual growth & not only natural urgencies & inclinations.

This Has Helped Me :)

I watched this short video when I got home from Bangladesh this week, took a walk & had a really deep & profound experience with God.

I know it can be very strange to watch one’s self, but the Holy Spirit really spoke to me through this short video. Take a few minutes this Memorial Weekend to watch it & feel free to pass it along to your friends!

What’s Better?

In Bangledesh today, I met a group of floating sexworkers, in contrast to the brothel sexworkers I visited yesterday. Sometimes I think it’s human nature to quantify or qualify bad, worse & worst. So we think that one kind or quantity of suffering is worse than another. I’m not sure that I think this entirely accurate. Suffering hurts, full stop.

Can we find it in our hearts to express compassion regardless of who is suffering or how much is being suffered?

I hugged each woman that I met this afternoon deeply & wholly, feeling that I wanted more love to pour through me for them.  None of these experiences are easy to process but the worst thing for me that could happen would be to ignore my feelings & disregard the eyes with whom I met with deep affection & connection.

Lets love well.

Attention!! Attention!!

https://youtu.be/t0XBCrhkvMw

Do you ever struggle to focus? I definitely struggle with my focus & I’m learning that it’s easier for me to focus on some things more than others. For example, I’m not very good at listening to stuff, but I’m better at reading. Some people like video content & find it easier to pay attention. So here’s some good news for the video peeps! I started my own YouTube channel & I’m uploading a series once a week. The series I’m working on is about prayer & it’s really excellent!! For the prayer series, each episode is short & very relevant!
Feel free to subscribe & pass on the link to your friends who are interested in prayer!

Breathing Room

I tend to run in the red zone. This means that I try to squeeze the most out of my time, energy, money, talents & attention. Generally, I’ve thought this has been a good way to do life. If a person wants to achieve a lot, suck out the marrow of life & choke on the bone, maybe even burn out, then FULL CHARGE ON!!!

But I’m beginning to see the importance of margin, or breathing room. Margin gives us space to think, recover, listen & be with the Holy Spirit. If you think about it, Adam’s first day of existence was God’s day of rest. Perhaps it’s in the margins & rest where we can experience the deepest intimacy & fellowship with the Holy Spirit, just maybe 🙂

Watch & Pray

I appreciate watches that work & these do not. Using an unreliable watch is kind of like driving on a tire that needs air – pretty soon, stuff gets messed up! Schedules go awry, anxiety increases, appointments get missed & people get frustrated, not just a little. But all of these challenges can be avoided with a functional watch.
This goes to my point with prayer. Keeping our prayer life in tune, steady & practiced is essential for our internal stability. When my prayer life goes awry, it’s only a matter of time until life hits the fan.
Who’s up to watch & pray with me?

What Are You Thinking?

“A penny for your thoughts?”

This is a question people often ask when someone seems deep in thought or reflective.  It’s a good question to ask when you’re getting to know someone or when a person seems unusually quiet.  But it’s also a good question to ask ourselves from time to time, forcing us to take a thought inventory.

Taking an inventory of our thoughts is important because it lets us see places in our thinking where we can make some helpful adjustments.   Indeed, consider some of the things Paul says about our thoughts:

  • 2 Cor 10:5, “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”
  • Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”
  • Rom 8:6, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace”

Let’s be attentive to our thoughts because they influence our lives in very powerful but subtle ways!

The Best

I like getting better, growing & improving. When I was growing up, we had a trampoline & for a season, I was thoroughly committed to getting really good on the trampoline, with various tricks & flips. The principle remains true for me to this day, with always trying to get better. But alas, the Holy Spirit spoke with me to pause on my improvement plan because of this principle: God’s ways & thoughts can’t be improved.
So we would be wise to chase God’s plans, ways & thoughts because they are the BEST!!! Isaiah 55:8-9 🙂