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 🙂

Unexpected

“Please keep talking.” I popped into Walmart last week for a quick errand after dropping off my son for school & the register chick said this to me. I sheepishly looked at her because I was wearing my hoodie & sweats, not the hair & makeup routine for tv. I could tell she recognized my voice & was trying to match the visual image to my voice. With chagrin I said, “You probably know me from tv with my mom, Marilyn Hickey.”

I love what she said, “I knew your voice immediately but I didn’t expect to see you in my register lane.”
I’ve thought about this for several days because I think this lesson applies to us recognizing Jesus’ voice regardless of our location or expectations. We expect to hear Jesus when we read our Bible or go to church. But let’s also listen for Jesus throughout this day 🙂

Reinforce the Good

“I killed a lion & a bear, so this uncircumcised Philistine will be like them!” These were the words David to answer Saul’s uncertainty about David killing Goliath. While I appreciate that it’s very dangerous to live in a state of denial, it’s also essential to keep our focus on faith & not fear or doubt. We absolutely have challenges & struggles that have varying degrees of intensity & stress.

Let’s be careful, however, that we continue to reinforce the good things so we don’t get overwhelmed by giants, problems & pressure.
Here are some ideas that could help to reinforce the good:

  • Keep some encouraging Bible verses handy to review
  • Pay attention to negative stuff that could be tainting your thoughts (tv, social media, music, etc)
  • Encourage your friends & let them encourage you
  • Pray instead of complain

Feel free to share this with your friends / family!

Stay Focused

What you focus on is where you go. I learned this with great intensity when I took a lesson for downhill mountain bike riding. In a particularly harrowing part of the trail, our instructor kept yelling, “LOOK PAST THE CURVE!!!” A few of my classmates didn’t listen to the instructor & they hardcore crashed, flipping over the handlebars. What the instructor was yelling didn’t make sense to me, but I decided to do what he said, nonetheless. When I followed the instructions, my bike followed my focus.
Lots of times, it’s easy to focus on emergencies, crises, worries, etc. When we obsess with struggles & uncertainties, it’s easy to crash in the curve because our focus gets off of Jesus. Let’s be sure that we keep our focus & thoughts on Jesus, the author & perfectos of our faith – Hebrews 12:2!

Who’s Missing???

Every year, I make the Christmas season super fun by posting pictures & writing blogs about finding Jesus. I do this because I think it’s far too easy to lose track of why we celebrate Christmas with all of the festivities, hustle & bustle of the season. So I’m continuing my tradition this year & hopefully, these blogs will help you look for Jesus in places & times you’d not normally think of.
Let’s be sure to find Jesus everyday of this Christmas season no matter how busy we get or the responsibilities that we carry! Looking for Jesus in quotidian living!

Let’s Keep the Plot

“Go back to sleep!” I can imagine Eli’s impatience with Samuel in the middle of the night when the little guy kept waking up Eli. “You called & I’m here!”

It’s easy to be critical of Eli, observing that he was the high priest & should’ve recognized the Lord calling Samuel much sooner than he did. But Eli didn’t & I think that sometimes we can all be a little bit like Eli.
I wholly believe that God continually beckons us to converse, observe & engage with the Trinity but we miss the plot, ignore the invitation & dismiss the coincidence.
Let’s train ourselves to be more sensitive & attentive to that still small voice & those ever so sweet & alluring invitations throughout this day!
“Speak Lord, Your servants listens!”

My Dad’s Blue Eyes

I’m in Pittsburgh & the older gentleman driving me to the airport has blue eyes like my dad. He’s also kind like my dad was so this drive brings back fond memories. When I think about my dad, I often reflect on the Holy Spirit & how the Helper works in my life. In Romans 8, I learn that the Holy Spirit helps me know God as my Heavenly Father. In John 14, I understand that the Holy Spirit is my Heavenly Help throughout each day. I also understand, from John 14, that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, leading me into truth & away from deception.

My earthly dad was a big proponent of the Holy Spirit so it’s nice to have this gentle reminder as a whisper as I ride in the car with this nice older gentleman wth blue eyes.

Don’t Surrender

“Bow down to me & I’ll give you all that you see.” This was the final temptation the devil tried against Jesus at the beginning of His ministry. I’ve been thinking about the 3 ways the devil tried to tempt Jesus – against His flesh, worship & power / authority. 
It seems to me that the devil uses the same schemes on us. He tries to tempt us with flesh stuff. He tries to sabotage our worship of God using alluring idols (money, image, pride, intellect, etc). And the devil endeavors to undermine the authority God has given us, telling us that we are frail, powerless, disabled & incapacitated. I think the devil’s number one tool is deception. This is reason alone to snuggle into the Holy Spirit, our Spirit of Truth, so we don’t fall prey to the devils’ efforts & schemes. 

Be sure to read my book, Heavenly Help, so you can stay in synch with the Holy Spirit & out of synch with the devil, the enemy of your soul!

Hot Topic: I’m Listening

“Mom!” When my kids call for me, I often reply, “I’m listening.” When I say this, rather than “yes”, it seems to give them a micro pause & I find that the quality of our chat improves. I think that when I say, “I’m listening”, there’s a sense that I’m giving them a better quality of attention than a perfunctory “yea”. And getting to have some quality interaction with my kids is always platinum for me. 
I was thinking about this as I read Genesis 22 this morning where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Three times in this chapter Abraham says, “Here I am” – once to God, once to Isaac & the last time to the angel getting his attention for divine provision. In my thinking, when Abraham said “Here I am”, he was saying my version, “I’m listening”. 

Seems to me from Gen 22 that the quality of our listening just might have an affect the abundance of God’s provision in our lives. This is important not only for us as individuals, but also for the succeeding generation. Selah

Turn Up the Volume

Three members of my family lean toward the loud side of volume & two of us not as much. Of course when I was a teenager, there were the normal moments of loud & intense but as I age, I find that often what I most relish is found not in noisy & frenzied. Instead, it’s entirely astounding what a person can experience walking alone at night in some rain or gentle snowfall. I also find that the moments of quiet that I give to God during any given day have great volume & application in my day to day living. 
In a season that has the potential to be full of high octane demands, full on loud & overflowing with busy, let’s pay attention to keeping some quiet & still in our daily living. Doing this can help us to hear the gentle, affirming & inviting words of Jesus, whispering into our hearts & throughout each day. Let’s turn up the volume on Jesus’ voice by turning down the volume on the demands of a potentially frenzied holiday season 🙂

Very Alarming

Alarms are helpful even if they’re disturbing. Alarms tell us: it’s time to get up, there’s a fire, someone is trying to break into our car & lots more. Alarms alert us to something amiss & wake us from foggy & hazy living. 
Sometimes, however, we might resent alarms. We might resent an alarming doctors report that tells us to change our eating or exercise habits. We might resent the red light alarm in the car about a low oil problem & lots of other examples. And there are other alarms that we probably don’t like, even though we need them. 

I find that God uses alarms in my life:

  • to get my attention
  • to help me get moving in more healthy directions 
  • to make choices with more wisdom 

Don’t be unsettled by alarms, let them be helpful motivators for good adjustments & tweaks ,)

Awe & Wonder

My kids ask me all kinds of interesting questions: are there amphibians in the mountains, did you & dad kiss before you got married, why do I need to learn to spell, what’s the difference between a plane and a line, etc
Some of their questions get more than dicey so when they say, “Mom, I have a question”, I brace myself & hope it’s not about sex or some edgy dystopia twist they may have read about. 

Their questions remind me to stay curious, adventuresome & filled with wonder. Our Heavenly Father has made a vast world for us to discover, enjoy & learn about Who God is. Sometimes it’s easy to get lulled into a detached existence from a seemingly mundane life. So let’s ask God to keep us alert, curious, perky & awake to His work that happens all around & inside us too 🙂

Don’t Regress

Ever feel like life sometimes has 3 steps forward & then 1-2 steps back? Truthfully, Monday mornings often feel like the toucan two step with some possible backward progress. 
Translation: I’m not a Monday morning fan. 

But no matter what happens or doesn’t happen on difficult days, let’s keep in mind that God has given us the ability to chose our attitude, words & actions. I’m very happy to have this ability & I just need to be careful that I keep my attitudes, words & actions moving forward & positive rather than letting them slip into some Monday doldrums 🙂

I’m choosing not to regress – anyone with me?

a million little pieces

Ever had a day when your mind is more easily distracted than usual?  Today, I find myself flitting from one thing to another, getting distracted, remembering to go do a quick task, then getting sidetracked with just little distractions and . . . . .   So I have a million little things I need to finish & all of which are only partially complete, hence the title to this blog, a million little pieces.  Unfortunately, I don’t have unlimited time to accommodate this kind of craziness, so I need to crank down on my focus and stick to one task & finish it before I move to something else – like finishing this blog before I try to figure out why the music isn’t playing on my phone, or checking emails, FB, etc.

All of this helps me appreciate all the more when Jesus applauded Mary for the Main Thing, the main thing in Luke 10:42 🙂

Focus grasshopper, there’s lots to get done!

Watch out!

I recently read in Genesis how Jacob did some creative things with sticks being stripped & spotted around the goats, sheep & livestock for which he was responsible. Jacob put these decorated sticks in the feeding troughs for the animals that were particularly robust but removed the sticks when the sickly animals came to feed. The result was that he acquired boatloads of speckled, spotted & striped livestock who were really sturdy 🙂
While, we now have scientific evidence about genetics with dominant & recessive traits passed along family lines, I still think it’s important to consider our focus. 

I find that the longer I focus on something, the more absorbed I become in that focus. The more I’m absorbed, the more influenced I become & eventually, my behaviors & attitudes get shaped by that focus. 

So let’s be mindful about where we focus 🙂

STOP YELLING – maybe

I’ve learned that typing in all caps in social media is the same as yelling & I’m not attracted to yelling, full stop. Indeed, when I would practice piano & my dad would yell at me for something, I seemed to make more & more mistakes the more he yelled. 
The problem with yelling is that the listener can easily get distracted by the method & miss the message. With my dad, his emotions would get so intense that he’d yell but I can’t really remember what he said. 

  
With saying all of that, I shot this picture last night:  I was trying to concentrate on a really important writing assignment & I kept noticing that the sky was getting increasingly pink. Finally, I stopped my writing & man am I glad I did! As I took a pause to look at this unbelievable sunset, I heard our Triune God whisper, “Thanks for looking Sarah, We love you”. 

God’s message & methods are altogether riveting & I’m entirely addicted to the divine love experience, no yelling needed 🙂

I like people

People are interesting without a doubt.  Sit in a Starbux, visit an airpot, watch in Walmart, socialize in church, etc & its high grade entertainment value to see what people do & how they behave.  Sometimes I just like to stop what I’m doing, adjust my attention & look at what the people are doing around me – so MUCH FUN!!!!

Here are some reasons why I like people:

  • diversity:  no two people are the same in any way, no matter how much effort they make to imitate & blend
  • creative: everyone seems to see things from unique & often highly creative perspectives, causing them to behave in very creative ways & do creative things
  • beautiful:  each person has a distinct beauty (in their visage, mannerisms, interactions, clothing, makeup, etc)
  • surprises:  just when you think you have a handle on human behavior someone does something entirely unexpected, rogue & outlier-ish
  • community:  it’s always fun to watch the ways in which we interact with each other, endeavoring to honor, connect, communicate & engage

Today, let’s celebrate people, God’s highest & most valuable creation 🙂

bang, smash, crunch

Presently, I’m trying to work on researching & writing a few sermons in the middle of the roofers at our house almost crashing through the ceiling – at least that’s how it sounds, even with noise cancelling headphones on!!!  Holy BUCKETS!  So much for the concept of listening to the “still, small voice”!!!!  And this is precisely what I totally LOVE about God: God knows exactly what it takes to get our attention & the appropriate volume that will be effective.  So thanks to our lovely roofers replacing our hail damaged roof, I’m getting to practice my focus & discipline, paying high grade attention to what God wants to say through me and with the Helper’s assistance, I get to tune in to God’s voice & presence with great intensity and focus.  The truth be known, I need this discipline & exercise not only today with the roofers at my house, but also in my everyday, common living.  This discipline plus coffee can yield some really awesome divine fruit ,)

tick tock

In an effort to counter-balance my post yesterday with, “stop waiting”, in all fairness, maybe God is doing the pick & shovel work of cultivating patience in my heart with some fertilizer augmenting, maybe.  The reason I’m thinking about this possibility is from some recent experiences in a trip to Cambodia for Saving Moses.  In this extremely brief trip, I found myself becoming really tense about accomplishing much – a very long way to travel for such a really short trip to get massive amounts of stuff done.  Did we accomplish some things?  Absolutely!!

But in those conversations I had in Cambodia when someone would say, “I’m happy to do this in the next three months”, or “Let me pray about it” or “Let’s see how this this plays out with some time”, I found myself becoming increasingly uptight.  And then I heard this small voice in my heart, “What’s your hurry?  Why are you in such a rush?”  In my natural thinking, those questions sound like fertilizer augmenting – they smell bad, feel yucky, look revolting & have the greatest resurrection potential for me to grow at this time.

Here are some things to consider about patience, tick tock:

  • slow change often lasts longer than quick fixes
  • patience develops roots and roots often last longer than flashy
  • roots are the groundwork for abiding which facilitates fruit
  • patience takes my focus off of situations and puts it back on God
  • patience can be the good side of stubborn

tick tock