Getting Better

Arriving & Improving: I prefer arriving over improving because to me the difference is destination versus journey. And yet here in Angola, with Saving Moses, I’m reminding myself that improvement is an essential ingredient for destination & change. 

I say this having driven by one of our malnutrition clinics today & observing the improvements to the lodging arrangements. In the past, this clinic had 3 large huts, poorly ventilated & lit, concrete floors & abundant flies. Today, the lodging has vastly improved – I’ll describe it here on my blog tomorrow. 

And still I see friendly moms with malnourished babies, waiting daily for their baby to improve & hopefully return home healthy & strong. Malnourished babies & toddlers meet your eyes with a dull stare or achy eyes. Their motions are lethargic & labored, so as to minimize the energy expense. Sometimes their bellies are swollen with edema & almost always their ribcages look like xylophone strips. And their heads are disproportionately large on their underdeveloped frames. 

So when I see babies in these conditions, it’s difficult to look at the building improvements because people always trump facilities. Nonetheless, I can choose to celebrate progress even if I have yet to see the full realization of helping Angola live in the state of declining infant mortality. 

Keep Getting Better!

I make a pretty good roast chicken, but this hasn’t always been true. Indeed, for countless years, my roast chickens were “dry & tasteless”, to quote one of my offspring. I tried lots of different things to make it taste better: stuffing the cavity w herbs, water in the pot w a lid & lots of other stuff. Alas, I almost quit trying, but I didn’t. Instead, I decided to try getting better even just by little steps.
I’m the type of person who wants to see big steps of progress & when I only see millimeters, I can get discouraged. So I want this blog to encourage you on little bits of better if you’re discouraged w the absence of giant leaps of progress. And remember that a little better can apply to heaps of areas in your life: exercise, discipline, Bible reading, relationships, school grades, etc.  Gal 6:9 🙂
And my giant leap progress for doing an awesome roast chicken happened when I cut out the backbone, seasoned both sides w salt / pepper & broiled it on the bottom rack 🙂
I no longer make dry & tasteless roast chicken 🙂

Bitter or Better?

I want to choose better rather than bitter, but sometimes it’s not an easy choice. There are two occasions in the Bible that I specifically see the “bitter” problem:

  1. when Peter betrayed Jesus & he went away, weeping bitterly;
  2. when the water at Mara was bitter, the Israelites complained & Moses threw a log into the water making it sweet & drinkable.

So when I think about these “bitter events”, maybe they could’ve been better if the complaining & betrayal were eliminated.
I can see how that would be true for me when given the choice between bitter or better. When I complain less, I do better. And when I love Jesus even when it’s difficult, I’m better in my soul.
Something to think about for this wonderful Monday 🙂

Grace Seasoning

Edgy, sharp, cranky, churlish, frustrated. These adjectives can describe us at various times. Maybe you’re short on sleep. Maybe you’re stressed about money. Maybe you have a conflict with your spouse or friend. Maybe there’s a lot of pressure at work or school. Regardless of the reason, let’s be careful about our words & attitudes in these challenging times.
Here are some helpful ideas to keep our attitudes, actions & words seasoned with grace:

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you
  • Chose self control over reactionary behavior
  • Take a 30second pause & look for stuff to be grateful for
  • Remember that we often prefer the consequences of grace rather than the outcomes of expressing frustration or crankiness 🙂

Do It Scared

There are lots of things that intimidate me such as: traveling to unstable places, mingling in a crowd of strangers, having difficult conversations & being around people whom I perceive as superior to me. While it’s good to acknowledge these places where I feel intimidated, it’s better to work through them rather than avoid them. In the past, the way I’d handle this intimidating stuff is to avoid these kinds of situations & distract myself with things I like better.
But growing means that I make active decisions to face the intimidating stuff & choose to grow. Sometimes, this means that even though I may be scared, I still push through the fear & intimidation – do it scared.
Feel free to join me on this adventure – not allowing your growth to be limited by your fears 🙂

Now

If the truth be told, I need deadlines because I’m too proficient with procrastination. So while I don’t like the feelings associated with the word, “now” I value the associated urgency that helps me to get stuff done. There’s also a challenge to the word “now”, when there’s an anticipation of an upcoming event or deadline. These thoughts are related to the timing of stuff – in the future or immediacy of the present.
When we walk with the Holy Spirit, let’s stay flexible in our thoughts about timelines, what needs to be accomplished today & stuff that’s upcoming. Remember that the Holy Spirit is present in every “now.”

Living in the Old or New?

Our church building is in the process of moving locations & it’s an interesting experience living in this “half-way between” place.  I feel like I’m in limbo a little bit because of the new place not being entirely settled & some of my stuff is still in the old place.  Furthermore, I have lots of memories associated with the old building & no memories or notable experiences yet with the new building.  We are also still having services in the old building, but the new building now houses all of our offices, so that’s where we do the day to day work during the weekdays.

This reminds me of what Paul says in 2Cor 5:17 about being in Christ & a new creature with the old things having passed away and new things have come.  There are times and experiences when I find myself living in my old, flesh nature, even though I know in my heart that I’m a new creation in Christ.  Let’s continue to move into and occupy our new nature that Jesus has purchased for us.  Here are a few possibly helpful ideas to consider:

  • don’t bring the old furnishings to the new creation:  stuff that’s broken & dysfunctional doesn’t need to continue in our new nature living.
  • celebrate and embrace:  be sure to celebrate & honor the past, but wholly & fully embrace the new creation / nature that Jesus has for you now!
  • keep moving into the new creation:  there were a few weeks when I procrastinated moving stuff out of the old building for various reasons.  From this lesson, I’m learning that it’s important to keep looking & moving toward the new creation that Jesus has made me to be.

Feel free to pass this along to your friends / family who are navigating this journey to be more & more like Jesus!

PS – here’s my latest youtube video that’s short, fun & encouraging!

When You Fall

I hate to fall but moreso I hate the possible injuries that come from falling. We can all remember those times as kids when we scrapped up our hands & knees from falling. And as adults, it’s even less fun to fall.
Where – But falling happens. We fall physically & maybe injure our wrists. We also fall in other ways – like having a mishap / fall in a hostile interaction with a co-worker. Or maybe we fall from an emotional struggle & go back to some bad habits. We can fall when there’s an area of pride, possibly our work performance, achievements, intelligence, beauty, etc.
Why – We fall because we aren’t paying attention to where we’re going. We fall because we didn’t see an obstacle. We fall because we might be in pride. We fall because we’re going faster than our abilities allow.
Help – So when we fall, what are some do’s & dont’s?

  • Do clean out any wounds to prevent infection – don’t tolerate unforgiveness
  • Do get up & keep going – don’t quit
  • Do learn the lessons that come from falling – don’t repeat the exact same fall or mistake
  • Do keep trying – don’t find excuses for getting rigid & moribund
  • Do lean into the Holy Spirit to teach you how to walk together & prevent some mishaps & falls 🙂

Old Technology

As technology improves, I find myself becoming increasingly impatient. It I think about using a modem to connect to the web, it brings back the memories of that static sound before the connection tone. And then I think about the phones we used & how I’d stretch the cord too far & rip it off the wall. And rotary phones, well, that’s like the ultimate triceratops dinosaur!
So maybe your walk with the Holy Spirit could use some renovation & even upgrades! Please pop over to Amazon & buy new new book,

In Step With The Holy Spirit,

just launching today! Let’s be sure our walk with the Holy Spirit isn’t stuck in the glorious past nor overlooked in perfunctory acknowledgment!

The Ugly Jogger

That would be me, hands down. When I take a jog outside, I suspect that animals scurry, the lithe alert melts down & it feels like my body is in perpetual revulsion mode. So why go through such suffering & cause others to writhe in agony?
Ok, over dramatic, but you get the point.
I jog on occasion for a few reasons:

  • I want to control my body rather than my body control me
  • Move it or lose it – I want to stay active for a long time & without action, this desire will turn into a painful delusion
  • Mental clarity – when my body is tired from physical exercise, oftentimes my mind becomes more alert & keen
  • Paul said that physical discipline is profitable, even if just a little bit – 1Tim 4:8

Sometimes what doesn’t feel or even look good, is still good for you 🙂

It’s Not Working!!!

And it’s MASSIVELY FRUSTRATING!!!!
When my car isn’t working, it’s frustrating but I can usually figure out a work around – uber, catching a ride wth a friend or rescheduling an appointment. But sometimes there’s no work around & whatever isn’t working can turn into a meltdown crisis.
I just experienced this with s Skype interview I was scheduled to do & im still in the residual frustration fumes being mad at skype, etc.
What should we do in these moments of intense frustration? The things I want to do (hit something, yell, kick a chair, not write my blog) these things aren’t beneficial. So here are some ideas that might be more constructive for you when you have a frustrating meltdown:

  • Take a deep breath – this physical action helps settle my mental disarray
  • Perspective alignment – pray & ask for the Holy Spirit to help you to have a divine alignment on your perspective
  • Use a tourniquet – don’t allow the bleeding from the frustration to spill over into other areas of your life
  • Think in terms of practice – the next time will be better 🙂

Riding the Bus

I’ve taken to riding the bus to the airport & I love it! I really appreciate that someone else does all the navigating through traffic, the seats are cushioned, the temperature is pleasant & I can do my work while I ride! When I would drive myself to the airport, I’d have to be alert, dodge traffic, find a very distant parking space, walk through the cold / heat & hopefully have enough time to get through security, etc.
it seems to me that walking with the Holy Spirit is sometimes like taking the bus to a destination. Although it requires us to trust the Holy Spirit, the journey is much more enjoyable, less stressful & we usually land a lot closer to the destination than if we navigate life all alone.
If you want to learn to walk with the Holy Spirit better, pick up my new book,

In Step

& you’ll have some new experiences in your daily living from walking with the Spirit!

Bigger, Better, More

There’s a common mindset that says bigger, more & better should be the continual pursuit. I say this now because I’m in a camera shop waiting to get some technical help & noticing the spectrum of cameras available in each brand. There are the simple point & shoot kind all the way to the ones that can tie your shoes & microwave popcorn. Ok, not really but kind of.
I wonder if the enemy of our souls doesn’t send us down this rabbit trail to distract us from learning the secret of being content in any & every situation. In the same line of thinking, is Jesus enough for us or do our decisions, time & money say something different?
I’m not buying a better camera today, nor do I want to swallow the deception that more & better need to control my life 🙂

When Plans Change

Yesterday, the transmission in our rental van broke causing us to adjust our plans for an entire day of our family vacation. My husband was a major champion working with the rental company to get a replacement van & this was no small task. In the meantime, the kids took some time to relax, do a bit of school reading & we caught a movie at the local theatre. For me, I had the immense pleasure of catching up with a friend from high school. We talking deeply about the Bible & God’s work in our lives.
If we give our lives to Jesus, then it’s essential to hold loosely to our plans & goals, so that we can have some adventures that are led by the Holy Spirit & not just our human agendas & strategies. God’s surprises far exceed our best plans!
This is a picture from an incredible waterfall in Yellowstone, as well as a strolling bison 🙂

Planning to Succeed!

I had an interesting chat with one of my children this morning about the importance of planning. In our conversation, they told me that they didn’t want to make a plan for the summer to achieve a particular goal. I replied, as I’ve learned from my husband, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” As much as this quote rankles me, it’s nonetheless true, across a variety of platforms, including prayer!
Watch this quick video for an idea to help you with prayer!

 

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!

Saying Goodbye

The Bible has lots of “goodbyes”:

  • Paul on the beach saying goodbye to the Ephesian Church,
  • Jesus telling His disciples goodbye before the cross,
  • David saying goodbye to Jonathon

Goodbye’s are necessary for Hello’s. It seems to me that we often allow things that should stay in the “goodbye” compartment seep into new opportunities & sometimes undermine a new beginning.  So we would be wise to take some moments to reflect on this past year & take an inventory of the things to which we need to say goodbye. Perhaps it’s time to say goodbye to some conversations that have been unhealthy. Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to some dysfunctional eating or spending habits. And maybe it’s time to say goodbye to the lies from the devil that we’ve entertained though various mental conversations.

Before we can heartily welcome 2017, let’s be certain that we’ve made the necessary goodbyes to stuff from 2016 & the past!

Feel free to pass this along to any friends or family that could find this helpful & let’s set up 2017 to be STELLAR!!

Hurray for Practice!

My family made the Thanksgiving meal yesterday & it was a smashing success! I’m not saying this to brag, but rather to acknowledge years of practice that have finally culminated in success – YAHOOOO!! In any given year in the past, I was practicing on how to cook a turkey that wasn’t dry or under-done. I was also practicing a few other dishes to make them not only edible but also tasty! And this year, I’m celebrating success!!!

We all want to be successful, but we don’t often celebrate the practice required to be successful – so let’s take a moment to applaud attempts & failures more than victories 🙂

Here are some things that help us to be successful:

Teamwork: yesterday, my whole family pitched in to make various parts of the meal & no one was unraveled by too much work!
Practice: keep trying!!
Testing: the guests that came to our meal were the testers. It helps immensely to have objective input on our journey to success

I Like to Practice!

Proficient is a consequence of practice & it seems to me that practice gives us the space to make mistakes, learn, improve & grow into proficiency. So these are the things that I am continually practicing:

  • Gratitude – I’m not sure that we can ever be fully proficient with being thankful, so let’s keep practicing
  • Forgiveness – it’s hard to forgive, particularly when a person who is very close to us causes us pain, but just because something is hard doesn’t mean we should quit trying; indeed, the person who gets the most benefit from is the forgiver more than the recipient
  • Learning – let’s be curious about beneficial things & not stuff that’s meaningless or hurtful
  • Patience – uggggh, this one can really get under my skin, which means I desperately need to practice it more so it’s not such a weak spot

So what would be good for you to start practicing more over this weekend?

Do a Good Job

Having my kids home for summer break is wonderful & challenging. I certainly enjoy their company & they have super fun personalities. As their mom, I’m also responsible to help them grow into healthy, responsible & productive adults – or at least encourage their decisions to move in those directions. 

Funny thing about this parenting gig: seems like heaps of what I tell them needs to flourish in my life as well. I find that my parental coaching has lots of application in my life & maybe this whole parenting thing is God’s parental efficiency plan. I most certainly don’t want to parent from a place of hypocrisy so I’m pushing myself to do well & live up to the stuff that I want to see my kids exhibit 🙂