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!

 

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!

Are We Spirit Led

Last week, I jumped out of my car & ran up to a guy on the street & gave him a Bible verse. He didn’t speak English, so it was a little rough going. But the reason I did this was because the Holy Spirit led me in my morning prayer time to give this specific Bible verse to someone who was wearing a very distinct color of green. When I was driving down the street, I saw this guy wearing that specific color of green, so that’s why I stopped & did what could seem a little bit unusual 🙂
This question hit me between the eyes in my prayer time this morning because of what Paul says in Romans 8:14 – those who are led by the Spirit are the children of God. This verse says that if I’m God’s child, then I’m led by the Spirit. Of course I want this to be accurate & true, but when I think about being led by the Holy Spirit in my daily living, it’s not always true.
For example, there are certainly times when I put my schedule & convenience at a higher priority than following the Holy Spirit. I must also admit that there are plenty of times when I’m scared, or I feel intimidated or it feels uncomfortable to follow the Holy Spirit. I would suspect that you might also have some similar thoughts & feelings.
Let’s be careful that we make it a priority to be led by the Holy Spirit regardless of how we feel or what seems to be convenient!

Be sure to pick up & read

Heavenly Help 

to help you be led by the Holy Spirit!

Selective Memories

Who is someone you’ve known personally who has inspired you? I can think of a slew of people and all of them have had unique flaws, regardless of how much they inspired me. For example, my former neighbor across the street always inspired me with her devotion to raising her children to love Jesus & how she continuously treats her husband with respect & dignity. With those noteworthy accolades, she had lots the the same flaws that I have. We can be disorganized, scatter-brained & sometimes irresponsible. Nonetheless, I chose to remember her excellent qualities & minimize her shortfalls.

I would suggest that this is a good strategy for lots of our relationships, so that we bring out the positive in people rather than maximizing their negatives.
On this Memorial Day, let’s be grateful that we get to live in the land of the free because of the brave!Ă»

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 🙂

The Lethal Hangnail

“The devil would kill ya with a hangnail if he could!” My dad had lots of fun quotes like this. From my childhood, I remember people laughing at this quote & I smiled like I understood, but I didn’t get it. Now that I have some life tread under my belt, I get it.

The enemy of your soul is out to rattle your cage, poison your thinking & sideline you with anything possible, even a hangnail.
Don’t let him – full stop.
Some helpful pointers:

  • Keep your eyes in Jesus.
  • Don’t quit.
  • Keep loving wholly.
  • Pray intensely.
  • Feed yourself the Bible everyday.
  • Chose faith & reject doubt.

Never forget that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!

Lessons From a Drunk

My husband & I enjoyed a lovely date at a mountain cabin, complete with dessert by a gigantic fireplace with a cozy fire. We had a really wonderful date: tasty food, enjoyable conversation, no kids & relaxed time. At the end of the meal, we sat by this lovely fireplace to enjoy dessert & there was another couple nearby along w a dude holding a wine glass, talking more than just a little. So here are some interesting take aways:

  • Choices – the inebriated gentleman didn’t ruin a lovely evening
  • Fire – a drunk by a fireplace requires close supervision.
  • Talking – once it’s said, you can’t take it back. Speak wisely.
  • Moderation – just because something is good doesn’t mean we should binge it. This is useful as a good rule of thumb throughout life

periscope vision

I’ve been enjoying the Spring weather & trying to take a daily walk to improve my physical & mental health.  It’s nice to enjoy some sunshine, fresh air and feet on the ground.  While my body is definitely grounded during these daily walks, my mind tends to wander to various topics:  kids, work, schedules, prayers, writing, etc.  Some of my thoughts can be healthy & constructive, but some of my thoughts not so much.

I was reminded today about setting my mind above and not below from Colossians 3:2 & Philippians 4:7-8.  I think our thoughts can be kind of like fish:

  • bottom feeders who scavenge off the dirt and refuse at the lowest levels
  • horizontal eaters who forage through their daily living, focus set throughout this horizontal world
  • flying fish who sail above the average existence and get to see things from a vertical rather than horizontal perspective

Let’s keep our minds fixed above & not dwelling on the average or below average existence!

Change the Harvest

Last week I had a blinding flash of the obvious: we reap what we sow.

The brilliant part of this wisdom is that we often reap in fields that are different from where we sow. But no matter where we reap, the principle remains the same – we reap what we sow.
So what do you want? If you want something different than your current results perhaps it’s time to consider the seeds that you’re sowing. If you’re planting gossip, strife, belittling, condescension & insecurity, don’t be surprised when those show up in your life.
On the other hand, planting encouragement, stability, patience & other good seeds produce a harvest after its kind, across a wide array of fields!
Let’s be sure we are planting the seeds that we want to harvest!

Lots of Oooooops!!

This morning seems to be fraught with “oooooops!” and not just a few. Some of these mishaps are relatively minor, but when they stack up, things can get “challenging.” I’m hoping that the entirety of this day isn’t a string of consecutive mishaps. But even if this day goes from “oooops to oooops”, rather than “glory to glory”, I’m deciding to go with trusting God more than dwelling in the frustration.

When I write this, it sounds good, but the individual decisions to walk out this mindset is where the rubber hits the road. And this is where the step by step reliance on the Holy Spirit moves into execution mode more than speculation & ethereal platitudes.
I’ll keep you posted on how it goes, but feel free to join me in making these decisions to trust God throughout your day today!

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!

When Control Is Good

“Control” is a loaded word.  It can evoke a visceral reaction in various individuals, in negative or positive ways.  And as Americans, we cherish our freedom sometimes to the point of demonizing any form of control.  We don’t want people to infringe on our rights, we want to speak freely without consequences and we want to the freedom to make decisions often without the complementary responsibilities.

If we are followers of Jesus, however, there’s an alarming verse that recently arrested my attention: 2Cor 5:14a, “For the love of Christ controls us, . . . ”  When I read this, I tried to find some wiggle room in the Greek for the word “control”.  But alas, I had no luck.  I’m supposed to be controlled by Jesus’ love.

So if we identify as a follower of Jesus, this means that His love:

  • influences my conversations to make them edifying rather than snarky
  • priorities my resources to be less selfish & to consider others
  • applauds those random acts of kindness that run contrary to my fleshy instincts
  • filters my thoughts & emotions to remove unforgivness, judgment, condescension, etc

Let’s allow Jesus’ love to be the controlling & defining essential in our lives!

Jesus & Bacon

Because Jesus was a Jew when He lived on earth, I firmly believe that bacon wasn’t in His eating repertoire. However, bacon seems to be more than a little popular for the 21st century palate. Our appetites & eating habits have dramatically changed, some for the good & some not so much.

Which brings me to the question related to our appetites. What tastes good & what do you like to eat? Some of the things we like to eat aren’t good for our bodies just as much as some of the desires that we have aren’t good for our souls.

Let’s be sure to cultivate not only healthy appetites for our bodies but let’s also feed our souls sturdy, life-giving sustenance found through daily Bible & prayer time! Since we’re on the cusp of turning the calendar, let’s not wait for a New Year’s resolution to foster these appetites. Start now & you’ll likely keep a better routine going into the New Year than depending on a date change to facilitate a change in routines.

Some helpful tips could include:

  • set your alarm & get up rather than snooze it endlessly;
  • find a friend that can encourage & partner with some accountability;
  • keep track of the positives from staying disciplined;
  • frequently ask God for help to stay the course

Let’s cultivate healthy appetites!

Highminded & A Warm Heart

I woke up this morning to -7degree temperature. Thankfully our heater works well but my body definitely felt the chill, which compelled me to keep my heart warm. Sometimes it’s easy in the hustle & bustle of this season to get cold hearted, detached & insensitive. Regardless of the external temperature or the demands that we have, let’s endeavor to remain warm hearted.
As for our brains, part of my Bible reading this morning was in Colossians 3:2 where Paul tells us to set our minds above. To me, this means that i keep my thoughts out of the low things & stuff that’s fleshy.
I want to actively chose to set my mind in things above & keep my heart warm regardless of what’s happening around me. Who’s on board with that plan??

I Forgot

Sometimes we think that forgetting something is bad, but sometimes being forgetful is good.  It’s bad to forget the grocery list when I go shopping and it’s bad to forget my driver’s license when I try to catch a flight to another city.  But it’s good to forget a rude comment that someone said to you or forget a hurtful thing that happened in the past.  Indeed, sometimes it’s a divine gift to forget some things or to remember things in a selective way.

I can chose to remember the positive things from experiences and conversations, while letting the negative stuff fade into the background.  Or I can chose to keep rehearsing the negative stuff from past conversations or experiences and let them overshadow the good stuff.

Seems like Paul had some good wisdom when he said in Philippians 3:13, “Forgetting what lies behind, I press forward for what lies ahead, . . . “

Harp & Sheep

Goliath was scary, to be sure. More than tall, he had armor, weapons & enough confidence for his entire army. No Israelite wanted to fight him & die, or be the reason that Israel would become servants to the Philistines. Enter David, the harp-player & sheep-tender. Of all the valiant warriors with Saul, no one stepped up to defy Goliath, except this upstart teenager whose confidence was grounded firmly in Jehovah, the God of Israel.

The same rings true for us today. There’s always giants, intimidation, opposition & scary reasons to run, hide & blend in with everyone else. Let’s be David & stand on God’s side rather than align with fear, what’s popular & paralyzed insecurity. Never forget:

  • perfect love casts out fear
  • greater is He who is in you than any Goliath, roaring lion or lying devil!

Don’t Get Lost

Yesterday, I was in a prayer meeting and this lady prayed, “Father, please help us not to get lost in the words of the enemy.” This prayer totally arrested my attention & echoed in my thoughts for the rest of the day. 
How many times have I gotten lost in the accusing, degrading, deceptive & condemning words of the enemy? Even worse, how many times have I let the enemy influence a conversation with someone when I’ve been snarky, judgmental, sarcastic & condescending?  

Talk about a wake up call!!!

Let’s be certain that our thoughts stay centered on Jesus & that we allow the Holy Spirit to pour God’s love into our hearts. Making these choices will help us not to get so lost in the words of the enemy of our soul! 

bright thinking!

Have you been through difficult seasons when your thoughts turn dark?  Lately, it seems like this has been my lot.  It’s certainly not as bad as Job in the Bible, but it’s not a smoothy groovy season for me at this time.  A few of the challenges that have popped up lately include:  a car meltdown, lost my credit card, my husband had a stroke, one of my kids had a crisis at school, some friend challenges and discouraging news from work.

As I’ve been navigating these difficulties, the Holy Spirit spoke to me this morning about how my thoughts were getting dark.  It’s like I’ve started to see things in a warped way and I find myself thinking negatively and with grim expectations.  This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus also calls the Spirit of Truth.  In my prayer time today, the Holy Spirit reminded me about Phil 4:8 where Paul tells us to dwell on / think about what is:  true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute, excellent and worthy of praise.

So with the help of the Holy Spirit, I’m re-directing my thoughts away from the dark stuff & onto things that are THRPLGR:  true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute!  Anyone care to join me???

What Are You Saying??

Yesterday, I listened to one of my kids rant about their school, the wicked teachers, awful students & deplorable work. I don’t mind listening and sometimes I’m good at listening, which is good because my kid needed a listening ear. After about 30-45min of this content, I felt it was time for some objectivity so we had an interesting chat. I applauded their willingness to acknowledge a few of their shortfalls, but I also pointed out that from this child’s perspective, the lion’s share of the problems belonged to everyone else. This kind of thinking was allowing my kid to frame themselves as the victim & that’s no bueno. Being a victim often leaves us powerless & inert, wallowing in self pity. Seems to me that this kind of thinking runs contrary to how God has designed us, back in the Garden of Eden with power & dominion.

At the minimum, we have authority & power over our attitude & the choices we make about our perspective. Let’s be careful about how we think because our thoughts affect our words, attitudes & actions!

Insulated or Isolated?


Sometimes I think these terms get mixed up in our lives & we don’t realize it. Insulation is to keep out unwanted things, like cold weather or extreme heat. We can also insulate ourselves from painful experiences or uncomfortable feelings. But without being careful, insulation can become isolation when we chose to withdraw & not engage.
I could easily justify insulating myself from seeing & hearing someone’s pain or struggles that I find repugnant. But when I do this, I isolate myself & restrict the Holy Spirit from moving through me, to touch & heal the world around me. Let’s be careful not to insulate ourselves with our wealth & ability to chose our focus from the suffering around us. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t insulate Himself when He lives among us.