Coaching the Mental Game

We frequently think of the mental game in athletic terms – mental toughness, endurance, winning and the likes. If you watch a highly successful athlete before their game / competition, they’re often 100% dialed into the event before them. Sometimes, an athlete will even mentally go through the routine, for physically practicing what they will do for the event.
There’s a lot to be said for this mindset in our daily living. But the essential requirement for coaching our mental game is to have the right Coach. Bad coaching equals bad execution & outcomes. So who is your mental coach?
Let’s actively decide & allow the Holy Spirit to be our mental coach, setting our minds on the Holy Spirit & not stuff that would poison, distract or compromise our outcomes!

I Eat Crawdads

I grew up eating crawdads / crawfish & I really enjoyed them! There was a canal behind my house where my dad & used a big net to scoop up heaps of crawfish, cart them home & cook them up. Boy were they tasty!
But here’s the rub: crawdads are bottom feeders, so they eat the garbage at the bottom of lakes & canals, making them inherently unhealthy.
Sometimes what is tasty to our flesh is unhealthy to our spirit & we have to make wise choices about what we allow to come into our hearts & minds. Let’s be determined to set our minds above & not allow our minds to become bottom feeding trash consumers 🙂

Driven or Directed?

I desperately want to be led by the Holy Spirit, in every area of my life – my decisions, conversations, priorities, relationships, etc. If I’m honest, however, sometimes I’m more driven than directed.
For me, here are some key indicators that I’m being flesh driven rather than Spirit led:

  • my flesh tends to dictate my actions.
  • my perspective gets very self-absorbed.
  • I can be more results oriented than relationship attentive – achievements become more important than connecting with people.
  • Fear often dilutes any expression of genuine love from me.
  • I become more consumer minded rather than thinking how to be generous.

Let’s be careful that we stay in Step with the Spirit & not controlled by our flesh 🙂
Be sure to pre-order my newest book about how to stay In Step with the Holy Spirit!

Overprotective

Is it possible to be overprotective? Of course. But let’s think of this in broader terms than just raising children, border & immigrant concerns, your reputation, financial investments, etc.
Heres a really important place to think about being overprotective: your heart.
This is what happens to all of us, we get hurt, disappointed, discouraged or disillusioned so we decide to avoid that pain & shield / protect our hearts. In some ways this strategy is functional, but there’s a downside. When we shield / protect our hearts, we begin to compromise our ability to have close relationships & the worst place we can do this is with Jesus.
We must believe with unwavering confidence that Jesus loves us, has a good future for us & is both wise & strong enough to bail us out of any & all misfortunes.
Let’s never protect our hearts from an increasingly intimate relationship with Jesus 🙂

Outrage!!!

In our modern world, outage is common & I think even expected sometimes. It seems like we can get massively incensed at almost anything: driving infractions, mistakes on paychecks or bills, government shortfalls, moral failures in Christian leaders, etc
But here’s something to consider: if sin is the common human experience, why do we allow ourselves to be outraged when people sin or make mistakes? Wouldn’t we be more constructive to celebrate the moments when humans don’t behave sinfully? What about when a driver makes space for you instead of cutting you off? That’s noteworthy! What about when a government does something positive that exceeds your expectations? This might not be often, but that’s exactly why we should celebrate it! And when a Christian leader has a moral failure, let’s not be so much outraged as we should pray for them & have sincere compassion because we identify with our own shortfalls.
Let’s aim for less outrage & more celebration 🙂
Selah

Keys to Being Productive

I have teenage kids at home for Summer break. While I enjoy their company, I’m in their lives to help them be successful & time management is part of the drill. Here are some coaching points I’m giving them, that might be helpful reminders for you (and PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR IDEAS, as well):

  • Outcome Engineering: looking down the road, what are the big things that need to be achieved? Then develop steps & the timeline that will produce that achievement so it’s doesn’t become overwhelming or impossible by its size or urgency.
  • Incentives: do the work & save the fun as a reward rather than the reverse
  • Daily plan: create a daily routine that integrates the steps for the big projects, as well as the habits you want to foster.
  • Accountability: give someone or a few people permission to ask about your daily plan & progress on the big projects

What are some other things you’ve learned to help you be productive? Thanks for sharing!!

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!

Healthy Choices

There’s loads of emphasis on making healthy choices, particularly with our eating, exercise & uses of time & money. I’m continually coaching my kids to Mae healthy choices & I’m abundantly clear that God coaches me along these lines as well.  Here are some specific areas for making healthy choices:

  • Advocate or Accuse: let’s be aware that accusing is what the devil does & advocating is what the Holy Spirit does. Which choice is your natural default?
  • Convict or Condemn: condemning is when there’s a dead end & no hope to change, grown or improve – everything the devil works to accomplish.  Conviction happens when the Holy Spirit speaks in our hearts about something that’s wrong, endeavoring to help us change.
  • Truth Or Lie: Jesus says in John 8:44 that the devil’s natural language is lying but a few chapters later, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth. If we tolerate white lies or incremental truths we need to consider if we are listening to the devil more than the Holy Spirit :!

Let’s make healthy choices!!

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!

The Dryer Shrinks My Clothes

In our home, one of my kid’s weekly responsibilities is to do the laundry for all of us. I often think that this child is shrinking my clothes from setting the dryer too high. But alas, we both know that this misconception is rooted in my desire to eat freely without consequences.
I think all of us have the ability to believe what we want & dismiss what we don’t like. This is another essential reason we desperately need the Holy Spirit in our lives. Jesus tells us in John 16 that the Holy Spirit will lead us into truth & in our modern living, we need an abundance of truth, full stop. Let’s make the ongoing decision to follow the Holy Spirit in truth even at the expense of eating less & exercising more 🙂

Truth Or Love??

Maybe I’m the only person to struggle with his, but I find it challenging to be truthful & sincerely loving at the same time. For me, this is a tricky balance because I find it easier to be loving & less truthful or more truthful but less loving.
In Proverbs 3:3, it says that we should keep both love & truth around our neck & written on the tablets of our heart. In this verse, we don’t get to pick one over the other, love over truth or truth over love. Instead, we are to blend them together as they connect our head to our body (as a necklace) & permanently inscribed on our hearts to inform our core values & define our actions, conversations & outlook.
With the Holy Spirit helping us, let’s blend love & truth throughout our daily living!

The Right No

We learn to say “no” at an early age often pigeonholed as the “terrible two’s”. While learning to say “no” is an important stage in our development, I think what’s even more important is the proper wisdom & discernment to use this word.

For example, saying an internal “no” to replying with a snarky comment to a rude flight attendant is good wisdom. Or saying no to the couch as an alternative to getting some daily exercise is also sound wisdom.
On the flip side, let’s make sure that our instinctive answer to anything the Holy Spirit ask of us is resoundingly YES!!

Going Opposite

Being rebellious usually gets the thumbs down reaction from the Christian crowd. We tend to find those verses that talk about being respectful, obedient & compliant & there are heaps of Bible verses to support this mindset.

However, being a person who finds herself sometimes at odds with many societal norms, let me highlight some ways that Jesus went the opposite of the culture & society of His day.

  • Unexpected: Jesus didn’t cater to what people expected from Him. Consider in His first miracle that He told His mom to “chill out” (my slang for “Woman, My time is not yet come”)
  • Forgiveness: when all the religious leaders of His day wanted Jesus to condemn the woman caught in adultery, Jesus forgave her & the intolerance / judgment evaporated
  • Genuine Love: one of my favorite quotes from Jesus: “He who has been forgiven much, loves much; but he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
  • Miracles: Jesus defied conventional thinking by frequently doing miracles: multiplying food, cleansing lepers, restoring promiscuous women, healing the unclean & driving out demonic forces, just to name a few.

If we are followers of Jesus, then we must go the opposite of our flesh, religious intolerance, demonic influences & cultural trends. Most of all, let’s personify genuine love because of the Holy Spirit working in our mindsets, conversations & actions!

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!

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!

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!

Love to Understand

“What’s wrong with her?” I was recently walking through the largest brothel in Bangledesh & noticed a lady sitting on a bench & she was crying. I immediately sat next to her & put my arm around her, feeling her sadness pouring out of her. Some people with me asked her in the Bengali language what was wrong & there was a brief dialogue where she said why she was crying in seemingly few words. I continued to hold this young lady, absorbing her pain & she began to cry heaps more.

She was crying because she was homesick for her parents who live in a different district & she had been working in this brothel for more than a year.

I could continue explaining more & more details of her life to help you, my reader, understand why she was crying.
But let’s be careful that we don’t qualify our love on understanding first. Indeed, I sincerely don’t think we begin to understand until we decide first to love.

If you truly want to begin understanding someone, decide that you will love them & you’ll find that you begin to understand them more & more!

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!