Hot Topic: Pivot Gratitude

 

Happy Thanksgiving! In the US, we celebrate being thankful today, enumerating our blessings & acknowledging the abundance that we have. But alas, sometimes the mindset that looks for abundance can get disappointed. Indeed, on this day, we often turn a blind eye to the deficiencies we have, choosing to ignore lack or gloss over the absence of things we want.

Let’s pivot this thinking. Today, I’m not only thankful for what I have, but I’m also thankful for what I don’t have.

I’m grateful that God doesn’t give me everything I want because this would be very destructive to my soul. I’m grateful for struggles & hardships because I don’t develop patience & persistence without such struggles (James 1:2-4). And let’s not forget Paul who was thankful for the thorn in his flesh in 2Cor 12:9ff because this thorn cultivated reliance on Jesus like nothing else in his life.
Let’s not only be thankful for abundance but let’s be grateful for some difficulties as well. And of course, let’s always be mindful to encourage & love the people around us! We can’t always understand their decisions but we can always chose to be loving & encouraging!
Be super clear that I’m thankful for you! Feel free to pass this along to friends & family today! It could be really helpful to lots of peeps!

A Little Sugar


The proverbial sugarbowl

I like savory over sweet but in my family, certain members prefer sweet to savory. For example, if I set out a jar of dill pickles some of us could empty that jar lickety split. On the flip side, I could easily forget about some ice cream in the freezer for months while other members of my family wouldn’t let the ice cream survive until the morning. 
Regardless of your taste preferences, there are occasions when a little sugar is always nice:

  • When someone is having a bad day, being sweet can sometimes make the day better for them
  • When someone is angry, Proverbs says that a soft answer turns away wrath
  • Encouragement is a little bit of sugar & I have yet to meet a person who abhors encouragement
  • Soft, gentle, sweet & sincere words can be helpful in any relationship, but perhaps we can the most benefit from giving sweet words more than receiving them

Let’s add some sugar to our interactions today 🙂

A Little Sugar


The proverbial sugarbowl

I like savory over sweet but in my family, certain members prefer sweet to savory. For example, if I set out a jar of dill pickles some of us could empty that jar lickety split. On the flip side, I could easily forget about some ice cream in the freezer for months while other members of my family wouldn’t let the ice cream survive until the morning. 
Regardless of your taste preferences, there are occasions when a little sugar is always nice:

  • When someone is having a bad day, being sweet can sometimes make the day better for them
  • When someone is angry, Proverbs says that a soft answer turns away wrath
  • Encouragement is a little bit of sugar & I have yet to meet a person who abhors encouragement
  • Soft, gentle, sweet & sincere words can be helpful in any relationship, but perhaps we can the most benefit from giving sweet words more than receiving them

Let’s add some sugar to our interactions today 🙂

Hot Topic: Get HELP!!

Changing a tire, smoke alarms, sermon advice, editing with writing, parenting struggles, matching clothes, staying patient, . . . . these things barely scratch the surface of areas where I need help.  Admitting that I need help is a very big struggle for me.  So when Jesus said in John 14, that He would send His followers another Helper, I always thought, “That’s nice.  I hope some folk benefit from that help.”  I never really thought I needed “help” until I began digging into Jesus’ words to His disciples at the Last Supper in John 14-16.

Having studied and prayed about Jesus’ words in these chapters, I have become unraveled and undone, full stop.  So I wrote a book about this & you should buy it, now (pre-order) before it becomes back-ordered.  Actually, order at least 5 books because it’s awesome for small group discussions, book clubs and giving away as gifts 🙂

Here’s some helpful resources to look at:  Heavenly Help

doubting & believing

This morning, I read the story of Doubting Thomas & how he didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead until he had physical proof for himself.  Despite what Thomas’ friends told him, he made the adamant position that unless he saw the nail prints in Jesus’ hands, put his finger into the nail prints & touched Jesus’ side where He was pierced, he wouldn’t believe.  Thomas’ belief had 3 pre-qualifiers, all based on physical evidence.

It’s interesting to me that we don’t read about any of Thomas’ friends getting cranky with Thomas for his unbelief – despite all of them following Jesus for 2+ years and seeing all kinds of crazy miracles.  But no one criticized nor chastized Thomas for doubting – maybe they accepted the truth that Thomas was on a journey of faith, not much different from their own journey.

Just because someone is at a different place in their journey of faith doesn’t give us the right to be critical of their lack of faith, anymore than we would want someone to criticize us for some faith deficiencies & shortcomings.  Let’s decide to encourage each other in our journey of faith & not throw rocks when someone is struggling with unbelief – indeed, faith works by love ,)

cheering!!!!

With some maternal encouragement (always the sports enthusiast that I am), my daughter decided to play soccer this Spring for the 1st time & she has really come to enjoy the experience.  While her first game was absolutely traumatic, it’s been an awesome learning curve for both of us.  Possibly her greatest take-away so far (we might be in the playoffs), is to not quit.  There’s lots to say about that, but that’s her story 🙂

For me, probably the greatest take-away is to stay positive.  My sideline role is to cheer, be encouraging, stay positive & upbeat, even when it seems discouraging.  Another take-away that I TOTALLY love is that while I’m limited to a sideline role of cheering, the Holy Spirit in our lives doesn’t have to stay on the sidelines, but can have an active & integrated role in helping us with our daily living.  Of course the Holy Spirit cheers for us, but let’s know that there’s lots more that the Holy Spirit can do in our lives, particularly when we let down our preconceptions, guards and boundaries 🙂

some helpful encouragement

YAHOOOO!!!!!  I’m super excited because lots of the hard work that we’ve been doing with Saving Moses is starting to yield some fruit!!!!!  I have so many dreams in my heart for the work that we do with Saving Moses that sometimes I can get discouraged when I’m not making the progress that I’d like.  But today is a really good day for Saving Moses!!!!  We are making some breakthroughs with our nightcare centers, considering expanding to 2 more countries this year, getting some help with our marketing efforts and watching our efforts become increasingly effective!  I can’t give lots of precise details at this time, but it’s just encouraging to see how God is helping us to grow & become more impactful!

If you have some areas in your life that seem discouraging, please don’t give up praying for those things & continuing to trust God.  Gal 6:9 says that we don’t get weary in well doing because we’ll reap a harvest if we don’t faint 🙂

Good news!

Everyone likes good news & I’m thinking that maybe some tv news programs should consider devoting a portion of the time to something encouraging – but that’s a different topic 🙂
Here’s the good news: we have renovated our Saving Moses website & it’s TOTALLY cool! Not only is the website cool but we are introducing a mobile website with Saving Moses as well now – www.savingmoses.org ! I love it when good things happen & it’s even more cool to share good news to encourage others!
Last, here’s a really encouraging verse: “God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose. Phil 2:13 (GNT)

An encouraging challenge

Sometimes I can get discouraged when I look at problems that seem to have no answers & sometimes I can get overwhelmed by some challenges that seem insurmountable. Ever feel the same? During my prayer time this morning, I was reminded about how God had a sheep waiting for Abraham when he was about to sacrifice Isaac. This story reminds me that God has solutions, provisions & wisdom waiting for me when various needs can become urgent. In the meantime, rather than fretting, getting stressed out & uptight about various problems, I can change my thinking to being grateful & appreciative that God has already provided answers & resources. When I’m thankful, I’m a better traveling companion with God during the journey of life rather than being stressed out 🙂

something WAY cool!!

Hola friends!

Now that we’ve finished Christmas, I’m starting to reflect back on this year and thinking of many of the totally great things that have happened in the last 12 months.  Watch this to see some really cool stuff:

 https://vimeo.com/55815063

Hello from Angola!

YAHOOO!!! We visited our first malnutrition clinic today & I saw LOTS of encouraging things!! I saw about 40 babies & toddlers drinking our therapeutic milk. I saw moms getting help for their babies. I saw some of the milk supply for this malnutrition clinic & I saw hope!!
To add onto all of this excitement, we were able to follow up with 2 families that we met last year: Manushe & Celestina (Augustino died last year) and we saw Angelina & Desorae! Both of these moms & their babies are doing GREAT & it was totally heartwarming to get to see them again this year 🙂
Thanks LOADS for all of your prayers & support – we are making a difference & changing the future today!! The attached picture is of Angelina & Desorae, who we were able to see today!! 😀

20120515-212413.jpg

a good laugh

I was recently reading about Abraham & I was pleasantly surpised to notice that when the angel spoke to Abraham about having a son in his old age, he literally fell to the ground laughing!!  And when Sarah heard that she would carry a baby in her very old age, she also busted out laughing!  Both parents had a good laugh at what seemed totally impossible, but what was also probably the biggest desire in their lives.  Perhaps they had been disappointed when year after year, Sarah never became pregnant until it seemed to be too late.  Maybe the only reply that they had left to their decades of disappointment was to laugh at what seemed to be absurd. 

Nevertheless, God is faithful to His promises even when they seem impossible & Sarah became pregnant.  Its completely funny to recognize that God’s name for their son was Isaac, which means laughter  .  The decades of disappointment had been replaced with laughter for everyone.  Please be encouraged that God is faithful to His promises even when they seem impossible.  Maybe one day, you’ll look at the impossible & laugh with faith, knowing that nothing is impossible with God.

freedom of speech

 In America, we are very intense about our right to the freedom of speech.  We have no appreciation for anyone who would try to censure our opinion or limit our expression.  And in some ways, I really appreciate this right & I wholly appreciate the sacrifices that have been made to retain this privilege.

On the other hand, just because we have the right to freedom of speech doesn’t mean that we should say anything & everything we want.  Proverbs says that even a fool appears smart when they keep their mouth closed.  There is tremendous wisdom in knowing when to say something, what to say & to whom something should be said.  These choices can be very productive if we make the decision to be constructive with our opinions & freedom of speech & not merely selfish.  In the end, the right to freedom of speech with a selfish intent is often more destructive than constructive.  Here’s a simple idea that I’m trying to work into my daily living:  I want to compliment & encourage more than I criticize & judge.  Want to join me?  🙂

some happy thoughts

 As I was helping a friend yesterday, she really encouraged me with a few things that could also be helpful to you, particularly if you’re in a rough season.  One of the 1st things she said to me asked me about was the beautiful day that we were having – this immediately adjusted my focus because I had been stressed out about a few things.  Because she asked me this question, I had to shift my focus away from my frustrations & answer her question to me.  This was a great interruption that helped me to immediately get some better focus.  Additionally, even though we were in a potentially dangerous situation, she was super calm, reassuring & stable.  Frankly, I don’t think she knew that I was upset or rattled.  Nevertheless, she  was very soothing & seemed to diffuse some of my anxities.  Finally, as I walked away from her she was graceful & encouraged me to have a great evening.

I don’t think that this lady has any idea that God used her to help settle my nerves, but its interesting how just some small exchanges with various people can make big differences in our outlooks & behaviors.  Here are a few concluding happy thoughts:

  • look around for some good things – God always has something good to find when we look for it
  • it seems to me that when you encourage & say nice things to others that you will invariably be blessed as well
  • look up – David in Psalms always encouraged himself with the directive to put his trust in God, Who is indeed trustworthy :)n

 

its fun to encourage

 I was having coffee w a friend the other day & this lady walked into the coffee shop w some very loud shoes – her shoes were the 1st thing to catch anyone’s attention.  Right away my friend commended to this lady on her super cool shoes, encouraging her that she looked cool wearing those shoes.  I was really proud of my friend for being so encouraging & made a mental note to myself that I want to be that way, even if something isn’t my personal style or preference.

Here’s my line of thinking:  our planet needs some encouragement because it seems to me that we are living in a time when there’s a fair amount of negativity.  With this in mind, a great way to counter-act any general negativity is to be encouraging to people & even creatively encouraging.  So here are just a few ideas you might consider & please feel free to leave more suggestions so we can all help each other 🙂

  • consider telling a co-worker that you think they’re an incredible person, without the intent of trying to get something from them ,)
  • wave & smile at your neighbor when you drive by them
  • look at the cashier & ask them if they’re having a nice day, with sincere interest
  • send a kind email to someone & thank them for who they are as a person (consider telling them what characteristic you like the most about them)
  • tell your mate that you think they’re great
  • let a friend, neighbor or co-worker know that you appreciate them with a quick text message
  • drop a note in the mail (snail mail) to let someone know that they are special to you
Those are just a few ideas, but the principle of being encouraging is super powerful, even though it may seem rather small 🙂
What are some more ideas that you would suggest?