Keep Looking

“Where is Jo-Jo?”  I’d circled through the stark malnutrition clinic in Angola with Saving Moses, looking for the struggling little baby that I’d met just before we took a break for lunch.  I remembered seeing Jo-Jo’s mom: she was extremely tired and her nerves were obviously frayed.  But I was hopeful for Jo-Jo, since she was in our clinic now and could receive some medical care and a steady supply of the malnutrition formula that has kept literally thousands of babies from dying.

I talked with my friends about Jo-Jo over lunch and I was eager return to the clinic and  encourage her mom that we would do our level best to help her frail daughter to survive and even thrive.  I walked through our clinic again, slower this time, looking for little Jo-Jo in her bright red shirt.  I couldn’t find her so I asked our translator to check in with the nurse to see where Jo-Jo was.  “Her mom took her and left,” was the nurse’s reply.  “We have to find her!  She doesn’t stand a chance of surviving without our help!  Where’s her file, find her address, call the phone number, let’s go to her house, let DO SOMETHING!!!”  I was really upset and I could tell the nurse was also very disturbed.  We looked at Jo-Jo’s chart, found a phone number and only the name of the neighborhood where she lived, since Angola doesn’t use an address system like we do in the US. There was no chance of finding her in the neighborhood listed, it was HUGE.  When we called the number listed on the chart, there was no answer.  So how could we keep trying to find Jo-Jo?  Could we send someone to her neighborhood in the very remote chance we’d find her?

We did this and we kept calling the phone number, but we never found Jo-Jo and given the extremely frail state of her little body, I would suppose that she died.  This has really bothered me for a very long time because Jo-Jo’s mom seemed to have given up all hope for her daughter to live.  What kind of hell does a mom go through to get to the point of giving up hope for her baby to live?  Could I have been more sensitive to the mom’s exhausted state?  What would I do differently in this situation for the future?

Some things are deeply disturbing and this is probably a good thing because such experiences can interrupt our comfortable living and provoke us to bring genuine love and life to the world in which we live.  Let’s keep looking for ways to let God love the world through us.

keep on keeping on

We have all had our share of setbacks & mishaps, no matter if you’re the best or worst planner in the world.  When something bad happens that you didn’t expect, it’s not the time to have a melt down.  In fact, in the face of adveristy & setbacks, it’s often the best time to test your grit & resilience.

For example, this morning I read about how Jesus delivered two men from demonic possession & instead of their town being excited about such wonderful news, the town turned out to demand that Jesus leave their vicinity.  While the town’s rejection could have been framed as a debilitating setback, Jesus chose to move on to the next town.  The town’s rejection didn’t affect His identity.

Don’t let setbacks, rejections, shortfalls or the unexpected poison your soul.  Get up & keep going because Gal 6:9 says that we’ll receive a reward if we don’t quit or give up!  Don’t forget that Heavenly Help can be extremely helpful with strengthening your soul!

 

secrets for making progress

I like progress, improvement and growing.  I like being better today than I was a few months ago – and this is in every area of my life:  physical health, intimacy with God, quality relationships, effectiveness with Saving Moses and LOTS more!  I don’t like to be stagnant or stationary and I totaly LOATHE going backwards.  So here are a few things I’m learning of late about progress:

  • sometimes progress is incremental and gradual rather than gigantic and massive
  • progress can happen in different contexts:  doing PT with a recent shoulder surgery, I’m learning that progress happens in several ways (getting stronger, more flexible, getter ability to use, etc)
  • progress requires committment to change – if you don’t want to change, don’t expect to make progress
  • celebrate progress no matter the size or context:  acknowledging progress breeds more progress
  • sometimes what seems like a step backwards is actually progress moving forward – don’t get discouraged
  • encourage others who are trying to get better
  • keep going:  sometimes progress seems to be stagnant, but often these seasons of pause are nothing more than plateau set ups for greater progress if you’ll just keep going
  • progress requires truth;  deception is the enemy of genuine growth & development 🙂

Hot topic: overcoming adversity

Have you ever had a season where it seems like more is going wrong than what’s going right?  Job had this experience. In a short amount of time: he lost all of his kids, all his wealth evaporated, his health took a plunge & his wife went rogue & didn’t encourage him. Job totally went through an awful season & you can read his book in the Old Testament to hear his thoughts & emotions in the thick of all these difficulties. Going through hardships & difficulties isn’t something new in our human experience but here are some ideas that might be helpful:

*in difficulties, be honest with God (Job was super upset, disappointed & frustrated with God & didn’t hold back nor withdraw from talking with God)
*consider the people who you allow to speak into your life: do they affirm God’s work, do they hear your heart, do they strengthen your faith?  Job’s friends were kind of sketchy on these points
*keep your focus on God because a continual eye on the hardships can be very unsettling
*there are brighter days ahead – Jer 29:11 🙂

Time to Quit

When I was growing up, I had this really strong value about not quitting. Even when things might be discouraging, I didn’t quit. I didn’t quit taking piano lessons for 9years, despite burning through like 7 different teachers. When I started playing basketball, I didn’t quit even though I was thoroughly uncoordinated, slow, couldn’t jump & had no athletic ability (lots of heart but no natural gifting). I didn’t quit.
Now that I’m older, I’ve decided to start quitting stuff. Some things that we should all consider quitting include:
*achieving for the purpose of feeling significant & valuable – you’re inherently valuable because God loves you, full stop
*trying to please people – that’s a dead end
*trusting in human wisdom – consider reading 1Cor 2 for some interesting ideas related to wisdom

What else is worth quitting?

earthy

Living in America has the very subtle & sneaky attempt to be blinded by glitz, glam, image, shiny, trendy and veneer.  Whether we realize it or not, our culture bombards us with airbrushed faces, glimmery white teeth, body images that are almost physically impossible and lots more.  If we aren’t careful, we can be seduced by image and forget that substance, character and integrity are very important.

With this in mind, I find it very interesting that the person who heralded Jesus’ arrival was the antithesis of image conscious – John the Baptist was very earthy and for that matter, so is Jesus.  The Son of God, robed in splendor, glory and the ultimate glitz put on our skin, lived among us and was often mistaken for a mere man.  May the Holy Spirit help us to reveal Jesus through our daily and earthy living 🙂

some help with opposition

I’m currently reading the book of Nehemiah & I was encouraged this morning when I read about Nehemiah’s reaction to his enemies (Sanballat & Tobia) when they severaly opposed Nehemiah & the Jews.  Instead of quitting, Nehemiah split up the people & let half of them keeping working to repair the wall & posted the other half to protect those who were working on the wall.  By splitting up his work force into 2 groups, he probably lengthened the time it took to finish the project, but my point is that he didn’t quit.  They kept working, even though their progress slowed down, but they didn’t quit.

Slow progress is better than no progress 😀

just keep going

“I’m resigning.”  I had someone tell me this last year and it was a really big deal to me because this person was doing lots of great stuff for Saving Moses.  When this person quit, I became really discouraged.  It was difficult because I already had a pretty hefty workload & now with this person resigning, I didn’t have anyone available to step into this position.  How would I get all of this work done?  I found myself kind of flailing and floundering, but over the course of a few weeks it became evident that I’d have to just be patient, pray & trust God to fill in this massively important gap.  And in the meantime, I gave myself to do the best I could with this gap.

Sometimes, I can get myself really wound up & uptight.  But over the course of the last year, God has been teaching me many things, including the valuable lesson of trusting God and not leaning on my own efforts.  Keep going my friend, one day at a time and even one step at a time 🙂

Feel free to share this with your friends & family who might be discouraged 🙂

Hello from India

I’m back in India having been here about 3 years ago & I’m looking forward to another adventure. Three years ago (maybe 4), I came here for the purpose of starting nightcare with saving Moses. My first attempt was almost comical now that I have some hindsight. I had some very grandiose plans in my thinking & they quickly evaporated into thin but very humid air.
Now that I’m back, I still have it in my heart to start nightcare here & I’m praying for God to direct our steps, relationships & the time we have here.
For the ideas & dreams that God has put in your heart, here is some encouragement (feel free to forward to anyone discouraged):
*dont quit – it’s easy to be discouraged with set backs, but make the decision not to quit
*let God help you grow in the process of achieving these dreams – be a better & not bitter person through the process
*trust God – lets fully embrace the truth that God is good & loving, causing all things to work together for our good as we stay in love with God 🙂

a requirement to succeed

I was in 5th grade when I first tried to play basketball & I was 100% horrible.  Neither of my parents are particularly athletic nor did they have alot of athletic background or experience.  Furthermore, we didn’t have lots of sports stuff when I was growing up so my recess basketball games at school were the extent of getting some initial experience.  For whatever reason, I wanted to be good at basketball so I decided to keep trying even though I was awful.  I didn’t have much success at the beginning of my efforts, but I kept trying.  I had horrible shooting form because I wasn’t strong enough to get the ball to the hoop.  I couldn’t dribble to save my life & I was more uncoordinated than  any 5th grade girl in my class, but I kept trying.  When I entered 6th grade, I joined a school that had a girls basketball team & I shockingly made the Varisty squad, but was soon demoted to JV, but I kept trying.  Throughout my middle school years, I continued to play basketball & because I kept trying, I began to improve.  When I was in 8th grade, we had a freethrow competition to see who could make the most free throws out of 50 attempts.  I tried really hard & came in 2nd on my team.  I went on to play basketball in high school and kept trying to get better.  I continued to improve and was privileged to be on a team that went on to win the state championship 🙂

Moral of the story:  long-term success requires that we keep trying

staying power

Holy Cow!  That was Jeroboam’s solution to help him stay in power as the king of Israel, even though God had obviously put him in this position.  I was reading this morning (1 Kings 7) about how God spoke to Jeroboam through a prophet & told him that he was going to be the king of Israel.  When Jeroboam became the king, he got really jittery about keeping his power & decided that his kingdom needed it’s own set of gods, festival days, worship routines, etc that would exclude anything from the Temple in Jerusalem or the worship of the true God, as outlined by Moses.

Jeroboam was put in the position of king by God’s power but he didn’t stay long because he decided to trust in his own methods & efforts rather than trusting in God.  In my thinking, there’s no staying power of any lasting value that doesn’t include trusting in our Triune God 🙂

turkey update

Happy post Thanksgiving! I hope your day went well, with lots of peace, joy and enjoyable food 🙂  A few days ago, I posted about how I don’t really care for cooking turkey because of the litany of failed attempts my family has endured over many years.  Well, I’m happy to report that yesterday’s turkey was totally tasty!  It wasn’t burned, not too dry, not undercooked nor any of the other ways that I’ve ruined turkeys over many years – yahoo!!!

So here’s some encouragement.  Think of something that you’ve been trying to get good at for a long time, then consider a few things:

  • perhaps the lessons you’ve learned from the failures just helped you to understand better what doesn’t work
  • be thankful that you don’t have to make the same list of mistakes – you can make new ones
  • perhaps you next attempt will be the one that brings you success
  • if you next attempt doesn’t succeed consider that you’re one step further from failure & closer to success 🙂

 

don’t quit

When I was recently in Angola with Saving Moses I had an experience that has really been haunting me.  If I understood the situation correctly, I met a mom who had seemed to give up hope on her baby surviving and I’m deeply affected by this – so much that this experience is really starting to challenge some of my thinking.  I think that there are situations where I quit too easily for various reasons (disappointment, discouragement, lack of progress, bad reports, setbacks, etc).  Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean that I should quit or give up.  And even if I’m only making microscopic progress, I’m challenging myself not to quit.

So my encouragement to you is don’t quit!

  • Don’t give up on yourself.
  • Don’t quit on God
  • Don’t quit growing
  • Don’t quit trying
  • Don’t quit on your kids
  • Don’t give up on your potential
  • Don’t quit

Turning points

When I was learning to snowboard, one of the super important terms / skills that was essential to master was the concept of linking turns – being able to turn from moving to the right to the left & vice versa – easier said than done. Today, I have no problem linking my turns & it’s close to second nature for me, but not without lots of falling, spills, pain, etc. What I’ve learned from snowboarding is that there can be lots of lessons I can learn from pain. These include:
*get up & keep trying
*transitions require lots of practice to be smooth
*when I get lazy, I tend to fall more
*sometimes I need to give my legs a rest
*remember the lesson but forget the pain 🙂

Be Stubborn!! :)

I’ve read lots of things that encourage us to persevere, don’t quit, endure & keep going. The Bible applauds faithfulness & endurance on multiple occasions. But I think that we have to be careful that we don’t let the “endurance” trait to justify being stubborn & refusing to change.
I want to endure & be faithful to Jesus & Give Him the total freedom to change & shape me to be more & more like Him. For me, it’s cool to be stubborn in keeping my relationship with Jesus vibrant but it’s not ok to be stubborn & refuse to change or grow – that kind of stubborn is brittle & very susceptible to being broken 🙂

keep going

Earlier this year, I began to write my first Saving Moses book.  When I’ve written books in the past, I’ve found it to be most helpful to take several days by myself and to totally submerge myself into the writing and then come up for air three or four days later.  It sounds intense and it is 🙂

With my Saving Moses book, however, I’ve been trying a different approach.  Throughout the first few months of this year, I would take one day a week and devote it to writing about my journey along the incredible adventure of growing with Saving Moses.  Truthfully, the one day a week approach isn’t as efficient for me as the totally submersion technique, but at this time in my life, this is how I can make some incremental progress and that’s ok 🙂

The glitch came in April when I had to take a pause for various reasons.  I knew that this pause would be for a few months, but now finally today, I get to pick up where I left off with my writing.  So here’s my point – just because you have a pause on a goal doesn’t mean that you have to give up and quit.  Sometimes a pause can give you some time for reflection, course correction, better focus and greater effectiveness.  Don’t quit!

I want to change

I want to change

There are things in me that I don’t like. I don’t like that I’m selfish, i dont like various insecurities that are tiresome & there are several more things in me that I’d like to be adjusted as well.
I’ve been thinking of these things lately & as I was reading Rom 5:3-5 this morning, something really struck me. It seems to me from these verses that there are several ingredients that are essential for the sustained changes that I want, 2 of which are essential: hardship & endurance. Indeed, I can see in my life that there are many good results from the combination of hardship & endurance. So I’m reminding myself to celebrate the process & journey to these changes that God is working out in my life 🙂

Momma said there’d be days like this

Well dear friends, I woke up this morning at 1:30 to find one of my kids sleeping in the chair in our bedroom. An hour later, another one woke up & by 4:30, 3/5 of the Bowling family was completely alert thx to a healthy dose of jetlag.
Since I’m quite familiar w the adventures associated w jetlag, I’d give us until around 3-5pm before we hit the wall. So for this day, regardless of what it holds, I’m choosing to let the peace of Jesus guard my heart & mind. I’m not interested in having a day of anxiety, stress or struggle. There is enough grace for each moment in this day, no matter what transpires. Same goes for you 😀

Painting Lessons

Well, I’m in the middle of painting 2 of our kids rooms & we’re having some fun learning how this whole project is supposed to work. There are some interesting parallels between painting & God:
*progress requires patience & boy am I grateful that God & others are patient a me as I grow, spill, have failures & learn
*slow work tends to avoid fast & messy mistakes – ceilings, corners, edges all require more precision & care
*its ok to get messy – still trying to get paint off of my hands, arms, legs, hair & the kids. Thankfully God cleans me up better than my best efforts
*you can paint over mistakes – paint has great redeeming qualities with mistakes, but nothing is more efficacious than Jesus’ blood
*keep trying – we’ve got another room to do & I know that I’ll learn even more about this process & I’ll continue to get better 🙂
*painting will not be my fall back career, unless I plan to go on a long-term fasting schedule ,)

good things come to those who wait – really???

I’ve had an interesting few days and it’s been a bit challenging to keep a good attitude while waiting.  On Friday I had a few challenges – I was working on a really big project for Saving Moses and came to a place where I had to wait until Mon for the decision of another person.  Also on Friday, I was walking home in the snow from dinner at our neighbor’s house, slipped, fell & super messed up my ankle (nothing cool like I was snowboarding in a terrain park & messed up a jump or missed a rail).

So it was an interesting weekend – waiting and hoping for a good answer & an improved ankle and I’m thinking that Mon will be a great turning point for these brief, but important challenges.  When Mon rolled around, my ankle wasn’t better so  I decided to get it checked out.  The Dr said that if it was broken, that I probably wouldn’t be able to go to Cambodia for Saving Moses next month – grrrrrrrr.  Nevertheless, the xray results in the afternoon would let us know something more definite, which meant more waiting.  By 8pm Mon, I hadn’t heard anything from the Dr nor anything on the Saving Moses project.  Still waiting.  Grrrrrrr.

Tues morning rolls around & still no answers & now I’m getting jittery.  But when I would turn my heart to the Holy Spirit on these 2 topics, I felt peace.  Since this story has now been too long, here’s the short conclusion:  no broken ankle and the Saving Moses project has an affirmative answer!  And in all of this, I felt God tell me that if I will trust Him, He will meet the points of my needs with His provisions.  Luke 21:29 – in patience, possess your soul 🙂