Over the last week, it’s been fun to be around LOADS of sexworkers in Bangledesh, nice church folk in America, random & fascinating travel peeps & best of all, my family. And I enjoyed each exchange & interaction.
Were some people cranky?Yes
Were some people strange? Yes
Were some people brilliant? Definitely
Were some people hurting? Absolutely
Were some people broken? Everyone
And I’m so grateful that God is teaching & helping me to both enjoy & love people, full stop. Sometimes I do this better than others, to be sure. And it’s immensely helpful just to relax, smile & enjoy people no matter what!
I’m presently in Auckland New Zealand & experiencing this beautiful country & lovely people. It always astounds me to see God’s ability for infinite diversity. I also love to see the distinction of cultures & there are heaps of cultures here! With the various cultures, you might have heard of the All Blacks, which is the national rugby team for NZ & wildly popular here, an integral part of the culture. Additionally, this nation has lots of nationalities including Maori, British, Indian, Polynesian, French & loads more. In some respects, I’m not sure that I’ve ever visited a place with more cultural diversity, except maybe South Africa.
In addition to the diversity of people, there’s also loads of diversity with the actual land (islands, volcanoes, mountains, beaches, plains & rolling hills). The weather is also quite diverse & seems to change almost by the hour.
New Zealand is thoroughly beautiful & full of life. It’s definitely a country that I’d like to explore with loads more time!
Many people are removing gluten from their eating for allergy & health reasons so it’s increasingly common to hear from people that they’ve eliminated bread from their diet.
There’s one bread, however, that we would be wise to increase for our daily consumption – the Bread of Life, who is Jesus!
Lately, I’ve been trying my hand at baking bread with mixed results. But there are four basic steps to letting Jesus, the Bread of life, participate in our daily living:
Assemble ingredients – be sure to always have time in the Bible & prayer everyday
Mix ingredients – keeping prayer & the Bible in isolated compartments will never be as effective as letting them mix throughout our days, activities, relationships, conversations & responsibilities
Proof – time for the rise is essential for bread to have a palatable texture & taste; let’s be careful not to get impatient during the process or proofing
Bake – heat is necessary for the bread to be portable, practical & edible; Jesus helps us through all of life’s hotspots!
This morning I enjoyed some very tasty chai some where in rural Bangledesh. As my friends and I waited for the gentleman to make the chai, a crowd accumulated around us as we were definite novelties. A person could get jittery surrounding by curious strangers with no communication possibilities. Then add on that we were the only females in the group & a person could be intimidated, even scared.
But I’ve found that being friendly & fun can make these kinds of situations into loads for fun everyone! Furthermore, if a person doesn’t take themselves too seriously it’s even more entertaining for everyone!
Let’s be the difference in our world – full of light, love, joy & LIFE!!
A few nights ago, one of my best friends & I, with our families, enjoyed a totally fantastic dinner together. We laughed, played, talked deeply, enjoyed God’s creation & reveled in a totally euphoric evening. This friend & I have known each other for a long time & we’ve shared some bumps along the way. I’m confident that the future will also have some possible hiccups for our friendship as well, but I’m growing to appreciate a few important lessons:
Forgiveness is an essential ingredient for being close to someone
Being steady is better than being dazzling
Compassion trumps smart
To know another person & let one’s self be known is very great adventure (Gal 4:9)
Keeping Jesus as my central & core relationship keeps me healthy
Coffee, tea, hot water, soda, . . . . . whatever floats your boat, in this holiday season, let’s be sure that we dial in some time and attention to hanging out with Jesus. Here are a few ideas for your consideration:
go through the drive through coffee place, collect your coffee / beverage and then pull into a parking space for a few minutes to enjoy some pause and fellowship with Jesus
go to a concert or Christmas production that you have nothing to do with for the simple purpose of being present with Jesus in this season
wake up 10-15min before everyone else to be still and quiet – giving Jesus your presence as a present
ask the Holy Spirit to help you to pay attention and increase your awareness of Jesus’ presence in your daily living
pray with someone, briefly and sincerely, who expresses a need
take a walk at night (in a safe neighborhood or park) and think about the shepherds in the field who received the angelic announcement about Jesus’ birth – what a SHOCKER!!!!!
be in church – there’s a good chance that someone there will be talking about Jesus during this month ,)
do something nice for someone who doesn’t have the ability to repay you 🙂
Coffee with Jesus: God’s divine gift to humanity is Jesus, love in skin #lookforJesus
We are on the cusp of entering the annual holiday season with Thanksgiving & Christmas just around the corner. While this season is filled with festivities, fun and frolicking, it can also be frenzied and full of fatigue (wasn’t that FUN?!??). I want to be more intentional with this holiday season. In many previous years, I’ve felt driven and drained by all of the demands that seem to accompany these weeks so if I’m not careful, I just kind of mentally and emotionally switch off and go into “automatic mode”: get ready, show up, socialize, leave, repeat. While the “automatic mode” can be good, it’s not always the better choice and more often, it’s not the best.
So here are a few thoughts about making this holiday season the best:
be on purpose – make attentive decisions about what you agree to attend: some invitations are a command performance & some are optional, don’t try to do everything
pay attention to time – it seems to me that time can totally evaporate in the holidays, so I want to be careful and selective with my time during these busy weeks
homemade, store bought or hybrid – many of the season’s festivities require us to bring something tasty, so let’s try to plan ahead to be ready
breath – with all of the hustle, bustle, excitement and buzz, it helps me to pause, be still and exhale
Last night, our church had our first alternative to the alternative Halloween celebration. Normally, we have the annual “harvestfest” where families can bring their kids for a safe alternative to Halloween. Last night, we decided to go rogue & try something new. As you can see from the picture, it was seriously FUN!!!!!!
Here are some possible ways to add some fun in your life:
laugh at yourself: less serious & more levity 🙂
tell goofy jokes: what do you get when you mix a rabbit & a snake? a jump rope ,)
do something different: sometimes the status quo can get stale
focus: look up and look around rather than looking down & inside 🙂
stay positive: pessimism requires more energy to manage than optimism
I just had the privilege to catch up w an old friend & it was delightful to chat over coffee & remember some fun times together. It was also interesting to see how each of us has changed, grown and matured.
In all of or relationships, there are things that can bug us about the other person & clearly we have plenty of our own weakspots that can be very bothersome.
Let’s give each other grace to grow & then enjoy the journey. Only Jesus is the completed human masterpiece. The rest of us are works in progress 🙂
Yesterday, my daughter & I had an interesting conversation while driving for groceries. She let me know that girls are more emotional than boys. While she’s telling me this, my two sons are in the back seat hitting, poking, pinching and generally harassing each other. In the conversation with my daughter, I explained that girls aren’t necessarily more emotional than boys, but their emotional expressions are often different than boys – not bad or good, just different. And that’s the rub: when someone is different than ourselves, let’s be careful not to throw them in the “weirdo” category and outrightly dismiss them. God has taught me a lot through all kinds of people, most of whom are very different than myself.
If someone is “different” from you, here are a few helpful ideas:
respect – be respectful even if you disagree & remember that treating someone with respect & dignity is based on your decisions more than their behaviors 🙂
listen – I like what Stephen Covey said: seek first to understand & then to be understood
enjoy – differences are perhaps the greatest evidence of how creative God is & perhaps part of how God continues to capture our curiosity 🙂
Life can be very serious & ever so often, we all need a good laugh. So today’s hot topic is an attempt to provide some comic relief. Here are just a few brief & funny traveling stories:
wrong week: last year, I was scheduled to go to Dallas & had a 7am flight (which means that I leave my house no later than 5am). When I got to the airport, I was having trouble getting the kiosk to print my boarding pass. When I went to the airline person to help me, she ran my confirmation number through the computer & helped me to see that I was a week early – my flight was booked for the following week; I chalked it up in the “practice” column. Consider my husband’s surprise when I walked in the house less than an hour after I left, ready to take the kids to school that morning ,)
buddhist monks: one time I was in the waiting lounge in the Calcutta airport & there were around 6-12 monks who were all seated together. My friend dared me to jump in the middle of them so he could take a picture of me with them. I took the dare & the monks scattered faster than cockroaches running away from light. I learned that they had all taken a vow not to touch a woman & I almost caused them to break this vow with my silliness
chief safety officer: I flew on a commercial plane once (oversees) when the pilot came out of the cockpit on an active runway to close the front door of our airplane – he seemed pretty casual about the whole thing
I started coming to China more than 25 years ago & I totally love this place & the people even more! China is wonderful in lots of different ways – rich history, very cool people, great food, diverse cultures & much more.
But let me encourage you that wherever you are at, God is present & eager to have fellowship with you. I believe with all of my heart that God made you for the purpose of enjoying your company in all places: whether you’re
*at home in the routines of daily living,
*in a really difficult season of life,
*swamped with an ocean of demands & responsibilities,
*going into a busy weekend
*enjoying China ,)
Last night I had some friends over for dinner & I really enjoyed making a nice dinner for everyone (I even tried some new recipes that weren’t too bad). As I sat & enjoyed the fellowship, my family & food, one of the things that I enjoyed the most was that our meal couldn’t be repaid.
This is my same experience with saving Moses – I get to give to babies & toddlers with a pure heart & no strings attached. It brings me great joy & happiness when I get to freely give & bless others. Somewhere it says that it’s more blessed to give than receive ,)
Tomorrow is our wonderful American holiday of Thanksgiving, the day when we do some of these activities: overeat, watch football, enjoy or tolerate family & cook boatloads of food, among lots of other things. Generally, Thanksgiving is perceived as a nice holiday & to be really honest, I’m close to deciding that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
With all that being said, here are a few problems that we can work on to make this an awesome holiday:
*culmination rather than celebration: lets aim to make gratitude a lifestyle rather than a 1 day event
*just like turkey & stuffing make a nice complement, so do thanksgiving & forgiveness 🙂
*fellowship trumps football – ‘nuf said ,)
There are things about ourselves & others that we like & dislike. For example, I like that I am generally pretty good at Int’l travel, but I don’t like that I can be dingy & forget stuff (the list of things I’ve forgotten is too long for this blog).
But here’s something important to me: I want to like everything about Jesus! I want to like His mysteries, I want to like the ways that He loves people, I want to like that He teaches & helps me to grow. I want to like that He corrects & disciplines me. I want to like His power. I want to like His faithfulness & how steadfast He is.
I want to like everything about Jesus & not just the parts that are appealing or useful to me 🙂
Maybe I’m a social anomaly, but from time to time, I have some struggles with friendships – thankfully, the older I get the less frequent these struggles seem to be, I think. Nevertheless, it seems to me that there are a few essential ingredients for healthy friendships (as with all things, the best source for the pure, organic & untainted source for these ingredients comes from cultivating a rich, deep & surrendered relationship with the Triune God):
extract of high quality forgiveness
a robust stick of faithfulness – substituting frequency with faithfulness doesn’t work 🙂
several “ouches” of humility – ounces are too small ,)
a generous helping of humor – mostly with ourselves
a pound of patience is certainly very helpful 🙂
an infinite supply of genuine love – only available from our Heavenly Father, don’t substitute generic love as it will ruin the recipe
I’m sure I’ve missed some key ingredients, so I’d LOVE to get your input & of course, please feel free to add some spices, flavoring for sweet or savory ,)
This has been a pretty amazing trip so far with lots of different experiences & feelings. It’s been completely outrageous getting to have my family around, ministering, enjoying the culture with me & watching them fall in love with this fantastic country and people in their own unique ways. It’s interesting to watch them individually process the various experiences, challenges & opportunities. My kids were initially put off with the massive differences & now they seem pretty relaxed & almost casual about adjusting into this culture. My husband goes into his uber friendly & curious mode making all kinds of interesting observations & acquaintances.
I like to watch all of this because everyone has their own unique ways of adjusting & enjoying these experiences. They make the trip a much richer & diverse experience for me as their mom & wife.
So today, some of them have gone touring up to Siem Reap & one of my kids is staying with me to do some more work with Saving Moses. My thought on this is that while I’m COMPLETELY enjoying my family & our experiences, I also want to be engaged with I believe is disturbing to God’s heart – giving genuine love in places of indescribable horror & evil.
Needless to say, this trip is nothing less than amazing
When I was growing up, people used to observe that I was very serious. As a little kid, I was always thinking about learning, growing & being mature. I didn’t like it when restaurants would have “kiddie” menus because I thought that was condescending. Suffice it to say that I was super serious.
Now days, I’m not quite so serious & probably what I most like to laugh at is myself. I take myself far less seriously now & I think that a healthy dose of humorous humility is very constructive for lots of different reasons. I also like to laugh with my kids – one of whom just pulled out an empty Starbucks gum tin from inside his footie pjs, leading me to 2 questions: what else might he keep in his footie pjs & why does his keep the gum tin in his pjs???
So I’d encourage you to laugh today, look for ways to enjoy the diversity of people, encourage others & find a few constructive ways to take yourself less seriously 🙂