When Plans Don’t Work

Planning isn’t one of my natural strengths, so the Holy Spirit has helped me grow in this area over the course of many years.  I’ve come to appreciate that if I want to accomplish big dreams, then it’s important to develop some plans and structures for these dreams to become reality.  So what happens when the plans don’t seem to work?  Then what?

In the Gospel of Mark, I’ve been reading about how Jesus healed people, often not according to the human contrived plans, i.e,  the Syrophoenician woman whom Jesus calls a dog, the 4 guys who break through a roof to get a paralytic in front of Jesus & the blind guy whom Jesus spits on for his healing.  It seems to me that Jesus almost never follows our human plans, so it begs the question:  why plan?

When you have plans to seem to go awry, maybe these ideas could be helpful:

  • plans help us think in constructive steps to achieve goals & dreams.  No planning = no progress
  • planning with prayer is a massively helpful combination
  • consider Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

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In Step with the Holy Spirit!

I wonder if God doesn’t want us to stretch more: to stretch our faith, to stretch our compassion, to stretch our endurance & maybe stretch in some other areas. Today, I had to stretch past my natural limits in lots of ways.
Since I’m here in Cambodia, I need to stretch my time so that I can be fully spent when I leave. I did this well today because God helped me. This day was overflowing with accomplishments & productivity! I also felt my compassion stretch today, such that I didn’t pull away from broken people & I felt God’s love pour through me. I was also stretched today in the area of wisdom, as I had some challenging conversations that exceeded my natural abilities. Stretching helps us to stay nimble & flexible, maybe helping us obey & follow God better!
Let’s allow God to stretch us!

In The Moment

I’m not a planner. Indeed, spontaneity is fun for me & I enjoy being agile for various adventures, mostly. But I’ve come to appreciate that planning can often make things better & so I’ve learned to value the process.
With that said, I’m learning that God is both the Perfect Planner & Playful Partner. I can see the strategic hand of God when I look back at various seasons & experiences. But let’s also be willing to follow God moment by moment in nimble obedience & undisputed trust!

Changing Things

Changing Things

Normally, the day before Thanksgiving our family goes skiing since we live fairly close to some epic vertical. But alas, today we are electing for the flatland because there’s almost no snow & the few runs that are open don’t tempt us enough to take the plunge.
Seems to me that change can be challenging to navigate but we need to change for lots of reasons:

  • Change indicates that we’re alive & not moribund in static rigamortis
  • We don’t grow if we’re unwilling to change
  • Change affords new adventures, delights, joys & discoveries
  • Our souls stay supple when we are willing to change, letting God love through us more thoroughly

Cheers to change & happy Thanksgiving!

Planning and Non-Planners

My husband is really good at planning all kinds of stuff.  Currently, he’s planning our family vacation, a roadtrip from Denver to Washington DC to sightsee and explore our nation’s capital.  I deeply appreciate his skill in planning and there have been innumerable occasions where his planning abilities have bailed me out, thank ya Jesus!

On the other side of planning is non-planning, or maybe the euphemism is spontaneity.  This can be a fun way to do life, but risky to be sure.  Whether you’re a planner or non-planner type person, let’s be sure that we are endeavoring to follow the Holy Spirit, full stop.  Sometimes in our planning we can get so locked into the plan, that we shut out any guidance or direction from the Holy Spirit along the way.  On the other side, the lack of planning can leave us in a place where we can’t follow the Holy Spirit, due to a lack of resources, time, energy or ability.

For the people who are planners, be careful to allow the flexibility in your plans to make adjustments should the Holy Spirit lead in a different direction.  For the people who are non-planners, be careful to keep yourself with the resources where you can follow the Holy Spirit.

 

Not Waiting

Next time I decide to write a blog about waiting, I’ll certainly take a few minutes to reconsider.  Yesterday morning, I wrote this lovely blog about the benefits of waiting.  Little did I know that I’d be waiting for three hours for a delayed flight.  Yesterday, I was forced to live in the “benefits” about which I wrote – easier said than done.

Sometimes we have “go seasons” where the waiting is over.  These seasons can also be tricky to navigate for various reasons:

  • we’ve adjusted to “waiting” so “going” kind of upsets the applecart,
  • going can mean shifting into something unknown & for some folk that’s scary,
  • going requires more energy than waiting

Let’s be careful that we don’t use the idea of waiting as an excuse for procrastinating.  Let’s be careful that we don’t let fear keep us stalled in a waiting mode.  Let’s be careful that we don’t use waiting as a justification for being disobedient to something God has told us to do.

There are waiting seasons & there are going seasons.  The key thing is to stay in step with the Holy Spirit in every moment!

Toss the anchor

  
Anchors help keep a boat steady & locked down. They’re helpful when there’s a need for stability & immobility. On the flip side, anchors don’t let a boat do what it’s designed to do – float & move. There are times & places for anchors but not if there’s a need for freedom & movement. 

Sometimes we might have anchors in our lives that restrict us from flowing & staying in synch with the Holy Spirit. Some of these impeding anchors might include:

  • fear: maybe we’re scared of what might happen or afraid of failing or making a mistake
  • routine: if our routines become ruts, then were merely living in a grave with the ends kicked out!  May our routines facilitate walking with the Holy Spirit 🙂
  • unbelief:  sometimes we can have a very serious problem if our intellect undermines rather than supports faith
  • people: I’m a firm believer that people are important & let’s be keenly aware of the influences we let people have in our lives

Let’s keep ourselves anchored into a tandem lifestyle with the Holy Spirit 🙂

Changing Plans

  

Ever make plans only to see everything hit the fan & splatter in messy chaos? This is why I’m eating spicy pizza at the Los Angeles airport at 10:15am – not exactly what I’d planned for this moment. Nevertheless, the pizza is fantastic & I had a very lovely chat with Giovanni who made my pizza. He’s born & raised in LA but would like to travel & experience a wider cross section of cultures. 
Anyways, my point is that in the middle of changing plans & with uncertainly aplenty, let’s be sure that we hold more tightly to God than our plans, trusting that God works all things together for our good, as we stay in love with God & surrendered to His purposes & will 😉

Please be sure to stay tuned to my blog – I’m doing some really fun travel in the next week with Saving Moses & I want you to come with me so we can have fun together on this adventure! Remember as well that you can easily subscribe to my blog – some kind of button things in the right & it’s easy ,)

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 🙂

Comfy, Cozy & Upended

We all gravitate to what is comfortable to us, often at the expense of trusting & depending on God – pause & think about what that means in your life. 

For me, this means that I enjoy experiencing God in a sunrise, hearing the whispers of God’s voice in the Bible alluring me to come closer & losing my self in experiencing God on a snowboard or walking among prostitutes in a red light district in Asia. What isn’t comfortable for me is being intermingled with hyper extroverts, amped up on caffeine & red bull. It also stresses me out to have innumerable “weather conversations” without some deeper anchors & topics that get my feet in the dirt with substance & authenticity. 

Even though I like a conversation that’s earthy & grounded, often when I want to walk closer with Jesus, I have to leave the ground & boat, joining Jesus on the water – away from whats comfortable & cozy in my natural leaning. 
When we walk with Jesus, it’s not always where we are most comfy & cozy but rather upended & transformed. Let’s keep walking, even when it’s on the water, as long as it’s with Jesus 🙂

Blessed are the flexible

Ok I’m totally adapting from Jesus’ beatitudes so don’t think I’ve suddenly become a heretic – I just think there’s a boatload of value in staying flexible. I think it’s important to be flexi in lots of ways: time, our talents & how we use them, relationships, various foods & even how we use our money. Being flexible is easier in life than rigidity & the unavoidable breaking that goes with being inflexible.
Some things, however, aren’t up for the agility treatment, things like Jesus staying number 1, loving well, forgiving proficiently & keeping a generous heart – all of these are deep pier non/negotiables
So how to stay flexi? Here are a few ideas:
*be up to try new things (foods, experiences, meeting new people, reading different books, etc) without a negative predisposition
*think of mistakes & failures as practice rather than options to quit
*consider some ways that you could do things a little different than what’s common or normal (fasting, come to Cambodia with Saving Moses this July, volunteer in a way that you can’t be repaid)
This picture is my breakfast 🙂

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Shake It Up Baby, Twist & Shout!

Just when we think we have everything planned & locked into place, God will often shake it up baby, causing us to twist & shout, sometimes in glee & sometimes with pout. It seems to me that human planning is the place God starts for divine upheaval. This makes me really appreciate when Isaiah says in 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.”
Let’s be mindful to keep a tighter grip on God more than our plans 🙂

hot topic: laughter

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

the shortest distance

We’ve all heard the geometry postulate that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  With this premise, it’s logical to think about the things that we want & make a direct beeline toward these desires.  For example, if I want to serve a salad for dinner, I need lettuce, so I go to the grocery store to get the lettuce so I can make the salad.  Done.

It seems to me that having a close walk with God is an interesting adventure that doesn’t always seem to follow the same “straight line” thinking.  It seems to me that  being close to God is a daily journey that takes some unexpected twists and turns.  Growing close to God isn’t always a straight line journey – so let’s be open to how God leads us to be closer & closer to God day by day.

surprise, surprise!

My dad hated surprises – particularly bad surprises, but he wasn’t too keen on good ones either. I learned very quickly that I needed to give him lots of forewarning to avoid the “surprise fallout.”  I also learned from his reactions that not everyone thinks that surprises are fun.  Indeed, some people completely hate surprises, which can be kind of tricky to navigate when raising children (who are FULL of surpises).  So here are some helpful thoughts about surprises:

  • no “surprise” catches God off-guard, since God is all-knowing
  • since God is all-knowing, we get to trust that God’s plans are always better than anything we could consider
  • it seems to me that staying calm is a good way to navigate surprises for the best outcomes
  • despite our best efforts, there is always the unexpected in our lives so it’s better to be flexible than resistant 🙂
  • it always helps me to remember that God is sovereign & nothing makes God jittery!

Don’t forget to stay in touch with Saving Moses over the next month for some GREAT SURPRISES!!!

my dad & change

I was eating a really tasty homegrown tomato this morning & it reminded me of my dad, who totally loved tomatoes!  One year, I remember he planted more than 100 tomato plants, hoping for a bumper crop!!  Some things never changed with my dad:  strong coffee with cream & sugar, loving people, finding a priceless treasure for cheap, homegrown tomatoes & lots more.  As my dad aged, he seemed to appreciate change less and less.  That’s the tricky part – life is all about change:  our bodies change, the government changes, we have to change cars, sometimes our clothes stop fitting & LOTS more!

But here are some things that NEVER, EVER, EVER change:

  • God’s love for you never increases or decreases – it’s continual & consistent
  • time – it doesn’t stop nor slow down no matter how our perceptions change
  • the need that humanity has for God – humans always need genuine love, full stop

That’s different

When I find something I like, I tend to keep going back for more of the same & my weakness can be that I don’t try new things. But from having lots of different travel experiences, I’m forced to try new things & more often than not, I LOVE it, as long as I don’t self-sabotage by comparing the new thing to what I’ve known or expected. I find this to be true with God as well – there are many times when I want God to something like the past or I had these expectations & then God does something different. And here’s the way cool part of that – God always does WAY BETTER than what I think of expect, but I just need to be open to different. Lets remember that God’s ways & thoughts are higher than our ways & thoughts 🙂

fight or flex

The last few days have had some interesting experiences for me, some of which have been totally amazing and others which have been abyssmal.  Adding to this adventure, I thought I was supposed to fly to Houston for the day to do some work with Saving Moses.  When I arrived at the airport this morning at 5:45a, I discovered that I was a week early (my flight is next week).  Needless to say, my husband was surprised to see me again before 7am 🙂

All of this is to say that it seems to me that it takes less energy to be flexible than to resist change.  While I may not be liking everything that’s happening in my world in this season, I can totally rest in knowing that God is in control and I can trust God to create beyond AMAZING results as I continue to love God and stay true to the divine purposes for which I’m created – Rom 8:28-29.  So I’m chosing to be flexible 🙂

New Seasons

This Summer has been a really wonderful time with my family & enjoying some fun activities & great relationships. Its been interesting trying to balance & juggle the various schedules, events & priorities – sometimes more successfully than others. Nevertheless, it seems to me that life has different seasons & these seasons help us with our flexibility & working through changes. What I think is super important to keep in the various seasons through which we go are some hints that never change:
*God always loves you because God is love
*you won’t be proficient in everything in your life – that’s God’s job & not ours ,)
*change is more constant in our lives than non-change
*we always need God in our lives 🙂

balancing important priorities

  I get asked the question alot about balancing family, travel, ministry, church, work, etc. and I think its a GREAT question that I also frequently ask.  I’m comfortable to share my thoughts on the balance topic, with the foundational understanding that I don’t see myself in any way as an expert on the subject, nor would I even pretend to be all-knowing on this really important question.  With that being said, here are some of my thoughts:

  • for me, balance is often a moment by moment & decision by decision activity
  • being flexible is essential for balance
  • focusing on what is most essential helps me to keep my balance
  • balance sometimes means that I have to re-shuffle schedules, plans & activities (with this re-shuffling, its important not to get cranky about a change of plans)
  • for me, margin is essential for balance – when I fill time & energy to the maximum, I find it hard to concentrate & make good choices
  • balance requires wisdom – a gift that God gives to us when we ask Him with faith

Balance – a very good goal that requires agility, wisdom & nimble choices 🙂