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!

Let’s Keep the Plot

“Go back to sleep!” I can imagine Eli’s impatience with Samuel in the middle of the night when the little guy kept waking up Eli. “You called & I’m here!”

It’s easy to be critical of Eli, observing that he was the high priest & should’ve recognized the Lord calling Samuel much sooner than he did. But Eli didn’t & I think that sometimes we can all be a little bit like Eli.
I wholly believe that God continually beckons us to converse, observe & engage with the Trinity but we miss the plot, ignore the invitation & dismiss the coincidence.
Let’s train ourselves to be more sensitive & attentive to that still small voice & those ever so sweet & alluring invitations throughout this day!
“Speak Lord, Your servants listens!”

How to Improve

I have a child who is in the process of a vertical learning curve related to blame or responsibility. This is a nice way to say that blaming other people facilitates irresponsibility & this is no bueno.
These conversations challenge me to look at areas in my life where I might be blaming people & not taking responsibility for my actions, words & attitudes.
I’m seeing with stark clarity that the attempts to blame others limits my ability to grow & improve.
Are there places in your life where you seem quagmired? Is it possible that you might need to think about being proactive & taking responsibility for the things you can change?
Let’s be sure that we let the Holy Spirit speak truth into our hearts so that we don’t deceive ourselves, limiting how much we grow & improve.

Asking Questions

Questions express curiosity & questions are the starting point for learning. Indeed, were taught in basic English classes about the five main questions we should answer: who, what, where, when & why. As we age, however, I think that sometimes our curious edge wanes & gets stifled. Maybe we erroneously think we know more than we do so we stop asking questions. Maybe we received too many bad answers so we learned the dangerous lesson to stop asking questions. Maybe we haven’t received answers to some questions we deem important. Maybe we’ve been taught that questions are disrespectful or intrusive

Let’s be careful when we stop asking questions. Indeed, I think that part of why we exist is to learn about the intimate relationship that’s available to us with our Heavenly Father through Jesus. Let’s also remember that learning isn’t merely a cerebral activity, but when it comes to a deep abiding relationship with God, learning exceeds our mental limits & frailties. Let’s be lifelong learners as we grow daily in our intimacy with the Trinity!

Getting Better

I was recently ministering at a seriously great women’s retreat & one of the ladies confronted me after one of my messages. She challenged me about a story I told about Gladys, a church lady from my childhood. In my story, I treated Gladys with disrespect & made her an example for mocking & scorn. The chick who confronted me was totally on the money – she was gentle, firm & biblical. At first, I tried to deflect her attempts to correct me, but I knew she was right.

That afternoon, I took some time to write & pray, asking God to forgive me & help me to love better.
Regardless of how a person behaves, genuine love doesn’t qualify the recipient. Just because it’s easy for me to love some rough people doesn’t give me a pass to be unloving with cranky peeps 🙂

Grace for Dingbats

Sometimes I’m smart, but more times I’m a dingbat. I forget stuff, don’t pay attention well, I’m insensitive & definitely say dumb stuff from time to time. But I deeply appreciate God’s grace. 
Indeed, God’s face redeems my dingbat & makes it into something good & helpful! When I try to camouflage my dingbat actions, it usually backfires & makes things worse. So i figures that I have a divine treasure in this earthen vessel (2Cor 4;7), being conformed to the image of Jesus through God’s grace & the redeeming help of the Holy Spirit!

Try It!!

One of the things from my parents that I deeply cherish, is the “try it!” attitude. So when I was growing up, I tried heaps of stuff: lacrosse, blue corn tortillas, clarinet, softball, Perry Mason tv mysteries, eating crawdads, swimming in canals, classical music, basketball, viola & loads more! Of course I wasn’t proficient in most of these things but my parents were always super encouraging, even when I miserably flopped. So to this day, I’m a “try it” kind of person & I love this mindset!
Indeed, I’d rather try & fail, then not try & succeed at not trying. Peter was like this with Jesus when he walked on the water. He tried it & had some failure, but it seems to me that he was the first human water walker just because he tried!

Internal Balance

At the end of the last ski season, I had a really bad fall, sustained a concussion & have had subsequent balance problems. I’m doing some ongoing therapy so it’s getting better, but this makes me think about injuries in new ways. 
I think that we can get hurt in various ways, like from a bad experience in a church, a hurtful conversation with our mate or friend, a bad interaction with a teacher & lots more. From these injuries, our internal balance can get misaligned & we may have some unhealthy ways to compensate for that imbalance. 

An external imbalance often indicates an internal injury. 

This is another reason we so desperately need the Holy Spirit, our Heavenly Help, to bring healing into our souls so we can keep a healthy balance in our lives. Be sure to read my book Heavenly Help to have a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit!

What Are You Saying??

Yesterday, I listened to one of my kids rant about their school, the wicked teachers, awful students & deplorable work. I don’t mind listening and sometimes I’m good at listening, which is good because my kid needed a listening ear. After about 30-45min of this content, I felt it was time for some objectivity so we had an interesting chat. I applauded their willingness to acknowledge a few of their shortfalls, but I also pointed out that from this child’s perspective, the lion’s share of the problems belonged to everyone else. This kind of thinking was allowing my kid to frame themselves as the victim & that’s no bueno. Being a victim often leaves us powerless & inert, wallowing in self pity. Seems to me that this kind of thinking runs contrary to how God has designed us, back in the Garden of Eden with power & dominion.

At the minimum, we have authority & power over our attitude & the choices we make about our perspective. Let’s be careful about how we think because our thoughts affect our words, attitudes & actions!

Improving!!!!

GUESS WHAT?!?!??? I’m improving – in LOTS of ways & my blog is one of those areas 🙂  Just to keep you posted, over the weekend we’re doing some technical upgrades to make it easier for you to interact with me through the blog as well as sharing stuff & other fun upgrades.  The only catch is that you’ll need to resubscribe on Monday – should be super easy & lots more friendly 🙂

I think life should be about continually improving so of course I haven to look at how I can make this blog better along with lots of other areas in my life as well!  So please don’t forget to resubscribe on Monday 🙂

Thanks boatloads for reading this 🙂

Balance is So Overrated


Or not! At the end of last ski season, I was ripping a run down the mountain, accidentally flipped, landed on my head & got a concussion. The months since this event have been an “adventure” that I wouldn’t recommend. One of the challenges from this adventure is some balance issues & thankfully, this is getting better.
Seems like we don’t recognize problems with balance until we get out of balance. And if we are honest with ourselves, we tend to go for the extremes rather than cultivate moderation.

Balance is essential in the entirety of our lives. We need balance in how we manage our time, balance with our eating & exercise disciplines, balance in our relationships & solitude, balance between the Word & the Spirit, . . . .

Balance is good & necessary to mature into the people God has made us to be 🙂

Extra & More!

This morning I overslept so I missed my normal Bible prayer time. Sometimes this makes me cranky & my already shady social skills deteriorate.  On these occasions, I try to keep a wide space from people to minimize the offense potential. 
But this morning, I tried a different strategy. Rather than withdraw & be sullen, I decided to attend a moms prayer meeting that I’d never been to before. It was a 50/50 role of the dice & it turned out A-MAZING!! Despite not feeling like it, I went the extra mile & received way MORE than I anticipated. 

Seems like this kind of lines up with what Jesus says about going the extra mile & giving with generosity, no matter how we feel. Let’s lean into the Holy Spirit to help us go the extra mile today 🙂

Gravity & Granite

We recently had some work done on our kitchen that included replacing the countertops with granite. While the granite is very beautiful, it’s SUPER heavy. Imagine the shock when it started to become unglued & fall off the support wall! Thankfully, no one was hurt but it brought to light some interesting thoughts. The glue wasn’t strong enough to keep the granite attached, so we not only re-glued the granite but now we’re also installing corbels (a fancy architectural term for bracket). 
For me, I see this granite adventure kind of like the Holy Spirit working in my daily living. Not only do I need the Holy Spirit to keep me glued together, but I need all of the Holy Spirit support that’s possible to keep me in a functional mindset & to prevent me from falling apart. My flesh is like gravity – pulls me to the lowest level possible. The Holy Spirit keeps me upright, living in truth & holds me together 🙂

Anti-Clone

In Romans 12, Paul tells us not to be conformed to the world but rather transformed by renewing our minds. I really like this verse because I’m not very good at conforming, or so I think. I want to think that I march to the heartbeat of the Holy Spirit & that my decisions are grounded in the love of God. But the key to these goals is living from a transformed mind. Indeed, our thoughts are the battlefield for what comes out of our mouths & the decisions we make with our time, money & energy. 
Being conformed to the world around us isn’t nearly as important as being transformed by Holy Spirit’s presence within us!  

Some questions to consider over this holiday weekend:

  • In what ways have you possibly cloned to the world around you?
  • In what ways do your thoughts need to be transformed?
  • How can we better allow God’s love to influence our decisions, conversations & mindset?

Get Better!

I like to improve in whatever I do. So when I was learning to snowboard, I took lessons to get better. When I was cooking skewers, I wanted my veggies to be as tasty as the meat, so I learned to marinate the veggies & not just the meat. I think life should be an ongoing improvement process & that can be fun!  
And sometimes not. 

Sometimes the process for improving includes correction & that’s a tricky path to navigate. It can be difficult for lots of reasons, but how we receive correction is an essential ingredient for growing & improvement. Here are a few helpful ideas about receiving correction

  • Choose to see the input as an investment rather than a put down
  • Don’t deflect correction – process it & get the best out of it
  • Change – correction without change is wasted energy

Pass on the Poison

Sometimes my thoughts are poisonous. For example, I’m currently writing a book & from time to time I think that what I’m writing is a garbled mess & worthless. There are times when I get in a group of people & I get frozen with insecurity. Occasionally, fear creeps around my thoughts leaving little whispers of doubt. 
All of these things are poison. If I let these thoughts run lose in my mind, I turn into a shriveled little person, ineffective & irrelevant. 

I would speculate that you might have your own versions of poisonous thoughts so let’s help each other out & agree to pass on the poison. How can we do this? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take captive every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God – refuse to let these poisonous thoughts run amuck in your mind
  • Replace the poison with probiotic verses – Gods word is alive & effective so let’s allow it to firmly root & flourish in our thoughts!
  • Take a walk – sometimes it helps to clear the cobwebs when we get some physical exercise. 

No matter what, let’s actively choose to pass on the poison!

Fat or Phat?

Seems like we prefer skinny to fat, but there’s some good value to considering “phat”, in the sense of Jehoshaphat the King of Judah in 1 Kings. I like this king because he’s flawed but he keeps trying. He also seems to make some really stupid decisions & God still keeps him regardless of his stupidity. 
For example, Jehoshaphat really tried to reconcile with his counterpart, Ahab, a godless king of the northern kingdom. You might recognize Ahab as Jezebel’s husband & she was the epitome of wicked, full stop. Back to Jehoshaphat, there was a battle that Jehoshaphat & Ahab fought together but Ahab disguised himself as a common soldier & Jehoshaphat stayed attired in his kingly garb – seems stupid to me. Nonetheless, Ahab was randomly shot in the battle & died but Jehoshaphat survived. 

After reading about this battle in my Bible time this morning, I was encouraged that God helps me even when I make stupid decisions. It’s ok to be phat, learn & make new mistakes! Happy phat Monday ,)

Being Offended

There’s enough content to talk about offenses for endless years and I’m sure I couldeasily describe various situations & people who have offended us. Seems to me that being offended isn’t as much an issue as getting over an offense. Here are some ideas that might help:

  • Quit thinking about ways to get even or pay them back – the revenge thing lays squarely in God’s portfolio
  • Stop talking about it – prayer groups, venting & rehearsing merely fester the wound rather closing it to infection & poison
  • Pray for the person who offended you – private prayers that God would help you to forgive & that God would bless the offending person seem to be healing balm
  • Decide to be a proficient forgiver more than a bitter hater

Like Elsa says in Frozen, “Let it go!”  

Win the Race!!!

I’m a very competitive person and that can be really bad.  For example, I used to play in our church’s an annual flag football tournament.  After a few years, I decided to remove myself from playing because I couldn’t find a way to compete with a friendly demeanor.  So when Paul says in 1 Cor 9:24, “. . . , run in such as way as to win the prize, ” I would use this phrase to justify my poor behavior.  Of course I took the verse out of context and this verse can often be misappropriated & rationalized to accommodate personal success rather than transformed redemption.  But as followers of Jesus, winning the prize doesn’t align with the world’s definition of victory & success.  Indeed, consider the recent Olympic illustration of “winning the prize”:  running to win

Let’s enedeavor to be successful by the definition of following Jesus rather than letting our flesh or the world define success for us!

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.