The Right No

We learn to say “no” at an early age often pigeonholed as the “terrible two’s”. While learning to say “no” is an important stage in our development, I think what’s even more important is the proper wisdom & discernment to use this word.

For example, saying an internal “no” to replying with a snarky comment to a rude flight attendant is good wisdom. Or saying no to the couch as an alternative to getting some daily exercise is also sound wisdom.
On the flip side, let’s make sure that our instinctive answer to anything the Holy Spirit ask of us is resoundingly YES!!

Going Opposite

Being rebellious usually gets the thumbs down reaction from the Christian crowd. We tend to find those verses that talk about being respectful, obedient & compliant & there are heaps of Bible verses to support this mindset.

However, being a person who finds herself sometimes at odds with many societal norms, let me highlight some ways that Jesus went the opposite of the culture & society of His day.

  • Unexpected: Jesus didn’t cater to what people expected from Him. Consider in His first miracle that He told His mom to “chill out” (my slang for “Woman, My time is not yet come”)
  • Forgiveness: when all the religious leaders of His day wanted Jesus to condemn the woman caught in adultery, Jesus forgave her & the intolerance / judgment evaporated
  • Genuine Love: one of my favorite quotes from Jesus: “He who has been forgiven much, loves much; but he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
  • Miracles: Jesus defied conventional thinking by frequently doing miracles: multiplying food, cleansing lepers, restoring promiscuous women, healing the unclean & driving out demonic forces, just to name a few.

If we are followers of Jesus, then we must go the opposite of our flesh, religious intolerance, demonic influences & cultural trends. Most of all, let’s personify genuine love because of the Holy Spirit working in our mindsets, conversations & actions!

Getting Strong

“Time to get up,” I whispered gently to my very tired daughter this morning. Mornings tend to be a weakspot for her. So helping her to get moving & be strong in the morning is an ongoing challenge.

With that said, strength is the antidote to weakness, so how we can be strong is important for all of us, no matter our age, situation or season in life. Here’s a good example for for getting strong: David

  • Friends help us to be strong: in 1 Sam 23:16, it says that Jonathon encouraged / strengthened David in the Lord. Let’s remember to encourage our friends & let them encourage us! This helps us to be strong:)
  • Strengthen ourselves: in 1 Sam 30:6, it says that David strengthened himself in the Lord. In this chapter, David was really squashed to the wall & very discouraged, but he chose to find his strength & encouragement in the Lord.

Let’s lean into the Holy Spirit to gain strength & be encouraged :)Getting

While You Wait

All of us have prayers that we are waiting for God to answer. Such prayers can be related to job, school application, health diagnosis, relationship challenges, kid stuff, finances, etc. It seems to me that waiting can be a problem for us, so here are a few ideas for your consideration, while you wait:

  • Take this opportunity to let your trust in God grow – Prov 22:19
  • Increase your prayer focus – Phil 4:6
  • Do little things to make progress – Gal 6:9

Let’s stay encouraged that God is answering our prayers!

I Want MORE!!!!

Friday, I had a glorious day of snowboarding!! The sun was out, snow was good, runs were empty & there was no wind. Needless to say, I could’ve ridden for endless hours & enjoyed a unique bliss that’s not easily acquired. But alas, I stopped when I could’ve gone for heaps more.
I think it’s very human to want more – more dessert, more sleep, more success, more adrenaline, more chocolate, more vacation, etc. But alas, there’s such a thing as overdose & it’s not just for drugs. We would be wise to quit while we still want more. This principle is a healthy guideline across the entirety of our lives with one exception: Jesus.
We are designed to crave our Creator & our lives will remain unsatisfied until we appreciate that ultimately, we’re only fulfilled through a rich, vibrant & continuous relationship with Jesus!

Help All the Time

Recently, a friend was telling me about a new project assigned to her & she was not just a little intimidated! She kept telling me that she didn’t feel adequate nor capable to do this project. As I listened, I felt really bad for my friend because she didn’t seem to think that she could ask God to help her.

While I’m concerned for my friend, I’m also encouraged with myself for this default reaction to ask for Help. The fact that I would instinctively ask the Holy Spirit to help me is really positive progress for me, a former independence junkie, hopefully.
As I write this, I’m asking for the Holy Spirit to help me almost minute by minute today, as this particular day is unusually jammed with responsibilities, important events & a plethora of diverse needs. Feel free to ask for divine Help throughout your day as well, no matter what’s happening or not!

The Best

I like getting better, growing & improving. When I was growing up, we had a trampoline & for a season, I was thoroughly committed to getting really good on the trampoline, with various tricks & flips. The principle remains true for me to this day, with always trying to get better. But alas, the Holy Spirit spoke with me to pause on my improvement plan because of this principle: God’s ways & thoughts can’t be improved.
So we would be wise to chase God’s plans, ways & thoughts because they are the BEST!!! Isaiah 55:8-9 🙂

Liking Time

It seems to me that most of us don’t like time, maybe because we don’t seem to have enough of it, or we resent the pressure it applies. When I was a kid, I didn’t like time because it seems like an eternity – now it often seems scarce.

Perhaps for these reasons & loads more, God told us to keep a Sabbath, the day of rest & refrain from work. I think that if we don’t structure our energies, resources & time to conform to God’s imperatives, we harm & even break ourselves from misusing & abusing God’s provisions.
Today, I have a pause & I find myself being not just relaxed but maybe more importantly refreshed in this space & time to exhale. Furthermore, the pause let’s me give some undistracted focus to being with God & there’s nothing my soul craves more than this intimacy with my Creator.
Let’s be grateful for time, by using it according to God’s instructions.

Make Mistakes

Perfect is for heaven & practice is for earth. I’m the poster child for making mistakes, stubbing my toe & failing. I’m ok with that because I can hopefully encourage others to try, learn, grow & improve.

We get ourselves in a dangerous place when we quit or stop trying. Here are some things that could help you to keep trying:

  • Learn – what’s the last thing you learned, besides various facts? What skill are you learning?
  • Grow – sometimes it hurts to grow & this can be associated with growing pains. But growing means something is alive!
  • Step – a step is progress, even if it’s small 🙂

Reinforce the Good

“I killed a lion & a bear, so this uncircumcised Philistine will be like them!” These were the words David to answer Saul’s uncertainty about David killing Goliath. While I appreciate that it’s very dangerous to live in a state of denial, it’s also essential to keep our focus on faith & not fear or doubt. We absolutely have challenges & struggles that have varying degrees of intensity & stress.

Let’s be careful, however, that we continue to reinforce the good things so we don’t get overwhelmed by giants, problems & pressure.
Here are some ideas that could help to reinforce the good:

  • Keep some encouraging Bible verses handy to review
  • Pay attention to negative stuff that could be tainting your thoughts (tv, social media, music, etc)
  • Encourage your friends & let them encourage you
  • Pray instead of complain

Feel free to share this with your friends / family!

Don’t Speak

I’ve tried a few times today to write this blog & found myself relatively speechless – an unusual experience for sure ,)
Obviously, something happened because I’m writing now. Actually, nothing happened, except that I remembered Job’s friends. Whenever I read this book, I’m not just a little disappointed or pt off with his buddies. Their words seem harsh, condemning & altogether insensitive. Indeed, the last verse of Job 2 seems to be the high point of their contribution to consoling Job. In this verse it says, “Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.”
Sometimes the best thing we can do for a friend who is suffering is just to quietly be present with them. Sometimes our words can be unhelpful, particularly when we don’t know what to say. Sometimes, silence is golden 🙂

Strength or Weakness?

In the past, I’ve taken lots of pride in being a highly independent person.  As any wise person knows, pride goes before a fall, both literally & metaphorically.  So when I’ve thought that being independent was a strength, I’m growing to appreciate that it can also be a weakness.  I’m learning that independence becomes a weakness when I separate myself from people, when I don’t ask for help, when I don’t allow others to contribute in teamwork and improvements.  Unfortunately, I’ve had to fall down, fail and face inadequacy to accept the reality that my independence isn’t a strength as much as it can be a weakness for me.

I’m being vulnerable with this lesson because there’s a good chance that you might have a few things that you consider to be strengths.  It’s possible that these perceived strengths could be weaknesses for you, maybe.  Consider some examples:

  • Is external beauty a strength at the expense of cultivating interior beauty?  Of course these don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but it’s a good question to consider in both ways of interior & exterior beauty.
  • Is dependence a strength when cultivating one’s internal fortitude is dismissed?
  • Is discipline a strength when it accentuates achievement at the expense of intimacy or people connection?
  • Is Bible knowledge or proper theology a strength without God’s love to soften our words, actions and attitudes?

Sometimes we can lean on our strengths so much that they can become weaknesses without realizing it!  Let’s keep Paul’s words about boasting in weakness from 2 Corinthians 11:30 as a central theme in our daily living!  “If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.”

Same But Different

“You’re not going to North Korea are you?” I was driving my kids to school this morning & made a phone call to another ministry about some cool opportunities in North Korea. My kids immediately asked this question when I hung up & I assured them that I’m not going there this year. But it still sounds like an incredible opportunity to me!

Alas, not everyone thinks like I do & that’s altogether fantastic! Seems to me that God has uniquely created us for distinct purposes & designs. Some people are attracted to stable, predictable & familiar. Some folk have a little wanderlust in their souls. Some of us are pioneers & more than a little maverick-y. But each follower of Jesus has valid contributions to make to His kingdom!
Just because I’m different than you doesn’t make me superior or inferior any more than you are superior or inferior to me! Let’s remember that we are essential parts of one Body & we desperately need each other to fulfill our unique & divine purposes! I’m celebrating you today!!

Do You Have Enough?

Commercials on tv & the web make it seem like we never have enough. From these marketing efforts, it seems like we don’t have enough status, popularity, image, health, time, etc. I think we often believe these distortions, even subconsciously, or such marketers would try different tactics. But their sales efforts don’t really satisfy that “enough” chasm in our souls.

So what makes us full? What satisfies? What truly fulfills us?

I don’t think anyone or anything will ultimately satisfy us because of how we are created by God. Indeed, it’s been my experience that I’m the most fulfilled & richly satisfied when I’m attentive to the Holy Spirit. And being aware that the Holy Spirit is always with me let’s me live in a healthy equanimity that nothing human can provide. The Holy Spirit is enough for me.

Way Better!!

My husband & I use different routes for driving our kids to their various activities. Normally, I think my way is better: faster, less traffic, etc. Today, I see that I’m wrong. The route he uses is far superior to my way & I could’ve learned this much sooner had I not been so obstinate.

This seems to ring true between the Holy Spirit & me as well. How many times have I stayed glued to my methods & plans only to learn the hard way that the Holy Spirit always has better ways than me. Let’s live in the reality of Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
God’s ways are always the upgrade!!

Broken Trust

Everyone has experienced the pain that comes from broken trust – it’s the pits. I’ve been reading about King David in 2Samuel & how he was betrayed by his son, Absalom. On top of Davids son breaking his trust, Davids main counselor, Ahithophel defected to Absalom to advise him – a double whammy.

So what to do with broken trust?
Some key takeaways would be:

  • Forgiveness – this is a non-negotiable
  • Destination – don’t get quagmired in the pain, look forward & keep going; David didn’t hang around to wallow in the betrayal
  • Friendships – just because someone betrays be careful that you don’t pull away from everyone; David’s friend Hushai was essential to helping David stay alive!

Not Safe

It’s 3:45am & I’m in Bangledesh. Just when I thought I was safe to take out my ear plugs, the prayer call thing started up again. Maybe tonight is a special occasion for some city-wide prayer meeting via the Goliath loudspeakers blaring outside my window.

It’s one thing to struggle with changing time zones & getting decent sleep with the blaring city-wide prayer call. It’s another thing to think about the babies & toddlers I met yesterday whose moms work in the largest brothel in Bangledesh. When I asked these moms about where they keep their babies when they work, 7/10 said that their babies & toddlers are on the bed with them as they work because these moms have no other option for their babies. And many of these are at risk from being abused by their moms clients.

So these babies & toddlers are NOT SAFE. Enter nightcare with Saving Moses. In nightcare, we provide a safe place for the babies & toddlers of sex workers to sleep while their moms work. We have been doing nightcare in Cambodia for almost 5 years & I’m super keen / eager to open nightcare here in Bangledesh.

The moms of these babies desperately want to keep their babies safe so they’d can keep a “fresh mind.” This was a quote from one of the moms I interviewed. It unraveled me.

Liability or Strength?

What are your strengths?  Do you ever feel like your strengths are also your greatest liabilities?

I have a friend who says that I fire & then aim, or I leap & then look.  It’s true.  I tend to jump in with both feet & then cry about what I’ve gotten myself into.  I admire the people who are more methodical and take things a step at a time & I’ve sincerely tried to do this better.  But alas, I’m still learning, still.

In my thinking, this “all in” mindset has been a significant liability for me & I’ve berated myself repeatedly about not learning from my mistakes.  Except last night, I had a wonderful epiphany.

This “all in” strategy serves me really well in walking with God because I’m not half-hearted & I’m quick to turn up the heat if I feel like I’m being luke warm.

All of us are fearfully & wonderfully made!  We have definite strengths & with God’s help, the downside of these strength can be continually worked on so that we grow!   The enemy of our soul would have us minimize the gifts that God has given us, causing us to be less than the full person of God’s design!

Let’s be thankful that God made us with such careful & creative design, while remaining committed to the continual pruning and sculpting the Holy Spirit does with us every day!  You are AWESOME!

#heavenlyhelpmoment

2am Ladder

I was climbing up a ladder at 2am today, attempting to replace the dying battery on the blasted chirping smoke alarm. Needless to say, this wasn’t my ideal middle of the night wake up experience & for that matter, I don’t think there’s any ideal middle of the night wake up experience!

  • So how do I relate this to Jesus?
  • Jesus keeps us safe in unexpected situations – I don’t normally plan for ladder climbing & balance at 2am
  • Jesus gives us wisdom when we can’t figure out what to do – groggy thinking at 2am
  • Jesus restores us when we feel depleted – getting back to sleep wasn’t impossible

I love that Jesus does ladders with me at 2am!

Watching Jesus

I love this picture because it has several helpful applications for us in the homestretch of the Christmas festivities.

  • Look for Jesus: it’s easy to get lost in the activities, demands, busy-ness of this season. Let’s endeavor to keep watching for Jesus!
  • Time with Jesus: there’s no substitute for quality time with Jesus, at night, in the morning, in the car, on the commute, etc. let’s prioritize time with Jesus even when it’s crazy busy!
  • Jesus’ time: I’m learning that Jesus sees & uses time different than how I do time. We would be wise to trust Jesus with timing, events, seasons, progress, sequence & steps