The Lethal Hangnail

“The devil would kill ya with a hangnail if he could!” My dad had lots of fun quotes like this. From my childhood, I remember people laughing at this quote & I smiled like I understood, but I didn’t get it. Now that I have some life tread under my belt, I get it.

The enemy of your soul is out to rattle your cage, poison your thinking & sideline you with anything possible, even a hangnail.
Don’t let him – full stop.
Some helpful pointers:

  • Keep your eyes in Jesus.
  • Don’t quit.
  • Keep loving wholly.
  • Pray intensely.
  • Feed yourself the Bible everyday.
  • Chose faith & reject doubt.

Never forget that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!

Not LISTENING!!!

“I most certainly don’t want to hear THAT!” One of my kids said this to me a few days ago about a character flaw. We all have things that we don’t like or want to hear, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t need to hear these things.

Over the course of many years, I’ve had all kinds of feedback & input, some of which wasn’t kindly given & some of which was somewhere north of Jupiter, utter nonsense. However, I’m learning that negative feedback can often be more helpful than positive feedback, even when it’s given poorly or with unkind motives. We would be wise to remember that because our Heavenly Father loves us, He corrects & trains us not to be hurtful but rather to help us walk in the fullness of His design for us!
Remember Hebrews 12:5-6, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.‚ÄĚ

When Pain Is Good

My physical therapist stretches my shoulder & that’s a nice way to say that she hurts me & sometimes I don’t like her, like today. I even used the breathing exercises with my children being born to manage the therapy pain. 
  
But sometimes pain is good:

  • when it’s part of the path for improving & maturation 
  • some conversations are painful because they’re working through hot zones
  • sometimes it hurts to get healthy
  • pain can be the process through which something new & wonderful is birthed

Not all pain is bad in the grand scheme of things ūüôā

Getting Good Out of Pain

I don’t like pain & I don’t know anyone who does. When I think about pain, it brings to mind various times in my life:
*when my basketball team lost our final game when I was a Sr in high school

*friendships gone sour

*when I was learning to snowboard & got a concussion through my helmet

*hurtful words ripping into tender heart spots

*watching one of my kids getting hurt
So how can we get some good out of pain? Here are a few ideas:

*pain is good because it tells us that something is wrong – consider how much more injury happens when you can’t feel something

*growing pains – sometimes it hurts to learn but it’s far more painful to remain ignorant

*sometimes pain develops strength, perseverance & character: these are benefits that yield more dividends than the investments 

*pain is destructive when we quagmire, ruminate & stagnant in it; 

*look up, look ahead & keep going if you want to get some good stuff out of pain!

compensate

I’m coming to appreciate what it means to compensate¬†from dislocating my shoulder in early January. ¬†When I injured my shoulder, I tore off some of the cartiledge from the bone so my shoulder muscles have been endeavoring to compensate and they’re getting very tired of doing extra duty for the last two months. ¬†It seems to me that we all try to compensate in various ways for things that we perceive as deficiencies, shortfalls and weaknesses. ¬†And here’s the honest truth: ¬†none of us are all of that & a bag of chips. ¬†We are all flawed, masterpieces in the making, rough cut & ragged on the inside & outside.

So rather than trying to compensate by amplifying our humanity, let’s lean into God, give up some control and trust that God is working in and on us, conforming us to the image of Jesus with the power & presence of the Holy Spirit ūüôā

Let’s stop compensating and surrender more ūüôā

hot topic: Mars Hill Church closing

Recently, the controversial pastor Mark Driscoll¬†resigned from being the lead pastor for Mars Hill Church in Seattle. ¬†Yesterday, the church announced that it was disbanding and dissolving all of its satellite campuses, giving each location freedom to chart it’s own path for the future. ¬†Being a pastor’s kid and having lived in church for most of my life, this announcement saddens me for various reasons:

  • as humans, we often fall into the trap of following people more than we follow Jesus
  • oftentimes¬†the people we think are leading us closer to Christ are made of the same flawed flesh in which we live and breath
  • we struggle with how to keep each other accountable without being judgmental, intolerant or divisive
  • we are susceptible to many internal deceptions that stroke our flesh and poison our passion for Jesus
  • somewhere it talks about striking the shepherd and scattering the sheep

So here’s my point: ¬†there are lots of hurt, confused and disillusioned people from all of this fallout with Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll, many of whom have followed Jesus because of Pastor Mark’s leadership and influence, as well as the communities that had formed around the satellite churches connected with Mars Hill. ¬†In 1Cor 12, Paul talks about the how the body of Christ functions together, diverse parts and pieces working together in complementary more than competitive ways, promoting Jesus in all ways and opportunities. ¬†In Galatians 6, Paul talks about how we should bear each other’s burdens, restoring, assisting and being part of Jesus’ redemptive work.

So as members of the body of Christ, let’s be devoted to pray for this situation and moreso for the people who may find themselves floundering from all of these changes. ¬†Let’s pray:

  • that the enemy does not make progress with this opportunity for strife, dissension and conflict
  • for the body of Christ that has been a part of the Mars Hill fellowship – let’s pray for their hearts
  • that God redeems this hardship and struggle

 

conflict resolution

A few of my kids went to school this morning after a heated conversation. ¬†Both had tears in their eyes & it rips me up as their mom to see this tension and strife. ¬†Which makes me wonder how God “feels” when we are yucky with each other. ¬†The truth is that any relationship worth it’s weight will have to work through conflict. ¬†So here are a few pointers to help with this challenge:

  • benefit of the doubt: ¬†assume the best rather than blame the worst
  • double standard: ¬†be mindful that you don’t just the other person by actions but ourselves by intentions
  • breathing space: ¬†sometimes a “cool down” can bring some clarity and options that aren’t available when we are in the heat of a conflict
  • be generous: ¬†seek to understand before being understood
  • forgive well: ¬†practice makes perfect
  • conclusion: ¬†sometimes the best outcome is to agree to disagree without being disagreeable ūüôā
  • pray

Happy Monday to you!

 

do you need help to forgive?

When I think about forgiveness, you don’t have to convince me that I need to forgive – I’m already on board with that. ¬†The tricky part for me is the actual¬†forgiving. ¬†Here are some tips that might help you:

  • forgiveness isn’t a feeling. ¬†Consider the Corrie Ten Boom quote, “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
  • forgiveness in the greek means “to let go or release”: ¬†when we forgive, we release the hurt, bitterness, judgment & pain
  • proficient forgiveness requires practice
  • forgiveness must be kept fresh – stale forgiveness can grow putrid in our emotions and thoughts
  • Here’s a cool & short video that could be helpful: ¬†forgiveness

help with rejection

“Eveybody likes you, Sarah!” ¬†That’s what my dad would always say when I’d come home from school, complaining that no one liked me. ¬†Now that I think about it, the truth is somewhere between the 2 extremes: ¬†everyone & no one. ¬†Rejection is tricky, but all of us have to manage it at various times & in varying degrees. ¬†Here are some thoughts that I hope you’ll find helpful:

reject-2

  • rejection is universal: ¬†everyone gets rejected at some point (some of those points are linear, connecting the dots & some are hops & skips)
  • being rejected isn’t as important as what you do with it
  • is there a reason for you being rejected? ¬†Do you need to make some adjustments?
  • forgiveness redeems rejection & transforms it to something of great value (consider Joseph & his brothers who sold him into slavery in Genesis)
  • God never rejects you – you are accepted among the beloved – Eph 1:6
  • In Jesus’ life, His crucifixion (the ultimate rejection) came immediately on the heels of Palm Sunday

honesty

I had an interesting conversation with a friend this morning who expressed some observations about me that could be kind of scratchy. ¬†If you’re like me, sometimes when I hear things about me that I don’t like, I want to blow it off & pretend that these things aren’t true. ¬†But just because we may not like certain things that we hear or see about ourselves doesn’t mean that they’re not true – in fact, sometimes the truth hurts, even if a person is trying to be gentle, kind & gracious.

So just because something hurts, does that give us the permission to ignore or lash back?  Nope.

When I step back & pause, what I really want in my life is for The Helper, aka Spirit of Truth, to be comfortable to speak with me and to engage in my daily living – even when it costs me some rough spots and scabs ūüôā

So here’s to listening, growing & learning, with band-aids, neosporin & Help ūüėÄ

Dealing with criticism

I haven’t met many people who enjoy being criticized. It’s not fun & can often be hurtful. But here’s some thoughts that might be helpful:
*listen & process – often times there is at least a grain of truth in some of the critical content
*forgive – criticism is usually hurtful & the most constructive way to deal with hurt is by forgiving
*grow – chose to grow & learn. Get better & not bitter
*intentions – when a person is critical of us they may have mean intentions or maybe helpful. What a person intends is not as important as what we do with the criticism ūüôā

the problem with pain

There are all different kinds of pain: a broken arm, a sunburn, rejection, aggressive words, neglectful behavior, perceived exclusion, disappointment, grief, . . . . . When we are in pain or have pain in our lives we don’t like it, not one bit. But in my mind, a significant challenge with pain is not that we have pain, but rather what we do with it & even how we manage it (rather than letting it manage us). Here are a few bullet thoughts that might merit some consideration:
*forgiveness can interrupt the continual cycle of pain in our relationships
*when we have pain, it’s important that we don’t perpetuate our pain by hurting others
*Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted, He is our ultimate Healer
*we must be vigilent to ensure that pain doesn’t become our identity – a painful person
*focus is an important component with pain – it seems to me that the more we focus on the hurt, the worse it gets
*on the flip side, I’ve discovered that when I keep my focus on Jesus, The Healer, the pain decreases in the light of His majesty

May we experience Jesus as our ultimate Healer for every pain in our lives ūüôā

hurtful words

At various times in our lives, we are all the targets & recipient of hurtful words. ¬†In elementary school, kids can often say things without thinking of how their words can be received. ¬†Then in Jr & Sr high school, it seems like we get more sophisticated with our ability to use piercing & hurtful words. ¬†By the time we’re adults, many of us have become very proficient at integrating sarcasm with our cleverly cloaked words so that we can slice & filet someone with very crafted and deadly words.

So what do we do with hurtful words?  Here are a couple of helpful thoughts:  

  1. forgive – whether the words were intentionally hurtful or not, forgiving must be your first & continual action
  2. dial down the emotions & see what could be truthful with the hurtful words
  3. make a constructive decision to get better & not bitter – let the hurtful words give you motivation to make some healthy changes rather than letting them fester in your emotional memory being nursed & rehearsed
  4. repay mean words with a smile rather than trying to craft a come back or pay back
  5. take the hurt to Jesus & let Him bring His healing into that pain

Pain isn’t always the main issue. ¬†But what you do with pain will determine it’s results ūüôā

OUCH! rest, ice & elevation

I recently slipped in our big snow storm and hurt my ankle and no, I‚Äôm not any good at injuries of any sort.¬† My norm is just to ignore them & keep going ‚Äď no time to be gimpy!¬† Unfortunately, this little ankle thing isn‚Äôt responding well to being ignored.

I think the same can be true with us spiritually.  Sometimes there are injuries in our hearts that require some attention.  Here a few ideas that could help:

  • ice: ¬†it cuts back on the swelling and the agitation;¬† when our hearts are hurt, it‚Äôs helpful to cool down before making any decisions or having some conversations (cooling down doesn‚Äôt mean simmering to re-load ammunition or nit picking to fester the injury more)
  • elevation:¬† lifting up our hearts to the Holy Spirit gives space and opportunity for divine involvement, where there is always healing, repair and rejuvenation
  • rest:¬† sometimes we need to give our hearts a chance to recover and ‚Äúbreath‚ÄĚ;¬† heart trauma or injury often requires some time and processing to get to a place where there can be constructive progress (just be careful that rest doesn‚Äôt turn into withdrawal)

Just some helpful ideas for a hurting heart

ever been mad or disappointed w God???

Now that’s a loaded question with all kinds of implications. ¬†I think that some people won’t allow themselves to be mad or disappointed with God for fear of being disrespectful. ¬†Other folk go so far as to totally alienate any contribution or participation from God in their lives because of their anger, hurt or disappointment with God. ¬†Is there a healthy middle point? ¬†Can a person be angry, frustrated, hurt, disappointed with God but still keep their relationship withHim?

If you’re in this difficult spot, it can be helpful to read Job to see how he dealt with his anger, hurt & disappointment with God. ¬†Here are a few things I’ve learned from Job when it relates to being angry or disappointed with God:

  • being honest with God is a necessary ingredient for intimacy with God
  • stay engaged – withdrawing or pulling away from God hurts you and is a dead end
  • give God plenty of space & time to respond to you
  • be willing to adjust, repent & change
  • arrogance undercuts any constructive dialogue with God

Were you ever nervous about a meeting?

¬†I had coffee with a friend the other day & this friend can be a little cranky from time to time & I was concerned that our coffee gathering was going to be “one of those times.”¬† I didn’t feel like I could cancel the coffee date but I was kind of jittery about what path the conversation would take.¬† So I thought about some different strategies I could use for this potentially volatile coffee time & here were some of my thoughts:

  • I could endeavor to keep the conversation shallow & discuss the weather, sports & all things surfacy.¬† I decided against this option because she would know that I was being disengenuous.
  • I could¬†arrive late & have to leave early before anything dicey could come up – again, that would be disengenuous
  • I could just brace myself for whatever might be said & keep a tough shell so that nothing she could say would zing me.¬† With this option, I would guard myself from being totally present in the conversation
  • I could pre-forgive her – making the decision ahead of time to forgive her no matter what she might say,¬†regardless of¬†if she was trying to be intentionally hurtful or not.¬† I decided for this option ūüôā

So here was the outcome – our coffee time went well, we had a great conversation & there was nothing too zing-y that I had to work through & forgive.¬† I liked the pre-forgiveness strategy so much that I decided to share it with you & use it again in other situations that have any hurtful potetial ūüôā

Construction versus Destruction

Today in America is a day that we remember the heroes & victims of the destruction of 9/11 ten years ago. Many of us probably have clear recollections of where we were on that day & what we were doing. Such an attack on America hadn’t happened in almost 5 decades & our lives have changed as a result of the events of 9/11.
The destruction that occurred on that day has ignited many different responses throughout our nation & the world. But here’s my challenge: destruction can only be transformed with a constructive reply. Hurting someone who has hurt you doesn’t change hurt. Insulting those who insult you doesn’t change the insults. Let’s be mindful about our responses to hurtful things – let’s be constructive & decide not to perpetuate destructive & hurtful behaviors

tips to help with forgiveness

¬†I’m a big fan of being proficient with forgiveness – after all, we get to practice almost everyday! ,)

There are LOADS of benefits that go with maintaining a lifestyle of forgiveness, but the point¬†for this blog is to refresh a few tips & to give you an opportunity to share some effective tips you’ve learned as well. ¬†So here’s a quickie sarah forgiveness primer:

  • be ready to forgive more than you’re ready to take an offense – sometimes it helps to have a forgiveness mindset
  • fast forgiving is easier than elongated forgiving: ¬†anytime I’ve nursed a hurt, the forgiving process gets quagmired & almost moribund before I know it :/
  • some people require more forgiveness than others; ¬†some of us are proned to the foot-in-mouth syndrome so please don’t make us squirm as we try to get better
  • forgiveness is about personal liberty: for those of us who are Americans, its hard for me to understand why we are so adamant about our external freedom, but we can be virtually oblivious to our internal incarceration
  • I want to be super generous with forgiveness because Lord knows He gives me more than I can comprehend; ¬†people who are stingy with forgiveness are usually mean & lonely ūüôĀ
What are some more suggestions?

growing pains

We often associate growing pains with childhood Рwhen our joints were sore as kids or teenagers for some unknown reason.  We might have been growing too fast for our bodies to adjust without some aches & pains.  I think this is also true as an adult but in different ways.

Let me give you a few examples:

  • being less selfish is often a painful decision, but it is one that frequently reflects a level of growth & maturity as an adult
  • being more selective about when & how we communicate shows that we are making progress from “blurting out” whatever could be flying through our mind; this is a noble goal, but it can require painful discipline to shut our mouth when we have something really “zingy” to say
  • doing what’s helpful, constructive or even sacrificial when we don’t want to; ¬†I surrender “getting my way” for something I consider to be more important – for me this relates to letting Jesus use my life as a platform to express His will (hopefully, with minimal distortion)
  • getting good at something I’m not good at; ¬†there are lots of schools of thought on this idea: ¬†stay in your sweet spot, do what you’re good at, maximize your talents & minimize your liabilities, etc. ¬†But in my life so far, I find that I don’t get the luxury to do only what I’m good at – I’m required to LOTS of different things, many of which I’m not good at. ¬†So here’s my choice: do the things I’m bad at with ongoing sloppiness, using the excuse that I’m just not designed that way ¬†OR do the things I’m bad at with the intent that I’m going to try to get better at them each time I have to do these things.

Maturity requires growth & growing can be painful. ¬†But I’d hate to become increasingly older & remain as immature as I am now ūüôā

Lord’s Prayer & forgiveness

Everyday, we get the chance to practice forgiveness in both quantity (lots of “small things”) & quantity (some really hefty, weighty & serious interactions).¬† Here’s the black & white truth:¬† all relationships remain shallow without forgiveness.¬† The deeper the relationship, often times, the greater the need for forgiveness.¬†¬†Forgiveness, for me, is most important because¬†I want my relationship with God ¬†to be deep, genuine & transformational.¬† I find that when I’m bent out of shape with someone, it affects my walk w God.¬† Consequently, if I’m going to nurture, guard & be part of growing my walk with Him, I need to continually practice forgiving, even if the person doesn’t apologize for their actions or is unaware of how they hurt you.¬† Forgiveness isn’t based on what the other person does or doesn’t do – it comes from your heart & most of all from receiving forgiveness from your heavenly Father so you can let it flow through you.¬†

Something helpful I’ve found in the forgiveness adventure is to forgive quickly – the longer I wait the harder it becomes to forgive.¬† What helps you to be forgiving???