My Smart Neighbor

We have new neighbors & it’s fun to watch them get settled in the neighborhood.  I recently discovered a “rogue garden” while I was taking a walk. This garden is outside the neighborhood fence & it’s very well cultivated. One day during my morning quiet time, I saw my neighbor walking with a bucket to the fence & I surmised that he’s watering his garden.  I’ve also noticed that my neighbor has stopped up the drainage culvert to make some fertilizer that he takes to his garden from time to time.

It’s really fun to watch my neighbor & learn about gardening, making fertilizer, weeding etc.  Whenever I talk with him, he tends to be friendly but not very expressive, so I smile & enjoy watching & learning 🙂

Watching my neighbor is a daily reminder to watch for Holy Spirit in my daily living – learning to cultivate Gods Word in my heart, using adversity as fertilizer & keeping the weeds minimized 🙂

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Keep Growing!!

I’ve recently learned a new sport called pickleball & I LOVE IT!! This is a fun adventure because I’m learning new skills, meeting great people, getting exercise that’s enjoyable, getting some competitive interaction & enjoying witty banter!  My first experiences weren’t too whippy & I was impatient with myself for not learning faster & doing better. Things are better now 🙂

Moses is a powerful example of ongoing growth. The lesson I’m integrating in my thoughts & emotions is that it’s important to keep growing. We grow by doing some helpful things:

  • Comfortable can be the enemy to growth
  • Age doesn’t need to control nor constrict our ability to grow
  • Growing is a mindset that translates to our decisions & daily living
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3 Relationship Principles :)

Since yesterday was Pentecost, I decided to look at ways Holy Spirit could improve my relationships & come up with 3 helpful keys:

1 – Communication essential:  Holy Spirit is a communication expert as we see on the Day of Pentecost with so many languages & people hearing about Jesus. Ask Holy Spirit to help you to communicate better. This can include listening, slowing down & being kind

2 – Truth essential: since Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, we could be wise to ask for truth in our relationships. When there’s an absence of truth, we invite deception & destruction as evidenced in Acts 5

3 – Definition essential:  let’s allow Holy Spirit to define our relationships to be acquaintances, friends or intimate confidants. In Acts 4, you can see how Holy Spirit defines these relationships for Peter & this was very to him!

Let’s invite Holy Spirit to participate in our relationships & then hold on for an incredible adventure!

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3 Keys to Stay Vibrant!!

Yesterday was a very active day for me and super enjoyable!  I had some of the regular work stuff like meetings, emails, phone calls, etc.  But later in the afternoon, my husband & I joined a pickle ball boot camp, beginning to learn some fundamentals of this really fun sport.  And during the evening, I played softball with my church team (we lost but had heaps of fun)!  When I fell asleep, I was very tired and deeply content.  As I reflect on yesterday, here are some keys that could help you to live vibrantly and wholly content:

1 – Keep Moving!!  This applies not only for exercise, but in all areas of our lives.  Exercise in communicating, spiritual growth, community engagement, reading / learning and LOADS more helps us stay vibrant!

2 – Laugh Alot!!  More than anything, I laugh at myself and this helps me alot!  I don’t take myself so seriously and it helps me come to terms with my weaknesses & humanity

3 – Holy Spirit check-in’s:  throughout my day and evening, it was very settling to regularly check in with Holy Spirit for real time adjustments in my attitudes, outlook, conversations, internal audits & rich fellowship.

I sincerely believe that life with Holy Spirit is meant to be vibrant, challenging, fulfilling and transformational!

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The Accidental Hypocrite

I’ve never met a person who willingly nor joyfully self-identified as a hypocrite.  Indeed, hypocrite is a label we give other people, as we are grateful to not be “that kind of person.”

But I can’t help but feel, sometimes, that I am an accidental hypocrite.  I see this in myself when I:

  • judge someone for being intolerant
  • am disdainful of someone who seems insincere
  • allow myself to be critical but reject constructive input

There are lots of ways that we can be a hypocrite, whether purposeful or accidental.  And I would propose that an effective antidote for hypocrisy is humility.  While hypocrisy can flourish in the comparison fertilizer, humility is the truth serum that helps us appreciate that we are each struggling in unique ways and it’s better to encourage than compare.  Just a little food for thought for your wonderful weekend 🙂

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The Steady Quotient

There are lots of factors that are important in our lives, such as our IQ, Emotional Intelligence, time management, financial wisdom, etc.  Sometimes the stuff that’s not so measurable or obvious doesn’t get the same attention as the stuff I just listed.  I would propose that being steady is one of those less sexy or noticeable factors but massively important nonetheless.

I say this because of what steady can accomplish:

  • less cavities with steady brushing and flossing
  • better weight control with steady exercise
  • deeper intimacy with steady presence
  • more awareness of God with steady / daily quiet times
  • better cooking skills with steady practice

As I write this and think about the value of being steady, it makes me wonder how many things in my life would be improved if I were more steadfast in my attention and energies in various areas.  Our daily routines / habits can predict our future 🙂

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The Faulty Dryer

As the season changes from Winter to Spring and dancing on the edge of Summer, I’m enjoying the moderate tempratures, chirping birds and some lovely porch time!  On the down side, I think our dryer is shrinking my clothes because surely I didn’t gain any weight over the Winter 🙂

When I blame my dryer for shrinking my clothes, it’s an easy way to ignore my possible weight gain and my need to exercise.  Indeed, it’s convenient to blame something external, when we don’t like what we might see inside of us.  To this end, finding scapegoats is the easy button to facilitate immaturity, deception, inconsistency and deflecting responsibility.

In full disclosure, there’s nothing wrong with my dryer.  When I admit the truth that I’ve gained weight and need to exercise, it’s a healthy step not only for my body, but for my emotions and thoughts.  Before we blame something external, let’s sit with what’s inside of us to make sure we’re dealing with reality and not distortion 🙂

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Waiting for Change

I would like to see some changes in my life with stuff like losing some weight, being more steady with exercise, having more patience with my kids, being less skittery about meeting new people, etc.  With some of these things, I need to take the proverbial bull by the horns & get after it.

But some changes take time & require me to wait. With some changes, I’ve learned that when I meddle & tinker with the stuff that needs to change, my efforts only make things worse.  And if you’re a “make it happen” person, then “wait” is the very close relative to other four letter cuss words.

Here are some benefits to waiting:

  • Slow change often lasts longer than quick changes;
  • the Bible says, “In patience, posses your soul”;
  • Sometimes our wisdom grows in the waiting time

Have a fantastic weekend!

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Help for Making Decisions

We are all faced with making decisions everyday.  In general, we can navigate the smaller decisions like clothing options, food choices, time usage, where we focus our attention, etc.  But sometimes we can struggle with making bigger decisions.  For example, making a decision about college, taking a job, marriage, buying a house and others can be really stressful.

I recently did a sermon about making decisions & this link might be helpful if you’d like to see the whole thing (the message starts around 1:03), including the wonderful joke at the beginning ,)

And here are some helpful hints from Jacob that could be useful to you when making decisions:

  • recognize that God stays with you, whatever you decide because God is omni-present
  • instead of waiting for a lightning bolt of revelation it can be more helpful to move in a direction and invite God to adjust the direction and tweak the pacing
  • appreciate that God can show up in a dark season and bring some necessary and life-infusing encouragement

Feel free to share this with your friends & subscribe to this blog 🙂

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Doing Difficult Projects

I need to do some heavy duty Spring cleaning, like cleaning out the kitchen drawers & window washing.   There are some other big projects I need to work on like finishing my Saving Moses book, having some difficult conversations, wrestling with some internal challenges and lots more.  Because these projects are hard for me, I tend to put them off, try to ignore them, justify not doing them because I’m busy, hope they’ll evaporate or do other stuff to avoid these difficult projects.

But alas, these difficult projects don’t disappear.  So now what?

Here are some things that are helping me to work on various difficulties:

  • prayerfully look the project square in the eye, so it can be less intimidating
  • consider a step to move forward with making some progress with this project
  • be gentle but firm with yourself to keep going forward
  • celebrate progress and not just perfection or completion
  • nestle into God’s unchanging and ever faithful love for you – this helps you to live from a more healthy mindset 🙂
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Project, Function or Person?

I came home yesterday from some travel over the weekend and had some rough interaction with one of my kids. I had reviewed some of their grades and had some email exchanges with a teacher which weren’t pleasant. So when I got home, I was prickly with my kid. And this child pushed back on my prickly with a sizable dose of snarky such that our exchanges weren’t constructive. Short story: I was really ticked off.

Thankfully, I’ve had a mental reset this morning. I see where I was treating my child as a project and function, expecting them to change, be productive and fix their grades. Instead, it would be better had I come home and started from a place of genuine love in my heart rather than treating them like an object or project. Let’s be committed to seeing people instead of outcomes, projects or functions. We can do this because this is how our Heavenly Father sees us, from a heart of genuine love, connection and deep affection 🙂

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Not Done

Time is an interesting ingredient. I say this because my kids took me to my bus stop today so I could catch the bus to the airport. It felt a bit surreal to get dropped off by my daughter at my bus stop. And there’s lots to be said for the taste improvement that can happen when meat gets some time to be marinated. The same is true for a cake baking in the oven – take it out too early & it’s more like thick soup. 

The common denominator for these experiences is time. Time is very interesting. We can often have very strong opinions about time when we don’t have enough, when it moves too fast, when we have uncertainty about the future or when it seems to age us in ways we don’t appreciate. 

With that said, I can appreciate that in God’s time, we are improved, we grow, learn, get wise and see things from different perspectives. I’m grateful that God isn’t done with me & uses time to make me better 🙂

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Roots & Reactions

I need to dye my hair roots, soon!  The brown is getting displaced by white & I could look like a skunk very quickly 🙂

This makes me think about how I react on certain things like when I’m impatient with my kids, or prickly with someone at church, snarky with person at the grocery store, etc. 

Here’s the important truth:  how we react is based on the roots in our heart. I say this based on Jesus’ words in Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”

So let’s pay attention to what is in our hearts so that our reactions can be fruitful results of healthy heart roots 🙂

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Big Achievements!

In the Bible, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in a short time, hung the doors / gates for these walls & provided essential leadership to a broken & despondent people (those left behind from the exile who had been injured, suffered massive trauma & displaced). Nehemiah has big achievements in his life & we would be wise to apply some lessons to our lives from his achievements. 

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Obstacles: nothing big is achieved without overcoming obstacles. And sometimes the biggest obstacles are in our thoughts & outlook
  • Opposition: people opposed Nehemiah & people will oppose you. What you do with such opposition is frequently more important than the opposition itself
  • Focus: Nehemiah didn’t let obstacles, opposition nor hardship distract him from achieving his goal to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Stay on target!

Have a happy & restful weekend!

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Short Supply

“Can I borrow some milk?” My former neighbor & I used to always borrow ingredients for cooking. Both of us were always busy, so it was abundantly helpful that we could text each other & have one of our kids run over whatever was missing (eggs, flour, sugar, milk, cumin, celery salt, etc). And we would often talk about how we had run out of patience, or run out of time, so it was very nice to have a friend who could sympathize with the “short supply” challenge.

Sadly, she moved a few years ago and my cooking has never been the same 🙂

And I’m super grateful that Jesus is never in short supply of everything I need! Indeed, Jesus has an oversupply of patience, grace, wisdom, time, energy, faith, genuine love, help, strength, . . . . To be sure, Jesus is the ultimate Provision for everything we need for all of this week and beyond!

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What’s Helpful

As I travel, I see people who struggle with their luggage, finding the departure gate, language challenges, etc. And I know I could be helpful on lots of this stuff, usually. However, I’m learning from various experiences that often being helpful in human interactions, is defined better by the recipient rather than person giving the help. I say this because there have been many occasions where I stepped in to help, without asking the person if they wanted my assistance.  In no uncertain terms, I’ve gotten the proverbial hand slap for not asking first. 

So when we want to help someone, instead of jumping in without asking, we would be wise to do these two things first:

  • Ask the person if they would like help
  • Ask how they would like help 

This kind of communication is useful not only with strangers but also with co-workers, family members, friends, acquaintances, etc 🙂

Just a little practical wisdom from the road that we can all use for improving our communication 🙂

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The Tired Toaster

I cleaned out our toaster over the weekend & noticed that the knobs are broken off, the base comes off of the body and there are a few exposed electrical wires. A day later, my husband suggested that I buy a new toaster. I explained that I cleaned it out over the weekend and it should be good to go, knobs being nothing more than convenient accessories. He smirked and said, “Sarah, the base is separating from the toaster & it could be a fire hazard.”

Hmmmmmm.

Like my worn out toaster, sometimes we can get worn down from life and grow comfortable being broken or dysfunctional. But genuine love will step into that quagmire and speak truth, redemption, hope, transformation and life. Let’s be available to speak gentle and loving words of truth and redemption. And let’s be open to receiving truth and life with genuine love!

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Will You Grow?

It never ceases to amaze me how much we grow, as humans, in our first two years of existence. Not only do we gain weight and increase in height, but we also massively grow in our cognitive, emotional, relational and identity capacities. And we continue the growing experience when we go to school, learning lots of stuff related to communication, fine motor skills, organization, moral quandaries, computational proficiencies and the list goes on.

Just because we become adults, doesn’t mean that we should stop growing. May we never limit our capacities nor abilities to:

  • be compassionate,
  • explore new things,
  • learn new communication skills,
  • get more proficient with forgiveness,
  • become more loving,
  • take on new ideas,
  • meet new people

Let’s keep growing!!

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Let’s Pray

With the beginning of a new year comes lots of opportunities, quandries, questions and things to be resolved or addressed. For me, these things look like managing kids with changing schedules, planning international trips, navigating limited resources, strategizing for growth, resolving some conflicts and working through some unexpected hiccups.

I could easily get screwed into the ceiling with stress, worry, frustration, fear & anxiety. But a more helpful option is to pray. There’s a really old song about taking to the Lord, our worries, problems, etc . . . ” . . . . ,take it to the Lord in prayer.” Let’s make prayer our first reaction rather than our last resort!

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Old and New

Happy 2019! Starting a new day, a new month and a new year is a nice way to think of a fresh start. In some respects, a new year is a little bit like a do-over, taking some of the mishaps, failures, lessons, progress and successes of 2018 and making improvements on these for 2019.

Where you’ve had failures & disasters in 2018, be careful not to allow shame, embarassment, defeat, fear or insecurity define your perspective on these things in 2019. Sometimes it’s helpful to think of failures, defeats, disasters and mishaps in terms of practice and progress. In this way, let’s make new mistakes in 2019 and not the same ones from 2018.

Where you’ve had success, improvement, maturation & progress, let’s take such momentum into 2019 and keep going! There’s a good chance that God would like to build on these things from 2018 and expand those victories!

It’s a new day, new month and new year – all aligned with God’s work because He makes all things new (Isaiah 43:18), including you and me!

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The Frozen Turkey

Imagine my surprise at 8:30am on Thanksgiving morning, when I unwrapped our turkey, only to discover that it was still frozen, with company expecting delicious & cooked turkey at 1pm.  My son was helping me & our faces reflected mutual freaking out!!  I was even pulling ice out of the cavity & trying to troubleshoot solutions.  Long story short, we had a delicious, fully cooked turkey & no one got sick eating it 🙂

In the meantime, my son was the hero who helped me avert a Thankgsiving disaster and here are a few things he did that could be helpful when you face a possible cataclysm or fiasco:

  • Assess the situation and don’t freak out – gather as much info as possible to grasp the extent of the possible disaster:  Everything was frozen on and in the turkey
  • Start thinking of little steps to make the situation better:  We ran hot water on the outside of the turkey, as well as in the cavity
  • Keep working with the incremental improvements:  We stopped up the sink so that hot water could get around the turkey as much as possible
  • Thoroughly inspect the progress:  We frequently inspected the mobility of the legs to see if they were unthawed (greater flexibility = less frozen)
  • Be positive & encouraging:  “Mom, I think we’re making some good headway in unthawing this bird!”  That was really encouraging to me!!!
  • Teamwork:  Appreciate that we are better together than trying to do catastrophes alone

The outcome of our efforts was a delicious turkey & a delightful meal.  Possibly more important, I learned LOADS of helpful tips on cooking turkeys, I had a significantly bonding experience with my son and I now know how to cook a turkey at a fast speed 🙂

Happy belated Thanksgiving to you!!

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Against the Grain

“We aren’t doing that!”  This morning, I read in Exodus about the Egyptian midwives who didn’t follow Pharoah’s command to kill all baby boys born to Hebrew moms.  They ran against the grain & took a risk when they didn’t comply.  Because they didn’t obey Pharaoh with his command, God blessed these midwives greatly!

I find the behaviors of these midwives to be very interesting:  they aligned themselves with a nation to whom they didn’t belong, they protected the most vulnerable, they were advocates of life and they found a “convenient reason” to explain their non-compliance to Pharaoh.

Sometimes we need to run against the grain of what’s popular around us to live as advocates & examples of genuine love!  🙂

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Show Up

Some things are difficult & we want to find excuses or reasons to avoid such difficulties. We might want to sidestep a challenging conversation or greeting a prickly person. We might prefer to ignore the scale in the bathroom since it may tell us something unpleasant. And there’s always the “busy” excuse that’s convenient for all kinds of stuff we’d prefer to avoid. 

Despite our best efforts, however, whatever we try to avoid, ignore, deflect, etc it’s still there & will likely remain present until we step into the issue. Here are a few ideas that might help us to show up:

  • Pray: let God know you don’t want to show up & ask for divine Help
  • Deep breath:  this can often help to clear the cobwebs in our thinking & give us some energy to take a step
  • Anticipate good: it’s possible that whatever we might be avoiding has some unexpected good stuff
  • Love truth: sometimes we avoid truth bc it might be painful or unpleasant. But ultimately, deception is more destructive than truth!
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In Your Skin

You are magnificent when you are you!!  When you try to blend, conform or be someone else, not so much.  I say this because I’ve brought my daughter for a college visit & I remember my insecurities in college & being uncomfortable in my skin.  I’ve always been a little quirky & when I’m settled with myself, that’s fun.  When I’m unsettled with myself, the quirky and fun side of me gets quiet and even disappears.

All of us have insecurities and internal struggles.  At the same time, let’s rest in the truth that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, in the image of our Heavenly Father.  We are valuable, important and have divine purposes and plans.  Indeed, in Ephesians 2:10, it says that God has already laid out good works for us to walk in and no one can do these good works, except you because they are divinely appointed for you, living in your skin and being wonderful YOU!!!

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Imagine THAT!!!

Some days I imagine that I’m an incredible basketball player. I can see myself stealing the ball, being really agile & shooting the lights out on 3 pointers. But alas, I know full well that such a fantasy could only be realized in heaven.
On this side of heaven, I also like to imagine what it would be like to have babies & toddlers out of harms way at nighttime while their moms work in 3rd world countries, as sex workers. This imagination has led to our expression of genuine love with nightcare. I imagined nightcare around 7 years ago & started exploring this possibility. I found that no one had ever heard off this idea but everyone with whom I talked thought it was a MAGNIFICENT idea!! Seven years later, Saving Moses has 6 nightcare centers with over 100 babies & toddlers out of harms way while their moms work. And we are continuing to expand.
Let’s imagine good things in the world around us & then start taking steps to make our imagination into a reality!!!
Imagine THAT!!!!!

Sent from my iPhone

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