Do you ever struggle to focus? I definitely struggle with my focus & I’m learning that it’s easier for me to focus on some things more than others. For example, I’m not very good at listening to stuff, but I’m better at reading. Some people like video content & find it easier to pay attention. So here’s some good news for the video peeps! I started my own YouTube channel & I’m uploading a series once a week. The series I’m working on is about prayer & it’s really excellent!! For the prayer series, each episode is short & very relevant!
Feel free to subscribe & pass on the link to your friends who are interested in prayer!
I’ve been doing some new projects: trying my hand at making bread & working on getting my YouTube channel up & running! With my attempts, I’ve had lots of bumps along the road. For example, I forgot to turn on the mic & focus the lens for the video stuff & my bread stuff last week wasn’t tasty. But I keep trying & more importantly, I keep improving!
The principle of gradual improvement is a good thing to embrace because it helps us avoid the failure trap. This trap says that the failing as an action becomes failure, the noun. Just because you fail doesn’t make you a failure. Let’s be aware that failing is an integral part of the process for succeeding, when we stay in a state of continual learning. Succeeding is the consequence of learning from both failures & mistakes. So let’s celebrate the bumps along the road because they inch us closer & closer to success!!
In my efforts to always grow & Improve, sometimes I can get discouraged. This happens when I continue to focus on weaknesses & mistakes at the expense of looking at progress.
The truth is that we are all growing. Sometimes we see massive progress & sometimes the progress is microscopic. But let’s celebrate progress, regardless of the size!
You’ve come a long way, so be encouraged!! And remind yourself that the good work that God has started, He will continue & complete – Philippians 1:6 🙂
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!
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 🙂
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.”
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!!
Paul on the beach saying goodbye to the Ephesian Church,
Jesus telling His disciples goodbye before the cross,
David saying goodbye to Jonathon
Goodbye’s are necessary for Hello’s. It seems to me that we often allow things that should stay in the “goodbye” compartment seep into new opportunities & sometimes undermine a new beginning. So we would be wise to take some moments to reflect on this past year & take an inventory of the things to which we need to say goodbye. Perhaps it’s time to say goodbye to some conversations that have been unhealthy. Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to some dysfunctional eating or spending habits. And maybe it’s time to say goodbye to the lies from the devil that we’ve entertained though various mental conversations.
Before we can heartily welcome 2017, let’s be certain that we’ve made the necessary goodbyes to stuff from 2016 & the past!
Feel free to pass this along to any friends or family that could find this helpful & let’s set up 2017 to be STELLAR!!
Because Jesus was a Jew when He lived on earth, I firmly believe that bacon wasn’t in His eating repertoire. However, bacon seems to be more than a little popular for the 21st century palate. Our appetites & eating habits have dramatically changed, some for the good & some not so much.
Which brings me to the question related to our appetites. What tastes good & what do you like to eat? Some of the things we like to eat aren’t good for our bodies just as much as some of the desires that we have aren’t good for our souls.
Let’s be sure to cultivate not only healthy appetites for our bodies but let’s also feed our souls sturdy, life-giving sustenance found through daily Bible & prayer time! Since we’re on the cusp of turning the calendar, let’s not wait for a New Year’s resolution to foster these appetites. Start now & you’ll likely keep a better routine going into the New Year than depending on a date change to facilitate a change in routines.
Some helpful tips could include:
set your alarm & get up rather than snooze it endlessly;
find a friend that can encourage & partner with some accountability;
keep track of the positives from staying disciplined;
Sometimes we think that forgetting something is bad, but sometimes being forgetful is good. It’s bad to forget the grocery list when I go shopping and it’s bad to forget my driver’s license when I try to catch a flight to another city. But it’s good to forget a rude comment that someone said to you or forget a hurtful thing that happened in the past. Indeed, sometimes it’s a divine gift to forget some things or to remember things in a selective way.
I can chose to remember the positive things from experiences and conversations, while letting the negative stuff fade into the background. Or I can chose to keep rehearsing the negative stuff from past conversations or experiences and let them overshadow the good stuff.
Seems like Paul had some good wisdom when he said in Philippians 3:13, “Forgetting what lies behind, I press forward for what lies ahead, . . . “
My family made the Thanksgiving meal yesterday & it was a smashing success! I’m not saying this to brag, but rather to acknowledge years of practice that have finally culminated in success – YAHOOOO!! In any given year in the past, I was practicing on how to cook a turkey that wasn’t dry or under-done. I was also practicing a few other dishes to make them not only edible but also tasty! And this year, I’m celebrating success!!!
We all want to be successful, but we don’t often celebrate the practice required to be successful – so let’s take a moment to applaud attempts & failures more than victories 🙂
Here are some things that help us to be successful:
Teamwork: yesterday, my whole family pitched in to make various parts of the meal & no one was unraveled by too much work!
Practice: keep trying!!
Testing: the guests that came to our meal were the testers. It helps immensely to have objective input on our journey to success
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.
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 🙂
Proficient is a consequence of practice & it seems to me that practice gives us the space to make mistakes, learn, improve & grow into proficiency. So these are the things that I am continually practicing:
Gratitude – I’m not sure that we can ever be fully proficient with being thankful, so let’s keep practicing
Forgiveness – it’s hard to forgive, particularly when a person who is very close to us causes us pain, but just because something is hard doesn’t mean we should quit trying; indeed, the person who gets the most benefit from is the forgiver more than the recipient
Learning – let’s be curious about beneficial things & not stuff that’s meaningless or hurtful
Patience – uggggh, this one can really get under my skin, which means I desperately need to practice it more so it’s not such a weak spot
So what would be good for you to start practicing more over this weekend?
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!
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!
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!
Yesterday, I was sitting in the Angola consulate to finish my visa application & this is always a jittery experience. It’s stressful in lots of ways because it’s a really complicated process & even when I’ve done everything right, there has been an occasion when my application was denied.
So I can get stressed out as I wait or I can chose to trust God. These words, “trust God” are easier said than done. But when there’s nothing more that I can do, then I need to actively chose, even moment by moment, to trust God.
Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to coach our mental game & help us get better at trusting God 🙂
Sometimes I think these terms get mixed up in our lives & we don’t realize it. Insulation is to keep out unwanted things, like cold weather or extreme heat. We can also insulate ourselves from painful experiences or uncomfortable feelings. But without being careful, insulation can become isolation when we chose to withdraw & not engage.
I could easily justify insulating myself from seeing & hearing someone’s pain or struggles that I find repugnant. But when I do this, I isolate myself & restrict the Holy Spirit from moving through me, to touch & heal the world around me. Let’s be careful not to insulate ourselves with our wealth & ability to chose our focus from the suffering around us. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t insulate Himself when He lives among us.
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 🙂