When Plans Don’t Work

Planning isn’t one of my natural strengths, so the Holy Spirit has helped me grow in this area over the course of many years.  I’ve come to appreciate that if I want to accomplish big dreams, then it’s important to develop some plans and structures for these dreams to become reality.  So what happens when the plans don’t seem to work?  Then what?

In the Gospel of Mark, I’ve been reading about how Jesus healed people, often not according to the human contrived plans, i.e,  the Syrophoenician woman whom Jesus calls a dog, the 4 guys who break through a roof to get a paralytic in front of Jesus & the blind guy whom Jesus spits on for his healing.  It seems to me that Jesus almost never follows our human plans, so it begs the question:  why plan?

When you have plans to seem to go awry, maybe these ideas could be helpful:

  • plans help us think in constructive steps to achieve goals & dreams.  No planning = no progress
  • planning with prayer is a massively helpful combination
  • consider Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

Take a minute to order a copy of my newest book that can help you to stay

In Step with the Holy Spirit!

Can’t or Won’t

I’ve come to realize that the stuff God asks me to do requires God’s help. Whenever I try to do God’s assignments without God’s help, I fall short. In this learning adventure, I’m also realizing that when I say, “I can’t”, it’s usually rooted in, “I won’t”. The difference between can’t & won’t relates to both ability & willingness.
So when God asks us to do something that we lack the ability to accomplish, let’s be careful not to be unwilling. The right answer to God is, “With Your help, I’m willing & I’ll try!” Let’s have a willing heart to walk in the Spirit!

When You Fall

I hate to fall but moreso I hate the possible injuries that come from falling. We can all remember those times as kids when we scrapped up our hands & knees from falling. And as adults, it’s even less fun to fall.
Where – But falling happens. We fall physically & maybe injure our wrists. We also fall in other ways – like having a mishap / fall in a hostile interaction with a co-worker. Or maybe we fall from an emotional struggle & go back to some bad habits. We can fall when there’s an area of pride, possibly our work performance, achievements, intelligence, beauty, etc.
Why – We fall because we aren’t paying attention to where we’re going. We fall because we didn’t see an obstacle. We fall because we might be in pride. We fall because we’re going faster than our abilities allow.
Help – So when we fall, what are some do’s & dont’s?

  • Do clean out any wounds to prevent infection – don’t tolerate unforgiveness
  • Do get up & keep going – don’t quit
  • Do learn the lessons that come from falling – don’t repeat the exact same fall or mistake
  • Do keep trying – don’t find excuses for getting rigid & moribund
  • Do lean into the Holy Spirit to teach you how to walk together & prevent some mishaps & falls 🙂

Old Technology

As technology improves, I find myself becoming increasingly impatient. It I think about using a modem to connect to the web, it brings back the memories of that static sound before the connection tone. And then I think about the phones we used & how I’d stretch the cord too far & rip it off the wall. And rotary phones, well, that’s like the ultimate triceratops dinosaur!
So maybe your walk with the Holy Spirit could use some renovation & even upgrades! Please pop over to Amazon & buy new new book,

In Step With The Holy Spirit,

just launching today! Let’s be sure our walk with the Holy Spirit isn’t stuck in the glorious past nor overlooked in perfunctory acknowledgment!

Try Something New

“A rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.”

I’ve heard this saying more than once & I like it. It’s helpful to try new things because we humans can gravitate to what’s familiar & comfortable, at the expense of adventures, obeying God & new joys!
There are lots of Bible examples of people who tried new things & I’m listing a few below. As you consider these examples, take a minute to think about what might have happened, if they hadn’t tried something new:

  • Peter – tried fishing in the morning at Jesus command, despite an entire night of fruitless fishing
  • Moses – checking out the burning hush was a novelty to be sure
  • David- killing a giant was something new
    Esther – initiating a conversation with the king was both new & highly risky
  • Ananais – laying hands on & praying for blind Saul was something new for Ananais.

These people took risks & tried new things because they obeyed God, even when it was uncomfortable, illogical, inconvenient & uncertain. Let’s be willing to try new things, at God’s leading!

Chose to Celebrate

Do you have any bad things in your life? Of course that’s a stupid question. Everybody has bad stuff, little, big, occasionally & hopefully not continuous. As much as I want to avoid the bad stuff, it’s still there. So what to do?
Here are some ideas about what to do with bad stuff:

  • Pray – let’s not assume that prayer with bad stuff is a given. Praying is a resource that strengthens us, can change the bad stuff & even change us
  • Focal Point – what gains our attention usually gets magnified in our lives. So keeping Jesus scoped as our focal point helps us to keep perspective
  • Outcome possibilities – in Paul’s epistles & various places in the NT, we frequently read that hardship & bad stuff is often the pathway to really great things like lasting glory, perseverance / endurance, maturity, fruitfulness, (2Cor 4:17, James 1:4, Gal 6:9, Rom 8:17-18)

Bad may come & even linger but it will pass.  Let’s chose to celebrate the faithfulness, provision, strength & presence of Jesus, even when we’re in a bad stuff season 🙂

Proof, Puff or Poof!

I think we all have friends that fit into one of these categories. The “poof friends” seem to vanish when there’s work, adversity or discomfort. When everything is smoothy groovy, these poof friends are easily found, but they go “poof” when things get shaky. The “puff friends” are the ones that talk a lot, but lack substance, don’t follow through & neglect to keep their word. They huff & puff, but there’s little, of anything tangible to their puff.
The best friends are the proof friends. These are the ones who prove, with regularity, that they’re in the trenches with you, even in the muck & they don’t evaporate.
We all have people in our lives who are poof, puff & proof friends. But the real issue is what kind of friend are you? When I was growing up, the friend advice my parents always gave me was to be the kind of friend whom I wanted. So let’s endeavor to be the proof friend & not the puff. Or poof friend 🙂
And let’s keep Proverbs 18:24 front & center in our thinking: “There are “friends” who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”

The Ugly Jogger

That would be me, hands down. When I take a jog outside, I suspect that animals scurry, the lithe alert melts down & it feels like my body is in perpetual revulsion mode. So why go through such suffering & cause others to writhe in agony?
Ok, over dramatic, but you get the point.
I jog on occasion for a few reasons:

  • I want to control my body rather than my body control me
  • Move it or lose it – I want to stay active for a long time & without action, this desire will turn into a painful delusion
  • Mental clarity – when my body is tired from physical exercise, oftentimes my mind becomes more alert & keen
  • Paul said that physical discipline is profitable, even if just a little bit – 1Tim 4:8

Sometimes what doesn’t feel or even look good, is still good for you 🙂

It’s Not Working!!!

And it’s MASSIVELY FRUSTRATING!!!!
When my car isn’t working, it’s frustrating but I can usually figure out a work around – uber, catching a ride wth a friend or rescheduling an appointment. But sometimes there’s no work around & whatever isn’t working can turn into a meltdown crisis.
I just experienced this with s Skype interview I was scheduled to do & im still in the residual frustration fumes being mad at skype, etc.
What should we do in these moments of intense frustration? The things I want to do (hit something, yell, kick a chair, not write my blog) these things aren’t beneficial. So here are some ideas that might be more constructive for you when you have a frustrating meltdown:

  • Take a deep breath – this physical action helps settle my mental disarray
  • Perspective alignment – pray & ask for the Holy Spirit to help you to have a divine alignment on your perspective
  • Use a tourniquet – don’t allow the bleeding from the frustration to spill over into other areas of your life
  • Think in terms of practice – the next time will be better 🙂

The Confidence Factor

I’m presently riding with my teenage son who is clocking in driving time so that he can be eligible to get his driver’s license. It’s an interesting experience to watch his confidence or lack of confidence, wax or wane, depending on who’s in the car, his experience, the quantity of traffic & his mind frame. And this confidence thing seems to ring true for all of us.
So here are some things to help with the confidence factor:

  • Being confident in our abilities is never as safe as being confident in God’s wisdom & power.
  • Don’t allow fear & past failures contaminate your confidence
  • Think in terms of what could go right rather than what could go wrong
  • Do it scared – Joyce Meyer

Road Trip Lessons

For two years in a row, we’ve taken road trips for our vacations, each two weeks long. On our first trip, we went to Washington DC & our second trip is to the West Coast, ala Oregon & California. My husband, the penultimate saint, has done the bulk of the driving for both trips, so maybe I provide some comic relief & moral support. But think about it in terms of family bonding, since there’s no wifi nor DVD player in the car. Mostly, we’re doing pretty well & our three teenagers can say they’ve driven across America.
For me, I think that life is a long road trip, a journey with God with unexpected twists, ups, downs, sometimes tiring & sometimes joyful.
So here are a few thoughts about my road trip with God & maybe they’ll have some tread in your life:

  • Focusing in the car is important , but don’t neglect to look out the windows bc God has a big world around us!
  • Listen & don’t just watch – listen in the car but also listen in your heart as God has some amazing whispers & company to keep with you!
  • Traveling companions are helpful because you see & experience things in different ways than just by yourself.
  • Keep going. Life has struggles, dark times, hot seasons, smelly moments & glorious discoveries.

I Eat Crawdads

I grew up eating crawdads / crawfish & I really enjoyed them! There was a canal behind my house where my dad & used a big net to scoop up heaps of crawfish, cart them home & cook them up. Boy were they tasty!
But here’s the rub: crawdads are bottom feeders, so they eat the garbage at the bottom of lakes & canals, making them inherently unhealthy.
Sometimes what is tasty to our flesh is unhealthy to our spirit & we have to make wise choices about what we allow to come into our hearts & minds. Let’s be determined to set our minds above & not allow our minds to become bottom feeding trash consumers 🙂

I wonder if God doesn’t want us to stretch more: to stretch our faith, to stretch our compassion, to stretch our endurance & maybe stretch in some other areas. Today, I had to stretch past my natural limits in lots of ways.
Since I’m here in Cambodia, I need to stretch my time so that I can be fully spent when I leave. I did this well today because God helped me. This day was overflowing with accomplishments & productivity! I also felt my compassion stretch today, such that I didn’t pull away from broken people & I felt God’s love pour through me. I was also stretched today in the area of wisdom, as I had some challenging conversations that exceeded my natural abilities. Stretching helps us to stay nimble & flexible, maybe helping us obey & follow God better!
Let’s allow God to stretch us!

Obstacles & Uncertainties

There are times & situations when I don’t know what to do. There are also obstacles that seem to be unmovable. I can see where I want to be & what needs to be done, but I don’t always know how to get there or how to do what needs to be done.
These kinds of struggles can be experienced in our jobs, personal disciplines, education, relationships, finances, health, etc. So what to do?
Here are some things I’ve found to be helpful:

  • Pray more, worry less: ask for God’s intervention / interruption to do what seems to be impossible
  • God’s direction: what would God have you say or do in these struggles?
  • Active decisions: make intentional decisions to trust God, to speak faith filled words & to choose the high road.

 

Planning to Succeed!

I had an interesting chat with one of my children this morning about the importance of planning. In our conversation, they told me that they didn’t want to make a plan for the summer to achieve a particular goal. I replied, as I’ve learned from my husband, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” As much as this quote rankles me, it’s nonetheless true, across a variety of platforms, including prayer!
Watch this quick video for an idea to help you with prayer!

 

Enough Is Enough

I’m not alone with feeling that I’m not enough. You & I both have our weak spots for feeling or thinking that we’re inadequate, be that smart enough, cool enough, pretty enough, social enough, rich enough, humble enough, strong enough, etc.
It’s very liberating to embrace the truth that we are NEVER enough, by ourselves. I’ve been in innumerable situations where it was more than obvious that I wasn’t adequate, not enough & in way over my head. In these occasions, it always helps me to remember that I have continuous access to more than abundant & adequate supply – the Holy Spirit, my Heavenly Help!
If you haven’t read my book, Heavenly Help, grab a copy so you can see how the Holy Spirit is more than enough in you for any situation you face!

Keys to Being Productive

I have teenage kids at home for Summer break. While I enjoy their company, I’m in their lives to help them be successful & time management is part of the drill. Here are some coaching points I’m giving them, that might be helpful reminders for you (and PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR IDEAS, as well):

  • Outcome Engineering: looking down the road, what are the big things that need to be achieved? Then develop steps & the timeline that will produce that achievement so it’s doesn’t become overwhelming or impossible by its size or urgency.
  • Incentives: do the work & save the fun as a reward rather than the reverse
  • Daily plan: create a daily routine that integrates the steps for the big projects, as well as the habits you want to foster.
  • Accountability: give someone or a few people permission to ask about your daily plan & progress on the big projects

What are some other things you’ve learned to help you be productive? Thanks for sharing!!

Keys to the Supernatural & Revelation

I’ve been reading about Peter in the gospel of Matthew. It seems like his interactions with Jesus go from correction to correction, with some accompanying “atta boy’s”.
For example, despite walking in the water to Jesus, he gets corrected by Jesus for his “little faith” when he gets afraid.
Then, when he identifies Jesus as God’s Son, on the heels of Jesus’ applause, he tries to change Jesus’ mind about going to the cross. Peter gets reprimanded for having his mind on the human rather than divine.
Finally, in Jesus’ transfiguration, Peter suggests making 3 tents to honor Jesus, Elijah & Moses. The voice from the cloud tells him to quit talking & listen to Jesus, Sarah paraphrase.
With great revelation comes the equal quantity / quality of correction. If we aren’t teachable, perhaps that’s why we don’t have great revelation or supernatural experiences. Something to consider over this Father’s Day weekend!

Messing Up

There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t mess up something.  These mishaps can be relatively small:  I was a few minutes late to collect my son after school.  And these mishaps can be super-size:  I misread a deadline or email for some work that I need to accomplish or I miscalculated a budget item or conversion rate & I don’t have enough money.

In the past when I messed up, it was a double-whammy because I would massively berate myself in my thinking, in addition to trying to fix the mistake.  I’m better now, as I don’t roast myself as much as I did, so that’s encouraging.  But here are a few more thoughts that could help you, whenver you mess up:

  • mistakes are for learning & perfect is for heaven
  • be gentle with yourself because it will help you to be gentle with others when they mess up
  • messing up seems to be where we rely on the Holy Spirit better
  • getting better doesn’t happen without some mistakes & messing up
  • “practice” is a good word to replace “messing up”

Be sure to send this to your friends, because we all mess up!

This Has Helped Me :)

I watched this short video when I got home from Bangladesh this week, took a walk & had a really deep & profound experience with God.

I know it can be very strange to watch one’s self, but the Holy Spirit really spoke to me through this short video. Take a few minutes this Memorial Weekend to watch it & feel free to pass it along to your friends!