Learning to Love Well

Hello from Dubai!  What an interesting city & diverse population!  Our guide told us that about 85% of this city is not local & only 15% are native born. So I’ve been here less than 12hours & I’ve met folk from Bangladesh, Greece, India, Afghanistan, Egypt & lots of other places!  With such diversity, it’s helpful to be friendly, smile & be a learner. It seems to me that when I’m open to learn, that often helps me to love & in particular learning from people who are very different from me. 

Some thoughts for loving well:

  • See people & not objects, projects nor  functions 
  • Serve & smile
  • Flexible let’s me adapt to enjoy & thereby love better

Here are some interesting pix from Dubai today 🙂

 

What is Wisdom?

There’s lots of stuff in the Bible about wisdom, even a whole book, Proverbs, that’s devoted to the topic.  It’s also mentioned in the NT a fair amount, like in James 1, where it says that we should ask for wisdom.  So given the frequency of this topic, perhaps it would be helpful to think about what it is, along with what it is not.

In the “wisdom is not” column, here are some things to remember.  Wisdom is not:

  • merely information;  facts, formulas, information and details
  • advanced degrees, memorization or books read

In the other column that defines wisdom, based on the Bible, here’s what we can say.  Wisdom is:

  • grounded in “fearing God”;  this means that having a healthy and robust respect for God in our lives is the pathway to facilitating wisdom
  • discerning the times and seasons in our lives
  • appreciating what is appropriate and helpful in various situations and events
  • recognizing when to speak and when to listen

Lets always be ready to get more wisdom & let wisdom be active in our daily living!

What’s Enough?

I go through seasons in my life where everything seems manageable.  This means that I have a balance with my workload, time, responsibilities, family stuff, travel, etc.  And then I go through seasons that seem very unbalanced:  too much work, not enough time, overwhelming responsibilities, unresolved family challenges and maybe a host of other hotspots.  So in these seasons, it’s easy for me to feel like I’m drowning and I can’t manage everything – there’s not enough of me to adequately match everything that’s being demanded or required.

In these seasons, it helps me to focus on what’s immediately in front of me and taking one day at a time.  Indeed, I don’t have the resources, wisdom, energy or wherewithall to get very far into the future and it can overwhelm  me when I try.  Maybe this is why God did the manna thing for Israel, giving adequate supply of bread for each day.  This forced the Israelites to trust God on a daily basis and this is a helpful mindset that we can also choose for today.  Let’s thank God for giving us daily provisions, adequate for each day 🙂

Do The Work :)

Welcome to Monday, the start of a work week for some of us, or the start of a school week for those who are students.  Wherever you find yourself on this day, there are things in front of you and me that we need to do.  Maybe you need to work on a school assignment, write a paper or study for a test.  Maybe you need to write some emails, craft a proposal, flip a hamburger, wash a toilet, load the dishwasher, drive to a soccer practice, grade some papers, manage a project, crunch some numbers, etc.  No matter what, all of us have stuff we need to do today – do the work.

And this is part of God’s design for each of us.  You and I are uniquely designed to participate in and accomplish things.  How we do such work is the real issue, even more than what we do.  So here are some helpful ideas about how we do our work:

  • work as unto the Lord and not to man – Colossians 3:23
  • keep a grateful heart – 1Thessalonians 5:18
  • stayed focused and eliminate distractions – Proverbs 4:25
  • maintain genuine love – 1Corinthians 16:14

Hair Dye

I’m writing this post, sitting outside of my hair salon with foils in my hair, looking semi-chic 🙂

And of course, I get some odd looks, people thinking I’m the reincarnated character from “My Favorite Martian”.  But alas, it’s just the normal hair dye appointment, where the grey gets covered over & I maintain the look that says I’m at least 10 years than my birthdate would confirm.

And whatever we may look like on the outside isn’t as important as the decisions we make on the inside.  Our internal thoughts, emotions, values, decisions and perspective are loads more important than the external image.  It’s in my thinking processes where I:

  • make decisions to be generous,
  • decide to act from various insecurities,
  • consider how another may be affected by my words / actions
  • choose to be afraid or choose to be constructive

So no matter how we look on the outside, let’s be certain we make internal decisions to be generous & loving people.  What’s on the inside is what will often regulate what happens on the outside 🙂

Anniversary Celebration!

My husband and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage this week & that’s a noteworthy achievement!  It’s noteworthy for lots of reasons such as:

  • lots of seasons and changes to navigate: doing hefty careers, an intense baby season, growing in our careers, raising teenagers & a few medical challenges along the road
  • distinct personalities:  we are very different in our personalities, so this requires us to give each other lots of grace, space & affirmation to be unique but complementary rather than combative
  • prickly insecurities:  just because we’re married doesn’t mean our individual insecurities don’t get triggered from time to time; so it’s helpful to recognize such weak spots & decide to nestle into genuine love 🙂

I’m definitely a better person from being married to Reece & there’s no doubt that God has helped us to grow in our relationship over the last 25 years!  Let’s remember that being a person who is growing in character, love and strength is a decision we make one day at a time!  And be certain to celebrate the milestones along the journey!

Who Is Different?

When I was growing up, my dad would take me to garage sales, art galleries, museums, estate sales, hospital visits, nursing homes, etc with an occassional stop at Arby’s for a jamocha shake & potatoe cakes – yum!!  So during my childhood, I was around lots of people who were very different than me.  It helped me a lot that my dad was very personable & never knew a stranger because I was realtively quiet & reflective.

As an adult, I also have the privilege of getting to meet lots of people from all walks of life.  I meet poor folk & prosperous folk, educated & uneducated people, polite & rude folk, insightful & obtuse . . . . Some people are alot like me & we see life from a similar perspective.  In contrast, I’m also around alot of people who are very different from me & I love this!!  What is wonderful about each person that I meet, is that they are deeply valuable, highly esteemed and massively loved by our Heavenly Father.  Let’s be intentional that we cultivate connections with people are different from us & make the committment to express genuine love regardless of our commonalities or differences!

Called to Listen

We had dinner last night with a lovely couple & the husband said something profound that is continuing to echo in my thoughts today:  We are not all called to talk, in terms of public speaking, but we are all called to listen.

There are times, no doubt, when we need to speak up & be advocates for love and justice.  Additionally, some of us have the gift of gab & our personality lends itself to be a “talker.”  But let us never minimize the importance of listening – not only with our ears or intellect (so that we can interject a witty comment or some helpful wisdom), but also with our heart, so that we can be attentive with compassion, tender affection and gentle endurance.

In Mark 4:9, Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Have a happy listening weekend!

When You Fail

I’ve never met a person who enjoys failing & most of us avoid stuff that has a high risk for failing.  But there are LOADS of people in the Bible who failed, took risks and some had tremendous successes – usually after they had overcome some significant failure hurdles.  Some examples would include:

  • Jacob’s son, Joseph:  failed with his brothers, but became 2nd in command to Pharoah in Egypt & rescued his family from famine
  • Jacob:  tricked his brother & father, but went on to become “Israel” and the founder of the Twelve Tribes
  • Saul / Paul:  gave hearty approval at Stephen’s martyrdom & became the largest contributing author to the New Testament in addition to founding the majority of early churches on two continents

When you fail, keep in mind some helpful perspectives:

  • failing is a verb, but failure is a noun:  one can change but the other is more permanent
  • the greatest lessons often come from failing more than succeeding
  • failing can the essential fertilizer for redemption
  • no failure is beyond God’s power & love to transform into beauty, resurrection, abundance and divine success!

When You Get Bad News

No one gets a pass on receiving bad news.  And recently, I heard some stuff that was discouraging – the opposite of what I’d been asking from God & I was unhappy with opposite outcome of my prayers.  I think it’s pointless to hide my emotions from God or pretend that everything is ok when it’s not.  At the same time, the world doesn’t stop just because we get some bad news.  So here are a few suggestions that could be helpful:

  • Tell God how you feel & what you’re thinking.  Reading Psalms & Job give some really  insightful thoughts & expression to emotions that are raw & real.
  • Perspective adjustments:  sometimes it’s helpful to look at a broader picture than just the bad news
  • Consider the cause:  is it possible that the bad news is a consequence of something you did?  If so, maybe it would be helpful to make some course corrections / different decisions.
  • Choose to trust God:  It always encourages me to remember that God uses all things for the the good to those who love Him & stay aligned with God’s purposes

Feel free to pass this along to any friends / family who might be struggling with getting some bad news

Crazy Maladies

Dislocated shoulder, Cambodian spider bite, concussion & maybe a hairline fracture:  these are some of the injuries my doctor has diagnosed over the recent years.  So whenever I book an appointment, I grimace as I anticipate their amused facial reactions.  And I’d prefer to skip the whole experience & be on my merry way, injury free.  But life has a way of serving up some hurtful maladies.

Thankfully, we have a Divine Physician who specializes in healing & repairing bodies, emotions, memories, injuries, hurts, etc.  Let’s be careful that we don’t allow our tendency to be independent to sabotage Jesus’ healing work.  Compensatory behaviors can interfere with divine healing, just sayin’

🙂

Being Uncomfortable

“That’s awkward!”  I’ve said this in various contexts: social, athletic, ministry, cultural & lots more. If you’re like me, we tend to avoid what’s awkward & uncomfortable, but sometimes this is detrimental. 

When I look at Jesus’ disciples, they seemed to follow Jesus into lots of uncomfortable, inconvenient & awkward scenarios, such as sinking boats, conversations with demon possessed people, massive throw downs with religious leaders & not just a few baffling teaching moments / parables. 

Here’s some truth that could be helpful:  uncomfortable is often when we grow the most. And maybe we need to grow & mature more than we need comfort & convenience 🙂

Selah 

Reset and Upset

“Wakey Wakey,” said my body at 4am this morning. When I looked at the clock, my brain said, “Sleepy! Sleepy!”  And that’s the challenge with jet lag: you wake up at crazy hours & you want to sleep when it’s time to be awake. I’m just back from Cambodia, so it takes a little time to reset ones clock & let the body catch up to the proper time zone. Getting upset won’t help the reset. 

Sometimes, we also need to reset our focus & priorities to what is best aligned with genuine love. Instead of managing to the culture around us or pursuing creature comforts, let’s upset the mundane & conventional to go after what’s exceptional & revolutionary.  And we can start today by doing the quote from Mother Teresa, “Do little things with great love”

Go BIG!!!

This is part of the skyline for Phnom Penh & it has grown immensely over the last few years!  I’m here because God put a vision in my heart to open nightcare centers in Cambodia. Nightcare is my work w Saving Moses where we look after the babies & toddlers of sex workers while they work.  At our centers, each baby : toddler receives a warm welcome, bath, clean clothes, dinner, some basic education & a safe place to sleep through the night, all in the atmosphere of genuine love. Without nightcare they would be at severe risk to experience horrific trauma. 

We’ve been working here for many years & I LOVE what we do, so much that I want MORE!!  

Dream big with God. Let Holy Spirit show you vistas & impossibilities that quicken your pulse. Then take a step in that direction!  Of course there are hardships & setbacks, but don’t let these hinder you before you even take a step!  GO BIG!!!

Convenient, Comfort & Cushy

I wonder how many wonderful experiences & people we miss because we make these 3 C’s our endgame. Presently, I’m riding in a Tuk Tuk in Cambodia & I can decide which filter in my thinking will be my perspective. I can choose the 3C’s & everything will be hot, noisy, smelly, loud, annoying & repulsive. Or I can choose the Adventure filter & my ride will be informative, interactive w the people around me at stoplights, breezy & bright.
So let’s consider how we think & the possible filters that we use to affect our perspective. And above all, let’s love lavishly & authentically since this is how we are loved by our Heavenly Father 🙂

Try Something New

It’s easy to get in a rut & mindlessly do the same thing. And it seems to me like we crave routine at the expense of adventure & novelty!

So here’s a fun challenge: try something new!!  I say this as I’m catching a bus to the airport to join our team flying to Cambodia for nightcare w Saving Moses!  Here are some ideas for trying new things:

  • Go on a missions trip,
  • join a new club, small group or workout class,
  • eat some food from a different culture,
  • stretch into Holy Spirit for more involvement in your life,
  • give yourself to more worship,
  • read a book of the Bible that isn’t to your normal preference. 

If you’re feeling dull & lifeless, give yourself some fresh experiences & endeavor to walk w Holy Spirit today!!

The Flexible Factor

I’m sitting in a room with extremely brilliant people & everyone has various areas of expertise. And in this meeting, regardless of what we’re individually good at, we are all working to contribute past just our expertise. The contributions we are making in this meeting require us to be flexible – to go out of our comfort zone & expertise rather than just staying in our niche. 

I think this is also how we walk with Holy Spirit in our daily living. Generally, when we are experts in a specific area, we can forget to ask for Help or Divine input. But when we keep a flexible mindset, I think we stay more available for input from Holy Spirit, which we need everyday!

What Stresses You?

Each person has unique things that cause stress.  Some folk get stressed with job interviews while others get stressed with traveling to new places.  Mostly, I don’t get stressed about much, except when I’m meeting heaps of new people.  I appreciate that this shouldn’t be something stressful for me, but shouldn’t doesn’t change reality.

No matter what causes you to be stressed, here are some helpful pointers:

  • peace on the inside can help to mitigate external pressure:  Jesus is our Prince of Peace, so it helps me to remember that His leadership in my heart brings peace
  • perspective:  things change, time passes and you grow;  rarely is stress a permanent state of being
  • past inventory:  count up some things from the past that have been stressful and consider how God has helped you to overcome & resolve those challenges.  God is the same today 🙂

Important Parts

Who knew that a metatarsal was so important?!?!!!  For that matter, who even knows what a metatarsal is???

And this is exactly my point. If you’ve ever broken your toe, you’ll know that a metatarsal (toe bone) is super important & helpful for ambulatory ease ,)

Translation: if you want to walk without pain, don’t break your toe!

The same principle holds true in the Body of Christ. Every person is important & plays a vital role, regardless of how visible or invisible they may be. So let’s not compare ourselves to one another because we each play a unique & essential role. Some of us are spleens, eardrums, corneas, colons & clavicles. If you’re a neuron, you’re every bit as vital as a duodenum, albeit entirely different. 

Let’s never belittle nor minimize our place or the role others play throughout the Body of Christ!  You’re essential!!

Not My Flavor

 I recently watched the NBA championship series between the Cavaliers & Warriors. Both teams have very different styles & it’s easy to find strong proponents for each style. There are heaps of folk who rightfully admire LeBron James, for the Cavs & heaps of folk who like the point spread among several players for the Warriors. 

Personally, I tend to admire the teamwork style of play over more of the superstar style.  With that said, I’ve been thinking about my distaste for styles that are different than my preference. And I’ve come to this conclusion: God has made each of us in unique & wonderful ways. Some individuals are wired up for massive individual achievements & some are wired up for the team approach. Being hostile & acrimonious against styles we don’t like can show not just a bias but also the refusal to grow & respect others who are different than ourselves. 

With this line of thinking, I would suggest that Paul is a phenomenal NT example of a massively high achiever, who valued Help along his various journeys. Maybe Barnabas would be an example of a team player, looking to include as many teammates as he possibly could throughout his life. Both men had unique gifts, contributions & value to add to God’s kingdom. Let’s be careful to respect others who have different giftings rather than belittle & deride them for not being like us 🙂