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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3 Tips for Tense Conversations

Yesterday, I had some very heated discussions & I didn’t enjoy them.  They were challenging to me & it took me awhile to let my emotions unwind & settle down. When I look at Jesus’ life, he had some heated exchanges not only with the religious leaders of His day but also some of His immediate followers. Here could be some helpful tips for these kinds of conversations:

1 – Why? What’s the purpose of the conflict? To be right? To reconcile? To understand the others perspective?

2 – How? How did we get to this place of hostile exchange?  It helps to understand each persons journey up to that point

3 – When & Where?  What space is needed to facilitate a constructive discussion?  Sometimes a little bit of time & a neutral location can help reset the conversation for better resolution & less carnage.

And of course there’s the ever helpful forgiveness essential – a gift we give ourselves 🙂

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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 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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Not Me!!

“I’ll never deny You!”  These are the words Peter used to argue with Jesus about denying Him. Jesus answered by letting peter know that in less than 12 hours Peter would deny Jesus & in Luke 22, Jesus adds some instructional content for Peter after his denial fiasco.

I’ve been thinking about this conversation between Jesus & Peter for a few days now because it demonstrates our ability to deceive ourselves even in God’s presence. Whether we acknowledge or ignore it, we willingly & even joyfully think we are something we are not, or we don’t think we are something when we really are.

Jesus knows this about us & doesn’t withdraw His love nor relationship with us, as we see in His words to Peter.

Let’s take pause & consider that Jesus us knows us better than we know ourselves & that’s an essential demonstration of His genuine love for us!

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Milestone Markers

My daughter graduated from high school yesterday & when I sit down, there’s a lump in my throat. As long as I keep busy, I’m distracted & productive. But sitting down to write this blog forces me to pause. Now I have to keep the memories at bay or I’ll become a puddle of tears & I’m getting misty even as I write this.

We come to various milestones in our lives & it’s a healthy progression. In these moments we take in some of the scope of growth, achievements, recollections & shared moments, with lots more.  I’m grateful that God has wired us to be growing people. So be sure to take some moments to inventory how you’ve grown & changed, to help ensure that you’re going in the right direction & becoming the person consistent with your divine design 🙂

Happy Milestone!

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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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Measuring Spirituality

In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees, scribes & religious leaders considered themselves to be very spiritual. They ate the right stuff, kept religious holidays & the weekly Shabbat, meticulously observed social protocols, wore proper clothing, prayed with public observation & lots more. From a casual bystander, these leaders paid rigorous attention to religious details, procedures, pious particulars. By the  measures of these religious leaders, they were very spiritual.

Jesus didn’t agree nor did they agree with Him. Jesus was a friend of sinners, drunkards & tax collectors. He didn’t keep to religious protocols nor comply with fastidious piety.

If we measure our spirituality by Jesus’ standards, we’ll be loving, generous, compassionate, encouraging, forgiving & welcoming.  Let’s be careful about what we use to measure our spirituality!

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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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Lessons from Softball :)

The snow was sifting slowly to the ground and my breath was forming mini-clouds to welcome the tiny flakes on their descent.  This is a friendly way to say that last night was very cold for playing softball.  To make it even more thrilling and chilling, we had a double header & our final game concluded just before 10pm.  I felt like a popsicle as my feet shuffled me to the car.  I learned some very good lessons from last night’s adventure:

  • have FUN!!  Despite the cold, snow and losing both games, it’s fun to get outside, banter, encourage and move my aging body for a little exercise!
  • look to serve:  our team joined a rec league, so it’s not highly competitive.  This makes it all the more enjoyable to serve the other team and look for ways to be helpful – carrying gear, collecting foul balls, sharing equipment, etc
  • be encouraging more than competitve:  this is a big one for me.  If I go down the competitive trail (which is more my natural instinct), it’s less enjoyable than when I stay in an encouragment groove.

God can teach us many wonderful lessons, using a variety of contexts and circumstances.  Let’s be willing and eager learners!

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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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Wrestling with Forgiveness

Doing forgiveness is more difficult than talking about it.  Full stop.

And yet, it’s one of the only cause and affect activities Jesus talks about, based on Matt 6:14.  This is where Jesus says that if we forgive others, our Heavenly Father will forgive us.  And Lord knows that I needs heaps of forgiveness!  I suspect you might need alot of forgiveness as well 🙂

So what does it look like when we don’t forgive?  Here are a few things for your consideration.  When we don’t forgive, we:

  • nurse and rehearse the offense / wound in our thoughts & other people who will sympathize with our pain
  • look for opportunities to lash out or pay back the hurt
  • refuse to let the person “off the hook” or recognize and accept God’s grace for them

At the same time, when we forgive it doesn’t mean that we:

  • position ourself to get repeatedly hurt
  • excuse, dismiss or ignore the hurtful behavior
  • continually bring up the offense with the person who was hurtful

Even though forgiveness can be tricky, we need to be forgiving people and we need to keep our forgiveness fresh!

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Recognizing Jesus

On the heals of Easter, it’s tempting to move on to what’s next.  Stuff such as Spring cleaning, Mother’s Day, graduation prep, etc can require our attention so much that Easter could quickly be forgotten.  But let’s keep in mind that after Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to folk unexpectedly.  And maybe it was difficult to recognize Jesus because there was lots of emotional intensity that made recognition more difficult.  Here are a few emotions that maybe cause us to struggle to recognize Jesus:

  • fear:  the disciples huddled together in fear after Jesus’ death.  Jesus appeared to them despite their fear
  • grief:  maybe it was difficult for Mary Magdalene to recognize Jesus in the Garden after His resurrection because grief was so overwhelming.  Jesus appeared to her, nonetheless
  • uncertainty:  on the road to Emmaus, some of Jesus followers were trying to figure out what had just happened after His crucifixion and “disappearance.”  Jesus walked with them on their journey and helped them understand what just happened
  • doubt:  Thomas was missing when Jesus made His first appearance to the disciples after His resurrection.  Jesus came back to untangle Thomas’ doubt.

Let’s keep looking for Jesus because we can find and experience Him everyday because He’s alive!

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Getting Help

This morning, my husband told me that I could go buy some stylish clothes since I haven’t bought any for awhile. He said “stylish” as the operative word, because my idea of clothes shopping is to get what’s comfortable at Costco & downplay the style concern.  My strategy doesn’t play out so well for public speaking, media work, leadership image, etc.  And in full disclosure, shopping for “stylish” clothes almost makes me physically sick.  Why I struggle with this is fodder for a future blog.

Nevertheless, my daughter happened to hear what my husband said & she’s the style guru in our house.  She immediately hopped on the bandwagon, “Mom!!  I can help you with that!!”  She proceeded to tell me about a “painless” way to order stylish clothes online, so I gave her the green light to give it a try.  She’s helping me with this adventure & only the Lord knows how much I need help with this!!

I’m really glad that we have Holy Spirit as our continuous Help, expressed in a variety of contexts and methods.  Let’s do our best to let Holy Spirit help us with various troublesome areas in our lives 🙂

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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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Tuck Away

It’s nice to have a few minutes of unexpected pause, when you’re having a busy day. If you’re a Hugh achiever, these unexpected pauses can be wonderful opportunities to get more stuff done!  And of course, that makes us feel good & it’s wonderful to be highly productive!

But here’s another possibility to consider for an unexpected pause:  an invitation to tuck away with Jesus for a few minutes. In these moments, it can be very helpful, soothing & even healthy to take some minutes to engage with Jesus. Here could be some ideas for briefly engaging with Jesus in such pauses:

  • gratitude – express thanks for something real-time in that pause;
  • acknowledge: “Jesus, I know You’re here & im present with You;”
  • help!! consider that a pause could be a time to re-fuel with Jesus for what’s coming next 🙂
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Connect or Obstruct

“Zip it!!!”  This is what everyone told blind Bartimaus when he was yelling, fussing & making a scene. He wanted to get Jesus’ attention so that maybe he could get a miracle from Jesus & see again, in Luke 18. 

I wonder what it was like to be in that crowd who was following Jesus & to be accosted by this desperate man. Their reply, “Zip it!!” tells me that the crowd didn’t have any interest in helping this desperate man. Indeed, they obstructed Bartimeus & attempted to discourage his efforts. 

Let’s be careful that we help people to connect:  find & experience Jesus, when someone seems to be annoying or a nuisance. 

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YIKES!!!!

Have you ever been in the middle of something important & realized you’re not as prepared as you thought??  This happened to me last night, as I was speaking at the Wednesday night service at our church. Once I got up on the stage & opened my notes, I realized that I had the wrong notes. Attempting to think on my feet, I checked my phone for my notes because I’d sent them earlier in the day, only to discover that I’d sent the wrong notes!  And all of these realizations were happening real-time in front of both our church & livestream audience!  ARRRRRRGH!!!

In these moments when we are caught off guard or entirely unprepared, what can we do??

Upon realizing what I’d done, I took a few seconds to talk with Holy Spirit to ask for HELP!!!!  I decided to settle into my Bible, lean into Holy Spirit & endeavor to follow Holy Spirit real time. After the sermon, as I was driving home, I was abundantly grateful to Holy Spirit for making the sermon impactful, clear & helpful to the audience!  I’m learning to trust & flow with Holy Spirit, regardless of my circumstances or feelings.  Would you like to join me on this adventure for your life?  Feel free to check out my books on Holy Spirit (Heavenly Help & In Step), to grow in this adventure 🙂

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I Disagree!!

I have three wonderful teenage children, very intelligent & sometimes opinionated. And it’s not uncommon to have some very interesting & heated discussions at dinner time about all kinds of topics including politics, musical taste, movie preferences, Hollywood, current events, government policies, theological questions, historical events, recipes & a plethora of random topics. In addition to our wonderful kids, my husband & I have our own perspectives & opinions.  So our dinner conversations can be both diverse & intense. 

As I think about these conversations, it’s important to consider not only what is being said, but also the tone & context for these interactions. If we are going to maintain close relationships, disagreements are inevitable. Here are some helpful thoughts related to disagreements:

  • Seek to understand more than being understood
  • A sincere apology is helpful when there’s misunderstanding 
  • If you’re trying to “win” an argument, appreciate that someone will lose & maybe that’s not a good goal
  • Respect is essential for constructive disagreement 
  • We can disagree without being disagreeable 🙂
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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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A Little Perspective

On any given day, we will have ups & downs. This is the nature of life. And sometimes we need a little help with our perspective so that we don’t get stuck in a down quagmire. Here’s something that could be helpful:

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Holy Goats

I’m in Israel today & we just visited the pagan temple of Pan, where they sacrificed holy goats, a very long time ago before Jesus was alive. The local people were very sincere & committed to their worship. 

And I think that today we have our own versions of holy goat worship. Indeed, whatever we allow to consistently capture  our attention & affection could be considered a holy goat. 

Let’s be open for Holy Ghost to expose whatever may be “goats” in our lives where we should have the Lamb of God as our first & essential affection & worship!

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