I’m presently in Auckland New Zealand & experiencing this beautiful country & lovely people. It always astounds me to see God’s ability for infinite diversity. I also love to see the distinction of cultures & there are heaps of cultures here! With the various cultures, you might have heard of the All Blacks, which is the national rugby team for NZ & wildly popular here, an integral part of the culture. Additionally, this nation has lots of nationalities including Maori, British, Indian, Polynesian, French & loads more. In some respects, I’m not sure that I’ve ever visited a place with more cultural diversity, except maybe South Africa.
In addition to the diversity of people, there’s also loads of diversity with the actual land (islands, volcanoes, mountains, beaches, plains & rolling hills). The weather is also quite diverse & seems to change almost by the hour.
New Zealand is thoroughly beautiful & full of life. It’s definitely a country that I’d like to explore with loads more time!
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!!
I tend to run in the red zone. This means that I try to squeeze the most out of my time, energy, money, talents & attention. Generally, I’ve thought this has been a good way to do life. If a person wants to achieve a lot, suck out the marrow of life & choke on the bone, maybe even burn out, then FULL CHARGE ON!!!
But I’m beginning to see the importance of margin, or breathing room. Margin gives us space to think, recover, listen & be with the Holy Spirit. If you think about it, Adam’s first day of existence was God’s day of rest. Perhaps it’s in the margins & rest where we can experience the deepest intimacy & fellowship with the Holy Spirit, just maybe 🙂
A year ago, I had a really bad concussion & couldn’t think straight for quite awhile. It was so bad, that I started bringing my husband to my dr appointments because I didn’t trust my cognitive abilities & my memory wasn’t reliable. Normally, I’m uber independent & I don’t care to ask for help, so this was a humbling experience.
Now a year later, I’m much improved in the cognitive & memory areas, as well as more humble & willing to ask for help.
Injuries can have a way of working some tough, but necessary, lessons into our souls. Humility seems to be a tough lesson because we can often be blind to our own pride. Not asking for help & being highly independent was something I was proud about in the past. Now, although it’s not easy, I’m willing to admit that I need help & far quicker to ask for it.
When I let God work in my soul, injuries can have tremendous redemptive results!
I’m a wannabe basketball player. Having watched the NCAA men’s basketball championship last night, I’m all the more convinced that I’m a mere wannabe when it comes to playing basketball.
I also wannabe other things, but nothing more than a genuine follower of Jesus, full stop. And for this goal, I have endless hope for the sole reason that Jesus has given me the Holy Spirit, as my Helper, in this supreme goal. Indeed, the closer I draw to the Holy Spirit:
the more I make choices that reflect Jesus,
my conversations are filled with truth & love,
my perspective changes to a divine outlook rather than filtered by my flesh.
Would you join me in this adventure to be a Jesus wannabe?
Gal 4:19, ” . . . until Christ be formed in you.”
My husband & I enjoyed a lovely date at a mountain cabin, complete with dessert by a gigantic fireplace with a cozy fire. We had a really wonderful date: tasty food, enjoyable conversation, no kids & relaxed time. At the end of the meal, we sat by this lovely fireplace to enjoy dessert & there was another couple nearby along w a dude holding a wine glass, talking more than just a little. So here are some interesting take aways:
Choices – the inebriated gentleman didn’t ruin a lovely evening
Fire – a drunk by a fireplace requires close supervision.
Talking – once it’s said, you can’t take it back. Speak wisely.
Moderation – just because something is good doesn’t mean we should binge it. This is useful as a good rule of thumb throughout life
It’s probably not good to be oblivious, but it happens. For example, last year I had a snowboarding accident & sustained a concussion. This was no bueno & for a season, I was clueless to lots of stuff around me & also in my own emotions & thinking processes. This was a really difficult experience for me & id prefer not to repeat it, ever.
But here are some ways that we might be oblivious that need consideration. We can be oblivious to:
what’s happening around us (with people, situations, events, etc),
what’s happening inside of ourselves (thoughts, emotions, mind sets, etc)
the Holy Spirit
Being oblivious in these areas can create some extremely difficult problems, conversations, hardships & experiences.
We would be wise to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to pay attention, increase our awareness & give us wisdom so we don’t go through life in mindless oblivion 🙂
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 🙂
Perfect is for heaven & practice is for earth. I’m the poster child for making mistakes, stubbing my toe & failing. I’m ok with that because I can hopefully encourage others to try, learn, grow & improve.
We get ourselves in a dangerous place when we quit or stop trying. Here are some things that could help you to keep trying:
Learn – what’s the last thing you learned, besides various facts? What skill are you learning?
Grow – sometimes it hurts to grow & this can be associated with growing pains. But growing means something is alive!
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.”
Do you ever struggle with big projects? Sometimes things can seem overwhelming when they’re massive in size & scope. It’s easy for me to get under the water when I have big projects that I have to complete, but it helps me to think about big projects in small bites. So I always say, “start with the toenails when you have to eat an elephant.”
David did this when he was facing Goliath. When Saul asked David about killing the giant, David replied, “I’ve killed a lion & a bear, so God will help me with this giant!”
Here are a few helpful thoughts to eat an elephant / accomplish big projects:
Look at a small & do-able part of the big project & start there
Pay attention to your thoughts so they don’t get overwhelmed with the size of what needs to be accomplished
When you get into the project, come up to periscope depth from time to time to celebrate progress
Remind yourself of your precious accomplishments to be encouraged!
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!!
What are you planning for your vacation this year? Are you going to do the regular stuff: pools, driving, sunburns, etc? Why not try something new?
Here’s a cool idea: come with me to Cambodia & make a vacation that you’ll never FORGET! I’m taking a small group with Saving Moses to help with our nightcare work in Phnom Penh. The cool stuff you’ll get to do includes:
experiencing a new & incredible culture,
meet babies & toddlers who will steal you heart,
do some cleaning, painting & renovating with our centers,
meet Jesus in the faces of desperate people
Let’s make your vacation this year something fresh, unique & possibly life changing!!
Everyone has experienced the pain that comes from broken trust – it’s the pits. I’ve been reading about King David in 2Samuel & how he was betrayed by his son, Absalom. On top of Davids son breaking his trust, Davids main counselor, Ahithophel defected to Absalom to advise him – a double whammy.
So what to do with broken trust?
Some key takeaways would be:
Forgiveness – this is a non-negotiable
Destination – don’t get quagmired in the pain, look forward & keep going; David didn’t hang around to wallow in the betrayal
Friendships – just because someone betrays be careful that you don’t pull away from everyone; David’s friend Hushai was essential to helping David stay alive!
Do things that you’re unfamiliar with make you scared? I don’t think this is an uncommon experience for most people. On the other side, I think that we should sometimes be scared of the familiar or at least uncomfortable. I say this for lots of reasons. Being familiar & comfortable can:
create an illusion of safety & stability
lull us into taking stuff for granted
tempt us to rely on our own wisdom rather than trusting God
Let’s be careful that staying familiar keeps us from following God, growing & looking forward!
What are your strengths? Do you ever feel like your strengths are also your greatest liabilities?
I have a friend who says that I fire & then aim, or I leap & then look. It’s true. I tend to jump in with both feet & then cry about what I’ve gotten myself into. I admire the people who are more methodical and take things a step at a time & I’ve sincerely tried to do this better. But alas, I’m still learning, still.
In my thinking, this “all in” mindset has been a significant liability for me & I’ve berated myself repeatedly about not learning from my mistakes. Except last night, I had a wonderful epiphany.
This “all in” strategy serves me really well in walking with God because I’m not half-hearted & I’m quick to turn up the heat if I feel like I’m being luke warm.
All of us are fearfully & wonderfully made! We have definite strengths & with God’s help, the downside of these strength can be continually worked on so that we grow! The enemy of our soul would have us minimize the gifts that God has given us, causing us to be less than the full person of God’s design!
Let’s be thankful that God made us with such careful & creative design, while remaining committed to the continual pruning and sculpting the Holy Spirit does with us every day! You are AWESOME!
I really like to tell my kids, “Yes!” I like to tell them yes to eating salad, working out, studying, reading good books & hanging out with constructive friends. All of these get a hearty “yes and AMEN!” from me. But alas, they don’t always ask me for these kinds of things.
Sometimes they ask me:
to eat cake when it would be better to have some beets.
to sleep in when they need to go to school.
to hang out with a shady person when it would be better to do their homework.
Sometimes we ask God for stuff that’s not good for us & we often don’t like God’s answer. We can even deny that God is answering our prayers when we don’t like the answer. But alas, God answers prayer even when we don’t like the answer! Let’s trust that when God says no, it’s in our best interest & there’s a better plan or answer than what we’ve been requesting!
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!!