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.

What I’m Learning

Recently, I had some travel challenges that were similar to something I went through last year. This year, I handled stuff with lots more agility & significantly less angst. The things I did better with included booking an earlier flight instead of nail biting at the last minute. I booked my luggage in increments rather than the whole trip so I don’t think my luggage will go missing for 5days, smile. I also was more proactive with finding a hotel & not looking frantically for something at 2am. There are a few other things I did better on as well, so I’m happy to see that I can learn, grow & improve. I’m equally quick to acknowledge that I don’t know everything, so I continue to stay in learning curve mode. Refusing to learn is dangerous, full on. 
These travel lessons seem applicable to daily living as well:

  • Don’t choose stress when it’s not necessary. 
  • Carry heavy stuff in little increments so it doesn’t get overwhelming
  • Take opportunities to rest, trusting that ultimately God is in control 🙂

Lessons from Airport Meltdowns

I’ve had my share of airport meltdowns. I still feel sorry for the poor flight agent who got an earful from me about my luggage being small enough to fit in the overhead bin. Then there was the recent dude who wanted to weigh my carry on luggage – no need to give much animation to that exchange. And yesterday, I was hostile with the guy who made my salad because he gave me the wrong salad dressing. As much as I’d like to explain & justify my behavior, it is neither excusable not justified, full stop. 
So here are my lessons that you might find helpful sometime:

  • With the Holy Spirits help, there’s always more patience than pressure.
  • Check your attitude – it’s too expense nowadays to bring extra luggage
  • Keep grace & poise in good form: practice, practice, practice 
  • Watch the monitors: keep alert to your thoughts & anxieties, sometimes they can seep out
  • Get in the right line: bypass those cranky conversations & opt to bring peace & abundant forgiveness. 

Traveling these days affords me ample opportunities to walk the talk 🙂

Get some Heavenly Help no matter where you are in your journey!

Handling a Crisis

A crisis is a really big challenge that can seem impossible & a crisis can be different for each of us. A crisis can be a medical emergency, a job loss, a severed relationship & lots of other things. There are also lots of biblical examples of people who underwent crisis, with varying outcomes, some were amazing & some were abysmal. Here are a few thoughts about handling crisis:

  • Moses at the Red Sea: keep your confidence in God & not what’s happening around you
  • Joshua at the Jordan: be obedient & trust God for the outcomes
  • Peter after denying Jesus: don’t let failures keep you away from Jesus 
  • Saul on the road to Damascus: sometimes a crisis is nothing more than a course correction 

Happy Wednesday to you!

Thoughts on Friendships

A few nights ago, one of my best friends & I, with our families, enjoyed a totally fantastic dinner together. We laughed, played, talked deeply, enjoyed God’s creation & reveled in a totally euphoric evening. This friend & I have known each other for a long time & we’ve shared some bumps along the way. I’m confident that the future will also have some possible hiccups for our friendship as well, but I’m growing to appreciate a few important lessons:

  • Forgiveness is an essential ingredient for being close to someone
  • Being steady is better than being dazzling
  • Compassion trumps smart
  • To know another person & let one’s self be known is very great adventure (Gal 4:9)
  • Keeping Jesus as my central & core relationship keeps me healthy
  • No one is perfect

  

Unlearning

Sometimes, I’ve learned lessons that I need to unlearn. For example, I learned to be highly independent & have always been a “do it myself” person. While its good to be independent, it’s better to be inter-dependent. So my “unlearning” is teaching me to be less independent & more inter-dependent, particularly on the Holy Spirit. This idea sounds good in my thinking & feels right in my heart, but the practical execution & roll-out of this unlearning can get kind of tricky & a little scary sometimes. 
Some important ingredients that go with becoming more inter-dependent on the Holy Spirit include:

  • time & schedules: unexpected delays, mishaps & schedule busters never catch the Holy Spirit unaware
  • flexible: adapting to the Holy Spirit means that I don’t always get my way
  • trust: being uncertain or even insecure serve to remind me to be more trusting in God rather than getting freaked out
  • people: lots & lots & lots of lessons with this ingredient, to be sure

What are some things you might need to unlearn?

Things to Forget When Traveling

While I don’t consider myself a hard core road warrior, I do seem to travel a fair amount. With all of my traveling experiences, you’d think that is be a really nimble & savy traveller. Wouldn’t that be nice?!??
Alas, here are a few things I’ve learned in my adventures:

I often forget what I like the least. For example, when I travel I’m super attentive to remember my coffee supply but have often neglected to remember to bring my makeup. So I wind up stopping at Walmart or looking in airports for makeup & this can be very frustrating to be certain. 

In my traveling education, I’ve also learned to travel light, because I have to carry whatever I bring. Less luggage = less weight & smoother traveling. 

Being flexible makes traveling more enjoyable than being rigid & demanding

As we travel through life, these are good lessons to carry with his everyday:

*keep a healthy appetite for the Bible, prayer & consistent church in your life not merely as accessories but more so as essentials

*let go of the luggage & weights that could keep you from being lithe & agile: forgive quickly & well  

*remember that God is sovereign & our role is to adapt to God rather than demand from God 🙂

Wrestling

Jacob wrestled with an angel or some people think he wrestled with God in Genesis 32. I’m always riveted by these verses & how he spent the night in this divine wrestling match. When it was all done, there were some interesting outcomes:

*Jacob walked away with a limp from his hip being dislocated; don’t expect to go into a divine wrestling match without being changed
*Jacob (deceiver) was renamed to Israel, one who wrestles with God; sounds to me like an upgrade in identity

*solo gig: Jacob did this wrestling thing by himself at night – the last time we read about Jacob by himself at night is when he had the divine dream before meeting Laban in Genesis 28; solitude with God can yield some really awesome outcomes!

It’s not always bad to wrestle with God 🙂

hot topic: Memorial Day

Memories are important ingredients for learning & sometimes the lessons we apply from various memories aren’t very helpful.  For example, I remember an occasion as a kid when my dad came home from a later afternoon walk with our new puppy & my dad was sobbing & totally busted up.  I could barely figure out through his broken words & tears that our new puppy had been run over by a car & was dead.  My dad explained that our puppy had darted in front of a car into a busy street during rush hour traffic and was run over.

To this day, the place where my dog was hit still has negative associations for me & I find myself subconsciously avoiding that intersection.  That negative memory has shaped my behavior & I’d venture to guess that you may have some similar memories that shape your current behaviors & values.

I think it’s super important that our experiences and memories teach us valuable take aways, but let’s be sure that we choose the right lessons.

Some important memory lessons could include:

  • mistakes and failures are merely practice and lessons for some great success, likely just around the corner
  • communion: Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”  – may we never forget the infinite love Jesus expressed in His sacrifice for us
  • forgiveness – practice makes perfect
  • fond memories can be helpful motivations for endurance & perseverance 🙂
  • don’t forget the babies of prostitutes (the least of these) who need genuine love 🙂

Relevant Physical Therapy Lessons

I’m currently laying on my back having just finished another round of pt – recovering from shoulder surgery after dislocating it from snowboarding). Here are some brief take aways I’m learning that could be helpful for you:
*be nice, friendly & warm even when someone is hurting you – being mean just makes things worse

*take a deep breath & exhale – reminds me to pause rather than curl up in a ball to disappear 

*stretch & strengthen – both good thoughts for growing in life

*laugh when you want to cry – pain can sometimes mean growing & improving 

*be consistent & be present – half of the battle is showing up

*God knows your limits & God is continually present with strength & comfort 

Consider that there could be some pretty cool common applications in both physical & spiritual therapy ,)

winning

FinishLine   I love to win & I hate to lose – in pretty much everything.  So I automatically like all of the Bible verses that talk about me winning, being victorious, more than a conqueror, etc.  On the opposite end, the Bible verses that talk about sacrifice, losing my life, crucifixion, pain, . . . . these aren’t nearly as appealing to me as the winning verses.  But life seems to have both the winning and losing experiences wrapped into each day:  driving, competing at work / school, controversial conversations, competing against myself, etc.

I think that it can feel much better to win than lose, but let me throw out a few perks that can happen from losing:

  • losing can reveal our character when we might be at our lowest
  • empathy seems to grow better when we lose rather than win
  • winning can be sometimes be an impediment to connecting with someone
  • losing can be a place where strength, endurance and roots can grow
  • sometimes humility grows better in the soil of losing more than winning

Please don’t take this blog to mean that losing is everything.  On the flipside, winning isn’t everything either.  Maybe “everything” boils down to genuine love 🙂

#selah

Driving Blind

Last night, I had a rather harrowing & long drive home in a snowstorm. It was no bueno. I almost slipped off the road several times & had a super difficult time seeing where I was driving. By the time I got home, I decided that in the future, I’d pull over & get a hotel room for the night – cheaper than a car wreck 🙂

Part of my adventure was the whole driving blind experience. There were points when the snow was so dense that it was virtually impossible to see, so obviously I made some speed adjustments & figured out some different ways to locate where I was driving (guide rails, other cars, etc), along with lots of praying. 
Sometimes, our faith walk can feel like blind driving – scary, unclear, stressful & even harrowing. The upside of our faith walk, in contrast to my driving scare last night, is that God is driving, full stop. When I ride in synch with God, I don’t always know exactly where we are going but I can trust that God isn’t malevolent but rather has good plans & outcomes for my life (Jer 29:11) & is the best driver, full stop 🙂

bang, smash, crunch

Presently, I’m trying to work on researching & writing a few sermons in the middle of the roofers at our house almost crashing through the ceiling – at least that’s how it sounds, even with noise cancelling headphones on!!!  Holy BUCKETS!  So much for the concept of listening to the “still, small voice”!!!!  And this is precisely what I totally LOVE about God: God knows exactly what it takes to get our attention & the appropriate volume that will be effective.  So thanks to our lovely roofers replacing our hail damaged roof, I’m getting to practice my focus & discipline, paying high grade attention to what God wants to say through me and with the Helper’s assistance, I get to tune in to God’s voice & presence with great intensity and focus.  The truth be known, I need this discipline & exercise not only today with the roofers at my house, but also in my everyday, common living.  This discipline plus coffee can yield some really awesome divine fruit ,)

cheater lessons

Here’s the honest truth: without hair dye, I’m easily 60% grey.  To keep the grey at bay, I need to get my hair dyed at least every 6weeks or I start to look like a skunk with my roots growing out.  So my recent problem is that I haven’t been able to see my superhero hair stylist.  As such, I tried to buy some time with a box of cheater dye from Walmart, which apparently had expired because my hair is now various shades of purple, red, brown and even some pink, depending on your angle of observation.  All of these shades can be humorous to the observer, but not as funny to me 🙁

So here are my cheater lesson take aways:

  • there’s no substitute for professional help – this includes letting the Holy Spirit be our Professional Help 🙂
  • it’s healthy to admit mistakes and laugh at one’s self – valuable lessons in humility
  • I’m far more sympathetic with other’s mistakes when I can’t disguise or hide my own shortcomings & failures 🙂
  • cheating & shortcuts most often become expensive long cuts, so to speak 🙂

Getting Cozy with Help

  

 

 I don’t like asking for help, not at all. I’m very independent & entirely appreciate doing things in my own, full stop. So, if you’re like me, or know someone that specializes in being independent, this blog might be enlightening, maybe.

Last week, I had surgery on my shoulder to repair some damage from a stupid snowboarding accident. Since the surgery, I’m confronted with some choices: 
*I can ask my daughter to help me or I can be clothing impaired, at best ,) 
*I can ask for help with cooking or we can all eat microwave popcorn, kind of
*I can get some help with the pain or be cranky & unsocial
* I can get used to asking for help or just grit my teeth for a season & hope that no one obliterated in the meantime
All this to say that Jesus called the Holy Spirit our Helper. So for me, when I’m independent minded, I find myself resisting Who the Holy Spirit is in my life: the Original Help 🙂

marriage and 21 years

Today, my husband and I are celebrating 21 years of marriage and I’m happy to say that our marriage has far exceeded my expectations and hopes. My husband is an absolutely amazing man and I love how God uses our marriage to bless others & also to help me grow.  In the last 21 years, here are just a few things I’ve learned:

  • marriage isn’t a 50/50 bargain – it’s all in, with both feet 🙂
  • conflicts are opportunities to know each other better and to improve our communication
  • respect is an essential requirement a wife must be committed to give – disrespect undermines a healthy marriage
  • learn to complement rather than compete
  • make time for your marriage, particularly when you have children
  • be friends and pray together

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful man, Reece Bowling!!

hot topic: Olympics

I always enjoy watching the Olympics because it’s the culmination of gargantuan effort, committment, focus and training for the best results possible.  As such, it amazes me to see these competitions & it rips my guts out when I see one of the competitors fall, crash, miss a jump or mess up.  I know that they didn’t get to the place where they are in the Olympics without having numerous falls, errors, mistakes & flaws.  In my thinking, what is extremely noble about each of these athletes is that they don’t quit.  Reminds me of Paul in Galatians 6:9 – don’t get weary in doing well for we will reap a harvest in due season.  Let’s be olympic in our endurance! 🙂

turkey update

Happy post Thanksgiving! I hope your day went well, with lots of peace, joy and enjoyable food 🙂  A few days ago, I posted about how I don’t really care for cooking turkey because of the litany of failed attempts my family has endured over many years.  Well, I’m happy to report that yesterday’s turkey was totally tasty!  It wasn’t burned, not too dry, not undercooked nor any of the other ways that I’ve ruined turkeys over many years – yahoo!!!

So here’s some encouragement.  Think of something that you’ve been trying to get good at for a long time, then consider a few things:

  • perhaps the lessons you’ve learned from the failures just helped you to understand better what doesn’t work
  • be thankful that you don’t have to make the same list of mistakes – you can make new ones
  • perhaps you next attempt will be the one that brings you success
  • if you next attempt doesn’t succeed consider that you’re one step further from failure & closer to success 🙂

 

a few memories of my dad

Over the last month or so, I’ve thought of my dad on several occassions.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been traveling alot & I started a lifetime of travel when I was 5 with my mom & dad.  For whatever reason I’ve been thinking of my dad, here are a few quickie lessons I learned from him:

  • don’t ask questions to which you don’t really want to know the answers
  • always celebrate birthdays no matter how old you are because the alternative solution isn’t as appealing
  • don’t put mugs or glasses on antique wood furniture without a coaster – it can leave a permanent ring
  • smile and be warm with people just because
  • the jamocha shake a Arby’s is a nice complement to their roast beef sandwich and potatoe cakes with LOTS of Arby’s sauce ,)
  • even though nursing homes can smell bad, the people inside can be really cool & loving
  • when you make a hospital visit, pray for the person you’re visiting, even if there’s another person in the room (don’t be embarassed)
  • be patient when your dad is talking, even if he talks alot 🙂
  • I still don’t like garage nor estate sales

Happy Dad thoughts today 🙂