The Aquaman

This weekend, I learned about some swimming races near my house at the local reservoir. I learned about these “Aquaman” races from a nice lady after I attempted to do an open water swim at a pond near the mountains here in Denver. My swimming was very disappointing to me & when I got out of the pond, I didn’t feel friendly whatsoever. Nevertheless, I started chatting with the lady nearby & she was very kind & informative. We had a lovely conversation & she helped me know of some open water swimming options that sound really fun!
I say this to encourage you about those moments when you’re struggling or discouraged. Remember that God can encourage & strengthen you in a variety of ways that are often unexpected. Be careful if you’re discouraged not to turn inward so much that you don’t allow God to help or strengthen you with creative ideas & unexpected encouragement!

Some Quiet

Today, my family & I walked through the St Francis cathedral in Santa Fe NM. This church was established in 1610 & it was extremely beautiful with a southwest motif. For me, I could linger in the likes of these places for the stillness, quiet & serenity. It’s a contrast to the last 2weeks road trip with my family in a minivan for more than 5,000 that my husband has driven. While this vacation has been very diverse & scenic, sometimes a person needs some stillness in the soul for the feet to find some solid ground.
Be sure this weekend to carve in some quiet & still. For me, I find this helpful so that I can walk with the Holy Spirit better ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

No Pretending

“The well is deep & you have nothing to draw with.” Little did the Samaritan woman know that her observation about the deep well would foreshadow the deep conversation she would have with Jesus in John 4. Initially, their discussion was about getting Jesus a drink of water, but in no time, Jesus went for the jugular when He told her to bring along her husband & then He read her mail about the litany of failed marriages she had. Clearly, with Jesus there was no pretending.
And I think this value rings true for us today as well. When it comes to talking wth Jesus, there’s no sense in posturing or pretending. It’s better to come to Jesus in full disclosure & entire access. This is an essential ingredient to live in the continual state of healing & redemption that Jesus has for us!! The Samaritan woman went back to her town & declared to them, “Come & see a man who told me everything I ever did!” And thus began the Jesus revolution that turned her town upside down!

Breathing Room

Ever ridden in a crowded car, train or plane & felt squashed? I’ve had plenty of experiences where there’s been virtually no personal space & that can be very unnerving. For two weeks, my family & I are driving to the West Coast & back home to Denver. Consequently, breathing room can be a challenge – think three teenagers in a mini-van with two parents, luggage, cooler for food & no wifi ๐Ÿ™‚
This morning, I got up early to have some quiet & solitude, personal time with God. Consequently, I feel more human & less prickly, which is good for everyone. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, regularly spending personal time with God is good for the spirit, emotions, thought life, relationships & mindset. Time with God breathes life into our existence!

Unlovable

I know that there are seasons when I’m more lovable. And I’m like-able when I’m not sullen, morose, discouraged or cranky. But I’m not a robot & I go through the ups & downs of life. Sometimes I go through experiences & seasons that are extremely difficult. Sometimes, I make bad decisions, letting my flesh rule my choices & priorities & that’s no bueno.
Here’s the hope: In my paraphrase, Romans 5:8 says that in my least lovable condition, Jesus demonstrated His most extravagant love for me by giving His life in my place. I’ve read this verse loads of times, but what always stops my heart is that the verb “demonstrate” is in the present tense in Greek, which means a continuous activity. So God is continually demonstrating Their love to me, since They are Triune & that’s heaps of continuous love!!! I never grow weary of remembering that God loves me because God is love & not because I’m lovable or I deserve or earned that love ๐Ÿ™‚

Uber Rides

Today’s Uber driver is from Darfur Sudan. He has 7 brothers, 2 sisters & both parents all back in Darfur. This is the place where they had a genocide almost 15years ago so I was fascinated to listen to my driver talk about his circuitous journey to the US. Whenever I uber it, the drivers are always from a distant country: Mali, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam, etc. When I listen to each of these drivers, it’s astounding to hear their stories & think about how they’ve navigated various tragedies, twists & opportunities.
Everyone we meet has had their own journeys, culminating to the moment we meet them & get to hear about their lives. Sometimes when we hear their stories it helps us understand some of their behaviors & choices. Regardless of their backgrounds or experiences, let’s choose to love & be gracious. We don’t have to know people to be loving, kind or gracious ๐Ÿ™‚

Things We Dont Like

Today, I’m in Bangledesh & I like being here because of the wonderful people. They are super friendly & very hospitable. Unfortunately, this country is one of the poorest countries in the world. They have annual floods that routinely displace thousands of people, killing large pockets of the population in these horrendous floods. Additionally, the education system here is still developing, so the literacy rate is a challenge. Bangladesh has 160 million people & its 90% Muslim, 8% Hindu & 2% mixture. There’s generally a high level of respect for the various differences among the ethnicities, religions & social classes here.
Today, we’ll be going around the capital city, Dhaka, & I’m super keen to spend some time here! There are about 30million people in this urban area with lots of diversity in the spectrum of poverty to wealthy. As I’m in this city, I know I’ll see things that I don’t like, but I want to see with God’s of compassion, healing & welcome. Let’s be careful that we don’t turn away from things we don’t like, when God wants us to engage & express genuine love ๐Ÿ™‚

Hair Salon Wisdom

Whenever I get my hair cut & colored, I usually walk away with more wisdom. Here are some observations from my recent experience:

  • Augmenting / Reduction: ย This was an interesting discussion about the perceived need to increase or decrease body parts to improve one’s beauty. Let’s remember that we’re fearfully & wonderfully made in our Creators image ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Politics: ย On this topic, the best wisdom I’ve learned from my salons visits, is to listen more than I talk. Nuff said
  • Waxing: ย This is the removal of unwanted hair & it has to be done regularly or those unseemly hairs become problematic. This becomes a need for maintenance & which reminds me about keeping my spiritual life tuned up. Sin gets increasingly visible when I neglect my spiritual growth
  • Vampire Facials: ย I guess this is a new thing, but I’m not interested. The name itself repels me & maybe there’s something to be said for soap, water & a good scrub with a washcloth. This makes me grateful that while God does new stuff, I’m abundantly thankful that there’s no need to invent a new way to get close to Jesus. Indeed, the Father welcomes us with open arms, an eager heart & compassionate hands with tender words! No vampire facial needed ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

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!

What’s Better?

In Bangledesh today, I met a group of floating sexworkers, in contrast to the brothel sexworkers I visited yesterday. Sometimes I think it’s human nature to quantify or qualify bad, worse & worst. So we think that one kind or quantity of suffering is worse than another. I’m not sure that I think this entirely accurate. Suffering hurts, full stop.

Can we find it in our hearts to express compassion regardless of who is suffering or how much is being suffered?

I hugged each woman that I met this afternoon deeply & wholly, feeling that I wanted more love to pour through me for them. ย None of these experiences are easy to process but the worst thing for me that could happen would be to ignore my feelings & disregard the eyes with whom I met with deep affection & connection.

Lets love well.

Lots Of Diversity!

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!

 

Attention!! Attention!!

https://youtu.be/t0XBCrhkvMw

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!

Watch & Pray

I appreciate watches that work & these do not. Using an unreliable watch is kind of like driving on a tire that needs air – pretty soon, stuff gets messed up! Schedules go awry, anxiety increases, appointments get missed & people get frustrated, not just a little. But all of these challenges can be avoided with a functional watch.
This goes to my point with prayer. Keeping our prayer life in tune, steady & practiced is essential for our internal stability. When my prayer life goes awry, it’s only a matter of time until life hits the fan.
Who’s up to watch & pray with me?

Not LISTENING!!!

“I most certainly don’t want to hear THAT!” One of my kids said this to me a few days ago about a character flaw. We all have things that we don’t like or want to hear, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t need to hear these things.

Over the course of many years, I’ve had all kinds of feedback & input, some of which wasn’t kindly given & some of which was somewhere north of Jupiter, utter nonsense. However, I’m learning that negative feedback can often be more helpful than positive feedback, even when it’s given poorly or with unkind motives. We would be wise to remember that because our Heavenly Father loves us, He corrects & trains us not to be hurtful but rather to help us walk in the fullness of His design for us!
Remember Hebrews 12:5-6, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.โ€

Speaking With Wisdom

Almost all of us have said things we wish we hadn’t. A few weeks back, I was passing through our church lobby & greeting various attendees & I shot off my mouth. I felt totally stupid & wish I could stuff those words back in my mouth. But of course, I can’t.
Here’s some wisdom my friend told me that I’ve employed & found to be immensely helpful. When speaking, consider these questions:

  1. Should this be said?
  2. Am I the person to say this?
  3. Is this the right time to say this?

Feel free to share this with your fiends & friends ,)

Oblivious

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. ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Liking Time

It seems to me that most of us don’t like time, maybe because we don’t seem to have enough of it, or we resent the pressure it applies. When I was a kid, I didn’t like time because it seems like an eternity – now it often seems scarce.

Perhaps for these reasons & loads more, God told us to keep a Sabbath, the day of rest & refrain from work. I think that if we don’t structure our energies, resources & time to conform to God’s imperatives, we harm & even break ourselves from misusing & abusing God’s provisions.
Today, I have a pause & I find myself being not just relaxed but maybe more importantly refreshed in this space & time to exhale. Furthermore, the pause let’s me give some undistracted focus to being with God & there’s nothing my soul craves more than this intimacy with my Creator.
Let’s be grateful for time, by using it according to God’s instructions.

Unexpected

“Please keep talking.” I popped into Walmart last week for a quick errand after dropping off my son for school & the register chick said this to me. I sheepishly looked at her because I was wearing my hoodie & sweats, not the hair & makeup routine for tv. I could tell she recognized my voice & was trying to match the visual image to my voice. With chagrin I said, “You probably know me from tv with my mom, Marilyn Hickey.”

I love what she said, “I knew your voice immediately but I didn’t expect to see you in my register lane.”
I’ve thought about this for several days because I think this lesson applies to us recognizing Jesus’ voice regardless of our location or expectations. We expect to hear Jesus when we read our Bible or go to church. But let’s also listen for Jesus throughout this day ๐Ÿ™‚