Doing More

I’m making my way back to Denver from Angola Africa, where I’ve been for a week working with our baby malnutrition initiative with Saving Moses. I think this is my 6th trip to Angola & it never fails to bring me to my knees, almost literally. 

On this trip, I’ve never seen, held or experienced so many malnourished babies possibly combined in my whole life – over the course of close to 5days. And I’m coming home with all of these experiences swirling in my heart, thoughts & emotions. Clearly, this will be a journey for processing, literally. And at the same time, I’m compelled to do more. 

It seems to me like we all want to do more. But I wonder if we want to do more of the right stuff?  Sometimes maybe we should think about what it means to “do more” prayerfully considering if our more is being directed by God. 

That’s Weird!!

“And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm.  35 Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes.”  2 Kings 4:34-35

When I read these verses about Elisha raising this boy from the dead, what Elisha did sounds really strange to me, but I certainly celebrate the outcome!  Weird actions in contrast to resurrection outcomes cause me to pause & reflect.  Far too often, I’m quick to dismiss or reject stuff that makes me squeamish just to concentrate on the cool outcomes that I like.  Do you ever find yourself making the same kind of decision?

Regardless of your answer, I’m entirely certain that the mother of the boy who was raised from the dead didn’t mind the method Elisha used to resurrect her son.  Sometimes God’s methods can make us squeamish, but let’s never belittle nor dismiss God’s motives (genuine love) nor the outcomes, for the sake of being more comfortable & less squeamish 🙂

Feeling Pain

If we don’t feel pain, we run the risk of being unfeeling, insensitive, cold & apathetic. But for the people who live with chronic pain, feeling pain isn’t good. It’s also difficult to see people who are in pain. So what do we do with pain? Anesthetizing pain with entertainment, booze, exercise & other stuff turns out to be a very destructive way to cope w pain. So rather than anesthetize pain or run from it, let’s consider that we can ask Jesus to take away the pain & help us know Him better through the pain & suffering. Consider what Paul says in Phil 3:10-11, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

skme of the greatest potential for intimacy can happen through the shared experiences of pain & suffering. Even though we don’t like the idea, it’s true nonetheless. Think Gethsemane. Pray when there’s pain & watch what God does.

Grace Seasoning

Edgy, sharp, cranky, churlish, frustrated. These adjectives can describe us at various times. Maybe you’re short on sleep. Maybe you’re stressed about money. Maybe you have a conflict with your spouse or friend. Maybe there’s a lot of pressure at work or school. Regardless of the reason, let’s be careful about our words & attitudes in these challenging times.
Here are some helpful ideas to keep our attitudes, actions & words seasoned with grace:

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you
  • Chose self control over reactionary behavior
  • Take a 30second pause & look for stuff to be grateful for
  • Remember that we often prefer the consequences of grace rather than the outcomes of expressing frustration or crankiness 🙂

Doing Tough Stuff

There are lots of things that can be difficult: being consistent with exercise, missions trips, hostile or dicey conversations, regulating ones eating habits & lots more.  I don’t like to do tough stuff, nor did Jesus.  I say this because of His words in Gethsemane, “If possible, please take this cup from Me.”
So how do we go about doing tough stuff? Here are a few suggestions & I’d be keen to get your ideas in the comments as well!

  • Keep the end goal in mind: what is your desired outcome?
  • Be wholly present in the difficulty because often these struggles need our whole attention, energy & talents
  • Pray: divine help is always an upgrade!
  • Surrender to God’s will even when it conflicts with your desires 🙂

Chose to Celebrate

Do you have any bad things in your life? Of course that’s a stupid question. Everybody has bad stuff, little, big, occasionally & hopefully not continuous. As much as I want to avoid the bad stuff, it’s still there. So what to do?
Here are some ideas about what to do with bad stuff:

  • Pray – let’s not assume that prayer with bad stuff is a given. Praying is a resource that strengthens us, can change the bad stuff & even change us
  • Focal Point – what gains our attention usually gets magnified in our lives. So keeping Jesus scoped as our focal point helps us to keep perspective
  • Outcome possibilities – in Paul’s epistles & various places in the NT, we frequently read that hardship & bad stuff is often the pathway to really great things like lasting glory, perseverance / endurance, maturity, fruitfulness, (2Cor 4:17, James 1:4, Gal 6:9, Rom 8:17-18)

Bad may come & even linger but it will pass.  Let’s chose to celebrate the faithfulness, provision, strength & presence of Jesus, even when we’re in a bad stuff season 🙂

Did God Say?

This question is massively significant for us everyday. I say that because it was the starter question the serpent asked Eve in the Garden of Eden & it was the beginning of original sin.
So do we know what God’s Word says? Eve kind of knew, but she’s wasn’t totally clear & confident with her reply to this question & I think that’s when the enemy gets a toehold with us.
Sometimes we kind of know God’s Word, but if we’re super honest, it would be very helpful to know God’s Word better 🙂
Here are some questions to consider:
Do you ever struggle to know what God says?
Do you ever struggle to believe what God says?
Do you ever struggle to do what God says?

I think it’s really important to ask ourselves this question, “Did God say . . . ?” and apply it to our thoughts, emotions, actions, conversations. When we make God’s Word an essential priority, this will help us stay away from the enemy’s deceptions, whispers & questions!

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 🙂
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!

Happy Fourth of July!

Today, is Independence Day for the United States. This is a day when we remember the foundations of our country, the sacrifices that have been made & we express gratitude for our freedoms & blessings. It’s indisputable that America has flaws & failings. But on this day, let’s choose to focus on these things:

  • Unity with diversity can be a strength when respect is kept as a core value
  • Freedom from tyranny was the premise on which our nation was founded – let’s not be tyrants nor bullies 🙂
  • Pray for our nation & its leaders – this day reminds me of the importance of continually praying for my country
  • Jesus says that greatness is grounded in humility, so let’s endeavor to serve & bless the world!

Happy Fourth!

Can’t Find the Words

What to pray when you don’t know what to pray. Do you have those times when you’re lost for words?  Maybe life has just piled up too deep, the demands are too plenteous & the stresses seem infinite. Sometimes when we go through grief, words can seem mechanical or elusive.

When you don’t know what or how to pray, here’s a good suggestion:

Planning to Succeed!

I had an interesting chat with one of my children this morning about the importance of planning. In our conversation, they told me that they didn’t want to make a plan for the summer to achieve a particular goal. I replied, as I’ve learned from my husband, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” As much as this quote rankles me, it’s nonetheless true, across a variety of platforms, including prayer!
Watch this quick video for an idea to help you with prayer!

 

Don’t Forget to Pray!

We all find ourselves in busy seasons, when we have loads of things to do, all of them screaming to be accomplished YESTERDAY!!!!
I’m in one of those seasons this week & I heard a very sweet whisper in my prayer time this morning: “Don’t forget to pray!” This was very encouraging to me because when I get in these massively busy seasons, I tend to put my head down & close my focus to everything except getting stuff done. This sweet whisper was more than a little wonderful reminder to ask for divine Help & to remember that the Holy Spirit is with me all the time as my Helper.
Don’t forget to pray 🙂

Bad News

I hate bad news. I don’t like bad reports from the doctor, I don’t like getting bad report cards from my kids & I don’t like hearing discouraging stuff. But it happens, no matter how much we plug our ears, distract ourselves or attempt to deny what we hear. So what to do?

Here are some helpful suggestions for when you get bad news:

  • Face it – denial of bad news only makes it worse. Romans 4:19 says that Abraham faced the reality of his aged body, but didn’t weaken in his faith
  • Get wisdom – life improves with wisdom but deteriorates with the absence of wisdom. So ask God for wisdom on how to handle the bad news – James 1:5
  • Faith focus – bad news can become debilitating if we don’t keep our focus on God & His ability to do the impossible – Luke 1:37
  • Pray more – when I get bad news, it’s easy for me to worry. Let’s encourage each other to pray more than we worry – Ps 55:22

Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who’s struggling with bad news!

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!

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!

Pushing Buttons

Have you seen the cars that are started by pushing a button rather than using a key in the ignition? It seems like the “button pushing” concept is growing more common & it’s a nice upgrade for simplifying life, but for one massive exception:
Personal Buttons
Each of us have various buttons that cause us to react in various ways – some good & some, not so much. Rather than thinking in terms of people pushing your buttons & causing you to react, maybe it would be more helpful to think about the buttons that we have & why.
Instead of getting upset about people pushing your buttons, I think it’s more productive to think about what those buttons are & why we have them. This journey starts with accepting the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth & then agreeing to let the Holy Spirit lead us in truth. Without that decision, we’ll stay in perpetual bondage to the button pushing slavery & victim to the internal triggers that remain hidden but manipulated by the enemy of our soul.
Think about your personal buttons & ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth about these buttons to you!

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?

When I’m Overwhelmed

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, stretched too thin & as Bilbo said, “Too much bread & not enough butter.” Its true that I often do this to myself, attempting to squeeze in too much, yet again. But there are also times when I’m running to catch up to the busy lives of three teenagers & a thoroughly magnificent husband, to say nothing of my own workload. Today is one of those days. From the time I woke up, it’s like I can’t keep up with everything I need to do.

Do you ever feel this way? So what to do?
Here’s some real time lessons:

  • Do what’s immediately in front of you
  • Keep a running list of stuff you need to do – this can help you to stop worrying about something falling through the cracks
  • Solicit help – I just asked someone to give me grace on a deadline & they graciously agreed
  • Be careful with your attitude – when we’re in hyper busy mode it’s easy to get snappy & curt, only making everything worse
  • Pray – nothing is more helpful than requesting divine input & intervention

While You Wait

All of us have prayers that we are waiting for God to answer. Such prayers can be related to job, school application, health diagnosis, relationship challenges, kid stuff, finances, etc. It seems to me that waiting can be a problem for us, so here are a few ideas for your consideration, while you wait:

  • Take this opportunity to let your trust in God grow – Prov 22:19
  • Increase your prayer focus – Phil 4:6
  • Do little things to make progress – Gal 6:9

Let’s stay encouraged that God is answering our prayers!