are you excited?!??

Thrills, chills, spills and frills – we all love being excited, inspired, encouraged & sometimes, even schmoozed.  Perhaps we can even be “excitement junkies”, from time to time, living for the next thrill or rush.  I don’t think, however, God designed our lives to be a continual roller coaster, going from peak to valley and curve to corkscrew.  There’s huge value in stability even when it seems boring.  If the truth be known, you can predict with fair accuracy a person’s future success by their daily routines & disciplines.

While it can be lots of fun to get excited, never resent the importance of stability.  Here are a few quick perks from stability:

  • strength improves with stability
  • value grows with stability
  • trust flourishes with stability
  • roots deepend with stability
  • nightcare with Saving Moses is genuine love expressed in stability

Selah 🙂

keep it perky

Truth be known, I’m not a Mon morning fan & when I taught high school, I used to think that hell would be made up of perpetual Monday mornings.  So on that happy note, let’s think about some really awesome things to keep our Monday perky & uplifting:

  • God’s love is continuous & reliable
  • Life is about exploring God’s love for us throughout each day
  • nothing we do or don’t do can make God love us less
  • we can trust God to work in our lives to bring about good things as we stay in love with God & true to God’s purposes for us
  • God is in control, full stop

🙂  Have an awesome Monday!

Just say NO!!!

There are lots of things in our lives that we should affirm.  It’s super great to be positive and optimistic.  It’s also really helpful to say, “yes” to job promotions, good grades at school, kind offers from friends and unexpected blessings from random sources.

There are, nevertheless, several things that need to always require a “NO” reply.  Here are a few ideas:

  • doubt:  pre-decide that doubt always gets a “no” answer and faith always gets a “yes” answer
  • unforgiveness:  meditating about hurtful words and actions done by others should get a consistent “no”
  • mean actions & words:  give yourself “no” permission to react hatefully or with snarky words to someone else’s mean behaviors or libel
  • insecurity:  sometimes a simple mental “no” is enough to jolt us out of that destructive thinking pattern laced with the poison of insecurity
  • destructive behaviors:  let’s be certain that we’re consistently saying “no” to addictive patterns, an undisciplined lifestyle, debilitating relationships, poor eating habits and unproductive usage of time, to name a few suggestions

What else should we be saying “no” to in our lives?  I’d love to read your thoughts & wisdom 🙂

getting stuff done

You and I probably try to do alot of things – maybe too many on any given day.  But regardless of whatever day it is, we all have things to accomplish and checklists to plow through.  Here are a few pointers that have helped me to be productive & I still need to learn LOTS more:

  • stay focused – being distracted is the enemy of getting the important things done
  • make a daily list of no more than 5 things to attempt with your highest priorities at the top of the list
  • be efficient with your time – make errands based on geographical proximities rather than by topics (put things that are close together on the same errand)
  • maximize the small pockets of time (waiting in the carpool line, an dr’s appointment that goes late)
  • delegate – getting your kids to help can be super helpful
  • ask God to help you to be efficient and productive
  • send random and kind text messages – it’s good for everyone including you 🙂

What else have you found helpful in being productive?  Please share your wisdom, insights & help!

Hot Topic: Stress – the Good & Bad

If you live in America, the deadline for filing our taxes is next week.  Maybe that’s kind of stressful for you.  If you’re a pastor or highly committed church volunteer, you probably just survived a stressful season called Easter.  Some of the upcoming events and holidays might have some stress potential for you – Mother’s Day & Graduation / Commencement.  Despite our best efforts, I don’t think that any of us can immunize ourselves from stress.  But how we deal with stress is a different issue & there’s some potential for good outcomes with stress.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • relax & take a deep breath:  I’m learning from my physical therapy from shoulder surgery that getting tense & uptight doesn’t help my muscles.  When I relax & trust the therapist (aka Helper), we make better progress
  • let stress put some fuel and motivation in your efforts:  Sometimes I need deadlines and pressure to help me be more productive – smile 🙂
  • the lifestyle question:  stress as a lifestyle is entirely unhealthy and can cause us to make poor decisions in our health, relationships, priorities and time management;  consider that you might be addicted to stress and maybe it’s time to actively choose peace over stress  #selah

Is God a Vending Machine?

This sounds like a rhetorical question to which we automatically reply, “No!” But if we look at our actions & how we treat God, maybe we treat God like a vending machine: please answer my prayers, make my life comfy, give me the money & significance that I want, fix everything & I’ll pay You for Your services with possibly church attendance, tithing or at least a tip for good service – OUCH!!
This morning I read Jer 7:27 & God told Jeremiah to speak to the Israelites even though they wouldn’t listen. So here’s something to consider: do we obey God for the results or from being faithful to our relationship? Let’s not treat God like a vending machine 🙂

contaminated water bottles

My husband went skiing this morning & just before he left, he asked if we had any un-contaminated water bottles.  The backstory on this is that I’ve had a cough for more than a week and have germified all of our water bottles.  I did some quick hygiene work (soap & boiling water) so he could take a few water bottles with him, contamination free ,)

All that is to say that sometimes we drink out of contaminated water bottles, figuratively speaking, when we pick up garbage from other people.  Here are some examples:

  • when someone is having a bad day & they do / say something rude to you, when you dish back their cranky there’s a good chance you drank from a contaminated water bottle
  • if you pick up a friend’s offense from a situation or conversation they describe to you, there’s a good chance you drank from a contaminated water bottle
  • if you bring a failure expectation into a current opportunity, there’s a good chance you drank from a contaminated water bottle
  • if you secretly hope that a person fails because you’re jealous, there’s a good chance you drank from a contaminated water bottle

There are lots of other examples for consideration, but let’s always remember to daily practice Prov 4:23, guarding our hearts, so we don’t let contamination get into our bloodstream or life 🙂

the other side

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year when we celebrate lots of things & in lots of ways.  We lavishly spend time, money, people interactions, parties, etc and revel in the celebrations of the season, opulence and abundance.  Then there’s the day after, today, when we might be groggy, overstuffed and possibly fatigued.  On this day, I find my heart longing to recover a sense of balance, desiring some still and quiet, centering into what’s really important, the One Thing that Jesus spoke about with Martha at her dinner party in Luke 10:42.  Sometimes it helps us regain our core when we sit at Jesus’ feet like Mary, waiting, listening, watching and paying attention to Who is the most Essential in our lives, Jesus 🙂

#selah

presents and presence

I haven’t wrapped a single Christmas present yet & a few years ago, I didn’t wrap any until 11pm on Christmas Eve – what was the point in that?!???  I don’t think I’m generally a procrastinator, it’s just tricky to remember & find time.  Maybe this year, I’ll wrap our presents soon, maybe.  One question worth a little consideration is what will you & I be giving Jesus this year, to celebrate His birthday.  It seems kind of counterintuitive to give everyone but Jesus a present on Christmas, the day when we celebrate His birth 🙂

So going with the 5 Love Languages idea, here are some gift suggestions for Jesus:

  • affirmation – take some moments to sing one of your favorite praise / worship songs  directly to Jesus or make a brief list of reasons why you love Jesus and tell Him
  • touch – consider giving someone a hug that would appreciate that;  sometimes when we touch someone with genuine love it’s a nice way to communicate genuine love to Jesus (when you do this to the least of these, you’ve done it to Me – Matt 25:40)
  • gifts – think about giving a coat, hats, mittens, socks, etc to a homeless shelter or discretely helping a needy family in your church, maybe make an extra donation to a charity (Saving Moses is awesome – smile)
  • service – every church has extra services, usually, to support the Christmas season:  consider volunteering a little extra to share some love 🙂
  • quality time – consider dropping by a park and taking a brief walk with Jesus or waking up maybe 10min earlier just to give Jesus your presence, which is possibly the ultimate present He desires 🙂
  • coffee – that’s all I have to say on this one ,)

Merry Christmas!

looking for Jesus

Happy December 1!  The beginning of every December, I remind myself that while I’m about to enter an extermely busy season, the whole point of all of these festivities, parties, frenzy & busy-ness is Jesus, full stop.  So I want to look for Jesus every day this month:

  • like the shepherds looking for a newborn in a feeding trough,
  • like the wisemen looking for a King guided by a heavenly anomaly,
  • even in all his perversion & tainted motives, like Herod looking for a newborn who would upend the status quo

Jesus said that if we ask we’ll get answers, if we seek we’ll find & if we knock the door will be opened to us.  So let’s decide to look for Jesus everyday during this season – let’s streamline our focus with the help of the Holy Spirit to look & watch for Jesus, who is daily with us 🙂

#lookforJesus

 

good, better, best!

We are on the cusp of entering the annual holiday season with Thanksgiving & Christmas just around the corner.  While this season is filled with festivities, fun and frolicking, it can also be frenzied and full of fatigue (wasn’t that FUN?!??).  I want to be more intentional with this holiday season.  In many previous years, I’ve felt driven and drained by all of the demands that seem to accompany these weeks so if I’m not careful, I just kind of mentally and emotionally switch off and go into “automatic mode”:  get ready, show up, socialize, leave, repeat.  While the “automatic mode” can be good, it’s not always the better choice and more often, it’s not the best.

So here are a few thoughts about making this holiday season the best:

  • be on purpose – make attentive decisions about what you agree to attend:  some invitations are a command performance & some are optional, don’t try to do everything
  • pay attention to time – it seems to me that time can totally evaporate in the holidays, so I want to be careful and selective with my time during these busy weeks
  • homemade, store bought or hybrid – many of the season’s festivities require us to bring something tasty, so let’s try to plan ahead to be ready
  • breath – with all of the hustle, bustle, excitement and buzz, it helps me to pause, be still and exhale

Hot topic: IS, blood moon, Ebola & end times

We live in a very interesting time. There are people chopping off heads & think that’s entirely acceptable & even praiseworthy – weird. This week had the 2nd blood moon in a year – also unusual. Furthermore, Ebola is now being compared to AIDS for its potential devastation to humanity value – yikes! And then lots of people think we are in the end times of the world – that God is wrapping up the human experience to move into a new era of life.
I think we live in strange times, for sure. But with that being said, there are some important things to keep in mind:
*God is still in control & God is love (a very good combination)
*lets be sure to stay fresh & intense with our prayer life
*be careful not to let fear control your thinking or outlook

Intolerant

Our modern culture applauds tolerance with great conviction. We are strongly encouraged to tolerate all kinds of diversity (spicy food, GF diets, people with different ideas, age diversity, socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicity, religion etc). In general, I think that tolerance is a nice idea but sometimes it’s application can get hazy. For example:

  • truth will never tolerate deception & vice versa (antonyms are inherently intolerant)
  • intimacy will never tolerate violence
  • genuine love will never tolerate indifference or apathy

While I think that tolerance is a nice idea, let’s not think that it should be the guiding principle nor conviction for our daily living. Tolerance should never replace genuine love 🙂

meeting expectations

There are alot of things in our lives that have expectations:  job descriptions, social behaviors, standardized tests, . . . . We put alot of expectations on ourselves about how a person should act, look, dress, speak, etc and I think that sometimes, Christianity or religion can be a really tricky “filter”.    Looking like a Christian, talking like a Christian, dressing like a Christian doesn’t make a person a follower of Jesus.  We can match up to all of the external expectations but in our hearts, we can be a million miles away from the reason Jesus died for us.  The reason Jesus died for us was not merely to make our external image appealing, but moreseo to transform what’s on the inside of us.  The defining distinctive Jesus identifies as being His follower is our love for each other (John 13:35).  Loving well is very important 🙂

act the right way???

“YOU SHOULDN’T DO THAT!!!!”  When we were growing up, you probably heard that a few times, as did I.  Now that I’m an adult, I still hear those words in my mind sometimes.  “You shouldn’t be driving so fast!  You shouldn’t be sarcastic, you shouldn’t be so casual, you shouldn’t . . . . . ”

In religion, there’s lots of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”  – we wishfully think that the right behavior will fix everything.  From my perspective, this kind of thinking is like putting peacock feathers on a cow:  accessorizing the external in an attempt to deny or compensate for the internal.

More than we realize our beliefs shape our behavior, so perhaps we would be better to consider what we believe as the first step.  Yucky beliefs and thinking always result in yucky words and actions 🙂

shiny clean

It seems to me that most of us like things clean & shiny more than we like the work & effort that goes into making something shiny & clean.  Yesterday, my kids & I cleaned out some of our garage.  Needless to say, I found lots of undesirable junk (half eaten otter pops, sticks that were used as swords, an ancient waffle iron, wood planks, etc).  After lots of sweeping, washing, moving, organizing, etc, part of our garage is not longer a hazardous waste dump 🙂

Sometimes, I think we need to do the deep cleaning work in our thinking, values, time usage & relationships.  Life gets filled with clutter over the course of time & it’s tremendously helpful to declutter our lives from time to time so that we manage our time, money & energies to reinforce our central & timeless priorities – shiny clean 🙂

hot topic: civil disobedience

I read this morning about some high school seniors pranks in NJ who have been arrested for pranking their high school last night.  Now I can’t really say that their behavior would fall into the “civil disobedience” category because it’s May, they’re seniors & might have possibly watched “Ferris Bueller”.  With that being said, I also read this morning in Acts 5 about how Peter & some of his friends disobeyed the direct commands of the Jewish leaders by preaching about Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem, shortly after Pentecost & Jesus’ resurrection.  In verse 29, Peter told these Jewish leaders they he had to obey God rather than man.

There’s a place & time for civil disobedience & some expressions of rebellion are even condoned by the Bible:

  • It’s not ok to passively watch someone get hurt or bullied.
  • It’s not ok to follow popular culture when it conflicts with loving God & loving people.
  • It’s not ok to blindly do what’s popular, trendy or hip.
  • It’s not ok to compromise your God-given identity to blend in for social acceptance.

Particularly when we are confronted with compromise, social acceptance and even being politically correct, let’s make it our fundamental priority to please God, end of story, full stop.

Smarty Pants

I’ve made some really dumb mistakes in my life – one of which was overvaluing intelligence. I think it’s almost humorous that I would say that because I’m still a massive advocate for education probably because I love to learn. Nevertheless, here are a few things that could be more important than being intelligent:
*character & integrity – people who are smart but lack character & integrity can be extremely dangerous!
*compassion – intelligence without compassion is very cold & sterile
*hard work – this seems pretty self evident
*forgiveness – when we don’t forgive, our world becomes increasingly smaller & smaller
These are just a few things I’m learning in my journey 🙂

staying power

Holy Cow!  That was Jeroboam’s solution to help him stay in power as the king of Israel, even though God had obviously put him in this position.  I was reading this morning (1 Kings 7) about how God spoke to Jeroboam through a prophet & told him that he was going to be the king of Israel.  When Jeroboam became the king, he got really jittery about keeping his power & decided that his kingdom needed it’s own set of gods, festival days, worship routines, etc that would exclude anything from the Temple in Jerusalem or the worship of the true God, as outlined by Moses.

Jeroboam was put in the position of king by God’s power but he didn’t stay long because he decided to trust in his own methods & efforts rather than trusting in God.  In my thinking, there’s no staying power of any lasting value that doesn’t include trusting in our Triune God 🙂

Seek & Find

It’s always a great pleasure to find things that we look for. One time, I lost my wedding ring for like 2years. When we found it, there was MUCH REJOICING!!
Be mindful of the things for which you seek.
If you’re looking for popularity, you’ll find it & probably be disappointed.
If you’re looking to be wealthy, you might discover that money isn’t everything you thought it would be.
If you’re looking for success, you might find that it’s nothing more than a cat-and-mouse chase.
If you’re looking for applause & affirmation, you might discover that it costs more than it’s worth
If you look for God’s kingdom more than anything else, then everything else will fall in your lap 🙂