Succeeding in Adversity

All of us face adversity of different sizes, shapes, seasons & intensities. From what I’ve learned, it’s not always possible to avoid adversity, so shat to do? Here are some thoughts to help you have some success in the midst of this stuff

  • Focal point: focusing on the adversity seems to make it bigger, focusing on Jesus helps to keep the adversity in the right perspective
  • Practice: think back over the past struggles you’ve come through & remember that the current adversity is practice ,)
  • Get Help: more than professional help, all of us need divine Help & this is exactly who the Holy Spirit is, so be sure to ask for Help!
  • Time: decide to outlast the adversity, one day at a time
  • Prayer: agree with some friends to prayer for their struggles & that they can pray for you as well – this one helps me boatloads!

Be sure to pass this along to some friends who are going through some tough stuff ūüôā

sitting with a friend

Job 2:13, “Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that¬†his¬†pain was very great.”

These friends that sat with Job in silence for 7 days were the same friends who were not very gentle in their words to him for many chapters throughout this book.  Nonetheless, it gives me great pause to think that these guys travelled for several days to be with Job at the lowest point in his life.  When they saw how despondent he was, they sat with him for 7days without saying anything.

Their behavior really challenges me to consider if I’m this kind of a friend who could sit quietly with a friend in their greatest time of suffering. ¬†This is the idea of keeping company with someone even when they aren’t very pleasant or enjoyable. ¬†It begs the question, “Am I a ‘fair-weather’ friend, or am I reliable in the skinny / thin times?” ¬†Consider Matt 26:38 & Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

It seems to me that we aren’t very comfortable sitting with someone when they’re suffering or struggling, but sometimes, keeping company with a friend in a hardship¬†is a tangible expression of genuine love.

I like what Mother Teresa said, “‚ÄúNot all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.‚ÄĚ”

Messing Up

I don’t like to mess up, full stop. I used to berate myself when I made mistakes, so I would often experience shame & guilt. Maybe you have some similar challenges or know someone who struggles with this as well. Here’s some hope:
Peter – I think Peter’s greatest shortfall was when he denied Jesus, not one time but three. In Luke 22:61-62 it says, “The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, ‚ÄúBefore a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.‚ÄĚ 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.” Thankfully, this isn’t the end of the story. In John 21, we read that Jesus went the extra mile to meet up with Peter after His resurrection. They had a very powerful conversation on the beach & Peter affirms three times that he loves Jesus. Jesus reconciles where we’ve messed up. 

Thomas – good ol’ Doubting Thomas (that’s an identity I’d prefer to skip); here’s the guy that brings doubt to the party when everyone is exuberantly proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection! John 20:25, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.‚ÄĚ And that’s exactly what happened. Jesus met Thomas at the point of his unbelief & helped him overcome this hurdle. 

Both Peter & Thomas were reconciled to Jesus despite their failures. Messing up isn’t the conclusion when we come to Jesus with the broken & dysfunctional in our lives. Reconciliation is one of the glorious results of redemption!

Bumble & Fumble

My daughter really likes fashion & style, me not so much. Truth be known, if my clothes match on any given day it’s evidence of divine intervention. But for my daughter, matching & style are as easy for her as breathing – almost mindless. This leads me to appreciate that what is easy for her seems almost impossible for me. And this is every bit as true for you as well because I have no doubt that you are agile & gifted in stuff that is totally baffling to me. 
So rather than berating someone for an inability, let’s find & celebrate their strengths. Bumbling & fumbling is just evidence that God has gifted us in ways beautifully distinct & creatively unique. Thanks to a great friend who helped me see this today ūüôā

do you need help to forgive?

When I think about forgiveness, you don’t have to convince me that I need to forgive – I’m already on board with that. ¬†The tricky part for me is the actual¬†forgiving. ¬†Here are some tips that might help you:

  • forgiveness isn’t a feeling. ¬†Consider the Corrie Ten Boom quote, “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
  • forgiveness in the greek means “to let go or release”: ¬†when we forgive, we release the hurt, bitterness, judgment & pain
  • proficient forgiveness requires practice
  • forgiveness must be kept fresh – stale forgiveness can grow putrid in our emotions and thoughts
  • Here’s a cool & short video that could be helpful: ¬†forgiveness

Jesus Chix: just love

There is a chick who followed Jesus who always takes my breath away: Mary of Bethany. I love watching her because of her devotion to Jesus & her authenticity. The first time we read of her, she’s sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to Him – a place reserved for men who were learning from a teacher, not women who weren’t deemed as worthy to receive education nor instruction. Mary should’ve been helping Martha in the kitchen, doing domestic stuff. But Jesus applauds Mary & says that “this one thing won’t be taken from her.”
Mary’s devotion to Jesus is tested when her brother Lazarus dies, even though Jesus could have prevented his death. Mary is extremely upset by Lazarus’ death & it seems to me that she let her emotions prevent her from seeing her brother raised from the dead (John 11).
The final time we read much about Mary is when she is washing Jesus’ feet with her tears, drying them with her hair & anointing Jesus with costly oil. Her love & devotion to Jesus were nothing less than authentic & extravagant. May I love Jesus as Mary did

from and through

From time to time, we all face hardships, struggles and difficulties. ¬†Sometimes we face calamaties that are nothing less than totally overwhelming and understandably, we all want to get out of these difficulties. ¬†Simply put, we want deliverance¬†from¬†¬†these situations. ¬†Even better, we’d like to be spared from these things. ¬†But as we both know, life doesn’t always stay in the utopia zone. ¬†Sometimes we have to go¬†through¬†the hardship & struggle. ¬†When this happens and we aren’t delivered¬†from¬†the struggle, then we can most certainly trust that God will give us exactly what we need to get to the other side – strength, wisdom, comfort, genuine love . . . . The Trinity is enough.

ever been mad at God?

In my opinion, a relationship that has any degree of depth needs to be able to work through conflict, tension, disappointment, misunderstandings, challenges, etc. ¬†I sincerely believe that the deeper the relationship, the more we must be willing to work through such struggles & I don’t think that our relationship with God is any different. ¬†I think that our relationship with God is as deep as we are willing to wrestle: ¬†no wrestling, shallow depth; much wrestling, much depth. ¬†My examples for this thinking are in Job & Jacob who strenuously wrestled with God, not without some impairment.

So with this in mind, when (not if) we get mad, disappointed, frustrated, misunderstand God, let’s not sweep these feelings & thoughts under the carpet. ¬†Let’s maintain an open & honest dialogue with God because the depth with God is worth way more than the dialogue, conflict, etc ūüėÄ

Easy doesn’t always mean essential

I’ve been thinking about going through some difficult times & situations which aren’t very fun. If you’re like me, I tend to want to avoid these difficulties. However, when I think about Joseph in Genesis, he went through some extremely ugly situations – sold into slavery, unjustly accused, imprisoned, ignored & more. Nevertheless, even though he went through lots of “uneasy” & uncomfortable, he didn’t quit & decide to take an easy path.
But many times, what is not easy, is essential to realize God’s potential for our lives. So if you’re in a non-easy season or situation, be encouraged that God is cultivating your potential for something really amazing!!

I want to change

I want to change

There are things in me that I don’t like. I don’t like that I’m selfish, i dont like various insecurities that are tiresome & there are several more things in me that I’d like to be adjusted as well.
I’ve been thinking of these things lately & as I was reading Rom 5:3-5 this morning, something really struck me. It seems to me from these verses that there are several ingredients that are essential for the sustained changes that I want, 2 of which are essential: hardship & endurance. Indeed, I can see in my life that there are many good results from the combination of hardship & endurance. So I’m reminding myself to celebrate the process & journey to these changes that God is working out in my life ūüôā

Watching & Learning

This has been a pretty amazing trip so far with lots of different experiences & feelings. It’s been completely outrageous getting to have my family around, ministering, enjoying the culture with me & watching them fall in love with this fantastic country and people in their own unique ways. It’s interesting to watch them individually process the various experiences, challenges & opportunities. My kids were initially put off with the massive differences & now they seem pretty relaxed & almost casual about adjusting into this culture. My husband goes into his uber friendly & curious mode making all kinds of interesting observations & acquaintances.
I like to watch all of this because everyone has their own unique ways of adjusting & enjoying these experiences. They make the trip a much richer & diverse experience for me as their mom & wife.
So today, some of them have gone touring up to Siem Reap & one of my kids is staying with me to do some more work with Saving Moses. My thought on this is that while I’m COMPLETELY enjoying my family & our experiences, I also want to be engaged with I believe is disturbing to God’s heart – giving genuine love in places of indescribable horror & evil.
Needless to say, this trip is nothing less than amazing

Sobering

I just visited a slum where many sex workers live & several of them are using the nightcare facility with Saving Moses. Our nightcare provides a safe place for the babies of sex workers to receive care, love & nurturing while their moms work. I am presently trying to think & process this experience & meeting these very gracious moms. I’m struggling to find some words & to do the emotions from this time.
I have had a few people question my motive for starting nightcare , feeling that I was encouraging the loose behavior of these moms (enabling their adulterous & disreputable profession). My answer to these concerns is that I’ve never met a woman whose first choice to earn a living would be to have sex with multiple men in one evening in exchange for money. The moms I met today put skin, faces & names to my thoughts, as well as to the astounding need for nightcare. I am blown away

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Getting eyes checked

I’m presently at the eye doctor’s with my son for his first eye exam. We are in a dark room & they have him focusing, concentrating & answering lots of questions. Of course I’m sitting I the room with him & I’m pretty tuned into what they’re doing & asking him.
Sometimes I think that we are like my son right now – doing life, concentrating & trying to give the best answers that we can. In the meantime, it’s important for each of us to know that God is always present, no matter how dark it is around us, no matter how much we’re concentrating on our immediate environs & no matter how hard we are trying to do the right thing. God is always present & that means that we are never detached from Genuine Love ūüôā

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do you ever struggle with love???

I’ve been talking with God recently about some situations for me that have been super difficult. ¬†We’ve had some interesting discussions & I’ve expressed some of my frustrations & disappointments to God. ¬†It’s been an interesting wrestling season of late & I’m not sure that I’ve totally turned the corner with some of my questions & uncertainties.

Nevertheless, I felt God really encouraging me a few days ago about His love for me. ¬†When I asked Him about His love in relation to some of the difficulties & struggles that I’m going through, He challenged me to know that His love for me isn’t based on circumstances or situations. ¬†Maybe you have also had this struggle – looking at the challenges in your life & asking God about His love in light of hardship & difficulty.

Just because we go through tough times, let’s never doubt His love for us – indeed, He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him & remain true to His purposes in their lives. ¬†Be sure to doubt your difficulties before you doubt God’s love

What if . . . . . ?

When you have something looming in front of you, something that you are almost dreading, it can be a challenging time. For me, I have a few things like this in my life right now, but thankfully God is reminding me about His encouragement in Is 64:4 & how that as I wait on Him, He will give me strength & help me w my focus & heart.
When you’re concerned about something(s) in your future, be sure to keep your eyes on God & to trust Him to walk you through the challenge, one step at a time because He’s very faithful & capable to bring us through ūüôā

dignify the difficulty

¬†One of the mentors in my life has this saying, “dignify the trial”. ¬†I used to get cranky with him about this idea, but the more I think about it, the more I agree with this idea. ¬†When he’s talked w me about dignifying the difficulty, he means that when I’m in a tough situation that I can bring dignity to the challenge, as opposed to making the trial a pity party. ¬†Whenever I’m facing a hardship or difficulty, I have a choice to make – I can gripe, moan, worry, complain, fight, argue and other things that could possibly not be constructive. ¬†Or I can make the choice to dignify the difficulty. ¬†In my mind, that means that I don’t run around, complain, whine advertise my struggle & gripe about it to any listening ear. ¬†To dignify the difficulty, that means that I bear up under the struggle, looking to God for strength, wisdom & help. ¬†I may chose to share with a person my struggle in a very private way, but I’m not advertising my hardship to gain sympathy, support, pity or commiseration.

I’m exploring this idea in my daily living with some difficulties that you probably face as well & so far, this idea of dignifying the difficulty has been very rewarding in a very personal way. ¬†I’m particularly liking the idea of leaning into God for His strength & support, rather than advertising my struggle – this seems to be much more constructive & beneficial ūüôā

overwhelmed

 One of my first experiences with swimming in the ocean was when I was about 9 yrs old.  I was really enjoying the sand & the waves but when I tried to go deeper one of the waves up-ended me & jammed me into the sand.  It was a really painful experience because I was slammed down on my head, spitting out sand, sea water with burning eyes & my sinuses were overloaded with sea water.  I was thoroughly discombobulated.

I’ve had a few repeats with this kind of overwhelming experience and sometimes, there can be things in our life that can be like my 1st ocean swimming experience – a physical challenge that is overwhelming, or a financial need that slams us into impossible situation, or a family / relational crisis that leaves us discombobulated. ¬†I want to encourage you today that when we hold onto Jesus, He can help us through anything overwhelming. ¬†Consider how my dad helped me with learning to swim in the ocean without getting hurt:

After my wave slamming, overwhelming, discombobulating & ocean swimming experience, I ran to my parents on the beach & they checked me over to see if I was seriously injured. ¬†They saw that I wasn’t, but my dad noted that I was pretty scared to go back & try the swimming thing again & he didn’t want me to live with this fear. ¬†So he took my hand & we slowly walked back into the ocean with the waves coming one after another & I remember being scared but holding onto my dad, super tight. ¬†He was very calming, encouraging & super sturdy. ¬†When a wave might have been too strong for me, I’d grab onto my dad & I knew that I wouldn’t get dumped again because he was so strong. ¬†He coached me on how to walk into the ocean & to time my progress so that the waves wouldn’t be able to pick me up dump me. ¬†Consequently, because of his help, one of my favorite places to swim now is in the ocean.

I’m not overwhelmed by the ocean because I held onto my dad & he taught me to not be afraid, to be strong & to work on my timing. ¬†The same is true with our heavenly Father. ¬†Perhaps this is what the Psalmist is talking about is Ps 42:7-8, “Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers & Your waves have rolled over me. ¬†The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.”

the right fight

Fighting is an interesting concept that gets practiced in many different ways:

  • the guy who flips me off because I cut in front of his car
  • fighting in Afghan, Iraq, Libya & other areas
  • fighting with our spouse over little things portending a bigger issue
  • fighting with a friend over a misunderstanding or something that is wrong

There are lots of ways of fighting, some of which are better than others.¬† When I was first married,¬†Reece & I would have¬†some normal disagreement, but my way of handling the conflict was to just shut down & disengage (aka – silent treatment).¬† Reece didn’t really put up with that technique, saying that there was nothing constructive accomplished w my silence – it didn’t help resolve the conflict, make any progress toward a common goal or do anything constructive.¬† Quickly, I realized that he was right.¬† Since then, Reece & I can definately have some fights & heated conversations, but we don’t clam up & get silent.¬† We also don’t take shots at each other’s person – we may not like the other’s behavior, but we don’t attack each directly.¬† Consequently, while we’ve had some pretty sturdy conflicts, we also have developed some really good honesty & intimacy over the years.

I think the idea of working through a conflict with God is even more important than when we work through a conflict w our spouse.¬† I don’t think that God is into a passive intimacy with us, where we just roll over & play dead.¬† Think about some of the great men in the Bible:¬† Job, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Peter, . . . .¬† These men all had conflicts with God – good honest “fights” where they disgreed with God, wrestled with Him, challenged His integrity, confronted the discrepencies in the world with God’s character & sometimes just flat out debated with God.¬† If we genuinely want a close relationship with God, there will be times when we will disagree with Him & I don’t think this makes Him nervous.¬† Engaging with God whether through intense love or frustration & even anger is better than indifference & passivity.¬† There is such a thing as a “right fight”.

Opposition and Open Doors

I was reading 1 Cor 16 a few days ago & something really struck me, especially in relation to some recent events.  To be really honest with you, this past week has been pretty rough.  There have been some family challenges, work frustrations and personal struggles that all seemed to culminate within a 48 hour timeframe.  By the time I got to the end of the week, I felt rather beat up & waylaid.  In the same timeframe, I also read 1 Cor 16:9 where Paul talks about a wide open door for effective ministry being opened to him with many adversaries.  This is the same guy who said that we wrestle not against flesh & blood but against powers, principalities & rulers of darkness. 

So here’s my great revelation:¬† just because God gives us some pretty amazing opportunities doesn’t mean that the devil is going to simply walk away & stop ÔĽŅÔĽŅbothering us.¬† Keep walking through the doors that God opens for you regardless of the opposition – keep going.¬† Resistence can be a good indicator that you’re on the right track ūüôā