What Are You Thinking?

“A penny for your thoughts?”

This is a question people often ask when someone seems deep in thought or reflective.  It’s a good question to ask when you’re getting to know someone or when a person seems unusually quiet.  But it’s also a good question to ask ourselves from time to time, forcing us to take a thought inventory.

Taking an inventory of our thoughts is important because it lets us see places in our thinking where we can make some helpful adjustments.   Indeed, consider some of the things Paul says about our thoughts:

  • 2 Cor 10:5, “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”
  • Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”
  • Rom 8:6, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace”

Let’s be attentive to our thoughts because they influence our lives in very powerful but subtle ways!

periscope vision

I’ve been enjoying the Spring weather & trying to take a daily walk to improve my physical & mental health.  It’s nice to enjoy some sunshine, fresh air and feet on the ground.  While my body is definitely grounded during these daily walks, my mind tends to wander to various topics:  kids, work, schedules, prayers, writing, etc.  Some of my thoughts can be healthy & constructive, but some of my thoughts not so much.

I was reminded today about setting my mind above and not below from Colossians 3:2 & Philippians 4:7-8.  I think our thoughts can be kind of like fish:

  • bottom feeders who scavenge off the dirt and refuse at the lowest levels
  • horizontal eaters who forage through their daily living, focus set throughout this horizontal world
  • flying fish who sail above the average existence and get to see things from a vertical rather than horizontal perspective

Let’s keep our minds fixed above & not dwelling on the average or below average existence!

Highminded & A Warm Heart

I woke up this morning to -7degree temperature. Thankfully our heater works well but my body definitely felt the chill, which compelled me to keep my heart warm. Sometimes it’s easy in the hustle & bustle of this season to get cold hearted, detached & insensitive. Regardless of the external temperature or the demands that we have, let’s endeavor to remain warm hearted.
As for our brains, part of my Bible reading this morning was in Colossians 3:2 where Paul tells us to set our minds above. To me, this means that i keep my thoughts out of the low things & stuff that’s fleshy.
I want to actively chose to set my mind in things above & keep my heart warm regardless of what’s happening around me. Who’s on board with that plan??

What’s Normal?

Whenever I travel, I get a glimpse at different “normals”. My normal living over the course of a week includes, usually some eggs for breakfast, driving the kids to various events, reading, writing, studying, some travel, coffee of course & ministry events. All of this happens on a backdrop that I take for granted: a functional car, clean bed, warm house, safe water, a friendly neighborhood, good schools for my kids & a loving husband. 
I’m returning from a country, having visited some red light districts where the “normal” living for the babies & toddlers is something altogether different. Truthfully, I’m really struggling to process this disparity during my journey home. These kinds of experiences often change me at very deep levels, reshuffling not only my perspective but likely some of my priorities as well. 

Sometimes we need to have our “normal” upended to keep our hearts aligned with God’s priorities. 

Black Friday

It’s interesting that we call today Black Friday & the day that Jesus died Good Friday – arevealing choice of adjectives for these respective events. 

Today is when lots of people do some Christmas shopping & the retail industry attempts to lure us with discounts, sales, bargains, etc. For many people, today is indeed Black Friday, a day to denote financial difficulties. On a more introspective note, Black Friday can often be an indication of black thinking: darkness in the mind about how we see ourselves, our achievements & value, various relationships, external expectations, etc. 

Instead of thinking of today as Black Friday, let’s celebrate that Jesus is the Light of the world & He has come into human existence to remove the darkness from our lives 🙂

pre-prayer

Today is an important day for Saving Moses, as we are praying, planning & strategizing for what God wants to do with Saving Moses in 2016. Days like this are important & they are have very massive impact for what we do in 2016, as well as how we do those significant goals.

We have this annual meeting at my house, so there are things that I do to prepare: clean the house, get coffee / tea ready, my husband made fresh biscuits this morning for everyone, I’ve made some good plans for lunch & some other things. Suffice it to say that I’ve prepared for this meeting with logistical foresight, mostly. But the most important thing I can do for this meeting is pre-prayer.

Let’s always remember that prayer is foundation for all of our preparation, so let’s always pre-prayer for each day J

Don’t Be Sick

A few years ago, one of my kids had food poisoning from some black beans they ate causing them to puke at 1:30a on our white carpet. Clearly, this was a rude awakening & I’d prefer to keep these kinds of events at a minimum – smile. To this end, we’ve avoided eating black beans at a certain unnamed restaurant.
What we eat has an impact on our digestive system & what we allow into our thoughts has an impact on our mental health. Garbage in = garbage out. Let’s make sure we pay attention to what we think about, making sure that the Bible takes preeminence with our thoughts. To be healthy in our thoughts, let’s keep the Bible as our central hub 🙂

Power View

I had a friend who wrestled with anorexia & bulimia. It was an entirely awful thing to watch her in this struggle & I couldn’t grasp how she could think she was overweight when the scale said 72lbs & she was like 5’7″. Despite numerous indicators that she was not fat or overweight, she still kept this mindset & it ripped me up. As she struggled with this challenge, I did my level best to be a supportive friend but there was nothing I could do to change her perspective. 
The vision she had of herself was defective & didn’t match truth, so this vision was inherently destructive. If we aren’t careful, our perspective & vision can be smoked with deception & distortion by the devil. This is why it’s absolutely critical that we live in Romans 12:1-2. Don’t be conformed to the world but be transformed by renewing your mind. Let’s choose power vision rather defective vision 🙂

Be a Hero!

Sometimes the word “hero” conjures up ideas of someone who is larger than life – maybe a superhero like Captain America or Thor, from the Avengers. So there’s this kind of silent default thinking that happens in my mind that I’ll never be that amazing, so don’t even try. When I think this way, I quietly give myself permission to be self absorbed, detached & ultimately anti-heroic. 
Being a hero can most certainly be the person who does massive & sacrificial things. But I think that being a hero is more about a mindset than a one-time action. Being a hero can happen in actions of all sizes. A hero in our world is a person with a hero’s point of view: sacrificial, generous, encouraging, affirming, engaged, minimal or devoid of complaints & criticisms. Let’s consider that a hero is a lot about how we think & not just what we do 🙂

Saving Moses has an awesome opportunity for you to be a hero 🙂

hot topic: not bored

“I’m bored!”  My kids are on Summer Break & I’d like to avoid the “I’m Bored Syndrome” that can occassionally creep into the Summer days.  I definitely remember these seasons as a kid, so I’d jet outside & do lots of different things like bike riding for a few hours, learn new tricks on our trampoline, continue exploring the canal behind our house and find varieties of mischief.  As an adult, I get bored sometimes with the mundane & hanker for some adventure.

If you find yourself “bored” even though you might be busy, here are some ideas to make the boredom evaporate:

  • prayer:  there are so many adventures in prayer, that I always seem to be learning & discovering new things, probably because God is so infinitely creative
  • exercise:  taking a walk, going swimming, bike riding, gardening, enjoy a walk with a friend
  • reading:  consider reading something you don’t normally read – poetry, blogs, newspapers, fiction, non-fiction, history, how-tos, . . . .
  • look up and imagine:  ever remember laying on the grass in the Summer & imagining the clouds to be dragons or horses, frogs, castles, birds, . . . . I used to make up stories to go with the clouds, like my own fictional narrative & very entertaining
  • memorize some Bible verses & maybe even a chapter:  occupy your mind with the ultimately creative and engaging Word of God 🙂
  • try some new recipes – Summer is always a blast to try new cooking stuff:  grilling, fresh combinations of various veggies & fruits
  • check out this UBER cool video:  super encouraging!!

Sometimes, I think we get bored because we aren’t actively engaged in the place & space we presently occupy.

Sometimes, I think we get bored because we’ve become too consumed with busy & we’ve forgotten to “be” first.

Sometimes, I think we get bored because the Holy Spirit is inviting us to some fun adventures.

Sometimes, I think we get bored because we are trying to live distracted from some pain in our lives that we need to confront and process 🙂

Have a fabulous weekend 🙂

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 🙂

I Got My Mind Set on You 

I really like the hit music from the 80s & this song by George Harrison “I Got My Mind Set on You” might be in my top 10. It’s perky, fun, upbeat & reminds me something really important – my mindset. 

In Col 3:2, Paul says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”  This verse is always a good grounding verse for me, particularly when my mind want to float into toxic areas, worry quagmires, destructive habits or other hazmat zones. This verse anchors my thoughts onto God stuff, reminding to focus my attention & thoughts on stuff that’s true, honorable, right, pure, lovely & a good report (Phil 4:8). 
Let’s set our minds on God & revel in Gods continuous love & presence with us in every moment of this day 🙂

tick tock

In an effort to counter-balance my post yesterday with, “stop waiting”, in all fairness, maybe God is doing the pick & shovel work of cultivating patience in my heart with some fertilizer augmenting, maybe.  The reason I’m thinking about this possibility is from some recent experiences in a trip to Cambodia for Saving Moses.  In this extremely brief trip, I found myself becoming really tense about accomplishing much – a very long way to travel for such a really short trip to get massive amounts of stuff done.  Did we accomplish some things?  Absolutely!!

But in those conversations I had in Cambodia when someone would say, “I’m happy to do this in the next three months”, or “Let me pray about it” or “Let’s see how this this plays out with some time”, I found myself becoming increasingly uptight.  And then I heard this small voice in my heart, “What’s your hurry?  Why are you in such a rush?”  In my natural thinking, those questions sound like fertilizer augmenting – they smell bad, feel yucky, look revolting & have the greatest resurrection potential for me to grow at this time.

Here are some things to consider about patience, tick tock:

  • slow change often lasts longer than quick fixes
  • patience develops roots and roots often last longer than flashy
  • roots are the groundwork for abiding which facilitates fruit
  • patience takes my focus off of situations and puts it back on God
  • patience can be the good side of stubborn

tick tock

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 🙂

Lizards & Snakes

I don’t like snakes, never have & I have very strong beliefs that I never will. I don’t like snakes, full stop. Lizards, on the other hand, don’t wig me out nearly as much as snakes. I watched a lizard eat a bug the other day & found myself cheering for the lizard – yea buddy! United against bugs!! 🙂
My husband informed me that I need to understand that lizards eat bugs like snakes eat mice & rodents. Even though I don’t like the snakes, everything has a place & use, by Divine design.
This makes me consider that perhaps God has a use for the things I don’t like,
I don’t like that babies starve to death with no hope for the future = Saving Moses
I don’t like that a 3year old girl sells condoms to her moms sex clients = nightcare
I don’t like that my thoughts can get murky & tainted = meditating on the Bible (1Cor 13 is a great starting place or the Sermon on the Mount, Psalms 23, Col 3, . . . .)
God can use the things I don’t like for significant redemptive value, maybe even snakes ,)

Inventory

From time to time, I think it’s important to do some assessment & personal inventory. We tend to do these kinds of exercises at the end of the year in anticipation of some possible New Years resolutions that we might consider. But I think that doing an occasional personal assessment is really healthy. So here are some questions & things to consider:
*What are 3-5 things that would be my top essentials?
*What are the consistent inputs that I have in my life? What do I watch, read, listen to, friend conversations, etc?
*Are these inputs what I need to constructively support the 3-5 essentials that I identified above?
*What top 3 areas in my life need more work, attention & help?
*Am I doing things that I could eliminate?
*Most importantly, how does my daily living align with my personal relationship w God? What adjustments do I need to make?
🙂

Lots of thinking

My trip to South Sudan with Saving Moses has been different than what I expected. I had the honor of getting to tag along with some REALLY experienced people who do all kinds of relief work & I was able to watch how they operate, what their priorities are & the importance of teamwork among all of them – so in that sense, the trip was a very good learning experience.
But now I’m on my return home & I’m starting to think about all of the issues that need work at home. I’m grateful to God for the recent pause for me with these issues – getting some fresh perspective & possibly some fresh priorities.
But if I’m not careful, I can get overwhelmed really quickly with all of these things, all on the backdrop of seeing & hearing some difficult things that are happening in S Sudan.
So my conclusion is that God is more than adequate & I am not. God has more provision than I have need & more answers than I have questions. When I run out of wisdom, strength & Sarah, I see that God is continually engaged throughout my life & I only need to lean into God – so I turn my thoughts & focus to my Divine Help 🙂

20130701-104340.jpg

Lets take a walk

I like to take walks no matter what the season is because they can help me relax & kind of think through some things. The destination for the walk isn’t as important to me as the experience of just walking & enjoying being outside. With that being said, it’s important in our thinking to be mindful of how we are thinking & the things on which we are focusing. If we focus on hardship & struggles, such things tend to get magnified. If we keep our thoughts & focus on Jesus, who is walking with us everyday, then the hardships stay small in light of our loving Savior 🙂

planning

I have lots of people in my life who are great at planning.  They know dates, expectations, schedules and how things are supposed to happen.  They educate themselves, assemble the resources that will be used and do all kinds of preparation, thinking and planning.  I’m really grateful for these people because these kinds of things can be kind of tricky for me.  For example, I’m grateful that my husband frequently asks me when I make international with Saving Moses trips if I have cash with me for traveling because I can forget important things for concentrating on not forgetting my coffee supplies ,)

Here’s my saving grace, it’s been my experience that The Holy Spirit, Whom I call The Helper, is my Great Planner – seems to go along with how God organized & planned the world in Gen 1.  This gives me great confidence that God is planning my life and Helping me along each step of the way – and for you as well!! 😀

 

a secret for making high quality decisions :)

When I was younger, I used to make decisions really fast and sometimes this worked out well for me.  Quick decisions are helpful when you’re low on fuel for your car or when you’re dehydrated and need to drink more water.  Quick decisions, however, are not as helpful when the stakes are higher – as I’ve recently learned.

Last month, I had a situation come up that was really important & I needed to make a very high quality decision on this issue.  Thankfully, I didn’t just do a quickie snap decision but rather took a few days to think, pray & evaluate.  After taking a little bit of time and getting some high quality input & advice from other people who were well qualified to give input on this type of situation, I made a really excellent decision and the outcome has been extremely wonderful.

I’ve come to the conclusion that when I need to make a high quality decision, it helps to give it some high quality time ,)