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??

Concussion Free Guarantee

img_0584

This is a picture of my new snowboard & the old one that I was using when I got the concussion. The old one still has the bindings on it l, waiting for me to canabalize it for my new lovely. My new snowboard & of course a new helmet are thoroughly fabulous & I’m eager to rip some runs with my new gear that has a concussion free guarantee. But alas, no such thing exists because everyone knows that the gear isn’t as essential as the user. If the user is reckless, then no gear can make the user invincible.
This point rings true across many mediums. We often want to blame a tool or inanimate object for our dysfunctions. We blame guns for killing people & not the people using the guns. We blame alcohol rather than the addict abusing the alcohol. We blame food for an eating disorder rather than face the broken person in the mirror. We try to earn more money or gain more success, erroneously thinking such acquisitions will assuage our insatiable appetite for significance & genuine love.
Let’s take a pause & consider: when we let the Holy Spirit lead us into truth, then we can live free from deception & destruction.

How I ride my snowboard is the defining factor more than the gear I use. And how I chose to ride speaks to who I am. Let’s be mindful to let the Holy Spirit change us on the inside so we stop being externally abusive 🙂

Don’t Get Lost

Yesterday, I was in a prayer meeting and this lady prayed, “Father, please help us not to get lost in the words of the enemy.” This prayer totally arrested my attention & echoed in my thoughts for the rest of the day. 
How many times have I gotten lost in the accusing, degrading, deceptive & condemning words of the enemy? Even worse, how many times have I let the enemy influence a conversation with someone when I’ve been snarky, judgmental, sarcastic & condescending?  

Talk about a wake up call!!!

Let’s be certain that our thoughts stay centered on Jesus & that we allow the Holy Spirit to pour God’s love into our hearts. Making these choices will help us not to get so lost in the words of the enemy of our soul! 

bright thinking!

Have you been through difficult seasons when your thoughts turn dark?  Lately, it seems like this has been my lot.  It’s certainly not as bad as Job in the Bible, but it’s not a smoothy groovy season for me at this time.  A few of the challenges that have popped up lately include:  a car meltdown, lost my credit card, my husband had a stroke, one of my kids had a crisis at school, some friend challenges and discouraging news from work.

As I’ve been navigating these difficulties, the Holy Spirit spoke to me this morning about how my thoughts were getting dark.  It’s like I’ve started to see things in a warped way and I find myself thinking negatively and with grim expectations.  This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus also calls the Spirit of Truth.  In my prayer time today, the Holy Spirit reminded me about Phil 4:8 where Paul tells us to dwell on / think about what is:  true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute, excellent and worthy of praise.

So with the help of the Holy Spirit, I’m re-directing my thoughts away from the dark stuff & onto things that are THRPLGR:  true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute!  Anyone care to join me???

What Are You Saying??

Yesterday, I listened to one of my kids rant about their school, the wicked teachers, awful students & deplorable work. I don’t mind listening and sometimes I’m good at listening, which is good because my kid needed a listening ear. After about 30-45min of this content, I felt it was time for some objectivity so we had an interesting chat. I applauded their willingness to acknowledge a few of their shortfalls, but I also pointed out that from this child’s perspective, the lion’s share of the problems belonged to everyone else. This kind of thinking was allowing my kid to frame themselves as the victim & that’s no bueno. Being a victim often leaves us powerless & inert, wallowing in self pity. Seems to me that this kind of thinking runs contrary to how God has designed us, back in the Garden of Eden with power & dominion.

At the minimum, we have authority & power over our attitude & the choices we make about our perspective. Let’s be careful about how we think because our thoughts affect our words, attitudes & actions!

Pass on the Poison

Sometimes my thoughts are poisonous. For example, I’m currently writing a book & from time to time I think that what I’m writing is a garbled mess & worthless. There are times when I get in a group of people & I get frozen with insecurity. Occasionally, fear creeps around my thoughts leaving little whispers of doubt. 
All of these things are poison. If I let these thoughts run lose in my mind, I turn into a shriveled little person, ineffective & irrelevant. 

I would speculate that you might have your own versions of poisonous thoughts so let’s help each other out & agree to pass on the poison. How can we do this? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take captive every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God – refuse to let these poisonous thoughts run amuck in your mind
  • Replace the poison with probiotic verses – Gods word is alive & effective so let’s allow it to firmly root & flourish in our thoughts!
  • Take a walk – sometimes it helps to clear the cobwebs when we get some physical exercise. 

No matter what, let’s actively choose to pass on the poison!

Alarming!!!!!

We have a joke in my family about my cooking: the more smoke alarms that go off, the better the meal. So a 3 alarm meal is likely to be super awesome!!  
Alarms help us pay attention, particularly if something is bad. So maybe we should ask the Holy Spirit to be like an alarm in our thinking. For example, sometimes my mind & thoughts can get dark. I might find myself discouraged about something at work or maybe I received some bad news about one of my kids, or sometimes I might have a conflict with my husband. If I’m not careful, I can let some of those discouraging thoughts become all consuming & before I know it, I’m a victim to depression, discouragement & darkness. While I’m not saying that we should live in denial or dismiss bad news or negative thoughts. We absolutely need the Holy Spirit to alert & give us a wake up call when such thoughts go too far & begin controlling & even sabotaging our divine purpose & destiny. 2Cor 10:5 says, 

  
Sometimes the alarm goes off on my car as well, so I have these “fun” reminders in my life to stay alert & perky 🙂

I’d like your input :)

Thanks massively for reading this blog! For those of you who subscribe, MUCHOS GRACIAS & if you don’t subscribe, consider taking the plunge because I aim to keep my words in these blogs few, but insightful, engaging, encouraging & constructive!

With that being said, I’m super interested to get your input on topics or ideas about which you’d like me to write:

  • What is interesting to you?
  • What do you have questions about?
  • What catches your heart most quickly?

Your help, input & advice is hugely helpful & greatly appreciated!

 

Help to Succeed

 I don’t like to fail. Actually, I LOATH failing so much that I sometimes refuse to try something altogether to avoid the failure experience & feeling, but that’s a different blog. Here are a few things that help me with success:

*eliminate distractions: as I type this, I’m in an airport with my husband with as river of people, noise & activities flowing by me. I’m focused because I’ve got my headphones in & I’m actively disciplining my attention to write something that will help both of us 🙂
*maintain routines in whatever area you want success: writing, exercise, cooking, friendships, Bible time, church, etc; routines are fertilizers for success 😉
*frame failures, weaknesses, flaws & shortfalls in the grid of practice lest you be tempted to quit altogether
*pray & play – asking for God’s help & add some balance with a little bit of “play”
*dont quit, ’nuff said on that ,)
What are some different pointers that have helped you with success?  Feel free to share your constructive thoughts 🙂
 

Anticipation

In about 24 hours, I’ll be swimming in babies & toddlers in Angola with my Saving Moses work. One part of me loves this immeasurably & one part of me hates this almost more than anything. I loathe seeing emaciated babies, whose lives are literally hanging by a thread & their faces from previous trips still haunt me. 

While I get to travel with an absolutely awesome team & they’re MASSIVELY fun, I also know that each of us will soon be over our heads, swimming in the deep end of emotions, raw hearts scrapped on a grater & overwhelming questions that can only be divinely soothed. 
I’ll go to sleep soon on a plane & wake up in a different world, try to get my bearings & love well. Over the next week, I’ll post some about my trip, along with some insightful & intimate God thoughts. Stay tuned 🙂

internal conversations

It’s important to consider / take an inventory of the thoughts that we allow to run around in our minds.  Such thoughts can have a significant impact on our decisions & behaviors.  For example, there have been many occassions where I’ve been in situations that were way beyond my skill set & I was in way over my head (sometimes in various leadership roles, sometimes in athletic competitions & often in my role as a mom).  There have also been situations where I’ve felt entirely confident, secure & proficient, to the point of being over-confident, cocky & even arrogant.

What we think in our minds is extremely important & I was reminded of this lesson from reading about the woman with the issue of blood in Matthew 9:21. In this verse it says, “. . . . ‘she said in herself, if I can touch the hem of His garment, I will be healed.'”  The outcome of the story is that she was healed, but her mindset was an important ingredient for her healing.  Some take aways from her internal conversation:

  • keep your eyes on Jesus more than fear, inabilty or even talent
  • nothing is impossible with Jesus
  • don’t quit / give up 🙂

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

hot topic: racism & Donald Sterling

In the last several days, there’s been a massive uproar about the recent racial slurs from the owner of the NBA Clippers,  Donald Sterling .  There is national outrage at Mr Sterling’s comments & he has been banned for life from the NBA.  What Mr Sterling said was totally unacceptable, despite his comments being made in a private setting.

The idea of a private setting is very relevant for those of us who follow Jesus, based on what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.  Our external actions and words reflect what’s happening in our thoughts & heart.  What we allow our mind to think about & our emotions to dwell on is very important – these are the parts that Jesus totally attacked the religious leaders of His day.  What Mr Sterling said was totally wrong, but let’s be careful about the thoughts & emotions that we allow in our daily living.  Let’s keep our hearts full of Jesus’ love so there’s no place for unforgiveness, bigotry, apathy nor passive hatred.  As a follower of Jesus, our defining characteristic from John 13:35  is our love for one another, so please don’t forget to pray for Mr Sterling   🙂

Disconcerting thoughts

In less than a week, I’m going back to Angola w www.savingmoses.org & I have some mixed thoughts about this visit. Of course, I love the people with whom we work & I have nothing but massive respect for the daily work they do. I’m also eager to see some old friends since this will be my 4th visit & I’m getting to make some nice friendships. These are nice things but there are some not very nice things that I experience on these trips. It’s not pleasant to hold a baby who is malnourished & is struggling to survive. It’s difficult to see frenzied moms who are doing everything in their power to keep their baby alive. It’s hard for me sometimes to try & explain the needs I see to an audience that can occasionally be apathetic & cold. But when everything is said & done, despite the tremendous privation I see & the gut wrenching feelings that I experience, on these trips I sense Jesus is very real ways that I’m often unable to explain & because of Jesus’ presence, the disconcerting thoughts are not as severe. Traveling with Jesus helps me to have peace in my mind & heart

Better thoughts

I’ve had some interesting interactions with people of late. Some of these interactions were in the intimidating & bully category. Being on the receiving end of the intimidation efforts, I can’t say that it was a pleasurable experience. And there have been more than a few occasions where I wanted to return some of that bullying.
Nevertheless, I decided with God’s help to look in my mind for some better thoughts & here are a few ideas for better thoughts:
*if God is for me, then who can be against me?
*I am more than a conqueror because of Jesus’ resurrection
*love never fails
*in God’s hands, a temporary affliction can turned into some heavy duty glory
*all things work to my benefit as I
Continue to stay in love with Jesus & true to His purposes in my life 🙂

Make the decision with me to choose better thoughts 🙂

focus is really important

Several years ago, I took a lesson in mountain biking and I learned REALLY quickly that where you focus is where you go.  I watched this happen with 2 of my mtn biking classmates who had major crashes because their focus became gridlocked on a hairpin turn.  When I came to the same hairpin turn, my instructor kept yelling at me to look past the curve.  My brain started to argue, but I decided to obey my instructor & I turned my head to see where the trail was going after the curve – when I turned my head to look at the trail after the curve, my bike naturally followed my focus and I never crashed in the hairpin curve.  This lesson about focus has helped me in all kinds of ways because it’s a continual reminder that I need to keep my eyes / focus on Jesus and not to get gridlocked on difficulties, impossibilities, etc – look past the curve.  Further to this point, I’ve been thinking about a really great verse in Ps 25:15, “My eyes are continually on You and you will pluck my feet from the net.”

With this in mind, here are a few things that help me to keep my eyes / focus on Jesus:

  • good praise & worship tunes,
  • being thankful
  • memorizing verses
  • prayer

Do you have things that help you to keep your focus on Jesus?  Please share!  🙂

In my “better moments”

We all have times when our thoughts can be very dark & depressing – those times when we are not at our best. When I was a kid & would be in a discouraged mindset, my dad would always say, “Sarah, you know in your better moments that these thoughts aren’t true.” My dad would encourage me to make healthy choices with my thinking & not to dwell on negativity or doubt – to be better at believing than doubting. He would remind me of my “better moments” as a path for my thoughts to start moving in a different direction rather than being stuck in the discouragement quagmire. So my friend, lets not ignore reality, but lets also with God’s help, let our thoughts reside in these “better moments”, filled with faith, hope & love 🙂

More thoughts about quality decisions

I’ve been thinking some more about the topic of decision making & the results of my decisions. Sometimes the quality of my decisions gets compromised because my thoughts & feelings are in a bad place. When I allow insecurity, fear, hopelessness, discouragement and other dark things settle into my thoughts & feelings I inevitably make mediocre to low quality decisions. Perhaps this is why Paul in the Bible said that we should take captive every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of Jesus. Decisions are often the results of thoughts & feelings, so it’s important to be dialed into that on which we allow our mind & feelings dwell.
This is one reason why Saving Moses is so important – it gives loving hope for a better future to babies & their moms who are in hopeless & even dying situations.

cause & effect

When I was growing up, we had a trampoline in our backyard & I super enjoyed getting to jump, do tricks, play games & even lay on it to watch the clouds.  Our tramp was LOTS of fun!!  On the hurtful side, I learned very quickly about the painful effects of falling into the springs or landing on the steel frame or the mis-execution of a new trick – all very helpful lessons ,)

 With this idea, I’d like to encourage you to consider that many of our actions are a result of our thoughts.  With God’s help, if we consider what we think about (be that healthy or destructive thoughts), we can realistically look adjusting our actions, behaviors & attitudes to have more godly outcomes or effects in our lives.  Take an inventory of what you let yourself think about & be careful that you cultivate the thoughts that are in agreement with God’s Word 🙂