Growing or Stagnant?

I have the opportunity to grow and I’m not sure that I want this, maybe.  There’s an annual convention on the calendar that’s around the corner and I’m considering going this year, even though it makes me sweaty just thinking about it.

In my mind, I’ve got ironclad rationale to justify not going, but maybe if I go I’ll grow, maybe if I stay, I’ll stagnant.  I’m reminded about Saul and Jonathon in 1 Samuel 14.  Saul stayed under a tree with 600 men, while Jonathon took his buddy and started a skirmish that turned into a major military victory.

Sometimes that growth that God asks from us can be unsettling and outright scary.  But let’s chose to grow rather than stagnant 🙂

God’s Resources

“Plan your work & work your plan.”

Oftentimes I’ll ask God to give me the finances to do stuff that’s on my heart. And sometimes the money comes, but more often God gives me creatives ideas, time, relationships & solutions that help me to make progress on various plans. I’m also learning that God gives me wisdom & / or endurance.
Let’s be certain to recognize that God absolutely supplies our needs, often in ways that we don’t anticipate. Sometimes, God can even change a need so that it can align with the provisions that we have!

Wrapping Presence

It’s defintely true that I can struggle with the right spelling of words from time to time.  But in this situation, the title for my blog isn’t a misspelling.  Instead, it’s an intentional play on words to catch your attention & maybe challenge you to some ongoing generosity with Jesus.

How so?  What Jesus likes more than your words, money, service, clothing, church attendance, etc. is your self.  When we give all of ourselves to Jesus, it seems to me that this gives Jesus the greatest pleasure!  So here are some wrapping ideas for your presence with Jesus:

  • time:  we can give Jesus time in all kinds of ways – as we drive, in those unexpected moments of pause with a cancelled appointment and in the morning / night to be present
  • words:  it’s always good to give thanks to Jesus (for daily things, miracles, unexpected blessings, rich conversations, etc ), as well as some worship for who Jesus is
  • attention:  let’s ask the Holy Spirit to increase our awareness of Jesus’ presence, since He said He’d never leave nor forsake us.  I ask, throughout the day, for help with my focus and attention to sense Jesus

Be sure to wrap your presence with time, words and attention, to give your self wholly to Jesus!

Thanks For The Extra Grace

I have a pretty consistent morning routine that generally helps to frame each day with sturdy Bible applications & a prayerful mindset, usually. But this morning didn’t pan out that way. I didn’t get to have my normal quiet prayer & Bible time before my family stirs. So I ran out the door to start my day, not having the rich fellowship with God that often sustains me throughout the day. I don’t like it when that happens & I’m grateful that this is a rare occurrence.
And here’s the really magnificent thing today: I’m sensing the Holy Spirit very clearly throughout this day, despite not having my morning tuning & calibrating fellowship. Of course my absence of quiet & solitary fellowship with the Holy Spirit this morning won’t become a daily habit. Nevertheless, sensing the rich presence of the Holy Spirit throughout this day encourages me that the Holy Spirit enjoys my company & interaction, not withholding that intimacy when I fall short on my end.
Be very certain in your heart that you’re deeply valued, highly treasured & greatly celebrated by the Holy Spirit!

What’s Enough?

I’ve just returned from a 10day trip to Cambodia & Bangladesh – an amazing trip with some intense ups & downs. Now that I’m home, I find myself struggling to keep up. I can’t seem to find enough energy, get enough sleep or have enough time to navigate through each day proficiently.
I suspect that maybe you’ve had a season like this & nothing seems to be enough.
Here’s some ideas that could help:

  • Let the Holy Spirit direct you rather than drive yourself to frantic burnout
  • Be mindful of those moments of rest the Holy Spirit provides & be content in this provision, even if it’s just a few minutes
  • God’s grace is sufficient & His strength is abundant – ask for more!
  • Remember that this is likely a season & not a lifestyle.

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?

Lessons From a Drunk

My husband & I enjoyed a lovely date at a mountain cabin, complete with dessert by a gigantic fireplace with a cozy fire. We had a really wonderful date: tasty food, enjoyable conversation, no kids & relaxed time. At the end of the meal, we sat by this lovely fireplace to enjoy dessert & there was another couple nearby along w a dude holding a wine glass, talking more than just a little. So here are some interesting take aways:

  • Choices – the inebriated gentleman didn’t ruin a lovely evening
  • Fire – a drunk by a fireplace requires close supervision.
  • Talking – once it’s said, you can’t take it back. Speak wisely.
  • Moderation – just because something is good doesn’t mean we should binge it. This is useful as a good rule of thumb throughout life

Liking Time

It seems to me that most of us don’t like time, maybe because we don’t seem to have enough of it, or we resent the pressure it applies. When I was a kid, I didn’t like time because it seems like an eternity – now it often seems scarce.

Perhaps for these reasons & loads more, God told us to keep a Sabbath, the day of rest & refrain from work. I think that if we don’t structure our energies, resources & time to conform to God’s imperatives, we harm & even break ourselves from misusing & abusing God’s provisions.
Today, I have a pause & I find myself being not just relaxed but maybe more importantly refreshed in this space & time to exhale. Furthermore, the pause let’s me give some undistracted focus to being with God & there’s nothing my soul craves more than this intimacy with my Creator.
Let’s be grateful for time, by using it according to God’s instructions.

Watching Jesus

I love this picture because it has several helpful applications for us in the homestretch of the Christmas festivities.

  • Look for Jesus: it’s easy to get lost in the activities, demands, busy-ness of this season. Let’s endeavor to keep watching for Jesus!
  • Time with Jesus: there’s no substitute for quality time with Jesus, at night, in the morning, in the car, on the commute, etc. let’s prioritize time with Jesus even when it’s crazy busy!
  • Jesus’ time: I’m learning that Jesus sees & uses time different than how I do time. We would be wise to trust Jesus with timing, events, seasons, progress, sequence & steps

Right Side Up

Looking at this picture, you would likely tell me to fix it & turn it around since it looks like Jesus is upside down. However, sometimes I think the Holy Spirit wants to turn us up on end so we be right side up, based on the Holy Spirit’s perspective. Some areas where we might need some adjusting could include:

  • Money: getting is never as blessed as giving
  • Time: sometimes I need to remember that prayer can be the key for productive rather than staying busy
  • Mercy: being judgmental appealing to our flesh, mercy wins with Jesus!
  • Leadership: serving is the model Jesus gave us if we’re going to be the Jesus-kind of leader

Topsy-Turvy my friends 🙂

On Time

My husband and I have different perspectives about what it means to be “on time” for an appointment.  He thinks that being “on time” for an appointment is sitting in a chair at the appointment 5minutes before that scheduled time.  I think that being “on time” means that I’m in the parking lot of the building or near vacinity at the scheduled time.  This discrepancy in opinions has created just a little tension in our 20+ years of marriage – ok, maybe more than just a little tension, say I with a wink.

Generally, I get myself to places I need to be mostly around the right time but this strategy doesn’t always work out so well for me, of course.  There have been occassions when being late has caused me to miss important things, created unnecessary angst and I’ve burned a few meals because I haven’t paid attention to the time.

I’m thankful that God is always “on time.”  While we might think that God is late or last minute, let’s be abundantly clear that God is in charge of time, so maybe “late” is only a human experience.  Indeed, Martha & Mary thought that Jesus was too late to heal their brother Lazarus when he died.  In one sense, Jesus was too late for healing, but in another sense Jesus was right on time for resurrection.  Let’s be certain that we keep our plans adaptable to God’s schedule!

In the meantime, I’m endeavoring to work on that “on time” thing.

Improving Some More

I’m sitting down to eat lunch as I write this & enjoying a tasty lunch. My lunch is comprised of Swiss cheese, triscuits & leftovers from last night’s delicious stew. As I’m eating this stew, I notice that it tastes better than it did last night, which is often the case with leftovers.
When I was growing up, I wasn’t much of a leftover fan until I had an epiphany. One day, I suddenly understood that when something is given a bit of time to culminate, it often turns out better than the initial product.
So when we want to grow & Improve, consider what it says in James 1:4, “Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect & complete, lacking nothing.”
Never underestimate the important ingredient of time when it comes to the final product of growth & improvement 🙂

Loving Well

I love my family, full stop. Sometimes it’s easier to love than others, but my love for each member of my family is embedded deep in my heart. Regardless of my deep feelings & commitment of love, it’s important that I express this love to each individual & that requires me to pay attention really well. Expressing the love that’s in our hearts is an essential ingredient for remaining connected but how I express this love has to be meaningful to the person receiving my loving expression. So for example, one of my family members really like to hold hands, hug & cuddle. So for this person, I need to remember that love in their perspective is most meaningful by touch. I have another family member who likes to have time & a listening ear, not holding hands as much. So with this member, I endeavor to keep some dates on the calendar to have some one-to-one time.

The premise for loving well is grounded in the 5 love languages: touch, gifts, service, time & affirmation. Let’s learn what is a meaningful expression of love to the people we love so that we can love them in ways that nurture our connection with them! Let’s remember to love well!

Old and Mature

Does age equal maturity?

I was talking with a friend this weekend about being mature.  He made a comment that settled into my mind for lots of thinking.  He made the statement that being an “older Christian” was the same as being a “mature Christian”.  This is where I paused to think.  I started to think about what it means to be a mature Christian and I thought about this in light of knowing lots of folk who have been Christians for multiple decades.  Does time equal maturity?

If time and age don’t equal mature, what does it mean to be a mature follower of Jesus?  Here’s a short answer: a person who is more & more Christlike is an increasingly mature follower of Jesus.  If you’d like to ruminate on some sturdy ruffage on this topic, consider taking some time to read & digest Hebrew 5:11-6:8 🙂

Let’s endeavor to be not only aged followers of Jesus, but more importantly mature believers, full of Christlike fruit in our daily living 🙂

Celebrating the Leap!

Happy Leap Monday! I’m super pumped that we get an extra day this year & that’s TODAY! Here are some fun reasons from the Bible to celebrate leaping:

  • Acts 3 – a lame man was healed in the temple when Peter said, “Silver & gold have I none but such as I have give I to you!” Think of some places in your life that have been healed (physical, emotional, financial, etc) & this gives us great cause to leap & celebrate!
  • Luke 1:41 – John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth’s womb, when Mary greeted Elizabeth. Jesus’ ongoing presence with us is great cause to leap & celebrate!
  • Ps 18:29 says that God gives us strength to leap over walls. When I trust in God’s promise here to overcome various obstacles, it gives me great cause to leap & celebrate!

Happy Leap Monday 🙂

Do You Need More Time??

  
It’s 4am here in Cambodia & why I’ve been wide awake for the last hour escapes me. It’s all the more unsettling to me because I’m flying home today, so for me this day will have 37hours because of the time zone changes. Which brings me to the topic about asking God for more time. There have been countless occasions when I’ve asked God for a little extra time – to complete a task, to enjoy a conversation with a friend, to slow down how quickly my kids are growing, a few extra minutes to finish cooking before some company arrives, etc. But I’ve stopped asking God for more time, precisely because of how today will role out with 37 hours. I’ve come to deeply appreciate this idea of a 24hour discrete day. More time isn’t always the answer we need. So here are some thoughts about maximizing our time:

  • put down the phone & be present – time is often wasted with distractions
  • keep healthy priorities
  • live in the truth that God knows our seasons & days – what needs to happen at various times in our lives
  • There’s much to be said about being grateful for the time that we have 🙂

Time Is Your Friend

“Sarah, it just takes time & you’re making great progress; remember that time is your friend & not an enemy.” My physical therapist for my shoulder keeps telling me that it just takes time: this to a person who wants to GO FAST, have fun, play some basketball, go swimming & be active. I’m learning that maybe I’m kind of impatient, possibly ,)
If I try to do too much or go too fast with my shoulder, I just hurt myself & delay my recovery. 

These lessons can apply to lots of areas:

*learning to manage our money

*improving our physical health

*growing in our walk with God

*relationship challenges

*learning a new skill, sport or job

*parenting adventures ,)

Be patient in the process & don’t get discouraged. You’re doing great 🙂

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 🙂

time management

🙁  Sometimes I’m not good at managing time & you’d think that after more than 40 years of living that I’d be more proficient with using my time.  Alas, my achilles heel with time is people and maybe in the grand scheme of things, perhaps this isn’t all bad.

In our fast paced world, acheiving, results & productivity can easily become idols and often at the expense of deep & meaningful relationships.  While I most certainly appreciate that deadlines and achievements are super important, valuable and even necessary, at the end of the day, Jesus came for people so maybe it’s not all bad to love well and even inefficiently, which sometimes means being a little shady on the time management front ,)

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!