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!

coffee with Jesus

10174921_803160386399804_598511222473935002_n   Coffee, tea, hot water, soda, . . . . . whatever floats your boat, in this holiday season, let’s be sure that we dial in some time and attention to hanging out with Jesus.  Here are a few ideas for your consideration:

  • go through the drive through coffee place, collect your coffee / beverage and then pull into a parking space for a few minutes to enjoy some pause and fellowship with Jesus
  • go to a concert or Christmas production that you have nothing to do with for the simple purpose of being present with Jesus in this season
  • wake up 10-15min before everyone else to be still and quiet – giving Jesus your presence as a present
  • ask the Holy Spirit to help you to pay attention and increase your awareness of Jesus’ presence in your daily living
  • pray with someone, briefly and sincerely, who expresses a need
  • take a walk at night (in a safe neighborhood or park) and think about the shepherds in the field who received the angelic announcement about Jesus’ birth – what a SHOCKER!!!!!
  • be in church – there’s a good chance that someone there will be talking about Jesus during this month ,)
  • do something nice for someone who doesn’t have the ability to repay you 🙂

Coffee with Jesus: God’s divine gift to humanity is Jesus, love in skin                #lookforJesus

be fresh ,)

These are a few of my favorite things:  peaches, pho, fresh coffee, clean sheets, snuggling with my kids, a good read, a heartfelt conversation, prayer,  . . . . . And one generality that holds true for all of these things is “staying fresh”.  For example, I recently bought like two boxes of peaches because I know that we are coming to the end of peach season & I ABSOLUTELY LOVE peaches.  But the problem is that these peaches are getting “tired” – not as good as when they’re at the peak of freshness & season.  Pho is another example of keeping stuff fresh – whenever I bring home leftover pho & it sits in the refrigerator, it gets gross.

I think this is also true in our relationship with Jesus.  A stale, old and tired walk with Jesus can get pretty ugly.  So here are a few ideas that could be helpful in keeping fresh with Jesus:

  • Bible reading:  change your translation from time to time
  • spiritual conversations:  talk with a friend about Jesus and what you like about Him
  • take a bath:  sometimes we need to wash off some dirt & road wear;
  • fasting / prayer:  periodically, it helps me to do something extra (fast a meal or a few days, take a lunch to pray, look for someone for whom to pray
  • time:  it always takes my breath away when I consider that God considers my presence to be a present ,)

don’t curse time

 

I often find myself in the predicament of needing more time & less work.  Deadlines, responsibilities, demands, schedules, timelines and the like seem to eat into the 24 hours in each day with nibbles, bites and giant chomps.  I used to think that God messed up with the 24 hour thing until I read in Genesis 1:31 about how God said that everything He made (including time) was very good.  So here are some helpful thoughts about time being very good:

time-warp

 

 

 

 

  • time is our daily reminder that while we are limited & finite, God is not & God knows the beginning from the end
  • time helps us to get things done – sometimes pressure is good
  • there are many people in the Bible who only grew into their destiny because time was an essential ingredient:  Joseph, Moses, David, Jacob, Hannah & lots more 🙂
  • time is an integral part of what God established with the whole Sabbath rest principle
  • intimacy requires time 🙂
  • time is an important expression of genuine love 🙂

my dad & change

I was eating a really tasty homegrown tomato this morning & it reminded me of my dad, who totally loved tomatoes!  One year, I remember he planted more than 100 tomato plants, hoping for a bumper crop!!  Some things never changed with my dad:  strong coffee with cream & sugar, loving people, finding a priceless treasure for cheap, homegrown tomatoes & lots more.  As my dad aged, he seemed to appreciate change less and less.  That’s the tricky part – life is all about change:  our bodies change, the government changes, we have to change cars, sometimes our clothes stop fitting & LOTS more!

But here are some things that NEVER, EVER, EVER change:

  • God’s love for you never increases or decreases – it’s continual & consistent
  • time – it doesn’t stop nor slow down no matter how our perceptions change
  • the need that humanity has for God – humans always need genuine love, full stop

Timelines & Deadlines

We all have various things that we have to get done by various deadlines, along with schedules that we have to keep with dates & times that must be managed. What I find interesting about time is that God doesn’t seem to see time with our eyes or values – seems logical since God made time.
In our lives, we all have various deadlines of which God is thoroughly aware. And while I must be responsible & steward my time wisely, I must also understand that I’ve give God my days & not just my life. So from time to time, I remind myself that I’m on God’s schedule not the other way around 🙂

The importance of quality decisions

In the last few days, I’ve been thinking about the quality of various decisions that I make – not just with big decisions but also with what seems to be little decisions. It seems that when I get under some heavy pressure that I can tend to let the quality of my little decisions deteriorate under the guise of letting off steam (staying up later than normal, drinking coffee at 5pm, eating crummy food, playing on the computer rather than working out & more). I totally understand that we all need some outlets to just “be”. However, when I make mediocre quality decisions I shouldn’t expect outrageous quality results.
So I’m challenging myself to make higher quality decisions & to be better disciplined with my time & energies – quality decisions = quality outcomes 🙂

Pay Attention!

We pay attention to lots of different things: the bell on our phone that tells us we have a text message, the street light as we wait for it to turn red, our mate when they need help, our boss when they’re giving us our Performance Review, etc. There are lots of things to which we give our attention & not all of those things have a good return on investment, if you think about “paying” your attention as a means of investment.
So in my opinion, there are some are some attention non-negotiables, like our family, job, school, etc. For our optional attention, I’d suggest that we should be mindful to what we pay attention & make sure that the return on our attention is worth what we’ve paid. To me, paying attention to God isn’t an optional choice – I’ve found that I consistently need God involved throughout my life & I’ve never regretted paying attention to God. His return on investment far exceeds the attention that I pay to Him ,)

hold on a second!

 I’ve been reading about Joseph in the Bible & this morning I was going through the part where he translates the dreams of the baker & cupbearer.  At the end of his dream translation, he asks them to help him to get out of jail since he was wrongly put there.  The cupbearer was restored back his royal position & promptly forgot about Joseph.  So Joseph got to rot in jail for probably a few more years.

Here’s my point:  sometimes when we’re impatient & neglect to wait for God’s timing, sometimes we settle for 2nd best when we should have waited for God’s best.  If the cupbearer would have gotten Joseph out of jail, as he had requested, perhaps Joseph wouldn’t have been available to interpret Pharoah’s dreams & ultimately to save the life of his family & the future of the Jewish nation.

Let’s understand that God knows the times, seasons & purposes of our lives better than we do & He is certainly trustworthy with time, since He made it in the first place ,)

rejuvenate

 I find that its really important to have times to rejuvenate & perhaps these few days are for exactly that purpose.  Like virtually everyone else, it seems like December is normally packed to the gills with activities, festivities, parties, obligations & general frenzied demands.  But after Christmas, there seems to be an accepted pause or exhale.  For me, this break in activity is very rejuvenating.  It helps me to have some space & time to think, listen, be still, enjoy my family, sleep, read, cook simple things, talk long w best friends and stay warm under a heavy blanket. 

I know that soon enough, the pace will again commence & I’ll get back into the regular groove & routines.  But for this time to pause, I’m thankful.  Furthermore, perhaps when we take time to “sharpen the saw” maybe our work efforts will be more effective & less arduous 😀

how to constructively deal with pressure

It seems to me that the holiday season increases the pressures on my life, based on many add’l activities & responsibilities (Christmas programs, special meals, house projects, present wrapping, etc).  Maybe your life has some similar dynamics & demands.  Should you find yourself in seasons that have alot of pressure, here are some ideas that have helped me:

  • simplify & prioritize:  things that aren’t as important need to drop much lower on the “must do” list
  • keep core / central relationships healthy:  make the extra effort to communicate clearly, or the stress from these relationships can be very draining
  • remember that you are deeply loved by Jesus: you are always on His mind, in His thoughts & you always capture His eye
  •  minimize the noise & clutter – if something isn’t necessary & soothing consider reducing or eliminating it
  • give yourself permission to get a coffee / tea & exhale or take a deep breath
  • take some moments each day to celebrate Jesus in your life – more ideas to follow on this point

Feel free to add some more thoughts on how to constructively deal with pressure 🙂

variety doesn’t mean empty

  My boys woke up fairly early this morning & we’ve been sitting together reading a little bit.  They were just discussing between them what we could make for breakfast, given what we’ve had over the last few days (french toast, bacon, pancakes, etc).  They’re thinking of making cinnamon toast & I’m pushing for scrambled eggs for a protein boost.  Nevertheless, there are many different options for today’s breakfast 🙂

The same is true for God’s provisions in our lives.  I’m learning that God’s provisions for me come in lots of different ways.  Here are some of the varieties of ways that God provides in our lives:

  • time (unexpected cancelled activities, something takes less time than expected)
  • wisdom (creative ideas, insights, solutions, etc)
  • energy (strength in what has been draining)
  • quiet & still (these can be very rejuvenating)
  • encouragement & direction (even in small amounts & with 1 step at a time)
  • God’s presence – for me, there’s nothing more sustaining than when I am with God

So if you’re in a season that seems short on supply, perhaps it might be an interesting exercise to reconsider the various ways that God does supply for us 🙂

hearing God speak in a LOUD world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our lives tend to be really full with activities, relationship, things we have to do, twitter, facebook, concerns, etc.  If you’re like me, sometimes I have a hard time hearing God in the midst of the noise of life. Indeed, sometimes His voice seems so small that it is a stark contrast to the loudness of everything else.  Here’s something that you might find useful in listening to God:

H – help!  Ask God to help you to hear His voice (it’s interesting to note that Jesus called the Holy Spirit our Helper)

E – eliminate distractions.  Is there some “noise” you could eliminate? Switch off some unnecessary noise & perhaps this “off” could be an “on” switch for hearing God better

A – available.  Make some time on a consistent basis (I’d suggest daily) to be available to God – for Him to speak with you on whatever topic He choses, or even just to be in His presence, if He choses to be quiet.

R – revere.  It is often true that whatever we honor & revere tends to grow in our lives & the reverse is also true.  I find that I express my honor & reverence in lots of different ways, but very often by how I spend time.  Time can be a very honest reflection of what is important in our lives, especially our discretionary time

Have fun listening & watching for God 😀

Sharpen the Knife

I don’t think of sharpening my main kitchen knife until I’m using it & in the middle of trying to get a quick meal together. So the other day, I asked my daughter to make the salad for dinner & she used a different knife. When I picked up the knife that she’d used to quickly cut up a tomato, I was pleasantly surprised at how sharp that knife was! This got me to thinking about how often I’m in just straight “go mode”. Get it done quickly & move on to the next thing.
Here’s my thinking now, if I take some time or moments here & there to pause (sharpen the knife), I just might find that I don’t have to work as hard & I just might even be more effective as opposed to just staying in total “go mode”. Just something to think about on a beautiful Fall Friday 🙂