A Little Perspective

On any given day, we will have ups & downs. This is the nature of life. And sometimes we need a little help with our perspective so that we don’t get stuck in a down quagmire. Here’s something that could be helpful:

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Where Are You Looking?

When you’re driving and you look over your shoulder to check your blind spot, has your car ever veered to the side?  When I took driver’s ed, the instructor taught us that we need to be careful about keeping the car centered at the same time we would check our blind spot.  “Your car will often follow where you look.”

I’ve followed this advice mulitple times and reflected on the times when I let myself get distracted from a goal or destination with the subsequent collision or loss of direction.  So it always helps me to remember Hebrews 12:2 where it says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author & perfector of our faith!”  Jesus is our goal, so let’s keep focusing on Him throughout each day!

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Brighten the Dimmer

Mood lighting seems to be popular – candles, track lighting, dimmer switches, etc. Supposedly, this kind of light can be soothing & soft. The main problem, however, is the vision obscurity that dim light can facilitate. And if we can’t see well, then we increase our chances to make mistakes & even hurt ourselves.
As a follower of Jesus, I want to be known as a child of the Light. This means that I want to live in light, not hidden, nor controlled by obscurity. I want to bring light & love wherever I go, expressing healing, freedom & redemption. Let’s turn the light up rather than dim the light.

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What Do You See?


Presently I’m in Cambodia & this morning I was meandering around one of the neighborhoods where we provide nightcare with Saving Moses. This is always a tough neighborhood for me because of the immensity of the needs I see & feel. But it’s also a warm place for me because of the people I recognize every time, their kindness & warm acceptance. So this morning I was in this neighborhood and kind of taking in everything again. As I looked down one of the alleyways, I saw a small women & waved at her. She smiled quietly back at me. I felt drawn to her, so I walked closer & greeted her in my limited Khmer language. She was warm but respectful so I kept walking closer until I was standing just outside the opening of the space of her home. She was friendly but not overly welcoming. I peaked my head around the corner & observed a woman trying to get herself into sitting position. I could immediately tell that there was a significant physical ailment by the degree of struggle this women undertook to sit up. No joke, it took her between 2-3min to get herself upright. I kept watching to figure out what was going on with her. Her belly was really distended, so initially I thought she was pregnant, but dismissed this immediately because this was something different. She opened her shirt at her belly, revealing a swollen stomach like I’ve never seen, ever. I forced myself to not pull back from shock & tried to process what was wrong. Because I was by myself there was no help for me with any conversation, so I just stood there for what seemed a long time, unsure what to do. As I got my bearings, I felt in my heart that I was to pray for her and that was extremely helpful because I wasn’t just a helpless spectator to her pain & struggle. I stepped into the room and asked if I could pray (by that time, my translator friend came to help me). I began praying for her & also listening in my heart on how / what to pray. Of course I wanted to see some immediate evidence of healing & she did express that the pain she was experiencing was diminishing. I’ll go back tomorrow & check on her.

Seeing things that are atrocious can shock is into freeze mode or we can look to the Holy Spirit to help us be vessels for healing & divine love. Let’s chose love rather than be repelled by sickness & disease!

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Can’t See Well

I’m learning in the concussion recovery process that sometimes I don’t see well. Indeed, on Monday I visited an eye dr who specializes in vision help for people with brain injuries. My appointment showed me some interesting problems with my vision that I wasn’t aware of – my peripheral vision is messed up, my depth perception is off & sometimes my visions gets blurry because my brain is tired. All of these difficulties have come from hitting my head really hard. 
Sometimes I think there’s a parallel truth that happens in our lives. If we go through a traumatic event, let’s be really careful that our perspective doesn’t get changed in negative & debilitating ways. Let’s be sure to keep our eyes on Jesus & our hearts tenderly in love with Him, being fully confident that He is working out everything to be a blessing & not a curse to us – Rom 8:28 🙂

Feel free to pass this along to any friends who might be in s difficult season!

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crowds

Yesterday, I mentioned a few thoughts about being alone so I thought it fitting to look at the other side today – crowded. Some people love crowds & revel in the energy, noise & pulsation of people collections – concerts, mosh pits, congregations, World Series & symphonies come to mind. 
If you struggle with crowds, here are some ideas from Jesus’ skin time:

  • Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw a crowd
  • Jesus saw & crowd & their need for leadership (sheep without a shepherd)
  • Jesus knew that a crowd was the conduit for His necessary crucifixion & ultimate resurrection. 

Let’s see crowds & more importantly people, from God’s perspective: individuals available for redemption & reconciliation 🙂

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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 🙂

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Forget About It

“You’re not bitter about that are you?” My husband can be very poignant when he senses an area where I might be a little shady. So his question last night, in the middle of our discussion about some of my high school experiences, was a “nice” depth charge, sort of. In my guts, I know he’s right & I appreciate his help because I know he loves me, even though I don’t always relish these chats. 
Paul tells us in Philippians 3 that he forgets the past so he can press on toward the future. While I know that we can’t ignore or deny the past, there’s still heaps of wisdom & value in letting the past fade to grey & focus forward to God’s plans & purposes for our lives 🙂

Sometimes you just gotta forget about it & move on!

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a million little pieces

Ever had a day when your mind is more easily distracted than usual?  Today, I find myself flitting from one thing to another, getting distracted, remembering to go do a quick task, then getting sidetracked with just little distractions and . . . . .   So I have a million little things I need to finish & all of which are only partially complete, hence the title to this blog, a million little pieces.  Unfortunately, I don’t have unlimited time to accommodate this kind of craziness, so I need to crank down on my focus and stick to one task & finish it before I move to something else – like finishing this blog before I try to figure out why the music isn’t playing on my phone, or checking emails, FB, etc.

All of this helps me appreciate all the more when Jesus applauded Mary for the Main Thing, the main thing in Luke 10:42 🙂

Focus grasshopper, there’s lots to get done!

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Watch out!

I recently read in Genesis how Jacob did some creative things with sticks being stripped & spotted around the goats, sheep & livestock for which he was responsible. Jacob put these decorated sticks in the feeding troughs for the animals that were particularly robust but removed the sticks when the sickly animals came to feed. The result was that he acquired boatloads of speckled, spotted & striped livestock who were really sturdy 🙂
While, we now have scientific evidence about genetics with dominant & recessive traits passed along family lines, I still think it’s important to consider our focus. 

I find that the longer I focus on something, the more absorbed I become in that focus. The more I’m absorbed, the more influenced I become & eventually, my behaviors & attitudes get shaped by that focus. 

So let’s be mindful about where we focus 🙂

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Getting Good Out of Pain

I don’t like pain & I don’t know anyone who does. When I think about pain, it brings to mind various times in my life:
*when my basketball team lost our final game when I was a Sr in high school

*friendships gone sour

*when I was learning to snowboard & got a concussion through my helmet

*hurtful words ripping into tender heart spots

*watching one of my kids getting hurt
So how can we get some good out of pain? Here are a few ideas:

*pain is good because it tells us that something is wrong – consider how much more injury happens when you can’t feel something

*growing pains – sometimes it hurts to learn but it’s far more painful to remain ignorant

*sometimes pain develops strength, perseverance & character: these are benefits that yield more dividends than the investments 

*pain is destructive when we quagmire, ruminate & stagnant in it; 

*look up, look ahead & keep going if you want to get some good stuff out of pain!

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Hot Topic: I have a dream!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr Day!  In the US, today is a national holiday to honor Dr Martin Luther King Jr, a great leader in the Civil Rights Movement who was tragically assasinated in the prime of his life.  He’s famous for lots of things, but one of the things I love most about what we know of Dr King today is his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Despite facing atrocious, violent & barbaric opposition, Dr King persevered and overcame racial hatred, not with escalated violence, barbaric behavior & atrocious activism, but rather through exposing hatred, acrimony and injustice by contrasting behaviors and examples.  I think in each of us, God has placed a dream for something far greater and more powerful than our current living.  The dream that God has put in each of us is the beginning of something thoroughly divine, powerful and revolutionary.  If you can see the invisible, you can do the impossible – full stop.

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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!

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look up

I was recently in Ethiopia & on a drive into the countryside, we took a pause to get out & stretch our legs.  As I was enjoying the nice weather, beautiful surroundings, listening to new bird sounds and taking in some nice fresh air, I quickly became alert that I needed to watch where I was stepping because of some conveniently deposited refuse from nearby wildlife (translation:  cow pies).  Nimble is a word that comes to mind as I write this 🙂

Sometimes we can get really focused in on our daily living and endeavoring the various “cow pies” that can unexpectedly jump onto our path.  Of course we must be careful where & how we walk (making wise & spiritual choices), but let’s also lift up our eyes & look up.  It’s really tempting to go through life looking for ways to avoid cow pies, but that’s never as rewarding as going through life with our eyes on Jesus, our Good Shepherd 🙂

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X-ray Vision

I’ve always thought it was cool how superman could see through stuff like walls, metal chests & more. He could see through things that had substance.
In a similar way, I’d like to see through the immediate to the ultimate. Sometimes I get fixated on the temporal: budgets, pressure, bad grades, trying to get in shape & more. I’ve found it immensely helpful to look beyond the immediate struggles & keep my eyes on Jesus my ultimate passion. Yes, there are deadlines, struggles, pressures, disappointments & more. But if we ask God to help us see through the immediate to the ultimate, then the immediate can receive the proper perspective adjustment & become less overwhelming 🙂

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staying power

Holy Cow!  That was Jeroboam’s solution to help him stay in power as the king of Israel, even though God had obviously put him in this position.  I was reading this morning (1 Kings 7) about how God spoke to Jeroboam through a prophet & told him that he was going to be the king of Israel.  When Jeroboam became the king, he got really jittery about keeping his power & decided that his kingdom needed it’s own set of gods, festival days, worship routines, etc that would exclude anything from the Temple in Jerusalem or the worship of the true God, as outlined by Moses.

Jeroboam was put in the position of king by God’s power but he didn’t stay long because he decided to trust in his own methods & efforts rather than trusting in God.  In my thinking, there’s no staying power of any lasting value that doesn’t include trusting in our Triune God 🙂

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optical illusions

escher

 

One of my favorite guys who did amazing illusion work was Escher.  Whenever I look at his work, it always takes me some time to pause and think about what I’m seeing or not seeing.  This idea about considering what we are looking at is really important, particularly when we look at people.  Jesus was really good at seeing people beyond any optical illusions – He sees directly into our hearts and knows us for who we really are & continues to love us deeply & wholly.  Let’s endeavor to see people beyond any optical illusions, filters, false pretensions or misconceptions.  Let’s see people through the lense of genuine love 🙂

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I can see clearly now, the rain is gone

I took my son to the eye doctor today to see what corrections he may need & guess what?!  His eyes have changed – ALOT!  Basically, his long distance vision is blurry at best & more often non-existent.  Thankfully, the eye doctor is extremely good & very patient, as my son can be kind of engergetic.  He’ll get some glasses in the next week or so and will probably be really amazed at the significant improvement that he’ll see.

I think that sometimes our walk with God can be a little bit like our natural vision: we can be near-sighted or sometimes far-sighted.  But no matter where we focus best, we can be totally certain that God is always with us regardless of what we see or where we focus 🙂

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People are beautiful

I like to watch people in lots of different places – starbucks, airports, grocery stores, etc. Sometimes when I watch people I’m awestruck at how beautiful & magnificent each person is. Some people have beautiful eyes or beautiful hair. Some people have rustic beauty & others are beautiful because of their regal stature. But people are beautiful – made in the image of our Creator & everywhere, they are beautiful, way beyond being broken 🙂

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faith doesn’t always require sight

 For whatever reason, I woke up feeling very perky at 4am today.  Obviously it was still dark when I came downstairs to get the morning coffee brewing.  And as I sat on the couch with the lights off, I looked up at the window & noticed the bright & beautiful half moon. I started thinking about the moon & how I could only see half, but knowing that  the moon merely reflects different amounts of the sun – a sliver, quarter, half, 3/4, whole.  Nevertheless, no matter how much of the moon we see, we absolutely know that it’s a whole object & not only the part that we see.  Furthermore, the longer I sat & observed, the moon was soon blocked by our house as the earth rotates toward the sunrise.

So from my early morning observations of the moon, here are a few take-aways:

  • just because we only see parts & slivers of God’s work doesn’t mean that God isn’t wholly working & doing things throughout our lives – even in the seasons when we can’t see any direct evidence
  • sometimes situations “block” our ability to see God & in these instances, we can trust that God loves us & is continuing to shine & work in our lives 🙂
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what are your options?

 I recently read about when the Jews left their slavery in Egypt & I came across an interesting verse, when they were being chased by Pharoah.  At the end of Ex 14:12, the Jews are complaining to Moses & they say something like, “It would have been better to stay as slaves in Egypt than to die here in the wilderness.”  I started thinking about this & it really hit me that they only saw 2 options: slavery or death.

Unfortunately, I think we make the same mistake when we exclude God from His involvement in our lives. Truly, without God’s participation & involvement in our lives, we face the same kinds of options that the Jewish people saw at that time.  In contrast, it seems to me that the more we involve God in our lives, the greater the adventures, miracles, shock and awe!! So let’s make sure to include God more & more in our lives 🙂

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Visual Clarity

I’ve been thinking alot about having clear vision – maybe this has been on my mind because I’ve been looking for one of my kids’ glasses 🙂
Nevertheless, seeing things clearly is extremely important. The clearest & most truthful vision is when we see as God sees, from His point of view. With this in mind, I’m praying Prov 20:12 for this year – that God let’s me see & hear as He sees & hears. Human perspective is fuzzy, unclear & opaque at best, but God knows & sees the truth and I want to see as He sees for 2012 & beyond 🙂

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Focus Grasshopper :)

When I get into some stressful situations or seasons my focus can get kind whacky. In these seasons, I sometimes allow myself to distracted on peripheral & meaningless stuff or I’ll dig into a book or sometimes I ramp up my music intake.
As I start looking forward to the upcoming holiday season, I can feel myself getting “jittery”.
So what I would like to do better in these stressful seasons & situations is to keep my focus on Jesus more & less on the stress. Some ways that help me to keep my focus on Jesus better include:
*remembering some key Bible verses like Ps 55:22 & Ps 54:4 (telling myself these verses when I’m getting jittery
*be thankful – when I start to compile a “thankful list”, I often find that any stress gets lessened
*consider the immensity of God in relation to the things I’m uptight about
*church – there’s a very unique experience when I’m involved in a community that’s is collectively focused on worshipping Jesus. This helps my focus in ways I haven’t yet been able to put into words
Focus is key 😀

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some thoughts on being still & quiet

 I made a comment this morning on my fb page about how it helps to hear God when we are still & quiet.  I wanted to follow up on this comment because I think that for many of us, it’s difficult to be still & quiet.  We live in a really busy, loud, active & demanding world.  Between our smart phones, the internet, twitter, conventional media, family schedules & demands, etc, it can be seemingly impossible to find quiet & still.  Furthermore, when we do get a moment to catch our breath, our mind is usually racing trying to organize schedules, figure out what we need to do next, hum a favorite tune, etc.  Still & quiet seem like elusive & ethereal ideals for people that have lived in a different era or even a different planet.

But for me, still & quiet is essential and it takes some intentionality.  For me, I’ve found it super helpful to get up early before everyone else to acquire some stillness before the demands of the day hit the fan.  Furthermore, I am also intentional about when & how much music & external stuff I listen to, focus being the operative word.

When I’m still & quiet, with God’s help, I focus my attention toward God with the intent of giving the Trinity my undivided attention (without distraction, interruption or competition).  I need to wholly be with my Creator & yes, this requires discipline, some failures & some successes.  But the rewards of greater intimacy & fellowship with God are indescribably worth the efforts & discipline – indeed, living water, breath of life & more.

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lessons from an eye exam

 I took my son to the eye dr today because he’s been a bit challenged with a few things.  When they checked his eyes, they were super thorough & examined his vision for both distance & close up.  This eye dr visit is a whole new thing for me because I’ve never had any issues with my eyes.  Nevertheless, it made me think about my focus as it pertains to faith.  Myopic vision is vision that can see pretty well up close, but not so well far away.  The opposite is true with far-sightedness.

I think that the same is sometimes true with our faith.  Sometimes, it seems like I can have strong faith for what could be an immediate & up close challenge, but struggle in my faith for what seems far away (like some concerns about the future or places where I may be traveling, etc).  Or maybe the opposite is more true for you – maybe you struggle with your faith in the immediate day-to-day challenges, but the stuff that’s more distant is much easier for your faith.  Whatever may be your challenge, we can trust that God is the best vision Dr & can help us to keep our eyes on Him for both the up close & immediate stuff, as well as the things that are farther away & distant.  So like it says in Hebrews 12 – let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author & perfecter of our faith 🙂

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