choose

What Are You Doing???

“What are you doing here?”  This was the question asked by the angel of God to Elijah, as he hid in a cave, gripped with fear, anxiety and uncertainty.  Seems to me that maybe some of us might relate to Elijah, given the recent collection of corona virus (COVID-19) events: shut downs, alarming news, hoarding, toilet paper shortages, contagion and empty shelves at grocery stores.  When we add on the government telling us to keep social distance from anyone, stay home as much as possible and pay attention to your temperature, life can feel a bit apocalyptic.  So maybe we want to hunker down in our home caves and do the Elijah technique, escaping the panic that pervades our society.

To be fair, Elijah’s life was being threatened by the Queen of Israel and she was definitely a formidable and scary person.  So I recognize that I’m not comparing the same stimulating factors for the run and hide behaviors.  Nevertheless, I’m sincerely convinced that we can apply some fantastic and profound takeaways from Elijah’s experience, in 1Kings 19.

In this chapter, while Elijah hid in a cave, he observed lots of tumultuous events outside of his cave: a wind so strong that it broke apart rocks, an earthquake and a fire.  In verses 11-12, it says that God wasn’t in the wind, God wasn’t in the earthquake and God wasn’t in the fire.  But when Elijah heard a small whisper, a gentle blowing, he came to the entrance of the cave to listen to God, Whose first question was, “What are you doing here?”.

Maybe God would ask us the same question in this season, when the world around us seems to be upended and foundations unraveled.

What are we doing?

I’m absolutely a proponent for prudent and wise choices in this turbulent season.  However, I’m not a proponent of panic, fear, anxiety, worry nor apprehension.  Maybe you don’t like the panic or anxiety normal response to this COVID-19 crisis either.  So what can we do, in this unusual time?

First, let’s recognize that we have a unique opportunity given to us, that has never happened to this magnitude in human history.  We get to choose our actions, what we focus on, our attitudes and perceptions.  If we allow the media and gossip around us to be our focal point, then we could be letting our lives overflow with panic, fear, stress and worry.

Second, if we find ourselves “stuck at home” because of a quarantine or government edict to shelter in place, we will likely have some extra time on our hands.  If you’re like me, in the not so distant past, I was bemoaning my lack of time and the hectic pace of my life.  So now that we have more time, what will we do with it?  Let’s be purposeful about this gift of extra time and use it constructively rather than letting the media amplify whatever fears or anxieties we might lean into by not regulating our focus. Here are a few suggestions:

  • do some Spring cleaning, house / apartment projects,
  • read a book that you’ve been wanting to read,
  • do some family games / interactions to take advantage of the extra time together
  • go through your clothes and donate what you don’t wear / what doesn’t fit
  • text your friends and elderly people you know to stay in touch
  • be creative:  write, paint, cook, organize, dance to some fun music 🙂

Finally and most importantly, this crisis affords us an opportunity to snuggle into God, to deepen our intimacy, connection, awareness and strength.  When Elijah heard a gentle whisper, not being distracted by the noisy earthquake, wind or fire (alarming news or corona crisis), he grew in his awareness and recognition of God’s presence, voice and the future that God had for him.  Let’s allow this season to be a richly intimate time and deepen our connection with God!

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

In the Moment

Yesterday, I enjoyed my first day of snowboarding for this season. I really like snowboarding because it’s the sequence of lots of exhilarating moments strung together over the course of a day. Yesterday was particularly enjoyable because my drive to the slopes was filled with interesting podcasts and I could sense Holy Spirit’s presence in the car and talking with me through these podcasts. The enjoyment continued when I strapped on my board and pointed it down the slope, reminding myself that this is a warm up run and not the Olympics. I had a quick adrenaline rush when I made a sharp turn, caught an edge and almost biffed it, but I caught myself before the crash! I found more moments of pleasure enjoying the spectacular scenery, breathing crisp and fresh air, going really fast without getting injured, along with some quiet reflection on the lift going up the mountain for another run.

While I’m grateful for lots of continuous moments of pleasure yesterday, I’ve also been reading about Absalom, the son of David. And reading about him, shows me a man who had lots of continuous moments of pain, anger, stress, dissatisfaction, disappointment and rejection. I’d encourage you to read about him in 2Samuel, to see a person who lived in continuous moments of pain.

We can observe these moments of pain in Absalom’s life in how he responded to his sister, Tamar, after she was raped by their half brother. Absalom told Tamar to stay in his house and he would look after her, but he never said word one to their half brother, Amnon, for two years. After these two years, Absalom threw a party as a convenient context to kill Amnon. Absalom’s behavior and choices show me a man who lived in continuous moments of anger and revenge.

These moments of pain continued for Absalom as he was exiled for two years from his dad, David, for killing Amnon. Upon returning to Jerusalem, Absalom still didn’t see his dad for another two years, likely perpetuating more moments of hurt, rejection and disconnection. Once Absalom was accepted by his dad, David the king, it’s still obvious that Absalom stays in his continuous moments of pain, because he plots for some years to win the heart of Israel and displace his dad as king.

I would suggest that the culmination of these painful moments happened when Absalom declared himself as king, David ran for his life and Absalom began a war against his dad to position himself as Israel’s king. The end of Absalom’s life of continual tragic moments is when he gets caught in a tree, swinging by his hair and David’s army commander throws spears into Absalom’s heart to kill him.

To me, this story is an epic tragedy, portraying a life stacked full of tragedies, pain, destruction, isolation and grief. While I’m sure that Absalom had some good moments over the course of his life, it seems to me that he became swallowed by the bad moments such that his life became a continuous bad moment and he perpetuated the bad with his hurtful choices.

When I think about how this applies to us, we will have good moments and bad moments in our lives. If we choose to live in the bad moments, we run the risk of getting sour and disillusioned, resulting in hurt to ourselves and others. Additionally, watching Absalom’s choices is a vivid reminder that I actively choose forgiveness whenever I’m hurt. I’m also grateful that God gives us good moments, like my snowboarding day ☺

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Getting Direction

Getting Direction

What is the right decision?  What choice should I make? Which direction should I take?

All of us are faced with these kinds of questions for lots of things, from minor choices to major life decisions. So how should we navigate?

Throughout human history, mankind has used the stars & celestial bodies to navigate & guide their earthly journey. This is true for sailors, nomads in the desert, pioneers in prairie fields & loads more.  Additionally, each of us have internal desires & goals.  Nevertheless, let’s make our ultimate decisions based on the fundamental goal of knowing God better throughout each season & phase of our lives. Let’s make our decisions from facing God & orienteering for optimum intimacy & connection with God. Selah 🙂

Feel free to share this with your friends & social media groups 🙂

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Hair Dye

I’m writing this post, sitting outside of my hair salon with foils in my hair, looking semi-chic 🙂

And of course, I get some odd looks, people thinking I’m the reincarnated character from “My Favorite Martian”.  But alas, it’s just the normal hair dye appointment, where the grey gets covered over & I maintain the look that says I’m at least 10 years than my birthdate would confirm.

And whatever we may look like on the outside isn’t as important as the decisions we make on the inside.  Our internal thoughts, emotions, values, decisions and perspective are loads more important than the external image.  It’s in my thinking processes where I:

  • make decisions to be generous,
  • decide to act from various insecurities,
  • consider how another may be affected by my words / actions
  • choose to be afraid or choose to be constructive

So no matter how we look on the outside, let’s be certain we make internal decisions to be generous & loving people.  What’s on the inside is what will often regulate what happens on the outside 🙂

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Love Well

I have lots of people in my life who are very different from me. I have friends who are professional, starched, button-down, pressed & who have life wrapped around their little finger mostly. I have other friends who are a little more like me, less polished & borderline bohemian.
But loving well is the bridge that connects me with people regardless of our differences. And here’s the truth that needs to reside in the marrow of our bones: people don’t have to be like us to be loved by us. Indeed, Jesus loved a wide spectrum of people, including cheats, hustlers, liars, whimps & wannabes. Loving people is an internal decision & this doesn’t need to be dependent on who they are, what they do or how they behave. Let’s be committed to loving well!

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, values, watch, 1 comment

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.

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

Skin in the Game

It’s easy to be a spectator, watching from the sideline, making comments & suggestions. It’s an entirely different experience to participate rather than spectate. This principle rings true in all kinds of contexts:

  • attending church in contrast to being an active participant,
  • watching people struggle with problems in contrast to helping people with prayer & presence,
  • only reading the Bible rather than applying what the Bible says.

Let’s never forget that God put skin in the game for humanity by letting Jesus become God in the flesh. So let’s be sure that we continue to imitate Jesus in our daily living by being active conduits for God’s presence wherever we go & in whatever we do!

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

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 🙂

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, values, watch, 2 comments

options

Back in the day, I visited Prague when it was under communism and I had an interesting experience there.  My friends & I popped into a grocery store in Prague and since I’d never visited a grocery store in a communist country, I was in for a surprise – no choices.  I quickly realized that I totally take for granted all of the choices I have at an American grocery store (for example, I can get green beans in a variety of ways:  fresh, frozen, canned, low sodium, french cut, etc).

Sometimes, I think we take for granted that we have every day.  Some of these choices include:

  • how we spend our time
  • what we think about
  • what our attitude will be
  • the depth of our relationship with God
  • eating and exercise 🙂

Let’s make wise choices ,)

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by sarahbowling in Genuine love, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, seeing Jesus, spiritual, travel, 0 comments

some help for worry

Lately, I’ve had some struggles with worry & if you give me the line that I’m not supposed to worry, I’ll hit you ,)

With that being said, I had a nice chat with God about this & I received some great help that you might also find useful, if not today, maybe for the future.  I learned that when I worry, I make an attention decision that can undermine the closeness of my walk with God (not that God moved, but rather that I’ve compromised my trust in God).  When I worry, I choose to give my attention to challenges, problems & difficulties that I’m unable to resolve.  When I worry, I neglect to include God in these struggles and therefore become increasingly absorbed in them, to the point of being all consumed.  And clearly, being all consumed with worry is no place I want to live.  So that counter-point to worry is choosing to trust God and while this can be difficult, this decision is much better than going down the worry path.  But I’m also learning that trusting God is often a continuously active decision.  So let’s encourage each other to keep our eyes on Jesus and to make healthy choices to strengthen our hearts by trusting God 🙂

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, travel, 0 comments