Jesus

The Christmas Hangover

My house looks like heaps of people threw a party and didn’t clean up after themselves.  We’ve left dishes on the couch, tissue paper on the floor, trails of wrapping paper residue, cups and mugs on end tables and snacks litter the kitchen counter from us grazing types.  When I scan our family room and kitchen, it looks like we had a magnificent party, enjoying everything!  And rightfully so because we celebrated the birth of the Savior of the world!!  We celebrated that God entered human existence as a baby, along with shepherds and magi discovering God’s genuine love displayed in human skin!

How could we not celebrate and party!?!?!!!

So the day after Christmas, my house looks like a party hangover and maybe there’s also some food coma hangover from the sugar, treats and tasty delectable that we enjoy on this special celebration.

Once we get some helpful caffeine in the bloodstream, we’ll begin the clean up and recovery process, restoring order and more healthy eating choices.  And while we sweep, rinse, restore order and prevent bug infestations, I don’t want to throw out the baby with all the cleaning.   Because Jesus’ birth isn’t merely for Christmas and then it’s over.

Jesus’ birth is a great reminder of many things that we’d be wise to continue cherishing in our daily living and pondering moments.  While we clean up from Christmas, let’s keep these treasures readily accessible for our attention:

  • Genuine love:  no one expresses genuine love better than Jesus so it’s good to stay in His love which helps us stay loving.
  • Pervasive peace:  one of Jesus’ titles is the Prince of Peace.  Having Jesus in our hearts can keep us peaceful inside when the world around us could be sheer chaos or deadly silence.
  • All knowing:  having wisdom in our daily living is essential, so looking to Jesus helps us have solutions for problems, answers for questions and provisions for needs.
  • All powerful:  reading through Jesus’ life in the Gospels gives me great assurance that nothing in my life is impossible for Him, including me!
  • Ever present:  maybe one of Jesus’ greatest Christmas presents to us is His presence and He never leaves nor forsakes us!

As we wrap up this Christmas season and begin to close out this year’s activities and responsibilities, let’s be sure to carry over Jesus’ life into our daily existence.  We can do this by grabbing some time in the Bible (maybe read a Psalm per day or grab a daily Bible reading plan from a quick google search), making a playlist on our phone with our favorite Jesus songs, using red lights as reminders to look for Jesus when we’re driving, put a helpful Bible verse on the lock screen on your phone, make a pact with a friend to do daily reciprocal prayer for each other, join a small group at church and heaps more ways!  Instead of a Christmas hangover, let’s have a Jesus carry over, being purposeful to find Jesus in meaningful ways throughout each day!

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Christmas, cooking, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Proper Care and Feeding for an Introvert at Christmas

There are many fantastic things about Christmas, including:  wonderful music, festivities, eggnog, generosity, beautiful lights and lots more!  Of course, the best thing about Christmas is thinking about Jesus coming into human existence as a newborn and the whole Christmas story.  When I ponder Jesus’ birth and the surrounding events, like the angelic visitation to the shepherds and magi following a star, I’m deeply awed when I consider all of this as a vibrant expression of God loving humanity.

But alas, sometimes Christmas can get swallowed up in the frenzy of parties, cookies, concerts, caroling, wrapping, decorating, shopping, baking and heaps more.  And coming from an introvert’s point of view, sometimes Christmas can be overwhelming.  So if you know an introvert (coworker, family member, spouse, neighbor, classmate, etc.), here might be some helpful suggestions that could sooth that introvert and keep them less prickly.

  • Space:  whenever introverts have heavy obligations or frequent demands (office parties, school programs, Christmas concerts, secret Santa exchanges), they will need space (breathing room) to offset these expectations.
  • Quiet:  loud Christmas music, raucous parties and blaring noises can necessitate some quiet for your introvert.  They can struggle if noise (background TV, carols, concerts, programs) seems to be endless.
  • Solitude:  Christmas is a social season and while introverts can be social, it’s helpful to remember that they recover and get refueled with solitude or quiet company
  • Depth:  Lots of times Christmas overflows with superficial conversations about the weather, getting shopping done, being ready for Christmas, kids activities, reindeer accessories, etc.  Introverts flourish in deep conversations and shrivel in the shallow exchanges.
  • Feeding:  sometimes you can lure an introvert from their den with a plate of cookies, or their favorite snack J

My daughter and I were talking about the whole introvert and extrovert Christmas experience and we both enjoyed chatting about these respective viewpoints and how we process Christmas.  No matter if you’re an introvert, extrovert or ambivert, Christmas is the celebration and evidence of God expressing genuine love for humanity.

And as we think about Jesus’ birth, I’m often riveted by the shepherd’s experience in Luke 2 because maybe they were introverts, keeping watch over their sheep in a field at night.  Shepherds at this time in history lived a more solitary existence, since sheep required abundant pastures for foraging, along with quiet brooks for clean water.  And when their work had become the most quiet and settled, in the night watches, they were freaked out with an angelic visit, complete with God’s glory shining around them.  Of course, the angel, Gabriel, told them not to be afraid, because they were astounded!

Furthermore, after Gabriel’s announcement, heaps more angels popped onto the scene with singing and celebration – an incredible divine interruption and display of jubilant revelry!  The shepherds responded to this experience by hustling into Bethlehem to find the baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger.  I’m pretty sure that Mary, Jesus’ mom, was somewhat surprised to see these strangers celebrating her sons’ birth and maybe she was also an introvert, pondering these things in her heart.

Whatever your personality is, let’s remember that Jesus’ birth is the crosshairs for Christmas and let’s stay in grateful awe of God’s extravagant genuine love for us, personified in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s Son.

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Christmas, cooking, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, relationships, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 1 comment

The Healing Journey

I have a friend who sustained a concussion a few months ago and as I watch him recover, I’m reminded of my own concussion recovery journey from a few years ago.  My concussion happened from a bad fall when I was snowboarding and the healing process took far longer than I anticipated, so I learned a lot about this over the duration of this journey.  Of course we all prayed and asked God to instantly heal me or at least make the healing happen super fast, but alas, my healing took longer than I anctipated.  And the healings that happen immediately or on the fast track speed, we revel and celebrate such miracles!  But what about a healing journey, that might not be the speedy miracle?

When I think about a healing journey and the healing process, I’m reminded of Jesus healing the man who was born blind in John 9.  This dude was begging at the temple gate in Jerusalem when Jesus happened upon him.  The “Spark Note” version of this healing is that Jesus told him to go to a pool and wash off some mud Jesus had put on his eyes.  He did this and was healed!  For the first time in his entire existence he could SEE!!!!

Not only did Jesus heal blind eyes, crippled legs, leperous skin, deaf ears and lots more physical maladies, Jesus also healed broken hearts, fragmented personalities, poisoned emotions, dysfunctional thoughts and hopeless mindsets.  So in our healing journey with Jesus, let’s be open to Jesus being our Healer in not just physical ways, but throughout all of our existence!  Our journey with Jesus can be a healing journey, regardless of the speed of that healing.

Returning to the man born blind, just because this seemed to be a speedy healing, doesn’t mean there wasn’t a journey for this man and maybe we could learn about this journey for our own healing!  Here are a few things to consider for a healing journey:

Jesus:  I certainly can recognize the value of modern medicine, education and nutritional wisdom, but let’s keep in mind that Jesus is the ultimate healer.  Let’s acknowledge that Jesus is our healer and He can heal us in lots of different ways / methods.

Journey:  Jesus told the blind man to wash at the Pool of Siloam and this was quite a bit of distance for the blind man to walk.  We don’t know the path he took to walk more than half a mile, but I’d suggest that his journey was part of the healing process.  In my own healing journey, I’ve found that sometimes there are huge steps forward and sometimes there are some unexpected setbacks, twists along the journey and maybe some hairpin curves.  No matter what, I just figure that I’m moving forward and I’m getting better 🙂

Time:  In our instant society, our appetite for slow, methodical, steady and incremental can evaporate in seconds.  It’s unfortunate that we’ve grown accustomed to getting what we want now!  Maybe we would be wise to think about time as an essential ingredient for the healing journey, since we don’t know how long it took the blind man to make his journey to wash off the mud on his eyes.

The blind man was healed by following Jesus’ directions, regardless of the time and difficulties he experienced, And let’s consider that our healing journey might go through some setbacks and take a little longer than we anticipate.  But no matter what, let’s keep walking with Jesus into His magnificent healing in our lives!

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

That’s Shocking!!

Getting a phone call from my kid’s school can be a shocking experience, sometimes in a good way and sometimes not so good.  It can also be shocking to hear about a friend going through a financial or health crisis, when you may have thought that everything with them was smoothy groovy. I like good shocking news and I dislike bad shocking news, much like you.  So I loved getting the unexpected news earlier this year about Saving Moses receiving some unexpected funding, but I very much disliked the shocking experience of dropping my daughter off for college this Fall and driving away from her in a puddle of tears.

 

When we receive shocking news, go through alarming experiences, or observe something that’s startling, how do we handle that?  How can we do this with grace and poise while seeing God’s sovereignty in the midst of uncertainty?

 

Stepping into experiences and situations that are unexpected can be massively challenging.  For some of us who enjoy adventure, maybe the unexpected goes through the “fun and new” filter.  For those of us who crave routine and stability, shocking news or experiences can be extremely difficult to navigate!  So no matter if you love adventure and new stuff or if you crave predictable and routine, I firmly believe that we can find help with Jesus, regardless of the preferences of our personality.

 

Consider for a moment, the shock that Jesus’ disciples experienced in John 4 from observing Jesus talking with a Samaritan woman.  Jesus’ behavior was totally unexpected because of the social norms of that day, keeping a strict separation between men and women conversing with each other unless they were married or connected in a familial context.  To add more surprise to the disciples’ observation, it was highly unusual for Jews and Samaritans to have casual conversations because of the hostility that existed between these ethnic groups.  The disciples were shocked by Jesus’ behavior!

 

Additionally, the townspeople were shocked to see the raving lunatic, who lived naked in the graveyard and was untamable, sitting fully sane and clothed talking with Jesus in Mark 5.  The townspeople were so stunned from seeing the crazy man made sane, that they asked Jesus to go away from their town (maybe also because the herd of pigs jumped off a nearby cliff and drown in the Sea of Galilee).

 

In both of these scenarios, Jesus is the common denominator for the disciples’ shock.  And in both of these scenarios, two people are drastically changed because of their encounters with Jesus, regardless of the spectators and bystanders who might have disapproved of Jesus’ choices.

 

As we think about stuff that can be shocking in our lives, let’s do a couple of things that could make such surprises constructive.  Here are some helpful suggestions:

  1. Keep Jesus in the middle of your thoughts and feelings when shocking things happen. It helps me when I remember that nothing surprises Jesus.
  2. In the middle of anything that’s shocking, be sure to talk with Jesus, letting Him know of your surprise, feelings, uncertainty, etc.
  3. Decide to trust that Jesus can make seemingly bad or difficult things into fertilizer and something beneficial and/or beautiful

 

As you finish reading this blog, I pray that you keep your focus on Jesus regardless of whatever may be surprising to you.  And I pray that Jesus’ peace will guard your heart in mind, so that fear, worry, panic and stress don’t hijack your soul.  Remember, nothing catches Jesus by surprise J

 

 

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, listen, living, prayer, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

The Jesus Thing

Now that we’ve entered December, the Christmas festivities are in full swing.  There are parties to attend, cookies to bake, packages to wrap, trees to decorate, concerts to enjoy, potlucks to cook for, school programs to assist with, . . . .  and it seems to me that the list is endless.  The truth be told, when I hear the word, “Christmas” it makes me tired before anything starts, maybe like Pavlov’s dogs who salivated when they heard a bell chime.   To make it more challenging for me, I have lots of friends and family members who love the Christmas festivities and countdown the days until the frolicking can commence.  I watch my friends and family with curiosity, perplexed and awed by their ease and grace to enjoy this season.

From their point of view, sometimes they think I’m like the Christmas Grinch, as it may seem like I’d prefer to find a quiet cave and disappear from the noise, obligations, hubbub and seasonal delicious treats.  And it’s not that I don’t like the yummy food, beautiful music or serene snow that can christen this season.

My deal is that it’s easy for Jesus’ birth to get swallowed up in the season’s bustle, hustle, duties, celebrations, cookies, wrapping paper, gifts, decorations, glitz and glam.  So I find it challenging to stay focused on Jesus in the midst of this hectic season.  In the past, I’ve tried to keep this season less hectic so I could focus on Jesus better.  That’s been a really constructive tactic to help me keep Jesus in the Christmas crosshairs.

For whatever reason, this year seems different.  I was looking at my December calendar to find some empty space for lunch with a friend and I was disheartened to see almost every day booked.  How did I let this month get away from me and it’s just the beginning of the month?  Where did Jesus go for me in this month?  Maybe I should call this month my Jesus Month instead of Christmas, as a purposeful reminder for my focus.

And maybe it would be helpful to think about Mary, Jesus’ mother, this month as we celebrate Jesus’ birth.  She was obviously the key player for Jesus’ birth, after she was overshadowed by Holy Spirit, nine months earlier.  So when I think about Mary giving birth to Jesus in this month, I’m reminded about what it was like for me in the last month of pregnancy with my three kids.  I was tired and trying to keep my focus on the finish line of giving each of my babies a healthy and safe delivery / introduction to their separate existence.

I suspect that Mary, being away from her family to register in Bethlehem with Joseph her husband, maybe she was a little jittery or possibly overwhelmed with the unknown (child birth) looming in her immediate future.  Or maybe Holy Spirit helped her all the way through her pregnancy, so that she didn’t deliver Jesus in a completely frazzled and unraveled experience.

So when I think about Holy Spirit helping Mary through her pregnancy to deliver the only begotten Son of God, it encourages me to focus on Holy Spirit to help me through this season to stay focused on Jesus.

This is my prayer for you, as you finish this blog.  May Holy Spirit overshadow you throughout this season so that Jesus’ birth is fresh in your heart and outlook, not just on Christmas day, but for each day that leads to December 25th.  Let’s remember that Christmas is the Jesus thing 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Christmas, cooking, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Doing Difficult Things

Life seems to throw difficult things our way, such as dropping off a child at college, health challenges, relationship struggles, financial crisis & lots of other stuff as well. Sometimes the stuff we face is a surprise & sometimes there’s a cumulative process the winds up being a significant difficulty.

In these experiences & seasons, I find it helpful to remember that Jesus is walking with me & doesn’t leave me to navigate alone. And when Jesus is with us, it’s good to ask Him for strength, comfort, wisdom, help, endurance & for His love to overflow our hearts. I also appreciate remembering Ps 40:1, “I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined to me & He heard my cry.”

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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Where We Begin

This is a picture of the pool where I took swimming lessons when I was 5. I walked past it just now & had lots of fond memories like: Marco Polo, swim freeze tag, races, wrestling matches & lots more. To this day, I still love to swim & this pool was my introduction to a lifetime of enjoyment!

In a similar way, when we get introduced to Jesus, we can experience a life of enjoyment, fulfillment, strength, grace, wonder, forgiveness & best of all, genuine love. May this blog remind you to go back to your first live with Jesus, no matter the circumstances of your life, things you’ve messed up, wounds you’ve experienced, misunderstandings, etc. Let’s allow Jesus to love our hearts back to the deeply fulfilling relationship He so intensely wants with us!

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Posted by Sarah in fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 0 comments

Upside Downside

What goes up must come down, given the gravitational constant for our planet. I was reminded of this reality yesterday on a hike in the foothills west of Denver.  We went up a hill (mountain for flatlanders) & we came down. Simple to type, more strenuous to achieve.  Going up requires different muscles than coming down & the cardio work to ascend is more challenging than descending.

In relation to walking with Jesus, I’m grateful that in every stage of life, His steady presence never leaves us. Some seasons of life are very strenuous & demand tremendous energy & attention. Jesus doesn’t us leave us in these seasons. And in the flat, easy & wise spaces of life, Jesus keeps us company just the same. So regardless of the season of life that we’re in, let’s keep our fellowship with Jesus the continual constant, always pulling us ever close to His side 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Open During Construction

I drove by a hospital & read the sign, “Open During Construction”.  And I began to think about the possibility of the hospital being closed during construction.  To be certain, construction is a pain in the neck because it creates detours, messy environments, unpleasant views, health hazards & communication confusion. But usually, construction is the attempt to take what’s normal or rundown & make it better.

To this end, as a follower of Jesus, it feels like I’m always under construction. And despite being under construction, I still have to function & engage in daily living, kind of like being open during construction. So let’s appreciate & be gracious with each other, that Holy Spirit is working in us, so that we look & act like Jesus more & more!  2Cor 3:18 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

The Human Jesus

I totally dig Jesus, full stop!!  I love that He’s the friend to sinners, heals blindness, confronts religious insanity, loves fallen people, multiplies provisions and heaps more!  But what stops me in my tracks is when I see His humanity.

This morning, I read about Jesus in Gethsemane when He tells Peter, James and John that His soul is deeply grieved to the point of death (Matt 26:38).  And Gethsemane was on the heels of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, where Jesus wept.  This reminds me of Jesus being tired from His journey in John 4, where He takes a pause by a water well in Samaria and strikes up a transforming conversation with the very broken Samaritan woman.  And there’s also the time when He was sleeping in the boat when His disciples were freaked out by a massive storm on the Sea of Galilee.

In these common human experiences such as grief, sleep, being tired and weeping, it helps me know that Jesus has walked in human skin.  Jesus is Incarnate God:  fully God as though He were not man & fully man as though He were not God.  I can appreciate that it’s difficult to wrap our finite minds around how that works, but let’s be grateful that Genuine Love walks with us in our daily living and is compassionate with our human existence.

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Posted by Sarah in fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments