different ways to learn & grow

A few years ago, I had to privilege of taking my kids to Berlin when Reece & I were doing some ministry there.  It was a really cool experience for all of us.  Before we left, I did some educational work with my kids about the modern history of Berlin, including the Berlin Wall, Cold War, Communism, etc.  We went to the library & checked out books on these topics, we watched interviews with people who had lived there & we even saw a cool Nat’l Geog special about the development of the Berlin Wall over the decades of its existence.  I loved getting to do all of this educational leg work with my kids because I knew that when we arrived in the city, we’d be able to visit many sites that they had read about, we’d be able to go to the Berlin wall & visit East Berlin & get to 1st hand interact with the material we’d learned about – it was a SUPER COOL experience.  I remember doing this kind of thing as a kid when my parents took me to the Pyramids in Egypt.

So here’s my point with this – I think God uses the same kinds of teaching techniques.  I find that many times, He gives me the schooling I need in the Bible to help me walk out what I’ll be exploring, learning and experiencing in life.  The other day in my prayer time, I was hesitant to leave & enter the demands of the day because I was having such great fellowship with God.  Nevertheless, I felt God encourage me that I wasn’t really leaving our fellowship, but rather we were merely changing the contexts – from the “classroom” of our quiet time to the application of daily living.  Hopefully, after reading this, you also will recognize that our fellowship with God doesn’t have to “end”, but instead it just expands to include more areas of our life 🙂

experiments with love #1

I’ve been thinking about love alot lately, so I’ve tried to take a genuine look at what God says about what love & is not in 1Cor 13:4-8.  Basically, Paul breaks down love into 2 categories:  what love is & does versus what love is not.

Simply put, love is / does not: jealous, arrogant, brag, act unbecomingly, provoked, self-serving, rejoice w unrighteousness or keep track of wrongs.

Furthermore, love is / does:  patient, kind, rejoice w truth, bears all, believes all, hopes all, endures all & never fails.

Maybe this break down is easily scanned, but here’s an experiment for you to try in relation to loving God, others & yourself:

Take the above lists of love is & love is not & slowly think through each description as you relate the word to your relationship between you and God.  So for example, when I think about loving God, I’m not jealous of God, I don’t want to be arrogant with him nor would I be expressing genuine love to Him when I boast to Him.  Additionally, when I love God I don’t behave unbecomingly with Him nor do I want to provoke Him.  Here’s the tricky one for me – as I love God, I don’t want to only relate to Him for what I can get out of Him (self-serving).  On the positive side, when I love God, I’m patient & kind with Him.  I also rejoice when truth is done because I know that He is on the side of truth.  When I love God, I bear all things with Him, believe the best with Him, endure with Him when I don’t understand or agree and always keep my hope in Him.

When I do this exercise slowly, maintaining my attention to loving God with these individual descriptions, I’m extremely amazed with this experience.  Give it a try & let me know what you think 🙂

confession time

Today, I went to renew my daughter’s passport & as expected, it wasn’t as simple as I thought.  Over the course of the years, I’ve renewed several passports for my kids & every time I go, it gets increasingly complicated – I’m sure all for good reasons.  Nevertheless, when I stood at the counter discussing the renewal with the post office lady, I found myself getting really ramped up, uber fast.  By the conclusion of my conversation with this poor lady, she had received a brief lesson on English grammar, was fairly rattled & wasn’t interested in continuing to try & help me – which of course was bad for me 😦

Here’s what makes me unhappy about my exchange w the post office lady – I wasn’t a peace maker.  Instead, I was a pain in the neck.  Ultimately, we were successful in submitting the passport application, but initially, the poor lady behind the counter was rather traumatized.  Fortunately, I was able to re-group & visit with her later & had some  pleasant interaction.  But here’s my point:  Jesus said that peace makers would be blessed because they would be called the sons of God.  In my passport event, I wasn’t  a peace maker & there wasn’t much blessing that happened during the interaction – not good on my part.  Truly, I want to be a person that brings peace, wisdom, comfort, encouragement, truth & compassion to others with whom I interact – I want to be a peacemaker more than an agitator or trouble maker.  I want to let the peace of God that I know in my heart be the influencing factor for all of my interactions.  May the Holy Spirit help me to stay in synch with Him better & better, each and every day.

lessons I learn at my kids’ swim lessons :)

Last night I took my kids to their 1st swim lesson of this season & it was an interesting experience.  To begin, the lessons were delayed because someone puked in the pool & they had to clean it up – complete with the red bio-hazard bag & latex gloves.  After this brief delay, my kids went to their respective levels / instructors.  While I watched their lessons, at the beginning I wasn’t very happy because all of my kids seemed to be the last in their groups and I wanted to “protect” them.  However, when the lessons were finished almost all of my kids were totally pumped about their lesson and about what they achieved. 

So here’s my point:  it’s important for us to let God use different people in our lives to help us to grow.  If we only get ourselves around comfortable people, we can tend to get stagnant.  But if we let ourselves get around people who challenge us or who are different, then often times God helps us to grow more and more into the person He designs us to be.  Proverbs says that iron sharpens iron – let God bring some “iron” into your life 🙂

margins

I feel like I’m the pot calling the kettle black with this blog – guilty as charged & a walking contradiction, maybe even borderline hypocrite.  Here’s why:  the last 2 weeks have been busy beyond any degree of rational acceptance and now I’m writing a blog about keeping margins in our lives.  A margin is the empty space on a page around the written area.  There are margins in this blog, in newspapers, books, etc & margins are necessary in our lives.

empty space, pause, still

Sometimes life feels like a treadmill on which the pace continues to increase & the incline just keeps going up – so many demands, expectations, deadlines, responsibilities, requirements, . . . . .  Sometimes if we’re not careful, we fill up all of the margins in our lives & then continue to keep the margins full.

However, when I look at Jesus’ life, He was very intentional about keeping margins in His life.  Of course He had MASSIVE demands on His time & person – people squashing Him wherever He went trying to get some of His attention, time, power, healing, love, . . . . .  and His life only became increasingly popular each day of His ministry.  Nevertheless, He carved margins into his lifestyle.  He dismissed the crowed after feeding the 5,000.  He went off by Himself to pray ALOT.  He withdrew with His disciples from time to time to give them some intensive teaching & attention.  When He rode in boats, He slept.  Jesus modeled margins for us with perfect agility & balance.

Here are some things that help me to keep some margins in my life:

  • quiet in the car – it helps me to turn off things that beckon for my attention;  furthermore, when I’m riding with my kids, I want to be fully present with & to them
  • keep some rhythms & routines:  sleep when its time to sleep, wake up early to have some solitude (or stay up late if you’re a night person), grab the spare minutes in a day to look to God & still your heart
  • drink water as opposed to soda & coffee – my body already has enough stress on it with out adding caffeine, etc
  • sitting with my husband or a friend – I don’t need to have a conversation but just some togetherness
  • I also want to add some Bible memorizing to my margin maintenance so I can give my mind some food on which to nibble when it wants to digest various “worries”
Keep some still in your life if you want to remain effective over the long run 🙂

a tribute to my mom

Since it’s Mother’s Day, it seems fitting to celebrate our moms & their various contributions to our lives.  My mom invests in my life in a multitude of different ways, but something that I always appreciate about her is the power of routine.  Despite lots of travels & massive demands on her schedule, my mom is very consistent with her routines.  She consistently exercises, makes healthy eating decisions, memorizes the Bible everyday and maintains healthy sleeping patterns.  My mom is the Queen of Routine.  And here’s what is so powerful about the whole routine thing, she’s done this for almost all of my life.  So when people ask me about my mom & the secret to her success, of course God is the number one source for all success, but I’d quickly add that her consistent routines throughout the years have positioned her for the successful living she enjoys today.

So here’s my closing thought:  let’s make the routines of our daily living conform to our priorities 🙂