Yesterday, I listened to one of my kids rant about their school, the wicked teachers, awful students & deplorable work. I don’t mind listening and sometimes I’m good at listening, which is good because my kid needed a listening ear. After about 30-45min of this content, I felt it was time for some objectivity so we had an interesting chat. I applauded their willingness to acknowledge a few of their shortfalls, but I also pointed out that from this child’s perspective, the lion’s share of the problems belonged to everyone else. This kind of thinking was allowing my kid to frame themselves as the victim & that’s no bueno. Being a victim often leaves us powerless & inert, wallowing in self pity. Seems to me that this kind of thinking runs contrary to how God has designed us, back in the Garden of Eden with power & dominion.
At the minimum, we have authority & power over our attitude & the choices we make about our perspective. Let’s be careful about how we think because our thoughts affect our words, attitudes & actions!
It seems to me that life is more about practice than perfect. When I keep this in my thinking, I don’t get so easily discouraged. Indeed, it seems to me that the journey to success are various sizes of incremental improvements. Some increments are big & some improvements seem infinitesimal. Furthermore, I often learn more from my failures than success, particularly when I think of failing as a verb & not just a noun.
I’m currently sitting in the Angola consulate to finish my visa application & this is always a jittery experience. It’s stressful in lots of ways because it’s a really complicated process & even when I’ve done everything right, there has been an occasion when my application was denied.
So I can get stressed out as I wait or I can chose to trust God. These words, “trust God” are easier said than done. But when there’s nothing more that I can do, then I need to actively chose, even moment by moment, to trust God.
Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to coach our mental game & help us get better at trusting God 🙂
“That was practice,” I said with a smile to the Post Office guy when I swiped my credit card too soon. I was shipping a book to someone & was in hurry because of all the things I needed to accomplish that day. The Post Office guy chuckled & I was glad he saw the humor in my weak explanation for being impatient.
There are lots of things I’m not good at such as being patient, planning, follow through and loads of other stuff.
I’m not ok with just accepting these shortfalls, nor can I afford to dismiss them as irrelevant. The other way I try to let myself off the hook sometimes is by rationalizing that these weaknesses are too big for me to overcome.
Maybe you have some weaknesses that might seem insurmountable to you as well. Here are two things for your encouragement:
Think in terms of practice – the way we get better, even in small ways, is by practice, a process of continual improvement.
With the Holy Spirit living in us, nothing is impossible!
Let’s keep focused on the Helper & keep practicing!
One of the things I greatly admire about my mom is that she is continually learning & her learning isn’t limited to just small pockets of interest. She’s recently started using emojis in her text messages & she’s more than excited about using periscope in her latest social media adventure.
Learning is a BLAST, particularly when you have a good teacher – my first major at college was physics because my high school physics teacher was so amazing! Having a good teacher is half the battle in getting to enjoy learning & Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be our teacher. Truth be known, there’s no one in our lives who can teach us better than the Helper.
The other half of learning is the determination to be a good learner. You can have the best teacher on the world & learn virtually nothing if you decide not to learn or grow, full stop.
So let’s decide to be awesome learners! Here are a few suggestions about how to be a good learner:
Be flexible – decide to learn regardless of the “classroom” or the lesson 🙂
Don’t let shame or discouragement color your learning
Buy my book, Heavenly Help, and learn about the Holy Spirit, your Teacher, Comforter & Helper 🙂
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 ,)
I like Saturday mornings for lots of reasons, one of which is getting to “enjoy” my kids’ cooking efforts, kind of and sometimes. Presently, we have some company staying with us & one of my kids mentioned that he makes some really killer waffles. Our friend staying with us really likes crispy waffles and voila, a plan was “cooked up.” The execution of the plan this morning was “sketchy”. Let’s just say that we almost ruined the waffle iron, the kitchen now needs some deep cleaning attention and there were some nice overtones of cinnamon and nutmeg. Thankfully our friend who is staying with us slept in and we’ve already organized a Plan B: no waffles, but crepes area nice alternative.
When life hands you lemons, being thankful can be the sugar you need to make lemonade ,)
Today, my husband and I are celebrating 21 years of marriage and I’m happy to say that our marriage has far exceeded my expectations and hopes. My husband is an absolutely amazing man and I love how God uses our marriage to bless others & also to help me grow. In the last 21 years, here are just a few things I’ve learned:
marriage isn’t a 50/50 bargain – it’s all in, with both feet 🙂
conflicts are opportunities to know each other better and to improve our communication
respect is an essential requirement a wife must be committed to give – disrespect undermines a healthy marriage
learn to complement rather than compete
make time for your marriage, particularly when you have children
be friends and pray together
Happy Anniversary to my wonderful man, Reece Bowling!!
With the latest NFL scandals with Ray Rice and others, domestic abuse is thankfully more front & center in the mainstream discussion. I have yet to meet a person that thinks from a deeply heartfelt conviction that domestic abuse is a good thing – duh. Domestic abuse is bad, full stop; it shouldn’t happen and we shouldn’t allow it, end of story.
Here are some interesting questions from Bible people in relation to domestic abuse:
Jacob and Leah: there is nothing overtly abusive that can be observed in this marriage, but there was certainly emotional trauma, neglect and preferential treatment. While Leah didn’t leave Jacob, she nestled into her relationship with God, as is evidenced by the names she gave her first four sons (Reuben – I’m seen / noticed, Simeon – I’m heard; Levi – attached; Judah – praise)
Hosea: this is an interesting perspective because it’s from the man’s viewpoint. Hosea married a prostitute, Gomer, who was extremely unfaithful to Hosea and yet because of God’s help, Hosea remained faithful to Gomer and ultimately the marriage became a more healthy relationship for both participants
Abraham and Sarah: Abraham told Sarah twice to pretend that she wasn’t his wife, so as to protect himself from possibly injury. Was this domestic abuse? Interesting question – maybe it was domestic neglect?
Samartian woman at the well in John 4: Jesus called out this really cool lady, exposing the litany of marriage failures in her life (5 broken marriages). Was there domestic abuse in her life? We don’t know any of the details of this woman’s broken relationships, but we do know that after her conversation with Jesus, she was a different person and she brought her transformation to her city, who also became transformed by connecting with Jesus
Moral of the story: don’t accept domestic abuse and Jesus heals all things, including the damages from domestic abuse!
Boom!! Bang, clang, crash, slam!! I have three wonderfully active, energetic & frequently LOUD children. Most of the time I really love all of the volume, most of the time. But I also like the still, shhhhh, hush when one of them gets near to my ear to whisper something quiet, important & close to their heart.
Usually when a person whispers, it’s because they want to say something for a limited audience rather than a shout to the world.
God shouts LOVE to the world & whispers in quiet ways to beckon our attention, nearness & presence. Shhhhh, come close – God’s whispers invite you to be near in every moment of this day