meeting expectations

There are alot of things in our lives that have expectations:  job descriptions, social behaviors, standardized tests, . . . . We put alot of expectations on ourselves about how a person should act, look, dress, speak, etc and I think that sometimes, Christianity or religion can be a really tricky “filter”.    Looking like a Christian, talking like a Christian, dressing like a Christian doesn’t make a person a follower of Jesus.  We can match up to all of the external expectations but in our hearts, we can be a million miles away from the reason Jesus died for us.  The reason Jesus died for us was not merely to make our external image appealing, but moreseo to transform what’s on the inside of us.  The defining distinctive Jesus identifies as being His follower is our love for each other (John 13:35).  Loving well is very important 🙂

be fresh ,)

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 ,)

marriage and 21 years

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!!

hot topic: domestic abuse

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!

I don’t get it

Sometimes I think that we mistakenly wait to do something until we understand it better.  There can be good wisdom with understanding stuff, but  if we aren’t careful, our efforts to understand can undermine our obedience to God.  For example, in Genesis 12 God told Abram to go to a land that God would show him & Abram set out.  I’m not entirely sure that Abram knew the destination that God had in mind, but he was obedient to get moving, nonetheless.  We don’t always have to understand to obey 🙂

Being Nervous

I’m not a big fan of being nervous. I usually mess stuff up when I’m nervous, make goofy mistakes & generally present myself poorly. I was on an important phone conversation earlier this week & I found myself getting nervous, stuttering, stumbling & sounding less than brainy :/
So what to do about being nervous? Here are a few helpful ideas:
*prepare ahead of time – usually my biggest downfall
*pray and ask God to give you peace
*stay focused on what’s immediate, not getting overwhelmed by what’s massive
*trust that God is bigger than your humanity & flaws – message out a mess, testimony from a test & redemption from rubble 🙂

Have an awesome weekend!!

Whispers

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