What Are You Saying?

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!

Always Practicing

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. 

So things that I continue to practice on include:

  • Encouraging words
  • Listening to understand more than reply or argue
  • Trusting God
  • Paying attention to the Holy Spirit

Let’s Practice

“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:  

  1. Think in terms of practice – the way we get better, even in small ways, is by practice, a process of continual improvement. 
  2. With the Holy Spirit living in us, nothing is impossible!

Let’s keep focused on the Helper & keep practicing!

Lifestyle Learning

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 🙂

  

Grace to Grow

I just had the privilege to catch up w an old friend & it was delightful to chat over coffee & remember some fun times together. It was also interesting to see how each of us has changed, grown and matured.
In all of or relationships, there are things that can bug us about the other person & clearly we have plenty of our own weakspots that can be very bothersome.
Let’s give each other grace to grow & then enjoy the journey. Only Jesus is the completed human masterpiece. The rest of us are works in progress 🙂

earthy

Living in America has the very subtle & sneaky attempt to be blinded by glitz, glam, image, shiny, trendy and veneer.  Whether we realize it or not, our culture bombards us with airbrushed faces, glimmery white teeth, body images that are almost physically impossible and lots more.  If we aren’t careful, we can be seduced by image and forget that substance, character and integrity are very important.

With this in mind, I find it very interesting that the person who heralded Jesus’ arrival was the antithesis of image conscious – John the Baptist was very earthy and for that matter, so is Jesus.  The Son of God, robed in splendor, glory and the ultimate glitz put on our skin, lived among us and was often mistaken for a mere man.  May the Holy Spirit help us to reveal Jesus through our daily and earthy living 🙂

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 🙂

act the right way???

“YOU SHOULDN’T DO THAT!!!!”  When we were growing up, you probably heard that a few times, as did I.  Now that I’m an adult, I still hear those words in my mind sometimes.  “You shouldn’t be driving so fast!  You shouldn’t be sarcastic, you shouldn’t be so casual, you shouldn’t . . . . . ”

In religion, there’s lots of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”  – we wishfully think that the right behavior will fix everything.  From my perspective, this kind of thinking is like putting peacock feathers on a cow:  accessorizing the external in an attempt to deny or compensate for the internal.

More than we realize our beliefs shape our behavior, so perhaps we would be better to consider what we believe as the first step.  Yucky beliefs and thinking always result in yucky words and actions 🙂

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 ,)

overcoming fear

A very nice friend asked me today about overcoming fear & I felt encouraged that I should write about this today 🙂

In relation to fear, there are lots of things that could trouble us:  fear of failure, fear of getting hurt, fear of something from the past, fear of falling down, fear of the future, fear of relationships, . . . . . .   The Greeks used the term phobia and attached all kinds of things to this word (agrophobia, necrophobia & my personal favorite, snake-o-phobia).

So here are some strategies that could be helpful to overcoming fear:

  • do it scared – I stole this outright from Joyce Meyer;  she’s uber cool!
  • face the fear a little bit at a time rather than to look at the whole thing
  • consider that the devil uses fear to control us & that God created us from the very beginning to have authority, dominion & power
  • catch fear in the early stage so it doesn’t go stupid
  • choose to trust God & reject fear – yes to trust and no to fear
  • keep trying – failing is more like practice if we take out the fear ingredient
  • remember that 1 John says that perfect love casts out fear!

Feel free to add your own advice & pass this along to your fam & friends! 😀