speak, think, feed

I’m not a big fan of onions – when I chop them, they make my eyes water and sometimes they can have a really sharp odor & flavor.  But they can serve as an interesting metaphor with some helpful thoughts.  If you think about it, onions have many layers – you can keep peeling & peeling, ulimately finding that an onion may have up to 20 layers!

The layers of an onion are a little like our lives, with the first layer being what we say.  The things that we say are very important & since I’ve had children, I’m more convinced of this than ever.  Our words can give life, encouragment and be uplifting or they can be negative, discouraging and death oriented.  So our words are important, but our words are often a reflection of what we think, which is another layer of the onion, so to speak.

Second layer – Have you ever thought about what you think about – a thought inventory?  Many of our thoughts are about getting stuff done and general maintainence thinking (cooking, grocery lists, auto repair, etc).  But we also think about many other things – conversations, what we think people think about us, priorities, time management, how we feel, reactions to various people & interactions, etc.  What we let ourselves think about is very important because our thoughts affect our actions, words, decisions, etc.

But here’s the center of the onion:  what we feed our hearts is what affects our thinking & ultimately our words & actions.  So let me encourage you to take a few minutes to consider the things that you feed your thoughts, emotions & heart.  What are the inputs that you allow in your life?  Do these inputs give life?  Are they uplifting?  Are they truthful?  Do they have genuine love?  Our words are shaped by our thoughts which are shaped by the inputs we allow – so let’s chose these inputs with discernment, discretion, wisdom & love 🙂

Advice for hostile situations

From time to time I have the opportunity to be involved in situations that can be volatile, hostile & combative. I can’t say that I enjoy these types of situations but I am learning a few things that you might find helpful:
*Proverbs says that a soft answer turns away wrath – answering with gentle words & replies can be super helpful to turn a hostile conversation into a constructive conversation
*volume, pace & pitch are important in our verbal replies because they can increase or diffuse the hostility
*seek to understand before being understood – this always helps me to grow & learn more
*pray: seems to me that we need God more than we frequently recognize 🙂

What have you found to be helpful? Thanks for your input!!

Some antidotes for worry

Worry seems to be a common ailment. Lots of people worry about lots of things- the economy, health issues, family challenges, school frustrations & lots more! Some worries seem to be justified & some are almost nonsense. Worry is common, but there are a few things you can do to overcome worry:
*pray the answer (God’s Word) more than the problem
*worship – exalting Jesus always makes my problems look smaller & smaller
*be careful about your conversations – complaining can be fuel for worry
*read a Psalm at breakfast, lunch, dinner & bedtime

Don’t let worry be bigger than Jesus in your life!!

This is a good mistake to avoid!

I’ve been thinking lately about Adam & Eve with the whole Garden fiasco. That was really a bad day for humanity & despite our Father’s magnificent redemption of humanity, there have been several occasions when I wish Eve would have made some different choices.
I think that one of her big mistakes was to have a conversation w the serpent / devil. And yet I think that sometimes we make her same mistake without realizing it. Here are some ways that we talk with or entertain the devil, his lies & deceptions:
*insecurity – we listen far too often to his accusations & utter nonsense about who we are rather than basing our identity on what God says about us
*ego / pride – “all of that & a bag of chips!”. Really??? It is only through Christ that we are truly invaluable, priceless & supremely desirable
*worry / fear – I don’t think that the devil sets the “worry or fear trap” about things on which we are strong. However, wherever there is a weakspot, that’s where he will plant worry, uncertainty, concern & even fretful thoughts or anxieties, be that about the future, health, relationships, etc
Can you think of other “conversation traps” that the devil lays for you???

Something I really love

I had a very cool opportunity to talk about the Holy Spirit today w some friends! These are some reasons why I love getting to study the Bible in a small group:
*I get to hear what God is saying to other people
*my understanding of God broadens when I get to hear the perspectives of other people
*God challenges me in ways that I don’t always hear by myself
*I love the mutual support for each other that a small group can provide
*I love the “a-ha” moments when the light goes on for me when I sense the Holy Spirit’s presence, truth & revelation; I love getting to see this happen as well in others

Growing as a person often happens through our relationships & interactions w others 🙂

an interesting chat w my mom

 My mom & I were driving home & talking about lots of different things, but one of my favorite things to talk about w my mom is the Bible.  We both share about what God is talking with us about in various relevant events, etc of our lives & it’s often a very rich discussion.

Today, we were talking about the diversity of Christians that we both know & love – lots of MAJOR cool people.  Everyone has such good & rich things to contribute to others.  Despite all of the incredible differences, what causes Christians to be unified is love – genuine love.  Regardless of our theological positions, our beliefs about law, grace, healing, faith, prayer, . . . . pick any subject, what makes us distinct as followers of Jesus is our love for one another.  Indeed, that is to be fundamental stand out point based on John 13:35 – love for each other.  I think that the better we get at genuine love, the easier people will see Jesus 😀

tipping point

 Several years ago, there was a really popular book called, “The Tipping Point”.  It was basically about how small things can make massive impacts – I really like this concept for lots of different reasons, but most of all for how it connects with James 3:1-6.  In these verses, the author talks about how a big ship is turned by a small rudder, the bit in a horse’s mouth can make a horse change direction & how a small spark can create a massive fire.  The point for each of these illustrations is to drive home the importance of how we use our words.  Small words & conversations that can seem very innocuous can have very significant results, positive or negative.  So here are some choices for your consideration with the words that we use:

  • compliment or criticize
  • support or sarcasm
  • gratitude or entitlement
  • encourage or discourage

Let’s make wise choices 🙂

freedom of speech

 In America, we are very intense about our right to the freedom of speech.  We have no appreciation for anyone who would try to censure our opinion or limit our expression.  And in some ways, I really appreciate this right & I wholly appreciate the sacrifices that have been made to retain this privilege.

On the other hand, just because we have the right to freedom of speech doesn’t mean that we should say anything & everything we want.  Proverbs says that even a fool appears smart when they keep their mouth closed.  There is tremendous wisdom in knowing when to say something, what to say & to whom something should be said.  These choices can be very productive if we make the decision to be constructive with our opinions & freedom of speech & not merely selfish.  In the end, the right to freedom of speech with a selfish intent is often more destructive than constructive.  Here’s a simple idea that I’m trying to work into my daily living:  I want to compliment & encourage more than I criticize & judge.  Want to join me?  🙂

help me with some people skills

When I was growing up, my parents would always encourage me to develop my people skills – I still need to work on this area.  I remember them saying that while I could learn lots of book knowledge, I would USE people skills every day and they’re right.  People skills are really important – so here are a few things that I’m learning & I would LOVE for you to add your insights on what you feel are important people skills to develop 🙂

Here are some ideas to get our conversation  started:

  • respect – regardless of your frame of mind or preconceived ideas, each person with whom we interact needs respect, even if they’re behaving in disrespectful ways.  I’ve never regretted being respectful, but I’ve always regretted being disrespectful
  • serving others – when I get my mind to look for ways to help or serve others, rather than expecting to be served, I’m almost always deeply content & satisfied in ways that far eclipse the times when I am served
  • humility – the attitude of “all that & a bag of chips” has never really worked for me;  it almost always sabotages any kind of constructive interaction
  • encouragement – I’ve found that people flourish & blossom with encouragement & genuine praise more than put downs & degradation.
  • silence is golden – its very important to screen your thoughts before they’re expressed from your lips.  When I say less, it seems that people think more of me – what a shock ,)

So what are some people skills you have or would like to have?  Whadya think???

Jesus on a weekday

we had a super good church service yesterday – great preaching, wonderful worship, cool membership presentation, great connections – all sublime.  I love it when we walk out of church having experienced God & having a bit of a divine glow from being in God’s presence.  I find it interesting for myself that when i’m in the middle of totally worshipping God, i rarely want to be mad at someone or think about how to get back at someone for a rude comment, etc. 

However, come Monday morning, or Tues afternoon, or some other time during the week, i can’t always say that i have the same sublime interactions.  A couple of months ago, i had a rather unpleasant  public conversation with a fellow believer who was very upset about something that was really hard to accept.  I totally understand this person’s frustrations, but their conversation wasn’t Christ-like & their demeanor was rather offensive.  While I didn’t confront this person, here’s the thing that bugs me in this experience:  i don’t want to only be a Sunday Christian.  I want the life of Jesus to permeate my daily living so that my conversations & interactions are 1st & foremost pleasing to God.  I am obviously not living a perfect life & don’t want to throw stones when i live in a glass house myself.  However, i do want to learn from others & endeavor with the help of the Holy Spirit to let Jesus live through me in my family interactions, throughout my weekdays & in my private thoughts.  Let’s always be letting Jesus grow in us.