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!!

boomslang

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Happy Monday to you!  So you don’t think I’ve taken up cussing as my side hobby, a boomslang is a poisonous snake in Africa.  When it bites it’s victim, it’s venom is highly toxic and disables any blood clotting.  As a result, if a boomslang bites you, unless you receive a healthy dose of anti venom, you’ll die from bleeding out within probably 24-48 hours – gory & gruesome!

In my thinking, the devil is alot like a boomslang – slithery, slippery, sneaky & cunning.  I think that one of the primary “bites” the devil uses to poison us isn’t like the overt attack of a lion or a bear making an outright offensive leap.  Instead, I think the devil more often attempts to use a boomslang poison on us, someone offending us.

People can say / do things that can be very offensive (both intentionally & unintentionally).  What people say & do to us isn’t nearly as important as our reaction.  Ingesting unforgiveness is like letting the boomslang venom pump through our veins without any anti-venom.  Eventually, we bleedout & our relationships fall apart.  Forgivness is the anti-venom that we need to readily & generously apply.  Don’t let the venom of unforgiveness settle into your heart!

do you need help to forgive?

When I think about forgiveness, you don’t have to convince me that I need to forgive – I’m already on board with that.  The tricky part for me is the actual forgiving.  Here are some tips that might help you:

  • forgiveness isn’t a feeling.  Consider the Corrie Ten Boom quote, “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
  • forgiveness in the greek means “to let go or release”:  when we forgive, we release the hurt, bitterness, judgment & pain
  • proficient forgiveness requires practice
  • forgiveness must be kept fresh – stale forgiveness can grow putrid in our emotions and thoughts
  • Here’s a cool & short video that could be helpful:  forgiveness

poise or poison

I’m a sucker for compliments and maybe you are as well.  I like to be told that I preached a powerful message, that I’m a great mom, I’m an excellent wife and I could keep going with a really long list.  Compliments are frequently really helpful, unless you get them from someone who you know isn’t a friend.  Compliments from people who are not your friends can be poisonous because the compliments are often insincere.  If you think about it, people who don’t have your best interests at heart can and will say anything nice to you because they don’t have any “skin in the game”.

In contrast, people who are genuinely your friend will tell you things that could be difficult to hear:

  • your zipper is unzipped,
  • you’ve been really cranky lately,
  • your thinking is really messed up,
  • that’s not a good color on you, etc

In Prov 27:6 it says that the wounds of a friend are faithful but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.  Don’t fall for deceitful kisses!

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be weird in a good way

I was reading this morning about how Jesus hung out with tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes and disreputable people. In their best moments, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day thought that His choices for social interactions was weird.  More often, the religious leaders were “unhappy” with Jesus’ social choices.  Clearly, Jesus didn’t fit in with the religious leaders & was weird by their estimation.

On the flip side, it seems to me that Jesus was more accepted & fit in better with the people who were more obviously broken (sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, etc).  Maybe these disreputable people liked Jesus because He was weird.  He was different from them, offering them genuine love that they had possibly never experienced.

When Jesus lived on earth, He modeled for us how to be good in a weird way – loving people genuinely.  In my thinking, the work we do with Saving Moses and nightcare is wonderfully different & even weird because it’s an overtly tangible expression of genuine love 🙂

all of you is meaningful :)

Unimportant, irrelevant, insignificant and altogether meaningless.  Sometimes I have conversations and interactions with people where I try to figure out where we might have some common ground and find something about which we can both enjoy discussing.  When I talk with my friends whose kids attend the same school with my kids, we often find the common ground related to school stuff.  When I’m speaking in a church or at a conference and connecting with people in these environments, we often talk about God and the Bible.  But not everyone wants to talk about school stuff, or Bible stuff, knitting, or how to get in better shape, snowboarding, or Soren Kierkegaard or God or prostitutes having babies that need safety and protection,  . . . .   We all have things that we are passionate about that aren’t interesting or meaningful to other people.  But here’s the totally cool piece:

All of you is meaningful to God.  God is altogether interested in your life and everything in which you’re interested.  God has the capacity to be fully engaged, interested and participatory in every area and interest of your life!  All of you is meaningful!!