Monday, August 26, 2019

Misunderstood




I hate being misunderstood. It is one of the most frustrating things ever. To have to explain yourself. To have to justify why you said what you said. Why you did what you did.

I just hate it.

I can’t stand it when people have the wrong interpretation, vibe, or view of me or something I’ve said or done. It just really gnaws at me. Yet I have been learning the past couple of years, that sometimes it really has nothing to do with me at all. 

Sometimes a misunderstanding, comes purely from where someone else stands and views life. It comes from how they CHOOSE to see things. And you can’t always change their view or position. 

Of course, that’s hard too. 

But God has been showing me something in a very tender way (for He knows that’s how I need to hear things at times). He’s been showing me that I won’t die if I’m misunderstood. I won’t fall apart. And most importantly – that sometimes I just shouldn’t explain myself.

God is often misunderstood. Sometimes He may choose to reveal a truth to us, other times; He doesn’t. He leaves us to seek and figure things out for ourselves because He know that sometimes in our lives… that is exactly what is needed.

If someone doesn’t know my heart and character; no amount of explaining myself is going to change how they see things. They don’t know my heart and soul, and WON’T know my heart and soul - unless they seek to. They see things on a level that exists because of where their heart currently is based on what has happened in their life, and from their choices of how they WANT to see things. 

I won’t be able to win no matter what I do. It will only cause me great stress to bend over backwards, and take every last breath I have, trying to explain myself. 

It will be like dust in the wind.

I’ve been learning over the years, (the hard and slow way) that sometimes if I know I’ve had pure intentions and motives, and that my heart has been right with God – that I have to be satisfied with that. 

I’ve got to leave the misunderstanding untouched by me. 

God has very clearly spoken to my heart at times about being still and letting Him do the working and moving in my life; instead of the striving coming from me all of the time. That’s a hard lesson to learn! But it’s an important one, for there are great truths and deep meaning to be found in the “still” moments of life where we simply observe and listen.

I will probably always hate being misunderstood. I will probably always be frustrated when someone gets me totally wrong. Because to me - that means they get “ME” wrong. Who I am, and what I’m about.

But it happens. And it will continue to happen.

Life certainly is not fair, and we don’t always get a fair shake – even if we deserve one. 

God can take our injustices, our mistreatments and misunderstandings and He can work in beautiful ways if we hand them over to Him. He will remain faithful to us through every circumstance, and can touch our world in such tender, amazing ways. Knowing my heart is right with Him, and that He is personally letting me know He’s aware of what is going on, and with me through it? That has to be able to override any misunderstanding that may occur in the meantime. 

That has to be enough for us. For me.  

So, I will continue to do my best. BE my best. I will continue to love and try to be at peace with all those in my life. But - when things get tossed and turned about? I will let God stand for my reputation and character. 

And I will rest in the shadow of His loving hands.



“It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you.” Prov. 29:25.  

Monday, August 12, 2019

When You're Tired




It should be so obvious to us.

There are times in life where we just seem more irritable with everyone else. We don’t eat as well as we should, we don’t make time for our spouse, and we aren’t as good to ourselves. Our “self talk” tends to be more negative.

These times usually happen because we are so worn out. We are TIRED - with a capital “t.”

Maybe we are emotionally tired; but I know when I am emotionally tired, it makes me physically tired, too. And most of us lead buys lifestyles which also lead to tiredness.

In these seasons, we make poor decisions simply because we don’t have the energy to think longer about our choices, or to wait for wisdom.

Being tired affects a heck of a whole lot in our lives. You’d think we could simply address the issue!

But we don’t. And if we’re not careful, these “seasons” end up becoming lifestyles. We continue to make temporary decisions that only put a band aid on what is really going on. And so we have to repeat again, and again, and again.

It is SO important that we have times of rest. I know if I’m in a puddle on the floor with tears streaming down my face - something needs to change. Maybe it’s time I give up a commitment, or at least lesson the hours I invest into it. Maybe I adjust the hours in my day to create a “buffer zone” where I have time to tend to my own soul. Maybe I put boundaries in my life to protect myself from toxic relationships. Or MAYBE, just MAYBE I replace something that isn’t as good - with something that is more life-giving and energizing.

We are a society of tired people. You can see it everywhere. You can see it in the impatient drivers who get frustrated at sitting at a red light. You can see it in the empty houses on your street where no one ever seems to be home anymore. 

It’s not healthy for anyone. Not us, not our families.

Invest in time to sleep. Invest in time alone. Invest in having nothing to do. And you will be investing in your own emotional health.

Forget keeping up with everyone else. Honestly? They probably need to implement the same slow-down regime as you do.

I promise. You will like yourself better. You will make wiser decisions. And you will enjoy your family more. Those sentences in and of themselves, should be enough of a reason.

You don’t have to LIVE life tired. Make some changes today - even if it starts with just one thing and you have to wait awhile to change the next thing.

You only live once. 

Live rested and ready to tackle life with your mind sharp and your body fueled.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

We Have Grown Silent About the Things That Matter



It seems to me, that many believers nowadays try to stay out of “hot-button” conversations. 

Who can really blame them? Our views and thoughts aren’t widely considered or wanted in society.

But the “other” side…. They are very vocal. So vocal about their thoughts, views, and opinions, that their thoughts, views, and opinions have become not just widely heard… but widely ACCEPTED.

We have grown silent about the things that matter.

I understand not wanting to incite arguments or debates. There are certain situations and people who won’t be open to listening to “Godly people” share their hearts. (In a loving, kind way.) BUT - and this is a huge BUT….. there is a difference in kindly sharing your heart on a controversial subject with someone you have a relationship with - and/or just leaving them to maintain their delusional, harmful, and empty ways of living.

Read that again.

There is a difference.

Our world is changing faster than we can breathe - almost. It sure feels that way.  But it’s changing because we, as God’s people have grown silent. We’ve lost our perspective. We’ve lost our PASSION for right and wrong. 

We’ve stopped loving, and started living … just like everyone else.

We’ve stopped going to church. Stopped carrying our Bibles (much less reading them), and stopped digesting, soaking in, and meditating on God’s Word, His truth, and His ways.

And that’s the real reason most of us are silent. 

But what if we regained our passion? What if we truly fellowshipped with the Lord in our daily lives and felt Him prompting us (always with love) to share His truth to those lost ones out in our world?

What if instead, of striking up heated debates that no one will win, we love someone else who is walking in sinful ways, and someone who may not agree with us - but STILL share with them God’s commands? 

For their OWN happiness and good?

What then?

What if we stopped being silent - but started to become just as vocal as those other voices out there? Never in a “judgy” way.. but in a heart that desires to bring lost sheep back to the fold safely?

There are SO many who are hurting today. SO many who are lost and empty. And trust me - they feel it. They may try to publicly deny it…but they FEEL it.  And they want to be loved and accepted for who they are, even if they are making mistakes. They want to know that we, too, have doubts, have emptiness at times, and make mistakes.

They want to know they can share their thoughts and opinions with us, and in return, will get wise counsel - not condemnation.

But that can never happen if we remain quiet. If we stay “out of the conversation.” 

Time is fleeting. Our lives; fleeting.

Friend, please make the most of yours. Use your voice. Open your heart. LOVE. SHARE. PRAY.

Maybe you won’t see a change in the world, but you might just see a change in your neighbor, your girlfriend, or your uncle.

Isn’t that worth it all?

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Making Mealtime (and Family Time) FUN





Dinner time can grow to be so monotonous. We are asked day after day,”What’s for dinner?” 

We grow tired of preparing the same meals, or we simply struggle to get our family all around the table at the same time to eat.

Over the years, our family had normal everyday dinners, and we had some pretty, fun out-of-the-ordinary-dinners. Times where we ate our meal in a different environment or manner - that just added some much-needed laughter and bonding to our evening. Those evenings made some great memories for us. And it doesn’t always have to take a lot of work. You can still cook grilled cheese sandwiches - but if you eat them out back in a tent? So much better! 

Here are a few ideas for you moms and dads. Hopefully, switching things up at your meal time once in a great while will become something your children adore and recall someday with great fondness. 



*Have a picnic on the floor.  INSIDE. Pull out a blanket, get out the paper plates and add the food! You can also have “set” questions everyone has to answer, if you want to add some family bonding time to the evening.

*Eat out on your deck or back porch.  Use either a picnic table, or set up a card table and enjoy the fresh air.

*Eat on your roof, if your kids are older. We sat up on our back roof one evening and looked at the sky and the landscaping around us, while we ate sandwiches. It was beautiful.

*Have festive napkins, glasses or fancy straws. You can have a regular dinner at the table, but insert a super fancy straw in their cup, or napkins that are silly.

*Allow your family to use chopsticks only instead of silverware. Had a stressful week? This one is bound to cause some laughter at the table!

*Make a rule that no utensils can be used at all!  Only hands.  Have finger foods, drink soup out of the bowl, etc.

*Have everyone grab a TV tray and pick out a family movie to watch while eating dinner. (If you often eat in front of the television, this one won’t seem super out of the ordinary. Might switch things around and move to the table!)

*Switch places at the table.  Everyone needs to sit somewhere other than their normal seat. It’s so simple - but it can really change things up.

*Make normal foods fun.  Add green food coloring to water, stick a Hershey’s kiss inside of a napkin, etc.

*Build an indoor fort and then eat under it.

*Have the kids prepare the meal AND clean up! But let them choose the meal, or make it an easy one for them, so that they don’t get frustrated. 

*Serve dessert FIRST!

*Let your kids drink meal or water out of fancy wine glasses. (You can often find plastic ones at the dollar store, too.)

*Light the candles! Who says candles are only for romantic dinners? They can really calm a frenzied, stressful day!


What are some of YOUR ideas? I’d love to hear!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Life Is About People. So Connect With Them.




Life is about people.

I think it’s so easy for us to forget that.

It’s about connecting with one another. It’s about relationships.

The more I’ve travelled, the more I’ve been amazed at how many people there are in the world. I fly into cities and I see how vast they are. Cities that are often overlooked, or not spoken of. Thousands of people. They live. They breathe. They go to work, they raise their kids, they deal with family drama, and illness.

They are just like you and I. They just so happen to live somewhere else. With a different culture. Different food. 

For a moment - we are able to LIVE life with those around us. We intersect and can connect with people we didn’t even know existed.

For a brief time, we are able to learn from each other. 

I have been able to live life for a few moments with the guy who took me paragliding in South Africa. Or the parking attendant who was trying to get back home to the Congo. For a few hours, I lived life with those on jury duty with me in Idaho. I lived life with those attending a conference alongside of me, or the waitress assigned to me at the restaurant.

So many moments we share with those we will never see again. And yet, somehow, certain moments become a part of our life. We treasure them - and the stranger who was a “friend” for a brief moment in time.

Did we leave better because of them? Did we leave THEM better off, because they met us?

And what about those we run into on a more regular basis? The people who attend church with us, live in our neighborhood, or stock our groceries at the store? 

We recognize them. Maybe, we even smile at them. But do we try to “connect” with them?  Do we make the most of our moments?

Life CAN be lived alone. But it’s not meant to be.

People are fascinating. Diverse. Engaging. And every person has a story. We can learn from them. Grow from knowing them. And let ourselves love and be loved.

The next time you fly, look at the city you are about to land in. The next time you take a road trip, or boat across the water. Look at all the buildings. The lights, the houses. So many people. So many people who want to be loved. Who want someone to connect with them. Someone to listen. Someone to care.

Even if it’s just for a moment when they serve you your ice cream, or help you find your destination - connect.

Connect.

And discover the beauty of relationships.

Even if that relationship lasts only a few minutes.  Even if that connection is but a passing encouragement.

Connect. And find that being connected is the most beautiful thing in the world.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

We Hear What We Want To Hear




We are so bad at listening.

We are so GOOD at hearing what we WANT to hear.

I see it in myself, and I observe it in those I love; who I long to see make different decisions for themselves and their lives.

It may be a podcast. A church sermon. A “self-help” book. Whatever it is, we tend to BYPASS what doesn’t work for us. We tend to internally say to ourselves, “That’s not the answer I’m looking for” and fly right over the very thing we may need to hear the most.

What if we opened ourselves up to hearing what we may not WANT to hear?

What if, when we need to make a decision - we allow ourselves to consider a change in course, attitude, or action? What if we say to ourselves, “I’m actually going to consider the advice I’m usually against?”

What then?

Do you think, that maybe, just maybe, it might motivate or encourage you in some new, fantastic way?

It might.

There is, of course, the possibility, that it might not. But what is the harm in listening?

To me, there is greater harm in not listening. In not being open. In not wanting to do the HARD THING.

Our ears are so selective. Our brains so closed off, at times. It may not be that life is always hard for us, no one understands, or we’re not good enough; it may be, that we don’t accept or listen to wise advice, counsel, or differing thoughts and opinions. And THAT’S why life seems hard or that no one understands us.

It MAY be, that we don’t consider taking a different path, because we’re so comfortable on the stony one we’ve always been on!

I challenge you (along with myself) to consider, and open yourself up to listening to what we don’t want to hear.  Ponder that advice. Really weigh it in your heart. Be daring - and maybe, even, try it!

But when you open your heart and soul up…. When you invite your mind to entertain other options, and ideas? That can be the key to everything for you. 

An open and willing heart, often becomes a grateful heart. And a grateful heart, is a willing heart. A willing heart? A willing heart tries to consider wise advice.

We don’t know it all. No one does. So it’s important to filter who and what you listen to. But in that process, DO listen. Don’t skim right over an offer of advice, or an answer that “doesn’t work” with where you are emotionally at the moment.

Open yourself up to hearing what you may not want to hear. And give yourself permission to consider the fact, that sometimes we are wrong, where others may just know better than we do.

Give it a try. If you need direction - need help - need advice or wisdom - give it a try. Pray over it - but don’t skim over it.

That tip you may not want to acknowledge? May just be the thing you need.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

When You Feel Like a Target




There are times where I feel like Satan is just really after me and my family.

I feel like we’re a target.

Ever feel that way?

You have thing after thing go wrong…. Your emotions are raw…. And it’s not even just spiritual. I’ve felt sometimes that he’s even after my PHYSICAL blood. I have near-misses and moments during these times, where I’m shedding physical blood - even if it’s only drops.

And we feel this way, because it’s true.

Satan is indeed after us. He’s after our families.

I know at times, I want to shrink back and disappear. I don’t want the devil to even know I exist.

But I’m learning that I’m much safer sealed in God’s protection and blood; fighting as His warrior - than I am hiding in lukewarm apathy.

Satan will come after us one way or another. Do you not think he sees your potential even when you don’t?

I can pretend all I want that I’m not in a spiritual battle. But I am.

I can feel weak, unworthy, emotional, and so incapable of handling all that is thrown at me. But it doesn’t change the fact that it will… indeed… get thrown at me.

These times draw me ever closer to the One who IS capable. To the One who IS worthy and strong. To the One who CAN protect me, grow me, strengthen me, and teach me.

They draw me in to the One who CAN hide me and shelter me with His ever-loving hands.

And that’s the only place I really want to be in.

So, when my family feels like a target - I am learning to draw my sword. Sometimes I do it in weariness. Sometimes, I do it in tears. But I draw it. And I call satan out for who he is. I let him know I KNOW what’s going on. And he may get my emotions on some days, he may get my physical blood at times - but he will NEVER get me. And he will not get my family.

Because I’m a fighter.

Are you?

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Value Other People's Time





One of the biggest ways we can show someone we value them, is to value their time.

When we show up late… we are saying we don’t value the time of someone who has to sit and wait for us.

When we fail to tell someone of a change in plans, we are also expressing, that we don’t value their time. For maybe they continue to show up to the original location? Maybe they rearranged their schedule just to be somewhere at that predestined time?

You don’t know. 

We don’t often know what someone else does with their time, unless they tell us. And when we assume that something is not a problem, or that they they should be able to arrive, BE AT, or take the time for something - we are misleading ourselves.

Time is a valuable commodity.

And TAKING time from someone else’s day, or life - is careless.

People invest TIME into planning events. So you may think it’s “no big deal” that you can’t make it or don’t end up wanting to go… but it might matter a lot to the person who planned the event.

People invest TIME into their jobs. So when you fail to cancel an appointment, it may cost them money. For if they’d known you wouldn’t be there? They would have been able to schedule someone else. Instead, you not only stole their time, but you stole them income.

Time.

It’s not just OUR time. Our time often affects those around us, by how we conduct ourselves, and follow-through with our word.

And its says a huge amount about our character and the kind of people we are.

Think about how you invest your time. How you show others you value them, by taking advantage of THEIR time.  And try to change your habits. Try to change your patterns.

I know that none of us want any of our time stolen or taken away.  So don’t take it away from anyone else, either. 

Be where you say you will be, WHEN you say you will be there. Or give plenty of notice of a change in circumstances.

And learn how to feel good about living a life of integrity and showing value not just to others… but to yourself.. in keeping your word.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Staying True to Who We Are





My first car was a pickup truck. It was a Chevy S-10 pickup. Red and white. The rearview mirror came in the glove box and I had to constantly re-glue it to the window. There was no air – which was fine in Oregon, but when I moved to Las Vegas where it was very hot in the summer. Driving around with no air, was not something I enjoyed. Still… I loved that truck. 

That truck was “me.”

I actually had a little Honda for a few weeks before the Chevy. It was a stick-shift. 

It didn’t feel right because, I wanted an automatic, and I wanted a truck. 

The car was a good deal, so at the time, I gave in, and got it. It was cute and in great shape. But it was not what I wanted. It was not “me.” I got so frustrated trying to learn to drive it.

So it only lasted a couple of weeks before we re-sold it.  

Then, my dad found my Chevy. MY Chevy. 

I was so happy.

That’s the way it is with our lives. Sometimes we give in and do things that are just not “us.” Whether it’s peer pressure from those around us, or lack of patience, we decide to just go with something. 

But it’s all wrong. 

It’s not God’s will for us, and it’s not who we are. 

So we get frustrated. Just like I did with my car. 

The thing itself, may not be bad. It may be something that is very worthwhile or attractive. But it wasn’t meant for us.

Only when we wait and stay true to who we are, will we find that we are happy. Only when we stick with the desires and dreams that God has placed inside of us – only then will we find true satisfaction as we live out the calling that He has placed deep within us.

It doesn’t matter if everyone else around us likes cute little cars. If God created us to love trucks – only trucks will do. And it doesn’t matter if everyone else loves to run, drink coffee, own a dog, or wear certain kinds of clothes, and live certain lifestyles. If God didn’t create us that way, none of those things will work out for us. They won’t satisfy, and we won’t flourish in those roles, lives, or positions.

We will be disheartened.

We should be proud to be who we are. 

I love that I’m not like everyone else. I love how I was made. I know myself enough, to know what things I would and wouldn’t enjoy in life. 

But it took time to learn.

I’ve learned not to fight against the innate “me” that God created. For He MEANT for me to be this way - and He didn’t make a mistake.

If I try to change that? I won’t be happy. I won’t flourish in the gifts He’s given me. I won’t grow. I will only live in confines that feel restricting. 

But for someone else? Those same things may make them feel free!

Because they are different. 

Let us rest in HIS design. For we are fearfully and WONDERFULLY made.

We are each beautiful in our uniqueness. Let’s celebrate that, and fully live in that uniqueness. And never let anyone make us feel bad or sorry, that we aren’t like them.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

For The Times When You Can't Talk to Anybody




There are times when you can’t talk to anybody. Trust me, I get it.

There are countless things we go through in life, that we don’t feel we can talk to anyone else about. Things that weigh so heavily on our hearts - but aren’t things other people will understand or even “get.”

So much of the spiritual warfares we go through are PERSONAL.  Whether they are marital disagreements that wage themselves over our hearts for years, or emotional battles - we go through things that other people may find silly. They may not agree with our position.

We feel so very alone.

I’ve been there. I think we all have.  We don’t want to air our dirty laundry out in public, yet we’re not quite sure we’re at a position where we need counseling, therapy, or medical intervention.

Regardless, the tears are close to our eyes; the burden weighs heavy on our hearts.

In these times, I cling to my God - with a fierce grip. I seek His face, His strength, and His wisdom and discernment.

I talk to Him A LOT. (And I should be talking to Him A LOT every day, anyways.) But I talk to Him A LOT in these moments and seasons.

I ask God to help me somehow be reasonable in how I’m seeing and dealing with things. To give me perspective - and in cases where needed, to give my spouse or children perspective. To help us land on the same page.

I ask Him for help. Because I don’t have any answers.

And then I step through my day. One foot at a time.

Our God… MY God is a BIG God. And He knows all of these personal battles that wreck us. We may not have a clue how to navigate them - but He does. And so I trust in that.

I’ve been through some heavy-duty battles in my life. And I’ve learned things don’t always go the way I think they should go. This scares me when I’m waging a new hurt in my life and heart. But I’ve also learned that I will survive. 

Somehow. 

With God’s help, there will be a new day. A new dawn. And I will get through whatever the ‘thing’ is.

So, I get it. There are times where we just feel like an island in the world. Like we can’t go to anyone else, and we are walking through something all by ourselves.

And you know what? You are….. and you aren’t.

Humanly, you may be. No one else may have ever dealt with what you are dealing with. But spiritually and emotionally? You are NEVER alone. God is right there with you.

Things may seem unfair. One-sided. Overwhelming. Targeted. But God has you tenderly in His arms. He will work things out for your best interests. He will make sure you are able to come out on the other side. 

It will still hurt. Sting. The tears may fall easily and often. But friend, God knows. He sees you. He sees me. He knows what we are going through.

So keep walking. Keep seeking. Keep praying.

Keep asking for wisdom, discernment, joy, and peace. 

And He will wipe away your tears, and replace them with strength.