Monday, November 18, 2019

Facing That "Thing"





That thing. That thing you dread doing. It’s that “something” that causes fear to rise up in your heart and throat. You’d rather do almost anything else… except THAT.

Everyone has a “thing.” At least at some point in their life.  What is it for you? Is it confronting someone about something that is hard to talk about? Is it reaching out to someone in your family, who is hard to love – let alone like?

What is it? And why is it that particular thing?

We are stronger than we think. And we limit our capabilities more often….than we think. 

And fear can be so paralyzing.  It can grow so big that it literally rules our lives and minds.

For me, I’ve had to face fears so many, many times. But each time I conquer something that once conquered me? I feel stronger. Freer. My faith grows deeper, knowing that my God held me up through “it.”

And He can do that for you, as well.

For God is so tender. Never laughing at our ridiculous thoughts. No. He just gently prods us along telling us, “You can do this.”

And we can.

Whatever that ‘thing’ is in your life – that thing that terrifies you? Take a baby step towards it. Then take another. 

You may stumble a little, but trust me, it will feel so good to walk that walk. It can be a shaky walk - and facing that “thing,” that “it” - it can hurt. I won’t lie. It may not be fun at all.  

But you will be stronger for it. And you won’t be a captive held hostage by your fear.

God has given you and I all of the tools we need to make it to the other side of our “thing.”  But so often, we ignore the tools, and we just leave them - sitting there, untouched. We allow ourselves to be captivated by hurt, pain, and fear.

Forever.

You can be better. 

You can be stronger. Wiser. 

You can be free.

Face your “thing.” Let God guide you through it. 

Do it for yourself.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

When We’re Afraid to Tell Others’ Someone In Our Life Needs Prayers





Prayers.  We all have things, people, and issues in our lives that need prayers.

But sometimes, we don’t ask for them.

We are afraid. If it’s a spouse, our marriage, a child, a parent, or someone else close to us… we are afraid to ask others’ to pray. Because we don’t want them to think badly of the person we are asking prayers for.

If we hang out as couples, we certainly don’t want their opinion of our spouse to change.

If they are friends, we don’t want them to stop liking our children, or perhaps being conduits for success in our child’s life.

And on and on….

But the thing is - if we ask not, we have not.

God says when 2 or 3 of us are gathered in His name - powerful things can happen! So, I have to believe, that He wants us to bring one another to Him in prayer. And that includes, bringing one another in front of those Godly prayer warriors we trust.

Did you notice the end of the sentence I wrote above? “In front of GODLY prayer warriors WE TRUST.”

Yes, it can be dangerous to bring issues about the life of someone we love, to people who can’t be trusted with sacred information. But if we bring them before those who truly honor our trust? They will be powerful prayer allies for us and for our beloved! And not only that, they will rejoice when prayer is answered - never using “said” information against the individual. Because they know we all have things in our lives that can be used against us. 

And we are all recipients of grace, mercy, and second chances.

If we are afraid for someone.

If we are concerned about the choices being made in someone’s life.

If we need to bring spiritual, emotional, or physical things before the Lord - we need (and should welcome) an army to do it!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to enlist the prayers of those trusted warriors in your life.  

And if you don’t have any? Get yourself some! There are so many Christian groups online geared to encourage and help each other in this walk of life. And if you need to start with people you don’t know - start there. But get help. Get help for those precious people in your life.

We have the chance to be powerful influences in the lives of those we love. I don’t know about you - but I don’t want to realize someday, that I could have made a real impact in someone’s heart through prayer……. And failed to do so.

Love with your whole heart.

Pray with your WHOLE heart.

Get an army of prayer warriors to fight with you and FOR those you love.

And watch God move.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Who Are We Listening To?




Satan whispers in my ear more than I’d care to admit.

He speaks to my heart and soul.. and unfortunately, I listen. I listen, because I’m unaware who the speaker is.

He’s so good at deception. So good at lies. So good at forcing me to jump to conclusions, think people don’t care, or cause me to feel inadequate. 

Really good.

But I’m getting better at knowing where the whispers come from. I’m learning to truly decipher whose voice I’m hearing.

How?

Because I’m reminding myself more and more of my Lord’s character. I’m learning to hold God’s truths against the words I find being stroked into my world.

When you know someone’s heart - you know whether they are the author of things. You KNOW, if they are capable of certain actions and words.  And so, I’m having to truly remind myself to not forget who my God is. To seek Him more and more. To take time in prayer, to LISTEN to HIM, so that I know the sound of HIS voice, when it comes.

The more I do this, (and I do get out of the habit and let distractions pull me away, at times), the more I can recognize an impersonator.

The more I can filter out the lies that a voice is trying to tell me to tell myself and believe about myself.

Cunning. Adept. Deceitful. Disguised.

These are satan’s qualities.

We are so good at thinking that evil is always in the form of ugliness. And sometimes - it is. But more often than naught, satan loves to come disguised as beauty, power, success, and acceptance.  He holds those things over us to either draw us into their seduction, or make us feel like we are unworthy of anything of value, at all.

Don’t fall for it.

Learn God’s voice. Spend time listening to Him and seeking Him, so you know His character. 

So you know Him when He comes to you.

When God comes to convict us, Satan comes to shame.

When God comes to heal, Satan comes to victimize.

When God comes to free, Satan comes to entrap.

Know the difference. Know the sound of the whispers you hear, and refuse them when they don’t belong to the One who loves us more than we can imagine.

For we ARE valuable. We ARE worthy. We ARE wanted. We CAN overcome. We WILL learn. We ARE capable. We CAN grow. We CAN change.

But only with the strength, grace, and mercy of ONE.

Know THAT One. And reject the other.

Monday, September 30, 2019

It's Time to Say "No More"



What do you love the most in this world? Is it your children? Your spouse? Are you surprised at all then… that the enemy has gone after your children and their relationship with you? With God? Is it any surprise that he continually pecks at your marital relationship?

Satan is not talked about enough. He is not a flattering subject. And when we go through difficulties - people don’t like to hear that it’s a spiritual battle, or that satan is attacking them.

No.

It’s much easier to tilt our heads heavenward and go, “Why God?” Or to look outward and blame other people.

But it’s NOT GOD. It’s not always, others.

It’s Satan.

He is evil. Ruthless. Disguised as good. Persistent. Cunning. Heartless.

HE. IS. REAL.

He is out to attack and destroy YOU. 

If he can get you to struggle with your health, your relationships, your faith - he laughs. He delights. And he is fueled to do more.

God wants to give us HOPE and LIFE!  But we so easily fall into the struggles and traps that satan has for us.

It’s easy to fall victim to our own minds. To let fear, anxiety, and depression so overtake our lives that we don’t know how to function as a normal human being.

It’s easy to write off relationships that have become HARD. To cut ourselves off from anyone who might challenge us.

It’s almost energizing to think about unleashing our anger. Rebelling against society. 

Yet, none of those things are of the Lord. None are GOOD.

Satan is out to STEAL (our mind, our heart, our souls), KILL (our relationships, our loves, our dreams) and DESTROY (our jobs, our self-worth, our families, our communities). 

How do you think he’s doing?

We will only gain ground if we decide we’ve had enough. Had enough of the tears, the fears, the anger, the struggle…..

We will only gain ground and start becoming victorious if we call upon the Lord and claim who we are in Him.

We CAN be strong.

We CAN be wise.

We CAN overcome.

It just takes faith. Belief. Trust. Sacrifice of our own will and pride, at times. And it will take obedience. Obedience to the ONE who tried to spare us from it all in the first place.

It’s time to rise up. Claim who you are and who you were meant to be. Say, “No more” to Satan and call him out. Don’t let him hide in the shadows, lurking and toying with your life and mind.

Victory is only gained through the Lord. 

No more compromising. No more excuses. No more hiding (because what good has that really done?) 

Step forward. 

You are already in a battle. So you might as well grab your armor and battle with your head up, instead of down.

I believe it’s time we start gaining some ground in our lives. 

Let’s be fighters, instead of victims.

Enough is enough.

Satan is real, and he’s out to get you, your children, and your love. 

Don’t let him.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

They Are Different From You. And That's Not Bad.




Sometimes we get frustrated with one another.  We expect those ‘others’ in our lives, to be like us.

And they’re not. They are SO not.

And that frustrates us.

We try to comprehend how someone we care about, doesn’t appreciate the fact that we don’t want to be busy every weekend. Or, we don’t “get” how our beloved is so content not trying new things.

Some of us are introverts. Some are extroverts. Some of us - are somewhere in the middle.

Some of us thrive on adrenaline and we get antsy living life working “normally” like the rest of society.  Some of us…. Feel like we will be strangled if we have to try anything that is risky, fast, or slightly “out of the ordinary.” 

None of it is bad. We need to see that.

None of it is wrong. (Unless you jeopardize marital or familial relationships in the process - or become unwise with money, or your desires become addictions, etc.)

But for most of us - we just need to see that others are different than us. We don’t HAVE to understand why someone is the way they are. We just need to accept that they ARE.

We all fill a void here in life. We all fill spots that no one else can fill.

When we are in leadership, we can forget to teach to the introvert and not just the extrovert. 

When we are married, we can push and pull on our spouse to do things that God has not gifted in their very nature - to do.

Because we think everyone should think and feel… like we do.

I don’t think we do it in a mean way. I don’t even think we often realize we are doing it, at all. But we do. Everything we do, comes from our own prism of seeing life the way WE see and feel it. And in that very fact, oftentimes, comes the misunderstanding that someone else doesn’t see or feel things, as we do.

So what do we do? 

We start in just realizing. Realizing that others are different than us, and it’s not bad. 

They are meant to be different.

We compromise for the love of the relationship we have with them - to come to middle ground in the things we choose to do with them, and the things we ask of them.

We learn to enjoy to live life a little bit differently at times. Even if it’s only for an hour - or a week or two. Because we love the people in our life.

And in the process, we enjoy our relationships more. We relax more. We learn that it’s not life-altering, to learn how to accept a different way of going about things. It’s not going to kill us, if we don’t do things OUR way once in awhile.

And we grow. We love more. We LIVE more. And someone else loves us more, because of the lack of feeling pressured to be something they were never meant to be.

Someone can change to be with you - but they won’t enjoy it. And they won’t feel loved by us because they will feel like they aren’t good enough, just… the… way…. they… are.

So for the sake of the loved ones in your life - see and love people right where they stand. In their slowness or their frenzy. In their quietness or their joyful noise. But love them for who they are. 

And you will find your enjoyment of the relationship, will rise up to a new level. 

It’s ok that you are different than others, and that others are different from you. That’s what makes people so beautiful. So learn from each other. Love on each other. Grow from what each other has to give and offer.

That’s the secret to happy relationships.

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.