Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Book Review: 7 Women and the Secret of Their Greatness

I enjoyed this book on a number of fronts.

1. I was surprised by some of the women he chose to feature.  Two of them I hadn't heard of before and one of them, Hannah More, I'm looking forward to exploring. She sounds fascinating. 
2. Each one of these women lived their beliefs with the wholeness of who they were.  It wasn't lip service or just giving positive assent.  They each in their own fashion paid high prices to live out their convictions. Inspires me.
3. There was a simplicity to each one.  As if to say, this is what I believe, this is who I am, this is what I'm doing and just went about doing it without fanfare, immediate results, or a fan base. 
4. I could read a bit before bed each night without missing the big picture because it wasn't needing to be a large chunk of time reading and processing. 
5. I connected with Mr. Metaxes' writing style.  I definitely planning to read at least two more of his books:  Amazing Grace about William Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer. Sign me up! 

so...thumbs up and recommend. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Super Powers

Relationships hold incredible power.
I think it's our universal super power.
That along with the power of Choice.
One question my kids heard frequently, and sometimes still do, is 'Are you using your super powers for good or for evil?' (any other DC & Marvel fans out there? LOL)

When we take whatever measure of influence we have and work to create safe places for people to be real and whole, it can become transformational in others lives.
And realistically, our own.
We change too as others in our intimate world change.
It may take years.
Parents have been dealing with that for centuries.
You invest, invest, invest for many years, days on end, sometimes one moment at a time and it takes years to witness what kind of person  your child chooses to become.
Yes, nature holds a measure of influence, and nurture wields great sway.
But their choices of  'am I going to embrace what I've been taught as my own thought and base my life upon that decision,'  we can only wait to see the evidences as they make themselves known in time.
Their super powers revealed.

We also can take the measure of influence we have and with unhealthy habits, create chaos & havoc in peoples lives.
Which is transformational in a negative direction.
Both directions have consequences.
I truly believe there will come a day we be able to see across eternity the impact of our relationship choices and I wonder what the experience will  hold.
Will we stand amazed at how Love shared brought healing, hope and wholeness?
Stand celebrating the beauty created?
Or completely undone at the opportunities missed?
Or even crushed at how our unhealthy behaviors made a contortion in someone else's life?
Or a measure of all of that because consistency is hard to maintain?
I'm so grateful for grace and that His power is made perfect in my weakness.
Not a casual (and incorrect), oh nothing I do really matters because Jesus takes care of it anyway, kind of grace.
But a costly grace that knows my human weakness and loves, loves, loves anyway.
His vast ocean of grace.
Grace being one of His super powers.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Ministry of Distraction

We say that sometimes when we catch a distraction. 
Seems like the older I get, the more things distract me, but ...huh?  What was I saying? 
Distraction can be a powerful, practical friendship tool.  No, really. 
Life can be hard.  
I know, you haven't thought about that for like 10 seconds and there I go reminding you. Ugh. 
We usually don't need much reminding on the life is hard part.
Sometimes, a well placed distraction can bring life and energy and hope. 
Not ignoring the hard, but allowing something distracting to take us away from how painful or uncomfortable our situation may be.  
So the hard stops taking up all our vision and all our air.
For just a little while. 
A cup of coffee with a friend (generally never a bad idea.)
A walk together, hiking, biking, working on a project.
Even the mundane like running errands or grocery shopping.
The connection time in the car, maybe loudly singing along to your favorite oldies, or taking a few minutes to get your dance party on. 
It may even reframe the hard to find a better fit in the bigness of God. 

Even if the hard doesn't lighten, we can come away from a friend connection feeling a bit more energy and hope to continue until whatever we're dealing with passes. 
Who in your world could really benefit from a few minutes stepping away from the tough stuff you know is in their lives?
Even if you are in the midst of some super tough stuff of your own right now...
Be the squirrel. :-) 

It'll do you good too. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

6 Steps to Harnessing the Power of Habit

I'm a big fan of the power of habit. 
Our world can change on the power of our habits. 
Every time I see pictures of the Grand Canyon and what the Colorado River has done, one eroding water droplet at a time, I am reminded of the power of  consistent habits. 
As hard as it can seem to develop healthy habits, the truth is we have habits anyway.  Many of them are just not the habits we would prefer to have. 
Like the habit of leaving the kitchen a mess.  Or not making the bed or whatever it happens to be that is either annoying to you or not kind for others coming behind us. 
I could expand on that all day, but I thought I'd share 6 simple but power-packed tips we can put into practice to develop the habits we would like in our lives. 
1. Pick ONE habit. 
Only one. A confused mind does nothing.  Focusing on too much at once is a quick way to overload and we shut down.  Pick just one habit you would like to incorporate.  Exercise, reading your bible, whatever you are most interested in at this moment.  Be free from all you 'should' do and pick something you'd like to do. Here's why--discipline in one area helps discipline in other areas.  If you work on something you're excited about, it helps with motivation to keep going. You can get to all those other areas in the future. 
2. Break it down to all the steps involved & reduce it to it's most basic form.
Brainstorm the steps that make up that habit.  Using the exercise scenario, you could run, do squats or plank.  Three things.  Knowing what you'd like it to look like one day, set aside all of those and focus on 1 of them for now. (see #1)
3. Make it ridiculously easy. 
Seriously. If being able to run for 30 minutes straight is something you want, make your first goal to run for 5 minutes at the treadmill's lowest possible setting. 
4. Do the ridiculous every day. 
Consistency is the crazy key that makes the whole thing work. And when your goal is so ridiculously easy, you bang that out without much thought and get to enjoy the sense of achievement that comes from working on your goal.  You find yourself saying, 'of course I can do that, it's only..." This why it needs to be a small enough goal to be ridiculously easy.  When you find yourself doing one tiny little step of your habit EVERY day, say for 2 weeks, you've built a momentum that can then be expanded. 
5. Expand the ridiculous.  
Now can you take your new, tiny little habit to the next step.  With the running scenario, maybe you go from running 5 minutes to running 7 minutes for a week or more.  But here's the caution, be careful how rapidly you expand.  This is a fluid dynamic and one that only you can navigate for yourself.  If you bump out your habit and find it has become too big a deal in your mind, back off.  Really.  The point isn't to get to your end point as quickly as possible.  It's to establish room in your life.  Once there is room for your habit and other things  have been adjusted to accommodate, then expand to the next logical step.  If you find yourself not working on it or being sidetracked, go back to what seems ridiculously easy in your mind and go from there. 
6. Next Habit.
When you find yourself doing the thing without much thought or bother and getting back on track rather easily when life happens to interrupt the habit, congratulate yourself for all the work you did to get your new habit!  When it has become the habit you wanted to have, enjoy picking out a new habit to work on if you'd like. 

It's a pretty simple process. 
Know that there will be interruptions. 
Decide in advance to get right back on track.  Make the pity party quick. 
Choose to be okay with the unlinear path. 
Grant yourself the grace of a learning curve and have fun. 
If you incorporate only 2 new habits this whole year, that's more than you started with. 
Sometimes just having something that you are working on that provides a sense of accomplishment, no matter how small, can be the encouragement you need to know life is moving forward. 

So what habits are you working on? :-) 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Moving Forward

2 John 5-6 Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church if you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, walking in light and truth...

Sending someone we? are we? am I?
Sending someone forward to Jesus...
to wholeness...
to forgiveness...
to reconciliation...
to restoration...
to restitution...
to the Truth...
to the word...
to prayer...
to grace...
to acceptance...
to peace...
to sincere discipleship...
to true relationship...
to honest friendship with Jesus...

Do people feel 'sent forward' after leaving our space? 
What if sending someone forward is a temporary redirection to their past?  
Like taking responsibility for wrongs committed and doing the hard work of asking someone's forgiveness? 
Is all that being done in a manner worthy of God?  
Just what does THAT look like particular to the moment we're sharing? 

Father, help us this day, this moment, with the precious people you have entrusted in our lives to love them well with Your love, and help them, whatever that looks like, to move forward in the adventure You have for them. Help us to walk in Your abilities in our weakness and that they would sense Your all-encompassing love. 
Because of Jesus.  Amen. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Growing Pains

Love it.:
Have you ever whacked your toes really hard? Man, o man, it colors everything.
Some years ago, I was hurrying through the house with a sassy pair of flip flops on and didn't realize until it was too late that the vacuum cleaner cord had gotten caught in my shoe and BAM!  Not only was I down for the count, but I'd actually broken my toe. 
Fortunately, I didn't break my vacuum cleaner.  I love my vacuum cleaner. 
But for a whole summer, I had to limit what I could wear because my toe just hurt.  And it was limiting.  If you are a fellow sole sister, you understand.   
But that's what it's like when one part of the body is hurting.  Other parts of the body ARE impacted.  The whole body registers an impact when one part isn't functioning at maximum capacity.  Choices are limited.  
Same thing in the body of Christ.  Here is how Paul puts it:

1 Corinithians 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Suffering parts can show up in a body as impaired function, infection, bruising, bleeding,..
How do suffering parts show up in the body of Christ? Rejection, lashing out, being mean, gossiping, demeaning others, lesser than behaviors, greater than behaviors...all kinds of things.  Spiritual and relational BO. 
So what do we do when we are presented with a suffering part?  Dismiss it as their problem?  We can dismiss it, but we can't really say it's just their problem according to scripture.  Do we turn our face away because assisting them is just too much work or they may lash out at our attempt to care? That's an option. Would I appreciate someone choosing that option with me? Nope. I want people to love me enough to work with me through my ugly stuff.  I want them to choose my growth over their inconvenience.  To help me, not judge me, to be brave enough to tell me if my behavior is spiritually, relationally, or emotionally toxic and it doesn't have to be that way. In true love.  Love that believes all things for me, hopes all things for me, never failing love.  And that can only be done by the Holy Spirit. It's this type of loving I want to do with Him and for Him. I don't do it well every time.  But every time I have a new chance to love better, potentially relieve suffering and maybe teach a new way of responding to pain.
What will you choose?