Suffering and discomfort.

 

I had a “minor procedure” done January 8th.  After multiple recommendations from my dentist, I decided to go ahead and schedule the surgery.  A friend joked that the only minor procedure is one that is done on someone else.  I laughed and thought – that won’t apply to me.  The surgeon advised I could experience some “minor bruising and facial swelling.”  I didn’t put much consideration into my recovery, I didn’t plan any time off work and had my normal full schedule of activities on my agenda.  I assumed I would bounce back and recover better than normal.  I planned to just keep marching. However, here we are 6 weeks laters, and I am still experiencing effects!

The procedure seemed relatively simple – I had a benign cyst on my face that need to be removed.  It wasn’t simple at all. The first few days following the surgery were VERY uncomfortable.  Beyond the MAJOR facial swelling, bruising, black eye and fever blisters… I also had to readjust my emotions. Every day I kept waking up with full expectation to feel better. My recovery just seemed to drag on and on. It was just really difficult.  I had to rearrange my schedule, I missed social gatherings, and frankly, I was embarrassed. Despite my nearly scientific make up skills, there was just no way to hide the numb unresponsive face and the bruised and swollen cheek.

I immediately wanted to write about the spiritual lessons found in pain and suffering. What a fun topic right?  A Sunday evening in January I actually spoke on the topic… Righteous Discomfort.  There are a couple of different things I was reminded of during the process.

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Suffering:

  1. It’s Expected, Arm yourself.  The worst part of my recovery is that I didn’t expect it –and wasn’t prepared. If my expectations hadn’t been so misguided, my experience may not have been such a disappointing shock.  The Word tells us to ARM ourselves and be prepared for the suffering.  If Christ had to endure it, why would we think we are above it? (I Peter 4:1-16)  When you buy your kid a bike, it’s likely that there will be a bike wreck.  When you expect a bike wreck, you teach your kids to wear a helmet.  Put on the full armor of God.  It’s not a shock, we can be aware. There will be suffering, don’t be so surprised.
  2. It’s Worth It, Be Obedient.  When He asks us to carry our cross, we can trust that He is good. “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.”  (Hebrews 12:2)  He had to endure 3 days of suffering and shame to give us an eternity of righteousness and healing.  It was worth it for him, and it’s worth it for us. “For these light and momentary troubles are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (II Corinthians 4:17)

The longer the suffering lasted, the less I wanted to write a blog. Why?

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Pre-surgery, I was having minor headaches, daily.  My dentist warned that by not removing, the continuous pressure would eventually shift my teeth and could deform my jaw line. Those were pretty good reasons to pursue corrective surgery. In the short term view, the 2-3 days of post surgery pain seemed to be a good trade.  Short term pain, long term gain.  But now? It has drug on too long, and  the extended suffering made me forget how miserable I was.  (Like the Israelites remembered Egypt differently after grumbling in the Wilderness) I forgot about the daily headaches, my memory faded, and now all I can think is… Why?  Because after 2-3 days turned into 2-3 weeks, and now into 2 months…. it just didn’t seem worth it anymore.  So, here is  one more:

3. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you can’t see what you can’t see. We all could use a little dose of humility. God doesn’t owe us all the answers, explanations, or full disclosure. He is God.  We like to validate our experiences with lessons learned, milestones towards maturity, or bumps on the way to blessing.  But sometimes, we can’t figure it out and we can’t see the good.  It doesn’t mean God caused it or that the devil did it. We just experience hardship, period.   He may never tells me why. And yet He is God and I surrender.

The one thing that can always be clear: I didn’t experience it alone.

He is WITH me in my struggle. He is with you in your pain.  Duet 31:6.

More than stain removal …

I apparently gain a lot of people insight while cleaning the bathroom.  With a family of five and three full bathrooms; it’s probably safe to say I will keep learning.

Last week I spilled something on a rug, and I knew it would potentially stain. It didn’t happen at a time that was convenient for me to stop and do laundry.  I scooped it up and quickly pretreated my favorite rug with some stain remover.  My trusty stain removing gel quickly lifted the stain, and I went about the rest of my week.  Despite the stain being removed, the rug still didn’t make its way back to the bathroom, it stayed in the laundry room.  Saturday morning I ran it through the washer. The entire rug needed a good washing.

I promise this overly descriptive story is going somewhere…

How often do we stop and wash the rugs? I vacuum the rugs about every week, but if there had not been a spill, I probably wouldn’t have washed the entire thing.  I forgot how good they look…. fresh out of the dryer! Simple rugs brought a smile – all fluffy and clean – so fresh, it looked new!

It looked better coming out of the dryer than before the stain.

Exactly. There it is.

Too often, we quickly “pre-treat” our sin or our hurt… we know we need to carry it to the Father… we know we really need to deal with it… but, who has the time?! So we settle for a little stain remover, a little spot wash. It lifts the stain, but doesn’t really cleanse the whole body. Partial, but fully. Without taking time for the full wash, we may not find ourselves in the place of our best purpose. The rug was still a rug, but it was balled up on the floor of the laundry room, instead of being used for its intended purpose.

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i know it’s a silly story, but it can help you if you let it.  Pastor Hank once said… “to often we fight until we feel some relief instead of fighting until we get the total victory.”

That makes so much sense. I am currently working on going around a mountain that is too familiar. I have fought this battle before.  Last time I thought I won, but yet… here I am again. Perhaps I just went for the quick spot treatment. Maybe good enough was good enough.  Not this time! This time I want to really slow down and go through the entire cycle!

When the Word says, “And He shall wash you white as snow….”  I don’t think it means, He’ll dab a little to blot out the really noticeable parts. No, His intention is for the full removal of anything that looks like sin or feels like hurt. His plans are to separate it from east to west. He doesn’t give forgiveness as a thin dusting of snow where you can still see the blades of grass poking through. No, He will cover us with a fresh thick blanket of rich mercy and unmerited grace.

So, what are we waiting for? We need to experience the joy of repentance, the beauty of forgiveness, and the completion of redemption.

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Ready Receivers.

When Reagan was born it reset my body to beat alopecia. Between the pregnancy hormones, breast feeding, prenatal vitamins and the kick-me-into-labor dose of potosin, my body responded with rapid hair growth. After 12 weeks of maternity leave, I came back to work without a wig, and was sporting a short spiky, spunky new do.

At my three month check up, I jokingly told my doctor that he was going to need to set me up on a potosin drip so that I could keep my hair! People laugh, but honestly, I kept having kids, and the healthy cycle worked. I kept my hair!

My doctor let me know that my bright idea actually would not work. The body doesn’t receive potosin unless the cervix is effaced and ready for childbirth. The drug that is supposed to enduce and speed labor actually doesn’t do anything at all unless your body is ready for labor.

What a lesson.

How often are we begging for something we aren’t ready to receive. Or what about when blessings are sent our direction, but they are ineffective because we are not prepared to handle it.  Things rarely happen in a isolated vacuum. Life is interdependent. In order for something to accomplish it’s purpose, it’s likely going to be dependent on the fact that something else will have to be made ready.

Let’s get ready! Be ready! Live ready!

 

 

Each Sunday at church our pastor declares a blessing over us… do we receive it?

Heck, most people can’t even really receive a compliment! I can’t tell you the number of times a genuine compliment is deflected with a self-deprecating remark.

When I think about recievers, especially with the season our Chiefs have been having…. I get a visual of this! ECD3D15B-9921-465D-845C-51FD3FEBE82B

You have seen some amazing catches, and also witnessed some frustrating misses. It’s about timing, position, momentum, direction, and having your hands ready for the catch! The best receivers know it requires being at the right spot and running towards the expected pass, even before you can see it coming.  Receivers run downfield each and every time believing that the pass is coming straight to them.

It may be safe to say some of us are hoping to receive but aren’t running away from the ball!

We want the benefits of the potosin but yet we aren’t nine months pregnant and ready to have a baby!

God can send you blessings…. and I believe He does. But it’s possible – (if you aren’t a ready receiver) that they can slip thru your fingers. Let’s ask God to help us catch what life throws at us.

May we be positioned, ready to receive!

 

Make Every Effort.

Everyone once in a while I read a verse and it resenates with me in a deep and powerful way. It will quickly become significant. In that season, when it’s a NOW Word for me, I can repeatedly read it, memorize it, preach, read it again, apply application and continue to expand my thoughts on it. Each time, God helps me unpack it more… and ironically, uses it to convict and correct.

The Bible is so unique and rich. A key verse may not make such a personal connection with those around me.  That’s ok; for this season, this Word is mine. There is nothing dull or repetitive about it. It’s shaping me, equipping me. It’s prophetic. So pardon my repetitive hashtags or redundant use of the same scripture… but… it’s just I’m still soaking it in.

I have been settled in II Peter 1:3-8 for a while.

Its too good to cut down. No abbreviated clip art version of this passage gives it the proper emphasis.

II Peter 1:3-8   His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control;and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Imagine the irony when I realized that in the midst of my “make every effort” season, I quit blogging. 🤦🏼‍♀️

I mean, I didn’t quit on purpose…. it just sort of happened. Excuses, insecurities and redirected but unaddressed fear will do that. It will dull your dreams and silence your passion.

When you don’t make an effort, you may accidentally quit. 

Here’s the really great news. Starting again can be easy. It may be a bit risky, but let’s make an effort and start again.

This blog is emotional for me. It represents the hope that something else is coming. It feels like a bridge to somewhere I very much hope to be going. So when it “feels” like sharing my experiences don’t matter, when it feels like wasted words that no one reads it… I guess the reality is— it’s easier to quit trying than to buckle down and try harder. It’s easier to talk yourself out of wanting it than to hope, believe and consistently work hard.  When you can’t control something, it’s easier to quit than to trust.

But, as long as II Peter is ringing in my ears, I can’t deny that I have not made every effort.

I want to be effective and productive. I want that supernatural divine nature, and I want those precious promises. What’s really available when we make every effort? What’s possible when we add, layer and stack up the characteristics described above?

If you haven’t done all you can do, you haven’t done all you can do.

Try again.

Start again.

Forgive again.

Believe again.

Pray again.

Love again.

You can. I can. Make every effort.

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You have control.

F30971DE-8858-41F0-A609-0F7B9EC02247.jpegSo it happened again, and I know you can relate. In the car this evening, my kids complained about it being too warm, so I turned down the heat.

It reminded me of the numerous times the temperature is uncomfortable and we forget to notice. Then, something inside clicks, and suddenly we realize- “Man, I’m really hot!” Now that I am aware, there is a sense of urgency. “Something’s got to change!”  Oh wait…. I remember…. I can turn up the air. I have the power to adjust the temperature! I can fix this!

In life, we all experience some discomforts. Would you consider that the power to change your situation is often within your control? Here’s the question, are you uncomfortable enough to recognize it? Are you ready to take control and change the temperature? Are you riding around in a hot box, not yet aware that it doesn’t cost any extra to be comfortable in your car. The controls just need adjusted.

If you have been in the faith community for long, you may agree that we have an enemy in the world that can be blamed for much of the hardship, challenge and temptation people face. I agree. I also think we may over-spiritualize it. We blame the devil or question God, but what if it’s really just life? And what if the solution to some of life’s disappointments are really found in self control, discipline and better choices?

The Bible is full of examples where people pray and ask God to move on their behalf. The miracle often happens through the faithfulness of the person making the ask. God has equipped us with a fully loaded vehicle with standard equipment that is available to all of us. Instead of driving around in a hot car, complaining we are hot, praying the temperature would change, or better yet— praying your spouse would change the temperature…  I have a challenge for us to consider— lean up, take control and make adjustments! The answer may not come soley through prayer, it’s gonna take some action! Take control and do what is within your power to do!

The subject of this blog actually surprises me. It feels like an opposite statement from the undertone lesson I have been learning. I am reading a book, “Control Girl.” It outlines the joy found in letting go of the burden of control. It’s about surrendering our lives to the Sovereign plan of God. But the key has been to recognize ways in control is present in my life. It’s been stepping on my toes in the best sort of ways.  However, laying down the reigns of micro managing the lives of loved ones, surrendering my scripted expectation is an entirely different version of surrounded control.

Today is about recognizing that perhaps we have unintentionally relinquished the control (the power) God has given us to change. Maybe the something we are waiting to change is really us!

We are equipped with power, love and a sound mind! (2 Timothy 1:7)  We have been given everything we need for life and godliness! (2 Peter 1:3) We know a lot, we should do what we know. (Phil 4:9)

Don’t give up your authority. Don’t waste the benefits that come with the plan of salvation.  And, don’t make this too complicated.

What came to mind when I said…. “Are you miserable enough yet to make a change?”

Your morning routine? Your house? Your health? Nutrition or activity level? Do you desire improvement in your spiritual vitality? Anger or patience? Spending habits? Fear? Procrastination? How about writing that book? Going back to school?  If you are reading this, waiting for me to call out your “thing” – come on, go for it! Take control of the thermostat of your life and take steps towards what you really want!

Take time today to write it down. You didn’t on’t have to have the answers or the entire plan. But use today as the chance to sit up and say, I am ready to take control and make some changes.

Any excuse will do, but then again, no excuse can stop you! Just decide today, and then decide again tomorrow.

#makeeveryeffort #dontquit #startagain #takecontrol … maybe the tone of my blogs are relatively similar, but maybe it’s beacuase it is what we need to keep hearing. Be a dreamer, but also be a doer. Time will pass, you can make changes and see the slow progress but real benefits… The temperature won’t change in thirty seconds, but progress is coming- and it’s sure better than riding powerless in a hot car.  Let’s do this!

Valuable Vision

An interview question I like to ask potential new hires is, “Tell me about a defining moment in your career.”

A recent candidate, let’s call him Mark, shared a management experience that offers a great lesson. He told me he was most proud of creating value in his team by providing structure. Years past, he was hired into supervisory role that had previously been vacant for several months. His new boss explained that he would likely need to “clean house.” The boss elaborated that the staff was insubordinate, under performing, casual about disregarding policies, known for taking long lunches, leaving early- the list continued. 30C058AE-309D-4CF6-8F12-19B0A82A01F4

Rather than firing any of the staff, Mark accepted the challenge to provide vision  and create the change he needed to see. He saw value in the existing employees, but understood that good people need direction. He asked questions. established boundaries, lead by example, and asked them for more. He drew a line, and asked his new team to walk it. They did. They flourished and the team began to thrive. Their quality metrics, performance, and moral soared. Why? Inherently, we all need a little structure. We want to be good at what we do, and that happens best when we have a clear vision of what to do! Good leadership creates value by setting expectations, creating boundaries, and casting a vision. This is the framework for success. So, likewise, let’s be good at leading the our minds.

The Bible says that without vision people perish . It’s not that they die,but rather that they aimlessly wander off course. With no vision, resources are wasted and people are scattered.  

So it is with our minds. 1A8648DA-16D2-4365-891A-4F11A87BA0AD.jpeg

Our unsaved, fleshly brains can not be left to their own devices. Without a little self management, restraint, coaching and correction- our minds will be scribbling  outside of all the lines in all the worst kinds of ways. Our unrestrained minds will tell us lies of everything we can’t do. It will justify selfish thoughts. It will harbor critical and bitter emotions. Our minds will build cases on self-righteous excuses to convince us sin is acceptable!  Our minds will shift blame and never be satisfied, pleased or content. It’s just exhausting.

You can’t fire your mind, but you can actually clean house!

Draw a line and tell your mind to walk it! You can take your emotions and thoughts captive. You have the power to cast down those crazy imaginations and the movie in your mind that is so counterproductive. You can wash your mind- it may take some work. Renew your mind and thoughts with God’s truth. Lead your mind to better places. Take charge! 

We know the battle is in the mind— fight it well.

May our greatest defining moment be when we value our own thought life enough to continuously provide a healthy framework of both structure and correction. 

 

 

Airplane Views

I love to be reminded, in life, we are just a little spec in the universe.  Looking out an airplane window is a great way to recapture that… Seeing nothing but clouds, the great expanse of blue sky. 5D01521E-532F-49E3-B156-A18C35D695B1Then as we descend, we see the patchwork of thousands acres of land. 30DA06D4-84CD-4CFE-8FD5-2C93E8308829As we approach landing—  we see little league fields, backyard pools, busy freeways, high rise hotels, corporate offices, and observe life happening without us.

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There is a pace and rhythm to life so much greater than our own.

I do think God made us all significant. We have purpose, influence and a calling to fulfill.  Yet, it’s refreshing humility that reminds us: small things small, your life is just a small speck, a fleeting mark.

I met a man on the plane. He was curious about the book I was reading. Also, he wondered why I would carry my heavy Bible, why not use a phone app? … After all, even a ranch hand like him had a Bible on a phone app.

I didn’t even ask his name. He was originally from a town of just 14 houses in the open country of New York. When the population grew to 21 houses, his dad moved the family up into the mountains (because he didn’t like the crowds). More than ten years of service in the Marine Corp had given him education and life experience. He has traveled to more states and countries than I could name. He is currently the care-taker of a 150 acre ranch in California. He trains horses and gives guided horseback tours.  He has never sent an email, logged onto Facebook, and frankly, he doesn’t see much need to start.

The flight was a bit much for him, as normally he sees just two or three people a day. You wouldn’t know it by our conversation, he was quite the talker. He was flying home from a visit to his parents’ back in NY. His mom was ill and his dad was falling behind on work. This grown son flew CA to NY to cut firewood and help his dad prepare their property for winter. He is one of 4 siblings. Everything about him was genuine, simple and content. 

And his favorite female hero of the Bible? (After all, the original question about my book that sparked the entire conversation….) – Lydia. We also talked about characteristics learned from Ester, Rahab, Sarah and others. He knew the Bible well. 

When we landed, we parted ways. I thanked him for his service and he thanked me for the conversation.  I will never see him again, but his story is a great reminder. 

The world is big and we are small. 

God is sovereign and we are limited. 

Life is short and it’s eternity that really matters.

What were you worried about? What pressing issues are you frustrated about today?  A spec, a fleeting trouble. Here today and gone tomorrow. Breath deep, choose peace, and surrender to the idea that your life yours is not yours  to control.  The Qualifed God who made the  big big world, He also made you. He sees you in this very moment.  He’s got this.

Trust Him.

More than just listening…

Does anyone still use filing cabinets?

6393ED98-831C-4D2A-9293-4D4FBAE9CAB4What happens to all that information?There’s actually a thought behind the question…  stick with me.

This past July and August, more than normal, I feel like I received an exceptional amount of excellent information… so many sources:  From the preparation and teaching at Joyful Hearts women’s conference, meaningful conversations with friends, a Global Leadership Summit that I attended through work, a timely eye opening book, revelations from the Holy Spirit, morning devotions, prayer walks with a friend, and weekly sermons for my pastor. I just feel full.

But information doesn’t automatically equate to transformation.E9BA1CCF-2F7B-4CB1-B379-A9ED90886171.jpeg

Here’s how I see it for me, personally- I’m a note taker, I’m actually a good note taker… Fast and furious, I am recording the words, thoughts, key phrases- it flows so naturally for me to capture the information. In addition, I feel like I have a pretty good memory.  So if we were to pause and have a conversation about one of these topics, I could likely recall the information, analogies and personal stories. I could re-share it with you and be able to transfer the information.

I record. But maybe without even knowing it, I turn the page and write down my next set of notes and I file it away. But, knowing stuff isn’t really the point. Stacks of complete journeys doesn’t mean progress.

When it comes to application, do you ever feel like you’ve just filled up a spiritual filing cabinet? It’s there,. but it’s not really being incorporated and integrated into the daily details of life. It’s not creating change.

How do we go from hearing teaching to really learning?  How do we apply it and change? D7B7D715-15A8-43BB-B182-B7B8C7B892A9.jpeg

How do we hit the pause button long enough to make it matter. We can’t just continue receiving information and filing away.  It’s time to seek and receive information, allow it to impact and change our thoughts, have some evidence of growth reflected in our behaviors, and begin making positive strides in the way think.

How?  I’m posing the question, but I don’t really have an answer.

For me, I think it goes back to my January conviction of creating a life with more margin… We need the continuous adjustment to a slower pace that allows for time of self reflection, meditation and intentionality. We can keep living a life of reaction. We renew our mind with the washing of the Word. 

For you, I’d like to ask:

What are you dreaming about? 

What are you trying to improve?

What topic causes conviction?

What do you know?

What do you do about what you know?

What’s in your filing cabinet that needs to be pulled out and actually applied to your life? It’s not just about knowing what we know, but rather internalizing Truth in a way that shapes who we are. Let’s do that!

#changemeansgettingbetter

#identityiswhoHesaysyouare

#dreamersaredoers

#newmountains

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