Category Archives: Balance

Overwhelming or Opportune?

One of my opportunities — a last visit with a treasured friend.

As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. John  9:4-5

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed this week.  I have so much to do.  I’m working on my life coaching business.  I have a class.  There are women I want to spend time with.  There are Bible studies I’m leading, or a part of.  And this is all on top of my usual chores and responsibilities.

Jesus had much to do as well.  John 9 is the continuation of what must have been a long day for Jesus.  In John 8, he arrived early at the temple courts, and was sitting down teaching people, when the scribes and Pharisees brought him a woman caught in adultery.  So he dealt with that. Then he had a very long discourse with the Pharisees, as well as the Jews who believed him.  At the end of the discussion, they tried to stone him, but he was able to slip out of the temple.

In John 9, on what seems to be the same day, Jesus came across a man who was born blind, and his disciples asked him whose sin caused the man to be born blind.  Instead of answering that question, Jesus saw that God had work for him to do in the life of the blind man.

Now at this point, if I were Jesus, I might have felt like, “Okay, I just did a lot of good work, fought for the integrity of God, and stood up for the truth.  I faced the haters.  I expended a lot of energy.  I’m done for today.  I’ll do more tomorrow.”

But Jesus was ready to do more of the work of God.  He said, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.”

And what motivated Jesus was that he knew his time was limited. “Night is coming.” There weren’t too many days left until his death.  One commentary said the crucifixion was 6 months away, but it could have been longer.  The thing was, Jesus considered it of prime importance to use whatever hours he had left to do God’s work in the world.

This concept of limited time was so central to Jesus’s thinking, that he said it more than once.  In John 11, when he told his disciples of his plans to return to Jerusalem, his reasoning was, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight?”  (John 11:9)  In John 12, he told the crowd, “Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. . . Believe in the light while you have the light.”

Later, Paul had this same heart, and encouraged the disciples to, “make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil,” (Eph 5:16) and reminded them that they were, “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  (Eph 2:10)

We need to learn to have this mindset.  We only have a limited amount of days on this earth, and each day, God has work that he needs for us to do. We need to see with Jesus’s eyes of faith, and know that God prepares people for us to meet, and interactions for us to conduct. (Acts 17:26-27)

But now I’m back at the place I started.  This feels overwhelming!!!

And that’s why it’s so encouraging that Jesus concluded this statement with “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  Because, although Jesus did physically leave the world, he also promised that he would be with us always (Matt 28:30), and we would have the indwelling of the Spirit. (John 14:17-18)  We are continually, as it says in I John, walking in the light!

I am never alone in carrying out the mission!  I have a guide, a helper, a source of wisdom and power.

Plus, as I do God’s work, I myself am a light, just as Jesus was.

  • “The Lord gave us the following order: ‘I have made you a light for the nations so that you would save people all over the world.'” (Acts 13:47 GWT)  
  • “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)

So how can all of this help us when we feel overwhelmed?

  1. We can see situations we face as God given opportunities for us to work with him.
  2. We can remember that our time on earth is limited, and the number of opportunities we receive is finite.
  3. We can know that Jesus will be with us to help us carry out God’s work.
  4. We can see our identity as a light for the world today.

It’s ironic.  I’m writing about this, and at the same time, I’m a part of a group of women who are working on having better boundaries in their lives.  We’re trying to say “no” more, and now I’m trying to say “yes” more.

It calls for a lot of wisdom, prayer, and getting advice.  But I believe that Jesus is the good shepherd. (John 10)  Just like the shepherd in Psalms 23, he’s going to lead us where we need to go — to opportunities at the right time, and to quiet waters at the right time.  We just need to pray for, and stay open to, his leading.

Since I started writing this blog, even more “opportunities” have come up for me.  I talked with a woman at my exercise class who wants to join an in person Bible study group.  I studied the Bible with a college student who wants to be baptized this weekend.  All of this will require more time on my part.

Am I going to be even more overwhelmed?  No, I’m going to walk with the Light.

“As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.

May we all stay open to seeing and doing this work, and be encouraged that he is with us as we do so.

Leave a comment

Filed under Balance, John

Mommed Out! — Learning Self-Care

celeste recharge

Here’s the core of what I know when it comes to self-care.  It’s something a Christian psychologist told me —

“If you don’t change your oil, your engine will freeze.”

Do you know what I’m talking about here?  Your car needs to have regular oil changes, or the metal parts in your engine will grate against one another, wear down, and eventually quit working.

We can experience a similar kind of grating.  Life gets crazy.  Our children need constant attention.  We’re overworked.  And we start having jagged edges in our inner workings.   We need to take steps to prevent ourselves from getting so worn down that something goes wrong.

When my psychologist told me I needed to “change my oil,” it was huge.  I had permission to get off the “MUST, MUST, MUST” treadmill.  In fact, I realized my mental health depended on giving myself breaks from all of the things I thought I SHOULD do.

Sister moms, the same is true for you.  You can’t just keep gutting it out.  It’s going to lead to depression, anxiety, health issues, anger problems. . . the list goes on.

We all need self-care.  We need refreshment and recharging.  But what is effective?  I’m gonna tell you, it’s not binging on ice cream and buying out Target!

Here’s the best place to start with self-care: nourish your soul with regular infusions of life from God.  Your time with your loving Father can be so restorative.  Find the cool refreshment of rest in him.  Bask in the sunlight of his goodness.  Cozy up to the warmth of his love and comfort.   Take nature walks.  Write gratitude lists. Listen to spiritual music and sing along.  Practice trust.


You know, God describes to a tee what it looks like when we rely on our own strength, instead of going to him, “That person will be like a bush in the wastelands.”   (Jer. 17:6)  We’re like a dried up stalk, like our kids and life have sucked everything right out of us!

But Psalms 1 tells us a better way:  “Blessed is the one . . . whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” (Ps 1:1-3)

Come on, admit it.  You absolutely NEED this time in your routine.  Start your day with it.  One mom came to this conclusion: “This is going to sound a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot), but I wake up earlier than my children. If I commit to doing this, I actually have more energy and approach my day much more grounded. Instead of being reactive, I have my plans and peace and am ready to give for what comes.”

The next thing you need for self-care is spiritual friendships.

Jessica and Yesenia

One of the best things I ever did when I was bringing up my kids was have a regularly scheduled hour each week for coffee with a friend.  It gave me a way to process, unload, and heal.

  • “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2)
  • “Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

You may need to work at making this happen.  I totally remember my children asking me, as I was taking them to yet another play date, “When do you get with your friends?”  Yeah, right.  But I was always intentional about squeezing in a little time with someone who was a lifeline to me.  Sometimes I was able to have more interactions.  Phone conversations often saved my sanity.

You may need to work at finding this friend.  Over the years, I reached out to many women who didn’t have the time or desire for a committed spiritual relationship.  But I kept trying, and eventually found sisters who were looking for the same thing I was.

Don’t think that this friend has to be a peer.  At one point I started getting with a widow who was retired.  It was so much what both of us needed.

And then you need to practice self-care by taking care of your whole self.


That mom voice in you is always sabotaging your plans for self-care.  It tells you that your children need you with a capital “N.”  It says it’s too much trouble to make “me time.”  It screams that your floors need mopping.

The result is that you lose sight of yourself and anything you are outside of motherhood.

You’re like, “I need ‘me time,’ but I don’t even know who ‘me’ is anymore!”

The thing is, it’s not really about “me time,” it’s about God time.  You’re not wrestling to find a few moments when you can finally do what you want.  You’re walking with God, and seeing if there is an opportunity to shine for him.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  (Col 3:17)

God gave you a body, and it can feel great to work out.  He gave you talents, and it can be wonderful to use them to accomplish something. Whatever you do, make it about praising God though your actions, and you’ll find it’s invigorating.

Plus, looking at it this way gives guilt and discouragement a karate chop.  Some days you will feel like you’re failing as a mom.  Fight with faith!  Believe that you were created as you were for a reason.  You have abilities, things you can do, so don’t shrink back. Step out and do them!

When I was a young mom, I taught an art appreciation class through parks and rec.  I had craft parties with my friends and their children.


I met an elderly woman at the grocery store and the kids and I started visiting her.  I shared with other moms when I went to the park, and studied the Bible with them.

I’ll admit, sometimes it didn’t go smoothly.  In fact, it could get uber crazy!  But I’m so glad I did those things.  I could feel myself growing wings and celebrating God.

Here are some recommendations from my mom advisers:

  • “Hobbies are great! You need something outside of the family life to keep your identity as an individual intact. I love blogging and photography.”
  • “I’m terrible at this part of “balance,” but my one thing is exercise. It gets my blood flowing and changes my mood right away.”

Finally, here is the statement you’ve been waiting for: Self-care is also taking a break and resting!”


God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10)  And here’s another good one, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  (Ex 14:14)

God wants you to learn to stop.   He wants you to lie down in green pastures. (Ps. 23:2)  He wants you to take notice of the lilies of the field. (Matt 6:28)


He wants you to quit trying to do everything (including his job) so you can realize who he is, what he does and what he will do.  All of this is so restorative.

Sister moms, oh, how you need this rest!!  When you have a job, you need time off.  Why shouldn’t this apply to you as a mother?

There’s just one thing.  You’re going to have to make a deliberate decision to let something else go in order to have time off.  You’ll have to be totally intentional, and schedule it.

This is how some moms are intentional about resting:

  • “Me and several other sisters switch out keeping each other’s kiddos so we all get a break. It’s so needed.”
  • “My husband has a little daddy son time every Saturday, so I get a couple of hours to myself.  Also, during my son’s nap time, I try to do one or two things, but leave myself at least an hour of down time while he’s sleeping to recharge.”
  • “My baby goes to bed at 8 pm, so I have up to two hours for reading, praying and playing a game or two in my phone. I also go walking with her.”

But wait, there’s more! Check out these ideas on other ways to practice self care: 

  • Get out of the house, especially if you are an extrovert.  “I like to get out during the day, to get us moving and experiencing new things, and to give me an opportunity to chat with other moms.”
  • Stay in and unplug (occasionally) if you’re an introvert.
  • Join a mom’s group. “I’ve found that mommy groups are great for social interaction for me and my kids.”
  • Engage in family leisure activities.  “Weekends, we try to do family things, a hike, or a beach trip.”
  • Do the little things that make a difference.  “Self-care is taking a shower each day, doing your hair or even putting on some lip gloss.  I play uplifting music while I clean.”
  • Unwind with your honey. “I go on dates with the hubby.”
  • Choose wholesome activities.  “I try to watch shows and read books that make me feel good, instead of those that leave me feeling kind of yucky, like I ate too much junk food.”
  • Be engaged in church. Don’t let it get crowded out.  It feeds your soul.  It helps you stay focused on what is most important.  It provides relationships
  • Live out your purpose.  It’s fulfilling.  Let motherhood be your ministry.  In raising your children, you are doing something supremely meaningful.  In reaching out to help other mom friends, you change lives and futures.  There will never be an easier time in your life to reach out.  And you will go to bed at night feeling deeply satisfied.

 In summary, self-care means learning how to pace yourself.

You can’t do everything.  Even if it seems like others are.  Even if your heart longs to do so.

Find your groove, as God created you.


Recognize your capabilities, and plan accordingly.  Do what’s most important first.  Make space for replenishment.  Acknowledge that the more demanding life gets, the more you need to recharge. (I know, it’s so counter intuitive!)

Watch for opportunities to grow.  Watch for signs you need to scale back.

Be your best self, nothing more or less.

Work out a rhythm between you and God where you find balance and peace.


“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecc 3:1)

Sister moms, you are wonderfully made! (Ps 139:14) Take care of what you have been given, the whole self, the physical and the spiritual.

Seek well being.

As you do, it will radiate and bring well being to those around you.


Do you recognize this mom from the craft party picture earlier in the blog (third from the left)? Her mother was one of those I studied the Bible with many years ago.  What a beautiful young woman she has become, with a beautiful family!

Leave a comment

Filed under Balance, Mom Blogs, Self Worth

How I’m Keeping Watch

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert ! You do not know when that time will come.  It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ”  Mar 13:32-37

As I get older, I find that it gets more difficult to stay alert.  I feel dull.  I don’t have the same energy level.

For instance, yesterday a young sister, Misha, told me the story of the time in her life when she was studying the Bible.  One night her apartment was broken into, and she was so upset.  Her friend who was studying the Bible with her, whom she hadn’t known long, came right over and supported her for several hours.  It made such a difference in Misha’s life that someone she didn’t even know that well would care so much about her.

As I heard this story, I thought, “That’s what we need to do.  I want to do that.  But I feel tired and dull.  These days I often let those kinds of opportunities to love and serve my friends slip through my fingers because I am not alert.”

So how do we stay alert when life is so distracting, and our energy levels wane?  I think one major way is to pray.  For the last few days I have REALLY been praying.  I’ve felt like my kids needed extra prayer — there’s a lot going on in their lives — so I decided that I wasn’t going to eat or drink anything but water in the mornings until I had a great focused prayer time.  It has made such a difference.

I am remembering that the best time in prayer is after the first 15 or 20 minutes, when I’ve gone through all of my prayer requests for everyone.  Then I start to be more quiet and listen to God.  Then my heart starts to remember what is really important to God.  (And it’s not my agenda!)  Then I find peace and inspiration.  I have a better perspective on life and my day to come.  I’m even re-energized!

Here’s one story for today.  I am far from perfect, but I did prayerfully consider what I should do this week.  One thing that came to mind is that Ken and I need to visit his nephew, who is now stationed at Fort Benning.  It took a little bit of being intentional and reaching out, but the result was that last night we took the nephew and his new wife out to dinner.  We had such a wonderful time!!  We saw their lovely new apartment.  We got to know them both, and really enjoyed finding out what great people they are.

It reminded me of how important it is to get out of my routine and make the effort to do the extra things.

That’s what watching and being alert is to me.  It’s praying and keeping my eyes open for opportunities, then praying some more to have the energy and means to take those opportunities!

What does the word “watch” mean literally, in the Greek?  It means to “be awake.”  To me, life is a constant battle of trying to stay awake.  I just keep on wanting to curl up somewhere and get comfortable and check out.  Especially when it’s cold and rainy outside!

Let’s pray, and  allow God to “wake us up” every morning.  He has so many great things to teach us, so many great opportunities for us to take.

The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.  Isa 50:4

Leave a comment

Filed under Balance, Diary, Mark, Prayer, Things I Am Learning

Rigid or Loose?

As often happens when family members get together during the holidays, we had THE big religious discussion.  It got a bit heated.  Feathers were ruffled.

The subject of the discussion was how rigid or loose should we be with one another under the umbrella of Christianity.

Lately, I am seeing more and more people who are hurt or disturbed because they feel that someone is acting too rigidly.  And on the other hand, I am seeing people who are discouraged because the members of their church don’t seem to be making Jesus Lord.

So what is the answer?  The answer is we need both rigidity and looseness.

I believe in the inerrancy of the scriptures.  I believe they need to be the standard for our lives.  But I also think different situations call for different approaches.  My husband needs to hear hard sermons that spur him on.  I need to hear more about grace and God’s love, to assuage my over-guilty conscience, and to inspire me.

And I think God knows this.  No two people come to faith in the same way.  They come at different times in their lives.  God orchestrates it perfectly.  Yesterday Rick shared his story at church of being a drug addict, and how finally, one day, he was in the right place at the right time and visited church.  It took me years to get to the point where I was ready to admit my marriage was in shambles, and I couldn’t achieve my dreams for my life by myself — that I NEEDED to turn myself completely over to God.

But we forget this when we try to help others find God, as indeed we must in making disciples.  We want to have a formula.  We want them all to come in the same way.  We have a study series.  We have certain things we expect them to do.

Sometimes this is really effective.  And sometimes it falls short.  People don’t cooperate.  They have a hard time letting go of self and sin.  They have a hard time seeing clearly what they need to do.

And here is my question — how much do we expect people to repent right away, and how much do we allow God to work on them through the circumstances of life?  I know, even now, that I struggle with things and muck about for a time, until I am finally brought to a place where everything clicks — the events of my life, the Bible verses I hear, even things happening in the world around me — and I finally see clearly what I need to do.

How much do we rely on this process, and how much do we expect immediate obedience?  Loose or rigid?

I don’t think there is a hard and fast answer.  I remember our old Atlanta church women’s leader saying that everyone hits a bump when they study the Bible.  Everyone comes to a place where it seems too hard, and they have to wrestle it out.

Bumps have their place.  We experience them not just at conversion, but all through our lives.  They make us build true convictions.  We follow God not because we’re supposed to, but because it has become our heart to do so.

So there’s a place for letting the process work.

In raising my children, one thing I found was that there was no formula.  I wanted there to be this list of things I could do, and if I did them, my child would be guaranteed to be a great person and make the right choices.  I would get them with Christian teens all the time.  We would have family devotionals.  I would have a lot of good talks with them.  And so on.

But the more I tried to do the right thing, the more I found that there wasn’t a formula.  I had to pray every day for wisdom, my daily bread, just for that day.  What worked one day might not work the next, what worked on one child might not work on the other.  So I had to pray anew each morning.

And God’s grace was sufficient.  That was what I relied on.  That was my formula — that God would provide the wisdom for that day, that God would order that day so that my children would get what they needed.

In the same way, I feel like we can’t just rely on Godly procedures when we help one another.  We also need God to provide wisdom and guidance for each individual situation.

There has to be a place for the Holy Spirit to give direction in this.  There is a reason Jesus didn’t stay on earth, but gave us His Spirit.  It is to be our Counselor.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything that I have told you.  John 14:26

We need to become listeners more, being able to discern what is the voice of a “thief” and what is the voice of Jesus.  “...the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.”  John 10:4

There is always a danger in following the Spirit that we will become too feelings based.  We do still need to follow the scriptures.  The truth is we need BOTH:  broad Godly procedures based on scriptures and narrow wisdom given by the Spirit for each individual situation.

The goal is twofold.  We seek to honor God.  We need to call one another to live like Jesus as much as possible.  Christianity simply doesn’t work when we’re only partially putting it into practice.  We have a form of godliness but deny it’s power.  Our lives are ineffective.  We’re not helping others have effective lives.  And the result is God isn’t glorified.

The goal is also to not cause anyone to stumble.  “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  Matt 18:6   In calling others to be like Jesus, we need to be very careful to not create irreparable damage.  Yes, we need to speak the truth to others, and this can cause them to struggle.  As I said before, hitting bumps is something we all face.  Learning to wrestling through obstacles in our faith is a good thing.

But there must be a careful reverence for what God is doing in these people’s lives.  We must become part of His process, productive, not counterproductive.  We must not jump to conclusions when things don’t go the way we think they should.  We must not be quick to apply the rote solution.

It occurs to me that there is a very good reason that James said, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly  (James 3:1) 

James goes on to talk about the damage the tongue can do.  And then he discusses the perils of having sin in our heart, and how it adversely affects everything: “where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”  (James 3:16)

If our heart isn’t right, our teaching will be tainted.

Thus, teaching has potential for great good or great harm.  I just read an article in Salon Magazine on how studies are showing that Christianity is detrimental to some people.  But the truth is that Christianity isn’t detrimental to anyone, the perfect Creator designed it to be infinitely helpful.

It is the misapplication of Christianity that is harmful.

So we need to be careful how we teach, but this DOESN’T mean that we give up teaching.   We are tasked with, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded.”   (Matt 28:20)  Paul said in Romans 15:14, “I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.”

We ARE competent.  We have been given the Bible.  We have been given the Spirit.  We have Godly brothers and sisters who can share wisdom with us.

The key is taking the time to search out the scriptures, pray and meditate, and get advice.  The key is constantly challenging our ourselves to search out what is true and best.

Last night I experienced a good example of this.  We got advice from a wise, older disciple on the direction to take in a family matter.  I was impressed with the care with which this individual gave us counsel.  He and his wife had taken time to seriously discuss the matter.  He stressed that he knew that this choice, which seemed like not too much of a big deal, had the potential to have great ramifications in the future.

And that is how I want to approach situations more.  I want to treat them  deserving of careful deliberation.  I can’t treat things lightly.  These things have long term impact on people’s lives.

Rigid or loose?  Both are needed.  We need to hold to the teachings without compromise.  We need to implement time proven methods that are effective.

But if we rely on these, we’re not relying on God.   When we allow God to be our guide, there IS a way for EVERYONE to follow Christ.



Leave a comment

Filed under Balance, Having the Right Heart, Things I Am Learning, Uncategorized



Yesterday I dropped the lid to my crockpot and it shattered all over the kitchen floor.   Of course, it happened at the worst time, when I was juggling several things (not the lid!)  to try to get as much done as possible.  I was feeling overwhelmed, and then the lid slips and pretty crystal bits of glass go everywhere!

Interestingly, the glass kept on popping and cracking after it broke.  It sounded like Rise Crispies!  It would even jump a bit.

But I digress.  The lid breaking seemed to be a metaphor for how I was feeling.  My focus was shattered.

An hour or so later, at yoga,  the leader read a devotional that said, “Don’t let your focus be shattered.  Keep your eyes and thoughts on Jesus.”

Wow.  That word “shattered.”  That exactly applied to me!  The pressures of life make me feel fragmented.  The smallest thing happens and I  disintegrate.

I am trying to learn instead how to stay focused, centered,  in that sweet spot where I am resting in Jesus, in tune with Him, connected to Him.

So I’m looking at how Jesus stayed centered.  Here is one way:

 “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.”  Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.”

Jesus was centered by focusing on bringing glory to God.

Here’s another verse along that line that has been magical to me over the years:

“Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”  John 7:18

We are PURE, single-minded, when we seek God’s glory.  We are not distracted by other motivations, most notably desire to please self or others.

To finish this morning’s devotional, I read the PERFECT thing — a selection from Gordon Ferguson’s book, “Golden Rule Leadership.”  In it, Ferguson talks about how to focus on God better, and not on self.  Here is what I loved that I read:

“Seeing great things happen in the church is not determined by the talent of the group.  It is determined by our understanding of and our convictions about how to gain strength for the task.

“The biggest mistake we make as leaders is when we take stock of our strengths and weaknesses, and then we rely on our strengths.   . . If we lead spiritually by relying on our strengths, we are doomed to fail.  (This) leads to arrogance, pride, competitiveness and humanism.

“Spiritual leadership first and foremost involves being spiritual.  And being spiritual first and foremost involves crucifying our dependence on self and replacing it with reliance on God.   We truly rely on God by focusing on our weaknesses and on God’s call to lead his people.  . . We will say, ‘Woe is me.  I need help,’ like in Isaiah 6.”

Here are some awesome verses about this:

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.  Is 31:1

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.  Jer 17:5

But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors  Hos 10:13

But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  II Cor 1:9

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  II Cor 12:8-9

Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  II Cor 3:4-5

Leave a comment

Filed under Balance, Holiness, Humility, Synchonicity

What I’m thinking…

1.  Maybe my purpose is to NOT settle on one sweet spot.  I have been reading “Cure for the Common Life” by Max Lucado.  In it, he talks about how the stream of life constantly “beaches” us on the same shores over and over again.  For me I am either beached on the shore of doing a creative endeavor — like working for Challenger Films, or doing something meaningful, like being a stay at home mom or doing mission work.  I keep thinking that only one of these is what I am meant to do.  But when I do one for awhile, then I want to the other.  I keep trying to do both and balance them.  Maybe I am meant to do both, or maybe I am meant to move from one to another at certain seasons of life.

2.  He is the one who shapes every human heart, and contemplates every work of man.  Ps 33:16  Just a cool scripture.  I love the thought that God carefully designs and creates our hearts, and is somehow involved in everything we do.

3.  Even though I am denying self, my job is to be MORE of myself, not less.  Lucado shared the story of Thomas Merton, who became a monk.  After 13 years his friend visited and was surprised that Merton was “still himself.”  Merton said that a monk’s duty is to be more of themselves, not less.  For me, sometimes I spend so much time denying self, and I sometimes feel that I lose sight of who I am.  What do I do with the bossy, controlling part of myself?  It’s good to remember that God created me in a certain way, and there are ways for me to be the FULLEST of who I am created to be, and THRIVE!

4.  Jesus is at home with me.  He is there, a constant companion in my inmost being.

  • I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ living in me. And the life that I live I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20
  • Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”  John 14:23

5.  I am a LIFE COACH!  I have been watching “The Voice,” and thinking about the job the coaches have.  They encourage each individual on their team to work hard.  They bring out the best in that person.  I need to be more of a coach for others.  I am too passive, just letting each person do their own thing.  I need to go out there and spur each of my friends on, help them to find ways they can cross the finish line in victory!

6.  Do things because I want to give my HEART to God.  We have a special contribution coming up, and Mike did a lesson Wednesday night on giving to God because we LOVE to give to Him.  We should show our heart to God when no one else is around.  This is a great focus for ALL areas of my life.

  • People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.  I Sam 16:7
  • Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  II Cor 9:7
  • Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, and in truth.  John 4
  • Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.  Ex 25:2
  • The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD.  I Chron 29:9

7.   It’s ALL GRACE!  I was listening to a class by Gary Roberson on Galatians.  He said it’s not grace on one side, and obedience on the other, like two wings of an airplane.  Our obedience is nothing!  It’s ALL by God’s grace — both wings!  God isn’t our “copilot.”  He is THE pilot, the One and Only.

  • For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” Gal 2:16
  • God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.   Eph 2:8-9


Leave a comment

Filed under Balance, Grace, Having the Right Heart, Synchonicity, Things I Am Learning

Four Things that Count

What counts?  Often, it’s NOT what we expect.

Contrary to the messages we get from all around us, it’s not the American Dream lifestyle — money, prestige and possessions.

I just watched a video on a man nicknamed “Slomo” who had all those things and was miserable.  He had a successful career in neuroscience, but he gave that all up and pursued the one thing that was spiritual to him:  rollerblading by the beach.

Now I wouldn’t recommend skating as the ultimate spiritual pursuit, but Slomo did recognize that he had built his life around meaningless things, and reached for something better.


Jesus loved to turn people’s expectations upside down in order to show them what really counts.  Mark 2 is full of examples of this.  People expected Jesus to heal a paralyzed man, and instead he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”  He called a tax collector to follow him, and ate dinner with sinners.  He didn’t fast or keep the Sabbath as they thought he should.

Jesus showed that what is of genuine importance is being forgiven — being right with God.  It’s not just legalistically following the law, but having mercy, caring for others and meeting needs.

Paul also had his expectations turned upside down, and more than that. He went through major upheaval.  He was the most zealous of Jews, and he persecuted Christians with a passion, “But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.” (Acts 8:3)

Then, Paul had a wrecking ball kind of encounter with Jesus, and his entire perspective and life changed.

See what he wrote later in Galatians about what really matters:

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal 5:14)

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Gal 5:6)

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. (Gal 6:15)

So what counts?

  1. Love  I was just taking to my son, Max.  He has a free weekend coming up, and he decided to go see his grandfather in Florida.  There are many things he could have chosen to do with that free time, but he felt that this was most important.  He chose love.
  2. Prayer.   We are so excited that our new church leadership couple, Mike and Marge, are here.  Last night Mike said, “Whatever we do, it must be driven by prayer.”  He doesn’t plan to do anything on his own power.  He doesn’t plan to run after his own ideas.  He wants to pray so much that whatever he does, whatever direction he takes the church in, he knows that is God’s plan for it to go in that way.  Mike and Marge choose prayer.
  3. Being a New Creation.  Mike preached this past Sunday on  how each of us has a miracle story of what Jesus has done in our life — something we could not have done on our own.  He shared this quote by Ian Thomas: “The only explanation for me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is Jesus Christ.”  We all need to choose Christ.

Today, I am trying to make a decision about taking a part time job.  And the question of what is most meaningful plays a big part in my decision.  I haven’t had a job because I have been helping people discover what is truly important and meaningful in their lives.  And doing this is what is most important and meaningful to me.

Yet there is this very loud part of myself that wants to accomplish, wants to be recognized, wants to be validated, wants to use my talents.  As I am thinking about this, I am meditating on another quote by Ian Thomas:

“The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus Christ, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you — your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or you anything — then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it.”

Can my life only be explained in terms of Jesus?  Do other people know the parts of my life than can only be explained in terms of Jesus?  Or do I want people to see the success, the personality, etc. that reflects ME, not God?  How much of my search for a job stems from my desire for validation, and is this desire legitimate?  How much of my desire to accomplish is just the way God made me, and something I should accept?

I don’t know the answers to all of these questions, but I have come to one conclusion:  What counts is being GOD-DRIVEN, not SELF-DRIVEN.  I only want my life to go in the direction God wants it to go.  I need to trust in God, as I lay everything at His feet in prayer, that He will be directing me as He wants me to go.  I am at peace.

God has been the driving power through all history.  Even the most powerful of men are at the mercy of the Lord. 

  • (The King of Greece) will consider himself to be great and destroy many people when they don’t expect it. He will oppose the Commander of Commanders, but he will be defeated, though not by any human power.  Daniel 8:26

Let me be humble before Him, not defined by my own accomplishments.

  • Healthy people don’t need a doctor; those who are sick do. I’ve come to call sinners, not people who think they have God’s approval.  Mark 2:17
  • May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

In closing, I want to share a video about a young man who discovers what counts.  It’s actually a Thai life insurance commercial.  In it, everyone shakes their head at the young man who gives to others as he goes about his day — sharing his food with a dog, placing money in the cup of a beggar girl, helping an elderly woman push her vendor cart.    Why does he gain by doing that?  What will he receive?

The end of the commercial answers those questions: “What he does receive are emotions.  He witnesses happiness. Reaches a deeper understanding.  Feels the love.  Receives what money can’t buy. A world made more beautiful.”


Leave a comment

Filed under Balance, Faith, Having the Right Heart, Humility, Love

Five Things That are Vital

1.  Understanding how God works is vital. 

It was the best of times this past weekend -- the fruition of hard work

It was the best of times this past weekend — the fruition of hard work


I read the story of the Israelites’ struggles with the Philistines in the early chapters of I Samuel.  At one point the Israelites try to go to battle against the Philistines, and they bring the ark with them, thinking that by doing so, they will ensure that God is with them.  But they are routed, and the Philistines capture the ark.  It isn’t until later, after the Philistines return the ark, that things come together and they are moved to return to the Lord and repent.  Then God is truly with them, and they defeat the Philistines.

This story reminds me that God works through a natural progression.  Just like a seed is planted, and must go through a process to grow and bear fruit, people must go through a process to be ready to repent.  The people I am praying for, and studying the Bible with, will come to faith in the fullness of time.

This is also true for the things I am praying about.  The prayers will be answered in the fulness of time.  One thing we have prayed about for years is to have permanent leaders in Auburn.  It looks like this prayer and dream is about to come to fruition.  In many ways, I can see that this is the right time for this to come to pass.  Our financial contributions have grown so we can support a leader better now.  We have learned much in the years of struggle waiting for this to come to pass.

  • Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. . . So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only.. . . On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.”  (From I Sam 7)
  • You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)
  • but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  Isaiah 40:31

2. Maintaining a focal point is vital.

tightrope 1

I read a chapter of “Finding Balance from the inside out,” by Sheila Jones.  She mentioned that tightrope walkers are taught to focus on a point at the end of the rope they traverse.  Keeping their eyes on that point will help them keep their balance through the walk.

In the same way, I must keep my eyes on God.  If I allow myself to be distracted by emotion, ambition, people pleasing, worry, challenging situations, and so on, I lose sight of the one thing that will get me through.  Focusing on God gives me the right perspective for every situation.  Focusing on God gives me strength. 

  • We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”  2 Chron 20:12
  • My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.  Ps 25:15
  • the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.  John 5:19
  • I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me.  John 8:28

3. Being a good guide is vital.


In the first few chapters of I Samuel.  Israel suffered greatly because of the sin of Hophni and Phinehas, who, as priests, were their spiritual leaders.  They lost the ark to the Philistines, and thirty thousand of them were slaughtered in battle.

In the same way, my spiritual walk can affect others.  How I live matters.

And I have a responsibility to help others, to warn them about the “small” poor choices they are making with their lives.  Often these choices seem like they are no big deal.  It is so easy to think I need to give people their space.  It is easy to avoid conflict.  It is easy to procrastinate.

But I have to remember that every negative thing my friends allow in their lives is DESTRUCTIVE.  As a spiritual leader, it is my job to stand up for the purity of living that will lead to the best life for all of us.

  • Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.  I Tim 4:16
  • You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.  Titus 2:1
  • teach the older women to live in a way that honors God.. . . These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes,to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.  Titus 2:3

4. Having partners in the mission is vital.

crew boat

  We moved to Auburn because we deeply desired to be involved in helping others to have a great relationship with God.  But we would not have moved here on our own.  We wanted to join a church of like minded people — partners in the gospel.

Jake said on Sunday that being actively involved in the mission builds close relationships, and this is so true.   There is nothing like working together for someone’s salvation — studying the Bible, praying, fellowshipping, going through the ups and downs together.

I have felt at my lowest spiritually when I did not have partners in the gospel.  There’s just something special about feeling that you are putting your hands to the oars, and knowing that others are alongside you, rowing with all their heart as well.  As we pray for this ministry to grow, we pray for God to bring us workers!!! I do want everyone to know the sublime sweetness that come from having a relationship with God and being at peace with him.  But I want, I need, to have those who will be with me heart and soul in the fight.

  • Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.  Phil 1:3-5
  • Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Matt 9:38
  • “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”  I Samuel 14:7

5. Having the right motivation is vital.

I was saved from death row.

I was saved from death row.

I can do the right thing because I am supposed to do it.  But it is much better if I do it from the heart.  Love and grace must be my motivators.

It seems like there are a thousand challenges to build this motivation!!  But it is a good fight.  I am praying to learn to be more loving.  I am fighting to rid myself of the wrong attitudes.  God is guiding me, showing me great verses, speaking through others, helping me to grow.

So I say, if it isn’t going to be done in love, don’t do it!

  • For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, ( Titus 2:11-12)
  • And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  Phil 1:9-10
  • Clearly, Christ’s love guides us. We are convinced of the fact that one man has died for all people. Therefore, all people have died.  II Cor 5:14
  • Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.  I Tim 1:15-16

Leave a comment

Filed under Balance, Having the Right Heart, One Another Relationships, Patience