Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Learning new things

July 30, 2010

Every moment that you are alive, you are learning new things.  The interesting thing is that our brain doesn’t seem to like to learn and change.  When we encounter new situations, we try to understand them based on information extrapolated from prior experiences.  This seems to be because our brain is locked into a physiological mechanism that requires work.

Romans 12:2 says:  “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This means that we can’t just ‘change’, instead, we have to train our brain.  We  have to develop new ways of interpreting data.  Out of this renewal, comes a new way of being, doing and understanding.


How to find new direction

November 18, 2009

Elijah was at the end of himself. He had no where to go. He had just done more than was imaginable. He had shown the entire nation of Israel how to follow God. He slew 450 prophets of Baal. Then Jezebel turned her full wrath on him.

If you read 1 Kings 18 and 19 carefully you will discover a few things:

  • God didn’t ask Elijah to take on the Baal prophets.
  • Elijah knew what it would take to turn Israel to God and stepped up to the task.
  • Elijah knew Obadiah personally, yet had turned so myopic that he still thought he was the only prophet left.
  • Elijah eventually even sent his servant away.

Elijah appears to have been very cerebral and had the ability to isolate inside his own head.  However, in his isolation, when he was at the end of himself, he knew how to find new direction.

Elijah ran.  He didn’t run away, he ran to the mountain of God.  At the mountain of the Lord, God engaged Elijah in a discussion.  I don’t know about you, but when I go to God for direction, I really wish he would give me a 1, 2, 3 approach.  God cares so much more for us than this.  God engaged Elijah in conversation.

“What are you doing here, Elijah?” God asked. Not once, but twice.  In between the two questions, God gave Elijah an object lesson.  “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” God says.

What do you expect when you pray for God to show up in your life?  A mighty wind whipped through the mountain.  Then an earthquake shook the ground.  Finally, a firestorm swept away the rubble.  I think a lot of time we expect mighty moves of God that shake our world and clean it up.  But God wasn’t in any of the devastation.  They were mighty precursors to His presence.

When God showed up, it was in the form of another soft, gentle conversation.  “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah had lost his focus, but he knew where to turn.  Then God helped him narrow his focus.  The wind, earthquake and fire helped him determine the answer to God’s repeated question – what do you want from God?

Once Elijah’s body was rested and his heart was focused, then gave him his new direction.

  • Here’s your new tasks for Israel
  • Here’s your new tasks for Judah
  • And by the way, you aren’t alone, I’m the one in charge

Many of us have found this is the time in life to refocus our lives.  Here are the steps:

  1. Run to God
  2. Wait on Him
  3. Ride the Storms
  4. He will Answer, He will help you refocus and He will give you new direction
  5. Wait for Him time, and be ready for His answer to come suddenly

How to Confront in Love

October 30, 2009

That knot builds in the pit of your stomach.

You avoid thinking about the problem for days.  Finally, you avoid the person all together.

God has made it obvious to you that there is a problem and you are the person He want to confront your friend/loved one about it.

How can you confront someone in love?  Personally, I think there are several good models.  I happen to be reading Galatians this morning, and found a model I thought I’d share:

  1. Set a background – Paul spends the first 2 of six chapters setting up his confrontation.  A full third of the book.  He reminds them of his personal story.
  2. Confront succinctly – Very briefly, Paul states his frustration.
    1. Lead with a question – the majority of Paul’s confrontation is in the form of a question – “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?”
    2. Address the root – Paul spent the next chapter and a half assuring the Galatians that they were Children of Promise, and didn’t need to ‘earn their stripes.”  Interestingly, he doesn’t identify their feelings for them, he just addresses the root.
  3. Show them your personal concern – Although Paul comes on strong in the beginning, he now lets them know he cares for them, is concerned for their well-being, that he loves them.
  4. Remind them of your history – Paul reminds them of their shared history, of their personal relationship.
  5. Provide a healed vision for the future – Paul then paints a vision for the future in chapters 5 & 6.  These chapters might say “this is what victorious living looks like.”

In short:

  • Set the stage
  • Confront
  • Confirm  Relationship
  • Show Vision for a Positive Future

Telling someone things they don’t want to hear is never easy.

How do you know when you have to confront someone in love?  When it is the most loving thing to do.


September 10, 2009

I read the news this morning.

People seem to be in limbo.  The boomers were going to begin retiring, but then their retirement went up in smoke.  So now, they are continuing to work for a while.

The workplace is trying to prepare for a mass exodus of workers, so there aren’t as many jobs anymore.  The post office is laying off – the Post Office – the one place you could never get fired from.

Because the world is changing – and changing rapidly.

The steps to transition are:

  • know what you are losing and say goodbye to it.
  • a place of confusion and unrest where you have no direction, but it is here that you redefine who you are without what you lost.
  • find a new direction.

No matter where you are in the process, there is a solution.  God knows where you are, and He has a solution – He wants to help define you for the next stage of your journey, and He wants to be the director of what you are doing.

Nature is full of examples:  A catapillar going through metamorphasis to become a butterfly; a dandillion becoming a whole new flower and blowing away as seed; the flowers on a fruit tree turning into fruit.

Each season of life feels like an end, but needs its own form of patience to bring new beginnings.  God has a purpose for your tomorrows.

Today, He has people for you to love and deliver His care to.  Start by asking Him to help you hear His voice and have patience to wait for His answer, His perspective.

Isaiah 30:20-22 (message)

Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer. Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he’ll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: “This is the right road. Walk down this road.” You’ll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You’ll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, “Good riddance!”

Among the Living

September 9, 2009

dandilion2There are some seasons of life where it is a lot harder to mentally stay among the living purposefully face forward and live in joy.

Today I want to spend a moment and remember my dear friend, confidant, and mentor, Joyce Peretti.

Joyce showed me what the Joy of the Lord is.  She loved God and loved people.  She showed me that not everyone over a certain age was stoggy,  and gave me hope that a backwards person such as myself might be okay afterall.

After reading Frank’s book on bullying, I had an inkling that things were as wild in her house at one time as they were in mine, so I went to her for parenting advise.  She looked so shocked that I would ask!  “I was just the parent each one needed when they needed it, I guess,” she said, after thinking about it for a few moments.

Joyce went to be with Jesus on Monday.  I am so sad for me, and all who relied on her wisdom.  There are some holes that just can’t be filled.  I’ll be happy for her in a day or so – I know she is singing His praises now.

Survive the Monsoon Seasons of Life

August 11, 2009

rainy day2Have you ever felt like you were in the middle of a monsoon?  You’ve been covered in about 84 inches of water, the mudslide has taken out your backyard and is advancing on your house.  You’ve long given up the safety of an umbrella, and are just hoping to survive the day without losing your shoes.

Okay – so maybe you haven’t been in the middle of a literal monsoon, but what about the monsoon winds of life?

  • Relationships that just won’t work.
  • That sudden sense of aloneness that we all wake up to from time to time.
  • Finances!!!
  • Then there are life’s transitions – this child is getting mouthy, while this one has clammed up.
  • This child needs about $100 worth of sports equipment, that one needs …
  • Parents!
  • Suddenly having to learn new things just to stay current.
  • TIME!!!

Somewhere in the middle of all this comes the mighty monsoon waves.  With a little bit of finesse and loads of prayer, you can ride the waves clear through to the calm which is sure to come.  Let’s take a look at these waves:kim's monsoon

1.  Guilt. When you are getting hit by wave after wave of life, there is the inevitable wave of guilt.  “I am falling behind, I have let someone down.” Pretty soon, the stress convinces us that we have caused the monsoon to happen and if we were just (somehow perfect) we wouldn’t have all these problems.  Matthew 5:45 says “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”  God is God and you are not.  Lay your cares at His feet and let Him carry the universe.  That is what He is there for.  That is why Jesus died on the cross – so that you could lay it all down and just talk with God.

2.  What About Me? Wave number 2 is the wave of selfishness.  Somewhere in the middle of the wave we discover that we forgot ourselves.  So, we get mad because we aren’t getting our needs taken care of.  We don’t do anything about it because we have the feeling that it should be someone’s responsibility to take care of us like we are taking care of everyone else.

You know, the widow of Zarephath was going down fast.   She was at the end of her rope with nowhere to go, nothing to give and Elijah asked her for bread.  She said “we are getting ready to make our last and die” (Kim’s paraphrase).  Elijah said “give your first portion to me.”

Seriously?  That’s bold.  What is even bolder is that she did it, and she found that by giving of herself when she had nothing left to give, she had plenty – not only that day, but for all the days to come.

Here is my suggestion:  Go wash your face.  Put on face cream.  Put lotion on your feet. Take your time with God.  Find your basics of self care. Do them every day no matter what.  This is what you do for you.  The rest you do because God has called you to do it.

Consider this:  when you are in an airplane, the stewardess gives directions on what to do in a crash.  One of the directions is this:  First put the oxygen mask on your face before you put it on your child’s face.  Why? Because if you are passed out, you can’t put a mask on anyone’s face.

3. This is never going to end. The final wave I want to talk about is the hardest.  There comes a time in every trial season when you feel like you are stuck in it forever.

There is a time in the baby delivery call “transition.”  During this time, your body is getting ready for the final stage of giving birth – you are almost at the end, almost ready to push.  The contractions are very close together, very intense.  They say that women will get up out of their hospital beds and announce that they are done.  That they quit and that they are going home.  They are also known to punch their husbands.

Not that long ago, I was watching two year olds.  One day, a normally docile young man announced to me “I am done with church.”  And I guess he meant it.  Within three minutes he was unconsolable, sobbing and kicking.  We finally had to call his parents.  He had reached the end of his ability to cope and he was done.

There are so many times during our monsoon seasons that we just wish mommy and daddy were waiting on the other side of the door to take us home and make this whole thing end.  That this whole ordeal would be over.

But we are the adults.  We are the grownups, and our heavenly Father has led us into this monsoon season.  He is teaching us to ride the waves.

Monsoons are necessary for life.  They bring life.  They bring health.  Without the monsoons,  parts of the planet are lifeless, arid and well… dull.

Monsoons can be devastating, but God didn’t bring you out here to drowned.  Here are some ways to survive.

  1. Be prepared.  Ps. 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
  2. Don’t go it alone. Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
  3. Let the winds drive you into God’s lap. Psalm 91
  4. Ride the waves with God’s grace. Psalm 27 , Proverbs 3:5-6

But God

July 27, 2009

Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego, bound, being carried toward the fiery furnace.

Daniel, tumbling down into the lions’ den.

Job, his children and possession gone, the boils taken over his body.

Martha, her brother breathing his last breath.

Sometimes God just doesn’t make sense.  Life hands us more than we can handle.

Things are thrown at us with such fury that a feather has the weight of an anvil.

In these instances, we look beyond God’s silence to His character and say “yet will I trust Him”  “even so, come Lord Jesus”.

With the chorus of so many come before us, we wait for His reply and expect a miraculous breakthrough.

Staying Flexible

July 13, 2009

Lately, I’ve been thinking about brain pathways.  This is how I view life, and our brain:

When we are learning, we are growing new brain pathways.  (I actually visualize little choo choos up in my brain creating new pathways.)  Once a brain pathway is created, we can use it, just like any highway in the world, traveling back and forth, making good use of the brain space.

When we have something new to learn, we have to create new brain pathways.  Sometimes this is easy.  We know we are learning a new skill because we have set out to do so.  Perhaps we sat down at the computer with a program we have never seen before… we walked into a martial arts class… etc.

Sometimes new situations look just like old ones, only our usual patterns of behavior, all the information at our disposal isn’t working.  We call this “hitting our head against a brick wall”.  In my journal, I said if feels like there is an obstruction in the brain pathway.  We are sure that someone or something is causing the problem.

It feels like there is just a big rock in the way, and if “x” would just happen, everything would be fine.

Perhaps God is just giving us an opportunity to grow and use more of our brain matter?

This scripture was in my devotions this morning:  “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26)

A stony heart is one that refuses to change.  One that sees obstructions instead of opportunities to find new ways of looking at things.  A heart of flesh is one that is pliable and easy to work with – the little choo choos can plow away in that.

Notice that God is the one that gives us the new heart.  Do you have brain obstructions that need to be converted into opportunities?  I’ll be praying with you.

Garbage in, garbage out

July 9, 2009

This is a really old adage.  Today, I was talking to someone and it came back to me in a new way.

Do you have a problem that just won’t go away?  Maybe you have part of your personality or behavior that you’ve been trying to change?

The change comes not from deciding to change (you’ve probably noticed that you keep walking around that same mountain again and again), but from changing your focus.

What is feeding your life?  Are you putting good things into your body and soul?  Are you listening, reading, focusing on God’s perspective or man’s perspective?

Change your input, and you will change the outcome.

Blessings on your day.

What to do When You Hit Your Limit

June 22, 2009

There are days, weeks, when you are under stress beyond the norm.

Today was one of those days.  I could feel the emotional exhaustion in the back of my head.  I knew I needed to talk.

I have a friend who has for years taken me out to coffee from time to time.  Today I called and asked for her time.  Then, the cognitive function deficiency caused by stress took over, and I forgot I’d called her.  About 45 minutes later, I was standing in my room, thinking “I really need to talk to someone” when I remembered that my friend was waiting for me just up the street.

When I got home, a prayer warrior called me, then a counselor.  By the end of the evening, my cup was full and I have something to offer again.

You see, I read the Bible every morning.  God and I have time together, and we have great conversations.  Today I needed something more.  He had people lined up to lift up my arms, to fill me up with His love, so that I can again walk with something to give.

Some days you discover stress at levels higher than you thought possible.  Here is the recipe for success:

  • A previous relationship with God
  • Intra Intelligence – the ability to assess yourself.  Know yourself so you can know when you need time away.
  • Friends – you need people to check up on you, and you need trusted people you can talk to.
  • A plan – you need a plan to decompress.  For me it is a book.  I bought a fiction book a week ago and have been working my way through it.
  • The basics: healthy food, sleep, vitamins, water.
  • Time – time to process and time to pray.

There are seasons in life that are difficult, but they are just seasons.  We grow, we learn, and with time, we heal.  Thankfully, the world keeps turning, God keeps loving us, and tomorrow is a new day.