Process

Isaiah 44:19

New Living Translation (NLT)

19 The person who made the idol never stops to reflect,
    “Why, it’s just a block of wood!cartoon man thinking
I burned half of it for heat
    and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat.
How can the rest of it be a god?
    Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?”

Do I ever stop to reflect?

I’ve noticed how much I live my life in a rushed, busy, minute-to-minute mentality.  There’s always something more I’m squeezing into the day, or something that I can do in the 30 minute time-lapse between one activity and the next.  Some of the “busyness”  is comprised of the small everyday obligations like packing lunches, getting sleepy kids ready and off to school, running errands, making lists & buying groceries.  Some are optional/desirable activities such as connecting with friends, working out (ok, maybe this isn’t optional for me!), serving/volunteering, being a listening ear or stopping at my favorite thrift store to see if they have what I’m looking for 🙂 But regardless, life is hectic! Anyone else out there feel like this?

There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with having an active, engaging schedule; however, we sure can miss some of the deep meaningful moments that could simply enrich our lives when we don’t allowing ourselves time to process the life that we live. The older I get, the more apparent this becomes to me. We need to take the time to reflect and process.

I’ll be sitting in a church service and really resonating with the message. Taking notes I’ll think, “wow, this is something I want to implement in my life” or “I need to look into this thought more”. But how often do I actually go back and dig deeper into what I wrote and what I felt was so important after that Sunday service? Not often enough. I miss out on growing in that particular area because I didn’t take the time to process….

I went on a jam-packed, 16-day, several country trip tromp through Europe this summer with my husband. I had every intention of journaling and capturing my daily experiences so I could go back and reflect on them; however, we crammed in so much that I didn’t really even take time for that. Upon getting back to the states on a Sunday evening, we had cancelled flights, found a flight into a different city, rented a car, picked up kids at 1am, and regular crazy life began on Monday morning.

Don’t we need a day after a trip,vacation, or retreat to just PROCESS it all? While it’s hard to describe, I feel like my trip is left ‘incomplete’ in my mind because I never stopped to take in all of the experiences…I missed out on the fullness of the adventure because I didn’t’ take the time to process…

I sat out at a park that I stopped at last week on one of the last gorgeous warm days of the year, enjoying the sound of the water falling from the reservoir next to me, the sun beating on my back, and the opportunity to take a last minute detour to sit outside and just journal and work on my Bible study in peace. I wrote. I contemplated. I took it all in! Looking around and realizing what I had at that moment sent an unexplainable feeling of joy and gratitude deep into my soul!  I took the time to process…

While everyone is different and processes life differently, we all can grow in this area and try new things. If you haven’t taken the time to try one of the following, I challenge you to do so:

1) Journal/Write – whether daily, or just for specific experiences or intense feelings

2) Meditate/Think – I’m not talking about “New-Agey” stuff, I’m talking about making time for reflection and piecing together thoughts, experiences, and how they apply to your own life.

3) Actively Look Around & Think Deeper – not used to this subject of ‘processing’? Try to take your thoughts one step deeper. Ex: Instead of just reading a verse in the Bible, study the meaning and application, look at the context, read it in different versions, do a word study, look around at other verses that have a similar concept. (Psalm 119:15, “I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.)

4) Discuss – Talk about your experiences, thoughts, and feelings with a close friend. Share the details of a vacation, the feelings you have after holding that baby, or the thoughts that come to mind when someone said something to you.

The definition of the verb “to process” is: To gain an understanding or acceptance of; come to terms with.

Instead of just jumping back into our hectic lives and never getting the full value or potential out of what our experiences have to offer, let’s attempt to take time to gain all that we can from life, to grow in every experience. Let’s take the time to process.

Take just a few minutes. To think. To meditate. To take it all in. To process.

Who’s the Boss?

Today is October 16th, national Boss’s Day.

So, who’s the boss in your life? Is it the CEO of a company? Maybe you’d say that your spouse seems to be your boss? If you’re a child, it may be your parent, or a teacher. Perhaps you work for yourself and you are your “own boss”?

I think when we use the word “boss” in our society, it comes with a bit of a negative connotation, doesn’t it? (Unless we ourselves own the title and bask in the privileges of being “THE BOSS”.) We often think of someone who is putting pressure on us, telling us what to do, and scrutinizing our work.  Someone that we have to answer to.  And we don’t like to have to answer to anyone.   mean boss

No matter who we are, we have someone to answer to. (Yes, even top CEO’s of large companies have to answer to the law, and even if they can buy off the legal system, let’s be realistic and realize that we ALL have to answer to God!  2 Corinthians 5:10).

In Colossians chapter 3, Paul gives us “instructions for a Christian household.”  He tells wives and husbands how to get along; how children and their parents should interact with each other and….believe it or not, He tells us how to treat our bosses in the workplace:

“Slaves (employees), obey your earthly masters (bosses) in everything you do.  Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you.  Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord.  Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.  But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done.  For God has no favorites.”  Colossians 3:22-25

God was talking about literal ‘slaves’ in Colossians  because slavery was central to the life and economy of the ancient world – it was their normal way of life.  That is no longer the accepted way of life in our modern age, but the employee/employer relationship and the modern day workplace sure fits right into it’s place on the pages of Colossians, doesn’t it?  How often do people ‘brown nose’ in front of the boss, just to talk smack about them behind their back? Or how often are people using company time to meet their ‘soulmate’ on match.com or to play Candy Crush when the boss isn’t looking, instead of working to earn their fair wage and giving their boss a fair day of work? Well, no one is perfect, and I’m sure that we all have had bosses who are not worthy of respect, but God is calling us to a higher standard — He’s telling us to do WHATEVER we do as though we’re working for the Lord, rather than for a person.  Wow, those are some pretty bold words. And pretty humbling, if you ask me.

So I challenge you today:  go and buy your boss a little present, or a card and actually MEAN what you say. Even if you don’t personally care for that boss,  look at what you do as if you were doing it for the Lord.

Happy Boss’s Day!!

Jesus-cross

A Lesson from “Green Goodness”

If you know anything about me, you know I LOVE avocados! But who couldn’t fall in love with this tasty, wholesome fruit? There are SO many ways to eat the green-goodness:

– Smoothies

– Salads

– Replacement for butter

– Freshly Chopped up in Tomato-Based Dishes (or ANY leftovers!)

– Guacamole!

And the health benefits? Let’s just name a few:

– Half an avocado provides 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat and NO cholesterol

– Great source of Fiber, Potassium, Vitamins C,K, Folate and B6

– Helps to absorb antioxidants such as lycopene and beta-carotene

– Makes taste buds happy 🙂

Ok, I’ll stop advocating for avocados for a minute and tell you the real reason that this fruit taught me a lesson this week.

While I like to have avocados around almost always, they have a short window of ripeness time before they go bad. When they get all wrinkly, dark, and ugly, you can pretty much bet that you’ll find them rotting from the inside out when you cut them open.

"Bad" Avocado?

“Bad” Avocado?

The outside of one of mine looked just like that. In fact, it appeared to be so far gone that I was walking towards the trash to pitch it when for some odd reason, I decided last  minute to cut it open and see if anything was salvageable inside.

Wow…was I surprised! The inside wasn’t pitted, rotting, black or smelly, but a perfectly ripe “green-goodness” that was completely edible!

While I was enjoying half of it chopped up in my lunch of veggie-spaghetti leftovers, it hit me that I had judged this avocado by it’s outward appearance. I almost threw it away, and missed the opportunity for it to simply enrich my meal.

"good" on the inside

“good” on the inside

May sound juvenile, but it really struck me: What was on the outside wasn’t very attractive and LOOKED like it was going to be rotten, but it was actually sweet and desirable on the inside.  I hate to think that I might judge people on the outside like this sometimes, and throw away opportunities that could’ve simply enriched my life, or the life of another.

Do we ever see someone that looks undesirable to us – perhaps ‘dirty’ or ‘rotten’ on the outside – and choose not to take a moment to learn what’s actually on their inside? It’s humbling, but I know I’ve been guilty of this.

How about you? Are there any people that you avoid getting to know because from the outside they appear to be “mean” or “stuck up” or “scummy” or “trampy”?  God has actually brought one potentially missed-opportunity to mind, and I plan to remedy this the next time I have the chance. I’m challenging you to do the same.

Please leave your comments and feedback below, and let me know if you follow through with the challenge! I’m going to go eat the other half of my avocado now 😉

Do You Have a Running Buddy?

women runningI have to admit, I wasn’t in the mood to go to the gym yesterday. After a mere 4-5 hours of sleep, my body was raging war with me and my mind was thinking about all that I needed to be doing.  However, I had a standing appointment to workout with my friend at the gym, and I’m not one to back out for no good reason.

Turns out my friend was having a similar ‘blah’ day and she wouldn’t have made it without our set appointment, either. (Note: confirmed appointment = actually doing something!)

We started off with a 1-mile warmup around the track.

Funny how running that same mile by myself feels like A LOT of work (and sometimes pointless, like a hamster running around a wheel going nowhere), but when running with my running buddy, we both run faster times than when on our own, and rarely get that “I don’t think I want to go another lap!” feeling.  Somehow we manage to chat back and forth which keeps our focus on something other than what our body and mind are trying to tell us.

After we had finished the rest of our workout, consisting of weights, cardio and other muscle-straining activities, we declared our workout to be accomplished.

Then I don’t know why, but the words came out of my mouth, “Hey, let’s do one more mile.”

When she realized I was serious, she paused a bit but said, “OK.”  And off we went.

I know my marathon and triathlete friends are laughing right about now, but seriously, sometimes the thought of just 1 more mile to us “common folk” is pretty intimidating! There’s NO way I would’ve even had the thought to do another mile after all we had done if she weren’t there to run alongside me.

As we were running, we talked about the differences of running with a buddy verses running alone. I  mentioned that I should invent a “shadow running buddy” that projects a lighted image to make you feel like someone is running beside you — you know, like you push a button and it makes you think that your ‘shadow friend’ is speeding up, so you have to go faster to keep up, and another button that records what you’re saying as you talk to your friend and tell them all of your ideas that you’ll later use for blog posts….ok…I’m telling you WAY too much — no one steal my idea before I have a chance to patent it, OK? 🙂

But seriously, this isn’t just about running around a track, is it?  We all would like to have a ‘shadow buddy’ to run life with, wouldn’t we? I know that some of you reading this are struggling because you’ve lost your spouse, or you long for someone worthwhile to fill that daily void. Some of you have friends that have moved and you’re feeling  like you’re alone on this journey day to day. Others of you have ideas and dreams that you know you should conquer, but you’re afraid to take the necessary steps because no one else is going that direction, and you fear going it alone.

Believe me, you’re not alone! I think it’s cool  how God actually knows our every thought and even converses with us. I was working on my Bible study later that evening and in it was exactly what He wanted to tell me in response to my earlier thoughts:

Joshua 1:9 (NLT) “This is My command – Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO!”

He wanted to remind me yesterday that I’m NOT a lone runner in this journey of life! He IS that shadow runner, that running buddy, that we often need in order to keep us going, and to encourage us along the way!

If we invited Him to go alongside us every day, wherever we go in life, how much more could we accomplish? How much further could we go? And faster? Not only that…how much more would we ENJOY the workout?

Curious…is anyone going to go make that appointment? 😉 Feel free to leave your comments below!