At The Crossroads

crossroads-confusing-sign-595x335Doesn’t Wisdom call out?
Doesn’t Understanding make her voice heard?
At the heights overlooking the road,
at the crossroads, she takes her stand. (Proverbs 8:1-2)

We may not be clear at all times, but the crossroads are revealing. We are faced with options. Whether we are under pressure or have time to process, gray separates into black and white. We know we need to take a step. We may not be completely certain of which way to go, but we stand up, turn, gaze forward, and walk.

With Wisdom and Understanding, we have courage and assurance. Even when we misstep, Wisdom and Understanding correct us. God knows. He helps. He guides.

Without Him, the crossroads are disorienting.

With Him, we proceed in faith.

When No One Tells Us What To Think

imagesWhat we sometimes want the most is for no one to tell us what to think. Of course, we think this at times as children. We just want to be on our own, to be able to do our own thing, and to explore the world and think for ourselves. But there are times we experience the same thing as adults. We get tired of the media, friends, bosses, and others telling us what to think. “We can think for ourselves!,” we declare.

When we get what we want–the opportunity to think for ourselves–we have to actually think for ourselves. We have to do the tough work of wrestling and determining what we think. It’s easier said than done. We’re not going to come up with unique thoughts, something no one else on earth has ever thought before us. We’re not going to be able to set aside everything we have heard and seen throughout our lives. Some we will forgot. Some we would like to forget. Some we would be better off if we would remember better.

At some point, we’re going to have to think for ourselves, whether it’s been a goal for a long time or we are reluctantly nudged into adulting. With that thinking comes responsibility. God didn’t create us to grow and mature without purpose. He didn’t give us rational minds to underuse or misuse them. He didn’t give us choice, intending for us to choose pride, but it is always an option. We can go our own way, but it certainly won’t be new. We can go His way, and it won’t be new either. New and different may make us feel better or more accomplished as if following a path someone before us has taken would be lazy or weak of us. But setting the familiar aside doesn’t assume we are thinking more or better. It might mean we are not exploring a road as thoroughly as intended.

Where are you journeying? What are you thinking?

The Lesser of Two Evils

batmanningEspecially during elections, I often hear about choosing the lesser of two evils. However, when focusing on comparing what we consider to be two evils, we become vulnerable, negative, and defensive. We stay in the negative and choose what seems to be least negative to us. In the process, we position ourselves as somewhat helpless, a victim of being presented with poor options.

But we’re not victims. We’re not helpless. And we don’t have to be negative. Yes, there are negative aspects to our choices. There always are. Our choices are rarely perfect (and if we think they are, we’re probably looking at them unrealistically).

We can flip our choice between two evils to a comparison to find the best among two imperfect options. It’s semantics and perspective over the same choice, but it can significantly change out attitude. Sometimes the way we make our choice becomes more impactful to ourselves and others than the choice in and of itself.

 

Simple Organizational Tips to Try Right Now

It’s a busy time of the year. For some, it can feel overwhelming. Then comes a new year, just around the corner, when we’re exhausted from the end of year push yet determine to change some things. In many cases, we then overwhelm ourselves with pressures to make changes.

If we’re overwhelmed or feel pressured to change (often from ourselves), there are some simple things we can do. Baby steps. Sure, we want to live a more organized life. We want to be better connected to friends or family. We want to serve more, prayer more, learn more, grow more. But there are no easy buttons. Only steps we can take. Here are a few you might want to try. Today.

  • Purge your incoming emails. As you receive one from an organization you really don’t want to hear from anymore, take a few seconds to scroll down and click that “unsubscribe” button, usually at the bottom of the email. If you stay attentive and take action on just a few emails each day, it won’t take long before you’ve considerably cut the volume of your emails.
  • Make space in your phone and/or other device. While you’re waiting in a checkout line, at a doctor’s office, or some other “few minutes’ pause,” free up some space by deleting or reorganizing photos, files, and more. Even if you get rid of a few at a time, it’s a few less you’ll have to go through later, when you’ll have accumulated even more.
  • Clear the clutter around you, whether it’s in your office or home. Each day, get rid of ten things. It can be junk mail, clothes, toys, books, or whatever. If you get motivated one day and clear out more, or don’t get around to it one day, keep the next day’s goal at ten. It will become a habit, and before long, you’ll have to search items to clear out…and be more intentional about what you bring into your space.
  • Try a new food or bake a new dish this week. You might be in a food rut. Keep your expectations realistic. Try new things one at a time with some “regulars” in between. Then, slowly but surely, you can incorporate the new items that work well.
  • Replace what you take away. Anytime you take an unhealthy habit away from your life, it leaves space that will fill with something. If you’re not intentional, that space will often fill with something equally as unhealthy. Sure, you curb a bad habit, but you invite another one. Choose well.
  • Invite (the right) others into your life. Ask someone trustworthy to hold you accountable. If you want to pray more, study more, smoke less, drink less, exercise more, eat less, clean more, pursue God more, or work less, tell a trusted friend. Touch base regularly through a quick call, text, or a private Facebook group.

Know what (or who) you’re pursuing. You can leave some things behind but still spin your wheels without an intentional pursuit. Grow. One step at a time. One moment at a time. Once intentional choice at a time.

We Whine Too Much

“I have to go to the store now.”

“Well, I guess I have to go to work.”

“I wish all this stuff would just happen on its own!”

How many times do you say or hear others say they “have to” do something…with a hint of whine, reluctance, or disdain? Perhaps we don’t want to work our way across that super store, finding the few items we want among the rows and rows of options, people who are grumpy like us, and cashiers who seem to want to be anywhere but there.

Not everyone has the options we have to shop where we shop and to be able to afford it. Not everyone has the opportunity and ability to work. We often take our blessings for granted, and whine and complain about them. We get bored.

 photo cactus_zpsvsldtsa5.pngWe need a fresh perspective.

It’s not that we need to be overly excited about everything going on in our lives. We just don’t have to see our routines as drudgery. We don’t have to see the limitations of our lives without realizing we made many of the choices that got us where we are (and were often excited about those choices at the time)…and that we have the opportunity to make many choices today that impact tomorrow.

And we choose our attitudes.

Perhaps you’re dealing with some difficult stuff today, and it seems out of your control. Yet, you can control how you respond. Like the saying goes, “You might be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.”

Filter every detail of your life today through God’s perspective. See the blessings in the routine and in the turmoil. Notice the opportunities you have and choices you make. Pay attention to your attitudes.

Trim the whining, whether it comes out of your mouth or stays in your head. It’s tainting your joy…and those around you.

If You’re Still Alive…

People who go through near death experiences often question why they are still alive. I don’t think they’re the only ones who need to consider such a thought. Perhaps it’s easier for those who have been living pretty smoothly to come up with an answer, or at least, a theory. After all, we might imagine we’re still alive because we have family to take care of, we haven’t yet completed that lasting legacy we need to leave behind, or any number of other “no one else could fulfill what I’m doing” slots. I know, it sounds selfish, but really, aren’t most the reasons we state as our reasons for living pretty selfish? We can say our reasons are other-oriented, but we’re right in the middle of them. We’re the indispensable ones other people or a situation cannot continue without us. After all, they’re our lives. Of course, they’re about us!

In Exodus 9:16, God says to Moses (to tell Pharaoh), “I have let you live for this purpose: to show you My power and to make My name known in all the earth.”

Well, that pretty much wraps it up. Isn’t that why any one of us is still alive? Isn’t that why we’re alive in the first place?

Let’s be clear. Things didn’t work out for Pharaoh. He didn’t have an about-face moment when he acknowledged God’s authority and became His strongest disciple. No where close. But that doesn’t mean God didn’t show His power and make His name known through Pharaoh’s life. God can use us even when we refuse to be used by Him. God can use people who refuse Him in our lives, too.

We all have choice. God gifted us with free will. (Of course, it doesn’t always feel like a gift.) God isn’t surprised by anything we choose or fail to choose. Now, we could get into the whole predestination thing and explore foreknowledge, God’s will, and try to explain how everything is connected. Sometimes, it makes sense to me. Many times, it doesn’t. My level of understanding doesn’t determine my faith though. The bottom line is…

God gives us life. Only He is able to give life. And He does not create anything without purpose. He can weave purpose in the beautiful and with mucky scraps of threads. We don’t always give Him ideal building materials, but He uses it.

God will reveal His power and make His name known. He’s been doing it since the beginning of time and will continue forever. Just so you know…in case you ever wonder why you’re still alive.