Monday Mindset: Laugh

(I can barely type…I’m still laughing at myself)

I got up this morning around 6am. I like being up before everyone and getting ready while it’s still dark and quiet. I give the dogs their morning dental stick and head to the bathroom.

For me, this was a “dropsy” morning. I can’t seem to get a grip on anything. I’m dropping everything. Knocking things over. Spilling. And I’m not going to go into how awful my hair turned out.

I pressed on. Unamused and on the verge of frustration.

Then it was time to feed the dogs. Two of them get a cup of dry crunchy food with a packet of Moist and Meaty yumminess on top. I turned to fill the third dog’s bowl and kicked the water bucket as I was reaching for her healthy Moist and Meaty alternative for senior dogs.

As the water splashed I said, “Will you stop being such a Monday morning!” As I finished the request, I started to tear open Bella’s packet of less than yummy food. Instead of falling neatly into the bowl it exploded sending little cubes of food all over the kitchen floor.

As I knelt down to retrieve the food, my husband came to the door to question what he thought he heard me just say. He found me on the floor laughing uncontrollably. Bella walked over, too. Gave me a quick look and proceeded to clean up my mess. I thanked her for her help.

Monday mornings do not have sole rights to interruptions and bad starts. Any day can start out deviating from plan. Or it might go haywire in the middle. Or just before bed when we’re completely spent. Interruptions, devestation, and plan destruction do not care about our calendars. They do not ask permission for deviation.

There are lots of ways to handle this. Having a plan B (through Z) is wise. But for me, the best solution is laughter.

When we had foster kids, one of the hardest lessons for them to learn was to laugh at themselves. They would either melt down and shut down, or come out swinging at anyone or anything in front of them when things didn’t go the way they wanted. I always invited them to consider laughter. Some of them did and found it better way to cope, while others couldn’t ever seem to move beyond crisis mode.

I know not everything can be laughed at. There are things that occur that require serious means of management. But when you can…laugh. Monday morning will keep on being Monday morning whether we like it or not. And sometimes the dog food will end up all over the floor. How will you handle it? I’m going to laugh!

I’ll get a grip later.

Hopefully Devoted: The Right Fit

In my life I’ve had one pair of shoes that fit perfectly—or as close as one can get without having the shoes made specifically for them. It happened over twenty years ago. I was in a discount chain store that was popular then and I happened upon a pair of tennis shoes that weren’t made to be a pair. I was ecstatic with my find! The left foot was an 8 ½ and the right was an 8. Someone had created this “perfect pair” because they had the opposite need from my own. You see, the second toe on my left foot is just long enough to make wearing an 8 a bit painful, while an 8 ½ is too big for my right foot.

Have you ever wondered who or how they created the sizing industry? Have you noticed that clothing in more expensive stores is larger than in discount stores? Have you ever tried to fit into “One Size Fits All”? Have seen how they’ve tried to make that more politically correct by printing the tag with “One Size Fits Most.” Actually, I think it’s more like “One Size Fits Very Few.” In days gone by shoes were cobbled to fit the person just as clothes were tailored individually. These days it seems like the only shoes that are individually made are for people with specific orthopedic or medical needs and they’re incredibly expensive. Tailoring is the way to go to get clothes that fit—but try to find a tailor!

Tucked away in one of my favorite passages is a reassurance to me that God understands my frustration. Jesus looks out at the crowd that has gathered around him and he is moved with compassion, and he utters the familiar and oft quoted, Matthew 11:28-30: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

In one of the earliest sermons I ever preached I referred to this passage and the process of tailor-making the yokes for the oxen that the farmer in Jesus’ day would have used. The process was exacting because the farmer wanted to be sure that the yoke fit perfectly so that the oxen would be able to get the job done without the annoyance of an Ill-fitting yoke.

It is a very freeing thing to realize that God has created and gifted us all individually and uniquely and then placed us exactly where he needs us to be. He not only tailor makes us, he orchestrates the mix of gifts within families, congregations, communities.

Unfortunately, it is our tendency to lean toward frustration when we understand what God is doing. We feel we’re not being used because we don’t see the picture from God’s perspective. We get out of sync when we feel we are being underused or overburdened, when the truth is if we allow God, he will make things just right. He wants to show us. He wants us to catch his rhythm. 

That same excitement I found when I discovered my “perfect pair” of shoes is what God offers me, and you every day. He has made this day perfectly for you. If you walk through it in his rhythm you will find out how perfectly it fits. Will you watch him? Will you learn from him? Will you see it through his eyes instead of your frustration? Surrender your expectation that one size day fits all and find his perfect fit for you.

Weekly Mindset: Joy

One of the things I loved about working out at Curves was the fun we had getting fit.  While we were sweating and stretching ourselves we were also laughing.  I remember a time when we seemed to be enjoying each other more than usual.  In the middle of our laughter one of the ladies quipped, “If my husband knew how much fun I was having he wouldn’t let me come here.”  In the moment I laughed it off, but the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me.  Reflecting on it now, I think I’m beginning to understand why.

This woman’s husband seems a bit like a parishioner in the last church I pastored.  He was of the mindset that there was no room for laughter in church.  This typically put us at odds.  I’m a giggler.  I laugh a lot.  I laugh loudly.  I snicker.  I love to make people laugh.  I’ve been told that laughter is good medicine, so the people around me should be healthier.  

I think that Jesus had a very intense personality.  I think the scriptures portray him with very real emotions.  This same Jesus who overturned the tables of the money changers wept with his friends and with the widow whose son had died.  Jesus was moved with compassion when he looked out over the crowds.  He felt their helplessness and hopelessness.  But he was also invited to weddings and dinner parties.  People wanted to be around Jesus.  He knew how to be with children.  

I believe Jesus laughed.  I love the pictures of Jesus where he is smiling and laughing.  There are far more pictures of Jesus looking solemn and serious and some think that’s the only way he should be portrayed.  Salvation is serious business after all.  And I couldn’t agree more, it is serious, but did you know that there are over 240 references to joy in the Bible?  Job speaks of laughter being restored.  David prayed that God would restore the joy of his salvation.  Jesus reminded his disciples that he had come to make their joy complete.  James picks up on this and tells us to count it ALL joy!  Good and bad, pain and pleasure, win or lose.  The joy of the Lord is my strength.  

There is room for joy in your journey.  There is room for laughter at church.  You can enjoy your relationship with God.  Go ahead and celebrate life.  It doesn’t make the bad things go away, but it does take away their power over you.  It’s a little like working out at Curves.  Laughter doesn’t mean we won’t sweat, but while we do we will find reason to laugh, to rejoice, to enjoy.  So thank God for laughter today and make sure to share some with someone you love.

Hopefully Devoted: Accountability

In my quiet time this morning, thinking Lenten type thoughts on confession and accountability, I remembered a quote made by Dr. Charles Munson in my first seminary preaching course. I was pastoring my first church and felt like such an absolute rookie, but I was also a sponge: absorbing everything thrown at me. Dr. Munson said this: “There are no secret disciples.  Either the disciple will kill the secret, or the secret will kill the disciple.”  

There are no secret disciples, because disciples can’t be secret—they’re accountable…to someone.

Not long ago, I was reading my “Writer’s Digest” magazine and I came upon information regarding their spring writing contests. I thought to myself: I could do that. The longer I thought, the clearer it became that I was probably was going to do it. Then I did a little more research, gave it a little more thought, and by evening I told my husband about my intention. Now I’m locked in. He won’t let me forget. And that’s exactly why I told him: he will hold my feet to the fire of accountability.

Back when I began my Christian journey, I was taught the ABC’s of faith: accept, believe, and confess. We can do the first two privately, but the third sends us straight into accountability. Do you see that as good or bad? When I was still working as a family counselor, I worked with an agency that had several therapists at varying levels of experience and licensure. One of the counselors who had achieved “Independent” licensure status chaffed at the thought of being supervised like a ‘rookie.’  She felt she was beyond that and resented someone looking over her shoulder.   I was a rookie at the time, so I was used to having my work scrutinized. I learned as I moved up the ladder that not being supervised was not in my best interest.

I  believe Jesus understood just how much his followers would need to be accountable to each other—then and now. After the Resurrection, just before he ascended, Jesus instructed his followers to stay in the Upper Room until Pentecost.  Imagine the scene.  These people had to learn how to be together.  There were so many different kinds of folks.  Trust was the furthest thing from their minds or experiences.  Zealots, tax collectors, ex-prostitutes, and fishermen had to learn to get along.  Miraculously, it worked.  They were able to connect and when they did a power came on them like one this world had never seen.  

What happened in that room?  I think they learned to tell their story, the story of what Jesus had done for them, done in them.  And they learned to listen.  They talked about their dreams and what they hoped to accomplish with their lives for God and for the Kingdom.  They told their secrets and became accountable to one another.  And it changed the world.

What secret desires has God been wanting to unwrap and unleash in your life?  Tell someone.  Get accountable.  Allow God to work.  You may be surprised at what power you free up to blow through your life and the lives around you! 

Monday Mindset

This is what I have today. Just a very simple Poohism. Remember no one can stay your joy. You can only give it away.

Today I will breathe deeply. Smile hugely. And laugh much. Not because there is more in my life that will encourage or make that possible. I could look at the negative all day long, end up discouraged, disillusioned, and depressed.


I will notice the crocus and think on its promise of Spring.

I will observe a kindness shared and share one myself as a result and revel in the joy it brings another.

I will discover that the coffee establishment I have a gift card to is now featuring my favorite flavored cold brew and I will relish each sip.

These and so many more.

How will you enjoy today?

Hopefully Devoted: Words and Thoughts

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalms 19:14, NIV)

I had an interesting conversation recently. Instead of sitting at my desk and writing, I went and had coffee with another pastor. As we were finishing our time, he asked me for ideas on how to handle a situation. He prefaced his question by saying he didn’t really expect me to have an immediate answer, but…Then he went on to ask me about how to help a youth change a behavior.

To his surprise I came up with that unexpected immediate answer based on my training and experience. I harkened back to a principle that an organization I worked with used with their youth: 4 to 1. For each 1x a correction is given there needs to be 4 positives made about the youth reaching that target behavior. It is a very intentional teaching method, that can at times seem exhausting.

After our meeting, I ran an errand and stopped in at the church to make a phone call and use the bathroom. All in all I was out and about for almost an hour and a half. The entire time I mulled over the final moments of our conversation.

The more I thought, the more I began to talk to God…or listen as I heard my words coming back at me regarding my own self-talk.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always speak kindly to myself. I’m pretty good at scolding myself, putting myself down, and berating me. I know I don’t use the 4/1 method on myself. But why not?

What might happen if instead replaying the negative thoughts tape, we caught ourselves doing well? Spoke more words of encouragement. Celebrated more moments of success…with ourselves.

I’m sure there are those who vehemently caution against such nonsense. Warning that it would only lead to pride, and self-aggrandizement. (Insert sad sigh here.)

I’m not advocating for arrogance. I would speak against any attitude that keeps us from being aware of our brokenness before God. Our verse today is not merely about the thoughts and words we have for others. I wonder how pleased God is with how we speak to ourselves. Think about these statements from I’ve mulled on from Psalms:

Who am I that you (the creator and sustainer of the universe) should be aware of me? Among all the amazing things you have created and loved I (that’s you and me) am one. (see Psalm. 8)

This body you made is amazing God. Your human creation is incredibly made, fashioned and functioning–differently but diversity is part of the plan. (read Psalm 139)

So today, I invite you (and me) to listen to what we say to ourselves. Make sure that your words and thoughts, actions and attitudes are pleasing to God. Shoot for the goal of 4 positives for every negative/correction. Be your best encourager.

Monday Mindset: Inspiration

I want to consider how this word can be a mindset. I see it in three ways.

The first thing jumping out at me about inspiration is a question: what inspires me? Do I know where to turn when I need inspiration? Is there an activity, an author, a place, a song…What gets my creative juices flowing? What charges my battery, jazzes my mood, and puts a pep in my step? Here are a few of mine:

The important thing is to know yours. Know when to reconnect with them. And, keep your eyes and heart open for inspiration to break through.

In the collage I posted above I hope there was at least one pic that gave you pause to wonder. The middle top pic was something I saw one day when I was riding my bike on a rails-to-trails path. I love to see things that make me giggle, snort, and spew my coffee. The sign was on the post to warn drivers that there was a bike path crossing. All I could see was the upside down bike. All I could think was, “now that’s some kind of trick riding.” And I must have chuckled about it for the next five miles. Seeing the quirky and unexpected inspires me.

Next as we think on inspiration I want to encourage you to think about who inspires you. Do you have their books? Can you call them on the phone? When was the last time you connected with them in some way? Don’t lose touch with your inspirers.

Finally, who will you inspire today? Whose mood will you intentionally seek to lift? Whose creativity will you encourage? You will come in contact with a multitude of people by chance–live inspiringly! But who will be on your heart or mind to reach out to? Have you ever gotten one of those out-of-the-blue calls that resulted in renewed verve and vigor? Who can you do that for today?

Be mindful, friends. Be inspirational!

Hopefully Devoted: Nevertheless Living

(Yes, it’s almost lunch. I’m sorry. All morning, though I knew it was Friday and showed up for a Friday appointment, I was convinced today was Saturday. So, while it is still Friday, here’s today’s post.)

This is the image most closely associated with Jesus prayer in the Garden of Gethsemene. Serenely praying for God’s will to be done. Asking for this bitter cup to pass him by. He acquiesces, and declares that if it cannot, he would follow God’s plan.

So when it comes to praying about God’s will we have this kind of image. It’s tranquil, full of obeience and peace.

And yet these are the words Dr. Luke uses to describe the scene:

Jesus left and made his way to the Mount of Olives, as was his custom, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived, he said to them, “Pray that you won’t give in to temptation.”  He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed. He said, “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, not my will but your will must be done.” Then a heavenly angel appeared to him and strengthened him.  He was in anguish and prayed even more earnestly. His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.  When he got up from praying, he went to the disciples. He found them asleep, overcome by grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation (Luke 22:39-46, CEB).”

Or Matthew’s account:

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to the disciples, “Stay here while I go and pray over there.”  When he took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, he began to feel sad and anxious. Then he said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert with me.” Then he went a short distance farther and fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want.”

He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay alert one hour with me? Stay alert and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.” A second time he went away and prayed, “My Father, if it’s not possible that this cup be taken away unless I drink it, then let it be what you want.”

Again he came and found them sleeping. Their eyes were heavy with sleep. But he left them and again went and prayed the same words for the third time.  Then he came to his disciples and said to them, “Will you sleep and rest all night? Look, the time has come for the Human One to be betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Get up. Let’s go. Look, here comes my betrayer (Matthew 26:36-46, CEB).”

Neither of those pictures above seem to adequately portray the intensity of Jesus as he worked his way to surrender. I read of anguish, struggle, drops of blood.

There would be those who say nothing we could surrender would equal what Jesus gave up in this prayer. And while I agree that very few of us will be called to die an overwhelmingly painful and shame-filled death on a cross. Here’s what Jesus said:

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23, NIV).

Sit with that for a while. Denying self is surrender, is nevertheless–it’s not my will by yours be done. It is as Jesus taught his followers: “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

And there’s that part about taking up their cross DAILY and following the way that Jesus walked.

That may not be a struggle for everyone, but it might be.

What will it be for you?

Monday Mindset: Do It Anyway

Do you ever wonder why you commit to something? Maybe regret it? I confess I have, and sometimes do. Like: what was I thinking when I decided it would be a good thing to get up on Monday morning and write a blog post? But here we are.

I was surprised to learn from Snooze news, “people are most likely to hit “snooze” on Wednesday (40%), while only 28 percent are likely to do so on Monday (, 4/29/22).” I thought for sure Monday would be the number one day statistically. After a weekend off, the temptation to keep hitting the snooze would be highest as we face the dreaded return to work.

Enter today’s mindset: Do It Anyway. Most of us push through, because we have to. Even when we don’t want to get up. Even when we don’t want to pay the fine. Even when we hurt all over. Even if it really doesn’t matter. Even if no one will notice. Even if they don’t deserve it.

Each week, every day, we are called upon to do something we don’t want to. Something that is either expected or necessary. And just because it’s the right thing, that won’t guarantee we will enjoy, appreciate it, or even be appreciated. Do it anyway.

I have carried around a small picture from my “Home Interiors” party days (circa 1987). When people are hard to love, don’t deserve it, or won’t even know, do it anyway.

I found this quote on my Twitter feed. It seemed to fit our mindset (and a recent one also):“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.” – Maya Angelou

Finally, if we are to truly have a “do it anyway” mindset, we need this reminder, too: The Paradoxical Commandments. By Dr. Kent M. Keit

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.

Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

Hopefully Devoted: May Your Name Be Kept Holy

Our Heavenly Father, may your name be kept holy (Matthew 6:9).

You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God (Exodus 20:7a).

This week I’ll start a series of messages on the Lord’s Prayer. We’ll primarily consider Matthew’s version. So our first message is on, “Our Heavenly Father, may your name be kept holy.”

Meditating on this reminded me of the commandment listed above. Typically we think of “not taking the Lord’s name in vain.” Which is what then became the meme above when I put the commandment into the positive (more “do this” than “don’t do that”).

So much can be unpacked in this one verse of teaching on prayer. I would lift up to you two helpful books for your consideration/edification/education. The first book is by Kenneth E. Bailey, “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes.” And the other is “The Greatest Prayer,” by John Dominic Crossan.

For this post, however, I just want us to consider what it means to keep God’s name holy. When you were growing up did your parents ever admonish you to not do anything that would tarnish the family name? In some cultures this is more intensely adhered to, but there is that element of family honor to some degree across the board. And the consequences varied with the intensity.

Something that is holy is set apart, or set above all else. In the commandments, God already established that the people were to have no other gods before him, and no idols. How it became more focused on our verbal use of God’s name is subject for another time. Limiting how we honor God with merely our speech, clearly misses the full understanding of “keeping God’s name holy.”

Bottom line, keeping God’s name holy is about how we live. In all that we do, are we putting God first? Do we carry the name of God well? Is the fish on the back of our car giving other drivers a clear message who our co-pilot is? Does the cross that we wear or Jesus name on our t-shirt proclaim whose we are?

As we consider the Lord’s Prayer, let’s be sure to begin by evaluating our words, thoughts and deeds.

%d bloggers like this: