My Mental Diet

dietFocusing on our diet these days is so common we are often more familiar with the terms related to diet than we are to terms related to many other important things. Even people like me (people who turn from all the hype when it comes to dieting), know what someone is talking about when they say gluten-free or carb-free, and we know what it means to be a vegetarian and a vegan. Whole foods, processed foods, and organic foods are things many people are thinking about for a variety of reasons, and I am too. Our focus on diet is understandable considering the pervading research on how foods effect our health and well being.

I was recently wresting with something I thought might be a food related problem, and I wanted to share what I thought was a valuable question, which came to my thought when I was praying about this: “What is my mental diet and what might change if I change this diet?” I wondered what the effect would be if I began to trim down what I consumed in terms of thoughts related to my value, my capability, my gender, my family history or family dynamics, or even the amount of time I have in a day. What if I refused to believe I was unsatisfied and consumed more ideas that were satisfying, joyous, and beneficial? How would I feel then?

If you know me, then you know that these questions changed a whole lot in the way I was thinking about this problem, and the challenge I was having quickly went away. I have more to trim down in my mental diet, but this was a good lesson about the impact my thinking has on my well being.

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” ~Matt 5:6

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Finish Strong

runnerIt’s the final lap. Sweat is running down a teeth clinched face. It was a good fight! You can smell success in the air, but you’re not there yet.

The finish line is only a 100 meters away. Apathy argues, “Go ahead and relax a little; you’re way ahead.”

Similarly, we have almost the whole house packed. There are only a few more boxes to pack and a few more items to move to the garage. Apathy argues, “Go ahead. Relax a little.”

Moving abounds with metaphors related to life, and finishing this move is no different. As with anything else, it seems that there are many voices trying to slow us down, or get us to relax before we have fully finished the tasks in front of us. And some of these voices seem very reasonable, “You deserve to take a break. You’ve worked really hard. You have done all you can for now.”

As in moving, we all need to find ways to silence the voices that inhibit us from finishing strong.

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” ~I Cor 9:24

Is anything really keeping us from finishing strong other than heeding these voices that tell us we can’t do it, or that distracts us from doing it?

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Packing, Purging, Reorganizing “moves” us to peace

MovingA few months ago, I believed I would hate doing all the packing, purging, and reorganizing needed to move yet again. I was wrong!

For some reason this time, it’s not bad at all. Perhaps I have grown substantially from the last time I’ve moved, or perhaps I’m just getting better at the whole process. I guess you are bound to learn a thing or two when you have moved 10 times in the last 18 years.

This evening, looking at all the boxes and all the stuff in my living room, my thought shifted to a really cool parable in the Bible. You can find it here. In this part of the Bible, Jesus is recorded as saying that the Kingdom of Heaven is like the sorting fishermen do when they fish with a net. They keep the good and place it in vessels, and cast the bad away.

This is exactly what moving this time around has felt like to me. We have gathered all the “stuff” and packed the good into boxes and purged the things that are no longer useful to us. I’m convinced this is the ultimate method of reorganizing one’s life and it feels really good.

I realized the preparation to move parallels the preparation needed to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven. It occurred to me that if I really want to “move” in my life, I need to look at all the mental stuff in my thinking. I need to pack and keep the good, and cast away the unuseful, limiting, or damaging thoughts.

Packing, purging, and reorganizing has an even deeper purpose than what is on the surface. Now, I see how packing, purging, and reorganizing my thought is the activity that “moves” me to peace — or to the Kingdom of Heaven.

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Moving to Michigan

snowWhen I talk to people about moving to Michigan they often indicate their worry about all the snow and how cold it gets in the winter. This made me think about places and what makes places desirable.

My wife and I heard or read a parable long ago that we have often thought about when thinking about home. It goes something like this.

Two men journeyed long and hard to a town just over the mountains. Upon arriving at the top of the last hill just before getting to this new town, the men met an elderly man sitting in the shade under a juniper tree.

“Good afternoon, can you tell me about people living in the town just down this hill,” asked the first man

“Can you tell me about the people living in the town where you are from?” asked the elderly man.

“They were of the worst sort. Evil, unkind, selfish,” said the first man.

“You will find the same sort here,” said the elderly man.

Then the second man arrived at the top of the hill and he too visited with the elderly man. He asked the same question about the people in the town below, and the elderly man asked him to tell him about the people in the town he was from. The second man, however, couldn’t stop talking about how amazing the people were. How friendly and caring they were. How they made living there so enjoyable. The elderly man said as he said to the first man, “You will find the same sort in this town.”

This little parable has helped shift my thinking about the “right” place in so many ways. However, in an attempt to keep this post short, I will say that since coming to Vancouver, WA I think my family will be hard pressed to find a more delightful community of people. We will deeply miss all the people we have met here. The people in the greater Vancouver, Washington area have become family. They will always be in our hearts. I have hope that if this parable is true, and our thought in one place carries to the next, Michigan will be awesome! — snow and all. What have you found helpful when thinking about your sense of home?

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It’s Okay.

HopeIt’s okay. These are two very powerful words, if the right stuff is behind them. I think everyone at one time or another feels that their shortcomings are brighter than the sun shinning at high noon.

So you failed that test miserably…It’s okay.

You got fired…It’s okay

You are on your third or forth marriage…It’s okay.

You were convicted of a felony…It’s okay.

Your innocence and purity was insulted or stolen…It’s okay.

Let me be clear; the bad events or mistakes are not okay. No. They never could be. But what makes it possible to say a genuine and heartfelt, “it’s okay” is an acceptance that this does not have to be the end of the story. We can say, “It’s okay” because of what is possible in the future. The bad is not the end. Often it ushers in a powerful beginning of a completely new story.

If God made us in His image and likeness, then there is always hope and the possibility to overcome whatever “bad” we did or experienced. “It’s okay” because the bad really isn’t a part of God’s story and therefore your real story.

There is always hope.

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Breaking up with fear

When we talk about bad relationships, probably the worst one is the one we have with various forms of fear. I was on a long drive alone wresting with intense anxiety about the future. Worrying that I made the wrong decision. Worrying about all the consequences and all the possible negative outcomes. I seemed to be mesmerized by this intense negativity. While scanning radio stations for some comforting music, I landed on a station where Francesca Battistelli was being interviewed.

She explained the backstory of her new album and in particular her new song, “The break up song.” It was exactly what I needed. It affirmed our God-given ability to stop dating fear in every form, and I had a right to break it off with all this anxiety. The rest of the trip I found myself affirming God’s infinite control and putting fear and worry under my feet. It changed from a depressing trip to an empowering one. Below I hope you enjoy listening to Francesca Battistelli’s powerful song.


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Now on to Inspiration. The following short poem (I think it’s a poem 😉 ) unfolded while writing some ideas down about what divine inspiration does. The inspiration that comes from prayer is a big reason I love Christian Science.

Divine inspiration…

entices thought
the frailty of mortality

moves the mind
to humility,
holiness, and peace

lifts the eyes
to see
the reality of God’s creation.

What does divine inspiration do for you?

Church glue: Joy

Intercultural-LeadershipWhat do you call a church that smiles and laughs together? A church that stays together, of course.

A lack of smiles and laughter may not sound like a moving violation when we’re talking about church. But without joy, church would have more in common with the fossils in the Petrified Forest National Park.

What does a genuine smile communicate? What about a sweet laugh? Both point to sincere gratitude, affection, and joy which are very needed in building strong relationships. It is this light of love which gleams through the windows and doors of church in both directions that showers the pews with vibrancy and life and touches the hearts of the passerby.

So why church? To smile. To laugh. To live. And to do it a lot more.

Prayer: A surge of happiness and peace

IMG_2896Tonight as I write this blog I’m sitting in my home without music and without the TV. It’s silent! That is except the tromping of little toddler feet and the cooing of a sweet infant voice.

I’m sitting by myself for a little while to pray about a work-related problem. One of the things that Christian Science has helped me learn is to turn away from what seems to be going on and to reach out to God for more truth. This always brings more freedom, more health, and more joy. This is what effective prayer means to me.

Recently, a friend told of a time she was struggling physically. She turned from what was going on physically and mentally took a stand for God’s supremacy and goodness. “An important part of this was the realization that I can hug truth so close that I can’t be separated from good.” This mental stand caused an undeniable “surge of happiness” and peace, and she quickly rejoined her husband in what they were doing that afternoon. She told about this experience at a Wednesday testimony meeting at a local Christian Science church.

I love this idea of prayer bringing a surge of happiness and peace. I had to share it with you.

Why Church? An open window

Happy Monday. 🙂 Two weeks ago, I found this poem in a scrapbook of various clippings my mom collected.

An Aspiration

Others may be art glass
Of rainbow hue;
I choose to be a windowpane
For the sun to shine through.
A clear pane,
A clean pane—
Is what I would be—
Unconcerned with temperament
And personality.
I would have Love shine through me,
So that my friends would say,
Not, “What a lovely pane of glass!”
But “What a lovely day!”

—The Christian Science Monitor, April 26, 1940
~by Katherine Collins

Saying I love this doesn’t seem enough. The selflessness, humility, grace, and Christianity expressed in this poem is a great antidote for self-aggrandizement or even a desire for a little personal recognition. As a very dirty window would obscure the clarity of the day, so pride and egotism obscures the clarity and power of the Christ.

50522D0E-5678-418C-BFB4-2A7534EC8C5A-6644-0000083D3E0EBD47While getting ready for church yesterday, I realized an open and unobstructed window is exactly what church should be all about. A church that strives to be a window like this is a church I love. After all, who doesn’t need a clear view of the power and presence of good?

Do you see this when you go to your church? I’d like to hear more about what keeps these windows of light open or what blocks the view. As always feel free to share in the comments below, or privately using the contact page.