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Losing Brain Cells

Let’s talk about growth mindset. Raise your had if you were taught that if you lose brain cells, you can’t get more. I know I was when I was a kid–part of the “don’t watch too much TV” campaign. Growth mindset is the opposite. It’s the idea that your brain can create new neural pathways, that you can get smarter.

I’ve been doing growth mindset printouts and videos with my kids the past couple of weeks. Class dojo has some great videos on the subject! Very digestible 🙂 And MissWinter’sBliss has a bunch of free printouts.

One of the printouts we did was one that compares fixed and growth mindset. It was so helpful, I’m going to give you the list. As you read through them, ask yourself which characteristics fit you.

Fixed Mindset…

  • is jealous when other kids do well.
  • believes it doesn’t help to work hard.
  • won’t try new and hard things.
  • avoids challenges.
  • believes if they don’t try they won’t make a mistake.
  • gives up easily.

Growth mindset…

  • is inspired when others do well.
  • believes effort helps them learn.
  • likes to try new things.
  • loves a challenge.
  • can learn from their mistakes.
  • keeps trying until they can do it.

I have to admit, reading through the list was a little painful. There are times when I’m firmly in fixed mindset–jealous of the people who are succeeding at the things I want to do, believing hard work never gets me anywhere, afraid to try new things, challenges, or mistakes, and giving up easily.

Sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up in circumstances. I get cranky and overwhelmed with the distance between where I want to be and where I am. And sometimes I don’t do the work because it feels too hard (impossible). I just found myself procrastinating on facebook instead of moving forward on a project.

So what about you? Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?

This is such a vital issue! As Christians, the essence of sanctification is to keep growing and changing. I LOVE that God created us with room to make mistakes and learn. We see this so clearly with children, but I think we forget to give ourselves (and others) the same grace as adults. And sometimes we just plain forget to grow–we get stuck doing the same things in the same ways because it’s comfortable and familiar. But following God’s call requires stepping out of our comfort zone. It requires doing different things or doing the same thing a different way. It requires change (I know that’s a four letter word to some people).

One amazing thing about growth mindset is that if you’re in a fixed mindset, you don’t have to stay there–you can become someone with growth mindset. This is something I’m working on. When I hear myself say, “I don’t know how to do this,” I add “yet” onto the end of that sentence. I’ve also been stepping out of my comfort zone a little more. Developing a growth mindset is a challenge, but it’s one well-worth doing.

As I’ve switched up my thinking, I’ve definitely seen benefits! For example, I’m much more willing to give myself grace. I used to beat myself up for mistakes. Now, I can tell myself that it’s okay to make a mistake and that mistakes are the stepping stones to success. It’s definitely lowered my stress level not having that negativity hanging over me! And I can cheer other people on because their success shows success is possible–it’s an encouragement that I too can get there.

So what about you? Where did you fit on the list, and what are you going to do about it?

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Christian Living

Taking Breaks Isn’t For Wusses

I love when something happens that highlights how far I’ve come. It doesn’t happen super often, but every once in a while, I’ll realize what a 180 I’ve done. Every time I watch the Descendants movies, it reminds me how hard it is to move from one world into another.

Growing up, I learned that taking breaks is for wusses. Successful people push themselves until they’re running on empty, and if you can’t handle the heat, then get out of the kitchen. Think that’s enough metaphors? But seriously, until I got sick seven and a half years ago, I lived that. And it meant I had loads of shame once I got sick and couldn’t be a “contributing member of society.” To me, contributing meant giving 110% to every task in front of me.

This week we did a podcast on how taking breaks isn’t for wusses. Taking breaks is a tangible way to surrender to God. He’s the one who proscribed weekly Sabbaths and daily sleeping enough (Ps. 127:2) and yearly festivals. It’s not easy to stop doing–it forces us to trust instead, to believe that God can pick up the slack in our families, our jobs, our goals, etc., etc. I’m far more likely to want to keep at it day and night. As I said on our show, I have to re-surrender about every 20 minutes on my Sabbath because I keep thinking of things that need done.

Taking breaks gives us mental and emotional room to be more effective the rest of the time. For example, sleep-deprivation acts like alcohol–it slows our reflexes, lowers our critical thinking, and impairs judgment. As a society, we often tout our lack of sleep as some kind of badge of honor, but all we’re really saying is that we’re careless with our lives. We’re trading staying up late for being effective and efficient for the next day.

We’re also giving up change in our lives for the pleasure of having a wall-to-wall schedule. I think that fact more than any other has prompted me to prioritize margin in my schedule. It’s like with plants–if you don’t give them enough room to grow, they don’t thrive. We need room in our schedules in order to thrive. Without it, we’ll be miserable and we’ll stay the same miserable people as long as our schedule continues. Without room to process what we’ve learned, to learn new things, to have conversations and relationships, to sit with Jesus, to read, and to think, we can’t grow. One of my worst fears is that I will be the same person 20 years from now as I am today. I can’t imagine carrying the same amount of baggage for decades. It makes me tired just thinking about it!

So! Challenge: Surrendering your time takes actually doing something. It’s not a faith without works deal. For me, surrendering my time means kneeling in the morning and praying over my schedule, taking a Sabbath, and I’m working on going to bed on time. If you already do all those, way to go! If not, pick one and start adding it to your schedule. If you’d like a little public accountability, write which one you’re going to do in a comment.

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Christian Living

Putting Out Fires… Before They Grow

Crazy fact: I didn’t even realize I hadn’t posted a blog last week until now. That’s how sick we’ve been. It’s amazing how everything falls to the wayside in the midst of illness. Both my husband and I are more than ready to return to our regular schedule.

I can’t tell you how happy that makes me 🙂 It means that our regular schedule is one that pushes us towards our goals, rather than our goals getting lost among the day-in, day-out reality of school, housekeeping, etc., etc.

How do we do that? Planning ahead and prioritizing the important–that’s the short answer. I really love the concept of risk management over crisis management. Risk management is when you take time to look at your schedule (or finances) and list out potential issues before they become issues. It allows you to take the stitch in time approach (you know, “a stitch in time saves nine”) where you solve the problem before it can get started. Crisis management, on the other hand, is when you live like a fire fighter, constantly putting out one fire after another. Problems are already full blown fires when they come to your attention.

For us, risk management means we sit down every Friday and talk about what expenses are coming up and how we want to budget for them. We also talk about our schedule for the upcoming week and what things need to get done–as well as what might potentially turn into a crisis. For instance, we make our own liver pills. It’s time-consuming, but it’s the only way I’ve gotten my kids to take liver 😉 So, I added making new liver pills onto our list before we ran out of the old ones. I didn’t want us to be out and then suddenly have something new added to the list (especially not something that takes extra time). We didn’t actually finish the new pills before we ran out, but the running out wasn’t a surprise. New pills were already on our radar.

Last week, on our podcast, Epic Every Day, Evan and I talked about how the holidays are coming. Thanksgiving is two weeks away!! TWO! I still can’t wrap my brain around that. Probably because we’ve been sick and out of our routine for the past two and a half weeks. My brain thinks it’s still October. But we’re preparing. We sat down with our kids last week to make a family holiday must-do list (stuff like making cookies and going to our favorite lights displays). Today we did more Christmas shopping and are having a gift wrapping party tonight.

A pinch of prevention is worth an ounce of cure. I’ve been wondering lately where else we can apply a pinch of prevention. I’m sure there are places I’m not seeing–time to ask God to show us where those places are! So how about you guys: any great ways you’ve found to consistently nip problems in the bud?

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Christian Living

Taking the Jack out of the box

Last week was really busy. We had stuff going on every day; ironic that we spent the week talking about calm on our podcast.

Anyway, as I was attempting to find calm in the middle of the craziness, my knee-jerk reaction was to blame my lack of calm on my circumstances. Isn’t that what we do? If the cat wasn’t sick… if I had more energy… if my schedule was less packed… etc., etc. It’s so easy to look at stress and blame circumstances.

There’s a problem with that though: stress is a heart issue. Applying a circumstance change to a heart issue doesn’t solve anything. It’d be like a doctor giving you headache medicine for your cough. Yeah, they’re both medicine, but it’s not really going to help.

Somehow just recognizing that I was applying the wrong remedy to my problem has made a big difference. When I feel myself getting stressed, I can take a second and ask what’s causing the stress. Instead of telling myself that it’s due to something I have no control over (e.g., having a sick cat) and then being doomed to hang out in the stress until the circumstance change, I’ve been looking for a second answer. Maybe I’m actually stressed about something else and the cat is just triggering my stress. Or maybe I had a bad experience with sick cats.

We all carry baggage of some kind. You might hate vanilla scented candles because your grandmother sprayed vanilla perfume on every blessed thing in her house. Our previous experiences with something can cause it to have more emotional weight than what the isolated thing should weigh.

I’m such a huge fan of EFT/Tapping for working through that stuff. Even if you don’t have PTSD, we’ve also had smaller traumas throughout our lives–it’s just the nature of living in a broken world. And all those smaller traumas are often what’s actually causing our stress. About a year ago, I added Tapping to my morning routine and it’s made a world of difference–it’s now my go-to tool any time I feel stressed. Sometimes when I start Tapping, I’ll find myself saying statements that I didn’t realize were connected to my stress. It’s an amazing tool both for figuring out what’s going on in your heart and for dealing with your heart problems. If you’re not familiar with Tapping, you can check out a tutorial at www.eft.mercola.com.

I’ve been thinking about Ruth and how we need the kind of determination she shows. In Ruth 1, Naomi gives her a couple opportunities to go back to her father’s house. Ruth could have stayed with her family, in her hometown, living with people who were just like her. Instead, she chooses to leave all that to move to a different country where the culture is vastly different. She chooses to take Yahweh as her God.

Dealing with heart problems is hard. It’s not the easy road by any stretch. However, heart problems will just keep coming up every time your circumstances trigger them, until you address them. It’s sort of like a jack in the box–turning the handle may cause the “jack” to jump up, but it doesn’t put him in the box. Take the jack out of the box and you don’t have to dread circumstances.

So, just to recap: stress is a heart problem. A heart problem requires a heart solution–not a circumstances solution. And looking into our hearts, solving the heart problems, that requires some serious determination. I pray God gives you (and me) a dose of the kind of determination Ruth had.

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Christian Living

How do you know what you know?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a crisis of faith that involved how you know what you know. I remember in college when we were covering epistemology (how you know what you know) coming down for breakfast one morning and announcing I was having an existential crisis 🙂

It still makes me smile even though it felt so serious at the time. How we know what we know is a serious matter. It’s the underpinnings of everything in a lot of ways. How do you know that you exist? How do you know that I exist? How do I know that this computer exists? What about the library table I’m blogging from?

And what about the Bible? Without a solid method of figuring out what’s real and what’s not, there’s no reason to hang onto the truth found there. These no reason even to believe in a God or in truth itself. And from there, we all devolve into not having any best way to live, we’re ships adrift in a strange sea without a compass.

I hope you can see why it’s important to know how you know what you know.

So how do we know what we know?

We don’t. Not without there being someone who can tell us what’s true. We need a third-person perspective on the nature of reality in order to know what’s true. Like the fish in a fishbowl. They don’t even know that they’re in water because it’s what they live in (I actually expound on this in my book, Tales from a Spacious Place). Or like the characters in a book who can’t know everything. It’s impossible for us to know everything about our universe. We need someone to tell us about it. We also need a creator who created the world to have coherence with our senses–a world where we can learn about what’s true through what we see, hear, touch, taste, smell, and feel (sixth sense sort of feeling). Without that, I may perceive this table as smooth and hard whereas you may perceive it as fluffy.

This is why God’s transcendence is one of my absolute things about God! Transcendence means He is completely other than everything else. He has a true third-person perspective on reality. He created the universe and knows all there is to know about it. He is outside of our “water” (time), and able to see things from the beginning to the end. He knows people’s hearts. There’s nothing that He doesn’t know.

Which is why we can know stuff. He provides methods for us to learn about His creation: our senses, the Bible, and inventions He’s given us the materials and ingenuity to create (microscopes, telescopes, x-ray machines, etc., etc.).

This week on our podcast, Epic Every Day, we got to talk about how all truth is God’s truth. That’s such a huge part of my worldview. If I didn’t believe God had created ways for us to learn truth, I think I would never get out of bed. My soul shrivels up when I’m not doing things that matter, and I’d go nuts if I had no idea what was important.

One of my friends and I were talking about how confusing it is when your parents tell you something is both true and not-true. It leaves you unsure of your own judgment. If someone you trust tells you that something is white and you think it’s black, you question yourself. If they consistently give you conflicting information, it’s impossible for you to trust that you’ve got things right at any given time.

Some of you have had parents like that. But God isn’t that way. He tells us truth. And that gives us the foundation to be able to explore, to study, to learn, to grow. To do things that matter.

God is also a God who listens, so if there’s something we don’t understand, He’s more than willing to answer. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (NIV). I’m continually in awe of the fact that God doesn’t tell us how dumb our questions are. He doesn’t make little sarcastic comments when we ask for help. He’s patient and tender with us, like a loving Father with the child He delights in (Prov. 3:11-12).

I love that we can ask God to tell us about life!

Knowing how I know what I know is why God’s transcendence is one of my absolute favorite things about God.

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Christian Living

Fighting for your life

The week in our podcast Epic Every Day we talked about living on the verge. The verge is when you feel like you’re a house of cards only one move from collapsing. I think most of us are familiar with the feeling in our society, unfortunately. As I was doing my Bible study this week, I was struck by how we have a choice.

We can live on the verge in that frantic, trying to control, trying to do thing in our own strength—or we can live God’s way.

Living God’s way is very different. I’m doing Ruth right now in my Bible study. I love that book! I love how God sets Boaz up to be the perfect kinsman-redeemer for Ruth (his mother was Rahab, a former Canaanite prostitute, so he’s understanding of the plight of foreigners). Chuck Missler talks about how the book of Ruth is a type of Christ because Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer. Obviously, it’a not just a type; it’a also a story about real people. Reading through chapter 2, I’m amazed both by Ruth’s actions and Boaz’s.

Ruth leaves her family, her home, her culture, etc., etc. and accompanies her widowed mother-in-law. Once they reach Bethlehem, Ruth provides for Naomi by working in Boaz’s fields. God provided for the poor during that time by commanding the Israelites to leave a part of their fields (the edges) available for the poor (Lev. 23:22). Anyone could come harvest. I’m always in awe of that system. It gave power to the poor by allowing their work to matter, allowing them to provide for themselves. They had dignity and purpose even though it was a societal method of providing for everyone. But I digress.

Ruth gleans in Boaz’s fields and he commands his workers to leave extra stalks for her to glean. He also allows her to eat with the workers and provides water and roasted grain. In other words, not only is he making it easy for her to gather food, he’s also making sure she’a got the energy to do that work.

Psalm 127:1-2 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves” (NIV).

One of the things I regularly pray is that I will build where God is building. That I won’t be off doing my own thing because that means that I’m wasting my time 100%. I was reminded of Psalm 127 reading Ruth. Because of Boaz’s kindness Ruth was able to gather more grain when she followed along after Boaz’s harvesters than if she had been harvesting in someone else’s field. God is the same way–when we align with His design for our lives, we are more fruitful in less time. He provides fruitful labor and the energy to engage in that labor.

One of the analogies I really like that I mentioned on the show this week is the ocean current in Finding Nemo (or Finding Dory). I love that idea that following God is like jumping into the current. It takes you places more quickly and with less effort on your part.

Aligning with God’s way isn’t necessarily life or death. I’m not saying it never is–just look at how addictions can destroy your body–but I think we get lulled into a false sense of security. Moving through our days, we get numbed by the sameness and we forget that what we do does matter. We forget that we are fighting for our lives–what they’ll be like, what legacy we’ll leave, how we’ll spend ourselves. Following our callings matters! Just like Naomi couldn’t see what God’s doing in Ruth 1 when her husband sons died and she ended up going back to Israel, talking about how God had afflicted her. In reality, God was paving the way for David and for Jesus and had plans to bless her again (Ruth 5).

Don’t doze off. You’re fighting for your life! You don’t have time to get swept away in busyness and complacency.

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