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Entries in Becky Harling (6)

Thursday
Apr192018

What's Up with Sheep?

Becky Harling is funny and insightful, and always shares fresh insights for timeless truths. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she writes about sheep and their shepherd. But don't miss this fresh take on a common Christian theme.

"Throughout the scriptures, we are compared to sheep," Becky said. "Have you ever wondered why? I mean, what’s up with sheep? Right?"

I (Dawn) used to think, "Oh, how sweet. God describes His children as adorable little lambs." But there is much more to that picture, as Becky describes here.

Becky continues . . .

I did a little research and discovered some random facts about them that help me understand why God used sheep to describe us so often in scripture.

1. Did you know that sheep are fearful and easily panicked?

Who knew? Can you relate?

In our humanness, most of us are fearful. In fact, that is the number one concern I hear from women and men as I travel the world.

If panicked, we do stupid things, and you know what? So do sheep.

An entire bunch of sheep is easily prodded into a stampede. They have a mob mentality.

But here’s the thing, when sheep know the shepherd’s voice, His voice calms their fears and settles their panic.

This is why Jesus said, “I am the Good shepherd” (John 10:11). He also said His sheep "follow Him because they know His voice” (John 10:4).

Friend, if you want to calm your fears, get to know His voice.

2. Did you know that sheep get jealous easily and push for dominance?

Sound familiar? Maybe this hits too close to home, but it’s so easy for us to become envious of others, isn’t it?

This is the cry behind “That’s not fair!”

Our human tendency is to want life to be fair. If our friend has a beautiful home, we want one too. If our co-worker gets a raise, we want an increase as well.

Here’s the thing: according to the parable of the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), our Christian walk was never meant to be “fair.” If it was fair, we would all deserve hell, right? Praise God that isn’t the case!!

One of the most convicting stories of Scripture is when Jesus sits on the beach with His disciples after His resurrection. After He re-commissions Peter, He tells Peter how he will die.

Peter looks at his friend John and wonders if his death will be easier—he blurts out to Jesus, “What about him?”

Jesus replies, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (John 21:15-22).

Ouch! I love this story because it reminds me that I must never sink to comparing my life to another.

In Jesus’ kingdom, life may not seem fair, but it is good.

Our quest for fairness will rob us of the abundant life Jesus promised His sheep (John 10:10b).

3. Did you know that sheep are creatures of habits and they are resistant to change?

Many of us are creatures of habit as well. When God calls us to shift our thinking or embrace change, we panic or pout.

As our Good Shepherd, Jesus knows if we are going to live life to the fullest we must keep being transformed.

The truth is we can’t be transformed without change.

Friend, understanding our similarities to sheep can help us focus on Jesus as our Good Shepherd.

He’s the One who laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16).  

Which of these random facts about sheep best describes you today? How can you better relate to or trust in your Shepherd?

Becky Harling. Authentic. Passionate. Funny. Insightful. Becky is a frequent speaker at conferences, retreats, and other venues. She is the author of Who Do You Say That I Am?, Rewriting Your Emotional Script, Freedom from Performing, The 30 Day Praise Challenge and The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents. Becky is married to Steve Harling and has four adult kids and five grandkids. Visit her website and blog!

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pixabay.

Thursday
Aug102017

How Well Do YOU Listen?

Becky Harling is one of the most practical women I know, often tackling topics women need to hear like "performance" and dealing with our emotional scripts. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she asks us to honestly evaluate our listening skills.  

 

"I remember well when I asked my teenage daughter, 'Honey, do you think I listen well?' Honestly," Becky says, "I was expecting rave reviews, but what I received was something entirely different"

I (Dawn) think Becky was so brave to ask her teenager for input. But what I admire most is her desire to act on that input!

Becky continues . . .

Mental note to self: Don’t ask your kids what they think unless you’re prepared for the answer!

There was a long pause, and then Bethany said,

“Well… sometimes you listen well… but, you seem distracted a lot, you interrupt me a lot and you dive in with your own story and you give me way too much advice!

"Mom, I just want to feel heard!”

Wow!

That night in bed, I had a lot to consider and I remember wrestling in prayer.

But finally, after several sleepless hours, I prayed,

“Lord, I want my daughter to feel heard and loved. Help me to change. Show me how to work on my listening skills so that those I loved feel heard.”

Author David Augsburger wrote, “Being heard is so close to being loved that they are almost indistinguishable.”

God created us for relationship with Him and with others. And that means we need to value our relationships by listening attentively.

Relational wisdom from Proverbs teaches us, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning” (Proverbs 1:5).

Jesus Himself warned, “Consider carefully how you listen’” (Luke8:18).

Most of us are busy and stressed out, so how do we consider carefully how we listen and take steps to improve our listening skills?

It’s not as hard as you might think. It will take practice, but there are a few steps you can take right away.

Today. 

If you take these simple steps you’ll improve your listening skills immediately and those who are dear to you will feel more loved right away!

Simple Steps:

1. Silence Your Inner Fixer.

Have you noticed how tempting it is to try to fix other people’s problems? I’ll give you a secret. People don’t want you to fix their problems. They want you to listen. They want to feel heard and validated that their situation is difficult and challenging.

So next time, you’re tempted, ask a question instead. Which brings me to my second simple step.

2. Learn how to ask questions.

Any great conversationalist knows how to ask great questions. Jesus Himself was the Master question asker“Who do you say I Am?” “What do you want me to do for you?”—and it’s a pretty easy skill to learn.

Before you meet a friend for coffee, think of three questions you’ll ask so that they’re already in your head. Do the same whenever you attend a meeting where you’ll meet someone new.

Think through a few great questions and even write them on an index card. Then look at the card right before you go into your meeting so the questions will be fresh in your mind. Watch and wait for the opportunity to ask a question.

Hey, if you need help in the question-asking department, I’ve got good news for you! I’ve got a great free gift called, How to Get the Conversation Started up on my website. It’s loaded with great questions you can use in any situation!

3. Let Go of Distractions.

Don’t buy into the myth of multi-tasking. It will hurt your relationships.

When you’re with someone, discipline yourself to be fully present to the conversation.

Turn off or silence your cell phone. Shut down your computer and turn off the T.V. and simply listen to the other person. Seek to understand their heart and what’s behind the words they are speaking. 

The one way it’s valuable to multi-task is to pray for wisdom as the other person is talking. Pray that the Holy Spirit will set a guard over your mouth and help you to speak only what’s helpful.

4. Ask.

Finally, ASK.

Dare to ask at least two people you love, “How well do you think I listen?”

However they reply, don’t push back. Simply receive and then take it to the Lord and ask Him to change you!

Which of these simple steps might UPGRADE your listening skills today? Choose one, and "practice" on your family and friends. Who knows ... the Lord might open new doors to better relationships.

Becky Harling. Authentic. Passionate. Funny. Insightful. Becky is a frequent speaker at conferences, retreats, and other venues. She is the author of Rewriting Your Emotional Script, Freedom from Performing, The 30 Day Praise Challenge and The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents. Becky is married to Steve Harling and has four adult kids and five grandkids. Visit her website and blog!

Graphic adapted, courtesty of StockSnap at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Dec202016

Be the Voice, Hands & Feet of Jesus This Christmas

In this Christmas UPGRADE, Becky Harling challenges us to see Christmas differently—through the eyes of Jesus—so we might more compassionately respond to others in need.

Becky asks, "What if Jesus actually wants you to be His voice, hands and feet this Christmas?"

When I (Dawn) first met Becky, I was overwhelmed with her sincere heart. It does not take much for me to imagine her reaching out as an ambassador for Christ, and I can hear her asking God the questions she shares in this post.

Becky continues . . .

I’ve always been intrigued by the story of the feeding of the 5,000. Maybe because my husband loves bread and there were 2 loaves involved.

Or maybe it’s because I wonder when I’m entertaining, if I have enough food to feed the crowd. When Jesus took a small boy’s lunch and multiplied it to feed 5,000, it was miraculous and inspiring!   

But the thing that intrigues me most about this story is the responsibility Jesus placed on the disciples to feed the crowd. When they expressed their compassionate concern for those who were hungry, Jesus turned to them and said, “You give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37). 

It’s fascinating to me that Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t worry guys, I’ll take care of it.” Instead, He invited the disciples to be involved. 

I believe this statement spoke about the plan He would soon be unfolding; His plan to change the world through you and me!

Later, Jesus promised to leave His Spirit to dwell in us so that we might become His voice, hands and feet in the world (John 14:15-24).

This Christmas, I’m more aware than ever of the needs of people. Here in the United States it seems our homeless population is growing and I hear Jesus voice in my heart whispering, “Becky, YOU give them something to eat!”

The refuge crisis is on the rise and when I pray for the plight of refugees, I hear the whisper of the Spirit saying, “Becky, what are YOU doing to help refugees? I left my Spirit in YOU.”

As I travel the world with my husband, Steve, who is the president of Reach Beyond, a non-profit organization seeking to be the voice and hands of Jesus around the world, the needs feel overwhelming.

In my state of feeling overwhelmed it’s easy to become paralyzed. Instead, I’m learning to ask the Holy Spirit how to be His voice and hands in that moment. Whether we’re visiting a radio station that we’ve planted and the folks simply need encouragement or if we’re hiking to a dirty village where folks need a clean water system, I’m learning to whisper a prayer, “Lord, how can I be your voice and hands in this moment?” 

Often it’s just taking the next step.

  • Listening to the person who’s discouraged.
  • Praying with those who need hope.
  • Giving to a clean water project.
  • Seeking to understand the plight of the refugee.
  • Hugging the little village child.

What I’m discovering as I continue to pray that prayer is that the opportunities are endless. 

This Christmas may I challenge you? In all the joy of the holidays and celebrations, live beyond yourself. Seek to be the voice and hands of Jesus.

Here are some practical ways to do that:

1. Carry some prepackaged food, gift cards, or blankets in your car for the homeless. Or even carry written and signed Christmas cards.

Ask the Lord for wisdom. When you see a homeless person, and you feel the Spirit prompting you, give them a gift card, granola bar or blanket and a signed Christmas card! Most homeless have no address to receive Christmas cards.

2. Check out the rescue mission in your area.

Ask how you can serve. It’s easy to come up with easy answers for those who are homeless but poverty is cyclical and very difficult to escape. Ask God for a heart of compassion.

3. When you hear of or see refugees, don’t write them off.

Seek to understand and perhaps offer to take a refugee woman shopping for groceries. I personally believe that with the currant refugee crisis God is bringing the mission field to us! Don’t let fear hold you back. Ask the Lord for the courage to be His voice and hands. Most refugees have experienced more trauma than you or I can imagine.

4. Research a non-profit that aligns with your heart and give generously.

Most of us here in the States have more than enough and God loves a generous giver!

Friend, what if Jesus wants you to be His voice and hands this Christmas?

Becky Harling is an international popular speaker and the author of several books including, The 30 Day Praise Challenge. Her latest book, How to Listen so People Will Talk releases, August 2017. Becky’s husband, Steve Harling, is the president of Reach Beyond, a non-profit organization seeking to be the voice and hands of Jesus around the world. You can contact Becky for your next speaking event at www.beckyharling.com.

Thursday
Dec032015

Cultivating Joy in Your Family This Christmas

Becky Harling, a conference and retreat speaker, is the creator of many praise challenges. She just bubbles over with joy! For this Christmas UPGRADE, I asked her to share how we might cultivate joy in our homes during the holidays.

"The angel who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds declared that the birth of Christ was good news of great joy," Becky says, "Yet, so often during the holidays, 'joyful' is not the word someone might use to describe our homes. Tense, hurried, stressed or chaotic might be a better fit.

"Yet, God wants us to experience great joy."

Try as I (Dawn) might, I tend to exhibit all the characteristics of "holiday hurry" disease. I have to be intentional about peace, or my days are robbed of joy. Are you like me? Let's learn wisdom and cultivate some joy!

Becky continues . . .

How do we experience great joy in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season? And, how do we encourage joy in our kids during one of the most demanding and draining times of the year?

In search of the answers to these questions, I did a bit of research on joy.

I discovered that: (1) joy is primarily relational and (2) our brains have a joy center!

I know, right? Isn’t that amazing?

Studies indicate the "joy center exists in the right orbital prefrontal cortex of the brain. It has executive control over the entire emotional system.”

The joy center grows in infancy. Neurologists and psychologists teach us that when infants see delight in the eyes of their parents, the joy center of their brain is strengthened.  In other words, when babies see their parents’ eyes sparkle and light up in response to them, they know they are loved and their joy center develops.

“If the joy center develops correctly, an individual can find the path back to joy, in spite of the most difficult trauma.” * 

Even if your joy center didn’t develop properly in childhood, that part of your brain can be regenerated. Not only can you as a parent develop your child’s joy center, you can strengthen your own joy muscle!

Strengthening your joy muscle begins when you internalize the truth that you are the sparkle in your Heavenly Father’s eye.

Friend, God--your heavenly Father--is madly and categorically in love with you! God's Word teaches that He take great delight in you. He even sings and dances over you. (Zephaniah 3:17) His eyes sparkle and light up when you come to spend time with Him.  

It’s possible that you’ve never felt like anyone was particularly glad to see you. That’s not true of God. You are the sparkle in God’s eye. As you internalize that truth you are more able to pass the sparkle on to your kids, your spouse, your friends and neighbors.

So, how do you go about internalizing that truth and passing it on to your kids--especially during the Holidays? I have a few suggestions.

1. Spend a few moments praising God each day.

As you lift your focus to the sparkle in God's eye, your cares won’t feel nearly as burdensome, and you’ll feel His love more deeply.  

Listen to Christmas music that is focused on praising Jesus Christ. As you listen, remind yourself: God’s eyes sparkle when He gets to spend time with you! He’s glad to be with you. Praise Him that He designed you to experience joy and you have the privilege of passing that on to your child.

2. Smile often. 

Smiling sends the message that you’re happy to see someone. When your kids wake up in the morning or come home from school allow them to see the sparkle in your eye. Communicate that you’re glad to see them and you’re happy to be with them.

3. Sing when you’re stressed.  

When you feel stressed out or tense, start singing or turn on some music. Music often lightens our mood and helps us to enjoy God’s presence. Even if you can’t carry a tune, your efforts will release some of the stress.

4. Speak affirming words.

Let your kids know you’re proud of them and you praise God for them.

It’s easy to criticize when you’re stressed over busy schedules or tight finances; but scolding doesn’t strengthen anyone’s joy center. So, let it go and choose to affirm.

Friend, I think we need more joy in our world, don’t you? The angels acknowledged this when they proclaimed at Jesus' birth, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy" (Luke 2:10).

As you look at the Holiday season with all its demands, why not make it your goal to cultivate joy. Praise God that He is the joy giver and that you are the sparkle in His eye. Seek to strengthen your joy center and your child’s.

Make it your goal to PASS ALONG THE SPARKLE this Christmas, and I think you’re going to find your home a much happier place!

Which of the four “S’s” for cultivating joy can you begin today?

Becky Harling. Authentic. Passionate. Funny. Insightful. Becky is a frequent speaker at conferences, retreats, and other venues. She is the author of Rewriting Your Emotional Script, Freedom from Performing, The 30 Day Praise Challenge and The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents. Becky is married to Steve Harling and has four adult kids and five grandkids. Visit her website and blog!

* Quote from James G. Friesen, E. James Wilder, Anne M. Bierling, Rick Koepcke and Maribeth Poole, Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You (Van Nuys, CA: Shepherd's House, 2000), p. 12

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Thursday
May072015

The Secret to Confident Mothering

Author and speaker Becky Harling impresses me as a woman who makes wise choices, and in this Parenting UPGRADE, she highlights the powerful choice to practice praising God in the home.

“Motherhood is a crazy journey, simultaneously wonderful and terrifying,” Becky says. “I know because I’ve been there.”

I (Dawn) remember those young days of motherhood. I worried about a lot of things when my boys were little. I wish I'd had someone like Becky to whisper words of peace to my heart.

Becky continues . . .

I’ve raised four kids and now have five grandchildren. While I enjoyed much of my parenting journey, I struggled with a lot of anxiety. There were days when I wondered if I would lose my mind or, worse, if I would mess up their minds.

I lived in fear that, because of me, my kids might have to spend thousands of dollars on therapy! A therapist friend of mine has a pillow siting on the couch in her office that says, “If it’s not one thing, it’s your Mother!” 

Well, into my parenting journey, I began a new spiritual practice that not only enhanced my relationship with God, but it also made me a more confident mother and strengthened my relationships with my children.

I began the practice right after being diagnosed with cancer.

If anything throws a curve ball into your parenting, it’s cancer. As I was grappling with the severity of that diagnosis, a friend challenging me,

“Becky, will you praise God for twenty minutes a day even as you walk through cancer?” 

Initially, I thought that was a lame idea! I mean honestly, I didn’t exactly feel like jumping up and down shouting, “Hallelujah, I’m facing a double mastectomy.” But, after considering my options, I decided to take my friend’s challenge. What I experienced radically changed my life.

I began INTENTIONALLY praising God daily for what He was doing in my kids’ lives and in mine.

I praised Him that cancer wasn’t catching Him off guard and that I could trust Him with our family’s future.

Trust me, there were moments when I didn’t feel like it! But as I continued, I learned that praising God isn’t just some glib hallelujah when finances are prospering, your health is flourishing, and your family is thriving.

Praising God is the intentional declaration by faith that exalts God above your life circumstances.

  • I praised God for His sovereign control over the lives my children.
  • I exalted Him that He loved my kids even more than I did.
  • I worshipped Him as the Almighty One who was able to do beyond what I could even imagine in the lives of my kids.

As I continued, I began to notice changes. God’s presence came close and calmed my fears. My kid’s faith grew deeper and relationships grew stronger. Most of all my anxiety lessened. 

I believe this is what the Apostle Paul was getting at when he wrote,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

From a human perspective, there are many things to worry about as a mother. But I believe with all my heart, if you will choose to praise God above your fears, your anxiety will diminish and peace will replace panic.

What do you worry most about in your mothering journey? How might praising God diminish that anxiety?

Becky Harling. Authentic. Passionate. Funny. Insightful. Becky is a frequent speaker at conferences, retreats, and other venues. She is the author of Rewriting Your Emotional Script, Freedom from Performing, The 30 Day Praise Challenge and The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents. Becky is married to Steve Harling and has four adult kids and five grandkids. Visit her website and blog!

Graphic adapted from an image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.