Thursday, April 07, 2016

Mountains and Mole Hills

There's that phrase "Time heals all wounds"... however in some cases, for me, time can make things feel awkward, scary, and even dreaded.

It can happens with tasks at work.  You know, those things that keep getting pushing back on the to- do-list until when you actually get to them; they have somehow turned into this looming project?Until, of course, you just actually do them, cross them off the list and move on.  

It can happen with relationships.  We "should" get together.  We "ought to" catch up sometime.  The unreturned text/email or voicemail starts to look like a potential moment of discomfort so the relationship feels bruised ... until you call/text/email or set up the date and get reacquainted.

I had a situation recently where some dynamics changed with a commitment I had,  so initially there was distance naturally created.   When it became time to return to the previous schedule;  details became slightly more complicated.   Holidays, vacations, and some miscommunication then turned into a lapse of months rather than the original weeks... and picking up the phone to get things back on track became scary for me.   Today, I finally pulled off the bandaid and made a final phone call to find a gracious and enthusiastic response waiting on the other side of the phone.  Schedule resumed.  

Why do I do this (and I'm sure I'm not alone)?  We insert dread where it is not needed and cause ourselves unneeded stress and even physical discomfort and loss of sleep.  

Actually, I think I've been doing this with one of my favorite hobbies, too.  Time to dust off those dancing shoes.  Literally.  It's swing dancing.   :)

Ideally, we would never lose touch, drop the ball or neglect a responsibility or even passion.  However, being human, that's highly unlikely.  So when those things fall through the cracks; I hope to swallow my pride, pick up the phone, or pen... or shoes... and go from there.   Yes, there will be times where it's uncomfortable and there will certainly be amends to be made, but I think more often than not I'll find that I have made a mountain out of a mole hill and wasted precious time over nothing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Take Heart, Nothing Is Wasted

This past Sunday, I both needed and wanted to get out for a longer-than-everyday jaunt on my favorite city/riverside trail/park route.  I couldn't waste the beautiful fall afternoon.  As I was plodding along through the leaves on the sidewalk, over the river and through the woods;  I had flashbacks of various scenes come to mind.  As faces and scenarios crept into my thoughts,  I found myself combating feelings of regret, hurt, disappointment, confusion and anger while trying to breathe and keep pace.   

I realize that that the heaviness of world events, excessive binge watching of a certain tv drama, poor choice in eating fast food the night before, and an excessively angst-y running playlist all played into this particularly emotionally charged and difficult time on the pavement.  Plus... like everyone else,  I'm going through my own personal stuff.  Go figure.  Thankfully,  I did have the beauty of the trees and river to distract me somein the midst of the inner shouting... and a final whispering in my ear.

"Nothing is wasted."

After I spent most of that hour being accused by my own thoughts  lies like: "You always...", "You Never...",  "See you were right...", "See, you were wrong..."; Finally, as I rounded the corner for my last half mile or so, those three words came out of nowhere  were spoken to my heart, and they were just in time:

"Nothing is Wasted".

Not those hurts, not that battle, not that surgery, not that life so much shorter than seemed fair, not these tears, that relationship,  not this super slow run, or caving to those french fries or anything else...  even the leaves that have fallen from the trees have purpose. 

There is a bigger picture.  There are things I cannot or should not know.  There are whys, whens, hows, wheres, and who's that I could never understand.  I can be alert, wise, grow in depth of understanding and insight,  become stronger and hopefully not repeat the things that are mistakes.  

Really, my heart has actually been VERY encouraged recently.  I am seeing God answer lots of prayers and keeping promises made.   I have seen hopeless scenarios somehow turn out for the good.  I am mostly joyful, hopeful and excited about life in the every day.  Yet still, those accusations return.  When they do, I am thankful to be armed with truth including all that is wrapped up in the words of Romans 8...  no condemnation, freedom,  Jesus, life, hope, intercession, salvation, victory, love.   I am thankful for that still small voice. 

None of this is wasted.  Take heart oh my soul.  Take heart brothers and sisters.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Choosing to Take a Fresh Look: Perspective Can Change Everything

The other day was a breezy and grey sort of day... leaves were blowing around and it might have been a little damp out.  Looking out my bedroom window at the limited view I could see across Franklin Street;  it seemed like kind of a blah day.   How quickly my perspective changed as I started meandering through the streets and saw the vibrant shades of yellow, orange and red that seemed even brighter against the grey sky.   I realized it was actually an unusually beautiful day.  It even took my breath away for a moment when I ran back onto my street and saw 3 or 4 different colors of trees all in a row right in front of my house!  

There are some pieces of art that can appear pretty blah and boring from one vantage point, but if you get closer, or back off, look from the top down or from a different angle,  something new and beautiful is exposed.  Imagine if we never cut into a watermelon, only looked at that big green oval and never saw or tasted the bright pink inside.   If we only ever sat behind the most beautiful person on the planet ... or never spoke to the wisest one, would we ever know that beauty and wisdom even existed?

Life definitely has times of miserable darkness.  There are days that are just plain hard and painful, even whole seasons of life that can feel almost unbearable.  I am not pretending that is not true.  Just yesterday I was driving back to work from an errand to the bank with tears streaming down my face because of some situations in life that hurt like hell and I wish were different.   But I also know when I step back and take a look;  there is beauty and something better coming forth from even this.

There is a picture so much bigger than what we see in this moment.  I can find rest in the knowledge that my God has so much more going on in the picture beyond what I can see.   If I can fathom even a fragment of His great love for me, or recognize the depth of his creativity in this story He is writing it changes everything.   When I look back at some of the moments in life that had seemed ugly and unnecessary, there is beauty exposed from this new perspective.

Once we can shift our gaze,  get out of our chair,  climb the mountain, walk outside... just change our point of view; there truly is something beautiful to be seen, even on the greyest of days. 

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Thanking As We Go

It is good to give honor where honor is due.  All too often we wait until someone has passed from their mortal flesh or are nearing the end of their life to express gratitude and acknowledge them.   What if we were  more generous with our thanks and recognition along the way ... for the little and the great.  Are we keeping our eyes open for those kinds of moments instead of the ones that we complain and grumble about?  We can be quick to be snarky about annoyances, but are we giving shout outs just as freely?  I have a feeling we would have a healthier and happier community if we moved in that direction. 

As a Christian, I want to be the same way with my God.    It doesn't take me long to cry out a request when I am in need, pain, disappointed, etc... but am I acknowledging the beauty, the progress and the good things just as much... ?  I have found that when I start focusing on what I am thankful for, things change.    Last night while doing this thankful thing,  I started to have moments come to mind that had seemed like insurmountable boundaries for me emotionally/physically, etc... and I began to give thanks that I am on the other side... and then found hope arise within me.  Wow.

Who has done something meaningful in your life recently (or in the past)?  Have you told them?  What has God done in your life that you haven't remembered to thank him for?  Let's share our thanks and celebrate life along the way! 

Monday, November 02, 2015

Running the Race With Others

I have a tattoo on my foot that says "I will run the race set before me"  based on Hebrews 12:1 and also lyrics from a Misty Edwards song.   I got my ink as a celebration after running my first half marathon and reminder to keep going both physically and spiritually.  It also didn't hurt that tattoos in OBX are a steal in their off season and I had wanted one forever, just hadn't found the right one or right time. 

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go for a run with my friend Denise.  We have wanted to run together for a while, but our chances are limited to times that we are in the same state since she lives in NC and I in PA.  I was thankful that we finally made it work during this visit.

Typically, I run alone.  I enjoy that because I get my exercise and training in, but it's also good quiet time, too.  However, it's also good for me to run with others from time to time for the comradery and  also to be pushed.  I am not super competitive with myself or with others, so I know that I don't always go as hard as I should on my own.  I'm working on that though.

So, Denise has been training for the OBX Half Marathon which is the same one that I have run twice in the past.  It's coming up next week.  I had hoped to run it this year, but got debunked from my training and then lost focus and motivation.  So, it had been 3 weeks since my last run.  UGH.  So, it was a bit humbling to go for a run with my well trained friend.

What was awesome was that Denise was willing to go at a pace that I could handle.  Her training is essentially done and she just needed and wanted to put in some miles and run them  with me. Though she encouraged me to keep going and motivated me; she did not expect me to run at her pace.  I was thinking about it today.   We are all at different places in our journeys and have different goals and callings.  In life the "race and it's pace" for me is much different than it is for someone else.    There are many times that cheerleading our friends in their races and running alongside them unites with our purpose. 

Denise will be running HER literal race on Sunday,  but she was joining me in mine in a sense as we ran together yesterday and she encouraged me through conversation and a healthy run   We should not be afraid to spur each other on and encourage each other, and even slow our pace for a time in wherever our journeys our taking us while keeping sight of our own paths.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pictures and Prayer

For the past 8 or so years I've been involved with Gateway House of Prayer.  It's a place that is open 24/7 for prayer, worship and intercession.  Many different churches and denominations are represented there.  Because I believe God is worthy, because having a set apart place is something I appreciate, and because I like the opportunity to join with others,  (and many other reasons) I continue to be committed to at least one 2 hour period per week.

Last night while we were praying and singing; I had 2 different images come to mind.  Sometimes when I am "listening" for what God might be trying to say to me;  an image will come to mind, which most of the time I attribute to a picture given from/inspired by God.

As someone was reading from Ephesians about the height, depth, and breadth of God's love for us;  I pictured a thermometer busting out at both ends and also one  exploding from side to side.    This image came to mind and shook me with a reminder that God wants to basically blow the roof and walls off of our expectations and limits that we put on his love for us.  We think we can grasp it.  We believe we can frustrate him to the point where He gives up on us ... or we put this limit on others.  It seems like a simple thought but in that moment it was an overwhelming realization.

Later,  I was thinking about distractions in life.  I pictured a stairway cluttered with children's toys and thought about how easy it is to slip up on those little things we don't even see.   I prayed that God would help us to see even the tiny marble sized things that are easily overlooked and could become a bigger problem/cause us to stumble and fall.  I started out thinking about distractions in my own life but then ended up also seeing how this happens in marriages, churches, etc etc.  Again, it seems simple but God was speaking important truth to my heart.

God loves us enough to use the language, visuals, dreams, music, nature, stories, friends ... whatever means necessary to speak to our hearts.  I think all too often we miss those moments because we aren't creating space or acknowledging His presence. 

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Am I Stopping?

Stop, Look and listen.  Every child learns we should act in that order when planning to cross the street.    All the looking and listening is pointless if one doesn't first stop, right?  I guess that's why I was pulled over a couple of months ago for rolling through a red traffic light at the Landisville exit ramp of Rte 283 ... oops.  Thankfully the officer was gracious with me and I pulled away without a ticket.  Lesson learned, though.

Recently I wrote a blog about listening and then followed it with some thoughts about looking. A couple of weeks ago I taught the 1st and 2nd graders at church about our Sabbath day of rest.   It got me thinking about stopping and how that worked/should work in my life.  (I had not planned for this to be a series)

Our lesson plans for the kids included playing some simple games to evaluate what is work, what is rest and what is play.   What makes us tired?  Can we help someone and still worship God?    We found that for each of us different things fall into different categories.  For one of the games, as I listed different activities, we all jumped to one side of a tape line for things we thought were work and the other side for things we viewed as restful.    Not everyone agreed on what activities were work and what were rest; and that was ok. We talked about it. 

I thought about it, too.  Walking in the woods or going for a run or a long drive can be a perfect scenario for me to focus my heart on God.   I could find it restful spending the day helping out at a farm or even cleaning my room..    But can I do "x" and FOCUS on God?  I am well aware that it's when we truly stop and then rest that we remember that we belong to Him.  Our Sabbath rest reminds us that we need His strength. 

I chat with God throughout my day,  but this is something different ... this stopping.   It's making a time set apart and holy.   I have to consciously be mindful to do this.   It should involve getting out of the daily grind, unplugging, stepping away,  just being.  Worship, Rest.  Engage ... but first stop. 

I often try to switch gears from a busy day into some sort of intentional time with God ... usually I read a quick something or other from my Bible App.  Sometimes I journal.  Sometimes I just start listing off desperate cries of prayer or intercession.   Engaging with God on any level is good ... but that stopping and resting is so important and so key.  I have learned so much about the value of the secret place and that set aside time.  I know I must stop before doing the rest.