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.