do you even know?

Why do you do what you do? What motivates you? Do you even know? I’ve been dissecting some things lately; my responses, choices, how I use my time. It’s important to take inventory every once in a while to ensure that your actions line up with your core belief system. Oftentimes, we can struggle with imbalance, irritation or stress when we are walking outside of where we would desire to be, were we to be intentional with our resources (time, money, words, love…). Today, choose to consider your goals, where you want to be and how you want to live, and then consider if what you are doing right now, how you are speaking this moment, lines up with them. Give yourself grace and make any corrections necessary. I’m taking inventory right now.

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dishrags

Yesterday, my son’s basketball went out into the street and got a little muddy where the rain water had collected in the gutter. I grabbed a rag to clean it and as I was drying it off, it struck me that at one time, the rag had been one of three beautiful kitchen towels Chris and I had received from Crate and Barrel for our wedding. Now, nearly 11 years later, it has holes and the color is faded. What was once a favorite kitchen accent has been reduced to a resident in our cleaning basket. We can sometimes do that with relationships as well – that person who was once the apple of our eye can be reduced to a housekeeper, or a provider… Disposable. Take a moment to take inventory in your life, and make sure you haven’t discarded or made common, someone who was once invaluable to you. Unlike dishtowels, people become more vital the more life they’ve lived. Don’t miss out on adding color to your life by retiring that relationship too soon!

 

selfishness can rule

I was remembering today on something that happened when I was a youth. It was my fault. Sometimes I find that even though I know I’m forgiven, I still struggle with forgiving myself. Or, there is still a bit of sadness attached to it, even if I have finally let myself off the hook. When we are in the moment, emotions can run high, or selfishness can rule, and there is little thought given to the repercussions of our choices. It’s wisdom to pause and be intentional whenever possible. Some of the long term consequences to our choices are weightier than we may be able to see in the moment.

There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death. – Proberbs 14:12

 

a small crack & a chip

When I was in college I played this silly game where at the end of a series of questions, you had to close your eyes &  imagine having coffee with a man, describe him, then describe what the mug looked like. Mine was black & sturdy. I was told that if I had imagined more of a tea cup, my marriage would be fragile, but since I had envisioned this strong form, my marriage would be strong as well. This morning, I pulled my favorite mug from my cupboard – it’s a Rock Church mug with our logo on the side. It’s sturdy. Black. There’s a small crack now, & a chip. The letters are a bit faded. I love my mug & as I paused to look at it, I remembered that game from so long ago & realized that really, it had been right. Not about my first marriage, but about my forever one. And I realized that the game doesn’t predict as much about the actual marriage as it does the person playing. It is I who is resilient. The strength of my marriage is not determined by the magical love connection that is made; but rather hinges on my ability to prioritize, apologize, forgive, & to see things from an eternal perspective, instead of adopting a desire for immediate gratification. 

While a bit worn now, I love my mug. It’s familiar and dear to me. Every time I choose to spend my morning with it, I feel something deep inside me. I feel like me.

worried

Recently I was driving home from an afternoon at the beach when we were stopped near three people with signs and a megaphone, loudly proclaiming the need for people to repent of their sins or go to hell. As we sat there, I watched people’s responses, and felt sad for those working the ferry dock, who had undoubtedly heard the message many times already that day. My sadness continued as we drove past, and on through the evening as I thought about those who may never hear the good news of Jesus above the din of condemnation. God is not angry with us, He is worried about us. The message of Jesus is a message of hope and love from our Creator. We are all imperfect, and since God is perfect, we need someone to bridge that gap for us to be in relationship with Him. A relationship with Jesus is that bridge. Not that by following Christ, we become perfect ourselves, but that we can be assured an eternity with the God of Love, instead of an eternity in darkness. Jesus spoke of sin and death and eternity, but His message was truly heard in the healing of the sick and the lost, restoration of the broken and His own faithfulness to those closest to Him. What message are you sending? What are you hearing? Jesus said He would leave us with His peace – may you find that today. 

all that matters

My husband and I were watching sports highlights this morning, and a baseball player made an amazing catch, over the fence. It looked painful as he hit the pavement on the other side, and Chris said, “All that matters is that he caught the ball.” I started thinking about all the times I have said something similar. Or, “At least…something, something…” in the face of loss. There are moments in life where we are presented with the opportunity to decide for ourselves, which is the lesser evil. Or what is more important to us. Sometimes it can even come down to core values. I like those moments – they tend to be defining moments for me and help me to elect not to be dramatic or overly distraught. “Yes, my son just got red finger nail polish all over the kitchen floor, right before it’s time to leave, but at least it’s not on the carpet.”   “Well, we lost our home to the current economy but at least we have a place to live.”   “It could always be worse, my kids could be missing or terminally ill…” Welcome opportunities to define what truly matters to you. Choose to see struggle as an open door to clarification. At the end of the day, God is on the throne and will bring all things to good. And isn’t that all that really matters?

twists and turns

I went out to dinner last night with my mom. It’s not often we get to spend time together and it was lovely to just sit and visit without interruption and with no particular place to be next. Such things are a rarity in my world! And it’s not often my mom and I are alone. Over the years, our differences have been more glaringly obvious than our similarities, and to be honest, we have had our challenges. Relationships are never easily;  even more difficult in families sometimes. But last night, it really felt like we crossed over into a different understanding of one another, and a deeper capacity to discover our similarities – as women and as mothers. They say that time heals all wounds, and I think that it’s true. As time goes on, life molds and changes us. Our worlds expand, and our ability to relate and have compassion expand with them. No longer is it important to sort out every detail of our past hurts and misunderstandings, but more crucial is our willingness to open our hearts to one another’s journey in this life. With every twist and turn comes an opportunity for growth, and that growth can sometimes bring us back full circle and into a more intimate relationship than we could have ever imagined. Today, ask God to open your heart, to heal what is broken and straighten what life has bent. May your path be straight and your vision be clear. Shalom.

 

into their own

As of today, my three-year-old has finally decided he doesn’t need me to help him get dressed. It’s an important milestone for a child, and one I readily welcome. As I watched him walk out the door after insisting that I was incorrect in my assessment that his shorts were on backwards, I was suddenly reminded of how much that sort of thing would bother me when my oldest was that age. 

Parents often worry about things that in the grand scheme of things, truly don’t matter. We can often waste precious energy, and damage tender hearts, in our pursuit of perfection. 

How often does our need to succeed or perform affect other areas of our lives? Those we love? And do we extend our personal expectations for our own lives onto those around us? Oftentimes disappointment occurs or feelings are hurt when others don’t live up to our personal standards. A challenging feat for those working hard to live up to their own.

Do those socks on the floor really matter? Is it worth creating tension because your son’s desk is messy? Is your coworker’s irritating personality trait worthy of criticism that stunts their capacity to overcome a weakness they probably already recognize?

Try releasing someone today. Or yourself. Create margin and an environment where grace can come, and where people can grow into their own.  But please, do remember to put your shorts on with ties in the front!

share less

A wise friend shared a message last night. At one point, she made reference to having been corrected by someone who has permission to speak into her life. This person is a trusted friend; one who is committed to seeing her succeed, in every area of her life. As followers of Christ, our lives are not divided into neat little categories, but rather our spiritual walk is a part of every other facet of our daily lives.  I started thinking about who speaks into my own life, and who has given me permission to walk with them in their journey.

I think it’s important to have criteria when considering counsel. As we mature, we move away from gossipy relationships, and from those friends who would speak only fluff into our situation, to those who would speak life and godly counsel. We share less, and what is shared is done from a perspective of, well, needing perspective. I’m not sure we ever get it right all the time, but we do our best to make choices that propel us towards those relationships that continue to perfect us.

Today consider who you should be sharing with. Who you should be listening to. How and what you are speaking to others. Many years ago, a good friend and I would meet for several hours every other week to pray. It was a precious and deeply valued time. One of our rules was that if we were really struggling with something, we could have a 5-minute pity-party, and then it was time to bring God back into the picture and put things in perspective.

Relationships add value to our lives, and one of the ways they do that is by helping us to grow towards our full potential and purpose in this life. It’s wisdom to share certain conversations with only those who will steer you in the right direction and speak life over your situation. Proverbs 27:9 – Oil and perfume rejoice the heart; so does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart. Ah, wisdom.

embrace and soar

At one point or another, I think we’ve all heard, or said ourselves; “When it rains it pours.” or “It’s always something.” It certainly can seem at times, that life relentlessly brings waves of trial – sickness, broken relationships, unexpected bills, struggles with children… I know I have definitely longed for seasons of rest from the turmoil that comes in to derail me from my sense of peace and balance.

Recently, I heard a statement that I have begun to implement in my vocabulary more regularly. “Embrace the blessings AND the challenges of this life.” It seemed a bit too sunny to me for a while, as some of my challenges of late have been pretty intense. And yet, as I have begun to embrace the statement, it is making a subtle shift in my response to life.

Every situation brings an opportunity to learn something. For example, when sickness comes to our home, I learn which things work best to move it back out more quickly. My winter-time regimen is far different now than it was 10 years ago. I am also more diligent in my prevention and we now rarely deal with things like colds and flu (with the exception of one particular member who refuses to regularly take his herbs! 🙂 )

Even seasons of great loss can bring opportunities. You learn who is really committed to your success, and how close God truly is to your situation. You gain insight to deeper and richer relationships, and realize how far you’ve grown since the last time you dealt with such pain. Life is to be enjoyed. All of life. Grab a hold of every opportunity to exercise your faith muscles, take authority over your life, and move forward. The bottom line is, the struggle will come;  but when refuse to be paralyzed, we allow ourselves  to be propelled.  Embrace and soar!