encouragement

We Are Not Consumed

During summer camp I write:

Today waiting for songs and skit a little boy, whose name tag read Eric, walked circles around me for minutes on end. Then he looked up with his forward facing front teeth and round glasses, “Are you dizzy yet?” 

No, I am not dizzy, because I am standing in one place.

 

A journal entry:

If I keep still it’s almost as if there is a pseudo peace. 

If I keep myself contained and quiet, no one will see all my rough edges. 

If I cover over myself I will stay hidden from other’s eyes, no one can hurt me hidden. 

 

Josiah called out to me as I was opening up his bedroom window on a warm fall day. As I ran to him, my foot stepped into a lego box and my ankle twisted me to the floor, I lay in a pile of sharp legos. Ellie arrived, laughing hysterically at me. Tears pressed against my eyelids, but I crawled to Josiah. He had crashed onto the floor during some bed jumping. I held him on my lap realizing how hurt my ankle felt. I would have done it again, to be there to wipe his tears.

Moving forward can be painful. 

I held close a manuscript for nearly a decade. If eyes saw the words, maybe my inadequacy would be revealed and my dream would disappear. I trusted a handful of close friends to critique. The paper bleed with red.

I was also head hopping,  (being in the head of more than one character at a time), doesn’t that sound scandalous? The old me wanted to crawl into my bed and die a quiet death.

Then, something surfaced, a strange hope. I was moving forward, I implemented the ideas, and I loved what emerged.

 

Standing in the same place helps insulate hurt and sometimes attains pseudo peace.

Moving forward brings hope and draws you into the person God created you to be.

 

Lamentations 3:22

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassion never fails.

 

His compassion will never fail us.

We can take courage to move forward, we will not be consumed.

 

What do you need to stop standing still about? How do you gather courage to move forward? 

Check in Wednesday: A Guest Post about where the sidewalk ends…

One Thousand Lies

I have been reading a book of devotions Mother Teresa spoke in her lifetime.  Her proximity to God’s heart is so evident in every word she spoke and action she took.

One line really stood out to me last night-

There is the devil, Jesus said, and he is the father of lies. He will tell you one thousand lies to make you commit one sin.

 

That is some patient persistence, we are up against much.

 

What are the one thousand lies you let seep into your heart?

 

I can name a few of mine:

Your dreams are nothing, they will never be reached.

You are awkward and neurotic and an obsessive worrier.

If you are yourself, no one will want to be your friend.

You are a terrible Mom, especially because you are terrible at French braiding.

If you just eat two more bowls of ice cream you will feel better.

Don’t be happy, you don’t deserve it, unhappiness is close at hand.

 

Those one thousand lies are serious. They have a way of imprinting on repeat in our hearts.

Lean not on your own understanding.

 

Hand the one thousand lie back to the voice that does not belong to you.

God wants someone exactly just like you.

 

 

 

 

Grapple, Wrestle, and Struggle

 

Sometimes, I am guilty of wanting my life to unfold from a neatly-wrapped paper package each day.

Is this reality? In my experience, almost never.

 

Colossians 4:12

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 

 

Bible names are endlessly fascinating arn’t they? Biblical names I do not recommend you name your child: E-Pap, Ichabod, Gomer, Meshillemoth, Diklah.

 

Grapple

Wrestle

Struggle

 

Calling out to Jesus in prayer is not passive.

There will be days that look more like grappling, wrestling, struggling, a turning of one’s heart with abandon.

 

Rend your heart: to split apart into pieces violently.

 

Don’t some days feel this way? I find freedom that we have this example of Epaphras from scripture, freedom to know that this is part of our journey. A natural expression of our faith will include wrestling in prayer.

 

What are you wrestling with right now?

 

Take comfort, God hears each and every bending of your heart.

Even the silent cries do not fall void.

Bleed

I found the following quote on pinterest:

“There is nothing to writing… all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”   -Ernest Hemingway

Sometimes words soothe, they settled into my heart because they feel like home. They remind me of who I am and what God has asked of me.

Have you ever had an emotionally rough week?

Last week was one for me. I received a rejection that nudged at all my vulnerable spaces.

It made me cry and I don’t often cry. I try to be strong that way. Crying is hard when you’re a Mom.

“Mom, will you come to the basement to see my flock of aluminum foil swans?”

“Yes,” –sob.

“Mom, read the chose your own adventure about the tricky fox again, I need to know the ninth possible ending.”

“Sure,” –sob.

My skin is sometimes too thin and I like to lament that. That creates a challenge when you chose a profession where rejection is sometimes a daily occurrence.

Then, the reality of social media settled in, something essential for a freelance writer.

(Side Note: The following things bother me about computers.

  1. They get viruses-it kind of creeps me out.
  2. They get cookies- the only cookies I want are the ones I can eat.
  3. They get spam- a supremely yucky word like moist. )

Back to the social media, I can’t count the ways this is difficult for me. I gravitate to the background. I delete over half of what I attempt to do.

Slowly I have been adding the social media presence, the latest venture is twitter. (See my social media buttons up at the top there? Thank you so much to my sweet friend and her husband for helping me advance to 2012.)

# that is a hash tag on twitter. (Side Note: In my School of Social Work class called Drug Use and Abuse we learned about hash. Every time I see a hash tag that is what I think of #weird.)

Also, self-effacing humor makes me feel happier. If I am laughing in my head, I really enjoy that. So, I go through the day making up little hash tags #impatient, #needsomejuniormints, #bleeding, #loser.

Once again I am back on my knees, God I surrender my feelings of inadequacy.

God never promised we would live all our days comfortably without inner turmoil, void of our own failing.

Never was EASY promised.

But, if I am giving my all, letting my heart bleed for him, I HAVE PURPOSE.

I have purpose worth living for.

Let our hearts bleed for truth. He is sufficient to meet all our needs.

Limitations

Three years ago, my wise friend encouraged a group of girlfriends to complete a sprint triathlon. The resulting time really blessed me and moved me out of some destructive patterns of anxiousness I had formed for myself. I loved the time I spent training with my friends. As we ran, we shared our hearts and our friendships grew.

This summer I was set to complete another race. About six weeks ago, I realized I was not prepared well enough to complete the race the way I would have wanted to. For two weeks, I agonized in the hours of the night. The worst part is that I had know for much longer that I wasn’t living up to my commitment to complete the race. I was terrified to admit my limitations to myself, yet alone anyone else.

I might have a hundred excuses, but honestly the fault lied entirely with me. I did not make exercise my priority during the period I should have. I felt terribly disappointed in myself. Not completing a goal is not something I like to make a habit of. I also felt like I let down two people who are close to me.

One of my friends is able to give me insight into myself that makes my reality clearer. Her words give me courage to be honest with myself and not be ashamed.

I was able to go to the race this past weekend. I had an amazing time cheering for my sister-in-law and my friend. I found it extremely refreshing to be on the other side of the race, free to observe, and to encourage. Cheering on woman of all ages and sizes to the  finish line was exhilarating.  I felt God’s hand of peace steady me. My first love is encouraging others. Something that felt so disappointing was covered over with reassurance of who God made me to be.

I don’t like to have limitations. They are also part of my life. Our journey’s shift and move through different seasons and we have to adjust accordingly.

I want to keep learning to be honest with myself.

I want to keep learning to be honest with others.

I want to learn to see limitations as opportunity, not as weakness.

I want to keep cheering you all on!

Do you ever struggle to be honest about particular limitations during certain seasons of life?

Who am I to….

I have been feeling a little bothered about something.

Circulating around this virtual world we communicate in are the whispers that occur in everyday life. These are reverberating whispers, not as quiet as the speakers imagine them.

Some people believe certain ‘sins’ are more deserving of shame, embarrassment, and punishment than others. People who engage in certain lifestyles are offered treatment that resembles thinly veiled hate wrapped in layers of disrespect.

Deep in my heart I feel God is saddened by such unrelenting unkindness.

God is God. I am not God. To me, that means I would never cast a stone towards someone else’s choices.  I would not assume that someone’s lifestyle would definitely mean they did not love or follow Christ. Can I see into the depths of anyone else’s heart? Not fully. Only God has the power to do that.

To assume or to act otherwise would be dishonest of my own failings. It’s scary to share your heart, but that is how I feel.

Confession: there is something I put before God sometimes and struggle with every day.

I have worn clothing in size 4 to size 14 in the last fifteen years.

I’m talking super-size me because I want the big box. Junior mints, entire bags of peppermint patties, batches of cookies, a dozen cupcakes, quarts of ice cream, and nachos. Comfort foods like mashed potatoes, sign me up!

This is where it gets ugly.

I am nervous to attend a social function. Before I arrive, I will consume a package of crème curls in the back of a grocery store parking lot. I will dispose of the container and no one knows.

I am feeling sad and lonely. I will stand in the corner of the cupboard pouring as many junior mints as possible into my mouth before my kids know what I’m up too.

I am worried about failing. Before I start writing, I will eat three bowls of ice cream first.

When my emotions rise up inside of me, I sometimes forget to turn to God. Instead, I turn to food.

I am learning that obscene quantities of sugar will not fill empty, cushion pain or hide me more effectively. This realization has not come to me easily and my actions have not been pretty. I struggle every day, to put God first and not turn to sugar.

That is why I don’t cast stones. I know how desperately I need God. I know deep down how ugly my heart can be.

Maybe you think a certain lifestyle is a ‘sin’.  What about you? Do any facets of your lifestyle resemble ‘sin’? A little honesty opens the door to kindness. God is the one who speaks into your heart about whether or not something is a sin. For me, God has made it clear that my dependence on comfort foods draws me away from trusting him. That is something God has spoken into my heart.

I think we can trust God to speak with the same grace to others in whatever he believes to be ‘sinful’ in their own lifestyle.

I’m not sure we need to take the liberty to do that for him, especially in generalizations to those we do not personally know.

God extends grace to us. We should extend the same grace to others.