Sunday, October 26, 2014

Healthy Competition

The winds of life seem to have one goal:
to make us unsteady and unsettled,
quivering as we walk.
Faith also has a goal:
to keep us resolute and constant,
standing strong in the midst of the swirl.

It continually amazes me how often
I can be thrown off my path.
Real winds out there can hit us hard—
health, relationships, finances, loss, suffering, 
stuff that happens just moving through 
the passages of time.
And, as if life doesn’t have enough of its own,
we can create more through imaginings.
A cartoon depicts this humorously:
“When I text my mom and 
she doesn’t text back,
it’s no big deal.
But when she texts me and 
I don’t text back,
it’s because I’m dead.”
It's only funny because at least 
"one of us"has had that same thought:)

Having a strategy for swirling thoughts
is the only way to take control of them.
I have decided that, 
since I am competitive by nature,
I will introduce some healthy competition.
No more unopposed winners.
A different thought must be put in the ring,
because I can’t think about two things at once.
So, I came up with a couple worthy opponents
to take on thoughts that are not "helpful.".
I find something beautiful to look at and
remind myself how much beauty is all around.
I have mentally listed instances of God’s goodness 
to me and remind myself of His crazy faithfulness.
I speak aloud Psalm 91:16, 
“With a long life You will satisfy me 
and show me Your salvation.” 
I remind myself that He wants to fully
satisfy my needs and save me every day. 

His wants to make us steady,
strengthened by His might and power,
to withstand the winds that shake us.

For now, I have three strong competitors 
to throw in the swirling thought ring.
They are postured to win.
I want to walk resolute and constant,
saying continually through each day:
"He steadied me as I walked along..."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Beautiful Mind

This morning I woke up reminded of
the need to fix my thoughts.
I could tell we were not going in
a good direction. And it was early.
I turned my thoughts to the goodness of God.
Meditation and prayer help reorient thoughts.

At some point, "other thoughts"
began the fight for space.
I became aware of the day
and began to rehearse the situations.
Left to run its course, the mind is dangerous.
My spirit was fighting to remain at rest,
but my mind was fighting to remind me
that peace is reserved for times of prayer.
Real life has issues and we must do our part.
A little fretting is what makes us human.

No, I reminded myself. 
A little fretting makes us fearful
and fear has nothing to do with God's love.
That one reminder did not last the day.
The media promotes global fear 
while we manage the homefront--
finances, health, relationships, children...

My little alarm system prompts me to
do a little fretting off and on, all day long.
I speak to my mind and tell it 
to go study the Word.
You need a lot more of Jesus,
I remind that prideful web of reason.

This is not the last time today that I will have to
choose between my spirit and my soul,
between the voice tethered to this world
and the Voice anchored to my Father.
I won the first battle of the day.
But that was during perfectly quiet time,
and the rest of this day doesn't look like that.
I have to think about my thoughts
and pay attention to their patterns.
I want to get better at calling them in.
Is this thought true?
Is it positive?
Is it helpful?

As I remember that He perfects
those things that concern me,
my trust in Him returns.
And with it, great peace.
He gave us all a beautiful mind;
we just need to point it the right direction.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blindly into the Dark

“There are many points in life when we cannot
see what awaits us around the corner, 
and it is precisely at such times, 
when our path forward is unclear, 
that we must bravely keep our nerve, 
resolutely putting one foot before the other 
as we march blindly into the dark.”
The Hundred Foot Journey 

Anyone old enough to read this post
has had dark moments in the journey.
They might be big moments 
involving great loss or personal failure.
Or they could be those that mark 
leaving the past behind and beginning new.
They may be moments of transition 
that contain a sense of loss, but
we may be the only ones aware of the pain.
Every one of us has walked in the dark.

There are many scenarios that
lead us to face an unclear path.
But every one of them eventually
requires us to take a step forward--
resolutely putting one foot before the other.
We are aware that a single step
can take great courage. 
We may be marching blindly into the dark,
but God's love and light are with us,
if only for the one step ahead.
One can be born "adventurous," 
but brave comes as we learn to trust
in the One who can make us brave,
the One who whispers,
"You don't have to 
be afraid of the dark.
Darkness is as light to Me and 
I am going with you."

Be strong and let your heart be brave.
Psalm 27:14

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cracks in the Window

"If you look at a window, you see flyspecks, dust, 
the crack where Junior's Frisbee hit it. 
If you look through a window, you see the world."
Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking

There is this crack in our kitchen window, 
from a bb gun gone awry. 
There were days I saw that crack 
with every glance through the window. 
Lately, I am getting better at looking through it-- 
to the beauty that is our yard.
All of life is like that window. 
People, places, circumstances--
cracks in every one. 
There was a time that I analyzed
the specks and cracks in everything. 
I wanted them all to be fixed.
Somehow I thought if we all lived a
certain way, well, there should be no cracks.
If I could get a little more control over things,
 my life would be less effected by them.
When you are focused on specks and cracks,
you will definitely see them--everywhere.

Today I am even more aware 
of all that mars the windows, 
but I have gotten better at looking past them. 
Maybe because I have gotten better 
at looking past some of my own. 
Sometimes you just have to quit
staring at things.

There is beauty to be found
as we look through the windows.
As we determine to look through things
rather than at them, our perspective changes.
As we focus more on trusting Him,
we are better able to let go of our need
to remove the specks and fix all the cracks--
especially the ones we see in others.
I am pretty sure Jesus had 
something to say about all that.

I want to get better at seeing 
the beauty that is all around me.
It's a perspective framed 
a little bit more by love.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Gazing at the Stars

It wasn’t all that long ago that I was
teaching conferences, chapels and classes.
My life was about how God broke through
a wandering heart and made it whole,
made it His.
I was full-on busy as a wife, mother of five, 
trainer, leader in the church and school.
Some things were done out of rest and
some were done out of striving--
some trying to please God,
but maybe some trying to please people.
It isn’t always easy to separate
when you’re in the middle of busy.

God will often allow a crisis of sorts
to slow us down and help us see more clearly.
Circumstances that are out of our control
suddenly change much of what we have known.
It can get dark for a while and we are aware 
that striving and pleasing people
aren’t even in the range of possibility. 
In these seasons of darkness,
we only care that the Lord is with us.

On a recent vacation at a lake,
away from the light pollution of the city,
the darkness clearly revealed the stars.
Though these stars are always there,
the city lights just make them hard to see.
We have to remember sometimes
things aren’t always clearly visible.
This change of season has felt a bit 
like the night at the lake--dark and quiet.
As I sat by the lake that night,
there was a sense of holiness in the darkness.
As challenging as this season has been,
this enveloping darkness is becoming 
more and more holy.

As He did with Abraham, 
He has been doing with me. 
He has taken me to dark and quiet shores
and pointed my eyes toward the stars.

God is once again making me whole 
in new ways. He said to Abram:
"Look up into the sky and count the stars..."
In this reset season, my heart's cry is that
even when the city lights 
make them less visible,
I'll be found "counting stars."
And that, just maybe, I'll be able to 
help others count them too.