Believing Something Is One Thing

Believing something is one thing; living it is the miracle.

Slowing down.

Savoring the simple.

Noticing the moments compiling into memories.

Being here now.

It all stems from the belief that your something is the one thing you should be living with this very breath.

Instead of constantly searching for that ever-elusive defining moment, open your eyes to the wonder you are in. Right here and now, in this something surrounding you.

Redefine your ordinary.

Embrace the miracle playing hide-and-seek in your everyday.

Ponder the precious routine of rousing your children from slumber each morning.

Relish welcoming your husband home from work.

Enjoy sipping lemonade on a sunny summer evening or curling up with a mug of hot cocoa on a frosty winter morn.

Savor the simple and stop wishing away your days. For all too soon, they will pass and fade into the recesses of yesteryear, slipping like sand through aging fingers still reaching for the wonder.

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Today is your day to live.

Right here is your moment to shine.

Don’t wait for the significant to find you.
It. Already. Has.

Open your eyes to see it dancing before you in the form of muddied toddler hands wrapping around your legs, straining to squeeze the love out of life.

Watch it tango through the elementary school where your son’s third grade class thinks you’re awesome for bringing in those cupcakes with sprinkles.

See it waltz across the soccer field where you’ve devoted to coach that rambunctious group of middle-schoolers, all gangling arms and graceless feet.

Hear it dubstep through your house accompanying the late-night laughter of that group of teenagers who know they are welcome in your home.

Believe that every something is your one thing.

Your opportunity to impact lives. The lives surrounding you — wherever you may be.

The world needs you.

It needs your strength and gentleness. Your kind and faithful presence. Your being — being fully alive — in every second of the day. No matter how insignificant you may feel those seconds to be. No matter how much you may be longing for something more. Something bigger. Something beyond what you see in the present. For now, this is your gift and your calling. This day is your day to reach your full potential and purpose.

So step into this moment with gaping heart and arms flung wide to embrace whatever lies before you.

After all, believing something is one thing; living it is the miracle…

sand-castle-in-hand Every moment possesses its own kind of magic and what we do with it counts. It counts. (from Stargardener)

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Sucking the Life out of Living

It was another morning on the beach. Another day of nearly 12 successive walks on the beach. Sand, shore, shells. Run, chase, walk, breathe. We stomped through shallow pools while the high tide pulled the ocean away from below our feet, and I considered every beautiful analogy the ocean offered.

Everything, great and small, points to Him, to beauty, to imagination. Stories are in every element of creation and nature, and if I’m tuning in, I feel like I see and hear them all.

And instead of feeling the usual overwhelming sense of gratitude toward the great analogy played out around us, I was irritated.

I was annoyed that the ocean was so big, and I was so small. I was annoyed that I looked at shells and saw my heart. I was angry that watching my daughter chase birds made me think more about a blog entry instead of her.

I am prone to always dig below the surface in my own life. Sometimes this is beauty. Sometimes it’s distraction. I admit, there are times I end up extracting another meaning out of a situation simply because I am unable, unwilling or too bored to experience what is actually happening.

I wonder how different my words and relationships would be if I stopped viewing all things through the spin of my wild mind.

On that beach, while my daughter chased birds, I told myself to forget about the extra meanings and possible metaphors. I actually shook my head and closed my eyes and told myself to listen, and breathe, and then watch and experience.

Extracting is good. Mining for the deep things is a hard and necessary work. Sometimes I need to look at the world around me and realize that God is still speaking through the work of His hands. I want to notice how interwoven and connected everything is.

And sometimes I want to just get dirty feet, feel the heat of the sun and notice how my daughter’s curls form perfectly on her shoulders on a humid April afternoon. I need days full of her crinkled nose and storytelling. I need to pay more attention to the words I say to her instead of the words I’m writing inside. It’s all happening so fast, I think. While I’m mentally adding and erasing metaphors, I’m accidentally erasing myself from my own story…
(excerpt from The Organic Bird the Blog)

Have you ever read something and felt as if you had taken a sucker punch to the gut? That’s similar to my stomach’s reaction after  reading the above wisdom from a fellow blogger. It was if she had seen into that part of me that I try to hide from others – the truth being that I do try to hide from others. My heartbeat melded with her words:
I admit, there are times I end up extracting another meaning out of a situation simply because I am unable, unwilling or too bored to experience what is actually happening.

I escape. I hide myself in words. If things are devastating, I’m attempting to take away a hidden meaning – my mind racing with metaphors to link the pain with purpose. If things are joyful, words are tumbling within me straining to be released in a blog to match the blessing. And sometimes I am simply bored – so my mind disconnects, fleeing into its own world of swirling similes and ponderous paradoxes, aching for pen and paper, instead of  being there. 

Wherever there may be.

I can get so caught up viewing things through my own wild mind, that I forget to live the moment.

With my penchant to scratch below the surface, I suck the life out of living. I silence the beauty that is unfolding, forgetting that it is doing so wholly for the sake of being beautiful, not for the benefit of my writing projects.

It shouldn’t be so much work to enjoy life. But it is.

Because I refuse to simply let life happen.

As wonderful as this propensity toward words can be, as enlightening and freeing as they can seem, there is always the threat of too much meaning. A distraction from living life as it comes.

So today I am seeking silence. Calming my tendency to manipulate the moments with my thoughts, curbing my bent toward many words.

Today I am asking God to fill me with His presence as I rest my mind.

Today I choose to grasp life.

One beautiful breath at a time.

And who knows, rather than accidentally erasing myself from my own story, perhaps I will purposefully live it instead.

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Be of Good Courage

Most of my life I have not lived brave, but I have wanted to.

As I read the above words penned by Angela Thomas, they resonated deeply within my heart. For as much as I wish I were courageous, I’m not nearly as bold as I would like to be. As much as I desire to run headlong into the battle with sword at the ready, the truth is I allow any number of things to make me hesitate. Things like insecurities, fears, distractions, labels, interruptions, responsibilities, expectations, deception, duty, disobedience, excuses, lack of self-control, the common, the ordinary, and the overall feeling of somehow being less than.

Less than what I would like to be.

Less than the courageous daughter whom God calls me to be.

And as I lean into the lies, the chains slip silently into place, subtly wrapping about my wrists and ankles until I am held captive and immobile in the face of fear. Caught in the very web Satan has woven about me with words that make me question the truth.

Because living brave begins with Truth.

Interestingly enough, according to the Bible, the truth is that bravery is not an option.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid nor be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, emphasis mine)

Perhaps courage is not an option simply because God knows that without it, we would fail to implement any other spiritual practices. It takes courage to be in the world yet not assimilated to it. It takes courage to love your enemies and to pray for the very ones who persecute you. It takes courage to fear not. It takes courage to love one another at all times. It takes courage to walk away from the known and familiar and venture into a new way.

Make no mistake about it, a life of faith is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for those who think they stand in their own strength. For God calls us to rise up and be strong in good courage. And if there is such a thing as good courage, that makes me wonder if there is not such a thing as bad courage.

The longer I thought on it, the more I became convinced that not all men of courage are men of good courage. Some run toward danger because they care not for life, while men of good courage run toward danger to preserve life. Their love overcomes their fear as they rise to the challenge again and again, battle after battle, because they believe love is worth the risk. This is the goodness of courage at its finest.

This is the goodness of courage that comes from being strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. This is the courage that it takes to believe God will overcome every obstacle in my life and raise me to walk boldly before the throne of grace because of HIS goodness, and not at all because of my own.

Good courage begins and ends with truth.

And if I believe that a person who follows hard after God can become brave, then I must believe that I can be that person. I must believe that His Spirit will turn the tide of deceptive words meant for my demise into a wave of victorious truth, freeing me to walk in courage as He wills. And as I believe, I step into truth. A truth that exchanges those lies – word by word – and allows God to rename me. Bold. Intrepid. Daring. Dauntless. Valiant. Fearless. Noble. Confident. Steadfast. Resolute. Secure. Adventurous. Overcomer. Courageous.

Brave.

Brave enough to turn the “I want to” into an “I will.”

Brave enough to be free.

Brave enough to be fully me in Christ.

Brave enough to live this day in good courage – with sword held at the ready.

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Enjoy!

Enjoy Jesus today…

These three words were the final sentiments in a recent message I received from a friend. I couldn’t help but smile when I thought of how prophetic his words were for me. Unfortunately, enjoyment is not the term I would use to express my life at the moment. Weary would more accurately describe how my heart has felt. Not depressed. Not overwhelmed. Not anxious. Simply… weary.

I could not help but wonder if the lack of living out my friend’s encouragement might not be the very reason for some of that soul-weariness. Could it be that the best course of action to overcome my bent toward feeling weary would be to take his advice and simply enjoy Jesus today?

“Can it really be that simple?” my thoughts argued. Shouldn’t my focus be on serving Jesus? After all, there are so many  responsibilities to be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God. Shouldn’t my attentions be on helping others since I’m surrounded by so many pressing needs? Perhaps I would do well to concentrate on praying more since intercession is such a powerful weapon in tearing down strongholds…

Or maybe my friend was right. Maybe, just maybe, the most powerful way for me to live out the Gospel in this moment is to simply… enjoy Jesus today.

With my typical obsessive-word-passion-compulsion, I pulled up definitions for the word enjoy. After all, if I am to take said directive, I want to do so appropriately. As I perused the varied definitions for this verb, I came across the obvious ones like: take pleasure in; find satisfaction in; appreciate; etc.

I also came across modern terms like: live it up; go have a ball;  and my personal favorite: freak out on. (This seems to be the most fitting for my behavior as I am often found “freaking out” on any number of things that unexpectedly come my way, although most likely NOT in the enjoyable way to which this particular definition is referring.)

All silliness aside, the most accurate of definitions was likely the most simplistic, as well: take joy in. Imagine that – the most fulfilling way to enjoy is to take in joy. And that’s what spending time with Jesus produces. Joy. The lightness of spirit and refreshment of soul-happiness is a natural by-product of being with the Savior. Joy happens there because joy is present where freedom is found. And freedom is found where Jesus reigns.

As tempting as it is for me to get caught up in all the things that my learned behavior of Christianity has taught me to “do” to become an effective and mature believer, I have found my life is not changed so much by spiritual disciplines as it is from simply enjoying friendship with Jesus. Could it be that the most effective way to grow in God and to share His love with others comes from enjoying Him today?

When I think of people who make Christianity attractive, it is not the folks with a long list of dos and don’ts who immediately come to mind, but rather, it is the very ones who have a vibrant and living faith because they spend much time “with Jesus.” I have a friend who literally seems to glow with God’s love, and I know it is because she “lives’ with Him all throughout the day – whether she is studying her Bible or scrubbing floors. That is Kingdom living at its finest. That is what makes me want to know God like she knows Him. She has learned the habit of living in joy with Jesus. And it shows.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am NOT encouraging you to cease all Bible study, prayer, or service to others. But I AM encouraging you to place “enjoying Jesus” on a higher priority level if you have found yourself living with diminished joy. Why not set aside all those other obligations and simply have a ball with Jesus today? Stop freaking out about circumstances over which you have no control, and take a moment to freak out on Jesus, instead. It’s really okay, you know.

So go ahead.

Enjoy Jesus in joy today.

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How do YOU enjoy your relationship with Jesus? Please share your comments with us so we can enjoy Him, too!

Spanky and the Sand Pail

I couldn’t help but notice him as I walked along the ocean’s edge. After all, it’s not often you see a man in his mid-fifties strolling through the surf while carrying a lime-green sand pail. Mind you, no small children were in sight; just a portly adult with graying hair that formed a fringe of a halo around his head. With bucket in hand, he scoured the shallow tides, bending every so often to examine a shell before adding it to the contents of his lime-green pail.

The sight of him made me smile as I walked past. What a precious, albeit, unusual sight. Oblivious to the other beachcombers, he continued intently on his way. Searching, bending, gathering. Collecting the treasured shells scattered so liberally across the sands. As I walked a bit beyond his position, I chuckled to myself as I wondered if he had any idea of how perfectly childlike he looked. A grown-up version of Little Rascal’s Spanky had hit the beach and was headed on an adventure. I couldn’t help but envision his goal to be that of discovering some amazing find to brag about with his pals. (I’ll bet he could barely wait to share at the next meeting of the He-Man Woman Haters Club.)

Rather unexpectedly, my chuckle turned into a choking sob as my thoughts cried out, “Oh God, help me to live with a lime-green bucket in my hand! I never want to outgrow the joy of finding treasures in the sand. Instead, I want always to be looking for the lovely things so I can brag about You to my pals.”

That’s right; forget the adult world’s form of the Bucket List. In fact, that has always been somewhat of a pet peeve of mine – to have a goal that stems from Before I die…  Instead, I want my life to spring from While I yet live…

So give me a lime-green sand pail and turn me loose! Loose to live with a freedom that dashes through the waves, laughing at the top of my lungs with the sheer delight that comes in being surrounded by so many treasures. Treasures in the here and now of homeschooling, grading papers, editing articles, planning meals, cleaning the toilet… Give me the courage to live like a child – carefree, unhindered by adult expectations or obligations. Give me a lime-green bucket and let me fill it to the brim again and again as I search and gather the beauty You invite me to collect each day. And always, always help me find reason to brag about You to others.