Monthly Archives: October 2012

Step Back

And so the busy season is about to begin.  A season full of friends, yummy food, wonderful memories, shopping for the perfect costume, buying candy for the little kids, feeling guilty for eating half the candy you were supposed to pass out (or feeling guilty for going door-to-door at age 16), stressing about the 2 pounds you put on due to mini-sized Snickers (seriously, you didn’t eat two pounds of candy, HOW does that work?  It makes no sense), working out to lose those 2 pounds, stressing about finding the perfect gifts for the 1,000 names on your list, family visits, stressing about family visits, cleaning (or being made to clean) for family visits, eating turkey and stuffing, feeling guilty about eating SO MUCH turkey and stuffing (and, let’s face it, pumpkin pie), not sleeping so you can beat out everyone else to get the best deal in the store for that pair of shoes, wrapping the 1,000 presents so that they look more like works of art than actual boxes or bags, Christmas parties, cooking (or buying food) for Christmas parties, finding outfits for those Christmas parties, finals, actual Christmas….and…well, I could keep going if you want.

It’s a wonderful season!  And it’s also a season that, as with all good things, can get completely out of hand.  Let’s face it – not “can get”, it’s more “WILL get completely out of control”. SO, before it all starts, in this last ten days before Halloween and the craziness takes over, take time to look around you.

Here in Colorado, it’s fall.  And,  miraculously, this year, we’ve actually gotten a fall!  We have trees in so many gorgeous colors, AND they’ve been colored for weeks now!  THAT RARELY HAPPENS in Colorado.  Usually we have one week of cooler weather, all the leaves turn brown, and then just fall off – dead and depressing.  But not this year!  We have glorious, colorful, wonderful fall (I’m not at all excited in case you couldn’t tell).

I don’t know what October looks like for you wherever you are, but if it’s nice enough outside – go OUTSIDE!  In Colorado, go sit under a tree that looks like what I imagine liquid gold looks like.  Don’t bring anything with you.  Just sit.  For 3 minutes – 3 minutes, that’s all I’m asking.  Breathe in the crisp air.  Close your eyes.  Thank God for your life, for the His beauty in the world around you, for His part in the season that’s about to start.

And remember, as we’re about to start this season of craziness, that everything is supposed to be about Him.  After all, if you’re a Christian, the reason we celebrate Christmas is because of Him (I don’t care if that’s the original reason for the holiday or not, HE’s what we celebrate now).  Thanksgiving, ultimately, is about HIM, not about a bunch of Pilgrims.  Those pilgrims couldn’t have survived that first winter if it wasn’t for Him. And Halloween, well… I’m not going there.  BUT, the day after Halloween is All Saints Day (did you know that?), and that’s a celebration of people who have lived a faithful life, lived a life God-centered.  So, He’s there too.

Take a moment to just stop before this all starts, and remember Who is the reason for all of our excessive celebrating*.  Thank Him.  And then keep Him in mind as we enter this self-induced insanity.

 

 

 

*For the record, God LOVES celebrating!  And He’s God, so He totally deserves excessive celebrating.  I don’t want you to think I’m telling you not to celebrate, because that’s not my point at all.  If that’s what you’ve thought – go back and re-read.  Just be sure that He’s the point of your celebration.  That’s all I ask.

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Time….don’t kill me!

Not to sound cheesy, but I have recently been reminded that every moment given to us is a gift.  That every moment your lungs expand in your chest is a moment you choose to do something with.  You can choose to use it to finish a project; you can choose to use it to spend time with a friend; you can choose to use it to simply do some much-needed “veg-ing”.

I remember sitting in my senior Bible class as my teacher described his day.  This guy was crazy, wonderful, but crazy.  He  was a teacher, a soccer coach, a husband, a father to a young daughter, AND in the process of getting his master’s degree.  After he described his normal crazy day, he looked each one of us in the eye and said, “You can do a lot more in your day if you just plan it.”

And I cringed.  Because I hated the idea of scheduling every minute of every day of my life.  I like more spontaneity than that.

But, ten years later, I’m discovering I have to do just that in order to get everything I need to, done.

And I wonder why, because I was just as busy in college, I swear, and I didn’t plan everything out.  But see, I went to a little college in the middle of nowhere with horrible TV reception.  And the college didn’t offer cable.  So I didn’t watch TV.  And Facebook had only just come to campus.  It wasn’t nearly the time-killer that it can be now. There were no games, not nearly as many people on it, no adds – I’m not even sure we had pictures…

I think that’s the difference between my college days and now.  Wasting time in college meant going on a Walmart run with friends when I could’ve been studying, or watching a movie and doing homework at the same time.  Or just having a really good conversation.  All of which are things that energize me.  TV and Facebook don’t really give me more energy – ever.

So that’s what I’m challenging you to.  NOT that you schedule every moment of every day if you don’t want to.  But, that you do take note of your time, what you do.  Watch for the activities that are fun, that inspire you to do more, to work harder.  Do more of those.  And spend less time doing the “easy” vegging things that waste your time and don’t really refresh you.  For me, that’s TV and Facebook – for you…it might be texting or playing video games or sleeping…I don’t know!  That’s for you to figure out!

Just remember that every breath you are given is actually very precious, and I doubt when we get to heaven we’re going to look back on our lives and wish we’d watched one more episode, or posted one more picture.  But I doubt we’ll regret having those good conversations, and doing the work we were called to do, and making ourselves and others laugh.

Just sayin’.

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Rotten Words

It used to be that I couldn’t accept a compliment…mostly because I didn’t believe it.  Ever.  Tell me I was pretty or looked nice, and I’d blame it on my make-up or my outfit or…whatever else I could think of.

Granted, I had other reasons for not believing, but also, I just didn’t trust my friends’ words.  I knew what they said about each other behind their backs.  I knew what kind of language came out of their mouths.  It was often insincere, sometimes crude.

Which is probably one of the reasons I couldn’t believe them when they told me I looked cute.  When your mouth mostly pours out gunk, then the good stuff that might come out isn’t really all that believable.  In fact, it’s highly suspect.   Actually, that’s scriptural.  God says that from out of the depths of our heart, our mouth speaks.  And so if most of the words come out of your mouth smell of garbage, than what’s in your heart?  When your heart is rotten, even the nice words smell of rotten food.

 

 

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Broken Heart

“What other heart would let itself be broken every time until he healed mine?”    Natalie Grant

This week’s entry has been hard for me to write.  Mostly because I know I’m supposed to write about forgiveness and broken relationships in my own life.  And I hate admitting that I don’t have all my relational ducks in a row, and that I sometimes have a hard time with forgiveness.  Not that I WANT to have a hard time forgiving.  And really, I’m usually pretty good at forgiveness.  But there ARE a couple relationships in my life where I have a hard time forgiving.  Now, please don’t get me wrong, I WANT to forgive.  I have said nights full of prayers and cried a bucket of tears, begging God to help me forgive.  And some days are better than others, but for the most part, I’m still angry and hurt and vengeful.  And that’s not who I want to be.

But I have prayed, and pleaded, and still forgiveness hasn’t come.  And I’ve done it all.  I’ve prayed to forgive.  I’ve NOT prayed for forgiveness and simply tried to focus on the good.  I’ve begged for God to HELP ME forgive.  I’ve acted like I’ve forgiven, in hopes that I’ll fool my heart into doing just that.  I’ve made “good aspects of this person” lists and I’ve given gifts and I’ve tried seeing things from their point of view.  But none of it has worked.

And I’m not sure why.

The only thing that makes any sense is some advice a dear friend, a sister really, gave me.  She said, “Well, maybe it’s a cancer thing,” referring to a friend of hers who had lived for a while with cancer, and then eventually went home to heaven.   In her friend’s case, everyone near the situation had to live with pain for a while, and God seemed to do little to stop the pain.  God could have healed the cancer.  God could have granted a quick, easy death.  But He didn’t.

For whatever reason, He asked my dear friend, and her dying friend, and all of their friends surrounding them to live in that pain for a while. To embrace it.  To learn from it.

And I’m not sure why the pain of my being able to forgive is a pain God wants me to live through, but it’s the only thing that makes sense.  Except, I’m not sure it’s exactly that I can’t forgive.  It’s more of a having to forgive every day, multiple times, for what is done against me time after time.  So, it’s more of a constant forgiveness.

And I’m no good at that.  In fact, I’m downright awful at it. But, but it’s what God does for us, isn’t it?  He steps into our mess, and asks us to love Him, desires – no, LONGS, for us to love Him – despite the fact that we are going to hurt Him day after day, hour after hour, usually in very similar, repeat offenses.  And that’s hard to forgive.  But He does it.  Because He loves us.

And, while He’s eternity-times more patient than I am, I bet sometimes He gets frustrated with me when I do that to Him over and over.  Especially when His deepest desire is just that I love Him, and love Him well.  Love Him in a way that He longs for.

I don’t do that well.

But I’ve been thinking: maybe, in not healing this wound of constantly being hurt over and over, God’s allowing me to feel His heart for me.  He’s allowing me to know what it feels like to deeply love a sinner.

In which case, I wish – no, deeper than that – that I had never sinned, that I would learn from my mistakes, that He would be the one I desire most of all.  That He would always be my heart’s desire.  That I would pursue a relationship with Him with everything in me.  Unfortunately, I get distracted way too easily.

And that’s beginning to break my heart.  Maybe, just maybe, when I finally begin to just a little bit grasp the deep, crazy love God has for me, I’ll be able to forgive – over and over – the pain inflicted on me by someone who doesn’t know how to love me well.

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