Monthly Archives: April 2013

Static Energy

                Spring – a time of new beginnings.  New flowers.  New leaves.  A fresh burst of energy to get outside and explore after having been pent-up indoors for months on end.  A discovery of extra  grace and forgiveness for those whose paths cross ours. Baby everything. Fresh air. 

                So it’s a bit odd that what I find on my heart this afternoon is the urge to encourage you to finish strong.   Maybe it’s because my students have said to me one too many times, “But Miss Amy, it’s the end of the year” as an excuse for not doing a lesson, for talking, for being late, for being crazy, for whatever their little heart thinks it can use “almost summer” as an excuse for.

                But that’s not what we’re called to do.  Sorry.  In fact, if anything, it’s now when we are supposed to push harder, faster, better.  At least, that’s what I get from Hebrews 12: 1

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and (A)sin which clings so closely, and (B)let us run (C)with endurance the race that is (D)set before us,”

                And really, that’s what most Christian adults would tell you to do.  Which, to be honest, feels overwhelming and unfair.  Don’t they just realize how tired I am?  I’ve run the race; I’m almost at the end, I don’t have any more energy.  Can’t I just be done?  My so-called second wind has come and already gone.  And I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a third wind.  There is literally no more strength in me.

                But, to use the over-used and so cliché example – that’s not what you do in a race.  If you were to stop running right before the end, everyone would think that you’re stupid, or at the very least, have ADHD and saw a squirrel or something. Not good. 

                In fact, that’s true in school too.  When are the hardest, longest tests of the year?  That’s right – at the very end of the semester.  They’re called finals, and they can affect everything.

                So, what do you do when you’re exhausted, and you still have four weeks of school left?  Or 100 more meters? Or one more test?  Do you take it easy?  Do you focus on your exhaustion? 

                If you do, you’re setting up some sad patterns for life – specifically patterns of not finishing stuff. From what I’ve noticed, those who take it easy at the end of things, have alarming tendencies to not even make it to the end.

                My suggestion is to look at the next verse in Hebrews.  Look at Hebrews 12:2 

“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

                Okay, this is NOT a guilt trip saying, “well, Jesus endured the cross at the end, and I bet whatever you have to endure is not nearly as bad, so deal with it.”  It’s more of a reminder that you’re right.  You ARE exhausted.  You CAN’T do anything more.  God wanted it that way.  You need to look to Him for the strength and focus to finish whatever it is you need to finish.  And I am NOT saying that He’s going to wave His magic wand and make it easy – because He doesn’t do that.  He loves you too much to do that. But, if you ask Him to finish this with you, to work with you through this – He will.  He loves coming in and playing the rescuing hero.  Just make sure to give Him the glory.  No delusions that you did it on your own, okay?

                So, push on.  Finish that race.  Don’t give up on school just yet.  Do those last couple classes well.  Write that paper to the best of your ability.  Enjoy the crazy static energy that is bouncing around inside you, practically making you burst open at the seams.  And pray.  Pray hard. 

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Two Princesses

This is the tale of two princesses.  While they are both princesses, and they share many similarities, they also are very different.  Just about as different as the air in a cave is as from the air at dawn.  One is stagnant and smells musty, the other is sweet, and teases the senses awake.

One princess wakes up in the morning, and if the outfit she planned on wearing to school is still in the wash (her Mom servant didn’t have time to wash it last night), she slams doors or sulks all the way to school.  If the milk is old, so she can’t eat her cereal, someone hears about it.  While driving to school, if someone cuts her off, well, road rage might be a bit of an understatement.  I could go on, describe a whole day to you, but I bet you get the picture.

The other princess leads a different sort of princess-life.  She sings like an angel and the birds come and help her clean up a messy house.  Or as she scrubs the floor, all the soap bubbles reflect her face in a romantic-whist full sort of way.  And her mice-friends are sewing her a dress for the ball tonight.  Ha. Just kidding.

No, the other kind of princess has her outfit for school because she washed it herself the night before.  And, even if she had forgotten (it happens to the best of us) it wouldn’t have been the end of the world for her.  If all the bananas for breakfast have freckles, she’s not going to throw a fit.  She can eat cereal with the best of them…even if she wouldn’t prefer to.  And if someone cuts her off on the way to school, she says a little prayer of thankfulness that they didn’t hit her and hope they make it to work on time.

The first princess the “diva” sort of princess; her heart is focused on herself.  The second princess has a “Little Princess” princess heart (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to go read The Little Princess.  It’s a fun book).  The second sort of princess has a heart focused on God and others.

Both of these girls are princesses; they both are the daughter of a king.  They both are incredibly wealthy.

I’m betting you can guess which one you’re supposed to be.  The thing is, it’s a day-by-day choice – especially if you live in a place like America.  When we have everything literally at our fingertips, it gets pretty easy to believe that this is how it’s supposed to be. And that life is supposed to at least be comfortable.  After all, we have tons of servants here in America.  And don’t tell me you don’t.  Chances are you don’t have to wash your dishes – a machine gracefully does that for you.  You probably have a carriage so you don’t have to walk to school (it’s called a car).  You probably even have a washer-maid to keep your clothes clean (she’s often disguised as a metal box that is generally called a wash machine).

So when you’re surrounded by such wealth, it’s a genuine challenge to keep your heart and mind guarded, to keep them focused correctly.  It is super-easy for us listen to the little, brown, slimy creature that sits on all of our shoulders, quietly whispering that we DESERVE a clear road, or non-spoiled milk, or our clothes to be ready to be worn the minute we want them, or for the internet to always be available to us.  That creature is called Entitled.  If you listen to it, if you become the first princess, you will soon begin to look a lot like that creature – pretty gross.

Be the second princess.  Keep guard on your heart against Entitled.  Keep in mind that you don’t deserve anything – especially the quality of life you lead.  It’s a gift; a responsibility you’ve been given.  Use and serve with it well.

 

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Light

Sunrise at St. Malo's

Sunrise at St. Malo’s

I was driving into the sun yesterday.   It was evening, but too early to be sunset.   I didn’t get to see the sunset last night, but it probably was a pretty one.  There were several clouds in the sky, and clouds are what make a sunrise or sunset spectacular, so it was probably pretty.

However, as I was driving, the sun DID go behind a cloud, lighting it from behind.  In theater, this effect is called “backlighting”- when the shape itself is dark, but the background or outline of the shape is magnificently lit.  In everyday world, on most inspirational cards, it’s called a “silver lining”.  The “lining” of last night’s cloud wasn’t overly silver though.  There was too much yellow in the molten-outline of the cloud to be silver.  It was more like vibrant…joy.  I know, I know, joy isn’t a color, but if it were, I think it would look like the outline of the cloud last night – blindingly yellow-white, almost pulsing, as if it were alive.

Noticing the cloud got me thinking about light, and how important it is.  Duh, right?  We need light to see.  But sometimes, when used correctly, light is what brings out the breath-taking beauty of something.  And that – bringing out the beauty of something – is incredibly important.

Like the cloud last night.  Sure, it’s a cloud, so it’s going to be pretty.  But the light silhouetting it made me take notice of that beauty.

The same is true of sunlight pouring through a stain-glass window.  Sure, the window itself is pretty, but when the light comes through – it can take your breath away.   It’s almost as if the window comes alive, or at least the colors are.

Often art is displayed with a specific light shining on it a specific way – to bring out subtleties in a picture or sculpture that you might not have noticed otherwise.

But the coolest example of light illuminating beauty, in my opinion, is the rainbow.  I mean, if it weren’t for the light hitting the falling raindrops or moisture just right – you wouldn’t even see those colors. All you would see is a dark, foreboding cloud.

I LOVE that God does this to us.  Somehow He cares enough about us, thinks enough of us, to want to display our beauty (such that it is).  And, like a strong sunbeam through a cathedral stain-glass window, He sets us off in breath-taking fashion.  He comes in and sifts through all our sticky gunk and smelly junk and gooey mess and finds our beauty  – the beauty that He originally placed there but no one else might be able to see anymore.  And then He does what He does so well – and lights it up – lights US up, so all the world can see.

The thing is, He asks us to do this as well.  As His disciples, we are called to use our own light (well, to allow God’s light to shine through us) to set off the beauty of others.  There are so many people throughout my life who have come alongside of me, and shown their light on me, allowing the beauty that I and the rest of the world had never seen before – friends, my mentor, my parents.

So now it’s my turn, and now it’s your turn to be lights.

I will leave you with the question that has been circling me the last day or so:  Whose light has helped display YOUR beauty recently?  And whose beauty are you being called to help display?

 

Rainbow

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