Tag Archives: choices

The Here and Now

We don’t always recognize the BIG moments when they occur – often they look like all the normal ones that bookend either side.

Which I guess is another reason to pay attention to what’s going on here, now, right now.  Because someday you might want to look back and remember this very moment.

This very moment that you’re living through might be the reason a group of strangers become friends and hang out.  Or the reason you apply for that new job.  Or the inspiration for a new song you write.  Or the moment you find the courage to smile back at him.

And if you’re so focused on the past, you’re not gonna remember this moment.

And if you’re too focused on the mystical future, you’re not gonna remember the details of this moment.

So pay attention.  Don’t wish yourself elsewhere.  Don’t try to just live through it; don’t agree to just survive it.

Pay attention.


(Yes, I realize this is just an extension of last week.  Not sure what God’s trying to tell me.  Maybe to stop complaining and to just enjoy the journey. )

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So, you know how a fish swims through water…all it’s life?  And that’s completely natural?  I don’t think the fish ever thinks, “Huh, I’m swimming through water.  I wonder what it would be like to be outside of water.”  Yeah, I don’t think so.  And I doubt even more that the fish ever thinks about the KIND of water it’s surrounded by…or HOW MUCH PRESSURE that water is putting on him.  I mean, think about it.  He’s lived his entire life in the pressure of the water.  He’s never known any different.  So he has no idea.  In fact, since he’s lived his entire life in that pressure, he probably doesn’t think he’s under any pressure at all.

Did you know the same is true of you?  You know how the earth is surrounded by atmosphere – an atmosphere that provides wonderful things like air for us to breathe in and protection from the sun?  Well, that same atmosphere is exerting crazy amounts of pressure on you.  And yet, because from the moment you were conceived in your mother’s womb the atmosphere has been pressing down on you, you don’t notice it at all.  In fact, it feels like you’re under no pressure at all!  And all the while, the atmosphere is pressing, pressing, pressing – pressing 14.7 pounds per square inch ON YOU (thank you NASA for that info)!  I don’t know if you get it – but that’s A LOT of pressure – that you don’t even feel!  CRAZY!

It is completely mind-blowing to me to think of all that atmosphere we are surrounded by, all that atmosphere we just take for granted and don’t even notice.  All that atmosphere putting pressure on you and you don’t even (normally) realize it.

Which, of course, makes me wonder:  what else am I so used to that I don’t even notice.  What ELSE in my life is putting pressure on me that I just deal with – even though I don’t have to (unlike the pressure of the atmosphere – we actually need that).  Words like parents, friends, school, grades come to mind.  My parents put pressure on me about specific things (keep room clean, take a shower, don’t talk like that, etc) (okay – they used to, now that I’m a grown woman – not so much).  My friends would put pressure about how I looked on me, or how I talked, or what stuff I liked, or WHO I liked, or all sorts of stuff.  I don’t like to admit it, but those fuzzy-pictured magazines in the grocery store put pressure on me too – pressure to care about meaningless stuff, or to look a certain way, or to need something unnecessary, or something.  And, well, you get the picture.  We are under a ton of pressure.

And so it’s your choice what to do with that pressure.  You can buckle under it; you can choose to listen to all those voices whispering into your ear…and eventually go crazy, or get distracted from what we’re SUPPOSED to care about (because, that’s the point of those pressures, really).  Or you can do the miraculous. You can ask God to take them off you (because He can and will) and help you focus on the things He wants you to care about.

So you say, “So, I go from the pressures of the world around me to the pressures God puts me under?  Great.”

But it’s not like that.  God will lift the pressures of the world from you…and then help you pursue the things HE wants you to.  And since He’s helping, and He’s God…you won’t be under crazy pressure.  Because He’s GOD, and He carries the burden of that sort of thing.  And, when you live a life pursuing the things He wants you to, it’s more of an adventure anyway.

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Cross-stitched flowers and Thankfulness

I’m a hands-on type of girl.  So sometimes I get real creative and actually MAKE presents for birthdays, weddings, or even Christmas.  I know, I know, everyone makes presents for Christmas, that’s not that big of a deal.

See, for me, when I make you something, it means I’ve spent hours scheming the exact perfect thing for you, and then I’ve spent hours actually making it for you.  It’s a reflection of my love for you, of our relationship.  Literally by the time you unwrap it, whatever the present is, it has become a tangible symbol of the prayers I have prayed for you, the dreams I’ve dreamt for you, and the memories we’ve created together.  You might not see it, you might just see a cup, or a plaque, or a book, or a blanket, or a dress, but that’s just a cover for what you’re actually unwrapping.

The thing is though, growing up, I didn’t realize how much of myself I’d pour into hand-made gifts.  I also didn’t completely realize (mostly because I hadn’t thought about it) that the cross-stitched, personalized plastic mug that I sewed just for you with your favorite flower on it might not be as cool as the gif card to Abercrombie and Fitch that someone else gave you.

The first time I realized this, it broke my heart.  I had given one of my closest friends the mug described above, and she hardly looked at it.  I don’t remember what everyone else gave her for her birthday, but they were all ultimately cooler gifts than the mug.   And then she proceeded to hang out with everyone else at her birthday party and practically ignored me.

And it hurt.

It hurt like someone had taken my heart and slapped it with a thousand rough-wood splinters, all digging deeper and deeper into my tender heart.

In fact, that’s one of the first times I remember confiding to my mother about something I was going through.  With relationship stuff, that is.

My momma was wise.  She sat on my bed next to me, and put her arm around me, and just hugged me for what felt like hours.  She let me talk and cry and sob, and she didn’t try to fix it (she couldn’t), but she did listen.  And eventually, when I quieted down, she told me that next time, before I started making a gift for someone, I needed to remember this night.   I needed to make the decision whether or not it was worth it to make that present.  Would I be okay giving a gift that might not be appreciated as much as I wanted it to be?  Would I be okay giving away something that precious if it wouldn’t be loved as well as I thought it deserved to be?

Basically, my choice was to be okay with my hand-made gifts meaning more to me than to the friend receiving it, and to keep making those gifts, or to never give a gift that dear again.  If I never gave a gift that precious again, my heart wouldn’t hurt as much.

I chose not to protect my heart that way.  I have made many gifts since then that have been carefully crafted for a specific, special someone.  And I have learned that when I make such gifts, it’s about the love I put into it, not the love with which it is received.  But it’s still important for me to give such gifts.  It’s good for my heart.  And, I like to think, whether or not my friend knows it, that the gift somehow blesses them.  That somehow, all the love and prayers and memories I’ve poured into it surrounds it and is absorbed by my friend.  I’m not sure if that’s actually possible, but I like to think so.   It doesn’t matter that my friend doesn’t know; she’s still benefitting from it.

The thing is, when I think about that cup I gave all those years ago, I think about thankfulness.  What cross-stitched mug has God spent hours making for me, that I have scorned because it wasn’t as cool as an itunes card? What has God made specifically for me;  that I receive but don’t appreciate to the fullness of the gift?  What do I take for granted, or don’t give a second glance to, that He has planned and schemed and crafted just for me?

I hope nothing.  I hope I take none of His gifts (or any of my friends’) for granted.  But I’m human, so I’m sure I do.  But I pray that God continues to open my eyes to the gifts around me that I am oblivious to.  The ones that He poured His heart into.  The ones that are meant as reminders of His love and His dreams for me.

Because He loves us better than our parents, our dearest, closest friends, our significant others.  And so His gifts are SO much better (and bigger, and more random, and more unexpected, and often crazy) than theirs.  Because He, the one who crafted YOU, the One who knows every atom of you, who knows what makes you smile and glow, loves you, and gives you such good, mind-blowing gifts.

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