Chronicling 40: Day 157 of 365

skeptic

This spring we said goodbye to our elderly dog.  She had been with us for seventeen years and it was incredibly hard.  We learned very quickly that our younger dog had never been taught to alert us to go outside to use the restroom.  Because he was brought into our home with an existing, experienced dog… and one that was aging and using the restroom more often…

He had become dependent on our routine for going outside. 

He never learned to alert us because he never needed to.  She would bark, or we would let her out on our normal schedules… and he would follow. The first day after she passed, he went to the bathroom in the house.  It was nearly 8pm.  The poor thing hadn’t been out since early that morning.  It wasn’t that we forgot about him.  We interacted with him throughout the day.  He never alerted to needing to go, and we too had become dependent on her routine.

Once we realized that he had never learned, we realized we needed a new routine.  It’s about five months and he has just finally begun to let us know that he needs to use the restroom.  If I am sitting near the door, he will walk over and paw at the door.  He still doesn’t alert, but this is a huge deal.  I’m thankful my desk space is near the back door.

This experience with our dog has made realize how easy it is to just go with the flow of things, to get into habits (good or bad), and how long it can take to change those habits.  We have extended this little dog so much grace, as he is learning.  I wonder if I extend that same amount of grace to others who are faced with new circumstances…

… learning a new trade, skill, talent…

… breaking an old habit …

I also wonder if I am extending the same grace to myself, as I am trying to learn and grow.

Advertisements

Chronicling 40: 154-156 of 365

magicband

It is so easy to accumulate things, but it seems like it is getting harder and harder to accumulate memories.  As our kids have gotten older, admission prices go up… more hotel space is needed… they eat more.  In general, everything is more expensive.  Because of this, and our dedication to ridding of debt (Thanks to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace program)… it’s been a while since we have gone on a real family vacation.

Our kids are getting older though, and at this age… well, you begin to feel like time is running out.  Before you know it there will be marriages and then they will have their own families.  You feel this need to spend as much time together as a family as possible.

Then, when 40 comes knocking on top of all of this… for your own self you begin to question how much stuff you really need.   Would you rather have more things or more experiences in life?

And so this Christmas there were far fewer presents under the tree, because we opted for “Presence Over Presents”.

We are fortunate enough to live close to Orlando, to allow for regular visits… and we qualify for the Florida Residents Discount.  Until just this year we didn’t even know there were special passes for Florida Residents which afford us an opportunity that otherwise would have been out of our budget.   We are looking forward to spending time together versus managing things.  We are excited to make memories versus passing the days.  We are going to take advantage of whatever time we can to be together when work and school keeps us apart the majority of the week.

Things break.  Stuff needs to be repaired.  Technology becomes obsolete.

Memories last forever.

Chronicling 40: Day 144 of 365

wrong.png

Not that long ago, I wrote a series that surrounded the theme of “Never Confuse a Deborah with a Jezebel”.   Today, I want to spend just a moment and add to that thought with:

Never confuse a broken woman with a Jezebel.

When she first appeared on the scene, she was shy and timid.  Gifted.  Talented.  Hard worker.  Quiet.   I figured it would take a bit for her to become comfortable around us and then she’d come out of her shell.

In just a matter of a few encounters later, what I saw was a completely different woman.  Unhinged.  Out of control.  Loud.  Boisterous.  I was so struck by her behavior, that I thought to myself that this woman must have been under the influence of something.

By the end of the evening I thought I had encountered a Jezebel.  Perhaps her reserved nature was simply as way to slink into the group, to get people to like her… before her true nature and intentions would be exposed.

Truth be told, my instincts were right… something was off.  But, my interpretation of those instincts was off the mark as well.  This wasn’t a Jezebel, this was a broken woman.  She was wounded.  She was treading water.  She was trying to keep it all together, and it was falling apart at her feet.  Grasping to maintain a sense of normalcy, building up a wall to keep people from seeing how badly she was hurting.

She was like one of those viral videos you see where the animal is trapped in an icy lake, and even though there is a person trying to rescue the poor beast… it thrashes and flails.  Screeching out in terror, winging its limbs about, and even becoming a danger to the very thing that is trying to rescue it.

This animal is already in a bad situation, fight or flight has set in… there is no logic or reason.  We watch from the outside thinking… “if you would just stop fighting, let yourself be saved”.  We can see the hero coming to the rescue.  We know that even though it’s probably even a bit painful in the way the animal is being round up, it is for it’s own good.  But none the less, the animal is panic stricken.  It doesn’t know.

We don’t always know, when we are in the thick of things, those who are actually trying to help us.   As believers we know that God is with us, but we don’t always have the clear discernment of knowing who He has sent to help and who is out to harm.  Our fight or flight has already been set into motion.  We see threat everywhere, and we respond by fighting… yelling… flailing about… even to the point of making the situation harder for ourselves and those who are trying to help us.

We must be wise.  But that is hard when we lack clarity.

I’ve never been so glad to find out that I was wrong about a person.   Now, instead of seeing a person I needed to be wary of, I saw her differently.  I responded differently. It also served as a lesson to me about being to quick to judge circumstances at a superficial level.  Had I gone to the Lord first, perhaps He would have opened my eyes to her pain and brokenness sooner.

Every day I learn more and more about the wounded people that walk my city streets every day.  I realize that not ever “disgruntled spirit” is someone who is out to hurt or destroy.  They are not all Jezebels.  They are the woman at the well.  They are the woman accused of adultery.  They are the woman who had just two coins to her name.  They are broken women, wounded men.  They need to not be cast aside as Jezebels, but instead introduced to the Savior.  Even, if they are kicking and flailing as He mends their heart.

Chronicling 40: Day 143

vision

Last night I attended a local event where we made what most people would recognize as a “Vision Board”, but it actually was a bit different.  The Vision Boards we are familiar with are big goals or dreams for our lives and futures.  Instead, this was called a Manifested Board.  The differences between this and a Vision Board is that 1) it has a specific time frame of just twelve months, and 2) you are working in the past tense.  It’s not about what you are “going to do” but rather a declaration of what is already done.

Did you know that statistically you are more likely to achieve your goals by writing them down?  Our event host, Tasha Chen, pointed out that we also make a deeper connection to that goal when we can visualize it.  I’m a big goal setter, always have been.  In preparation for this night, we were supposed to bring things like magazines to cut pictures from, etc.  I had printed a few images from my computer of things that I already have on my 2018 goal list.  This board would create the visual connection.

I was not only claiming for myself that I was going to hit these marks in 2018, but I was also sharing with others in the room what my goals were.  Sharing our goals with at least one another person creates accountability, someone will be asking us about our progress. I’m sure several of us will be sharing our accomplishments as the year progresses.  We will want to celebrate with each other as we reach these goals of health, deeper faith, improved relationships, and so much more.

Something else happened, as I prepared for the event.  I was looking for specific images that I wanted to print out to bring with me.  Something that would represent actually publicly showing some of my art.  Up until this point, while I have given and even sold a few pieces … I’ve never attempted a public showing, entered into a contest, etc. (unless you count when I applied to an art college while in High School, and received a small scholarship to the school as well).  My Uncle has been encouraging me, and I decided 2018 would be the year to do it.

That was what landed me on a few websites, and even before I went to the event… I put in 1 online application and printed out 2 mail in applications for juried art shows.  Not shows late next year, but in just a couple of months.  Which means that I need to get to work.  Nothing like a deadline to motivate someone.

Here’s the thing… sometimes the biggest dreams and goals we have (for today, tomorrow, or down the road) don’t require much more than writing it down, sharing it with someone else, and then putting your intentions in motion.   Thankful for the people in my life who give me the nudge… the encouragement… who stand in agreement… and the women who help me walk in confidence and victory.

I realized when I worked on this board, that so many of the things I wanted for 2018 were related to my creative talents.  What was holding me back all of these years was the vulnerability of doing so, it is scary to put out something you created.  I’ve always encouraged my kids to be brave and do big things… but me?  Who would listen to me?  Who would read what I wrote?  Who would want something I made?

Over 100 times in Scripture are we told not to be afraid.  Why should I be afraid to share a gift that the Lord has blessed me with?  And if I do it for Him, honoring the gift He has given me… that is sufficient.

So, when Tasha Chen asked us what word would represent our board and intentions… I said FEARLESS.

2018 will be the year that I am absolutely fearless about pursuing the course the Lord has set for me, using all that He has given me, and standing in victory that His promises for my life are already fulfilled.  I’m just waiting in eager anticipation for the moment I can see what He has already set in motion.

Chronicling 40: Days 119-121

swinging

Over the past few days, I have been involved in judging some theatre competitions, which I absolutely love.  I get notice of the pieces so I can familiarize myself with any that I don’t know.  I enjoy watching the live performances, and on the scoring sheets we get an opportunity to share notes on the performance so that they can improve for future competitions.

This past weekend was for High School students.  It’s an interesting space to judge because they are old enough to be more frank and direct (especially the seniors heading to college), but I am often reminded that they are in fact students.  They’ve had maybe 1-2 teachers influencing them, probably not workshops on the weekends and intensives over the summer.

I’ve judged these competitions in various districts over the state, but this weekend was in a new district and I was eager to meet new faces (judges) and see a new group of students.  Hands down, every district I have attended has had some of the most friendly judges.  Those who have been doing it for a while are happy to help the newer judges through the process.  It’s always been a fun space to be apart of, people who are not just judging but really care about helping these students hone their craft.

This weekend, it was different.

I was the first judge there, sipping on my coffee.  When she entered the space, she walked with such confidence as if this was old hat to her.  To my surprise it was her first time judging this particular district.  She rattled off big, impressive words.  I’m not sure if the purpose was to qualify herself to me… or set the tone that she was a professional regardless of who I was.

The second judge entered, like a diva onto a stage.  She was a queen. She was running the show.  As we watched the performers, we were not allowed to speak to the performers, but in the technical portions we could.  Immediately it became time to impress the teachers, students, and parents in the space with their knowledge and expertise.  There I sat, just listening and looking.  One was intent on pointing out flaws.  The other was insistent about teaching from her experience.  Their questions to the students were set up to trip the student up and give the judge platform to teach versus to listen to how the student came to their conclusions and decisions.

It was interesting to me, as an observer of this.  If these were college students, or professionals entering some sort of competition, then you have an expectation of excellence … and certainly at this juncture you would want to share your experience and wisdom with them.  For a group of high school students, who many were 9th graders competing for the first time, there is a gentler approach.  Instead of shouting the wisdom of the sages at them, asking them the right questions to get their minds thinking is going to go much further.

I thought about this in relations to conferences and retreats.   Sometimes the speakers come in, and because they’ve been given the platform, they elevate themselves.  They use big words and concepts, trying to establish the providence that they deserve to be in that spot.  When sometimes, what they really need to do is speak plainly to the heart of those who are listening.  Jesus knew how to put His message to the crowds in terms they would understand, that they were familiar with.  They didn’t get hung up on fancy words or ideas, but rather could soak in the words that were plain and simple.

I think of the Pharisees with their long prayers set out to impress the people with their knowledge and godliness… that fell flat because of it’s lack of humility.

If God has given me a platform, I shouldn’t have to prove that I earned it.  Why?  Because I am there to give the spotlight to God, not myself.  I should have a willingness to share my vulnerabilities and iniquities as an evidence to a God who equips the called… and sometimes those he called are coming from a mess.  But what is seems like a hurdle today can be used for God’s glory tomorrow.  When I am willing to share my humbled self, God gets to be on full display.

When a woman comes to me for counsel, this is not the opportunity to puff myself up and make it appear like I have it all together.  An attempt to stand on a platform of the “Perfect Wife”, “Perfect Parent”, “Perfect Christian”, etc.; as if I am some sort of expert.  When instead of listening with the intent of figuring out how I am going to respond, advise, direct, or sell my own self… I should be listening to ask the questions that will cause them to think and come to answers on their own.  Advising and directing as God leads and prompts.

 

Chronicling 40: Day 117 of 365

Women Bow And Pray

Have you ever had a day that was so tough, you just wanted to go home and climb back into bed?  You were either seeking the comfort of your warm blankets and soft pillow, looking for a refuge to hide from the world, or perhaps you were looking for do over… a new beginning, a new start.

This is how I feel about the Word.  When my day is wearing, I run to it. Looking for a word that comforts my pain.  A refuge and shelter from the storms of the world.  It gives me a fresh perspective, fresh outlook, a new beginning to tackle the coming day.  There is a comfort and peace in the pages that unfold His promises to us.

To find the comfort, I need to return home, and pull back the covers.

To find peace, I need to return to His presence, and turn open the cover of The Word.

 

 

Chronicling 40: Day 116 of 365

Sonset

Do you have ever those days where you are just begging for Jesus to come already.  You are weary.  You are tired of the fight.  You are ready for peace.  You just want the King to come and restore everything to how it should be.

That is how it was before Jesus came.  They were watching for a Messiah who was going to come and establish His kingdom.  They would be out of bondage, restored.  However, their vision of what their King would look like and what arrived was very different.  They were awaiting on conquering King not a swaddled baby.  Not a man nailed to a cross.

They were watching for the Son, but couldn’t see Him… even when He stood right in front of their faces.

In the last 40 years, I have learned through hindsight how present God was in every step of the way.  In the days where I didn’t know Him yet, unable to recognize His face.  He was there.  In the days where I longed to feel His presence because He felt so far.  He was there.  In the days when He doesn’t show up in the ways I expect, but none the less He is there.

All of this has brought me to a place where now even when I can’t… I know.  I know He is there, present, listening, watching, working, moving, guiding.  I seek Him differently, because I am so confidence of His presence in the first place.  Like a child looking for her father’s hand in a dark room… when the days are long and weary, I watch for Him.  I reach for him.

While I may still yearn for Jesus to return and put an end to the turmoil on this earth, I also find comfort in knowing that He dwells within me and the hearts of those whom He calls His own.  And in the struggle… I find peace.  My King has already come, victory is already His.