Chronicling 40: Day 178 of 365


Continuing the exploration of common “Word of the Year” choices…

In a spirit of full transparency, I have to admit that I don’t understand this as a goal for the year.  I can’t think of a time when being “determined” has not been part of who I am and how I operate.  As a kid, I was determined to do well in school.  My mother never had to fight with me about doing homework or finishing projects on time.  I was determined to finish college even when marriage and children put that on hold for a bit.  I was determined in my career, determined to master hobbies, etc.  I’ve never lacked determination only tools and time.  Both of which can be eventually remedied.

But, I would like to talk about the positive and negative of determination.  I remember once hearing a parent say:  “It’s like he is determined to get into as much trouble as possible.”

Just as I can’t comprehend not having determination in my life, I definitely can not understand having determination and using it in a negative way.  But isn’t that the case for some people?  They just seem bent on doing things the wrong way or the hard way every single time.  They have choices before them, and overwhelmingly (if not always) choose the wrong path.  So, I decided to hit the dictionary:

determined:  having made a firm decision and being resolved not to change it.

There it was, the explanation I needed.  Determination itself isn’t positive or negative, it’s just a decision… firm and unwavering.  Each of us can CHOOSE how we employ that decision into our lives.  Will we choose to make good decisions that will bring us love, joy, peace, community, a future, stability, etc.   Or, will we choose to make bad decisions that will be dangerous, bringing chaos, instability, loneliness, and struggle?

Recently, I was involved in a conversation with another woman who was in desperate need of advice.  Since I wasn’t directly involved and had no emotional ties to it, I was able to see things objectively and offer some solutions.  No matter what I offered, she countered a reason or excuse as to why that wouldn’t work.  She had resolved that this wasn’t going to go her way and unwilling to see any opportunity to change it.  She was determined that this bad thing was going to happen, end of story.

Being determined doesn’t always play out in a positive way, and I wonder if that makes it a good candidate for the “Word of the Year”?

Then again, it’s really not the word but rather what you make of it in your life.




Chronicling 40: 154-156 of 365


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 7 of 365


I have a cat.  I say that because there are a lot of people who are unaware that we have a cat in our house.  In fact, we had a family member visiting not that long ago who asked: “When did you get a cat?”.

Our cat is seventeen years old, so yeah… we’ve had her for a bit.

The reason is that she was kind of anti-social.  She was fine with us, but if company came to visit… she was a ghost.  Slinking in and out of shadows, hiding in dark corners; you’d never know she was here.

In the last couple of years, however, she’s become the fixture in our home.  She visits people, even if they’ve only come into the house for the first time.  She has no cares about invading your space.  She despised our doxie, and now the two of them share space (we’re not at cuddling… yet).

I joked with my daughter that she had entered that time of the golden years when elderly people no longer care what people think.  Where they wear what they want, go where they want, say whatever comes to mind, and couldn’t care less of how others receive them.  Our cat has decided to live her best life in her golden years, and her playfulness and social visits are evidence of that truth.

We were discussing this a few nights ago, and I said… I hope that when I am the equivalent to her age as a human that I feel the same way.  Where I will wear whatever I want, do whatever I want, say what I really think, and have confidence in who I am.  Let’s be honest, no matter how far we get from high school days, there is still an element of us that is concerned with how others perceive us.  Our professional image, our ministry work, our family, etc area all impacted by how others view us.  We’ve been trained to put our best foot forward, at all times.

John the Baptist didn’t care what others thought of him.  Certainly there were those who thought he was a little off, gone mad, a little eccentric, etc.  But those who followed him had no doubt that he was a man of God.

Maybe I won’t wait until I am in my 70’s or 80’s to embrace all the facets of my personality, which were crafted in my mother’s womb by God who knew my name before it was ever uttered by my parents.

Disappointment Stings


Have we not all been there, at one point or another, where disappointment strikes…. and it stings.   We feel the sting of disappointment in ourselves, because we failed to make the right decision.  Or, we may feel the sting of disappointment by others who failed us in some way or failed to live up to our expectations.  We may even feel the sting of disappointment when God doesn’t answer our prayers in a certain matter, despite feeling as if we are being faithful to His word and commands.   There are even times we are disappointed not in ourselves, other people, or God….  but just in the outcome.  Everyone may have done everything just right, but the outcome simply didn’t meet expectations.

When I was a child, I remember asking my mother for a clock radio for Christmas.  I had pointed out the one I wanted several times in store.  It was really cool, to a middle school aged child.  Classic 1980’s bright colors, digital screen, lots of buttons to do a lot of different things.  It was amazing.  This particularly year would be the only year in which I decided to sneak a peak at what my mom bought for Christmas presents.  I can’t recall if she hadn’t wrapped them yet or if I actually went through the process of unwrapping the package… but there it was… a clock radio.  However, it was not THE clock radio.  I was disappointed.  Not only was I disappointed, but I knew it was too late to get the one I wanted.  On Christmas morning, I opened that gift and set it aside.  I didn’t have the reaction my mother expected because I not only already knew what it was… I already knew I didn’t like it.  At that time, I couldn’t really grasp the struggles my mom faced trying to give us what we desired within the realm of what she afford.  I just knew I didn’t get what I asked for.

As a child, I didn’t understand limitations.  I believed you asked for things for Christmas, and you got them.  As we become adults, we must be able to let go of that child like expectation.

My mother did the best finding compromise between what I wanted and what she could afford.

Fast forward a few years, to my sixteenth birthday.  For the better part of the summer, I was working with my mom.  Every day we passed a used car dealership and I saw this beautiful car that I desperately wanted.  I have an affinity for classic cars, and this one was a beauty.  It was a 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback and it was in my favorite color… green.  I knew that my summer job wouldn’t pay for THAT car.  I didn’t expect anyone would buy that car for my birthday either, I knew it wasn’t a “cheap” car.  I did however have an understanding of how much money I would need, and was willing to work for it.  On my sixteenth birthday, I woke up to an empty house.  There was a card on the counter, when I opened it… it read… It is green.  It’s a horse.  It’s in the driveway.  Then tucked in the car was a key that had a Ford symbol on it.  It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out… and I ran out the door as fast as my feet could take me.

However, in the driveway there was NOT a 1967 Ford Mustang.  Instead, there was a 1976 Ford Pinto Station Wagon.  My expression changed, I turned around, went back to my bedroom and cried.   My grandmother called me ungrateful… but she didn’t know about the car I saw every day on the way to work with my mom.  It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the car I was given, or what it took for my mom to buy it for me. In fact, I had not expected a car in the first place.  I grew to LOVE that car.   However, the way the message was conveyed caused me to believe one thing… when something else was delivered.  So, yes, I was disappointed at the time.

Part of being a mature Christian, I believe, is the ability to see the best in others.   Most often others intentions were not to hurt me, but to bless me.

I can see now my mother’s good intentions and how much thought she put into it. She had no way of knowing that my mind would come to a different conclusion than she intended.  Truth is, it had never crossed her mind that I would expect something differently.

By my senior year of high school, I had interviewed and auditioned for a major scholarship.  I really wanted it, worked really hard to get it, and came in second place.  I was disappointed.

When I was nineteen, I auditioned for a pretty big deal that would have landed me a summer job doing what I loved.  I made a miscalculation that cost me the job.  I was disappointed.

Into adulthood, I’ve worked on cultivating friendships that have fizzled over stupid things… and I was disappointed.  I’ve asked for specific things, prayed for specific outcomes, tried everything in my might to work things out in my own strength… and I’ve been disappointed.

Do you know what happens, to people who constantly feel disappointed?  They make one of two choices.  They choose to believe the world is out to get them, that nothing ever good will come there way, and they simply give up and stop trying.  Or, a person can choose to go another route.  She will continue on with life, doing what she has always done, to the best of her ability, not allowing disappointment to keep her from moving forward.  She will learn to expect nothing, and eventually she stops being disappointed and moves into a place of being pleasantly surprised by what goes right in life … and not focused on what goes wrong.

That is who I have chosen to be, and how to live my life despite a sea of disappointment.  I choose not to give disappointment power over me because I know there are hundreds more things that are going right and working out for me (and I may not even realize it).

We can choose to become women who work in all things as if we are working for the Lord, not for men.

Colossians 3:22-24

Don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.  Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically,[h] as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.

Recently, there was a moment where disappointment started to rear it’s ugly head and I was starting to feel that sting in my heart.  His Word burned in my heart, and I was reminded that whatever I am doing is for HIS glory and not my own.  Whatever the results are, they are the exact results HE needs for His plans … not my plans.

Even when…. my prayers are not answered the way I want.

Even when…. those you expect to come through don’t.

Even when…. the outcome looks totally different than you expected.

Even when…. I can point the finger of blame at myself, or others.

Even when…. I cry out to God because I don’t understand why….

Because I know that His ways are not my ways.  His understanding exceeds my understanding.  I may see the big picture, but He sees the Kingdom view.  And I can trust that His ways are good and beneficial, that He always holds true to His promises, and that He cares for me more than I could ever comprehend.

If we can hold on to these truths… disappointment doesn’t need to sting but instead open our hearts to knowing something bigger is in motion.