Archives for category: a few thoughts on…
treasure2

Outside of the Southern Arts Society Building, Kings Mountain, North Carolina

“God gives us things to share. He doesn’t give us things to hold.”

~Mother Teresa

I love this quote by Mother Teresa:  “God gives us things to share. He doesn’t give us things to hold. I’m thinking that applies to stuff. Am also thinking that applies to us and the ‘gifts’, those unseen talents, abilities and passions, that we have to share with the world. That ‘world’ may be one person, one family, one community…or that ‘world’ may be internationally reaching people on a global level.  But yes, she was so on point again when Mother Teresa said, “God gives us things to share. He doesn’t give us things to hold.”

 

That’s quite a convicting statement for me as I try to declutter stuff that’s been stuffed away for years with more stuff on top of that. It’s also quite convicting as I try to figure out how to use use the gift of my years, days and moments. But it doesn’t have to be complicated, for as Frederick Buechner said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” So cool. Our passions so often parallel our gifts. What we treasure is so fleshed out in what we love to do.

What we hold on to and put our time and energy into is so what holds us, and if that doesn’t line up with what I say I treasure, well, it might be time for a bit of a priority re-boot. I’ve been doing a lot of examination and re-boots lately, for sure. And it’s been a good thing as it’s been a kind of taking-out-the-trash, and holding-onto-treasure type of thing….with stuff, and with my mindset. One more quote, a good one…”Where your heart is, there your treasure will be….” Matthew 6:21 Love that. Our actions kind of show us don’t they? Gulp. Yes they do. That can be a great thing or a convicting thing or both. It’s been both for me.

DSCN2040.jpg

Treasures….Boxed up note, keepsakes, and heirlooms from Grannie

One more thought on treasure-holding.  My morning duty at school has been to be a greeter/ door watcher of sorts at our school. I stand at the door and say “good morning” and make sure these young students make it safely from the cafeteria to the main school building. And do you know what I see EVERY morning?  Students holding hands as they walk to class. Young siblings, friends, cousins caring for each other. Holding hearts by holding hands. I see goodbye kisses and hugs at classroom doors. I see older siblings ensuring not only that little ones are safe, but that they are encouraged. Maybe these babies remember what we as adults can so often forget…that we are the treasure…

 

DSCN2027

Another ‘break it down’ simple statement came from Jesus. In Mark 12, He told us to Love God and Love others. Bottom Line.  Love God with your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Love others as you love yourself…  We are admonished to treasure what gives priority to these two statements. Love God, Love others.  Period.

left-behind-5

Castles in the Sand, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Many treasures can slip through our hands. They come and go. But am thankful for the reminder from the example of my students holding hands to hold onto the treasure of those we love. Yes, I think Mother Teresa so had it right when she said that “God gives us things to share, He doesn’t give us things to hold.”  I know that she knew the things for holding were hands and hearts and belief.  And the cool thing is, those aren’t things at all….Human hearts and hands and beliefs were categories that so transcend any ‘thing’.  Anything. And if what I treasure gets in the way of these, then maybe it’s time to trash it, let it go. And then as I let things go, to be sure to hold on tight to those hands, hearts, and beliefs that we treasure. In a world that loves alienation and fragmentation and a glorification of stuff over souls, yeah, it’s important to make a determined effort to hold on tight to what you treasure

.DSCN2037

I’m thinking the more we let stuff go, the more our hearts and hands are free to hold what’s precious and truly matters. As my inspiring principal (with a background in drama that impacts her speech(-es) greatly) once said to me, “Heather, what can God put in your empty hands that He can’t give you with what you’re holding on to?” She of course added to the impact by holding out both hands wide over her head and closing her eyes.  Point made. I wasn’t happy with her that day, as she was encouraging me to get rid of lots of materials that we needed to move on, but she was totally on point.  Point taken <3. Again. And I’m so thankful for her words not just with regard to my classroom, but more importantly, with regard to my days.  Days are definitely a gift to be treasured.

DSCN2011.jpg

Just a few thoughts on treasure from one who wants to remember daily the reminder that yes, “God gives us things to share. He doesn’t give us things to hold…”   and that’s a truth worth holding on to.

Blessings ~

Heather

“…Hold on to what is good,reject every kind of evil.May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

 I Thessalonians 5: 21-24

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 

1 John 3:17-21 

One of the teachers of the law came and heard the Sadducees arguing. He noticed that Jesus had given the Sadducees a good answer. So he asked him, “Which is the most important of all the commandments?” Jesus answered, “Here is the most important one. Moses said, ‘Israel, listen to me. The Lord is our God. The Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind and with all your strength.’  And here is the second one. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ There is no commandment more important than these.”

Mark 12:28-31  

 

DSCN0767

In the Spring, my mother-in-law gave me a beautiful mandevilla plant. It’s been growing beautifully and is filling up the trellis behind it. But one day, I noticed that a vine had reached the top of the trellis. And there was nothing close for it to cling to. Day after day, it grew in the same direction…seemingly reaching for something to cling to. It grew and grew and was just floating in the air, apparently searching for a landing spot.

DSCN0773

So, me and my rescuing self decided that I’d go ahead and help that little plant find a support, something to cling to. I gently took the tender shoot and led it back to the trellis. I thought it was no big deal and that the vine would go on growing, and twist and twirl itself around the trellis.  I was wrong.

Within a few days, the shoot was turning brown, and soon, part of the vine fell off all together.  Where was the point of decay?  Seemed to be right where me and my well-meaning self moved that vine. I was pretty shocked because when I had moved it, it was done slowly and easily and seemed to place no stress whatsoever on the plant. But obviously it had. It wasn’t ready to cling. Not to what I had chosen. And me choosing what and where to cling to for that plant wasn’t helpful. It was damaging. It was forced…and the mandevilla plant would have no part of that. Instead of helping, I hurt it.

(Case in point. See the healthy shoot on the left?  It’s doing just fine without me. And the one on the right..far right kind of whitish looking shoot…it’s still recovering from my ‘helping’.)

So here’s the thing. We’re made to cling. We are. Like mandevilla vines searching for a trellis, we are made with hearts and minds and bodies that yearn for connection. And sometimes the people, ideas, or things we cling to make us stronger, wiser, and more productive. And sometimes the people, ideas, or things we cling to make us weaker, stupid-er,  and ill-equipped. And we, the cling-ers get to choose. But you don’t get to choose what another person clings to. Nope. They’ve gotta choose that for themselves.

As a mom, as a wife, as a friend, there have been so many times when I thought I knew what (or Who) might be best for my loved one to cling to. And no matter how well-intentioned my thoughts or desires were, interventions that force issues could be more damaging than helpful. ( Note: I so know interventions can help lay things on the table, and persuade, and bring things to light, but bottom line, a cling-er chooses what it clings or does not cling to.)    Kind of like with my mandevilla.

Like a mandevilla vine that is not yet ready to cling, sometimes folks need time on their own to decide when and to what to cling to. We can know something is so good and right and true and ‘gently bend’ their little shoots of a son or friend or husband toward the trellis of truth. But if that plant isn’t ready, it won’t cling. Might have to be floating in clouds of in between for awhile.  So often, well-meaning folks can ‘arrange’ (force) connections that aren’t healthy. Seems to me that timing is important.  It also seems to me that willingness is important.

So now, lesson learned, with regards to the mandevilla at least! There are three shoots flying in the wind above the trellis, and I’m not intervening. The mandevilla is on its own. I’m pretty sure it’ll find its way. And I’m believing that for some of those in my life as well. Gonna pray, encourage, and ensure some supports are available….and then wait. Am often amazed at how well things work out when I pray and get out of the way.  With mandevilla plants, and with people.

DSCN0760

Am believing there’s a Sovereign Hand of grace that knows a bit more and has more power than I do. For me. For you. For those we love.

DSCN0778

Blessings ~

Heather

DSCN0756.jpg

“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word…”

Psalm 119:25

DSCN8725

I so enjoyed watching the interaction of these two birds this morning. Yes, believe it or not, there are two birds in this photo. It’s tough to tell, but the female (who is moving so very fast that she is barely visible…just a blur…) is rocking the feeder a bit…and the male seems to be ducking for cover.

Kinda funny.  And oh so familiar!

In our homes, we women can tend to flit and fly about a bit in a flurry of function. Yep…flitting and flying around making sure that our nest is set and our little birds are fed, fit and ready to face the world. We flit and fly and function.

And oftentimes, the male, the very present and attempting to be-in-there-with-it-all-male, is ….ducking for cover. Yikes. He might need cover from words of what we need to flit about next. Or words of what should’ve been flit over yesterday. Or words of where we’ll be flitting tomorrow. Or maybe he’s in a flurry of what his part in all this flitting about should be according to the head flitter.

Yeah, the moment of watching the birds brought a grin to my face, and a cringe to my heart.  It was a bit too familiar.

I don’t consider myself a nagger by any means. (Only because I’ve learned from experience that has zero effect.  Correction. Zero effect in a positive way. It def has an effect…the opposite of what I’d hope for.) But I’m definitely a flitter…one who’s rushing around trying to get stuff done. Sometimes I flit in a flurry with people in my wake ducking for cover…just like my poor little purple finch friend.

Yesterday, I read a quote that made me pause and remember and simplify this whole marriage thing in my  mind a bit.  Here goes:  “Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” (Martin Luther…yeah, him!)  Yep. Pretty plain and simple. Pretty profound at the same time. And it made me stop and think about how getting back to simple basics is so important.

And I remember as a young bride and young mom literally running or rushing to the door to welcome my man home. The kids followed suit to welcome their Daddy.  And when people came to our house, we’d have lots of little ones filing out to welcome whoever it was to our home.  They followed the lead… Lots of years later,  when Buddy comes home, there’s still a welcome, but rarely the same, “WELCOME HOME” that he used to get way back when.  Back then, a lot of the ‘flitting about’ included moving toward and catering to that all-important relationship. The focus was so on family…not just on family function and a flurry of activities on the to do list.

Here’s another little lesson from the birds…I’m pretty amazed by how often birds come two by two to the bird feeder. Mourning doves,chickadees,  and cardinals all regularly come two by two. They linger, feed, and interact. It’s a beautiful sight to see….and it reminds me that being together, side by side, in the ordinary stuff of life matters. Spending time together is crucial. No matter how invincible we think we are, or our marriage is, couples need time together.  Not coming together just to function. Coming together to have fun and be and rest…(and let the other bird rest as well…) Like the birds, coming two by two  is a key to a good solid relationship.

DSCN2839

One more thought on the quote by Martin Luther. It states that we take ownership of our tasks…not that of the spouse. (Ouch.) Let the wife make his husband be happy he’s home. (That takes her looking at his needs and thinking of him.) Let the husband make his wife sorry to see him leave. (That takes him looking at her needs and thinking of her…) Yeah, this is not about telling the other spouse what to do. It’s about taking ownership of giving. Giving, giving, giving seems to be key in any good relationship. Not necessarily giving stuff. Giving time. Credit. An attentive ear. A good laugh. A encouraging word. Giving grace. Giving a little breathing room.

 

spare

Like the birds, we’ve got lots of necessary things to do in a day. And yes, our nests require upkeep and job delegation. But it’s important to know that the flitting and function is there for the family…not the family there for the flitting and function. Kind of an important distinction, I’d say (to myself).  Because, we don’t want to leave our partners ducking for cover while we’re flurrying through our day.  Just a few thoughts and reminders from my friendly little finch friends.

Blessings~

Heather

“Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” 

Ephesians 4: 2-3

Tonight, as I was taking photos at a rehearsal dinner, it started to rain…and the wedding party quickly moved to shelter. Of course. I mean, that’s what you do when it rains, right?

Well… most times yeah. But I was standing under a huge oak and  took the opportunity to linger a bit and take some photos of the gently falling rain while everyone got situated a bit. The few minutes of gazing at the drops through the camera lens were pretty cool.

DSCN9032.jpg

a pond somewhere in western North Carolina, June 30, 2017

DSCN9041

And then I went to take more photos of the wedding party rehearsing for the sweet day tomorrow, but my camera kept turning to this little guy. He was having quite the time playing in the rain. And his mom smiled as he played in the water, for it wasn’t a cold rain, it was a gentle summer rain, and it was the perfect thing to keep him occupied as adults did their adult things…

 

DSCN9100

 

He danced around and looked up and smiled quite a bit. Couldn’t help but smile watching this little guy. And then he raised his little hands to feel the rain. Sweet. And it brought me back to times of letting my kids play in the rain. Lots of sweet memories there.

DSCN9129

And this little girl in flip flops twirled and danced as well. Yeah, the rain was a good diversion for sure.

DSCN9220

I love the quote, “Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet…” (Bob Marley).  Yeah, these little ones felt the rain.  They enjoyed the rain…and made the most of it. Funny how children can sometimes lead the way. Adults weren’t bemoaning the rain quite as much as these little ones brought smiles to their faces. Yeah, a little rain didn’t hurt the wedding rehearsal. Nope, not a bit.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”  (V. Greene)

I think I’d have to agree.

Now, off to editing more photos. (But I think the rain ones were my favorite….)

Blessings~

Heather

Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 6.59.20 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-13 at 7.14.09 PM.png

So, Mother’s Day is a sweet one. Memories kind of fill the air on this day as we stop and remember our moms, and being a mom, and the mom-figures in our lives. And it’s a day to celebrate the incredible gift that it is to be a mom and to have a mom.

But…this year..am especially aware of so many who have an ache right around now. That ache is a  pit-in-the-stomach, ache-in-the-heart, kick-in-the-gut kind of feeling that comes from the void of knowing that their mom is no longer around.

So, I just wanted to share a card that I made for a friend of mine whose wife passed a little over a year ago.  There are very few words to fill the huge void that grief can create, but, sometimes, just being remembered can help fill the voids. So, to my dear friends and loved ones who have experienced the deep loss of their mom or wife or loved one, and it makes Mother’s Day sting, well, just wanted to share that you’re being remembered today.

And, I want to thank you as well. Because through watching others grieve the loss of their moms, and say the words, well, I’m so reminded to cherish the day. To cherish our loved ones. To say the words, embrace those we love, and make the most of the time we do have. Because each day is a treasure, a gift. Even the days that we grieve. Am thinking that the ache of grief and loss, and beauty and gift and of what we have lost can walk hand in hand. Am hoping that the beauty of the gift of who she was in your life outweighs the ache for you today… and that you can remember her with a smile and laughter and tears that cleanse. I have a feeling most moms would long for that for you. Just a few thoughts on this Mother’s Day…

Blessings,

Heather

DSCN5159.jpg

Bloom  (Taken in Old Salem, Winston Salem, North Carolina, May 5, 2017)

So, when the word “spent” is used as an adjective instead of a verb, well, it doesn’t have the best connotation. It alludes to being used, depleted, …spent.  When we say that someone is ‘spent’, well, we’re saying that they’ve given and people have taken and they are depleted, done, spent.  And yes, that tends to have a negative connotation.

But recently, I’ve been looking at that concept from another angle. Maybe being spent is not such a bad thing. Maybe, just maybe, we are meant to be spent. Meant to be spent? Yes.  Not in a self-made-martyr kind of way that draws attention to self and exhausts to the point of being use-less, but in a ‘leave-it-all-on-the-field’ kind of way that empties one self out, letting in no regrets.

DSCN5188

…one bloom rising above the masses…

So often I have more regret over what I have not done rather than what I had. I regret the half-hearted attempts that breed half-hearted results. I regret the phone calls not made, the letters not written, the songs not shared.  (Oh, and I know a certain someone who presently has almost 400 un-finished, un-shared blog drafts…yikes.) I regret the good-intentioned, never completed things that go by the wayside. I regret the wasted use-less time that often empties me rather than fills me. I regret the things I supposedly have “learned”, even spoken, but have not yet truly applied. I regret the not taking time to look in the eye and ask the questions and say the words and get in there in real and tangible ways.

Being spent for the right things has a way of crowding out the wrong things or fillers in our lives.  Weeds don’t grow where flowers are blooming, where other seeds are planted. Being spent for the right things also has a way of filling up…motivating, encouraging, inspiring not just me, but hopefully those around me as well.

DSCN5191.JPG

It is only when a flower sheds its beauty in full bloom, full array, the last hurrah before the petals fade, that the seeds are formed. A flower in reserve is a flower with no blooms, because once the unfolding comes, the petals will fall off. Yes flowers that save, conserve, reserve, would merely be un-bloomed buds. But as we hopefully learned in elementary school science, flowers produce seeds. So blooms not only color our world in the now, they hopefully reproduce…and multiply the beauty shared.

DSCN5194.JPG

Poppies in a Garden in Old Salem, Winston-Salem, North Carolina May 5, 2017

And the beauty shared?  I loved that it comes in  all colors, sizes, and shapes that make for a beautiful bouquet. When one stops to see, to really see, they can’t help but behold the beauty. Yep, we all have different ways to be spent for our world… And I’m thinking it’s not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.

DSCN5203

So here’s to being spent. Yep, spent in a no-regrets-kind-of-way that makes our pillows soft and our sleep sweet knowing that we did what we could …that day. And here’s to knowing that even when mistakes are made, that they are to be learned from. I love that flowers are seasonal…and perennials get a chance to bloom and re-bloom over again…to be ‘spent’ over and over again.   To be shared over and over again.

Screen Shot 2017-05-06 at 8.29.42 AM

Jesus knew a thing or two about being spent. Not on futile things that are so temporal. But on being spent for life-changing, mind-blowing eternal things.  Am thinking Christ-followers should too.  A few thoughts (and reminders to myself) on being spent from a garden of blooms somewhere in the middle of North Carolina.

Blessings ~

Heather

“This is our time on the history line of God. This is it. What will we do with the one deep exhale of God on this earth? For we are but a vapor and we have to make it count. We’re on. Direct us, Lord, and get us on our feet.” –Beth Moore

 “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” –Mother Teresa

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” –Jim Elliot

 

Was sweet to be able to spend time with Chase a few weeks back. We walked and talked on the beach and then he started throwing shells as I took some beach shots with my camera.  He didn’t realize that he was the subject of the photos a lot of the time…

DSCN3249

And as I looked through the lens and watched him skip shells, well, it brought a huge smile to my face. I don’t even think he realized what he was doing. It was like he was back on the third base line, firing a ball home….He would put the shell behind his back…

DSCN3261

Lift that left leg…

DSCN3245

..stick his tongue in his right cheek (yep, every time)…and…

DSCN3260

…whiz that shell to the waves.DSCN3251

Then, he’d watch. Just for a moment because it disappears right away of course…

DSCN3252

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen my boy-now-man repeat those steps. He played third base as far back as coach-pitch…and muscle memory tells him that when he picks up a ball, a rock, a shell, he follows a certain sequence. And he follows it…even when skipping shells at the beach 🙂  And I don’t even think he realized it.  Until I couldn’t hold back my laughter and he realized that this not-so-conspicuous photographer of a mom was taking photos of him. And then I told him about his stance…totally baseball third base stance was on the beach …and he smiled as he reached down for the next shell.DSCN3255

And I did a lot of grinning as I watched. Because no matter how crazy life gets, well, we have our ‘go-tos’. We have our little things that are so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize it. We have our things that help us stay steady when life gets a bit unbalanced.

And as I watched, I thought about how the patterns developed during the easier times in our lives so matter during the storms. When our hearts and minds go to defaults, where do they go? I mean, I know that skipping shells or stones in a certain way isn’t a big deal, but it just reminded me of how what we practice is what we do. What we pour into our hearts, minds, bodies comes out even when we don’t realize it. What we pour in comes out. What we practice is what we do. What we think is how we live.

And during crazy times when we may not feel like we can sort through things, well, we have our defaults. So am mindful of making sure my default, the things I practice, are the things I want to flesh out when I’m not thinking.  Because, if I’m honest with myself, there’s a lot of instances when yours truly is so not thinking. I react, respond, and revert to my default. Some good defaults. Some so not. Gotta work on those so nots.

DSCN3250

Because you never know when someone is watching and taking it all in. Ask Chase 🙂 When a stone is thrown in a lake, the splash goes in and then the ripples go out and out and out… And it’s the ripples, not just the act, that can impact those we never even know. Our defaults matter. They so matter.

I’m thankful that scripture gives good defaults…good things to ponder and pray through and practice. Here’s one  of my favorites. (the verse  below, Philippians 4: 4-8)…..  Cool how determined, disciplined action that may start out as going against the grain of our feelings, etc. can, with practice, become our “go-to” defaults. And peace follows…peace that passes understanding. That’s another cool thing about defaults…they provide stability, normalcy, familiarity, when things might be so not stable, normal, familiar. Love that. Crazy how watching my Chase throw a shell can start these rambling thoughts…  Maybe that’s one of my defaults….rambling thoughts, ha!  Yikes.  Oh well…here’s the verse to think on…

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Philippians 4:4-8

And one more (rambling) thought.  Those shells that Chase threw out to sea?  They’ll most likely come back to shore soon. It’s what waves do. It’s what shells do. There are “defaults” and “go-to”s all around us designed by a loving God. Creation speaks of His Presence and love. Being mindful of His goodness can make this whole setting good defaults a whole lot easier. We love because He first loved us. It’s what He does. Maybe the more we realize that, the more we will, as the verse says, have our defaults be to love. Maybe so.

Blessings ~

Heather

DSCN2747.jpg

So this past week, I was really convicted about something.

And that word “convicted” stuck out to me.  I mean in the Christian realm we can use that word quite a bit. We say that we are convicted of this or convicted of that. Oftentimes it might be the ‘little things’ like eating too much or wasting time or saying things before praying through. And I thought about how so often when we (I) say we are convicted of something, we (I) STAY convicted of something because sometimes there’s a release in the admission…and we (I) leave it there.  We (I) just leave it there.

So here’s the thing that struck me. We use the word “convicted” a lot and that’s all well and good, but logic follows that if we are convicted, we are a …(here it comes) convict.  A convict?  Yep, a convict….one who is convicted of something. Not the verb, the NOUN.  Now THAT word has a bit different connotation. It also has lots of visual imagery of prison bars and jail cells and men in orange jumpsuits. And it struck me that if we (I) say we (I) are convicted without moving into the rehabilitative phase after the conviction, we (I) stay a convict.  Yikes. We stay stuck. I stay stuck and choose to inhabit a prison of sorts if I (we) don’t learn from the conviction, the guilty feeling, the conscience speaking and move beyond it.

It was always a no-brainer when dealing with my children. I mean, if they are truly sorry for something, the behavior will change, right? As a mom who loves them, I needed to help them to learn and turn. Learn from the behavior (with not so fun “lessons” via time out, restrictions, etc.) and Turn. I expected that from them and helped them see the reality of what would happen if they stayed stuck. Loving them and wanting good things for them helped me see and act with clarity and resolve. (Most times, anyway.)

Do I do the same thing with myself?  As an adult, I’m amazed at how much I can rationalize things. That’s so not good. The “no big deal” phrase and cultural norm can keep me stuck. If I feel truly stuck in something, convicted, convinced of sin or a lack of wisdom, I will own it.  If I own it, I will hopefully change the behavior, transform the thinking, move beyond the being stuck, imprisoned and convicted, to being rehabilitated, changed, free.

And it takes honesty. And it takes work. And it takes not listening to what the world says about things and truly listening to, seeking out, and bathing my heart and mind in the scripture that is the Truth that sets free. And it takes praying through and surrendering and being very honest with myself. It takes shoe leather (or canvas or whatever they make shoes out of these days). It takes action. Determination.

If I were to share the thing that convicted me with a lot of people, so many would say, “Oh brother, that’s no big deal….” ( I hate that phrase when it comes to things of the heart and actions that can free us..but that’s a thought for another day…)   My conviction had to do with priorities,…an awareness that my ‘go-to’ for encouragement and a lift wasn’t ‘seeking ye first the kingdom of God”, but was more seeking others’ words, others’ thoughts rather than me going first to the Source myself. Not a bad thing, but not the best thing.  Christ-followers need to be attuned to when we’re veering from the path, getting a little off track. Because the little steps lead to the big journeys.  And the watering down of priorities can lead to horrific outcomes.  I know that and have seen it and don’t want to live it. Being stuck is no fun.  So many times it can lead to others being stuck too. Not good.

So today, I put my running shoes on. Figuratively and literally as a reminder. I’m doing a little inventory on myself and being honest about my priorities. I’ve gotta pray before I quickly say things or hit “send”. I’ve gotta seek the Source and not put second or third or last things first. I’ve gotta be honest with myself about time and be aware that each day is a gift that can be wasted or used to honor the God I love. So many things are simplified by merely putting first things first.

So today starts with coffee and scripture. And do you know what else it starts with?  A new morning, a chance to start again…a new beginning. It starts with gratitude for being able to ‘learn and turn’ and enjoy the simplicity of lessons learned and new goals set. It starts with a determination to make the most of this beautiful Saturday knowing that this day, this moment will never come again.  But the things I do and the steps I take?  They will lead me. They follow me. And I’m thinking that I want to choose to stay on the simple narrow path that leads to freedom. Yep, I’ve got my running shoes on.  Thankful for being a runner in this race of faith…and that goals with determination lead to destinations. I can trust God with the destinations as I honor Him with my steps. The big ones and the so little ones. They lead. And when the race is over, I want to be thankful for where those big and little steps lead.

Blessings~

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

Hebrews 12:1-2

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God,

and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Matthew 6:33

P.S.  Wanna know something funny? I thought this would be a paragraph post. Maybe two. Maybe another goal of mine should be to take a writing course on editing which focuses on “abridged versions”. Yikes. To those who made it to the end, thanks for staying with me!

P.P.S. Just a little note of clarification. The journey I speak of today has nothing to do with earning God’s love at all. It has everything to do to responding to His love though… It’s not about salvation, but sanctification. It’s about the way we run because He ran to us. The way we love because He loved us. The way we live because He died for us. My steps, right or wrong, can’t change His love..But they can lead me closer to Him and further away. Here’s to the moving closer…

DSCN2239

So, my son and I went to Verizon today. I usually dread it because of the wait time, but it was only a 15-minute wait tonight, so I just walked around and looked at the oh-so-upgraded phones that dwarf my little iPhone 4s (which I am a proud carrier of by the way.) Anyway, as I looked at one of the phones, it was kind of in the case catty-corner and so I tried to straighten it, to fix it….

Wrong move.

I soon saw flashing lights and heard an awful alarm sound.  Oops.  Big oops. And then I saw a man running around the store looking for the turn-off-the-alarm-key.  And then I raised my hand and smiled and said that this phone over here was the one ‘ringing’. Ha. He waved back and did not look in the least bit concerned that I was a threat to his phone or to him. (Maybe I should be offended by that, but I so was not…)

Now years ago, I would have been ultra-embarrassed and possibly mortified by setting off an alarm in the store. The running-around-man finally found the key and he smiled and said, “No worries. It happens all the time.”  And maybe, that’s part of the reason why I wasn’t embarrassed. (Well, I was a little embarrassed, but not totally mortified.)  Maybe it was partly because I have made enough mistakes  (they ‘happen all the time’) to know what are those mistakes to stress over and what are those to just laugh at myself about and move on.  We all got a good laugh (yes, at my expense), and thankfully within about 3 minutes, we moved on.

But after the fact, I did decide that I would no longer browse the phones, but would rather choose to sit with my hands to myself  and wait. I think it was a good choice, as no other alarms went off in the meantime. (That’s the beauty of making mistakes…learning from them!)  But as I was sitting there I kept thinking about the whole propensity to fix things.  Sometimes we moms get in that mode of ‘fixing’. Fixing collars, fixing hair, fixing this, fixing that, (even catty-corner phones).  Sometimes we wives do as well. Trying to fix an unwilling ‘fixee’ might turn out to be a dangerous path. Depending on who is or is not wanting to be fixed, it can really backfire. A lot. I can remember a dear mentor of mine joking (sort of)  with her husband in her strong New York accent  “You’re not my Holy Spirit…” And that’s the bottom line. There’s a readiness factor in being fixed. Sometimes pre-mature fixing only slows the process and builds resistance.

So here’s my two cents. Sometimes, it’s so not my place to fix things or people. It’s my place to observe, to see, to pray through, but to not try to wade into the waters of fixing things that aren’t mine to fix. It can create lots more chaos. Sometimes that chaos might involve damaged relationships or enablement of wrong patterns, or heeding off natural consequences that would be the best teacher.  And sometimes trying to fix things might create chaos that comes with alarms and bells and people running around crazy trying to undo the ‘fixing’.

So, my two cents says, that fixing things that I am responsible for…am all for it.  But when it comes to fixing things that other people are responsible for, well, maybe it’s best to sit back, pray, and keep my hands to myself. We all have our own paths to walk…and our own mistakes to learn from. Take it from me and my little trip to Verizon.

Blessings~

Heather

P.S.  There may be some of you who were concerned about Tanner’s embarrassment or mortification factor. He handled it just fine. Am thinking he’s had some practice with not being embarrassed by his mom’s blunders (although this was the first one involving flashing lights and alarms. oops…I mean it was only the second one involving alarms and lights …there was that speeding ticket…). My little blunders have helped teach my teenagers to let it roll…and Grace abounds 🙂

P.P.S. And of course, there are definite times of helping, fixing, and aiding…but one thing I always need to remember is to make sure I’m working on fixing the stuff in myself before I try to fix the same issue in someone else. Walking alongside and mutual encouragement /accountability is a lot different than “fixing”.  Like Jesus said in Matthew 7, we’ve gotta make sure we have the plank out of our own eye before we try to take a speck out of another’s. Humility can be a huge advantage when the time for fixing does arise. My two (more) cents.

 

IMG_4778

Anxiety. If you listen, or scroll, or read for any amount of time these days, that word will most likely pop up pretty quickly. Worry, anxiety, depression…these are battles  of the mind and heart that so many face in their lives. About a month ago, I was dealing with a lot of worry about a current situation in our lives. I couldn’t see how things would play out and it was really eating at me from the inside. It was pretty all-consuming, and I was making bold attempts to not feed the worry (cause yep, as I’ve said ad nauseum, “What we feed grows…”), but I was having a tough time. Worry seemed to be winning. But then, then… I read this quote: “Faith is rest, because it believes the work is done.” (Dan Bailey).

I stopped.  Rest.  I’m not sure why it hit me so incredibly hard, but it did. I smiled big.  Faith, belief leads to rest.  Not just rest like a nap. Rest like a quieting of the heart’s hamster wheel of worry. Rest like an ability to be ‘all in’ in the moment we’re in because we’re not pondering what the future will hold. Rest like a holding out of our empty hands instead of wringing them in anxious waiting. Rest in the soul that allows me to go all out in the daily stuff of life. Rest that says, “You’ve got this” not to me, but to the One who really does. God has got this.

He knew what would come before I did. He knows what is to come. And He’s right there in the middle of it all. When we take those situations, heartaches, worries to Him and lay it down, we make room for Him to do what we can’t. When we trust Him with it all, it frees us up to be wholly devoted to Him in the big and little stuff of our daily lives.

We are much more present living life with the people in our midst, working hard, loving well and reaching those in our world, when we’re not so busy trying to keep the world spinning…or worrying about it not spinning.  So, “Faith is Rest”.  Trusting is Resting. That’s been my new ‘go-to’ when worry crops up. Trusting is resting. Trusting is resting.  When fears for my (adult) child crop up.  Trusting is resting.  When the uncertainty of future weighs on heart and mind. Trusting is resting. When my friend and her family were in a car accident yesterday and her neck was fractured. Tears were flowing, but my heart was knowing that God is in control and because of that I can trust Him with her and her family. Why?  Because trusting is resting. Trusting is resting. Trusting is resting. That’s what I spoke to my heart.  Truth. And Truth sets us free to rest in our hearts in situations that are difficult, trying, even terrifying.

If I believe God is who He says He is, I can trust Him with it all.  And the cool thing is?  He can use it all. For our good, For His Glory, He can use it all as we lay it at His feet. We put our spinning worlds down, and He, the Creator of All, can get our wobbly worlds back in sync.  When we put our worries into praying with faith, knowing that God can use it all, we put the reigns back in the hands of the One who Loves and Knows and sees beyond what we ever could. He’s a bit more adept at spinning the World than I am. That sun comes up every single solitary morning whether I see it (or worry about it!) or not. Just saying.

So, when worries crop up (daily, hourly, even momentarily!), am learning to speak truth to myself…to remind myself that I can trust God with it all.  Trusting is resting in His Sovereign Will, in His undying Love.  Trusting is Resting.

Blessings~

Heather

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.”  

Romans 8:26-28

P.S. ( Always, right?  Sorry!)

Romans 8  I have  to include the link to whole chapter of Romans 8. It is so incredibly rich on any given day, but it is especially full when battling fears. No condemnation. He works all things for our good. He loves us. He has provided.  Yes, rich words and Truths indeed that can fill the heart that needs to remember who they trust and why they can rest.

DSCN2523.jpg

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Matthew 6:26

%d bloggers like this: