And because I always say this … the Five Minute Friday community opens wide and invites you in to share. Come and visit and read. You will be blessed.
This Week: Keep
2015 began much quieter for me than normal. Not that I’m not already pretty quiet as it is, but there’s usually a bit more activity with hanging new calendars, preparing goals, organizing and categorizing, and again, more activity to launch the next three hundred sixty-five days.
But then right after New Year, I came down with a wicked case of strep throat. Mercy. I don’t think I’ve had this as an adult, and had clearly forgotten what it feels like. Let me tell you – it’s like swallowing glass 24/7 until your meds kick in. And after that, other medical issues as I took an involuntary break from the meds that make my body function as close to normal as possible. It was a bit of a snowball and the beginning of the year evaporated; the calendar flipped; February appeared in all its red and pink glory; and I felt lost, ill-prepared, and unready.
Things continued to move forward. Without my consent. Without my preparation. Without my readiness. I even continued to move forward. I got up and went to work. I ate, slept, mothered, put on pretty red lipstick, worked on computers with all the viruses and malware, and collapsed on the weekend. Why? Because you don’t get to stop. We don’t have a pause button. Time carries on and so must we.
But my discontent and disorientation made me think about the moving on and the things that need to continue on – especially in the crazy times. I thought about the things that we need to keep on doing.
We need to keep on giving thanks …
A few years ago, I discovered Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts and took of the practice of counting thanks and trying to live in to the philosophy of eucharisteo – that the miracle is preceded by thanks. I am not as diligent with this as I should be – as many of my friends are – but I do try to make note (and write them in my little notebook when I remember) and to create that visible history of thanks to look back on. God moves in the big and the little things, and remembering to give thanks in all things is a beautiful practice that keeps our eyes and hearts focused on the one from who all blessings flow. If you haven’t read Ann’s book or explored the idea of counting thanks I would really encourage you to give it a go. I’d also invite you to check out my friend Sarah Jo’s blog – she does a wonderful job of capturing the counting.
We need to keep in community …
I’ll tell you right now that this is hard one for me in practice. I embrace the theory whole-heartedly, but my gut reaction when things get rough is to withdraw into myself. I go it alone. I stick my chin out; grit my teeth; and forge ahead. Which can be fine – and as an introvert – the quiet of alone can be very refreshing for me. But introvert or not, we are communal creatures – created to live and thrive in relationships. And the truth is, there are some things that can’t – and shouldn’t – be borne alone. I am blessed with an abundance of friends – online and in real life – who pray and cheer and encourage me. But they do that best when I am communicating and sharing and being vulnerable enough to ask for help. I imagine you have these resources too – people who love you and want the very best for you and your life. Don’t be afraid to reach out – it’s always better if we do this together.
And that friends, is my five minutes. But I have a few more things on my mind, and you are more than welcome – invited even – to continue on reading with me.
We need to keep in the Word …
I am preaching to myself here because I am never here enough. But when I am – and when you are – together we will hear his voice and bear witness to the life and miracles that he has done and the life and miracles that he will do. I don’t want to clutter this one with my words. Just his.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. John 15: 4-8We need to keep forging ahead …
Are you wrestling with health issues? Are you in the middle of a painful separation? Is motherhood making you feel like a failure? Do your finances feel like a fragile glass? Maybe the whole of your life feels like it’s on the brink of collapse. Hold on friend. I’ve been there. I’m still there, in fact. There are areas of my life that feel completely out of my control – where no matter how hard I work or strive, nothing improves. Nothing gets better. Nothing changes. There are times I feel like everything is a fight. And I am so very tired of fighting. But we can’t stop. We don’t stop. That part about no pause button? It’s hard, isn’t it? But our hope is found in nothing less than his blood and righteousness that spills out in grace and mercy covering a multitude of struggles. In these times of struggle, we need to wrest our eyes from the grime and the dirt and the struggle of the everyday – these fights we’re fighting – and look to Jesus. Just look to him. I know it may feel like you’re seven star falls away from heaven, but trust that he knows you. He sees you. He loves you. Keep on moving.
More than anything, I pray that when you read these words that have been given to me, that you hear grace. I don’t want you to hear judgment. Or misunderstanding. Or be left feeling with a sense of lack or inadequacy. I write from my own place of struggle and my desperate need to remember who I belong to and who’s I am – and who calls me enough – in spite of my messy fall downs.
Life can be exhausting and hard. But even in the midst of the hard, if we take the time, we can find the glory in the ordinary. The light through the window on a child’s hair as they rest. The way your husband’s hand rests on the small of your back – just a reminder that he’s there. The unexpected card, text, or email from a friend – just to cheer you. The surprise rainbow through the rain over the crowded freeway as you drive home. Life is hard. But it is the dirt under our nails and the tears on our faces that remind us that we are living. And that while we are living here on this plane, we have so much more to look forward to in the life to come.
Know that as you read this that you are not alone. My quiet prayer in these words is that you will have a very real sense of the presence of God – and that you will know and understand how very much he loves you. And that he is with you no matter where you are. Sunlight or shadow. Smile or tears. Rolling with laughter or sitting tightly holding yourself together. Keep on believing that he is here. And he will never leave you alone.
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