Training, Determination and Intentionality

Step back in time with me momentarily and imagine the halls of a high school. You don’t need to think of the raging hormones, the uber-smart kids, or the ones who are barely hanging in there. Nope. Imagine just the hallways, the very ones walked by hundreds of students a day, students, mind you, that have grabbed food from lockers and vending machines.

Can you see the floors? There are a few papers littered here and there. A red gummy bear lying near a locker. Skittles wrappers discarded like an unwanted Valentine (and when I say discarded, I mean high school-style: lying in the middle of the hallway).

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Courtesy Flickr: Coral Springs Talk

Now, insert a different image into that same hallway: a drug-sniffing dog. Yes, my friends, welcome to America. These dogs are highly trained to smell something amiss. They are on a mission, undeterred. They trek the hallways, passing said gummy bear and even leaving the half-eaten Snickers in its place.

Contrast that to my black lab, my 80-pound furry friend that will eat anything she can find. Just last night I had to wrestle a fully wrapped Hershey’s kiss out of her mouth. My Bella-girl loves broccoli, apples, and sweet potatoes (notice they’re all healthy? Probably because those are the things my kids slip to her during dinner). She’s also been known to pull a fresh-baked loaf of bread off the counter while I’m gone, or fish through trash cans to lick a few crumbs off a small wrapper.

If I brought Bella to a school, she might somewhat do the job of a janitor by licking up the floors, but she would be completely ineffective in finding anything other than food.

So what sets the police dogs apart from my dog? Training, determination and intentionality. Take the big jump with me back to us two-legged creatures, for these qualities equally apply to us as we strive to live in a Christ-honoring way.

1) Training

K-9s go through rigorous training so they can learn exactly what they’re supposed to be sniffing for while also knowing exactly what not to be focused on. We get to do the same. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” That’s our guide as to what to be looking for/ towards. As we train our eyes to look towards Jesus in all things, we become like those dogs in that we learn to overlook the things we aren’t supposed to be gravitating towards.

2) Determination and Intentionality

Courtesy Flickr: Sheffield Tiger

Courtesy Flickr: Sheffield Tiger

My nephews do “The Canyon Run” every year as a fundraiser for their wrestling team. 11 miles, all uphill, through Bear Creek Canyon. My sister’s role is to drive through the canyon, alerting other cars to the runners, while picking up strays (and I’m not referring to dogs, either!).

Many start off with great zeal, but not all cross the finish line. Some, like my oldest nephew on his first year of the race, aren’t prepared. Nick wore vans, which are awesome-looking shoes, but have no place in a race of that length. Blisters on top of blisters. Those who are determined to finish have trained and come equipped with proper gear.

Last year, my brother-in-law and two nephews crossed the finish line, tired but exhilarated (okay, the latter came later in the day). They crossed in large part because they stuck it out and stayed on the path. They didn’t bring ropes with them to try climbing the canyon walls, for that would have made them exert more energy on an already strenuous run. They didn’t finish half the race, only to turn around and go back to where they’d started to fetch something they left behind. Trust me. If you saw their exhausted faces, you’d know better than to think anything so ridiculous. They ran straight ahead, with intentionality, towards the finish line. Paul did the same.

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”1 Corinthians 9: 26 – 27

I know life can throw us some unexpected curves. Trust me, I know. They’ve left me looking for that “canyon car,” desperately hoping someone would pick me up. They’ve also left me running the race similar to the way I look when my kids talk me into playing Mario Cart with them: banging into walls, having U-Turn signs above my head letting me know I’m going in the wrong direction. Again. I have a feeling I’m not alone in that floundering feeling. Nevertheless, we can keep running, focusing our eyes on Him who hangs those U-Turn signs and equips us with the training and directionality we desperately need.

So whether or not you feel like you’re floundering or you currently have a great stride, what things do you do to devote yourself to training, determination and intentionality in your relationship with Christ?

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Live Fully, Freely, Extravagantly

“Your hatred of her is unjustified,” the teacher said as a man ranted about his ex-wife.

“What do you mean unjustified?” he spit out. “You have no idea how she treated me, the things she’s said to me, or the #$#@$@# things she continues to do. It’s my God-given right to hate her.”

I’m taking a class for couples who are divorcing or are recently divorced that have too much conflict. Actually, let me restate that: the judge ordered that we take it. It’s like a finishing school of sorts for something that is, well, finished, or at least theoretically should be.

The class is divided in 2 sessions: one partner comes to the earlier class and the other comes to the later one. Mr. It’s My Right to Hate Her was in the later class with me and assumed the teacher was making comments based on something his ex had said in his absence.

“My comment has nothing to do with her,” the teacher responded in his calm and gentle tone. “She hasn’t said anything that makes me say it. I simply want you to know that your hatred of her will be your undoing.”

They’re strong words.

They’re also accurate. Trust me, I know.

I once believed that if I didn’t fight for certain causes, it meant I was a pushover and was somehow giving my approval to things that should’t ever have a seal of okay-ness on them. If someone pushed me on it, I would have justified my stance, probably even defined it as a righteous indignation. There are definite times for anger and indignation, but this was something different: it became a pattern of combativeness, of trying to determine who was right and who was wrong, or more aptly, of trying to prove my worth over someone else’s while recruiting others into my ring of dislike for the other party.

That other party died recently. I’m not saying the fight ended. I am talking funeral service and all that jazz. I won’t–can’t–go into it, other than to say something in me did, too.

If I had known their days were more limited than expected, would I have done things differently? I sure hope so. No, wait. Strike that and make it a resounding yes, one that echoes deep within and bubbles out, even to the point of verbalizing it to Mr. Its My Right.

“Yes, you absolutely have every right to hate her,” I softly said to him. “No judge or anyone else is ever going to mandate that you abandon your views of her. But even though you have that right, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. The hatred comes at a high cost. There is so much that is valuable around you, especially your kids, yet you’re losing out on it as you’re consumed in this war against her. When does it end and when do you get to be you and have the freedom to live?”

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Image courtesy of and altered from Flickr: Ben Salter

My words weren’t intended to be a I’m better-than thing, but rather of one who has been there for much too long and can look back and see the price. It comes with a ticket I refuse to pay anymore: bondage, depression, grief, and perhaps worst of all, giving someone else the right to determine if I was happy, upset, or somewhere in between.

This life is too great to chance it away like that.

This life is too great to hate it away like that.

Today, I’m on a different mission. It’s one I eagerly recruit people into the ring with me to fight for it and embrace it dearly. It’s called life. I want to live, not as a result of what others say and think, but to live, fully, extravagantly, truly.

Come join me in the ring.

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Amazed by the Obvious

Image Courtesy Flickr: Abdul Qadir Memon

Image Courtesy Flickr: Abdul Qadir Memon

 

“Mom, look, I’m going to break the fort,” Gabe told me yesterday as we walked the dog. We went to the “island-fort” by a little duck-pond. I’m too big to make it inside, but apparently it’s a little piece of ground that perhaps has a tree growing out of it, a “fort.”

Grabbing a straw-like stick, he started whacking at the fort.

“How’s that working for ya?” I shouted from my non-island location.

“Your stick broke,” his friend that joined us for the walk giggled at him.

Of course the straw/stick broke. A fort, even one created in two young boys’ minds made of some branches, has to be stronger than something weak and flimsy.

Score one for Stacy for stating the obvious.

But is it, really? Or perhaps the real question is I know what is stronger always wins, but do I live that way?

My thoughts are littered with straws: finances, kids, housing, friends, death, employment, and so, so many more. I’ve been trying to make those square pegs fit when they don’t, beating the fort with a piece of straw.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

 

Tweet: I know what is stronger always wins, but do I live that way? I John 4:4 Click toTweet: I know what is stronger always wins, but do I live that way? I John 4:4

 

Put the things around me up against God, the things that cause me grief or keep me up at night. Let them attack my great shelter of the Most High. I have a feeling they’ll break just like Gabe’s stick.

Today, I’m clinging to the obvious. I hope you’ll join me.

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27:5signature

The Provision of Lack

We’ve heard of God’s provision.

At times (or for months or years), we mutter about a lack of provision.

But lately, the two have merged into one for me:

The Provision of the Lack of Provision.

Yes, scratch your head and look at the screen quizzically? What did she say?

Provision of lack

This concept didn’t cross my radar until months ago. The blessing was the lack, the utter, complete lack: lack of a job, lack of financial stability, lack of a place I needed to be each and every day.

It was a blessing because I can look back just a few short months later and see it clearly, grateful I didn’t need to be there every Monday through Friday because I desperately, urgently needed to be here. At the end of November, I never could have predicted what was about to come my way and the way certain events would reach straight into my children’s lives and rip their innocence away. Oh, how this Mama wants to defend and protect although certain things–those things–can’t be prevented or defended. Instead, this Mama cries with. For. Holds. Wipes tears. Finds goofy things to laugh about when the hurt is too great to handle.

So yes, I’m beyond grateful that God let me be home the last few months.

Who knew that a lack of provision could be exactly the thing I most desperately needed? And for that, I’m extremely grateful.

What about you? Have you ever realized that it was beneficial to not have what you were hoping for? 

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This Is My Season

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,

 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I’ve lived in various states and countries where the seasons are much different than the standard four. Costa Rica had the rainy season and dry season. Southern California had the moderate season and the sweltering season, and my Colorado has the classic four, the greens popping out from the snow in the spring, the tank-tops summers, the stunning change of colors in the fall and the get out and shovel again winters.

If I had my way, I’d probably forfeit some of those seasons. I’d wave my wand if such a thing existed and suddenly there wouldn’t be as much snow, especially that heavy kind that breaks limbs (and backs). My skiing friends wouldn’t be happy with me. wouldn’t be happy with me come summer, when I’d want to chill in the river with friends as we tube but would know the rocks would jut out more than would be comfortable for our bums.

No, the wand would destroy.

We all know I can’t change the seasons around us, but I’ve tried changing the seasons of my life. Years ago, I went through a devastating spell. Anguish crippled my heart. I mourned and grieved and mourned some more, but the ache was so great I couldn’t fully let myself grasp it, so I waved the wand if you will, and changed the season. Well, of course the season didn’t really change, but it sure felt like it. I masked it well, like wearing shorts in the winter, acting as if things weren’t really the way they were.

Winter is always winter, shorts or otherwise.

I find myself yet again in winter. 52 weeks of divorce proceedings. Yes, 52. Umpta. The gavel pounded, the decree stamped two weeks shy of a year.

Part of me feels like it should be spring, a celebrating that the proceedings are finally over, yet divorce is never cause for celebration. It’s like having a loved-one on life support: an attempt to mourn a death while the person still lives. Oh, sheer bitterness.

While it isn’t cause for celebration, there is this fear that wells within: If I embrace this winter, will I remain in it forever? Will I be doomed to a life of bitterness or sorrow?

Yes, this thought ravages my mind much too-often, perhaps due to the standard two-week mourning period our society inadvertently doles out. You know, the “what can I do for you?” “I’m here for you” calls and letters after a death, but then the awkwardness most feel around someone whose mourning continues into the next month.

Awkward or not, I’m embracing it (with great fear, that is). This winter has gone on much too long for my liking. I’m ready to skip and sing and laugh with careless abandon. Granted, I do those things now to some degree, but my heart weighs too heavy to do them at the level it once did, but an early spring usually brings death. Buds start blooming, the frost comes, and there goes the crop for the rest of the year.

So this is my season. No, I don’t hope it will last one minute longer than necessary, but I’ll embrace it just the same.

And you know what? This picture I took on a hike reminds me last week that winter can be stunning and exquisite.

winter hike

This is my season.

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What about you? What season do you find yourself in? Are you letting yourself be in that season, or are you attempting to wave a non-existent magic wand?

 

Praising from the Pit

We know the story: God said go one way, Jonah went the other. Waves crashed violently against a boat and the crew decided it was god’s curse against a man, so over went Jonah into the deep, right into the mouth of that huge fish.

We know it. know it. Swallowed up, he cried out and then was spit onto shore. Curse turned blessing, at least in our eyes. But there’s one huge, huge piece I always forget. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever noticed it before today:

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said, ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” Jonah 2:1-2

That’s the part I’ve known, that overly simplistic account of what first happened from the pit of a fish’s belly. Here’s the part I hadn’t noticed:

But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’

And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” Jonah 2:9-10

Did you catch it, those few, little lines before the whole get vomited onto land piece?

Shouts of grateful praise.

What?

See, when I read the first few lines, I can’t help but imagine what “I called to the Lord” really meant. Call for help? Undoubtedly! Call the Lord things that aren’t repeatable? Quite possibly. I won’t begin to claim to know what sailors said back in those days, but let’s remember he just got thrown off a ship! What kind of words had he just been exposed to as they battled the fierce storm? Perhaps some of the same types of words he used as he battled with God for his life from deep within the great beast’s belly.

I’m only speculating and more than anything, am alluding to what unfortunately would probably be my reality if I were in Jonah’s wet sandals. I have no idea what that cry looked like, but this I know:

He decided, even from the pit, to praise. 

Jonah hadn’t seen the flannel-board ending. He didn’t know what was about to happen. All he knew was that he sitting in the stomach of a great fish (okay, really? I type this as if that even makes sense, but how incredible is that? Kinda just shows how creative God is!). You caught that belly of a fish part, right? As far as I know, no one before him had ever done such a thing and lived to tell about it. I doubt Jonah praised thinking it was his life-saver. Instead, I think he sent praise to his life-saver.

I’m not about to say that Jonah is one of my Bible heroes. He isn’t. He fled from God, disobeyed, saw God provide in a miraculous way and then chose to sit and whine. No, he isn’t my favorite, but I sure can relate to him. The part I want to most relate to is that he decided, and I want to as well, to praise from the pit.

How about you? Do you find it hard to praise God in the midst of intense fear and suffering?

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Enjoy

New Year’s Eve receives little fanfare in my book. Yes, there have been a few spent in memorable fashion–a fire on a beach as loved ones and I watched waves usher in the new and wash out the old; fireworks and a new love’s kiss. But most December 31sts for me have been quiet, ordinary, perhaps boring, especially the one many years ago where I listened as my mom slept while Dick Clark counted down, sitting on a bed in a hotel room in some state I can’t even remember after dropping my sister off for camp. Yes, boring.

But I’ve always been okay with that, in large part because January 1st isn’t significant for me. I don’t start an exercise program, for I’m a running addict and hit the streets all months of the year, not just the first. I don’t create resolutions, mostly because if there is something I need to change in July, I get cracking on it–in July.

But this year as I look at the calendar icon and see “31,” a different emotion erupts, one of joy, anticipation, and well, relief. Goodbye 2014. I won’t begin to list out some of the things that happened this year, for you wouldn’t believe me. wouldn’t believe me. It’s been one of those years, filled with death (both the physical kind, as well as the killing off of dreams and relationships), grief, and confusion.

I want to celebrate that the year is ending, that tomorrow I hang a new calendar (as if it makes a difference since I really don’t even look at the paper variety anymore). But it isn’t the ending that I celebrate: it’s the beginning. Regardless of the date, I’m close to the end of my crazy-spell, of days filled with more chaos than I care to admit. I’m not a drama-girl and I haven’t brought the chaos on by choice. Sometimes life just sends too much crazy, but that isn’t the point.

It’s the beginning.

For me, it’s the beginning of a new attitude. I’ve tried to love deeper, fight harder, maybe even laugh louder. I run to God, yet perhaps I’ve come to think I am He. fight, I love, I, I, I.

Dream bigger were the words that echoed last year, an ironic phrase for someone who had more sleepless nights than ever before, someone who wasn’t in the mood for dreaming since she was hoping just to survive at the time. Dream bigger, as if it depended on me.

This year, enjoy echoes deep.

“Enjoy me,” He whispers soft.

Oh, sweet, beautiful invitation. To trade the whys, hows, whens, wheres and all the myriad of questions for one simple statement: enjoy. To stop questioning everything, to stop trying to take the puzzle pieces and attempt to force them in where I believe they belong. To stop, period. And in it’s place, to enjoy. To celebrate my God. To savor that He has the answers to all of my what-ifs. To remember–and cherish–that He loves me so much that He’s promised to never leave. To never forsake. To love in a way my heart can’t begin to comprehend.

Yes, I’ve tasted this love many times, this awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, why me, God, a messed-up girl, kind of love. This isn’t new to me, but the newness is my desire to run back to that, to lavish it, cherish it, spread it.

Enjoy

So this year, I celebrate. Sweet relief that I made it through 2014, that arduous year that pushed me well beyond myself, many times past the place where I cried out, “God, I can’t handle any more,” only to be hit with yet another umph of perils. But perhaps it is only because I’ve been forced beyond me that I now run more freely to the One who has sustained. Provided. And remained true.

For whatever your 2014 looked like to you, and for whatever 2015 holds on the horizon, may we run. Not necessarily at the gym for the first few weeks of the year, but long and hard to the One who loves in a way our hearts will never be able to comprehend.

Happy New Year!

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I’m not sure, but I think Robbie might be yelling, “You better enjoy this!!”

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Nonsensical Peace

This is undoubtedly the oddest pre-Christmas post ever. Then again, this has been the oddest pre-Christmas for me ever. This past week I didn’t meet with a funeral director. Nor did I talk to the cops. Not even a judge. And somehow, these things I didn’t do come to define this past week as better than the ones preceding it.

Yes, odd. Yes, painful. Surreal and whirling. And if there’s a Santa, please leave me an off button under the tree, for I’ve been on this crazy ride for much too long.

So here’s the odd post, written by me, for me. Those of you living in the odd-season, desperately wanting it to stop or hoping things would return to normal–whatever in the world that might possibly mean–can listen in.

A doe crossed the path no more than ten feet in front of me last week. Crossed really doesn’t describe it, for it wasn’t a “why did the deer cross the path” kind of thing. Leapt is more like it. Gazelle-like. Full of grace (something I admire, probably because my lack thereof).

I’d been running, but how does one possibly go on running after seeing such a stunning sight? I stood, hand over heart, gaping in amazement. And then he came. You know, Mr. Buck. He wasn’t as carefree as the doe, flitting across without a care. No. Mr. Buck stared me down as if to question if I would somehow use my water bottle as a weapon. Um, no sir. My hand rests against my heart only because I’m admiring your beauty.

He walked across the path, looking at me while he did. The doe kept gazelling along, careless, oblivious. Mr. Buck, however, remained aware of my presence, eyeing me continually while catching up to the doe. As she seemed to do her “I have no cares” dance through the fields, he approached her and ever so gently guided her with his antlers. She didn’t mind, at least didn’t appear to. It wasn’t a forceful push, just a tap that led her to the scrub brush. Within seconds, I could no longer see her whatsoever. I knew she was there, yet she was completely hidden from view. Same with Mr. Buck.

Almost.

All I could see of him were the tips of his antlers poking out from the brush. While she was completely safe, Mr. Buck would still have been in jeopardy if I were an armed hunter.

And then the thought, the quiet whispering into my soul that made me gape in even more amazement than at what I had just beheld:

“Don’t you see, my child? That’s how I feel about you. That’s what I do for you. Give me your cares, child. Let me protect you. Hide in the shelter of my wings, for it is there that you find refuge.”

I’d like to say I’ve fully accepted that offer, that sweet, generous gift of letting me flit about yet again while One much stronger, more powerful, and One who fully loves and accepts me offers me refuge. Sometimes I have, or perhaps just a bit more than before. Other days, like now, I look more like Mr. Buck, watching over my shoulder, fearful or just plain overwhelmed. But as we finish wrapping presents, there is one I want to unwrap now. Today.

Rest.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Psalm 91:1

With my world swirling the way it is, I make no promises if I’ll be back on here before Christmas. If not, I pray it is rich and full of God’s mercies and blessings. But perhaps more than that, for you and for me, I pray we find comfort, rest, and nonsensical peace.

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Hope in the Waiting

If strength comes to those who wait, then what can we do while we try doing the nearly impossible task of waiting?

We’ve heard it quoted, seen the pictures of it, even listened to Lincoln Brewster’s son recite it: “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31, NASB). It sounds blissful. Empowering. Energizing. Wait on the Lord; rise on the wings of eagles. Sign me up!

But here’s the kicker: wait. No, I don’t mean wait to hear the kicker, I’m saying that is the “deal-breaker.” If only it said “those who clean 5 toilets a day” or “those who visit a shut-in every week,” but no, it says the one thing I find most challenging: wait.

It’s sad to admit, but I’ve looked up Isaiah 40:31 in various translations, hoping for a word I have a better shot at achieving, but it was just that: hoping. The NIV says, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” Ah, hope! Yes, I hope in the Lord. I believe in Him and His mighty power. I know He will restore all things. I know, which is so very different than hoping.

I don’t have room to hide presents in cabinets and under my bed like I normally do prior to Christmas since all of those places are already brimming with other things like clothes, toys, and who knows what else. Without a place to hide them, I decided to wrap so each present the day I bought it and place it under the tree.

“This one is a Fly Guy book,” my Bubba proudly declared last week as he held up a gift.

“How could you possibly know that?” I asked.

“Because it’s square and flat. And this is a Lego set,” he announced as he shook a box. “But I was also hoping to get some Bionicles. Don’t worry, Mom. You can still go to that big toy store over by the mall and get some for me before Christmas.”

Whoa! Stop the mini-van! Since when does my kid get to tell me what he wants, where to buy it, and when to have it by? Since he started hoping, that’s when. No, he really shouldn’t boss me around (although his last name is Voss and he has somehow come to believe that his sister is not the ‘Voss’ of him).

Yet for as off as Gabe was in telling me what I needed to add under the tree, he was spot-on for reminding me of the meaning of hope. Hope isn’t an “oh, I hope the winning lottery ticket flies through my window.” It isn’t that, “I can’t imagine this will happen, but I sure hope it does.” Hope is the confidence of a little boy who just knows he’s going to get a Bionicle (although he added it to the list after this elf finished her shopping).

You know, that last set of parenthesis makes me pause. I don’t want to include it because it somehow takes away from the point of the story and turns into a little boy’s tears Christmas morning when he gets so many great things, but apparently not the thing. But it also makes me want to recheck my budget and see if there’s a little wiggle room for a $10 toy. Why? Because I just adore that kid. He’s crazy awesome and way too lovable. But more than that, he’s my son.

Tears well in my eyes. Scratch that: they’re now streaming. How many times in my waiting–that seemingly tortuous thing of day in and day out not knowing the why’s, when’s, where’s, or how’s of my life–that my Who reminds me, guides me, provides for me, and oh mercy, loves me in the most lavish of ways.

Oh, child, don’t you know that I love you?

Yes, Lord, I know. I know, and yet so often I forget. I’m so, so sorry. Help me love you more, to trust you more, to listen more, but perhaps more than anything else, teach me to hope in you like never before.

What does hope look like for you? And dare I ask, but how do you go about hoping in your days of waiting?

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The Thanksgiving of Christmas

My mom filled me in on how she spent the few hours between the time all of us left Thanksgiving night and when she left to board the plane to visit my uncle.

In between packing clothes and trying to remove the stain from where I dropped the cranberry sauce on her white tablecloth, she  packed away the harvest decorations, and set out the rest of the Christmas decor.”

Just like that, Thanksgiving was over.

Take a nap after the feast, then hit the stores.

Put up the tree and start baking.

I heard on the radio this morning that there is something about Christmas that stresses out 90% of us, ranging from traveling, to long lines, or gaining weight. In other words, 90% take a day (or part of one if we spent the evening hitting the deals early) to say thanks, only to wake up to a different emotion: frenzy and concern.

It’s makes me wonder if there’s a connection: gratitude out, anxiety in. I can’t say my theory is right, but it’s definitely worth trying out.

Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.”

Psalm 66:1-2

Will you shout it out, sing of it, or breathe it in? It somehow defies what we’re supposed to do this time of year, and yet is somehow also fully embodies the very thing we should do every time of year, especially now.

Oh God, thank you for being my eternal God, the One who never changes, the lover of my soul, the One who hears, heals, loves. May I never stop singing your praises. Be glorified in everything I do (including the number of cookies I eat or the amount of money I spend this month). I love you. Amen.

What about you? What will you sing out in joy?

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