Stacy Voss

See life differently. Live courageously.

Page 29 of 101

The Chant of Lies

Courtesy Flickr: Steve Garvie

Courtesy Flickr: Steve Garvie

I hear the birds singing and crickets chirp. Their songs continue as if life just merrily ticks forward. But there is a new song, one I haven’t heard before, or perhaps it’s the one I’ve heard so long I hardly even recognize it as a song. It just is, like air or sunshine.

But stop. Slow. No. More.

Listen to all of the sounds, their distinctive noises blending together into a beautiful sonnet. Now, weed out the one that doesn’t belong. Yes, it’s there. We know it is. Let’s stop pretending for a few minutes and say what everyone around us knows: the thing we’re scared to admit for some reason we can’t understand.

Yes, I hear it. That song of lies. It’s more of a chant that reverberates over and over. Like the train that rolls through town, it belts out a rhythm that is harsh and loud, yet with time we become so accustomed to it that we no longer even notice it.

Or so we think.

But the chant continues, each stanza growing in volume.

We’re hooked. Captured. It is such a part of us now, its somber tentacles entwined through the very essence of our being, that if we contemplate removing it, we fear a certain death.

After all, what would we be if not for the resounding chants of lies, doubt, and accusations we allow others and ourselves to hurl at us?

What would we be?

Would we look like what was once a beautiful stained glass window, but all of the sauder disintegrated and there is nothing more than shards of broken glass? Would a hollow, empty form emerge?

Or would the butterfly slowly push its way past the cocoon, fighting to push past the very thing that could entrap?

Would we leave the song behind, those gloomy, binding chants, and trade it in for a new one?

I waited patiently for the Lord;

he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me up out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;

he set my feet on a rock

and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,

 a hymn of praise to our God.” Psalm 40:1-3, emphasis mine

Oh, to trade in that song of old, the one that binds and keeps us from fulfilling the call God has placed on each one of us. To listen to a new song, the one that rings out in praise.

Isn’t it interesting that the old song can be replaced with a hymn of praise? I find that interesting. So much so that I think I’ll write a bit more about it later this week, but for now, I want to ask you two questions:

1) why do you think the new song is one of praise?

2) Have you heard the chant of lies ring in your life? If so, what have you done/do you do to eliminate it?

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The Language of Limbo

“I don’t know if it makes any sense, but I feel like our family isn’t complete yet, but I had another miscarriage. I’m not entirely sure if I’ll be working in the fall, or if I’ll be preparing for a baby,” a friend told me.

Her story is completely different than mine, yet one thing resounded:

“I totally get it. You’re speaking my language of limbo,” I replied.

Image courtesy Flickr: Max Sparber

Image courtesy Flickr: Max Sparber

Our conversation got me thinking, especially wondering why anyone would take a fun and humorous game and give it the same name as the long seasons that are fertile grounds for doubt, fear, anxiety and confusion. It took a few days before the similarities started hitting me:

  • How low can you go?

The purpose of this question is different between the game and the real-life version, yet it is equally important in both. In the game, we watch and chant, inquiring how low someone can go to see if they can contort in a way to squeeze under the bar.

In the real-life version, it’s the question that comes from within: how low can I go before hitting the bottom and being disqualified? Will I crack like Humpty Dumpty where no one, not even the kings horses or men, can put me together again?

  • Flexibility is key.

The winner of limbo is always the person who can make their body move in ways others can’t. They are flexible.

The same is true in the real-life version. If we remain fixed on “but it’s always been this way,” limboville will take a greater toll. We might even get knocked out during the early rounds. But the risks are more than not winning a lei: if we fall out of the race in the real-life game of limbo, we’re prone to become bruised. Worse yet, we turn bitter. Life is meant to be abundant. I’m not about to forfeit that.

  • It can’t get any harder, can it?

We expect the limbo bar to keep going lower and lower, yet in the throes of life, those trials that linger on and on, we hope things will plateau. The reality is, at least for me, that even if it isn’t truly getting harder, it sure feels like it when I don’t know which way to go. Limbo is a wasteland of disorientation.

Yet with all of these similarities, there is one difference that sets the two apart:

Real-life limbo has tremendous value.

At least if we let it.

I’m not about to say we’ll see the value, especially not while wandering in the unknown. We might not even see it for years or decades.

They say faith is being certain of what we can’t see.

That sounds like limbo language.

There’s been so little I’ve been able to see. Yes, I still know there are many around me who love and support me. I still know God is with me, at least my head reminds me of that despite the much-too-frequent moments when my heart doesn’t feel it. And yet there is so, so much I’ve been able to see clearly these past few years in limbo-land.

But even if we can’t see, here’s one remarkable truth: limbo strengthens. Just like great muscle tone is required to control the body long enough to slip under the bar, strength is required to keep pressing on, even when we don’t have a clue which way we’re supposed to press into.

Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” It doesn’t tell us just to wait. Doesn’t even tell us that twice with the hopes it will be enough to cover the long, long periods.

Be strong.

Waiting requires infinite amounts of strength.

So if you find yourself in a season a limbo, a word to both you and me: wait for the Lord. Be strong. Take heart. Wait. Breathe. Trust. Breathe again. And maybe, just maybe, praise.

God, I hate limbo, yet I love you more. Teach me through this season. Don’t let me miss you in a rush to just get through.

What about you? Have you learned any tips that help you throughout the seasons of limbo?

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An Inspiring Challenge: 100 Breaths of Gratitude

My sweet friend, Helen Williams, is letting me share what she posted on her blog, Helen’s Points to Ponder. Her list might look totally different than yours or mine, but yet its filled with love, joy and inspiration to do the same. Come listen in to some of the things Helen is grateful for:
 

My friend Debbie extended the challenge she was given. I in turn, extend it to you. Can you come up with 100 positive things about your life?

Image courtesy Openphoto.net: Miroslav Vajdić

Image courtesy Openphoto.net: Miroslav Vajdić

I thank God for each of these phenomenal blessings. I’m forever grateful to serve and be in love with the God Who just can’t stop blessing!
(These 100 blessings/positive things in my life are not necessarily in numerical order, I’m not ‘ranking’ them.  You don’t have to read it all at once if you don’t want to, but be sure to come back and finish!)

1. Jesus is my Savior, my Lord and my best friend. He loves me unconditionally and forever.
2. Dave is my husband, my best friend in the flesh, and the love of my life. He loves me unconditionally and forever, too! (He can’t help himself!)
3. My firstborn child is my amazing, handsome, strong, intelligent and charismatic young man who proudly serves our country as a member of the elite group of men known as Army Airborne Soldiers, and he’s gifted me with two incredible grandsons.
4. My second born child is my beautiful, precious Princess – she’s brave and kind and has one of the biggest hearts on the planet, and has gifted me with four incredible grandchildren.
5. My third born child is my baby, though he’s bigger than I am. He’s my Marine, my courageous, disciplined, handsome, faithful son, who’s blessed me with three more incredible grandchildren. I am blessed, indeed.
6. My first grandson, Kyle.
7. My second grandson, Collin.
8. My third grandson, Johnny.
9. My fourth grandson, Josef.
10. My fifth grandson, Joseph.
11. My first granddaughter, Versais.
12. My second granddaughter, Fiona.
13. My third granddaughter, Abigail.
14. My fourth granddaughter, Temperance. (I’ve listed the grandchildren by age, not necessarily the order they came into my life.) Each grandchild brings their own unique blessings into my life and love for them is unconditional and forever, just like their parents.
15. I was raised by amazing, loving parents who were my first glimpse into what God Himself might be like. Have I always agreed with them? No. But I haven’t always agreed with anyone, as far as I know.
16. I have a gorgeous daughter in law that loves me and a wonderful new son in law who loves me – and I love them both with all my heart. If you’re going to love my children, you’ve got to know you have a special, permanent place in my heart.
17. I’m growing more beautiful every day, because I’m recognizing my own beauty a little more each day.
18. I live in a very happy home!
19. My wonderful husband brings home enough of a paycheck that I’m not forced to work to pay the bills. I can’t tell you how grateful that makes me. Should I choose to get a job, it will be just that – a choice.
20. I have an abundance of friends and acquaintances that love me. Even the ones who really know me! I don’t dare try to mention names or we’d be here many, many days….
21. I’m forgiven.
22. I’m generally surrounded by kindness.
23. I have many gifts and talents, some of which I’m just discovering now. Life gets better every day!
24. I’m learning self-discipline and the process of implementing boundaries in my life. This is VERY liberating. Sure, I should have established this years ago – but, rather than get down on myself for not yet having “arrived” in life, I’m getting there!
25. I love my yoga classes and my yoga instructor.
26. My car is paid for and still doing me proud and it’s ten years old already!
27. I have five wonderful siblings, whom I love with all my heart. We may not all live close together or see each other as much as we could/should, be the ties that bind us together are very stretchy!
28. I have a plethora of nieces and nephews who are each adorable and incredible blessings to me, whether they realize it or not.
29. I love to write. YOU love to read!
30. I love to read.
31. I love food. And I’m learning to recognize the real stuff from the imposters that have poisoned my body for too many years and making healthier choices every day.
32. I’m becoming involved in politics, learning so many new things about the ways our local and state and federal government work, and don’t work. It’s not fair to complain if I’m not taking steps to educate myself and contribute some good to the situation.
33. I’m stronger than I ever thought I would be, and getting stronger every day. The exciting part is, I’ve become aware of that strength.
34. I pray. For myself, for you, and for every stranger God lays on my heart. And I know that I know that I know that my prayers are heard and answered. And I know that God won’t compromise anyone’s freedom of choice simply because I’ve prayed. I trust Him with that.
35. I’m a giver.
36. I’m learning to be a receiver.
37. Now that I’ve finally taken the dive and got myself a new cell phone, I’m actually not afraid of it or the changes it represents. Gone with the old! Into the new. Do I know how to use it yet? Not completely. But I’m not afraid of the new technology. I thought I would be.
38. I have great hair! Is that a vain thought? I don’t care.
39. I’ve reconnected with cousins and old friends through Facebook and it’s wonderful!
40. I love the breezes God sends my way.
41. I love the sunshine. And I treasure it even more after a few days of gray skies.
42. I love TREES! And praise God, the longer I live, the more different types I get to see – and touch!
43. I love beaches; the warm, beautiful sandy beaches of the east coast in particular, though Hawaii has some great ones, too.
44. I’ve been blessed to travel with my precious husband to places I never dreamed I’d see.
45. I have some incredible memories. Sadly, though, I have a lot of great memories I can no longer remember, but – praise God for the ones I can recall!
46. I can sing, and I can do it quite well. Perhaps not as well as I once could, but I have fun with it!
47. Dave and I still have date nights. Often! We’re nerdy, crazy mad in love with each other.
48. Most of the people I know are honest, for the most part.
49. I have some fantastic, anointed pastors.
50. I trust that my best days are ahead of me!
51. The Sky Sox stadium is within walking distance from my house. I don’t go to nearly enough games, but I can if I choose to.
52. I know how to adapt, improvise and overcome!
53. I own a treasure of great books and a world of information is quickly and freely available to me with a keystroke and an internet connection.
54. My house is yellow. I always wanted a yellow house. This particular shade might be a bit bold, but hey – it’s super easy to locate my house, even from miles away. Yes, I say that with a smile on my face.
55. I trust easily.
56. I forgive easily.
57. My home has great city views and views of the mountains, as well. I drink it all in, daily.
58. I don’t dread birthdays anymore.
59. I don’t fear death anymore.
60. I am trusted.
61. I’m funny! It’s not always intentional, but, I can sure make people laugh. Thank God for my dad’s words of wisdom: “Helen, they’re not laughing AT you, they’re laughing WITH you.” Me: “But, Dad, I’m not laughing.” Dad: “Start!”
62. I love to wash my dishes by hand.
63. I love a good hot bath, and a soak in a nice, deep hot tub.
64. I’m very healthy. Sure, I have my aches and complaints from time to time, but overall, I’m very healthy. Yay!
65. I have great dreams. I write down the ones I see as most powerful.
66. I have God’s Word, both the logos and the Rhema!
67. On days when I can’t seem to sit still and focus on written words, my computer will read to me!
68. I love going for walks with Dave, and he loves walking with me.
69. We do it too often, but I love going out to eat with Dave, more face time!
70. After sitting through the rain, we get the smell of freshness that no other scent can parallel.
71. Just today, as I wearily drove through a drive-through for a drink, a small boy who doesn’t know me at all – blew me a kiss!
72. How positive and wonderful is this one? I live in a world filled with colors!
73. I love the birds that come to visit every day and bring joy to my yard with their songs.
74. I love 70s music and can listen to it any time I want to!
75. I have affordable health insurance. I did BEFORE Obamacare, too.
76. I love the sound of my children and grandchildren’s laughter.
77. Dave doesn’t snore anymore! I can sleep!
78. I have spell-check! It’s not necessary to embarrass myself publically.
79. I’m blessed with a wonderful Bible teacher who comes to hold Bible studies here in my own home.
80. I see beauty in everyone. Everyone!
81. Even with my eclectic tendencies, I’m learning to be more organized. Baby steps, Helen. Baby steps.
82. I know much of God’s Word by heart, yet each time I read it, He gives me fresh revelation.
83. I’m surrounded by talented, strong, inspiring people.
84. I don’t easily attach to material possessions.
85. Most days, I bubble over with joy. Perhaps not all day long – but, the joy is always there.
86. I’ve learned to “think on the good things”. (Philippians 4:8)
87. I like who I am.
88. I like who Dave is. And I like who we are together.
89. Coffee. ‘nuff said.
90. Oh, and chocolate!
91. It seems there’s always someone around to give me a hug when I need one.
92. We’re in our 37th year of marriage and growing stronger every day.
93. I have some wisdom to go with the (few) gray hairs I’ve acquired.
94. My heart grows larger all the time, there’s always someone new to make room for there.
95. Dave and I can’t dance, but we do anyways, when no one is looking…
96. I love a good, rhyming poem, especially if I wrote it.
97. I love it when a light bulb goes off in my mind, though it can be frustrating when I can’t seem to communicate what I just got understanding on.
98. I love that you’re still reading this list!
99. I love water. I have a healthy respect for it, too. But I love drinking cold water and sitting in hot water.
100. I love that there is so much good in my life, that I believe I could come up with another list just as long as this one, just as quickly.

Thank you for your time and attention. I hope you’re inspired to write your own list. If it lifts you up and encourages you, post it on a wall somewhere you’ll see it often, so you’ll remember to stir up the good gifts in your life and remember to rejoice, in the midst of the rainy days.

God is merciful and gracious to us. He is faithful to us. And He loves us, even when we don’t return that love.

There is nothing we can do to make Him stop loving us. Hallelujah! What a very long gratimoment! Thank you, Stacy Voss for giving us the gift of gratimoments to hold on to!

(Hey look! I made it into Helen’s post!! Pretty cool! For that and many more reasons, here’s one thing that tops my list:

Friends. Amazing, incredible friends who love and support me. Love you, Helen!

How about you? What are some of the things you’re grateful for?

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