The Whisper From Within

I pulled my hair back into my usual low messy bun, removed my sunglasses, and peered into the opening of the cave. My hands tightly held my treasured designer sunglasses that hid tired eyes on my busiest days. I remembered the day I bought them and the false sense of accomplishment I felt wearing them. I wanted to rid myself of all of that and so I quickly tossed them into the tall grass behind me.

I stood staring into the never-ending darkness. I took a deep breath and stepped inside. A light sweeping breeze tickled my skin. I heard the whisper, the whisper from within, calling me to continue. It was the same whisper telling me to leave behind my fierce independent ways. It assured me perfection is a weak and fragile state. It reminded me real strength lies in the mess. It lies in being content with your mess and with your limitations.

I was frightened, yet determined. I thought of the steps that led me there. I was in my early twenties. The noise of busyness, the layers of self-made sludge, the wounds of days past had drowned out the whisper. I wanted nothing more than to listen and embrace it once again. I was never meant to live that life. I was meant to live my life. So, one day I stopped. I just stopped, pretty much dropped, and couldn’t move any further into the life I created. A life I worked so hard at maintaining the image of perfection and self-sufficiency. It was then I saw brave was not nonstop trying and doing and living the “good” life. Brave was standing where I was that moment. Brave was stepping inside my own cave.

I took another deep breath and didn’t look back. It felt like the first few moments after jumping into a pool. There was a shocking cold that quickly transformed into a refreshment for my weary soul. My eyes adapted and light appeared. The outside noises soon diminished. I began shoveling through the sludge. I came across my wounds, some I healed and some I simply acknowledged. There was nothing else between me and the whisper from within. It was like a long lost friend I hadn’t seen in years. We embraced and cried and fell right back into the old rhythm of things. I fell back inline and freed myself from the pressures of this world.

There are times, will always be times, I wander outside the bounds of my life. I find my way back to my cave, I do the work all over again. I know that life isn’t real, it isn’t sincere, it isn’t mine. It is built on pressure and duty and pushing past limitations I was never meant to push past. No one is made to do it all, to try it all, to go and go and go until you drown out the voice from within. So just stop and go inside your cave. You won’t regret it. I haven’t.

My Shield and Thorn

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I love to help people.  It is something deeply rooted, so deeply rooted, I believe it takes up the largest part of my personality. I care for people to the point it hurts.  It’s the thing I cannot change.  It’s the thing I look for in others and cannot understand when they could care less about helping others. How can you not want to help?  

I get frustrated when I see people who refuse to help when it is needed. Those are the times I bite my tongue, those are the times I pray for understanding. Most times, I see the reason why. Sometimes all I see is a hardened (selfish) heart. Then I pray to understand the pain that caused their heart to harden. I pray and even when the understanding doesn’t follow, I tend to let go. It does eat away at me when I cannot see the cause. But, it eats away at me more when I have harsh feelings toward a person.

Does the inability to stay frustrated–the wanting to always see the why behind the negative make me weak?  Maybe it does.  Maybe I am too kind and too sensitive.  I may be one who gets walked over my entire life. The thing is, I accept this “weakness” God has given to me.  I know it is better than holding hate in my heart.  It’s better than always being disappointed in people.

It is a struggle to stand firm in my kindness, knowing it as both a strength and weakness. I will always pray for understanding within myself and within others as well.  I will always hold some doubt and over-think this part of me. Satan will continue to use this against me.  He’s mean like that.

It isn’t always easy and I fail at times to place my trust in God. Despite my stubborn ways, He never fails to bring me back to the truth. My kindness is my shield and my thorn. It is more a beautiful shield, though, in this sometimes ugly world.

What is your shield and thorn?

Caution: Road Block Ahead

imageMy normal twenty-minute trip of taking Oliver to school took me about 45 minutes this morning. Even my alternative route was closed.  So I had to go another way, then another, and another. I got home and made myself a cup of coffee before I took off again to go shopping…by myself. Any parent knows the joy it brings to shop alone. I cannot tell you the frustration I felt when I looked out my window and saw my road was blocked. Yep, I live on the corner of a court with no other way out. I felt trapped and completely ticked.

All I could think of was how the construction is messing with my life and plans.  

I took a few deep breaths and then sat in my favorite chair. My 72 pound lap dog jumped up on my lap and nestled in. Ranger’s drowsy eyes looked up at me before his big wrinkly head landed on my hand. He loudly exhaled and then closed his eyes.  Within a minute he was snoring.

Apparently my dog was quite pleased with the construction that led to my being trapped. I rubbed his head with my free hand and began to relax. I realized I probably needed my dog and favorite chair more than I needed shopping. I began to sip my coffee and my thoughts carried me away.  I wish I could say they carried me away from construction, but it was not so.

It dawned on me how easily we become frustrated with road blocks. Sometimes it is all we think about.  Sometimes it trickles down into every aspect of our lives.

I’m not speaking the literal sense of a road block. I’m sure you’ve already picked up on that, though. You may even be nodding you head and are thinking of a situation in your own life. You are ready to move on. You want to go where you think/know you want/need to go, but you just can’t get there for because of the stinking road block.

Presently, I do not have any major road blocks. At least none I am aware of. But I can recall the ones I’ve had in the past. I remember the frustration. I remember the only if’s. Only if…then my life would be better. I could accomplish more. I could be a better mom, spouse, friend, or whatever. I could be more faithful.  I could be more…

What we fail to see is the significance of the road block. God needs for us to stop so He can do the construction needed within us and around us. He is the one who knows the best path. We need to trust Him when He takes us on unexpected or inconvenient ways.

Amazing how with just a twist of perspective, the meaning of trapped and inconvenienced transforms into our ever-loving God fixing and beautifying us and our path called life.

Season of Change

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The once green leaves darkened and dried.

I never thought to just let them go.

I prayed for strength to keep and bear them.

 

Still, the crisp air came and began to rip them away.

Some twirled, some plummeted, some fast, some slow.

But all landed on the ground around me.

 

I didn’t believe they would wander far.

Give me the strength Lord, please.

They may still come back to me.

 

Slowly the wind picked them up.

One by one they flew further and further.

I tried reaching down to grab them.

 

God simply told me no.  

 

I realized a season of change had come.

New leaves would surely emerge.

But only after the release of all the old.

 

To Live Like Geese

As I looked up through the fog I saw it.  The geese were flying in a perfect v-formation. I wish I could have snapped a picture. I don’t know, there was something about the fog that made it more beautiful. Don’t laugh, but it kind of felt like a scene from a movie. I know, I know, my imagination gets the best of me.

I always have so much running through my mind and it is in those moments that it all comes together for me.  I should clarify.  I don’t always have movie scene moments. I promise my life is not that enchanting.

Anyway, I was sitting in my chair and thinking of the v-formation and the significance of it. When geese fly together each goose is just as important as the next. They all matter. The lead goose moves to the back to rest and another takes over. No one goose is expected to expend the most energy all the time.

It is together they reduce air resistance. They fly further and with less energy than they can alone.

Like the v-formation, the church (the body of believers) is there to reduce resistance of this world. We are called to. When we fall out of formation, we are not as strong. We can’t fly as far alone. We just can’t.

So yeah, we have a thing or two to learn from the life of geese. Who would have thought?

The Light in the Darkness

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Last night my nephew stayed the night.  We let the boys stay up a bit past their bedtimes so we can catch lightening bugs.  As they were running around, I realized it had been a while since I had been outside in the dark. With young kids we cling to the light––we close up shop for the day. Oh my, it was a beautiful night and I was in awe of the dark cloudy sky. A much needed light glimmered through and around me.

I walked around our yard and watched the boys.  I remembered the joys of my own childhood. I pictured my young self standing still and waiting for the small flickering of light. I felt the sneaking up, the holding up of one palm, and then the taking of the other hand to quickly trap the lightening bug. My favorite part was the release. Sometimes they would immediately fly off and other times they would linger for a few seconds.  I would not move until I once again saw their flickering of light in the darkness. Then I was off to find the next flickering of light. I never had any doubt that I would find another.

I began to think of the pain in this world, of the darkness the pain brings. The sun always goes down and the darkness always finds its way. My natural instinct as a parent is to wrap my arms around my kids and pull them close to me.  I want to cover their eyes and shield them from the darkness of this world. I love my children and want to protect them. I can’t though.

Instead of always trying to shield them, I need to show them how to stand in the darkness by always looking to God. One day they will have to stand in the darkness and I will not be able to shield them. I will not be able to shield them. (I have to say it once more.) I will not be able to shield them. What I can do is continue to equip them by:

  • Teaching them the Word.
  • Praying with them
  • Praying for them.
  • Leading by example.  
  • Pointing out the light in the darkness, even if it is just a flicker.  
  • Being their light when I can.
  • Allowing them to be my light when they can.  
  • Trusting God and God’s path for them.
  • Praising, loving, and striving to be more like Christ with them…the only unwavering light in this dark world.

 

To Stay Afloat

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I have always wanted to buy an old house to fix  up.  Old houses have character that a newer house cannot compete with.  That probably will never happen, but a girl can dream, you know. It isn’t just houses, anything old excites me.  I don’t know how to describe it.  I think it started as a child.  We lived in this old farmhouse. I remember the creaky wooden steps. I remember the floors, the cabinets, the built in shelves, the scary basement. I remember the old barns we would explore and play in.  I remember all the little details that most people would overlook.

My love for old things carried on through the years.  I blame mostly my dad for this love of old things. He would buy wooden boats.  We would spend the winter fixing them up. It was hard work.  Me being the smallest, I was always given the job of climbing down by the engine.  I had to pull out the leaves and whatever else was down there.  I don’t miss that part.  My favorite part was redoing the cabin.  Sanding, staining, and varnishing the wood was fun to me.  I felt as though it was our living room of the boat. I am all about making things feel comfortable. My brothers were more into the exterior part. The things that made the boat float.  My dad taught us how to work hard.  Our boats showed us, literally, how hard work pays off.  Putting the boat in the water for the first time and wondering if it will stay afloat.  When it did…aah…what an amazing feeling!

I think of life much like I do of old wooden boats.  You need to put work into it to stay afloat.  Think about a time when you let things go.  Those cracks in whatever area of life you let go start holding in water and then eventually you feel as though you are sinking. You grab your bucket and start throwing the water out, but the water keeps filling back up. What you really need to do is fix the cracks.  In order to do that, you may need to pull your boat out of water.  Sometimes all you need to use is a sealant. Other times you need replace some of the wood as well.

Spiritual life is the same.  I think that is where many people get confused.  You don’t need to earn your salvation. Jesus did the work for you. But you do need to do some work if you want your faith to grow. What happens when you fall out of prayer and you slide away from reading His word? You will start sinking right back into the world and worldly thinking.

We need to protect ourselves from the exterior things that wear us down and we need to protect ourselves from the things (sin) within ourselves as well. As christians we need to continuously seal and repair our cracks so we can stay afloat. The more afloat we become, the more we can help others stay afloat and see the love of Christ.