Being transformed….

Standard
Being transformed….

There is a trend I’m sure you’ve noticed the last week or so. People are posting pictures from ten years ago and comparing them to who they are today.  It makes sense given that we are about to enter a new decade. So, I jumped on that bandwagon as well, and I’ll share a few comparison pics at the end of this post.

For me, this past year is much different than ten years ago, yet oddly similar in the fact that life has been hard of late. The last few months have been a struggle for me, and frankly, for our family.  Tom’s job change and my working full time has taken a toll on my spirit.  Many days I fight inner battles to see all the good and positive blessings in my life instead of being dragged down by the ideas and illusions that life isn’t like I want it to be, and this has been an issue for me for many years in the past, but for a couple of recent years, I felt more on top of it than I have the last 8 months.

Here we are in the middle of our lives with unsettled careers and still challenged by our finances. I often see I’m still fighting the same old lifelong battles within myself, wondering when I’ll ever overcome those areas that hold me back. Yet, in reality, much has been defeated of the old me, the false self, and I live more authentically out of my true self than I ever imagined.

When I walk in truth, I see all the blessings and provisions in my life, in the life and individual lives of my little nuclear family.  The truth is that God is at work in me constantly and that I’m more aware of His presence on the daily than I was so many years ago.  I can even now recognize how His presence has been with me since I was very young, that back then I talked with Him all the time and that my current relationship with God has actually been growing since I was born.

In my heart of hearts, I can grasp that my current work is actually something I held as a desire for many years, in the back of my mind and when I would apply for jobs during my times of unemployment.  No, it isn’t what I envisioned for myself when I was in the midst of my Masters program, but it is God given and I believe it is a passsageway to whatever is next that will bring me closer to my purpose, my vocation, my calling.

Other areas of my life that remain a challenge can be summed up with my lifelong battle with discipline and sloth.  Do you know the actual meaning of sloth?  It means more than laziness [see this link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloth_(deadly_sin) ]. Sloth is about choosing the easy, comfortable way, instead of making the difficult choices to do the hard work that Love (loving God, loving others, loving ourselves) requires.  Yet, “to whom much is given, much is required”, and I have been given so much of Love, and so much more than comfort is required of me.

I’ve asked God to move me through His Spirit to begin making more disciplined choices, to desire more to do the hard work of Love…..and to discern what this means for me, when I should say “yes” and when I should say “no”, knowing when I actually should act versus when I simply feel false guilt about something.  The areas where I lack discipline are obvious and not-so-obvious.  One is eating coupled with physical exertion, which would be the obvious area.  Another area has to do with surrendering my energy and time resources in trust that if I give myself away to help others that God will supply my needs for time, emotional, mental and physical energy.

My hope is that I will become more able to say yes to serving others when opportunities present themselves to do so, and that I will choose to give my “free” time in this way, instead of choosing whatever else is more comfortable to me, more relaxing, and so on.  I also hope to begin again to choose to exercise consistently and eat healthier, whereas the last 8 months have seen me eating comfort foods and avoiding the effort it takes to go to Planet Fitness.

As I write, I realize we are headed into Thanksgiving week, not New Years, and that what I’m writing seems more like a resolution post.  However, I see it more as an opportunity to begin reflections that lead me into the Advent season and on into a new decade that begins with Epiphany, with Light and Truth shed on my heart and life, starting this season of the year with a grateful heart and awareness of God’s provisions, God’s goodness, God’s gifts in my life.  This awareness is the springboard which then can point me more towards giving to others, at Christmas, yes, but even more so in the years ahead, allowing God to change me more, once again, continuing His transformation in my spirit, remaking me from the inside out.

(Romans 12:1-2  So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.)

 

 

Fall family fun ….

Standard

Spending time with our adult children to celebrate mine and my husband’s birthdays was wonderful and exhausting! We tried to cram as much of Fall into three days as we could …

Take care of yourself…

Standard

From The Upper Room daily devotional emails:

Today’s Reflection

IN CARING FOR OTHERS we use up a great deal of physical and mental energy. If we do not replenish these limited resources, we run the risk of compassion fatigue. We cannot fulfill our God-given callings to be compassionate human beings in bodies that are constantly neglected and overextended. How we feed, exercise, relax, listen to, and nourish our bodies are matters relevant to faithful discipleship. As Francis of Assisi lay dying, someone asked if he would have changed anything in his ministry. Significantly he responded, “I would have been more kind to my body.”

—Trevor Hudson, A Mile in My Shoes: Cultivating Compassion (Upper Room Books, 2005)

Today’s Question

What do you do to relax and rejuvenate? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.”
—1 Thessalonians 2:9 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Give me the eyes to see when others hurt, the ears to hear when others cry, and the courage to bring light into their darkness.

 

WE ARE NO GOOD TO OTHERS IF WE AREN’T GOOD TO OURSELVES….but, we must learn how to take care of ourselves, not simply to indulge ourselves.

Truth and beauty…

Standard

“God is constantly coloring outside the lines. Jesus challenges the structures that oppress and exclude, and busts through any traditions that put limitations on love. Love cannot be harnessed.

Liturgy is public poetry and art. You can make beautiful art by splashing paint on a wall, and you can also make art with the careful diligence of a sculptor. Both can be lovely, and both can be ugly. Both can be marketed and robbed of their original touch, and both have the potential to inspire and move people to do something beautiful for God.

So it is with worship. More important than whether something is old or new, winsome or classic is whether it is real. The Scriptures tell us to “test the spirits,” and the true test of the spirit of a thing is whether it moves us closer to God and to our suffering neighbor. Does it have fruit outside of our own good feelings?

Beauty must hearken to something beyond us. It should cause us to do something beautiful for God in the world.”  Excerpted from Common Prayer Pocket Edition: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

Truth for me for August 27….

Standard

“Dallas Willard puts it well: ‘I am learning from Jesus to live my life as he would live my life if he were I.’ ” (Richard Foster, Everyday Means of Grace)

“A new thing…”

Standard

I’ve had some meaningful realizations this summer. One of those has been in regards to writing.

I have aspirations to write regularly, to be one of those disciplined writers who writes something everyday. I would like to write on this website blog, write in my book, and write poetry as an actual profession. I even have a few small children’s books written in the back of my mind and I’ve had a few poems published as well as a couple devotions.

Yet, what I’ve come to grasp this summer is that writing is a form of giving for me. It takes emotional and mental energy from me to produce well-written materials. These last few months , my energy stores have been depleted due to some ongoing life circumstances. I haven’t had it in me to write anything on a consistent basis.

In my head, I sort of beat myself up about this, feeling like I’m failing because I’m not following through with this ambition of mine. My heart acknowledges the truth of the season of life in which I find myself and offers me the reality of grace. Good self-care demands my graciousness towards myself, my limitations.

Therefore, I’m taking leave from writing here for a while. I will post pictures I take that inspire me, and I’m going to see if this space will allow me to post short video logs.

My hope is that this change will help me to move forward while still wrestling with many life transitions. Come with me on my journey. Maybe we can grow together….

Isaiah43:19 “See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn…

Standard

IMG_2379

“Love….wants to be asked for what it longs to give.” (Richard Foster)  I read this today in last week’s weekly post from Renovare’ which I receive by email.  It was referring to God and prayer, but I also find it applicable to any relationship.

Reciprocation is at the heart of any true and lasting relationship, be it a husband/wife, family, friendships, as well as our relationship with God.  Love that is one-sided simply ends up hurting us as the individual who is actually loving the other. I would say that it even causes us to morph into different versions of our truest selves, as we attempt to please the other and “get them to reciprocate” in like fashion as we are giving in the relationship.

I’ve had various relationships of this nature over the course of my life.  Some I’ve chosen to continue to pour into, as I’m able, simply because of the foundation of the original relationship or out of legitimate love and concern for the other.  There have been times I’ve simply had to back off and re-define the boundaries of the relationship so that I could remain healthy but not completely break a bond or sever a tie to someone who hadn’t done me any harm beyond simply being a “taker” and not returning to the relationship reciprocally.  Yet, there have been some with whom I’ve broken all connections, seeing their true nature and accepting that no matter what I did there would be nothing to change their hearts towards true reciprocity in friendship with me.

When I read the quote today, about love wanting to be asked for what it longs to give, I thought of how I sometimes will offer someone an open invitation to come and visit, fully hoping they will do so someday, or I’ve told friends I’m always available to them if they will just call or text, and I truly have meant that.  Yet, it’s seldom that someone does reach out and ask, rare that someone admits their need and becomes vulnerable enough to “phone a friend”.  I admit that there have been times in my life that I held back as well, keeping my problems or needs to myself so as not to overwhelm others.

However, my closest friends will tell you that I’ve learned to reach out to them in my hour of need, if for nothing else than to ask for prayer support.  Sometimes, it’s to ask for more, a chance to visit or have a meal together, etc.  I will admit though that I have never looked at asking for help quite the same as I am considering it now that I read that quote from Richard Foster.  I think I’ve held back in asking from those who love me the most, sometimes thinking that they should know without me asking…. I’m feeling I’ve been wrong in that, and I need to let the Spirit do some work in me to change me.

This goes right along with one of my favorite movie quotes, from Moulin Rouge, which is actually from a song by Nat King Cole, written by Eden Ahbez, call “Nature Boy”.  The line says, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”  Doesn’t this just fit?  It applies to all relationships, and really to all people we may encounter.

Love in this life is imperfect and flawed, but still, it’s love, and that’s why God created all of us, out of His great love, springing from the love between the Father, Son, and Spirit.  We’re made to love Him and to love each other, in give and take relationships, to know and be known, to love and be loved in return…   Just love each other, and leave the rest to God.

IMG_2394