Overflow

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So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Some days…some days are hard.  Just that.  Just plain hard.  And there are a million little reasons and a couple big why they’re so hard.  There are just times that I would just much rather stay in bed than to get up and feel like I fighting the same battles that I have been fighting for years.

I told my friend tonight that I’m just tired.

And I am most definitely not overflowing with thankfulness these days.  I don’t really know why.  It’s not a bad season.  It’s just a bit dry as of late.

Good things are happening and good changes coming around the bend, and I let the wind blow me whichever direction it chooses.

…Continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him…overflowing with thankfulness…

Sigh.

I get it more wrong than right most of the time.  I fight daily hourly with all the don’ts that were part of my youth that I miss all of the go and dos.

Overflowing with thankfulness.

I think I’m going to start heading that direction now.  Go and do.  Love and be thankful.   I just kinda feel like that’s what it’s more about than do not.

So today is a new day of thankfulness.  It’s going to overflow.  Thankful in the good, bad and just plain frustrating things.  And it will probably be harder than I’d hoped and take longer than I want, but I can choose to be thankful, so that’s what I’m going to do.

There are few things out there that just make me feel alive.  Sometimes I don’t even realize it until the drive home and I’m just buzzing.  Or there are times when right in the midst of things I have to step back and make a mental note to myself to make sure I realize that these are the things that a good life is made up of.

Give me a good conversation any day of the week.  I don’t care if we agree or disagree, but as long as we can have a civil conversation about things that matter and go below the surface, I love it.

Give me a good book I can share with a friend.  We can have conversations about how it should have ended.  We can talk about how cute we think the hero in the book is.  We can talk about how the movie is never going to live up to it.

Give me a chance to be able to introduce two friends to each other and watch them hit it off just like I knew they would.  I love connecting people.

Give me an opportunity to sit and talk and brainstorm with you about how you want to run your business or how you want to improve in an area of your life.  I think this is my love language.

Give me a rainy day away from people and noise and a good book or an Internet connection.  I know it goes against  the rest of them.  I am most definitely an extrovert.  But I also have some introverted tendencies, and those tendencies usually lead me to a day or so a week by myself reading a book or doing some writing or just going to bed early.  Sometimes my recharging comes with good conversation and sometimes it comes with quiet.  I’m learning to embrace both.

Give me something to create.  Tell me what you want, and I”ll go about trying to create it.

Give me Jesus.  Yeah.  I know this one is a bit cheesy.  But the more I’m walking through this season the more I’m learning that He is really all I want or need these days.  My life, His will.  And I am loving the process of walking that out.  It’s most definitely not the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but I do love it.

So what are some things that you are loving on these days?

What just makes your insides buzz with excitement? 

A Bit Muddy

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My heart longs for different places than these.  I can’t help it.  It’s this restless wandering spirit that takes over at times.  And because of decisions, good and bad, from my past, here is where I feel stuck.  It’s like my legs are knee-deep in the mud, and I’m fighting a losing battle.  You know how it is when you’re walking through mud.  The further you go, the more the mud cakes around you until it keeps you down.  You fee like you just can’t move any longer.

But still somehow you break free.  The mud dries and starts to break off, and you leave clumps of your journey all along the way.  I leave a little bit of me in the mud, but the rest is scattered all along my path.  The parts that are left in the mess are the parts that weren’t strong enough to break free.  Those were the parts that had to be torn from me because maybe I was a little too scared to let go.  But now they’re gone, and I feel lighter now.

I know that there are still things I’m holding on to. 

My shoes are more than little muddy.  It’s a process, this cleansing.  Some days you’re walking along just fine on the path before you, and other days you’re thigh deep in the mud and have no clue how to escape.

It seems on the days that I most want to run, I feel stuck.  But I don’t think I want to run because it’s the right thing for me.  I think I want to run because it will take me away from the tearing away of the things that are holding me down.  I’d rather run away and hold tightly to the good than be stuck for a bit, fighting my way through while I let go and run for the best.

It’s a painful journey, this one.  But it’s full of joy.  And hope.  And tomorrow I will see the sun again.  Some of the fruit will be pruned, and some will continue to grow for the time being.  So I keep trudging through the muck because I know I’m gaining strength in the mud and I know there will be some times that it will be a bit harder to walk.  I will need that strength.  And I continue to walk because I know that at some point it will be easier.  The mud may never change, but I will be stronger.

And I will leave a piece of me everywhere I go in this journey.  

It’s nice to know that God will never waste an experience if we give it all to Him.  It’s not my strength anyway that keeps me going.  And He chooses the places where my story stays behind me, and He chooses the places for me to stick.  So for this Type A, controlling personality, this is a lesson I have to keep learning.  Every.  Single.  Day.

Just keep walking.  Even when you feel like you can’t take another step.  I think it’s the strength you gain through the effort that is more important than the progress.

As for me, I think I’m supposed to stick a little while longer.  And if you’ll have me, I think I’ll start writing back here a little more through the sticking and trudging and through the journey.  I’ve missed you, friends.

I became acquainted online with Michelle Woodman through a bloggers group we had both joined.  And while the group has since disbanded, I still keep in touch and read the blogs of some of the friends I met on there.  And Michelle is definitely one of them.  I send her geeky superhero and Dr. Who pins on Pinterest every once in a while when I find one I haven’t seen her pin yet.  And she is a fellow lover of The Big Bang Theory.  Ha!  Anyway, she invited me to write on this blog tour and answer a few questions just to kind of let people know a little bit more about me.  Thanks, Michelle!

Upon what are you working?
Where I work is usually in my recliner with my laptop on my lap or, quite honestly, at my desk in the office.  I probably shouldn’t admit that.  98% of where I write is at home, though.  Things I am working on currently, though, are the occasional blog post and I’m actually starting to work on a book idea I had a couple of weeks ago.  Not ready to share the details other than it’s a fiction suspense/thriller book.  They’re the ones I love to read most, even though I can’t sleep afterwards, so I figured why not write one.  I always get frustrated that I can figure out the endings, so I’m working on one that isn’t quite so transparent.  We’ll see how that goes.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?
I honestly don’t think I have a genre.  I guess my blog genre here would be encouragement.  The book?  I had never though about writing a fiction book, so I’ve never really put any thought into the process of others.

Why do you write what you write?
Because if I didn’t write it here, it would end up somewhere else.  This is just the medium I prefer at this point.  As I said above with the fiction book, I want to write a book that not many people are going to have figured out.  I just finished a book with 100 chapters last night.  Halfway through I knew who was killing people in one of the story lines, and just a few chapters later had it pegged for the other story line.  And it was a fantastically-written story.  I just sometimes want to be surprised by the ending rather than just reading to finish up the details.  Know what I mean?

How does your writing process work?
Usually I sit down in my recliner, turn off the television and think of something to write about.  Sometimes it’s forced writing, which I think is good for practice, but not great for reading.  And sometimes it just flows.  I think that’s all part of everyone’s processes, but I would really like for it to just flow most of the time rather than the lesser amount.  Oh, well.

At this time, I am not going to tag any other writers.  Does that make me a party pooper?  Probably.  I do appreciate Michelle giving me a go at it, though!  Having a writing prompt is so much easier than coming up with something on my own!

FieldsLately I’ve been abiding.  And more often than not I’m left wondering what abiding really means for me.

The official Merriam-Webster definition of abide is:

1. To wait for
2.  -a. To endure without yielding
-b. To bear patiently
3.  To accept without objection

1.  To remain stable or fixed in a state
2.  To continue in a place

I’m not going to lie to you.  I looked that up really hoping it would say “Do awesome things right now.   Don’t wait.  Just be awesome.”

I don’t really like following instructions.  I don’t like waiting.  And sometimes I don’t really like abiding.  I get bored and then I start looking for something more productive to be doing…as if abiding in Jesus isn’t enough.

I posted the above picture this afternoon.  I had come home and my dad had all the fields surrounding my home disked up.  The dirt had been disrupted to make way for new life.  I feel like that sometimes.

Do you remember before the Israelites could enter the promised land what they had to do?  They had been walking for 40 years (it should have taken 11 days) and they were right on the edge.  And God told them to circumcise the men.  And God also told them that the manna they had been daily receiving would no longer show up every morning.  There had to be a cutting away of the old in order to come into what was new and different.  And with the manna, God said, I’m no longer going to do it the way I have always provided for you.  We’re going to do this new thing.  Now, let’s go.

Cutting away the old to make room for the new, or pruning to put another word to it, is painful.  It’s a long and tedious process.  And if you’re working your way through some pruning seasons, odds are you’re crying more now than ever because of the pain and because of the things you may be having to cut out.  It is a painful process.  But the fruit at the end is peace.  It’s goodness.  And it’s a gift to you.

And sometimes your whole life has been running around and doing things just because they needed to be done and because you had the skills.  Then sometimes God says, Hey, we’re going to do a new thing here, honey.  I’m still going to provide for you, but it’s going to look different now.  I hope you’re ready for that.

But the farmer, every step he takes throughout the whole year is work towards the harvest.  Whether it is plowing the fields or putting oil in the tractor.  Whether it is planting the seeds or pulling the weeds.  Every step is a step towards the harvest.  And no step is more important than another.  Every part of the process leads to the bounty.

And it is good.  It may be bittersweet, but it is still good.

'St. Lazarus Cemetery Chapel' photo (c) 2011, Klearchos Kapoutsis - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I’m reading through the book of John lately.  I think I’ve mentioned that before, but I still am.  I’m taking my time to read.  And then I’m taking my time to actually think about what I’m reading and trying to figure things out.

Here’s a list of all the things I’ve figured out so far:

1.

That’s right.  Absolutely nothing.

And it’s actually a little bit comforting.  Jesus does a lot of miracles in the first chapters of John.  We’re on Chapter 12 where he’s entered into the city on a donkey, so we’re coming to the end of his time here on earth.   One thing I’ve noticed throughout all of it is that He prays out loud before these miracles a lot of times.  And it’s not just that He prays and gives thanks to His father, but he’s said a few times that he does this for the disciples’ benefit.

So that you may believe.

I’m starting to feel like the disciples didn’t really know what was going on.  There was this Jesus guy walking around performing miracles and teaching this gospel of radical grace and love.  And he came to them and said, “Follow me.”   I think they knew there was something about Jesus and his ministry that they wanted to be a part of, but I’m fairly certain they had no idea what it was.

What’s comforting is I don’t either.  I mean, these men were walking with Jesus, like physically walking with him, on a daily basis, and when he talked about being the Son of God, or the light of the world, they just didn’t understand.  Of course, I can look back over the whole story and be like, uh, duh, guys.  This is what he was talking about.  But other than that I’m just as clueless.

I think that’s how it starts, this learning to live like Jesus thing.  Man, I don’t know what is going on, but there is something more.

There has to be.

I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t feel like there was a greater purpose for my life and for the world.  As long as I’m breathing, I will still have hope that all this hurting and pain and goodness and love is for something more other than just right here and now.  Honestly, I was drawn to it because I had to be in church twice a week.  But what has kept me interested and seeking more, is that…well, just that there is more.  There’s something to it.

I’m just like the disciples.  Jesus has said, Follow me, so that’s what I’m trying to do.  It’s not perfect.  But it’s comforting that I’m not alone.  In fact, I’m in the company of people who walked with Jesus every day.  And his miracles are sometimes as much for the benefit of my belief as they are for the person He’s healing or helping.  When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, before they even left to head there he told his disciples that he was glad he was not there when it happened so that they may believe.

It’s a little comforting, isn’t it?  

 

Ashes

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'fire fire fire' photo (c) 2009, Peter Løvstrøm - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday.  And as new as I am to celebrating the Lenten season, heading towards Easter, usually I’m ready and have an idea of what I will be giving up for the 40 days.  This year I don’t have a clue.  And while I’ve thought of a few things, the deeper I get into it, the more I realize it’s what I want and not necessarily what God wants from me.
That seems to be the theme of my song lately.  I’ve been reading through John lately due to some encouragement from my friend, Tracee, and through a plan at If: Equip, a branch of the conference I went to last month (and one day I may be able to tell you about how cool it really was).  To be honest, it’s been a long time since I read my Bible for any other reason than just to say I read my Bible.  I was the “good Christian” who barely took time for much other than what was expected of me.
These past seven or eight months have been some of the most soul-searching months I’ve had in years.  Because, you know what, I feel some days like I’m just taking up space.  Am I really doing anything to make peoples’ lives better?  There are plenty of days that I can say yes to the question and plenty of days I can say no, but I think it’s a valid question nonetheless.
“What if I’m living like Jesus is merely useful to me, or is He ultimately beautiful to me?” ~ Ann Voskamp from IF:Gathering.
I think most of my life has been spent being good only because it’s been the rules.  Good girls follow the rules.  Good girls do this and not that.  If you do good things, you’ll be able to get to heaven.  If you don’t go good things, well, you know…and on and on and on.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be good and kind and loving and full of grace and mercy.  But what I’m learning more and more is that if Jesus is useful to me — I’m doing good so I can get something good in return — I’m turning my relationship, whatever relationship it may be,  into a business, an enterprise.  And that will only last as long as the give-and-take system stays in tact.  And let’s face it, we all have relationships where we give more than we take and some where we take more than we give.
It won’t last.  It never does.
It’s only when we come to the realization that Jesus just wants to be with us, no strings attached, no expectations, just to sit and be loved, that there will be peace.
Because I CAN’T be good enough.
I can’t do enough things.  I can’t say everything right every time.  I am human and flawed.  And Jesus just wants to be with me.  And I NEED Him to be with me.  The fact of it is is that I cannot take another step without Him walking with me.  When we can finally see this in ourselves, it makes it so much easier to see it in everyone else.
So Lent?  I’m giving up striving.  I just decided that now as I was writing this.  I’m giving up trying to fill anyone’s expectations of me.  I’m giving up all of those transactional relationship experiences and just going to love.  And I’m just going to work to see Jesus as beautiful instead of useful to me.
And it’s going to take work.  Anything worthwhile is hard.  I’m the type of personality that things that there is always something I can DO to make things better.  When sometimes what is best is to just BE.
By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I see not to please myself but Him who sent me.” John 5:30.
'Love' photo (c) 2012, Adrian Serghie - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Today was Valentine’s Day.  Everywhere I looked online people, myself included, were sharing posts that resonated with them.  There were posts talking about the real reason we celebrate the day.  Posts giving shout outs to all the single people of the world.  And posts from those who just wanted to roll back over in bed and leave the rest of the world to their own devices.  There were good posts, and there were posts that just made me roll my eyes.

So today I just wanted to write a post about what love looks like to me.  Me as a single 33-year-old female.  Me as a woman who is chasing a full life.  What love looks like to me, a woman who tries to love her best, but most of the time just ends up okay at it and sometimes really screws it up.  So here are a few things I thought of today:

Love looks like sitting across the table from my grandparents who have been married close to 60 years.  She cuts his food for him because his hands don’t work like they used to, and he finds a way to make her laugh during lunch.  Things move a little slower these days for both of them, but neither want to be apart.

Love looks like mowing a path around the whole farm just because you think your wife might like to go for a walk on nice days.

Love looks like changing plans so you can make it to a friend’s birthday party.  Just because.

Love looks like asking for help, even when you don’t really know what you need.

Love looks like running.  Running towards the hurt and pain.  Love runs into the crazy.  And while it hurts and may get really messy for a while, love never runs away.

Love is choosing to swallow your anger and pick up the socks in the middle of the floor one more time.

Love looks like laying aside our differences for the sake of unity.

Love looks like not always having to be right.

Love looks like knowing when not to speak just as much as knowing when to say something.

Love isn’t always eloquent.  It’s downright clumsy most of the time.

Love isn’t always pretty.  It’s doing hard things day in and day out to make the world a better place for someone other than ourselves.

Love isn’t about me.  It changes me.  It heals me.  It redeems me.  But it’s not mine to keep.  The world is best served when it’s given away.

Love is the strength to do what is right regardless of what it costs.

Love is the way we’re going to change the world, my friends.  The way we’re going to overcome our differences.  The way we’re going to silence the hate.  Love is going to give us the strength we need and the courage to do the hard things is takes to be the difference maker for someone.

We can do this, folks.

Love is always going to win.

Finally

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made-to-crave

 

So I read this book a couple of years ago.  This is the book I read that inspired me to start running, which inspired me to train for my first 5k, then go to bootcamp, then CrossFit and eventually train for  and complete a half marathon.  I owe a lot to this book.

Since the first time I read it, though, I’ve felt like I was supposed to lead a small group through the book.  So of course, I put it off.  I kept thinking I’d get to my goal weight and then I’d be qualified to lead the class.  If I’m still struggling with this, there is no way I can get up in good conscience and lead other women who are struggling.

I want to have won the battle before I lead.  I don’t want to have to be fighting while I’m leading.

But I think that is flawed thinking.  Sometimes I think the point of the battles is to walk through the hard times with people.  We can fight alongside one another and we can do hard things.

So if you’re so inclined and would like to join us, our first meeting will be Monday, January 20 at 7:00 p.m. and The Journey Church in Fairfield.  We will be meeting every other Monday unless otherwise specified for 6-7 weeks.  I’ve got the first four planned, but haven’t got past that yet.

The book is written and geared towards women and their struggles, but I wanted to make this class geared towards everyone, so I will be making up most of my own discussions while still referencing the book, so it will be friendly for both women and men.  Let me know if you need more information!

One Word Graphic

I got a tattoo in October.  Did I tell you that?  Probably not.  That was right around the time I quit writing for the most part.  But I did.  After years of talking about it, I finally called a couple of friends one evening and said, Hey, I’m going to go get my tattoo this evening.  You want to go?

They did.  So we went.

Just one word.  On my wrist.  It’s not positioned for the world to see.  But when I look at my wrist, I see it clearly.

Tat

I need to see it clearly.

I’ve lived most of my life feeling like if I just did one more thing or gave one more hour, then I could control God’s love for me.  And in my head, I know that I can’t control it, that he just loves me with no strings, no expectations and no contingencies.  And yet I still feel the need to prove myself worthy.  And I just can’t.

Because I can never do enough things or serve enough people or love  enough to deserve the love that he has for me.

There are no conditions.  Just be loved.

But it’s in my deepest hurts and scars that these feelings start to bubble up.  There’s no way that God can love you.  Look how much you screwed up today.  Look at the hurtful things you said.

So then I start to work again.  I screwed up, God, but if I do this, surely you will be able to love me just a little.

It’s a long and exhausting cycle.

And I’m just flat-out tired.

So this year I’m going to let my heart take hold of what my head already knows.  I am a beloved child of a gracious king.  Regardless of how much I screw up or how much good I do.

It’s my goal by the end of this year to be able to sit and be comfortable in that.

To be loved.

Because I am beloved.

When I am hurtful and when I am hurting, I am beloved.

When I do it every way but right and when it’s perfection, I am beloved.

When I am, I am beloved.