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Fight for Joy
No Wasted Steps
Because of This
Because of Brokenness
BREAK IT UP!

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A Re-Creating Life

Fight for Joy

(blogging at Putting on the New  today)

I woke yesterday morning to a fresh, white world, snow sparkling like diamonds. Not the kind of beauty I really wanted to see in the second week of April, but still something to appreciate. And then came the text:Feel like a road trip?more . . . 

No Wasted Steps


Life lesson in a bracelet:

Hubby gave me a Fitbit for our anniversary and this fashionable little accessory is literally changing the way I look at life.

You know those times when you walk into a room and then have no idea what you were looking for? From the moment I put this on, I quit chastening myself for those senior moments. Because now every wrong step "counts" in exactly the same way the intended ones do! 

Life lesson? Think of the missteps you've made in life. Poor choice, unwise relationship, wanting to do things your way instead of God's. We've all suffered the consequences of dumb decisions and selfish motives. But how many of those missteps led you to a blessing--a lesson learned, wisdom gained, a testimony of God's mercy and forgiveness, a story to tell someone about to make a wrong step. 

I've lived long enough to have a significant list of ways God has used my mistakes. Though I may wish I could have learned a lesson or gained experience in a less painful way, one thing is certain--those missteps are never wasted.

  

Because of This

I’ve been sorting through old pictures and reflecting on the past lately, thinking of all of the one-thing-led-to-another moments in our lives.

That train of thought brought me back to 1968. I was a selfish seventeen-year-old girl who broke up with her boyfriend and then was miserable because of it. And then my father died suddenly of a heart attack, and in the midst of my shock and sadness, the boy I’d hurt came alongside me and held me up. And BECAUSE OF THIS I was humbled and changed and grew up a little. 

And BECAUSE OF THIS, we were married two years later.


Seven years later, in 1979, our two-year-old son fell off a slide. As I scooped him up, I had no idea that God would use that one terrifying moment to direct the course of our future. 

BECAUSE OF THIS, we took him to a chiropractor. BECAUSE OF THIS, when my husband was laid off from his job, he decided to embark on a new career path in chiropractic. BECAUSE OF THIS, we moved from Wisconsin to Iowa and then to a new town in Wisconsin. BECAUSE OF THIS, we drove past a rustic sign pointing to a little white church. BECAUSE OF THIS, we became part of a wonderful Christian family. 

BECAUSE OF THIS, our oldest son became a counselor at a church camp. BECAUSE OF THIS, he met a beautiful co-counselor and fell in love.


BECAUSE we moved to a place where we saw that sign and joined that church, my second son was sitting on the floor in the basement of his youth leaders’ home when a girl he’d never met walked down the stairs. My son told his friend, “I’m going to marry that girl.” And so he did. And BECAUSE he was the little boy who fell off the slide and BECAUSE OF THIS had grown up benefiting from the chiropractic lifestyle, this boy also became a doctor of chiropractic.


Also BECAUSE OF joining that church, my third son found his best friend. And that friend had a beautiful sister. And pretty soon my son had a new best friend. 


And then another family joined the church and they had a beautiful daughter. And my fourth son picked on her for years before the teasing and laughter turned to love.


And, BECAUSE OF ALL OF THIS, we are the ridiculously blessed grandparents of fifteen amazing kids and on Friday we celebrated 44 years of marriage.

Whatever you’re facing, remember that this--this painful or frightening or regret-filled season or moment--could be the spark that sets off a chain reaction that leads to blessings beyond anything you can imagine.


Do you have a BECAUSE OF THIS story?

Because of Brokenness

Feeling shattered? Never doubt that God can use your brokenness. I'm sharing personal experience at Putting on the New

BREAK IT UP!

I've been on an organizing binge the last few weeks--to the extent that I have my hubby worried I might be pregnant and nesting. Poor man is terrified!! ;)

When this urge to purge closets and drawers comes over me, I can be a little difficult to live with because I'm obsessed with doing it ALL NOW. I want everything in nice, neat labeled boxes TODAY. Add to that the fact it isn't just my junk I want to donate to the Salvation Army, and you have a recipe for marital tension. 

When the obsession takes over, I have to have a "Let's be rational" talk with myself. Let's make a list, prioritize, and break it up into small, doable chunks. Let's decide not to exhaust ourself . . . or our husband's patience! The all-or-nothing part of my brain argues with the (teeny-tiny) logical part and then I give in and make the list. 

It's far more rewarding to get out the red pen and cross off "organize top shelf" than to spew the contents of your closet into a pile and only make a dent in it by the end of the day. 

This approach also works well for someone like me who is a slug when it comes to exercise. Years ago, a friend gave me a guest pass to Curves. I loved their system of half a minute at one station or machine, a brief rest, then half a minute on the next. What a breakthrough. I can do anything for 30 seconds! At home, I can spread it out over the whole day. Set the time for every two hours and exercise for five minutes. Repeat 6 times throughout the day and you've moved your body for 30 minutes.

I started using the "circuit" idea even for daily chores. Did you know you don't have to clean a whole bathroom all at once? Did you know you can clean the toilet in the morning and the sink in the afternoon? If you're really radical, you can spread it out over the whole week--one task a day--and start the cycle over again on Monday. Everything gets cleaned once a week and it never seems like a time-consuming chore. What a revelation to an All-or-Nothing! 

I'm trying to apply the "break it up" method to my entire life. I had an ironic insight recently while trying to memorize Romans 12. When I read "Be transformed by the renewing of your minds," I want that--and I want it NOW! Change those thoughts. Now! But the only way I can memorize that whole chapter is in small chunks--a verse or two a day. Exactly the way I should be working on my thoughts. Today, I'm going to focus on letting no unwholesome (impatient, sarcastic) words set up camp in my head. Tomorrow I may work on selfish or judgmental thoughts. In approximately 30 years I should be close to a totally renewed mind!

This works for that Guilt List of all the people I haven't written to or called in way too long. One email or card a day is doable. One "let's do lunch" call a week is more than doable. 

ALL OR NOTHING___________________LOGICAL PACING 

  • Where are you on this continuum? 
  • What are you facing that you need to break up into doable chunks? 
  • Any tips for a reforming gotta-get-it-done-now person?  

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Find Your Joy Bubble

I was in a strange place, surrounded by people I didn’t know. I didn’t want to be there. And then a memory flashed–-my mom, talking about her joy bubble . . .

Chatting about abiding in Christ and keeping joy in the midst of turmoil at Putting on the New today. 

When I Am Weak

That year, the word God gave me was STRENGTH. I felt empowered by the word as I imagined how I would use it. Physically: I would exercise regularly, add strength training, and make healthy food choices. Mentally: I'd read more non-fiction, learn from the biographies of great people. Spiritually: I'd spend more time studying and memorizing scripture.

And then came a single sentence that opened a vein and siphoned every drop of strength. I couldn't breathe. Sobs came in waves, triggered by random thoughts, unexpected memories. The walls closed in. Questions ricocheted, waking me from a sound sleep. Why? Why? And eventually . . . What now? But no answers came.

Have you been there? Have you heard the sentence that brings the verdict: Guilty. Betrayed. Rejected. Ruined. Terminal. Alone. 

I didn't have answers. I didn't have the faith to believe there would be joy in the morning. The future was forever altered because of the hole in my heart that would never fully heal. 

But this I did know: Though I felt alone, I wasn't. Though I was powerless, he wasn't. 

This wasn't the year God was going to increase my strength. This was the year I would lose it all. And he would show me his. 

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

I wonder . . . how do those who live without that promise ever get to the point where they can draw a full breath? How do you go on if you don't know the One who will be your strength when yours is gone?

I wrote the above this morning, then found this song posted on Facebook by a man whose son committed suicide. Lord, without you we can't go on.

Touches of Grace

I woke with a sense of heaviness this morning. Much on my mind. Family members suffering, relationships strained. I checked Facebook as I got dressed to face the day. More heaviness—two sets of parents helplessly standing by bedsides of adult children with life-threatening health problems. Tears blurred my morning routine. God, where are you in all of this?

This past Sunday we listened to possibly the best message on suffering I’ve ever heard. Yet still, with this fresh on my mind, the question returns. Where are you?

As I sat down to pray, looking out on a white, cold world, a seemingly random thought came to mind. A cold January day. 1999. Still reeling from the horrific news that my sister-in-law had died in a head-on car accident, I stopped at the house of long-time friends. As I sat and talked, she brought a blanket and tucked it around me. And then a cup of tea. And listening. When it was time to leave, he went out in the bitter cold and started my car. Small kindnesses, but exactly what I needed at the moment.

The memory brought to mind other moments of grace: The year my husband was laid off—walking out to the car and finding the back seat filled with bags of groceries. That same year—an envelope in our mailbox. $10. No name. Then there was the day I answered the phone to hear my son was in the hospital in possible liver failure, and a friend—a person who is definitely not a hugger—grabbed me in a bear hug and said, “I’m so, so sorry,” as I cried.

I think back on so many perfectly timed phone calls. “How did you know I needed this right now?” Or “thinking of you” cards—how could that friend have known when she put a stamp on that envelope that I would need that encouragement today, at this moment, as I opened the mail?

Where is God in these heavy times? Right here. Showing his love in touches of grace from an anonymous friend, a cup of tea from a sister in Christ, a perfectly timed phone call from someone willing to listen.

Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve mislabeled acts of kindness, failed to see them as your presence. And show me, today, who needs a touch of grace. Use me—to hug, or write, or listen, or make that call. Or that cup of tea.
 

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Craving Sparkle

Discussing my thoughts on our love for shimmer and sparkle and our longing for a prince (and showing off my beautiful granddaughters) on Putting on the New. Come on over!

Spiritual Frogs

There are not three levels of spiritual life— worship, waiting, and work. Yet some of us seem to jump like spiritual frogs from worship to waiting, and from waiting to work. God’s idea is that the three should go together as one. Oswald Chambers

I'm forming a support group--Spiritual Frogs Anonymous. 

Anyone want to join? 

Though I consciously desire an organic, constant, living-and-breathing ongoing relationship with my Heavenly Father, I so often compartmentalize and hop from heartfelt prayer to striving to please to genuine worship to doubt to waiting on Him to real caring for others, and then cycle back around, throwing in some false guilt and wrong motives just for good measure. 

How does one get rid of the useless things on that list and live a vibrant, pray-and-praise-and-serve-and-wait patiently-without-ceasing life?

I fancy myself a free spirit, but I'm afraid at least part of the answer lies in the D word. Discipline. I want it to just happen, but some things don't come naturally. The key may be in not treating spiritual disciplines as things to cross off a to-do list. Prayer. Check. Fasting. Check. Worship. Check. Serving. Check. 

The answer may be found in breaking out of the boxes. Leaving the lists behind. It's good to set aside a time of prayer, but when I rise from my chair or my knees, the conversation shouldn't end. When I leave a time of corporate worship, the praise continues in my spirit. Instead of jumping from one lily pad to the next, we can sit back and revel in the entire scene. Like an impressionist's watercolor, lines and colors blur and blend and flow into each other, creating a life of beauty and serenity. 


By not setting an end-time for these "disciplines," we may create an internal atmosphere that is less conducive to negative thoughts and wrong motives.

Membership in SFA is free. All you need is a sincere desire to stop hopping! 

How do you keep your relationship with God constant and free of boundaries?


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