Addiction, Brokenness, Faith/Spirituality, grace

Let your light so shine

It’s that time of year again. Time to pull out my Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light, Christmas Devotional (read my blog “Painter of light” from December 2015 to refresh your memory on his story). I have been reading this every year for about 25 years. Sometimes I lose steam after Christmas, and even though the book takes me all the way up to the New Year, I often stop reading it after December 25th. This year I decided to start at the end to see what I have been missing all these years.

It’s fitting for the Painter of Light to end his book with some insights from Matthew 5:14-16. If you remember the children’s Sunday School song “This little light of mine (I’m gonna let it shine)”, this is where it comes from. It says,

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

…no pressure. Just be a beacon of God’s love for all to see. Let the way you live your life, by how you love and forgive and serve your friends and family and enemies, illuminate the lives of others so that they are compelled to turn to God in worship. Right…easier said than done. What about the days where am tired and overwhelmed and stressed out so I snap at my kids, tailgate the slow-poke in front of me and post something passive aggressive about my nemesis on facebook? The reality is that I am a work in process. My light “so shines” sometimes, and at others it barely peeking out, like the thin line of the sun right before it sets in the west. Kinkade points out that he thinks “that’s exactly why many people end up hiding their lights under a basket. Who feels equal to the task of lighting the world?”

To illustrate his point, he talks about lamps, and how they can be made out of pretty much anything. As long as the guts of it can produce electricity and have a place to screw in a bulb, you can make a lamp out of a cowboy boot, a vase, a typewriter, a coffee-pot, or even a worn out, beat-up, thrown in the dumpster lamp that used to work marvelously. When you read stories from the Bible, it’s crystal clear that God is able and most-likely apt to turn the most unlikely people into sources of light. He mentions leaders like Moses (a murderer), Jospeh (a brat brother who was thrown into a pit by his own brothers), and David (a mere boy and later, an adulterer and also a murderer). And then there’s me and you. Need I say more?

If this is true, then how do we go about shining despite our inadequacies? I think the key is a recovery principle I hear often: acceptance is that answer to all our problems. We have to accept the hard, sad fact; we are inadequate. As Kinkade says, “we have to realize that we’re not the ones doing the shining. We’re merely the lamp base, an earthen vessel that has been rewired to shine. Our job is to stay plugged in to the light and to let it flow through us, not to gleam under our own power.”

One way our light “so shines” is when we accept with thanks the gift of who we are. Instead of wishing we were different or better at certain things, we can be grateful for what is in our hand. What we have to work with. Accepting ourselves where we are at can be a hard decision for a lot of us. Many of us struggle with chronic pain, chronic relapse, chronic worry/fear, or chronic sin patterns. W can’t fathom how, or why, God would want to rewire us to be useful for Him in any way. Wouldn’t he rather just buy a brand new lamp thats cleaned up and pretty?

As I read this devotional, I do it with a less naive spirit than I used to. In case you don’t recall, Thomas Kinkade died of a drug overdose several years ago. Every entry I read causes me to reflect on what he might have been battling in his head at the time. Here’s the painful quote an article posted about his death at age 54 on April 6, 2012: “Who could have imagined that behind so many contented visions of peace, harmony and nauseating goodness lay just another story of deception, disappointment and depravity, fueled by those ever-ready stooges, Valium and alcohol?”

“Just another story of deception, disappointment and depravity.”  But even though that’s how it ended, it isn’t the end of his influence in the world. That wasn’t the only part of his story. His mistakes are not the only thing he brought to this world. I am still reading his words, millions of people still hang his inspiring paintings, ones painted as representations of what Thomas longed for. What we all long for. To bring light to this dark world. We just have to believe that our story is more than the sum of our failures and shortcomings. Our job is to stay plugged in to God, the Source of all light, and let Him use us in spite of them.

Faith/Spirituality, Relationships

“Make me somthing”

Last week was my dad’s birthday. Every year, when I ask him what he wants for his birthday he gives me the same answer, without fail: make me something. He has been saying that since the era when making him something was adorable and memorable. When a 7 year old makes you something it’s a sweet story. When a 47 year old makes you something that looks like a 7 year old made it, it’s a sad story. But this year, I found a loophole. I did, in fact, make him something. I made a trip.

He lives an hour away. So the day before, as I was contemplating what in the world I could possibly make him to honor his annual request, it came to me that maybe I could drive up and have my mom bring him to a restaurant as I waited to surprise him for his birthday. I could make a trip. That seemed ever so much better than giving him a bedazzled keepsake box with pictures of all the grandkids glued on the lid (that was my most recent, and final attempt at making a craft for his bday). It worked perfectly! We got to spend lunch together and I had made him something as requested; win win.

My dad has most of what he could want or need and could buy anything for himself that I could afford to buy him. Which is why he always wants me to make him something. It occurs to me that more than likely, with the exception of younger children who sincerely expect gifts bought with cold hard cash at birthdays and Christmas, most people in your life would prefer that you make them something. That means that instead of another tie or CD or gift card, you give them something of yourself. Your heart. Your affection. Your kind words. Your time. Your undivided attention. Your devotion. Your confidentiality. Your support. Your honesty. Your tenderness. Your service. Your forgiveness. But I’ll tell you what. It’s a heck of a lot easier to just scan that credit card at the mall or click “add to cart” and call it a day. That kind of giving requires minimal energy and sentimentality. Very little emotional investment. Buying gifts is not bad, don’t get me wrong (or get me in trouble when you tell your loved one that Heather inspired you and they will not be getting actual gifts this year). But I’d challenge you to remember to view gift giving as a merely a tangible way to express your heart to those you care about. It’s not a good substitute for your love and all that comes with it.

As I was doing my reading for December 6th, which was my dad’s actual bday, the usual happened: what I was reading, perfectly lined up with what I needed to hear on that particular day. It pointed out that not only does my earthly father want me to make him something, so does my Heavenly Father. My reading from Jesus Calling, given from God’s perspective from scripture, says, “Men tend to multiply duties in their observance of religion. This practice enables them to give me money, time, and work without yielding up to Me what I desire the most-their hearts. Rules can be observed mechanically…they can be followed with minimal effort and almost no thought.” It requires far less of our mind, soul, and Will when we just go through the motions in our relationship with God. We can write a check or drop a few bucks in the basket at church. Even when some motions look good to others, like leading at church or volunteering or serving the poor or buying expensive presents for those we love….God sees the heart. And that’s the part of us He wants. He wants us to make him something by making ourselves available to him and vulnerable and real with Him. Those other kind of gifts are important, but if we give them without giving out of our very Beings, they have no value to Him.

What can you make for those you love? What can you make for God? Whether you are 7 or 47, when you give the gift of yourself, the value never depreciates, its one of a kind, and it won’t be stored away for the next White-Elephant gift exchange. 😜

Brokenness, Faith/Spirituality, fear, grace, Trust

“Though the doors were locked…”

By now, some of you have read enough of my blogs to understand my unique daily reading plan. I could market said plan as “Rabbit Trail Reading Plan” or “ADD Reading Plan”, both catering to busy, scattered, impatient and focus-challenged individuals who are doing the best they can to grow up mentally, spiritually and emotionally. At any rate, here’s how it looks for me. I read approximately 4 different books each morning. Each one has a daily entry that is shorter than most of my blog posts I write. While I am reading I underline like crazy. I look up words I don’t understand or intrigue me. And I look up any references to bible verses that are highlighted. When I look those verses up, I truly love it if I have already underlined them in my bible (as if I were going to receive a prize or somthing).  I also read what comes before and after those verses  and occasionally end up reading a few chapters or other verses I have underlined around it. All that to segway into telling you about what I read the other day. And I couldn’t stop crying.

Just a brief description of what’s going on in John 20:26; You have probably heard the descriptor of someone who is skeptical or leary about something as being a “doubting Thomas”. This passage is where that phrase comes from. After Jesus was killed and came back from the dead, he appeared to a few of his disciples. Poor Thomas. He wasn’t there. So they told him about it and a paraphrase of what he said went something like “What-ever dudes. I’ll tell you what; I have heard these rumors already and seen the posts on Instagram. You know they can make anything look real with photoshop, right? But until I see him with my own eyes and touch the holes where they nailed him to that cross, I’m not buying it.” A week goes by and the disciples, including Thomas this time, are chillin’ in someone’s living room.

“And though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them.”

And though the doors were locked…”. That’s the part that made me stop. Made me sob, actually. Because that is the God I believe in. Too often we picture Jesus as standing at the door of our hearts and knocking patiently. Wondering if we are home, hating to bother us with his measly gift of, um, forgiveness of sin and eternal life. This image probably comes from frequently abused verse about “behold, I stand at the door and knock” that is often used to entice someone to turn their life over to the care of God. Spoiler alert, that verse was writtent to a church full of Christians that needed to get it’s act together. It wasn’t about the heart of an individual who hadn’t met up with the wonder of God yet.

The God I believe in and am abandoned to, is not like a door to door salesman or a person who walks and knocks on neighborhood doors getting signatures to support his political agenda. He isn’t politely tapping while I hide behind the curtain, peaking out the window, hoping he gives up soon and moves on.

He’s a God who pursues. He knows we are home and He isn’t leaving until we open the door. He knows what He offers is not only free (to us, not at all to Him) but the best gift we could ever receive. His grace and love and mercy are indeed priceless. Too often we are resistant to letting Him in. Sometimes it’s because we are afraid. Sometimes it’s because we are selfish and want to live by our own Will. Sometimes, I think much of the time, it’s because we think we are not worthy of the gift. That we have screwed up too often and in ways that seem irreparable.

The God I believe in, not to frighten you, is one who will find a way in even though the doors are locked. He will go through a window or jimmy the dead-bolt or come down the chimney. He is what the English poet Francis Thompson called “The Hound of Heaven”. “As the hound follows the hare, never ceasing in its running, ever drawing nearer in the chase, with unhurrying and imperturbed pace, so God follows the fleeing soul by His Divine grace.” And even though, for a plethora of reasons, we try to hide and run and lose this Hound, He follows after, “unwearyingly follows ever after, till the soul feels its pressure forcing it to turn to Him alone in that never ending pursuit.” (J.F.X. O’Conor)

You see, like a lover who knows without a doubt that you are destined to be together, God will passionately and fervently pursue you. You can run and hide and curse and reject, but those are hurdles He can handle. He is not hunting you down to punish or shame you. He is coming to bring the love, acceptance, peace and joy your have been looking for in other things or other people.

Dear friend-I hope you can feel my two hands on your cheeks as I hold your face close to mine and tell you with a tender and emphatic whisper-“though your doors are locked, He will find a way in. And that’s not a threat, it’s a beautiful promise.”

 

Anxiety/Worry, Brokenness, Faith/Spirituality

Trash Talk

Our city has a pre-Christmas tradition. Since 1989 an event called the “Festival of Trees” takes place at the fairgrounds. Various local companies decorate (or hire someone to decorate) an artificial tree, and other companies purchase it for an exorbitant amounts of money which is then donated to a local hospital. There is always a theme. Some follow it and some don’t. But there is always one common thread, extravagance. Sometimes, the trees are so elaborate and over-the-top that you can’t even see the branches. We have been attending this as a family for the past 18 years, since our first-born was able to enjoy it. And though the themes change from year to year, there is one consistent reaction that have without fail. I want to go home and throw out all my Christmas decorations and start over.

Compared to the creativity and newness and modern decor displayed at the Festival of Trees, my house looks like a 2nd grade craft project gone bad. It looks like Christmas bomb went off, and most of the items are pushing 20+ years old. Let’s just take a little inventory as I sit in my living room. My chairs are adorned with two pillows that my mother-in-law cross-stiched (which I love, but are not exactly current decor). Moving around the room I see children’s Christmas books (belonging to my kids but also my husband and I from our childhood), 2 wooden Santas painted by my aunt in the 90’s, a stuffed stocking ornament I apparently thought I could handle making as a sewing-challenged college student, Holiday CD’s (with nothing to play them on), and then there’s the best one. Blocks of wood painted by yours truly that spell out N.O.E.L on one side and with snowmen painted on the other. They are unique because in my first house, the posts to my 4 poster bed were too tall for the ceiling (possibly because my first “house” was a trailer in married-student housing 🙂 ), so my husband’s grandparents and I carefully sawed off the ends to make it fit. I hated to throw them away, so I repurposed them.

In short, I compare my hodge-podge, dated and home-made decor to the glamour and sparkle and innovative decor of the Festival of Trees. But in the end, as I sit in my cozy living room surrounded by all this, I have to say that I love my house at Christmas. I really do. And by now I am sure you can see where I am going with all of this. Comparing myself to other people has always been a point of contention with me and God. I can quickly get caught in the trap of wishing I were someone different. Wishing my gifts were different. Or my circumstances were better and easier. Or that my kids were as successful as their kids seem to be. Or that I was as good of a writer or singer as that girl. Or that my thighs were as thin as hers. And those are just the ways I am discontent outwardly. There’s also the temptation to be dissatisfied with my innards. Hard on myself for my character defects and jealous that so-and-so doesn’t’ seem to battle with doubt or impatience or anxiety or fear.

But when I sit and read and pray and really listen to the voice of truth, I hear God whispering to me sweetly, that talk like that is trash. It is not from Him. His words to me is that he cherishes me for exactly who I am at this very moment. Sure, there might be some junk he might like to purge eventually, but as sit before Him right this very minute, I am valuable. I am valuable even though my decor is not sparkly or modern or expensive or well-placed. Even though most of me is more like my ornaments, made of felt and glue and popsicle sticks or Disney/Star Wars figures with missing or super-glued on arms, He loves me. He cherishes me. He does not wish I was someone different or more put-together. He would pay, and has paid, an exorbitant amount for this broken, aging, mis-matched soul. This is the very good news the angels brought at the first Christmas. And it is the very good news I bring to you, sweet friend, today. He loves you for exactly who you are and where you are as you sit and read this right now. Do you hear me? Right now.

Uncategorized

“Thanksgetting”

This is a post I wrote two years ago. I am itching to write this morning but baking and family are calling for my attention. So, here is some food for thought today. And its fat and calorie free…because if you are like me, you will need that margin as you graze and gorge for the next few days. 🙂 Love to you all. Couldn’t be more grateful for you.

One more thought ( you know I can’t help myself when my fingers get going on this keyboard)…Today. Decide what your primary purpose is and stick to it. Determine to be the best daughter, son, husband, wife, friend, relative, mother or father you can be and leave the rest to God. Live and let live. You live the way God wants you to and let others live how they are living today. They are doing the best they can with what they have. Relax and look for all the things you have to be grateful for instead of focusing on that pesky, irritating, drunk, irrational, loud, negative, bossy, controlling person at the Thanksgiving celebration location you will attend today. And just in case you have a pattern of being the person I described above, just for today, try to live in God’s will and plan for you. A plan that calls you to be gentle and kind in spirit. Loving others where they are at and minding your own business rather than theirs. Watching your words and holding them in if they might harm or hurt. Be who God made you to be and be patient with those who are still becoming enlightened to his way of life. And be grateful for what is before you. Who God has put in your life. It is all good.

 

THANKSGETTING (2015)

I don’t know if this is an official thing, but it should be: I think I have a “Thanksgiving-Food-Hangover”. Even though Thanksgiving itself was only ONE day and ONE meal, I have actually eaten Thanksgiving food in some form or fashion for the past FOUR days! When diet experts estimate the number of calories the average person consumes on Thanksgiving, I think, Oh, that’s not too terrible.” The main problem comes when we eat that meal about 7 more times after Thanksgiving! One of the ways I justified how much I ate this year was to remind myself that I raked 20 bags of leaves, all by myself, the day before. I am positive that I burned enough calories to carry over in to the next day. While I was raking, I put my headphones on and listened to Pandora. Since I am cheap, I have to listen to the bottom level (read: free) of music which includes occasional, very loud, commercials. I heard a commercial for a popular cell phone company advertising their deals for “Thanksgetting.” I could hardly believe my ears. I mean, I know this is typically how most of us think, but they actually had the guts to put a name to it! So, let’s just break this down a bit…

We call it Thanksgiving: a time to GIVE thanks. But really, if I am honest, i am a bit more focused on the “getting” part than the “giving” part. I like to think of myself as a pretty grateful, thankful person, but the when it comes down to it, I have to admit that my thankfulness is rather dependent on “getting” my way or “getting” what I want. I am very happy and grateful to get a new car or house or job. I am also quick to shoot up a prayer of thanks when my kids starts on the basketball team or when my daughter gets an A on that math test or my son gets in to the college of his choice. But how do I respond when I DON’T get what I want and DON’T get my way? Is my spirit still full of “thanks-giving” when I don’t get the job? Do I pout or feel ripped off or do I trust that it’s possible that God knows what I need better than I do? How do I act when my car breaks down or worse yet, when my kids don’t get what I think they deserve? Do I grumble? Do I throw a fit? Or do I thank God for the opportunity for us all to grow and learn through this and develeop the character that is only built through hardship. Throuh NOT getting what we want.

It’s been about 15 years, but I distinctly remember a friend of mine giving me some new insight into an old, often quoted verse. “Consider it all joy whenever you face trials of many kind, for the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:1 Did you catch that first word? CONSIDER. It means, “to regard (someone or something) as having a specified quality.” It means that even though it isn’t the typical response to trials, I can choose to CONSIDER it all JOY. I can only do this when I decide that I will GIVE THANKS, and develop the habit if “Thanks-giving” rather than “Thanks-gettting.” You may have heard the saying, “nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” We have a choice to consider our daily challenges opportunites for growth or to consider them a burden. It’s that simple. I have no control over my circumstances, but I absolutely have control of how I react to them. I learned this in a very real way when I had Leukemia. And if I can respond with joy and Thanksgiving in THAT scenario, i am pretty sure that any situation that arises can be an opportunity for “Thanks-giving”, if I “consider” it so. Continue reading ““Thanksgetting””

Anxiety/Worry, Faith/Spirituality, fear

Inside Out

I’ve heard it said that our outer world is often a reflection of our inner world. Which is to say that the symptoms of inner chaos and clutter and lack of focus can alert us to what is happening in our souls. I believe that and have found it to be true on more days than I care to admit. However, there is a big “but” attached to the solution to that…

And I almost fell for it last week. Outer chaos may very well be indication that there is something askew on the inside, the “but” of is that no amount of order, organization, updating or putting your house/office/bank account/room/desk/car/yard in order can substitute for addressing what’s festering in your soul. The unrest can only be settled from the inside out.

In the past couple of weeks I have been in the process of moving my college-age son out of his room in the basement and moving my 17 yr. old into it. This requires total upheaval and storing and sorting of two entire rooms and years of accumulated memorabilia. Once I competed that task we also rearranged and distributed furniture and electronics from the toy room and then painted and re-accumulated re-fabbed furniture (by me) to put in the newly painted (also by me) guest room that used to belong to my 17 year old. Near the end of the madness, I actually caught myself feeling hopeful because it was almost over, and thinking, “hang in there, Heather. Once you this all organized and completed everything is going to be OK”. The busy-ness and exhaustion and feelings of subtle anxiousness will melt away. Well, I am 99.9% done with this over-haul and guess what? I am not 99.9% better.

Here’s what I learned: If I don’t want to face certain situations or feelings, staying busy with projects and people and entertainment are excellent distractions. If I am afraid of looking at how I might need to change or adapt or what I might need to let go of, a good make-over ( on my body or my home) works wonders. But eventually, when it’s all said and done, I am left with me, myself and I to deal with.

I was thinking about this while running errands today. This problem manifests itself a couple of different ways in me. There are times when I over-schedule and allow very little margin so that I don’t have time to think about areas that are upsetting to me. It’s called avoidance. I go to coffee and the store and work later than I should and watch movies until I can’t keep my eyes open. I know there is something causing me to feel unsettled but don’t have the heart to handle it in a healthy way just yet. Then there are other times where I go a couple weeks in a frenzy of meetings and events and appointments before it occurs to me that maybe my unrest and lack of serenity might be coming from somewhere deep in my soul and is trying to flag me down. It’s flailing and floundering and needs attention; stat!

Even now, as I write and reflect, I can feel the pull of productivity and validation through maintaining a full schedule. Through getting stuff done. Sitting here on this couch, sharing and looking inward is simply unacceptable (is what my brain is telling me). But my spirit, God’s spirit whispering to me, tells me otherwise. That how I go through life is more important than the what. And I can’t do the what well if the how of my soul is running around like the Tasmanian Devil. I’m just sayin’.

Faith/Spirituality

Let it begin with me

I think I have mentioned this a couple of times, but I really hate taking a Selfie. I am not exaggerating when I say that in the same amount of time and energy out-put it takes me to produce a suitable Selfie, I can write and post a 700 word blog. As I have been requesting Selfies (for the cover of upcoming book) from readers over the past few weeks, I am starting to suspect that some of you might rather write a blog as well. Some of you are stalling because you hate taking Selfies. You are not alone, my friend. I share your aversion to attempting to land a Selfie that doesn’t horrify me.

I have had several people ask if they can just send me a picture they already have that someone else took. Nope. Not the same. What we are putting on this cover are a bunch of people who are proclaiming that they are willing to turn the camera back on themselves. And, for some of us, that can be painful. It takes a long time to get a good one, because we are programmed to look for the flaws. Through this process I have become thoroughly convinced that taking a Soul-Selfie is the appropriate description of what I want my readers to imagine as they read what I put on paper. It’s not easy to take a Selfie of your face, but it’s even harder to take one of your soul.

I have spent too many years (approximately 45, give or take) taking snap shots of everyone else’s souls. Some of those pictures, I am ashamed to say, were taken with a judging eye and a condemning spirit. How could they possibly behave that way? Why doesn’t she grow up already? What kind of person would do that to someone? And those are just the thoughts I am willing to say out loud. And then there’s this sneaky snap shot of just trying to “help” others improve. These shots were taken with good motives. I really did want to encourage others in their quest and desire to be better. Better parents, friends, God-followers, and upright examples to those they came in contact with throughout the day. It’s not that those pictures are not worth developing, but if I am not mindful, I can forget that the importance of putting the focus back on myself. I can get so wrapped up in “helping” others that my own soul accumulates habits and beliefs that are not good for it.

Taking the time to learn how to take a Soul-Selfie matters. It’s the most important picture I can take. The hardest part of doing that, is being willing to look closely at the ones that are ugly. The ones where I have a double (or triple) chin and my nose looks crooked and are taken in bad lighting. Because honestly, it’s very tempting to use a filter that polishes out my blemishes, gives it a professional finish and maybe even throws a garland of flowers on my head to distract the viewer from my actual face. But I can only improve if I use the Soul -Selfies that are the real me. And after I face the real, raw, flawed version of me, I can begin the editing process. I edit my soul by asking for God’s help. Asking Him to remove every defect of character that is not useful to him or others. Asking Him to tweak and purge and morph all that is in me so that I can better do His will. So I can live out the plan and purposes He has for me.

And a final thought-an after thought that God reminded me of as I spent time with Him this morning-is to always, always remember why it matters. Why does the condition of my soul matter? And the answer is not “so I can impress others”. It is not about drawing others people to us or attracting them by our “refined spiritual culture”. It is about the intertwining of our core to the One who breathed our soul in to Being.

By regularly turning the camera around to put the focus back on our own souls, we begin the editing process that will begin to make the Phrase “let it begin with me” true in us. And only then can God use us to impact those we love and those we are tempted to hate. Only then can we put our efforts into changing the only thing we have any power at all to change: ourselves.

Let the Selfies begin.

 

Faith/Spirituality

I need your selfie!!!

In case you missed it-I am planning to use Selfies of my readers for the cover of my book . I need to turn in the cover in the next week or two. So, please, if you are willing, send me a selfie to my email with a sentence stating that I have permission to use it. I have several already. Some used filters so they have halos, crowns, hearts, or ears on them! Be creative. I even have one with a reader and his dog! But send soon so I can create the collage and get it ready for publishing!

Send to: Heathercarter1970@gmail.com

(and why don’t I just announce to the world how old I am?! Why in the world did I put my birth year in my email. Dummy.)

 

Thank you than you thank you!

Anxiety/Worry, Control, Faith/Spirituality, fear, Trust

God is repetitive

A couple weeks ago I was In Hawaii. Sigh….

As we drove to the beach on our last day there, my mom and I had a discussion about Hawaiian words. How I can’t pronounce any of them properly, for starters. I mean, how would you pronounce Kapaa or Poipu or Lihue? (However you said it, I can pretty much guarantee that’s not it). I might as well have been trying to speak French. Also, as we went through the spelling of the various cities and areas we visited, we noticed a few things. There are some letters they rarely if ever use ( s, t, and r for example) and some that they use repeatedly (k,w,p,m and lots and lots of vowels).

Fast forward about an hour as we were laying in the sun. We started talking about a study my mom was doing. It happened to be written by one of my favorite authors, Beth Moore. This led us to bring up Anne Lamott, another favorite author of mine. I told my mom that a couple people have told me that my writing reminds them of hers. My interpretation of that compliment is that it’s mostly because we are both pretty honest about our own messed up selves and tend to land on similar topics like grace and love and vulnerability. But there is a huge difference in that she is a real writer who uses smart words and creative and intentional descriptive sentences that are simply way out of my league. My blogs are like the Walmart version of her Ralph Lauren writing. And that’s when it hit me and made me laugh out loud; I am like the Hawaiian version of Anne Lamott! There are just some words and letters she uses that I will never, ever be able to use. And most of all, I am Hawaiian in that I repeat the same few words over and over and over. I use words like “like” and “thing” and “very” and “soooo much”. My descriptive repertoire (I had to look up how to spell that!) is sorely lacking and simplistic.

My vocabulary is not the only thing that is repetitive. The more I write, the more I see the pattern. My topics are also repetitious. Any given blog you read will address issues with worry, anxiety, trust, fear, control, grace and acceptance. And to be honest, while that used to cause me to feel dumb and narrow, I now feel like I am good company. Because you know who else is repetitive? God. And if this is one way I can be more like Him, I’ll take it. If you have ever read the Bible, or even if you haven’t, you should know that even though there are approximately 807,361 words used in the Bible, they tend to highlight certain themes over and over and over in different ways. The main two topics that run throughout the Bible are 1) love God and 2) love people. God also regularly address how we should handle worry, anxiety, fear, control and how to live a life of peace and contentment as we trust His will over our own. It’s rather repetitious when you get right down to it.

I repeat myself because I struggle with the same tendencies on a regular basis. The tendency to let worry and fear dominate, resulting in complete lack of trust in God’s plan for me and the world around me. The tendency to control; to force solutions so that life works out the way I want it to and the people around me live up to my expectations. The tendency to withhold unconditional love and grace and judge others as if I were the great “I AM”. From what I have heard from readers, I am not alone in these tendencies.

But God has gone ahead of us and given us His words of comfort and wisdom to help us navigate this repetitious life-cycle we are riding. He gives us the tools and promises to find relief from these areas, if we choose to use them. He knows its a life long battle for us, which is why He repeats Himself. He tells us the answers in a thousand different ways so He can get His main messages to us across in just the way we need to hear it.

I have a strong tendency to forget to keep the main things the main things. Thank God He is repetitive.

Faith/Spirituality

Dodger fans,take heart

I suppose it’s safe to talk about now. Now that they’ve lost. It’s been pretty tense around our household this past week, because my husband is a Dodger’s fan. And last night they lost to the Astros in the 2017 World Series in game 7. Need I say more? I have to say, though, that it could have been much worse. For the sake of his serenity, my husband tried something new. He DVR’d the games. Sometimes he would watch for a few innings, but if it became questionable as to who would win, he would simply go to bed. If he woke up to good news, he would watch the game in peace and assurance, knowing that no matter how treacherous the game appeared, they would ultimately win. Actually, had already won.

We were talking about his strategy yesterday, and I said, “wouldn’t it be great if life was like that? You only had to participate if you knew you would ultimately win in the end?”. And, you are probably way ahead of me here, our very next thoughts were reflective of how, if you believe in a personal, saving God, you already have.

It’s not only about the promise of life after death. It’s also about how you participate in you life before you get there. God makes 3 pretty gutsy promises to us through His Word. And not only do I believe them in theory, I have tested them ( not on purpose, necessarily) and found them to be true.

The first promise is that He will not allow anything into our lives that He is not able and willing to give us the tools and strength to handle ( I Corinthians 10:13). In the same verse, he also reminds us that such trials/temptations are “common to man.” In other words, you are not unique in your sufferings. You are not alone. Personally, when I see what some people have to endure, I have had thoughts like, “I don’t know how they even get out of bed in the morning. I couldn’t handle what they are going through, let alone do it with any kind of positivity or hope.” But then I rewind my life and look at some of the trials I have faced. I would have said the same about what was coming. I only had the strength and perspective to go through it with any measure of grace and hope as I was in it. It came in just the right amount at exactly the moment I needed to draw on it. I did what I would have said I could never do. It’s about trusting God for what you need when you need it. Don’t get ahead of yourself, or Him.

The second is a promise of redemption. In all things He works for the good of those who love Him ( Romans 8:28 ). That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some parts of the game that freak you out. Like when the other team hits 3 home runs or you strike out or get hit with the ball. Sometimes, even when you know the outcome is in your favor, it’s easy to want to quit or blame or fall in to self-pity. And occasionally, on the surface, it looks as if “Team Us” is getting creamed! We are losing our job, our kids are rebellious, or marriage is failing, out test came back positive, etc. But in spite of all circumstances, He can bring good in our lives if we continue in trust. I have experienced this first hand several times. I bet you have too. We don’t like pain or trials, but it’s hard to ignore that we often become more loving, more gracious, more faithful, more influential and more self-aware as a result. We can watch the “game” in peace, because we know God will use it for good in our own lives and in the world around us.

And lastly, there is the universal, overriding promise. The one that reminds us that God has already won. John 16:33 tells us to take heart. In this world we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world. In other words, even when 9 innings seem to drag on and on and threaten the outcome, we can relax. Even when our best pitcher can’t throw a strike and the other team has bases loaded and the umpire is definitely favoring our opponent, we can have peace. Things and circumstances may not seem ok and can steal our serenity if we don’t keep these promises in the forefront of our mind. But even though things and circumstances are not ok-God promises that WE will be OK. That good can come from bad. That ultimately the game is rigged, because He has already declared the Victory.