Ninety Seconds of Light: Just Ask!

I couldn’t find it!  I looked and looked and still it was nowhere to be found!  It was cold, dark and people were staring.  Why was this so difficult?  I knew if I called my dad he could tell me exactly where it was and I could end this whole ridiculous waste of time looking.  But, something in me felt this was a challenge and I wanted to be up for it.  I wanted to find it all by myself, not sure why that mattered, but it did.

So, I spent the next fifteen or twenty minutes looking, freezing and trying to avoid the awkward stare of the much older gentlemen watching me while I searched high and low, nearly standing on my head in the process.

What was I looking for you wonder? 

The button to open the gas tank cover.

Let me explain.  I was driving my dad’s car because our faithful van of seventeen years was having “surgery.”  (Alternator replaced)  So, I was without a vehicle as my husband needed the one I usually drive to get to work out of town.  My dad graciously agreed to let me drive his car while he drove his old truck.  Thoroughly confused? Yeah, try living it for a day or two.

So that explains why I was sitting at a dimly lit gas station looking for the button, lever, handle, whatever to open the gas tank.  Why oh, why, was it so hard to locate??  The older guy one pump over was thoroughly entertained at my fiasco.  I got in the car, out of the car, on my knees by the car looking under the seat.  He chuckled when I accidently popped open the trunk, guess that wasn’t the right lever. 

And yet, I did not simply call my dad and ask for help.  Not until I was freezing cold and completely exasperated. And tired of being stared at. (He didn’t even try to hide his amusement.)

Finally, when I was out of options, I made the call.  “Daddy, where is the button or gadget to open the gas tank cover?”  Said I.  To which he responded, “There is no button, you just push it open.” 

What??  Seriously, what car now a days doesn’t have a button?  I could’ve looked for fifteen minutes or fifteen years and there would still be NO BUTTON! 

I hung up the phone and stepped outside the car and pushed open the gas tank and proceeded to pump my gas.   So easy, but only after I asked.  I felt so foolish.

Why didn’t I ask sooner? 

Why don’t we ask for help sooner?  Why don’t we ask for direction or advice from those who have walked a similar road?  From those who might know how to find healing and hope because they can relate to where you are. 

Why do we wait? 

Today, ask the Lord to show you someone in your life who may be able to offer an answer to a difficult situation that you just can’t figure out on your own.  Maybe someone older and wiser.  It will save you stress and the answer might just be a lot easier than you think. 

Take it from me, just ask.

Prayer:  Father, help us to ask for help when we need it.  Sometimes that can be so difficult.  You designed us to need each other.   Send people into our lives that can offer sound advice and be trusted.  Help us to be willing to help those around us when we are asked and to be humble when we answer.  In Jesus name, amen.

“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”  Proverbs 12:15

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Ninety Seconds of Light: The Thoughts We Think

Have you ever felt as though your good enough just wasn’t enough?  Like every effort you make, all the work you do just doesn’t quite measure up?  Have you wanted to run and hide instead of face what the day may hold?  Have you loved people so deeply while at the same time not wanting to be around anyone?  Have you ever wondered what all of this for and will it ever get any better?  Like you need change but are powerless to know how to get from where you are to somewhere else.  And honestly, where else would you go?

Well, if you have, then we can relate.  We can relate on a very deep and private level.  These are not feelings we like to talk about too often.  Occasionally we will share them, but mostly, we protect them and hide them for fear of, well, for fear of what exactly?

I am not sure I have an answer to that or any of the other questions that roll through my mind making me feel tired and useless.  But, I am so thankful that I’m not alone.  I’m glad you can understand how I feel.  And I am thankful for a Savior that understands as well.

It helps so much to know that I am not alone, that I am not odd or messed up.  I’m just a needy person travelling through this world trying my very best to live within the faith that I hold so dear.  I don’t want to pretend to be something that I am not.  I don’t want to portray an image that is false, I just want to be transparent.

I have made mistakes, said things I shouldn’t have, believed lies, called names, talked about others and worried too much over image.  I eat to comfort myself, I drown my hurt in denial and I compare myself to others way too often.  I am a mess. 

That is the unedited truth. But, thank goodness, not the end of my story.

Today and every day, I seek a Savior that loves me unconditionally and fully.  I say this out loud to myself in the mirror so I will remember.  I am writing it here to you so that we don’t forget. It is not perfection we need, it is grace.  Sweet, limitless grace.  We need to give it to others.  We need to give it to ourselves, which is so much harder.

I wonder why that is?

I was sitting in church this morning feeling so completely frail when the praise team began the song “Greater” by Mercy Me.  It was a subtle reminder to me that HE is greater in me than all of those feelings and questions that plague me at times. 

I came home and wrote in my journal my raw and very unflattering feelings.  My journal is more than a diary, it is a place where I bring my deepest hurts and lay them before my Heavenly Father.  It is like therapy for me.  And then I cried.  

It was exactly what I needed.  A place to release, to be real and unedited and to feel loved anyway.  I am so thankful for this blog ministry.  I must be honest it stresses me out to put my feelings out there like I do.  But, it also makes my life so much richer and it keeps me accountable.  

We need each other.

And, then I braved the freezing cold and went to church again tonight and was reminded of Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Just the reminder I needed.  Tomorrow is a new day and I am going to think on things that will bring me peace. 

One day at a time.

Ninety Seconds of Light: Just Try It January

I got a new wallet.  It was a Christmas gift.  Have I ever mentioned that I get attached to accessories and things after I’ve had them for a while?  Where most might decide it’s time to upgrade, I am only just starting to break the item in.  For example, I kept my iphone well past the upgrade date and only exchanged it because I had no choice.   (I’ll explain that another time.)  I will carry a purse a full year or more without even thinking about changing if it’s comfortable.  I have shoes that are over a decade old.  We have the minivan that we brought my youngest son home from the hospital in, he’ll be seventeen next month.  Full disclosure, My husband drives the van now.  But, the thought of getting rid of it makes me kind of sick to my stomach.  It is a part of the family.

These “things” carry value to me because they remind me of people and experiences that I hold dear. 

So when I get something new, especially if I’m overly attached to the something old, I struggle.   I know in my head that the new thing will be more efficient and in better condition, but my old thing has familiarity and sentimentality on its side.  That’s tough to beat. 

So that’s where I was emotionally when I got my new wallet. 

I was standing in line at the convenient store getting ready to purchase a fountain drink. I was next in line when I began to feel slightly unnerved.  It was kind of busy in there and I had my hands full, drink in one and new wallet in the other.  I was racking my brain, where was my debit card in this new billfold?  I couldn’t remember which zipper or slot I put it in.  The cashier was finishing up with the guy in front of me and I was next.  The thought of standing at the counter rummaging through the entire thing to find my debit card, while angry customers cursed my existence behind me, made me want to flee.   

But before I had the chance, it was my turn. I placed my drink on the counter and started the frantic search for my card.  I was more than relieved when it wasn’t too hard to locate. Only had to open a zipper and a snap or two. 

I paid for the drink and bolted for the door. 

Trying new things is hard for me.  I like comfortable, familiar and feeling safe.  I don’t like feeling awkward or looking as though I don’t know what I am doing.  Stumbling into new territory is bound to make me feel both of those things.  And yet, once I’ve adjusted to the new so many times it’s even better than I ever could’ve imagined. 

So, this month I’m challenging myself to try new things, starting with my new wallet.  And I’m not allowing my tendency to be overly sentimental to hold me hostage to the same old routine.  I might just miss something wonderful. 

I’m calling it “Just Try It January.”  I’ll keep you all posted on my progress, maybe you’d like to join me and try something new too!  Don’t make it real complicated, just say yes more than no.

I’ve had my wallet a few days now and I am adjusting to it quite nicely, much to my great relief.  My old wallet sat on my dresser until yesterday when I finally had the heart to put it up in the closet. Not quite ready to say good bye to it, but I am willing for it to be out of sight.  It’s like saying good bye to an old trusted friend.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Prayer:  Father, help us to remember that You are the author of all things. Teach us to be willing to try new things and spread our wings. I believe you intended us to live on the Heights. Fill our lives with adventure and joy and most of all,  more of You.   In Jesus name, amen.

II Cor. 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

 

 

So Let Us Run the Race

I was jumping in place trying to keep moving so my body would stay warm.  It was so cold and the wind coming off the ocean made it feel even colder.  My breath hung in the air like ice crystals and my hands were frozen solid.  At least they felt like it.  Why did I forget my gloves? I had bought some just for an occasion like this.  No matter, half a mile in and I would start to shake off the cold anyway. 

It was the day of the Pensacola Beach Run.

I had been training and I was so excited to be standing in the start coral with hundreds of other runners preparing to run my first 5k of the New Year.  First one since my mom passed over a year ago.  This day was special in more ways than one. 

I am not a runner.  Let me just be very up front about that.  At best, I am a jogger.  And, honestly I don’t enjoy jogging that much.  But I love the feeling of finishing and accomplishing my goal.  And I love the feeling of community that comes with local races.  There’s usually music, lots of people and plenty of energy.  To me, there is nothing else like it. 

This particular morning was gorgeous.  Seriously, it was flawless.  Our race started within a hundred yards of the ocean and when we arrived the sun was just rising over the glorious waters.  The waves were rolling in and there were a few random surfers out enjoying the tide.  There is nothing like the sugar white sands of the Gulf Coast to mesmerize you with the back drop of a bright blue sky.   At first glance only a few white clouds were spattered above and the wind was light and friendly. 

It was a nearly perfect day.

The only element keeping me from declaring the day perfect was the cold.  I was freezing.  I was so ready to get this race started. It was only a couple more minutes until the start siren would go  off.  I was filled with anticipation and joy at what lay ahead.  I didn’t even dread how hard I knew it was going to be; this was about more than physical fitness, it was another step in my healing.

The weekend after mom’s diagnosis I ran a half marathon.  It was a huge accomplishment for me.  I had trained for months and I was excited about the challenge. But after her diagnosis, it just didn’t seem to matter to me anymore.  I just didn’t have the heart for it.  And then, after she passed, I didn’t want to run at all.  

After some time passed, I decided I would give it another try.  I knew I needed to be doing something to try and stay somewhat fit.  So early last year I started running again.  But, I soon injured myself by trying to do too much too soon.  I decided to just stop and rest, to get well both physically and emotionally.

It was a long year.

In December, during the Twelve Days of Thankfulness, I started jogging again.   I decided I wanted to run in a race, not to COMPETE, but to COMPLETE.  Completion was and is just as important to me as winning any prize.    As a matter of fact, for me, it is the prize. 

And standing there in the morning chill, all the hard work seemed worth it.

All of  the early mornings when I did not want to get out of bed, the late evenings when I wanted to put on my pajamas and call it a night, all fit together to bring me to this moment. I looked around and knew that so many others with their own reasons and goals in mind were running right beside me.  No matter what place I crossed the finish line, I was a winner.

Just like you.

We don’t run this race of life to beat those around us, it’s really not about them.  We run with all of our hearts to find healing and joy and peace and all the things we are lacking as we journey through.  We run to stay fit and to develop endurance because scripture tells us that perseverance must finish its work so that we can be mature and complete, not lack in anything.  (James 1:4, below)

And we all need God to do His good work in us. 

I don’t know where you are today, maybe you’ve just received good news or maybe you’ve been let down by a friend.  You could be sick of your job or worn out from taking care of small children.  Or maybe you’re a mom of a difficult teenager or in a trying marriage.  Wherever you are, begin your “training.”  Read the Word, spend real time in prayer, talk to God about the things that are so hard in your life.  Then listen to him, listen to praise and worship music and focus on His goodness and His ability to answer your prayer. 

And then run.   

Get out of bed each day and run your race.  Not necessarily physically, but mentally and spiritually. Give it your all.  Consider it part of your training.  Don’t lose heart, at the end of your course there will be encouragement. 

As I was rounding the last curve and the finish line was in sight, it started.  People standing in a line along the edge of the course calling to me, reminding me of how hard I’d worked, whooping and hollering lifting me up with words and cheering.  I was so tired after my effort, but you know what happened when I began to listen to the encouragement? 

I got my second wind.

I can’t really explain how a second wind works but I know it is real.  Adrenaline kicked in and I started to quicken my pace.  The louder they cheered, the quicker I picked up my feet.  By the time I crossed the finish line I think I could’ve flown. 

It was an amazing feeling.

I didn’t finish near the top, but I FINISHED!  I am forever thankful for my cheerleaders, they helped me make it through.  I can close my eyes right now and picture the scene in my mind, it still makes me smile.

It was all worth it. 

I am a firm believer that we need more encouragement in our lives.  More people reminding us that we can do it and spurring us on so we don’t give up, especially when it is hard. 

We need more real life cheerleaders. 

I wonder if my mom had a line of angels cheering her on as she crossed over into heaven.  I know she ran her race well, she spent a lifetime training for the finish.  And now she will stand with the heavenly witnesses and cheer us on.  (Hebrews 12:1,  below)

Take heart, weary traveler, there is much ahead for us.

A fabulous finish is just the start.

 James 1:4  “Perseverance must  finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Hebrews 12:1  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”

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Ninety Seconds of Light: An Uninvited Guest

This Christmas was good.  Many of you who’ve followed my journey know that I did a series called “Bringing the Joy Back to Christmas: Twelve Days of Thankfulness.” That was such a meaningful, almost sacred twelve days for me.  Being deliberate about looking for the good each day, no matter how it went, was exactly what I needed to keep my heart and mind on the many blessings in my life.

There is joy in sorrow, I will testify to that for the rest of my days.

In the midst of looking for the good, shopping for presents, wrapping and celebrating the birth of our Savior, a small miracle happened.

I enjoyed myself.

I wasn’t sure that was going to happen this year, or ever again for that matter.  But it did.   I guess that’s how healing works; one small step, day, event at a time.  You don’t stop missing the person, you just understand that missing them will always be a part of you.

The feeling will sit in your heart like an uninvited guest forever.

But, as a friend of mine said so well, “grief does not have to define you.”  It will influence your personality, alter your decisions and haunt you in the middle of the night. But, it does not get to rule your life from now on.

It does not get to decide who your friends are, tell you to stop laughing, stop you from travelling, keep you from reading a good book, steal the joy of a family vacation, or keep the sun from shining into your back porch.   It can’t spoil the flavor of a good cup of coffee, block the joy of good conversation, or keep you from cooking your favorite recipe on a rainy night.   It won’t be allowed to take away the coziness of a warm fire, the chill of a cold morning run or the sound of our children playing.

Grief cannot take away your life.

Oh, it can change the way you feel about life, but it has a season.  Thankfully, seasons come to an end, or at least one blends into the next.  Winter cannot overpower summer although we feel traces of it in the coolness of an early morning.  Its presence is there, but it’s in the proper place.  Not being in charge, but always sending reminders of its existence.

That’s exactly where I am in this grief process.

It doesn’t get to be the boss anymore, but it’s always there.  Blending  in with the seasons of my life and serving as a reminder of someone who will forever be missed.

Ecclesiastes 3 comes to mind these days…

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

 a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

 a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

 a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

  a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

 a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

 a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

Prayer:  Father, this world hurts.  We love and we lose, we laugh and we cry.  We cannot make it through this day or any day without you.  You are the One who brings peace.  You offer a healing balm that helps us to cope and function in this life.  Be near to our broken hearts today, send encouragement and fill us with hope. Remind us in our most difficult moments that we are here for a greater purpose and that you are not finished with us yet.  In Jesus Name, Amen.