Your Hardest Task

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A couple of weeks ago I went by our local used bookstore and came across a book I heard about from a group of women who had read it in their book club. I’m always on the lookout for a good deal, so grabbed it. Three dollars is not bad for a like new hard-back book! In The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith, I again am reminded of a gift we can give ourselves everyday of our life. It’s the gift of silence. It’s something our soul desperately needs in order to find a place of rest and peace in our soul, if only for a few moments. It’s a gift we can give ourselves everyday and it is restorative medicine for our soul.

However, there are just too many reasons we find to not do it. There are too many electronic devices calling our names to pick up. There are little ones calling our name. There may be a spouse calling our name. There are voices in our head vying for attention. There are errands to run, jobs to get to, appointments to make, etc. The list of what someone called the tyranny of the urgent is endless!

Here’s an idea – what if we made sure to find in our day only 5 minutes to practice being still with God without any distraction. It might surprise us what that gift of silence will do.

It will help us get “centered”. What does “centered” really mean? I love this definition: having the specified subject as the focal element. We’re not to just empty our mind of everything. We’re to put the most important One at the center. Out of the right “centering” our day will find more peace and order, even when surrounded by chaos.

In this book the author has some practical tips on ways to find those 5-10 minute quiet moments during the day and what to do with them when found:

  • Look for little free spaces in your day, such as a break between activities.
  • Get up a little earlier.
  • Leave for you next appointment a little sooner so that when you arrive you will have extra time to find a quiet place and “just be.”
  • If struggling with thoughts running to and fro during this time of silence, have a notepad nearby to jot things down that may come to your mind. Examples are: a phone call you need to make, laundry that needs to be done. Writing down these things can help quiet your mind.
  • Reading the Bible for a minute or two can help us usher in this time of quiet.

What’s the real purpose of this quietness? It’s a place where I can hear from God. I desperately need to hear. The distractions of life will not allow me to hear from Him. My life will spin out of control if I don’t hear from Him. I will not love others well if I don’t hear from Him. I will not enjoy this life to the fullest if I do not hear from Him. As James Bryan says, “The God who is good can only reach us when we are quiet.” Let’s do whatever it takes to find that place of quiet today, tomorrow, and every day ahead. It’s a treasured gift I can give myself today, tomorrow, and all my days. The cost is pretty small when you think about it. But the dividends are unbelievable.

“Your hardest task—do you even know what it looks like? It’s being still. Still does not have movement, still does not have sound, still does not have a committee meeting in your head, still is peaceful, still is quiet, still is open and ready, still is at ease, still is waiting peacefully, still is available to receive.” Allie Frankfurt

Lord, help me to find space in my day to unplug from noisy distractions. It’s here  I become more and more aware of your goodness and love that nourish my soul.

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A Mirroring that Never Fails

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David Boudia and Steele Johnson are synchronized divers. Watching them perform at the Rio Olympics was fascinating. I can’t imagine the time and discipline it takes to master the moves that ensure that they are completely in sync with each other.   These divers mirror each other. It takes years of hard work to develop physically and mentally to be able to compete and win. The physical skill and mental toughness required is incredible.

The journey of Steele Johnson and David Boudia began a decade ago. Boudia, at age 17 would pick up Johnson (10) and they’d head to practice. Boudia became Johnson’s mentor. They spent endless hours together developing the skills it would take to become two of the world’s best divers. They worked hard. They worked in unity. They focused completely on the task at hand: Do it right, do it together, do it better.

Johnson watched, listened, and learned from his respected mentor. He did what he was told to do. It paid off. Steele Johnson says of David Boudia, “I’ve learned so much inside and outside of the pool from this guy—about diving, about faith, about being a man—that I wouldn’t be where I am without this guy teaching me along the way.”

Some of us are blessed to have a mentor in our life who helps us in our journey. They are ahead of us in some areas that we still need to develop. We can learn much from them. Others may not have that person in human form. But, as believers in Christ, we all have the Word of God in our hands that is available at all times. His Word acts as a mirror. It reflects back to us how we are to look, act, and live.

We are to spend our lives gazing at the right thing. That right thing is Jesus. We gaze at Him as we read about how He lived. He teaches us how to live. He teaches us how to flourish. When there is pain, struggle and brokenness, Jesus puts us back together.

Boudia and Johnson know about pain and hardship. They know what it’s like to be unsure about the trajectory of your life when, at the moment, your dreams seemed crushed. Seven years ago Johnson had a diving accident that could have taken his life. In 2009 Boudia was in such a pit of despression he contemplated suicide. They both turned their eyes to the One who was able to reach down and restore them in their greatest time of need.

It is worth taking the time to look at Jesus’ life as revealed to us through the Scripture. Making it our life long goal to reflect Him in the power of the Holy Spirit to a watching, waiting, wounded world is a huge part of discipleship.

What will we reflect?

  • An eagerness and availability to minister to others
  • A Christ-like compassion for those who suffer
  • A Christ-like humility
  • A steadiness of purpose
  • A disciplined life
  • A serenity of spirit

We won’t ever get it done perfectly, but what joys there are in the journey of being in the right race. It’s anything but boring. Ask Boudia and Johnson.

What race are you running? Are you reflecting Jesus? What is one thing you can do this week to reflect him more to your family? A neighbor? A classmate? Or a stranger?

Navigating the Uncomfortable New

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Frequently we encounter situations that are quite uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s a new social gathering where we find ourselves not knowing many people. Some personalities are quite social and love these types of opportunities. It’s an adventure for them, nothing awkward. But, as an introvert, discomfort is, well . . . uncomfortable.

Discomfort comes in many forms. Sometimes changes in the family system create new family dynamics that cause great anxiety. Family changes with new dynamics are difficult to handle and often cause great inward distress when the family gets together. Some changes can be good, but some can be traumatic. Experiencing these changes, good or traumatic, will be different for each person involved because of our own uniqueness – it’s all part of our own story. Navigating these challenging waters and managing the “new” is difficult because of the unknown and because we all come into the new situation with different perspectives.

During the last few months I’ve waded through some new territory – which I was not prepared for. Big changes have affected me greatly. However, God is using this as a powerful tool to refine me and to help me know me better. I’m grateful that I’m learning to accept who I am in a healthier way than ever before. That’s not easy! But, the progress I’m making is freeing and it is good.

Finding my way has been so much easier because of the safe places God has given me to share my heart. Fortunately, those safe places are an understanding husband, children, and friends. I’ve appreciated the empathy and the affirmation given by each. These are gifts.

Words of encouragement and wisdom came from one particular person that is not only beneficial for the present, but also for the future when I encounter another hard place. Here are words full of truth:

  • Things won’t be perfect.
  • What is will be okay.
  • Live in freedom to be you.
  • Allow yourself to feel your feelings.
  • Know God will honor your commitment to try and build relationships.

I believe these five things can be beneficial for your present and your future, too. I wrote them down. I revisit them. I practice them. I am in growth. Join me in this journey.