The Hard Work of Living

Life is hard. So why do I live like it’s an endless carnival, where I should have every cotton candy moment that I want?

God is parenting me through this classic book:

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I read it in the late 90s, and thankfully, I’m re-reading it now. I’m actually terrified as I read, because this book is calling me to do the hard work of living. I have the easy part down.

Today, this statement about teens struck me:

There is always a higher agenda than personal happiness, there is a bigger, more significant story than their story of the moment. And in every situation, they are called to trust and obey God.

Their? They? This passage speaks to me.

The above statement may seem basic and obvious, but in many ways it was news to me today. At least I’ve been living that way, if not on the outside, then certainly in my heart.

(Ouch.)

Thank you, God, for being my literal Heavenly Father in this. I am afraid. But like a child, I put my hand in Yours, so that You can help me walk more steadily through the hard parts of life.

And P.S. I love You.

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7

I guess it’s time to explain my participation in 7.  The post below was almost ready to go in early June.  All it lacked was the photo. You get to read it in early August.  (I’m sorry.)

Here you go:

7 (SEVEN)

I received this book for Mother’s Day, in the Year Uncluttered:

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(Shout out to Matt & Casey)

  • The subtitle:  An experimental mutiny against excess
  • The premise: 7 areas, 7 things, 7 months
  • The acknowledgement:  “For Jesus, who tread so lightly in this world that He didn’t have a place to lay his head.”

I teared up reading the acknowledgement statement, and while reading the introduction, I got that feeling of dread…the one that hits me when I know I am probably being called to do something that I SO don’t want to do.

My daughter-in-law had the book on her Kindle and jumped at the chance to join me for Chapter 1:  Food.  We started on June 1.  On June 3, she called me and said, “I hate you.” (My translation.)

I completely understand. 

Here are the 7 foods we are eating in June:

  1. chicken
  2. eggs
  3. wheat bread
  4. apples
  5. spinach
  6. sweet potatoes
  7. avocados

I’ll keep you posted.

 

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5000

Matt Redman’s song inspired me this year to find 10,000 reasons to be grateful.

I’m halfway there.  I can’t believe it.  And I’m thankful.

(Thank You, God.)

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(Joining with Ann Voskamp in counting the gifts years ago helped this critical spirit practice thankfulness. She and her blog are on my list.)

 

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Brokenness Aside

“I am a sinner; if it’s not one thing it’s another.  Caught up in words, tangled in lies…”  

(All Sons & Daughters)

This very morning, I was thinking about how many embarrassing, un-Christian things I have done and said, when this text came in from my friend Ray:

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And God reminded me how He is doing good things through our friendship. Her verse is going to help me this very day, and help someone else, too.

I’ve been listening to this song, on repeat:

I was alone at home late yesterday, folding laundry, listening to the above song, when my friend Beverly e-mailed me these words, in response to some OCD correcting I did in e-mails to her:

Stephanie — we are all fallible in this fallen world! We yearn for perfection. We are always tweaking. And yet we still make mistakes despite our best intentions! Heaven will be delightful. We will be error-free!

Oh!  How true, and such a good reminder.  Beverly is a really cool person who impacted my life.  We recently reconnected after our chance meeting years ago, and God did some good things through that, too. I appreciate both Beverly and Ray today.

I may not struggle with lies so much anymore, especially since I stopped running and collided head long with the Truth (Jesus) a few years back.  He demanded authenticity, and He helped me.  But I do struggle with:

  • Pride
  • Perfectionism
  • Getting caught up in words
  • And much more

If it’s not one thing it’s another. And when I struggle with the above things, I make it about me, and it’s just not.

Yes, I’ve done and said embarrassing, un-Christian things. But it’s not about me. It’s so about Him, and how He takes brokenness aside, and makes it beautiful.

I’m thankful today that I know Him, and that I’m His child. I’m too much of a mess to try to go this life on my own.

What about you?

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Learning to Say “I Love You”

Well, the promised True Confession is in draft form and still evolving. To give you a teaser, the confession involves this:

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But today, I am practicing adoration.  I need to learn to say, “I love you,” well.

Via my Call to Growth study, I realized most of my prayer to God falls under the petition (asking) category. And even my thankfulness does not suffice.

Few Christians have a clear, crisp understanding of this subject. They tend to confuse adoration with thanksgiving. When we thank God for what He does, we are gratefully recognizing His answers to our petitions. Adoration, on the other hand, focuses on God Himself, rather than the things He does.

(Call to Growth, p. 22)

Okay, but, how do I adore God in prayer? According to Call to Growth, here is an example:

“Lord, You are faithful. Your love is everlasting. Your wisdom is perfect. What am honor it is to be Your child.”

Those things are true, and it is such an honor to be His child. But adoration in prayer is so foreign to me, and I have never practiced it.  So, I don’t even know how to start.

I glance back at my reading in Call to Growth, and find this:

You may be saying, “I don’t feel comfortable telling God things like that.  Do you remember your first date or the first time you tried to say, “I love you?”  Though everything in you knew that to be true, still the words were hard to say.  But when they finally came, they meant so much to the one you loved.  Adoration is like that.  God is waiting for a generation of people who will be shamelessly, head-over-heels and openly in love with Him.  Why?  Is it because God’s ego needs to be stroked?  No!  It’s because he knows that we need to learn how to express our love.  To say, “God, I love You.  You are great!”  will not embarrass Him, and it shouldn’t embarrass you.

(Call to Growth, p. 23, emphasis mine)

Wow.  I do love Him, but I need to work on this.  The closest I come to true adoration is during worship music, or on a walk in nature.

And so I began deliberately practicing.  My first efforts at adoration in prayer were using the example above, and they were halting…stuttering, even. So, today, I practice further with Colossians 1: 15-17.  Like that person on a tender date, struggling to say the words, I practice offering this back in prayer, to the Lover of my soul:

And You, Sweet Jesus, are the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation!  For by You all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created by You and for You.  And You are before all things, and in YOU all things hold together.

(And yes, for me, they do.)

So, amen.

 

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Peace, at All Times, in Every Way

After a particularly nasty, sinful temper tantrum, in which I deliberately wallowed and gave in, this was my quiet time revelation this morning:

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In the same way that I gave in to my temper tantrum, I can give in to this, today. Thank You, Almighty God.

Next post: True Confession Time

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Lessons From a TV Fast

When I fasted from sugar in 2011, the battle was with my body and my mind. When I fasted from TV recently, the battle was with my spirit.

Both fasts were done in response to a challenge. Both were supposed to be temporary. Both surprised me, and taught me lessons about myself (the best kind).

Here are some lessons I learned from my 21-day TV fast, which ended last night:

  • I am a TV addict
  • I didn’t think I was a TV addict
  • I need to make some changes

Those are simple lessons, and I am leaving out a lot.  I am still pondering and processing everything.

This fast was hard, and that was one of the things that surprised me.  But I am grateful for it.  Sometimes the fact that it was hard is part of what makes it good.

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