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Learning to Walk

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My almost 11-month-old grandson is learning how to walk. He’s becoming more confident every day as he practices and falls and gets back up again. We’ve noticed something about this learning journey: when he’s distracted and  holding on to something else like a toy or a book, he walks with more confidence. But if he’s only walking and thinking about what it is he’s doing, he’s slower and more hesitant and falls more easily.

I thought this was a really good analogy to my walk with God. When I focus on Him, I find much better balance. If I’m thinking only about what I’m going to do next, where I’m going to put my foot, all that I think I have to do today, or tomorrow, or the next day, then I find myself unsteady and close to falling.

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Balance isn’t easy. By nature I want to get things done before I take time to do the fun things. But sometimes, rest and fun and play are necessary, even when there is a ton to do. I have to remember to keep my eyes on Jesus, to focus on Him, and let the balancing come naturally because I’m seeing Him and doing what He wants me to do.

Like my little grandson, I am learning how to walk, even after more than 40 years of following Jesus. One step at a time, not worrying about whether I’m doing everything right, just keeping my eyes on Jesus.

This post is a part of the Five-Minute Friday link up. Join the fun!

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The Potential Already Lies Within

IMG_9910In his book StrengthsFinder 2.0, author Tom Rath takes on an American icon. He takes the story of Rudy Ruettiger, dramatized in the 1993 movie Rudy, and turns it upside down. He says, “While Rudy’s perseverance is admirable, in the end, he played a few seconds of college football and made a single tackle . . . after thousands of hours of practicing.”

His point is that we idolize those who overcome great odds—and a lack of natural talent—to show that “overcoming deficits is an essential part of the fabric of our culture.”

Maybe it’s obvious by the title of his book, but what Rath is getting at is that instead of embracing the idea that “you can be anything you want to be as long as you try hard enough,” why don’t we look for where people are strong and encourage them in that?

Where do they really show potential?

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My 16-year-old daughter could carry a tune before she could talk. She would sing in her sweet baby voice with words we couldn’t understand, but we always knew what she was singing because we recognized the tune. The barrier she’s working to overcome isn’t one of natural talent, that she has in abundance. Her hurdle is shyness and a lack of desire to ever be in the public eye.

Consider the parable of the talents. The master gave to each servant what He willed, and they then had to do something with it.

Rather than seeing something you want and overcoming every obstacle to gain it, why don’t you look at what you’ve been given and invest it in the absolute best way you can?

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. Join the fun!

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When It Rains, It Pours

RainI live in Florida, so the saying “when it rains, it pours” makes a lot of sense. Seldom do we ever get just a gentle sprinkling for more than just a couple of minutes. Usually it becomes a gushing downpour that doesn’t usually last long. But in that time, it’s torrential.

In the heat of summer, those respites of rain are welcome, but the aftermath of flooding can cause major problems.

What’s necessary to avoid that is a good drainage system.

Kind of like with the showers of blessings in our lives.

If all we’re doing is letting the flood of good things come down on us without having any outlet, our lives will look like the swelled streams and overflowing banks. All that water really should go somewhere it can do some good.

When we are in our rainy season, and places like California are in a drought or experiencing devastating fires, we wish that we could take some of that rain and send it their way. But with weather, that’s not possible.

But it’s possible with the wealth of resources or time or emotion that we can give to someone in need.

Certainly let it rain on you, but then share the wealth with those around you.Rain3

Find yourself with time on your hands? Volunteer to help where it’s needed.

Get an unexpected bonus at work? Give a portion to a worthy cause.

Finding yourself overflowing with joy? Share that emotional energy with someone who could use a friend.

When it rains on you, pour out on others.

 

This post is a part of the Five-Minute Friday link up. Join the fun!

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Your Story Matters

Today’s 10-minute Tuesday prompt is “story.”

I have a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge on my Discover Card, so I get to see it often.I’m typing this on my iPad today because my daughter is using my laptop for schoolwork while her computer is being upgraded. In the mobile version of the WordPress site, there is a space for a blog post title, and then under that the words “start your story here.”

Made me think for a minute. Where did my story start?

Several years ago, the staff of Cru was challenged at a staff conference to write out an essay that was called “I am from.” It’s a look back into your personal history to learn what it is that has made you what you are today. It’s not to give an excuse for our shortcomings because “that’s just the way I was raised,” but instead to give insight so that we know where to go from here.

fullsizeoutput_6badTherapist Adam Young talks about giving our parents too much of an out when we say that they did the best they could. I know I’ve done that. But if that were true, then my dad would have stayed with AA and found a way to curtail his drinking. My mom would have tried to learn how to be open hearted and really tried to know her kids. And their parents before them would have read and practiced and learned how to do better.

I have copied my “I am from” poem here, just to share a piece of my story. Consider writing one yourself, because your story really does matter, more than you think it does. I would also encourage you to listen to Dr. Young’s podcast, “The place we find ourselves.

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I am from the Golden State
I am from the winding, hilly roads overlooking the San Francisco Bay
I am from mountains & beaches, rocky shores & tide pools waiting to be explored
I am from sunshine & foggy mornings with the tips of the Golden Gate Bridge just peaking through.
I am from the country, the smell of alfalfa & the lowing of cattle
I am from searing heat & shimmering highways
I am from the Old Country, where garlic & olive oil permeate the air
I am from family, from privilege, a name & a reputation to maintain
I am from the land of bagpipes & brave hearts
I am from clan Grant, an unknown entity in my life
I am from a popular mother & a father who wasn’t sure who he was
I am from the affects of alcohol & disappointment & dying dreams
I am from generosity & volunteering & friendships that lasted through decades
I am from a love not sure about how to be expressed
I am from acceptance & forgiveness & new life
I am from purpose, from words knocking at the door, waiting to be let out
I am from unconditional love
I am from the heart of God, written on His timeline before it began

More Than Enough

Today’s 10-Minute Tuesday prompt is “enough.”

IMG_0090We have an old black Lab, Berkeley, who is a big barker. He will go on and on for no apparent reason. Our house is on a cul de sac and we have a yard that goes all the way around the corner, so he can see every activity on the streets surrounding us.

And every movement is a threat, apparently.

We have tried many things to get him to stop, to no avail. Our latest effort is for everyone to use the same language all the time when he starts barking. We say, “That’s enough.”

It doesn’t do much good; he just keeps barking. What we seem to be saying when we’re saying “that’s enough” is “stop your incessant barking!”

Moms will say to their kids, “I’ve had enough of your constant fighting!” What she’sIMG_4195 actually saying is “I was done with it way before this.”

A bartender will say, “I think you’ve had enough, buddy.” What that means is, again, too much. I gotta cut you off.

But when we say that Jesus is enough, it turns the whole thing around to mean more than we’ll ever need. More than we would even think to ask for. Able in every way to meet our greatest needs.

CIMG5454And then there’s us. We are enough. We don’t need to add to who we are. We don’t need to be something we’re not. We need to think of ourselves as being everything that we are supposed to be. We have value because we are image bearers of God. We amount to something.

It’s important to see the context of the word. We are never less than enough; Jesus is always more than enough.

And my dog still barks way more than I want him to.

What Have You Done Today?

fullsizeoutput_97ccMany years ago when my husband and I went through counseling to try to firm up some sagging places in our marriage, our counselor told him that when he came home from work, my husband was not allowed to ask me what I had done that day.

We had small children at that point, and I was volunteering at our eldest’s parent-involved school 2 days a week. I was lucky to get dinner on the table each day.

I am not a high-energy person when it comes to physical labor. I can’t work in the hot Florida sun for more than about an hour before I’m just done. My husband can go on for hours at a time.

Sometimes I feel guilty for being inside in the air conditioning. Maybe I’m reading a book. Maybe I’m playing a mindless game. Or maybe I’m working on my computer, actually accomplishing something.

Wait, what was that I just said?

That’s exactly the problem. If I’m just resting or reading or playing, I have the mindset that I’m not ACCOMPLISHING anything.fullsizeoutput_97cd

And that needs to change.

There’s a saying: God made us human BEings, not human DOings.

Yes, there are chores that need to be done. But sometimes just BEing takes precedence.

 

This post is a part of the Five-Minute Friday link up. Join the fun! Today’s prompt is “done.”

Waiting For Rescue

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TimesofIsrael.com/AFP PHOTO / YE AUNG THU

All eyes are on Thailand as rescue attempts continue for 12 young boys and their soccer coach trapped deep in a cave. Monsoon season is upon that land and there are warning signs up to not explore the caves during the rainy season.

We could be saying they got what they deserved. Why did they make such a dumb decision?

But we don’t say that. We pray. And we watch. We follow the reports and we hope for the best possible outcome. We feel the parents’ anguish as they wait for news. We applaud the bravery of the rescuers.

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Las Vegas Review Journal (reviewjournal.com)/AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

And we have hope. So far, 8 have been brought out of their cavernous confines. 1 rescuer has died. 5 still wait and hope.

Remember in 2010 when 33 Chilean miners were rescued from their collapsed mine where they had been trapped for 69 days? 69 days.

People around the world cheered when the first miner was taken out. We were so grateful they were all safe and well.

And most of us didn’t even know them.

Even before that, in October of 1987, 18-month-old Jessica McClure was rescued from a well in her aunt’s backyard after 58 consecutive hours of efforts by rescuers. “I had God on my side that day,” Jessica says in a 2017 issue of PEOPLE. “My life is a miracle.”

Both the miners’ story and that of baby Jessica were made into movies.

And now, the world is focused on Thailand and 13 human beings who had to have wondered if they were going to survive. 8 are out. 5 more to go.

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When a British diver finally found them, they were so happy and asked if they were going to be taken out that day. Unfortunately, their deliverance is going to take time. Food and medical care were delivered to them.

And hope. Hope was brought in that day.

In the early days after they were located, some were predicting they may have to stay in that cave until monsoon season is over. You know how long that is?

4 months.

Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Darkness. Fear. Depleting air supply. Little food. All these things have confronted these boys and young men. But they have had each other to encourage and talk to and hold onto hope with.

As one by one their teammates and companions have been taken to the surface, how must those who are still waiting feel? Is excitement building or is anxiety riding right behind?

Will they make it out alive? Will they come back for me?  Who will be the last one left?

And so we pray.

You are seen. You are loved. You are not alone.

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We hope for your rescue because we ourselves are in need of rescuing from the kingdom of darkness.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13).

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” (Matthew 18:12).