girl jumping off rocks

Abandon

girl jumping off rocks

 

Today’s post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday.

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The word for today’s writing is “abandon”, and my first thoughts are of a negative nature; pictures I’ve seen of abandoned animals, or worse yet, stories of neglected and unloved children come to mind.

When I read the definitions, abandon includes the following:

  • to cease to support or look after
  • leave without intending to return
  • give up completely (a practice or a course of action)
  • allow oneself to indulge,
  • complete lack of inhibition or restraint (noun)

When I think about my life, there are many things that should definitely be abandoned. Some of them may feel like new fears or feelings, but many more are things I’ve carried with me for my whole life.

I desire to give up fears and doubts, negative thinking and self-talk, complaining, pride and striving in my own strength, holding onto hurts, making poor decisions based on feelings, and other emotions, thought patterns and actions that do not bring life.

As a Christian, my decision to follow Christ includes the abandonment of many things; but not for my harm or lack of enjoyment. God asks me to give up those things that would hurt me or someone else, or hinder me from personal growth. He asks me to prioritize following him and doing those things that would give him glory.

The verse that came up in my daily devotional was Colossians 4:2,

 

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”

 

When we devote ourselves to those things that truly matter and follow the loving plan of the One who created us, it will bring life and peace. We will not long for the things we’ve chosen to abandon, because they don’t bring real fulfillment.

One of the worship songs I’m practicing for Sunday morning is called Fully Devoted.

The chorus speaks of being fully devoted to and following after the One who gave his life for me. The song reminds me to step out in faith without fear, and share the wonderful gift of God’s love with the world.

 

“Fully devoted we follow after

The one who gave it all

Christ alone be praised

No matter what it takes for the glory of your name

Christ alone be praised

We are stepping out in faith so the world will know your name

Christ along be praised”

 

You may listen to the whole song here:

 

I wish to abandon the things that only bring temporary satisfaction and don’t promote life and growth. I desire to embrace all that God has for me, and to share his good gifts with those around me.

Only when I abandon the things I do not need will I have room in my heart and life for the things that are truly good.

And that’s a sacrifice worth making.

*****

 

 

 

 

blue winter sky with clouds and tree branches

What I Learned this Winter – December 2016 to February 2017

blue winter sky with clouds and tree branches

It’s been some time since I’ve shared a “What I’ve Learned” post. In fact, looking back caused me to recall that even the last post I shared ended up being a combination of two months, in 11 Things I Learned in October & November 2016.

I love this habit, but I guess life got away from me a bit. It started with the wonderful but busy Christmas season, then life forged full-force into a busy January, and lagged through much of February. It feels a bit like a “fail”, but then I realized that maybe Emily P. Freeman (who is graciously hosting this link-up), was wise in switching from monthly to quarterly (or seasonal, if you will), posts.

So rather than worry about not posting for the past three months, I will rather take this as an indicator that posting what we learned every three months is a better practice for me, at least for this time in my life.

I’m privileged to join today in Emily’s seasonal “What We Learned” link-up, along with many other wonderful bloggers and writers.

So here are some things I’ve learned in the past three months, in no particular order. I hope you enjoy my list, find it inspiring, or perhaps learn something new yourself.

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What I Learned this Winter (December 2016-February 2017):

 

1.   Living near a well-known Christmas lights display is cool but has it’s drawbacks.

We  have a well-known and much-loved seasonal light display right down the street. LaSalette Shrine boasts what is probably one of the most popular light displays in New England. Many people come to visit each year; it is a tradition for families from far and wide.

Well, the downside is that during peak visiting times (such as Friday and Saturday evenings), there is often a line of cars stretching several miles down the street, blocking not only our street, but all of the “side” streets, as well. We should know. Both my husband and I have been stuck trying to get home at just the wrong time, and have sat in these lines waiting to simply get to our house.

It is worth seeing and we usually make a visit at some point during each Christmas season. It’s a place of beauty and peace, and one that is based on the true story of Christmas.

I guess that’s something worth waiting for.

 

2. Apparently, when people sing in a group, their heart-rates synchronize!

According to this online academic publisher, “Choir singing is known to promote wellbeing.” But even more interesting and amazing is their statement that, “Unison singing of regular song structures makes the hearts of the singers accelerate and decelerate simultaneously.”

If you love to sing in a group, there are at least two more reasons to keep on singing!

 

3.  Star Shower lights are simple and dramatic!

I really enjoy outdoor Christmas lights. I love how they not only celebrate my favorite holiday, but brighten the otherwise dark and barren winter season.

We have tried to decorate our home and yard with at least some lights almost every Christmas season. Some of my favorite displays involved my poor husband climbing a really tall ladder and stringing up icicle lights from our eves at the peak of our roof. As pretty as it looked, it was a lot of scary work out in the cold.

We’ve settled for less extravagant displays on the ground most years, but regardless, putting up and taking down the lights has never been our favorite part of our Christmas celebration.

Well, low and behold, this year I decided to take advantage of a coupon and a good deal and order some laser lights online. I sifted through all of the brands and gadgets and settled on one of the more basic models (and the first one I had seen and knew that I liked in real life). I purchased the Star Shower Motion Laser Lights Star Projector, and was excited when my package arrived.

What had me even more excited, though, was how simple it was to learn and set up, and what a dramatic presentation of starlight on our house and high tree branches! It is one of the prettiest light displays we’ve had, yet so simple. I’m sold!

 

laser lights on house in snow

Star Shower

4. Working Saturdays isn’t so bad most of the time.

I really like my latest job, and am so thankful for this position. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and is proving to be a good fit for me, as I had hoped. I also really like my co-workers and find the team spirit supportive and encouraging.

This is the first job I’ve had in years for which working Saturdays is the norm. For most of the year, I work part of each Saturday, unlike most of my past jobs.

This schedule has been working out fine, except when we started to plan one of our annual Christmas family get-togethers this past December.  My husband and I talked about and started planning our usual Saturday morning family brunch for several days before it dawned on me that I had to work that day!

Fortunately, we hadn’t yet told everyone the date, so we were able to find a suitable time for everyone to come and it all worked out just fine. Sometimes it’s hard to start thinking outside the box.

 

5. I now (think that I) know the difference between “roast” and “bake”.

I can’t remember how this came up, but something prompted me to research the difference between “roast” and ” bake”.

The dictionary definitions are very similar (see “roast” and “bake”), but there seem to be some differences as well.

It seems that most people agree that both roasting and baking are cooking methods employing dry heat. The most popular consensus is that the difference has more to do with the structure of the food. While roasting is usually used to define cooking (either over an open fire or in an oven) a food that already has a solid structure, baking most often refers to cooking foods in an oven to change their structure. We know that we bake cakes, cookies, and casseroles, but we can roast a chicken or vegetables. This article does a pretty decent job of describing the difference.

I will admit, though, upon further reading, the issue is still up for debate. You can check out some different viewpoints on this page, and decide for yourself.

 

 

6. There is an ancient art form which makes something beautiful out of broken pottery.

A little while ago, my husband alerted me to an interesting an inspiring Japanese art form that he had heard or read about. It immediately grabbed my attention and has stuck in my mind.

A paragraph from this article explains it best:

Kintsugi (“golden joinery”) or kintsukuroi (“golden repair”) is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic ware, giving a unique appearance to the piece. This repair method celebrates the artifact’s unique history by emphasizing the fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing the artifact with new life.Kintsugi art dates back to the late 15th century, making it more than 500 years old. It is related to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which calls for finding beauty in the flawed or imperfect. The repair method was also born from the Japanese feeling of mottainai, which expresses regret when something is wasted.

I was so inspired by this craft that I wrote a blog post about it, because I think it is a perfect illustration for our lives. You can read more about my thoughts in my post entitled, Make Something Beautiful Of Your Brokenness. I hope this idea touches and stays with you as well.

 

7. I am learning how to use a bullet journal, and loving it!

Have you ever heard of a bullet journal? It seems to be an exceptionally popular habit right now, but I think this may be more than just a fad for me.

The idea of a bullet journal was invented by a digital product designer named Ryder Carroll. There’s a lot of good information to learn about what it is and how to do it on his website. You may check it out by watching the following video.

It’s basically a simple method for your planner that uses short, bullet points in the journal or notebook of your choice, and can be designed to suit your personality, learning/working method, needs and desires. Although the inventor’s method remains more basic, even spartan, in it’s approach, others have adapted his idea to incorporate their more artsy designs and creative ideas in their bullet journals.

After going through the information on the original Bullet Journal website, I quickly found and watched several videos from Carrie Crista (you can watch one of her videos about how to start out, here),  and Boho Berry (enjoy her journal flip-through, here). Each of these young women will give you tips and ideas based on their more artistic approach to bullet journalling.

While I love the ideas of beautiful and colorful pages, and will incorporate some of my own creativity in my bullet journal, I plan to attempt to keep it simple (as suggested in this wonderful, comprehensive post by Kendra of the Lazy Genius Collective), so that this system will remain enjoyable and really work for me. 🙂

 

8. Decorative Washi tape is my favorite new craft discovery.

Have you tried washi tape yet? In starting my bullet journal (see point #7 above), I noticed that some people (OK, probably mostly women), use washi tape to decorate their journals. It can also be used as a pretty way to attach printed sheets into a journal and to cover up mistakes (by either taping the decorative tape over the mistake, taping two pages together, or taping a new sheet over a mistake page). I browsed the many options at Amazon and read the reviews and chose this set to try first. Not only is washi tape beautiful and colorful, but it is so easy to work with! It is super fun and forgiving. What more could a crafty lady want???

 

what I learned

 

what I learned winter

9. I forgot how NOT FUN it is to experience vertigo!

Several years ago I came down with a pretty nasty case of vertigo. (I’m not sure if one can “come down with” vertigo, but that’s kind of what happened.) Without going into too much detail, let me just say that it was a really hard experience.

At first I didn’t know what it was or what to do about it.  I had some medical insurance issues when I finally did try to get to a doctor, ended up one night in the ER desperately trying to get some help, and FINALLY…..I got to my wonderful ENT doctor who diagnosed me correctly and promptly sent me to the best physical therapist on the planet.

I’m sure I was just a tad prejudiced right at that moment, but regardless, she was kind and knowledgeable, and best of all, she specialized in the type of issues I was dealing with (vertigo and balance issues). After some weeks of physical therapy (by this point the vertigo that had not been dealt with was creating other problems), and treatment for my type of vertigo, she also taught me what I needed to know to be able to treat myself at home.

I’ve heard that many people (I think it’s mostly women), who have vertigo do not get the help they need. They may not have professionals who know about the treatments or simply don’t go to the right place for help.

I am SO THANKFUL that I got to exactly the right person to give me the help I needed!

I’ve had some mild cases of vertigo since that time and my home treatments completely did the trick. Last week, however, I awoke one morning with a more-than-mild case of it, and after doing too rounds of treatments, I’m still not back to normal. I’m thankful to be much better, but it just reminded me of how debilitating this condition can be.

I certainly cannot diagnose vertigo for someone else, but if you have this experience please go and get some help! I personally was diagnosed with BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), which occurs when little fragments of calcium carbonate crystals loosen and get into the ear canals, where they are not supposed to be. The sensation is worsened by movement of the head, especially lying down, sitting up, and turning the head one way or the other. If you’d like to read more information about this type of vertigo, the Vestibular Disorders Association has an excellent article that may be of help.

 

10. Instant pots were designed by Canadians. 🙂

I’ve heard a bit about instant pots and recently looked into this phenomenon a little more. This handy and speedy appliance seems to be all the rage right now, with recipes and ideas for instant pots all over the web. When I read that the instant pot was designed by Canadians, it made this Canadian girl smile. It’s nice for one like me who is happily living in the United States with my American husband and two sons, when I see so many cool things that are “made in Canada”. If they are even half of what they’re cracked up to be, I should probably be moving this appliance to the top of my “things to buy” list!

 

11. We are much more productive doing ONE THING.

I am currently reading one of those books that seems like it will be a definite game-changer. In The ONE Thing, author Gary Keller (with Jay Papasan) talks about the fallacy of our multi-tasking society. He teaches us how to be sucessful in all areas of life, by simply focusing on the one most important thing.

For many of us (especially busy women and mothers who wear so many different hats all at once), this skill could actually change our lives. I’m looking forward to finishing the book and applying this truth to my own life.

 

12. Being busy doesn’t mean I necessarily learned any less, but it does mean I may not stop to remember.

Boy, it’s sure been a busy couple (or more) months! I do not care for that pace that leaves me feeling like most areas of my life are either out of control or totally neglected, and attempt to not live that way for long. I know that I’ve still learned a lot, but feel like I’ve barely taken the chance to stop and breathe and ponder nearly as much as I’d prefer. It looks like things may be evening out a little, but I think that recording what I’ve learned in seasons will be a good fit for me right now.

I don’t want to ever stop learning, but sometimes we have to slow down to realize or process the things that are going on around us.

I hope and pray that I will take every opportunity to cherish my life and the wonderful things that are happening all around me. God give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart full of gratitude.

*****

What have you learned this winter? Have you stopped to think about it or just to enjoy the beauty? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

 

coffee and inspirational books

Slow Down

coffee and inspirational books

Today’s post has been written for Five Minute Friday, and today’s prompt is “slow”.

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Why is it so hard to slow down?

I think that I love slow, but my reality suggests that I crave busyness and productivity. I am really good at busyness, but have lots of room for growth in using my time productively and efficiently.

I naturally feel compelled to run in circles, “getting things done”, all the while truly desiring the slow, quiet times.

This week I awoke one day with vertigo; a health concern I have dealt with over the past few years, and thankfully one that does not plague me as it did at first, mainly because I have been blessed with doctors and a physical therapist who taught me just what I needed to know to mostly stay healthy.

But it did make me slow down.

I vacillated about calling in sick to work last night, rationalizing that I could muddle through and then take a day off, but my body told me otherwise. My supervisor assured me that staying home and resting was the right thing to do.

Yesterday I read about all the rage of owning and using an Instant Pot. It seems everyone has one and who can live without one? One more appliance to learn, store and maintain could be helpful, but arguably could just be one more thing in my otherwise overflowing life. Sometimes these tools are blessings, allowing us to slow down, while other times it’s just adding to our busyness and clutter, when really we should be satisfied with what we have.

Today is another unseasonably warm day for February “winter” break in New England. It’s been hitting the 60’s, all but a few stubborn piles of snow have melted into what appears to be an early spring, and I have yet to get outdoors and enjoy this uncommon beauty.

I keep thinking of more things I should get done today on my day off, even though I worked a little too much while not feeling well yesterday, in order to be able to take today to totally rest.

So my main goal for the remainder of this day is to slow down,

enjoy life,

be thankful for my many blessings,

and trust that if I stop long enough to think, relax, and be grateful for what I have today,

everything will be waiting there for me tomorrow

and I will be able to work and play with renewed strength.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

when i am weak

When I Am Weak…

when i am weak

 

This post is written for Five Minute Friday, where I join a nice bunch of bloggers to write for five unedited minutes on a weekly prompt. Today’s word is weak.

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Why do I feel so weak?

Have you ever asked this question?

It may be any combination of factors: physical tiredness, hormonal imbalance, emotional fatigue, or just plain feeling overwhelmed, just to name a few.

We’ve all been there.

The Bible tells us that when we are weak, then He is our strength. You can read about Paul’s struggle with the thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians.

 

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.

 

 

Since it’s an inevitable part of the human experience, what can I do when I feel weak?

Here are some simple things to help when we are feeling weak:

 

  1. Go to bed! – You may simply need some rest! Take a nap or go to bed early, and give your body the rest it needs.
  2. Take a break – Sometimes we simply need to slow down or even stop, and just give our minds, bodies and emotions a breather.
  3. Do something that rejuvenates you – This can be different for all of us, depending on our personalities and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Take a walk or a hike outdoors, sit in the sun, enjoy a cup of coffee, listen to calming music, read a book, start a campfire, watch a favorite TV show, work on a fun project, or do something creative. Pick something that will give you the energy you need.
  4. Spend time with someone or people you love – We were designed to live in community. We were never made to go it alone. Spend time with someone who cares about you, who will build you up and offer godly encouragement and advice or simply provide a listening ear.
  5. Get appropriate help – It may be that you need to seek out the help and wisdom of a doctor, counselor or pastor/leader. It’s OK to ask for help, even though it is somewhat counter-cultural. True strength is not in doing it all alone, but in recognizing that sometimes we need a helping hand.
  6. Watch what you consume – Check your eating habits and take supplements if needed. The old saying, “You are what you eat” holds a lot of truth.
  7. Spend time with God – For Christ-followers, this is our life-line. Pray, read your Bible, spend some time in worship or simply in quiet “listening” mode. If you are not a believer, the simple act of quieting your mind and body will provide some needed refreshment and give you time to think.

These are just some simple tools that I’ve found to be helpful when I feel weak. I hope this list provides a springboard to your finding rest, strength and peace when you feel weak.

You may also wish to read a previous post I wrote about what to do when you are struggling emotionally.

*****

 

 

winter sky with clouds over evergreen trees

Playing it Safe

 

winter sky with clouds over evergreen trees

This post has been written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday, where you may join us as we write about the prompt, “safe“.

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Oh, how I love to play it safe!

It’s in my basic personality to keep to the safe road, not liking too many changes, not straying far from the norm, and certainly not taking too many risks. I feel most “safe” when I know what to expect and don’t have to process emotions and thoughts outside of my usual routine or known parameters.

There are many situations in life in which playing it safe is important, even life-saving.

Taking precautions when driving, when near deep or turbulent water, when dealing with fire, or when dealing with life-altering substances such as drugs, alcohol and the like. These scenarios require sticking fairly close to what we know is safe.

But in most areas of my life, I have let clinging to the safety of my known boundaries keep me from growth. I have stifled the possibly glorious or just plain simple things that God has wanted to do through me to affect others around me in a positive way. I have been lazy or let fear keep me from stepping out and moving forward in my work and personal life.

In these instances, I need to learn the beauty and the excitement of stepping out into the unknown, in even jumping wholeheartedly into the net that God will surely provide when I risk for him and his purposes.

Whether it’s in the mundane responsibilities I find myself in daily at home or at work and with others, or be it in my blog or in my personal interactions with my family, I want to become more adventurous.

I desire to earn that level of trust in God that allows me to take the next step or the next jump, and simply trust him, not allowing fear or pride to win.

I know in my mind that this is true, but I need to step out and find new territory with my Lord in every area of life.

Enough of simply playing it safe.

There is too much at stake to not take the risk of the next best step.

Why keep simply walking or trudging along in life, when I could fly?

see i am doing a new thing

 

*****

 

 

 

 

God will supply all my needs

Be Sure to Make Time to Breathe

God will supply all my needs

Today’s post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday. Join me there as we write for five (mostly-) unedited minutes of writing on the prompt, “breathe”.

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If only I could just find a minute to BREATHE…..

 

Do you ever feel this way?

Or perhaps a better question is how do we avoid feeling like this for much of our necessarily busy lives???

 

I’ve had a hectic month. While January is usually busy as we “undo” from the holidays and get back into the daily swing of things, this year I have felt especially over-scheduled and overwhelmed.

Due to some family transitions and responsibilities (nothing critical or life-altering; just “normal” family busyness), it has simply flown by. And I’ve felt so behind and not on top of things.

I’ve finally managed to put most of the holiday stuff behind me, but am still sorely feeling the need for more time and space to work on goals, resolutions (if you will), and just general overall life scheduling and planning.

Well, today I slept in, and despite the feeling that there aren’t quite enough hours left in this beautiful day, I have been blessed with a quiet day at home.

My dear (and wise) husband left me with his Jesus Calling devotional open on top of my computer, which was the perfect “hint” to put first things first today.

Here is the reading for this day:

Devotional about anxiety and focusing on Christ

I was aptly reminded that my anxiety is based on my focus being in the wrong place. When I simply look at what’s visible around me, I fail to recognize that I belong to a God who will never leave me, who promises to be always by my side, and who cares for all of my needs.

My “verse of the day” from the YouVersion Bible App is also appropriate for me today.

 

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

-Philippians 4:19

 

When we turn our eyes and our hearts from what we can simply see around us, and intentionally place our focus on the One who created, knows and loves us best, we can sit back and rest assured, and breathe.

It’s so important to not only carve out some time from our busy schedules to stop, think, plan, pray and rest, but also that we place our focus firmly in the right place.

God has provided all I need.

I need simply to stop to breathe and take it all in.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

pink blue sky with tree branches and snowy roof

Freedom in Learning the Balance of Control

 

 

pink blue sky with tree branches and snowy roof

Today’s post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday. Join me there to read other writers’ brief, unedited thoughts on the prompt, “control”.

*****

Control.

So difficult a word for some of us. Or is it really quite simple?

I like to feel in control. My personality is most comfortable when I am the one in control.

I don’t always live with intention to control the things I can, such as my time, energy, attention, words, thoughts, and actions. This is an area that I am determined to change.

But there are so many things I cannot control.

It was so much easier when my sons were little. A parent can do well to provide a good deal of control when their kids are too little to understand what they need to do.

But teens and young adult offspring are not only harder to control; they also need to learn to live their own lives with intention.

It’s tempting to try to control those around us, even other adults (ask my poor husband), whom we have no ability nor business to do so.

I’d like to control my circumstances, but aside from using what God’s provided in this season of my life intentionally, I cannot control most of what the ebbs and flows of life bring.

But perhaps it’s really not as complicated as I make it out to be.

I can only change the things I can change. I’m learning to live more intentionally, but have a long way to go.

The rest I must leave to God, trust others to do their part, and chose my response or reaction with love and grace.

I guess this prayer really holds more wisdom and truth than I realized:

Serenity Prayer image

 

By learning to live this way, I may just find freedom.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

gold refining process

Refine

*****Today’s post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday. Our prompt for today is the word, “refine”.*****

 

gold refining process

Pouring Liquid Gold

Today I’m thinking about the word, “refine”, and the first thing that comes to mind is the process using fire that refines gold.

According to Oxford Living Dictionaries, the definition of refine is,

“Remove impurities or unwanted elements from (a substance), typically as part of an industrial process”,

or

“Make minor changes so as to improve or clarify (a theory or method)”.

This is enlightening to me. What will I allow to refine my life?

I have many “unwanted elements” (weaknesses and shortcomings) and “impurities” (sins) that I would wish to have removed from me. I also wish to continue to make small changes to improve my life.

I can study and learn to work at it myself, and that may help some. I can spend time with people I admire and look up to and glean both from what I see in them and from what they may share with me, and that may help me to grow.

But most of all, I want to allow God to refine me.

The best ways I know of to do just that are spending time communicating with him in prayer (both speaking and patiently listening), and reading the Bible. Many say it is like a love letter from God to us, and I also like to think of it as an instruction manual for life, written by the One who created me.

There are also negative forces all around me that would seek to divert my attention and distract me, drawing me away from God and doing what’s best for me and those around me.

I need to be intentional with my time, my thoughts, my words, my actions, and even in helping to direct my wavering emotions. I desire strength to withstand the onslaught of negativity and evil that exists in the world around us.

Lord, help me to allow you and the good influences you’ve provided all around me to refine me, making me more and more into the person I was truly created to be. Then I will find fulfillment and be a blessing to those around me, and shine like gold that comes out of the fire refined.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” – Romans 5:3-5, NLT

 

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tree branch silhouette with half moon

Managing in the Middle

Tree branch silhouette with half moon

Are you feeling stuck in the middle of anything right now?

Starting something new can be exhilarating and motivating, finishing can be a celebration and a relief, but what about life in the middle?

When you think about it, most of life is spent somewhere in the “middle”.

Just think about middle children for a minute. Not always, but often they can feel lost or have trouble finding their place in a family. They don’t necessarily have the expectations of being the responsible oldest child, nor the easy-going or fun personality of the youngest, yet they are created especially wonderful just where they are. Perhaps being in the middle frees us from expectations; what if we could just rest and be ourselves?

Being in the middle can be challenging. It can be mundane or boring, or on the other end of the spectrum, it can be difficult and stressful.

But what if we could relax and let God lead and provide for us right here in the middle?

I’d like to share a song with you that has really spoken to me, especially in some of those “middle” times.

 

 

It can be messy in the middle. Sometimes it feels so difficult and we feel we don’t have the strength to go on. Other times we feel we’ve lost our vision or our purpose and don’t feel motivated. We may even feel depressed.

I’m trying to learn that being in the middle is just where God wants us to be right now. I’m learning to trust him and his plan, to lean on him for strength, and to run to him for comfort.

I want my life to be a blessing, not only in the exciting new times or in the fulfilling finishing times, but right here in the middle.

Won’t you join me?

*****

This post was written for Five Minute Friday, where you can join us at the link-up to read other quick, mostly unedited writings of other bloggers.

*****

 

If you enjoyed this song, you can purchase it here:

 

 

Japanese kintsugi art

Make Something Beautiful Of Your Brokenness in 2017

 

 

Japanese kintsugi art

Happy New Year, friends!

I don’t know about you, but I feel somewhat behind the eight ball in this new year.

While I keep reading online blog and social media posts about folks who have all their goals mapped out for 2017, I am still trying to adjust to “non-holiday” status and schedule, clean up the pine needles under the tree, and begin to remove our Christmas decorations.

I am only beginning to think, pray and plan for this new year.

Not that I’m behind with my Christmas stuff still out, because I have always really loved Christmas , and in my family we would never even dream of removing our tree or decorations before several days past the new year!

And since my mom’s mother was born in the Ukraine, we have always had Ukrainian Christmas as an excuse to enjoy our things right into the beginning of January. Even though we technically don’t hold to the traditions of this celebration, it was always something we were aware of, and just feels right to keep the holidays going a little bit longer.

This year, I think my celebration on January 7th (the date for Ukrainian Christmas) will be while taking down the tree and lovingly sorting and storing our decorations.

So I think that today’s post is somewhat appropriate.

Although it seems that I do not have my act together (at least according to the timeline and suggestions of others), I can not only enjoy celebrating an imperfect Christmas, but I can celebrate the fact that I am an imperfect human being.

pine needles under Christmas tree

Recently I learned that there is an ancient Japanese art form which repairs broken pottery in a unique way.

Kintsugi (“golden joinery”) or kintsukuroi (“golden repair”) is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic ware, giving a unique appearance to the piece. This repair method celebrates the artifact’s unique history by emphasizing the fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing the artifact with new life.”

You can read a little more about that in this article, and there is even a link provided to order a kit to try it yourself, if you’re so inclined.

The idea is that instead of attempting to hide the imperfections of a broken bowl, vase, or dish, the cracks and crevices are actually emphasized, but also beautified, by being repaired with an adhesive containing particles of gold (or another precious metal).

The result is a beautifully unique vessel. This process is contrary to our way of thinking, but I think we can learn a lot from this Japanese art form and the healthy thought and attitude around it.

Our imperfections are not to be hidden, avoided or loathed, but rather embraced, learned from and celebrated (when we allow ourselves to grow and use our weakness to empathize with others).

kintsukuroi repaired flower plate

This pretty plate has been repaired at the top with gold, making it a completely unique vessel.

Am I suggesting that we forget about goal-setting, don’t attempt to do anything differently or better for the future, or just be satisfied meeting the status quo? Of course not!

But if we accept our lives with our unique limitations, extend a little more grace to ourselves and those around us, learn from and grow in the areas we are weak, share our feelings and understanding with others, and realize that we cannot do it alone, we will be stronger and more happy for it.

We can humbly accept help and support from those around us and ask for guidance, wisdom and strength from the God who created us.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” – James 1:2-5 NLT

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“…My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 NLT

 

So as we move forward into 2017 with hope and expectation, let’s let go of the fear, embrace where we are in life, and hold on to those we hold most dear.

Let’s make the most of our brokenness, offering our lives as a vessel made more beautiful to bless others.

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