Archive from March, 2017
Mar 19, 2017 - My Story, Writing    No Comments

My Lenten Addition

Lent.

A season of deprivation and anticipation for 40 days prior to Easter. Lent is a time of focus and expectancy. It is a tradition in Christianity to mark seasons and adjust our routines based on the calendar. I tend to have a long period of anticipation prior to Christmas as outside factors help remind me of what is coming. Retailers, advertisers, and list-making family members reinforce my anticipation for Christmas, but Lent to me is more personal, more introspective, more private. Lent is a time of internal preparation before the highest of holy days. There is much less external pressure to conform. No house decorations need be organized and few presents are purchased, but Christmas means nothing without Easter. Therefore, I celebrate Lent.

Many choose to go without and give up something dear, tasty, or expensive to train their hearts to be grateful with less. Chocolate, coffee, ice cream, and alcohol are among the Lenten sacrifices that I hear mentioned most often. Forfeiting something delicious can, if used properly, refocus your heart on the goodness in Christ. Every good gift comes from God above, therefore, longing for something good can remind us of God.

I’ve given up items in the past, but in more recent years, I’ve switched from subtracting something good to adding something good instead. I’ve added stillness, restfulness, or play. Every year I take stock of something needed in my life and concentrate on that for forty days.

This year I’ve added connection.

My life often feels like it is busting at the seams and barely being held together by frayed duct tape. I need to feel the support and love of others, or such a season is a long and lonely road. I need people. I need time with friends. I need moments of connection to balance my ever-growing to do list. This Lenten season, I am seeking to connect with others through cards or text messages or phone calls or lunch dates. Oftentimes I have just a few minutes before my class starts at night, but that is enough time to write a “just because” note to a loved one. On Ash Wednesday, I set out forty cards on my desk. My goal is that they would be written in and handed out by Easter.

This year, I hope to provide moments of connection for myself and for others. And that is the biggest difference in my experience between choosing to subtract for Lent versus choosing to add. In my experience, subtracting something good has challenged and stretched me, but adding something good has blessed me and others. My prayer is that such a goal would be true as we walk the valley of Lent in preparation for the celebration of Resurrection Sunday.

Do you celebrate Lent? What do you choose to subtract or add?

Mar 14, 2017 - Devotional, Writing    No Comments

The Story of Life

How many people would want to read a book that started like this?

“Once upon a time there was a princess. She was beautiful and everyone loved her and life always went her way all the time…”

Where’s the conflict? Where’s the reason for the story? Where’s the character development?

Plus, if this princess had no struggles or conflict and always got what she wanted, I doubt her kingdom would continue to love her for long.

And yet, that’s what I always imagined my life story would sound like. I imagined that I would work hard and enjoy things in life that were good and be loved by all those around me. I’ve had to come to terms first with the fact that this is not my life story and secondly that I am thankful that it is not!

Struggle is part of the story. It should be. Struggle makes us grow, change, persevere, show grit, and develop as people. Authors know this well. Every character needs a conflict, rising action, and a climax in order to become the character they were meant to be. Why would I expect a different plan from the Author of my life?

The struggle is an integral part of the story. I benefit from some struggle. I become a fuller and more developed character when I am stretched, pressed, disappointed, persevering, courageous, and vulnerable. Struggle allows me to be refined into something even better. My goal is to struggle well. To be honest with the struggles and share them like my pile of beans! To know that God does not waste pain or time or barriers. Characters need a contest, a conflict, a barrier or a strain to overcome. It makes for strong literature. It makes for strong people too.

Mar 5, 2017 - Devotional    1 Comment

The Inefficiency of Self Care

Efficiency is my love language.

I jest.

(But it’s also true.)

I am a do-er. I work hard at my job, and in school, and take care of other tasks along the way. I get more done than the average person. I am learning to take care of myself with the same intensity.

Self care is important. I rest and pull away from tasks in order to remind myself that I am valuable not because of my doing, but because of my being. But somehow I still want it to be efficient!

Recently I went to the beach for a day of rest in between the madness of life. I laid on the beach;  I read some, listened to the surf, and just existed for four whole hours. And as I drove home, I felt, approximately one hour better. I wished to feel four hours better! I didn’t want it to feel like wasted time that somehow could have been used more effectively.

Self care is inherently inefficient.

I cannot rest at the same pace that I run. They are inherently different activities and will got at different paces. But self care, rest, Sabbath, and being are essential. They are healthy and they give purpose to the doing and the tasks that I am so good at.

Self care may feel inefficient, but it is not optional.

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