Browsing "Devotional"

Action and Non-Action

Because time is a finite resource, every action involves an infinite amount of non-actions.

Every choice I make. What book to read, what movie to watch, what food to eat, what topic to write about, necessarily involves not reading other books, watching other movies, eating other foods or writing about other topics concurrently. I can only perform one at a time.

As discussed in my last post, I learned this from an unlikely source, A book titled How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard.

how to talk about books you haven't read

I’ve been thinking about this some more, wanting my choices to be the best possible. I am sometimes swamped with possibilities, invites, offers, requests, and commitments. Everything I say “yes” to involves saying “no” to numerous other possibilities. I say this not to heighten the stakes, leaving me indecisive and ineffective, but to remind myself that time is valuable. It should be used well, thought-through, and intentional. I should be living each day on purpose not thrown into it be default. Am I saying “yes” intentionally to the things that are most important in life? Within reason, am I looking at the options I’m saying “no” to and weighing my options before deciding? Does this thought process excite or terrify me?

As I said a few days ago in reference to books and reading, I now exclaim for the rest of life: Every action involves an infinite amount of non-actions.

Therefore, choose wisely!

Does this help you in decision making or make you nervous?

Aug 6, 2014 - Devotional    No Comments

Ceasing, to Worship

I am a grammarphile.

I enjoy the undervalued punctuation marks. I revel in a properly placed em dash. I snicker at how commas can change meanings entirely .

lets eat grandma

There is also a purposefully placed comma in my title.

I am not ceasing to worship. I am ceasing, in order to worship.

My life is full of activity, demands, and both internal and external pressure to do more. Activity and busyness is my default. You can likely relate. Over the past several years, I have been striving to stop. Even if just for a short period of time each week, I want to experience something totally different. I have to purpose to cease. I have to plan to stop. To turn off my guilt-machine and rest. But I’ve realized that ceasing is not just a necessary precursor to allow time for worship. My ceasing is an act of worship itself. In that time of non-activity, I remove my reliance on myself for money, provision, and stability and place it solidly on God. In this sense, with a profound knowledge of my dependence upon the Lord and His provision, my ceasing is worship.

I am ceasing, t0 worship. Commas change everything.

 

Jun 18, 2014 - Devotional    1 Comment

Un-tweetable and Un-instagrammed

I told a friend once he’d know the end was near if he ever saw a tweet from me. So far he hasn’t. No one has. If you’re a person who lives life 140 clever characters at a time, by all means tweet well and often, and be happy. Or if you’re more the visual type and Instagram or Pinterest is your social medium of choice, well then snap and pin and post away.

I can’t say for certain if I’ve missed the personal bandwidth boat or simply stubbornly avoided it–nor can I say that I really get what a hash tag is for. What I can say is this: most days, my life is not utterly fabulous. But it is good. I work for a living, and I rarely take a day off. I try to be a caring daughter, sister, aunt and friend to the people I love most. I worship. I pray. I study and write and read. I volunteer. I walk the dog. I tend to what author Kathleen Norris has called “the quotidian mysteries”–a fancy way of saying I cook and clean and shop and keep house–all very ordinary but necessary things. I don’t do any of these things in the company of celebrities, or while wearing fabulous outfits. Not every day for me is a stellar hair day; I believe given a choice, barefoot is usually best.

Sometimes I visit places that might be considered “tweet-able,” and occasionally I do take pictures. But I’m as likely to come away with a close-up of a single drop of dew on a magnolia leaf or an odd hand made sign as I am to snap a lush landscape, a flattering selfie, or a famous landmark.

You might think I lead a boring life–but I’ve had secret joys no photo has yet to tease or tweet to trumpet. I see things. Hear things. Feel things. Ordinary, amazing things. In time I may talk or write about them. Or not. But I try to be fully present and live them first. I’m not bullet proof. I fall. Literally and figuratively. I mess things up, ask forgiveness, and if I can, try and make them right. I get hurt and cry real tears, just like you. But #uglycrybefore6am isn’t likely to be trending–nor is #justburnedmysecondpanofoatmeal or #wowthatreallyhurt!

But know this: every person you see today leads a life that is in some way exceptional. Whether they’ve tweeted it or not, everyone has a story. It may be tragic or comic, epic or ordinary, challenging or comfort-filled. Don’t assume just because they haven’t advertised they have nothing of value to say. Instead of promoting your own prettied-up narrative or perusing those of a dozen dazzling others, try this: turn to someone near you, look them in the eye, and say something like this: “Tell me about your day. And not just the pretty parts. I really want to know.”

Then tell me. Because I want to know, too. And because I’m certain there is much, much more to us than meets the naked app.

O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,     
(Psalm 139:1-5)

 

 

leigh gray shirt png
www.leighmcleroy.com 

 “Speak what you feel, not what you ought to say.”
© Leigh McLeroy, 2014
And this, friends, is why I LOVE Leigh McLeroy. Check out her writings if you haven’t already or sign on for her Wednesday Words, weekly devotional of encouragement… one of which you’ve just read!
May 25, 2014 - Devotional, My Story    2 Comments

My Mother’s Day Hangover

The Monday after Mother’s Day, I was emotionally hung over.

I love my mom and have a great relationship with her. I was happy to see her, give presents, and celebrate. But at the same time I ached. 

 

I want a husband and children. I want to participate in Mother’s Day as a mother, not just as a daughter. I ached for women who wanted children, for those who struggle with infertility, for those who have a strained relationship with their children or with their own mothers. I wept for those who had lost children, or lost mothers, or who grieved at anything that was not as they wished it to be.

I wept. Not daintily-dab-at-the-corners-of-my-eyes crying. I cried gasping for breath, smeary, messy, ugly tears. I was blindsided by my emotions. I had not anticipated the ache being so strong that morning. I had to apologize to my mom later that in my case, my tears were not mourning our relationship in any way, they were tears of blocked goals and longing for my own family.

I posted this as my Facebook status that morning, “Praying today for those not celebrated specifically today: the wishing-to-be-mothers. Thankful for you, your perseverance in hope and the many ways you spiritually parent so many in your lives. Happy wishing-to-be-Mother’s Day!”

I had people contacting me throughout the day saying thank you and even asking to repost my words. I was grateful to know that other people lived with this ache. I even had a friend thank me for my words the next day and even as she was expressing her thanks she spontaneously broke into the same smeary, messy, ugly tears that I’d experienced the day before. And I loved it. Not because she ached as well, but because I was not alone in this struggle. Her overpowering “ugly crying” was beautiful to me. Someone understands. Someone sees my tears. Someone cares.

If Mother’s Day was hard for you, for any reason, share your tears with Someone.

 

“Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal.”

David Crowder

Mar 6, 2014 - Devotional, Humor    No Comments

Give the World a Reason to Dance

I have recently been introduced to a world changer.

He’s powerful, influential, brilliant… and eight years old.

kid president

He goes by the name Kid President and has a dream, to make the world a nicer place. To fill it with hope and encouragement and lots and lots of dancing. He understands that life isn’t always happy. He was born with osteogenesis imperfecta and has had over seventy bone fractures over his short life span (yes, seventy). But that doesn’t keep him from smiling, dancing, and spreading the joy. He wants to make the world a more awesome place by being nice and treating everyone like it’s their birthday.

Kid president

 

I could learn a lot from him. I want to be an encouragement. I want to dance. I want to make the world a more awesome place!

How about you?

Mar 1, 2014 - Devotional, My Story    No Comments

An Authentic Imitation

This is genius.

A talented singer performs songs in the style of other singers. She’s good. Spot on. And it’s a joy to watch and listen to.

I’m totally impressed how she can change pitch, stance, gestures, facial expressions and trills to mimic famous people.

But my favorite is when she sings as herself. She’s freer, crisper, fluid. That’s when she really shows her talent.

We mimic and impersonate other people  often wanting the world to think of us as more put together, perfect, talented, or accomplished than we feel we are. Technology and social media have heightened the strain to “brand” ourselves and manage our “images.” How much more powerful is it when we use our own voices even if they are frail, cracked, pitchy, and authentic.

Have fun imitating famous people, playing with tone and making others laugh– but when you truly have something to say, use your own voice.

Dec 5, 2013 - Devotional    1 Comment

My Words are Like Pickles

I love Chick fil A.

In fact, I’m fairly certain that it will be on the menu in Heaven. It is certainly a treat for me to stop and pick up a juicy, perfectly breaded, chicken sandwich with polynesian sauce. (Who else is drooling now?)

But there’s one thing I don’t like about Chick fil A’s sandwich: pickles

Chicken-Sandwich

There they are, pompously peeking out from the bun!

I always forget to say no pickles! I don’t like them because I can never really rid the sandwich of their presence. Once they’ve touched the bun, even if I pick them off, the vinegary pickle juice– and accompanying flavor– remains.

This got me thinking, my words are like pickles. Hang with me here and the metaphor will make sense! If I say something caustic or cutting or unkind I can apologize, but the pickle of my word has already touched the bun of the relationship. Even if I apologize and try take my words back, removing the pickles from the bun, the flavor of my unkind words remains. Even more than I need to remember to order my delectable Chick fil A sandwich without pickles, I need to remember to think about my words before I speak them because words are potent and powerful, just like pickle juice!

 

Nov 19, 2013 - Devotional    No Comments

Ubiquitous Work

Everywhere I look, work has been done.

Every chair set up for a conference. Every clean floor. Every nicely folded shirt. Every customer service question answered. Every meal cooked. Even tasks completed by machine were designed, coded, and constructed by someone.

I marvel, thinking, “For everything I see done, someone had to do that.”

I think everyone feels somewhat squished at work. Everyone has some sort of productivity standard to strive toward. Everyone has someone pushing them to more — more efficiency, more widgets produced, higher scores, or more money.  More patients seen, more trash cans emptied, more food cooked, more files reviewed, more code written, more minds expanded. Realistic or not, we all have our expectations of more.

I have observed this many times at the hospital where I work. I know my productivity standards and I’ve gotten to know some of the standards and expectations of other departments. A lot is expected of everyone. I am constantly amazed how many dedicated people it takes to make something as large as a hospital run. Work is truly ubiquitous.

“For everything I see done, someone had to do that.”

work in progress

As I continually realize this, it makes me less focused on and anxious about my own numbers and productivity. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still know my requirements and strive for them everyday, but I realize that helping others with their tasks is beneficial too. I spare a few minutes to grab supplies, take out a trash bag, console an infant, and make some copies. And although these aren’t technically my duties, they help someone else make their productivity and expectations just a little bit easier. It’s made me be less focused on only my job and truly try to help the team. I’m far from perfect at it, and I definitely lose this ability on particularly busy days, but it has created bonds among my co-workers that are far more valuable than a few minutes lost helping someone with a task.

See if you can change your mind set and marvel as I have that, “Everything I see done, someone had to do that!”

Oct 16, 2013 - Devotional    No Comments

Parsing Struggles

When discussing sin and struggles, the tense of the verb matters.

I’ve heard loads of testimonies over the years and it seems that most people speak about their struggles in the past tense. They say things like, “When I first became a Christian, I struggled with/was addicted to/ was beset with _______.” We, as the church, give them grace and (rightfully) praise God for sanctifying this individual and delivering him out of whatever his struggle was. Past tense. Past tense struggles show movement. They show change, growth, sanctification, and should cause rejoicing!

But what about current, present tense struggles. When was the last time someone stood up to share their testimony in the midst of some weighty fight, in the pit, or not able to see their circumstances from the 20/20 perspective of hindsight. Present tense. Big difference. But this is where we live! We struggle currently and continually with sin, situations, circumstances, relationships, addictions, and more. I want to be able to praise in the midst of such struggles, journey with each other through them, and not reserve rejoicing only for past tenses.

In the words of one of my favorite authors, “Struggle well, Beloved.”

Present tense or past tense, praise is possible.

Sep 30, 2013 - Devotional    4 Comments

Dabbling in Thievery

My conscience is needling me. I have something to confess. I stole this week.

Twice.

But before you report me, let me explain.

I went to [a local store, omitted to protect the innocent] to pick up a few items, one of which was a pack of Chapstick to donate to a charity drive going on at work. I retrieved the other items on my list and ambled through the “Dollar Section” on my way out. This is never a good idea for me because I often find some trinket or treasure that I seemingly cannot live without. And, alas, this happened again last week. I saw this pillow and thought it looked like me!

Hot Pillow

Exhibit A

Colorful, happy, crafty and delightful. I had to have it. I checked the bin and noticed that it cost $3. No biggie. I still felt it was worth it. I went to check out and everything rung up just fine except the pillow. It was missing a tag. The cashier asked me where I picked it up from and when I pointed toward the dollar bin and offered to retrieve another so it could be scanned she said, “Oh, that’s okay, I’ll just manually put it in as a dollar.”

There was a decision at that moment. I knew it cost $3, not $1. I had ample time to correct this kind woman who was trying to save me a bit of time by overriding the system. I drew in a breath — Then I said nothing, let her ring it up incorrectly, and briefly considered it a $2 victory.

That was thievery number one.

I paid and exited the store into torrential rain. Being without raincoat or umbrella I ran to my car and quickly tossed my bags into the trunk. As I pushed my cart into the corral I noticed the Chapstick sitting, unpaid for, in the cart.

Thievery number two.

That Chapstick was the crux of this trip to the store! I couldn’t leave without it. I snatched my raincoat from the trunk (who do I keep it in the trunk? Does it do me any good there on normal days??) and returned to the store with my “hot Chapstick”

Chapstick

Exhibit B
Hot Chapstick

I reentered the store told them what had inadvertently happened and paid for the Chapstick. The clerk smiled, and thanked me for returning and being honest as she passed over my purchased lip balm.

My conscience was appeased… momentarily.

I have a phrase that I often repeat to myself when I am faced with a choice. Whether it be doing my taxes or billing at work or any sort of financial decision or test of my integrity. I say, “My integrity is worth more than that.” As in, “I could say internally that it was an accident and I didn’t mean to walk out without paying for this Chapstick, but my integrity is worth more than $3.”

But the problem was, I had stolen two things that day. Both were sins of omission, but only one was remedied at this point. In some sense I felt more guilty over the underpaid pillow because I had the chance to correct the cashier, but chose not to. Almost instantly a verse that I memorized in Sunday School in fourth grade popped into my mind. Luke 16:10 reads, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” I viewed this moment as a training exercise. I strive to be honest with much. Therefore I must be honest with little. I strive to be faithful in grand plans. Therefore, I must practice faithfulness in everyday occurrences. The phrase again returned to my head, “My integrity is worth more than a $2 discount on this pillow.” Wanting both to prove to myself that I value my integrity and wanting to enjoy the pillow without it being a constant reminder that my honesty is only worth $2 to me, I braved the rain yet again, returned and paid for the pillow.

Hot Pillow

Purchased Pillow.
See how much prettier it is now that it was obtained honestly?

It might seem silly and I don’t mean to pass judgment on anyone who may have had a similar situation. But my soiree with shoplifting, my flirtation with larceny, my dabbling in thievery was a true lesson for me!

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