Browsing "Devotional"
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!

Sep 20, 2013 - Devotional    2 Comments

A Hospitable Life

Sometimes I see people.

I hold doors. I help carry boxes. I let them in traffic. I send encouraging notes.

Too much of the time, I don’t see people. I rush past them onto the elevator. I miss seeing them in the lunchroom. I fail to follow up on their rough days. I am too focused on my own tasks. But I’ve found that I like myself much better when I see people. I don’t want to be so focused, driven, or oblivious that my life is inhospitable to changes in plans or needs that come up.

It is one thing to spend five more seconds to hold a door for a colleague, but I want my life to be hospitable in larger ways. I want to have time and energy to hear others’ stories, to really listen. I want to have time in my life for others. Sometimes I feel like I am pushed in so many different areas and I guard my free time fiercely. I need downtime and recharge time. But I do not want to be a hoarder of me-time. I want to hold it more loosely, to be willing to share it. To have time to bless others as well as be blessed myself.

I like myself best when my life is hospitable. I like myself best when I see people and share life with them.

Does anyone else struggle with this?

 

Sep 17, 2013 - Devotional    1 Comment

FOMO

FOMO is an epidemic.

I am a FOMO sufferer… and you might be too.

I will fight FOMO.

Vimeo.com  Kiersten Mosley

Vimeo.com
Kiersten Mosley

FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. It’s the anticipatory angst I have when invited to two events the same night and I have to choose. It’s the feeling of sinking I have when I know fun is going on without me. FOMO  causes me to stay up too late and overbook myself, preferring to be tired, but present at everything rather than having to deal with FOMO’s  irrational fears.

And if that wasn’t enough, FOMO has an evil diagnositc twin, JOMO.

JOMO = Jealousy Of Missing Out.

I think of FOMO as anticipatory and JOMO as reflective. I fear missing out in the future and I am jealous of missing out when I see how much fun was indeed had. JOMO has no doubt grown in exponential proportions since the advent of social media. Everyone looks happy, engaged, active, and well put together in social media. We don’t post unflattering pictures or status updates like, “Doing nothing tonight, but trolling through Facebook watching everyone else have fun.” (Though such statements are no doubt true!) We have fear of missing out and jealousy of missing out based on a skewed perception of life.

The opening statements are true. FOMO is an epidemic. I am a FOMO sufferer … and you might be too. I will fight FOMO. And the first piece is awareness.

United against FOMO!

 

Aug 23, 2013 - Devotional    3 Comments

Living in the Mess

Life is messy.

I learned that in new ways as my house was re-carpeted last week.

I didn’t like it. I didn’t like being unable to get to my dresser or shoes or underwear drawer because they were in my shower, behind seven layers of other stuff.

I didn’t like how much time it took to pack and unpack.

I didn’t like not feeling settled or home because things were so disheveled.

I didn’t like living in the mess.

IMG_0555

 

I felt very much like this:

IMG_0569

But I realized that life IS messy. There is no way around it. Life is painful and full of blocked goals. Relationships, spaces, and plans are messy at times and we have to learn to live in the midst of the mess. I wish I could say that now that I’ve unpacked and have my oodles of books back in their homes that I feel all better. That one battle has been fought and won — due to my organizational ninja skills! — but life continues to be messy. Sometimes my soul feels restless in the waiting and the frustration. A frustration that carpet, or organizing, or moving, or marriage, or children could not appease. My heart longs to experience a peace that this world cannot provide. St. Augustine famously said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” My heart is restless, but for now I am called to live and forge steadily onward in the messiness of life. Taking time to celebrate small victories (like unpacking), and taking time to commiserate with others over the frustration of blocked goals whenever they occur.

Take heart, Beloved. Life is messy now, but in Christ, it won’t always be.

Aug 19, 2013 - Devotional, Exegesis, Health    No Comments

Running and Asceticism

I’ve never experience the runner’s high, endorphine-flooded, goofy-this-feels-like-walking-only-faster-I-could-run-forever state of being. I feel every foot-pouding step, every muscle contraction, every oxygen-drenched breath when I run.

I run for two reasons:

1. The sense of accomplishment is addicting.

2. To tell myself, “no.”

When I completed my first 5K, I was totally pumped. Not by runner’s high endorphines, but by the sense of immense accomplishment. I started off running thirty seconds at a time and sucking air after each interval. I had just run 35 minutes without stopping. I crossed the finish line, fists in the air, thrilled at what I had just accomplished. It felt like I was walking on a cloud for weeks. Any tough problem that I encountered  seemed to soften in comparison to finishing that race. I’m addicted to accomplishment. That’s why I run.

Jingle Jungle 5K

Secondly, I run for self-discipline. It is good for me to endure through trials. It is good for me to push a little bit harder when my legs want to quit. My body wants certain things: sleep, rest, comfort, ease. Although there’s nothing wrong with those desires inherently, there are times the body and the flesh must be told, “No.”

Self-discipline is a constant training process.

There is a reason I understand much more than I did two years ago why Paul consistently talks about running and spirituality in the Bible. He entreats his readers to train, run, not run in vain, to finish the race. One of my favorite passages: Hebrews 12:1-2 reads: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Life is a marathon; we must train to run well. Even Jesus denied his bodily desires and ran the race set before Him until he crossed the finish line. He is still celebrating the completion of His race. And so am I.

Aug 18, 2013 - Devotional    1 Comment

Loving My Limits

 Loving my limits 

By Leigh McLeroy

(c) 2013

 
I don’t want a super-sized Diet Dr. Pepper. A medium, heavy on the ice, is fine–thank you. And I don’t covet more space than the 1,400 square feet I happily came to call my own last April. (Actually, there are still days when I think it might be too big.) I don’t need a newer car, more clothes, or music, or books, or pretty things to fill up my closets or shelves or rooms. I have enough stuff. I’m blessed.

I’m not unambitious. My head is still turned by beauty of all sorts.I hope to keep being asked to do meaningful work that matters to me. I hope to write more books, teach more lessons, craft more poems. I hope to grow (by breadth and depth) my circle of friends. I have plenty of longings that continue to tug at my heart. But they don’t break it. Not anymore.
I’ve dreamed of traveling to Africa, but it’s not likely that I ever will. I’m not able to take the vaccines currently required to do so. And I’d love to spend a few days at a place closer to home, too, but for now, that kind of trip is solidly out of my reach. Every once in a while I imagine what it might be like to have a tiny place in the country to get away to, although it’s just as nice to be loaned the keys to someone else’s now and then. Maybe nicer. And when people ask about the children they assume I have, although I feel compelled to deflect attention from my childlessness, I am grateful for the chances that are mine to demonstrate what I imagine mother-love to be..

Finally, after years of wanting, and seeking, and striving (and more than a little envy), I’m learning to love not just my gifts–but my limits. There are things I can’t do…may never do. Things I don’t currently have…and may never have. I could focus on them and become unhappy or resentful, or I could consider how those limits redirect me, refocus my desire, and refine my heart for the better. I could choose to glorify God by loving my limits, and living to the hilt here, now, with what I have, and nothing more.

There’s no shame in admitting I lack some things. In all things I have more than enough: I have Him.

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O God, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.” (Psalm 62:1-2, 11-12)

© Leigh McLeroy, 2013
If you would like more of Leigh’s brilliant and beautiful observations of life, sign up for her weekly email at http://www.leighmcleroy.com/wednesday-words.html
Aug 14, 2013 - Devotional, My Story    2 Comments

Money, Money, Money

Money. Dollars. Savings. Retirement. Spending. Investments.

They’ve been on my mind a lot lately.

Tonight is the last session of my financial class. Over the past several months, I’ve been challenged about my views on money and have learned how to be a better steward through this class. I’ve had budgeting homework every week. I’ve watched the stock market. I’ve figured out ways to cut down on my spending and not purchase frivolously.

But I’m tired of thinking about money! I don’t want to be so focused on saving that I’m not generous. I do not want to be miserly. I want to spend smartly, save wisely, and bless others. I want to invest well.

I’m determined to make good habits and not turn into Scrooge McDuck diving through his money vault joyfully hoarding for himself.

scrooge mcduck

Money really does reveal what you love. I’ve spent more time looking through my past spending records and am continually amazed how much life costs and how much I spend to make myself feel better. After a hard day, I may treat myself to a trip by the craft store. And it even though the dollar amount might be small in comparison, the link between spending and happiness is strong in my life. I tell myself, “I am not Scrooge McDuck. Hoarding does not equal happiness.” I read a financial book last week and the biggest take home message for me was this. Money: When you die, you can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead. Investing my resources in something much larger and longer lasting than my own life, that is a wise investment.

What are you investing in?

Aug 2, 2013 - Devotional    No Comments

Multitasking and God

I’m still thinking about the quote, “You can multitask things, but you can’t multitask people.”

Not only am I guilty of multitasking people, I’m guilty of trying to multitask God. I have to sit to do my devotionals, or read my Bible with a pad of Post-Its next to me so I can jot down all the other thoughts that crowd out my head while I’m trying to concentrate. I get distracted, I take breaks, I throw in loads of laundry, I think God will understand.

Mothers-are-the-best-Picture

But lately I’ve realized, God doesn’t multitask me.

He’s not listening to the prayers, petitions, or pouting of millions of people all at once, giving them each a percentage of His attention. That is the glory and joy of living outside of time, He doesn’t have to worry about making the most of His free time. He isn’t tired and doesn’t have deadlines. He sees me. He sees you.

I’ve always loved Hagar’s story in Genesis 16. “She [Hagar] gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi [the “well of the Living One who sees me”].” — Genesis 16:13–14 (NIV). God saw her, heard her cries when she was at her lowest point in life. He is a God who sees, who looks after his Beloved.

Isn’t such a God worthy of all my time and attention instead of sharing me with the laundry? I think so. Perhaps I’ll amend the quote: “I can multitask things, but I shouldn’t multitask God!”

Jul 25, 2013 - Devotional    No Comments

Multitasking People

“You can multitask things. You can’t multitask people.”

The speaker repeated that several times at my orientation last week.

How often do I try to multitask people? I call out, “I’m listening!” when I’m really throwing laundry in and deciding how full I can make the barrel and still consider my clothes clean after the cycle. I talk on the phone, but I’m not fooling  my conversational partner, she can hear the clackety-clacking of keyboard keys through the phone. I watch a movie with my roommates, but my eyes stay glued to a different screen the entire time.

I’m terrible at multitasking people.

It was a fear of mine as I upgraded to a smart phone. I didn’t want to have the phone grow directly into my hip, as if my joints were dependent upon being connected continually. I don’t carry my phone with me at work. I leave it in my room at home typically. It’s just so distracting.

And dishonoring.

It doesn’t respect my friend or family member to be interrupted by a cute little chirp every few minutes of a conversation. I am willing to multitask things: do laundry and vacuum, pay bills and dust, file and sautee with reckless abandon! But I don’t want to multitask people.

May this be true in my life!

attached to cell phones

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