Spots and Smudges

"Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?  So run to win!" (NLT) 1 Co 9:24

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!” (NLT) 1 Co 9:24

The other day I decided that it was well past the time for me to wash the outside of my windows and glass panels on my balcony.  As soon as I washed them there was a noticeable difference.  I could clearly see through the glass now without the familiar filter of a years worth of  green gunk and grime, oh and spider deification (yes spiders poop).  I was feeling pretty good about the progress I was making.  As I continued down the length of glass panels I looked back at the ones that were drying and noticed that there were spots and smudges that I had inadvertently missed during my first go.  So I went back to the first and started again. At almost the same spot down the line of glass panels I noticed that once again I could see spots and smudges on some of the panels that I had just done for the second time. So I decided that this time I would get a heavy-duty cleaning cloth, you know, the ones with the mesh on one side and really give the glass a good scrubbing and a good rinse with the garden hose set on jet (there is no better setting than jet on a nozzle).  As I sat inside my house after doing them all that third time I noticed that there were still spots and smudges that I could see on the glass panels.  At this point I decided to try to ignore the imperfections of my well intended cleaning endeavour (’cause I was exhausted) and made a note to self to hire someone to do this job the next time around.

"My focus remains short of its goal..."

“My focus remains short of its goal…”

Tell me, is there ever a time when one can truly remove each spot and smudge and have glass so pure that it shines without one blemish?  I have in the past had professionals clean my windows for me and even they leave streaks and miss places. I look out at the job that I did on my glass panels and outside windows and think that it isn’t good enough. Wow, where did that thought come from?  Didn’t I just work myself to the bone (slight exaggeration) trying to remove all the spots and smudges?  Why am I so focused on a few spots left over?  Why can’t I be satisfied with the job that I did and think job well done instead of “not good enough”?   Never mind that I have managed to remove a years worth of green gunk and grime, never mind that I have a clearer view…all I can focus on is the few spots and smudges. Yet still I look out at these panels of glass and think, it’s not good enough.  I can’t seem to focus on the whole and look beyond the spots and smudges to the beauty of the golf course.  My focus remains short of its goal. Instead it remains stuck on the foreground viewing the spots and smudges.

"God doesn't want our focus to be on the spots and smudges..."

“God doesn’t want our focus to be on the spots and smudges…”

I can’t help but wonder how often I do this in other parts of my life, focus on the foreground and miss the beauty beyond the spots and smudges.  Do I remain stuck in the foreground and miss opportunities that God would want to bless me with?  Do I have a shorten sight line because I am so focused on the foreground and believing that “it” what ever “it” is, isn’t good enough?  Does this inability or difficulty to look beyond the imperfection of things hinder me in viewing myself as God views me?  Do I somehow equate this belief of “it” as being not good enough to mean that I am not good enough?  How many times have I, have we accepted less than what was intended for us?  God doesn’t want our focus to be on the spots and smudges but on the goal which is to run the race of life to win. To be all that He created us to be and to stop focusing on our spots and smudges.  He doesn’t see these imperfections so why should we?

Here’s to running the Race to win and not trying to prove our worth by how perfect we do our jobs or live our lives.

Good To Go…

Sometimes we think we are good to go when in fact we aren't.  We need to rest a bit before we take the jump.

Sometimes we think we are good to go when in fact we aren’t. We need to rest a bit before we take the jump.

Around this time last year (it’s now April) I felt that God was trying to get my attention.  But of course I ignored Him as I find that I often do when I’m in “Lindy Mode”.  This mode is when I am going full steam ahead, believing that I am consulting with God (notice I used the word “consulting” and not “asking”).  This about sums up how I go about doing life when in “Lindy Mode”.  I find that I think that I have “asked” God for direction when in actual fact I’m “consulting” with Him.  Which really means that I already have a plan in place and I’m ready to forge on full steam ahead. God was trying to get my attention while I was in the midst of attempting to get all my ducks in a row for the coming September.  I was getting into the grove of beginning to plan what Bible Study that I felt “He” was directing me to teach for next year, consulting with my fellow teachers and taking a weekend Seminar on how to teach the bible put on by Simeon Trust. (It was a great seminar and I was really enjoying it.)  I felt that I was networking and learning all that God wanted me to learn and that I was meeting the people who God wanted me to meet.  I had just signed up to join a research group that I added to my load of teaching three bible studies (I signed up because my studies were almost coming to an end and I would then have more time to really get into this research project).  Phew, let’s take a bit of a breather here.  Family time?  Well that just of…sort of….well…I had a duck for that.  And let me tell you I didn’t take it too well when the family “duck” got out of line.  In fact a fair amount of juggling and reshuffling had to take place when this happened!

So I was good to go…however what was really happening was that God knew that I really wasn’t good to go but I had yet to realize this fact.  As the days and weeks flew into May I found that all my ducks were not nicely sitting in the row that I would place them in.  I found that God’s still small voice was getting louder and quite frankly a bit annoying because it was interfering with my voice trying to order my ducks to line up again.  All this commotion that was going on inside my head finally came to a boiling point where I literally ran out of gas.  I fell, deflated, ran out of steam, felt that the world was against me and that there was something definitely wrong.  But I still kept trying to organize my ducks until finally I began to listen to God’s voice and He was telling me that I wouldn’t be teaching Bible study in September.  In fact that I wouldn’t be part of women’s ministry at all in September.

Well whatever reserve that I had crumbled and I lost my identity.  Yep, I said it I lost my identity.  Notice where my identity was…it was in what I was “doing” for God…not who I was in Him.  I fell apart literally and figuratively.  I had a huge pity party and sat up in my office crying because I was not going to be of any use to God.  But here’s the reality of where I was (and consequently where I’m still at but we’ll get to this).  I physically and mentally had nothing left.  I really fell apart.  It was actually quite scary to not have any reserve left in the tank.  I was not only on empty…the fumes that I would rely on in the past when things got tough were long since gone.  I found that the only way that I could cope with things in life that came up was to ignore them.  I pulled away into that quite place deep in my mind that was a “safe place” to reside. The only thing is that when you are a wife, mother, mother to an adult child with a developmental disability and grandmother, people keep pulling you out of that quiet safe place.  I found that I really didn’t have the luxury to hide away.  I needed to be present in whatever form that was.  I needed to begin to admit that I didn’t have everything in control.  I had to begin to tell people that I needed help. Ouch! and Yeck! (Can we say that I have a bit of a pride issue here?)  I had to be OK that God was giving me the opportunity to really have a look at myself and my family.  I really needed to get things in place for Christie and I needed to start looking after me.  I wrote about Christie’s moving out in, “Last One To Leave”.  This current blog tells a bit about what was going on behind the scenes in regards to why I needed to get things moving to help her with this next part in her life.

I was embarrassed and frustrated that I seemed to not be able to hold it all together and would cry at the drop of a hat or get that pain in my chest which was a forewarning that I was getting anxious about a certain situation.  I know that my husband didn’t know what to do with me and quite frankly I didn’t know what to do with myself.  Remember in one of my blogs I think that I alluded to the fact that I’ve reached a “certain age” in my life and let me tell you this is something that I read about and talked about with my friends but didn’t really think that it was going to jump up and bite me in my rear end so fast and so unexpectedly. Yes looking back I had signs that I should have slowed down or paid attention to but when I’m in “Lindy Mode” I don’t stop to think…I just do…

God is so good.  Really I don’t think we actually know how good He actually is.  He has been so loving and patient with me.  He talks, I don’t listen. He loves, I take it for granted. He talks again, I still don’t listen.  I begin to fall apart and He catches me when I fall.  He never once says to me, I told you so…instead He says to me…my child I love you so!

I find that God sends people my way just when I need them.  He gives me words of encouragement that I don’t even know that I need until sometimes long after the words had been spoken.  I get frustrated with my self, my imperfection and He loves be because of my imperfection.  I’m mad that I don’t have the strength that I used to have…He waits for me to realize that the strength that I need comes from Him…only Him.

When this happened to me last year I came (slowly) to the realization that I still had a theology, a belief that I needed to prove my worth to God.  That I show this by what I can do for Him.  It hit me like a ton of bricks when He revealed this to me.  I was floored by the fact that I still had this kind of thinking.  I mean I know in my head that I can never in my own right prove my worth to Him.  In fact that is not what it is about.  He freely gave his son to die for me so that I could be worthy in His sight.  It is by and through the sacrifice that Jesus did for me that I am worthy.  I know this…I know this…but I guess it was still head knowledge for me and my heart had not caught up yet.  I don’t have to prove my worth to God.  I can never do this.  He created me to love Him.  That is all I need to do…love Him.

Why am I still struggling with this??? Fast forward to current time and I am coming into it being a year that I have been in this state.  I had a rough time of it last week.  I think that I have still been in “Lindy Mode” thinking that by now I would be able to pick things back up and start again.  I’m so frustrated with myself.  I want to get back to ordering my ducks around again…only I find that I still am not in a place that I can do this.  I found that I was back to worrying about what worth am I to God in my current state.  How can I be effective to Him as I am?  The skills and talents that God has given me are not being used. (These are all thoughts that had been raging through my head).  I was reminded again by friends that it is not by what I do that makes me worthy.  Really!  Really! I’m still believing in this false theology??? I’m also slowly…and I mean slowly…beginning to realize that for me I may be in for the long haul in regards to what happens to women of a “certain age”.  And if this is the case…then I have to learn to be ok with it.  I need to go to God and ask Him to help me through this journey that I am on.  I need to continually remind myself that I can never out do God.  I need to realize that in fact I could stay upstairs in my office and never go out the door and God could use me.  Who am I kidding…HE’S GOD!  He can bring people to my doorstep if it is in His plan.  He is the one who is in control of my life and the direction that it is taking.  The key here is for me to continually bring my frustrations to Him and be willing to let Him transform me to where I need to be so that I can accept where I am.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  The strength that I need, that we all need does not come from ourselves.  It comes from Jesus!

Am I through with my pity parties…unfortunately probably not.  However today I am choosing to learn what I need to learn and be open to what is coming.  Not saying that I’ll like it all…but that’s not what life is about.  Life is about learning to trust in God, to strengthen our faith in Him and to love Him with all that we are.

So am I “good to go”? Not in “Lindy Mode”.  But I’m always “good to go” when I am asking God to direct my paths and allowing Him to put my ducks in a row for me.

Life’s an adventure…be in it!

 

Too much to bear…

Have you ever had a time or maybe several times in your life where you felt you had too much to bear? Have you felt that life was a tunnel and the closer you tried to get to the light, to the closure of the unbearable circumstance, the further away the light seemed?  I know that I’ve been there, numerous times.  I’ve had moments that I felt like I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole.  I’ve wanted to wake up to find that it had all been a bad dream. I’ve screamed that silent scream, you know the one, the scream that goes down to the root of your soul, where hopelessness and helplessness reign and you begin to believe that all is lost.  I’ve been to the point that I thought of ending my life and in fact got pretty close to doing so, but instead I looked up into the bathroom mirror and stared at myself and said, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!”

So what did I do? I chose to get up each day.  I put one foot in front of the other.  I got up each day and I prayed.  I had pity parties and then when things were too much again, I remembered to pray.  I cried, ranted and raved at the only One who could really hear and understand the depths of my despair.  I asked God to help me and He has. 🙂 I will admit though that when I was going through some of these circumstances I had times that I thought that this might be even too big for God to handle. I had many moments that I was too overwhelmed and quite frankly forgot to pray.  However, He rescued me and saved me even though He knew of my (at times) unbelief.  I am so thankful that God is not who I think that He is.  He is so much more than that.  He understands me better than I know myself. He loves me more than I can even fathom.  He will never give up on me, on us!

I’ve had people tell me off and on in various times in my life that God doesn’t give us more than we can bear.  Really?  I wanted to say, ” You needed to tell me this now?”  Because at that moment I felt like I couldn’t take any more.  I was definitely at the end of my rope and what was left of my rope was quickly slipping through my fingers.  I would come away from these well-meaning people, glad that they cared about me, but I left thinking that I must have done something really wrong because God definitely had abandoned me in this particular situation because I really did have too much to handle.

A couple of years ago I tried to find this verse in the Bible that said that God doesn’t give us more than we can bear.  I couldn’t find it.  In fact it doesn’t exist.  Instead I found out that we are to give our hurts and burdens over to God.  If He in fact doesn’t give us more than we can bear, why then does the Bible tell us to give our burdens over to Him?  We are told in the Bible that we can do all things, not on our strength but on the strength that comes from Jesus. If we are going to have a life that we never have things that are too much for us, why are we told we can do all things through Christ’s strength?    I found out that we give God delight when we come to Him with our problems.  How then can I give God delight if I don’t have things in my life that I can’t handle?  I found out that I am never alone, that God is always with me.  He never leaves me (which means that I am never abandoned).  God never said that life would be a bed of roses.  In fact the opposite is said.  Life will be hard.  It is especially in these hard times that we are to go to Him and He will give us His strength to get through whatever we are to get through.  The strength we need to face each and every day comes from Him.

Recently God has reminded me that He gives me (us) exactly what I (we) need to “do life” each day. From the time I open my eyes to the time I close them each and every day I have exactly what I need to get through that day.  The key here is that I need to rest in the fact that God is in control of my day, not me. I don’t have to worry or be afraid about what tomorrow is going to bring because I can be sure that whatever tomorrow brings God will give me exactly what I need to get through it. 🙂 God is the one who is going to help me get through the tough times.  All I need to do is let Him help me. 🙂

Here’s to His renewed mercies each and every day.

The Known Zone

Butchart Gardens #2 230

I wonder how many times in our lives we stand at the bottom of a set of stairs, look up and ask ourselves, “I wonder where these lead?”  Then turn around and walk away without ever taking the first step to find out.  How many opportunities have we missed because we were too afraid to take the first step into the unknown? I know for me the times are numerous. I would count myself amongst those of you who are not risk takers and like to live life in the “known zone”. However lately I have found myself trying to catch glimpses of what the “unknown zone” has to offer.  Unfortunately in order to really see what this “unknown zone” is about, I have to first leave my comfortable, dependable, reliable, and predictable “known zone” and enter into the “uncomfortable, undependable, unreliable, and unpredictable “unknown zone”.  The few times that I have jumped zones have been great experiences for me.  Notice I said “few” times.  I’m still fighting with myself to “let go” and jump into the unknown but I have managed to do it. 🙂

I would like to challenge you that when the next time you find yourself standing at the bottom of a set of stairs and wonder where they might lead, take that first step! Then keep on climbing because you will NEVER know where those stairs lead unless you keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s ok to hold the rail as you climb.  It’s also ok if you take a bit longer than other people to reach the top. The important factor is that you are making the climb, taking a chance, stepping outside the “known zone”.  As you climb those stairs you will begin to feel a determination to get to the top that you never had by just looking up from the bottom of the staircase. 

I think we are sometimes too content to just look up from the bottom of the staircase.  We are so comfortable in our “known zone” that we don’t even question what we might be missing by not taking that first step.  I wonder what would happen if we got the courage enough to step outside our safe “known zone” and entered into the dangerous “unknown zone”?  Where or how would we live our lives differently?  How would we then allow God to use us?  Do you think that sometimes we miss opportunities that God has for us because we are too afraid to leave our “known zones”?  Romans 8:31 states, “…If God is for us, who can be against us?”  I like to add the word “what” along side of the “who” to help me when I use fear as my excuse in not taking that first step.  I mean really, let’s put things into perspective…what could we possibly have in our lives that would make us not take that first step if we truly believed that God is “for” us? 🙂  Ooooh I forgot about our “want to’s” but we’ll keep this topic for another post. 🙂

Come on, let’s jump zones!