What Is Truly Important?

 

apples

That apple looks so good. So juicy. Absolutely delicious, and I realize I am hungry.

The things. The busyness. The to do list. Being best. Being needed. Going to the next level. Obtaining the prize…and what does that look like anyway? I’m not sure. I just know I want it.

The fruit dangled in front of me now isn’t so different from that time long ago. “You should have it”, the Deceiver says. “After all, you deserve it”. Blinded by what I believe I need in order to be successful in this life. To be happy. To be fulfilled. I bite hard, looking for the perfection that doesn’t exist.

“But the thing about apples is that we’re always biting off more than we can chew. It is hard to see which bites might nourish and which might cause us to choke”. -Erin Loechner in Chasing Slow p.130

This book is causing me to reevaluate. To realign. To get to what truly matters. Let me tell you, Erin’s words pierce me, much like a skilled archer, whose arrow splits the apple in half and then goes… straight to my heart.

Chasing slow is not just about efficiency, or about finding more time in the urgency of the day to day, but also to slow down and instead consider what is important for eternity.

The dictionary defines important as “of great significance or value; likely to have a profound effect on success, survival, or well-being”. This morning I find myself pondering….What is truly important? How can I live my life well?

 

 

We All Have Storms In Our Lives

We all have storms in our lives.

Sometimes they come, due to our own making

Other times, only because we live in a broken and fallen world…

As darkness envelops…

Jealousy. Anger. Bitterness. Arrogance. Pride.

An unforgiving heart.

The storm pounds on my soul.

Wanting only my own way…

As the storm grows… a heart hardens.

The rain pours…

But….in the midst of the storm….if I look up….an unobstructed view.

Much like the prodigal son of scripture, lost in my own life…my own problems…

I realize my need.

I run back to the Father. “Father, forgive me!”

After I’ve ventured out on my own and made a mess of things,

I return to the One who forgives. The One whose voice alone, can calm any storm.

18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.    “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  Luke 15:18-20 NIV

There is calm after the storm.

There is beauty in forgiveness.

For the forgiven,

as well as for the one that chooses to forgive.

Fragile colors as the anger of the storm subsides.

Quiet. Peaceful…

Awe.

Are you in the middle of a storm, right now?

Are you the forgiven?

Or do you need to be the one who forgives?

**********************************
How do you practice forgiveness?

So Many Times, I Am A Brick

Pile of bricks.

Image via Wikipedia

If you noticed my post from yesterday, you saw that I was frustrated and angry over losing my hard work. I was not enjoying my lap top. At all.

I look back at the incident and have to laugh. My post from yesterday was going to be on perspective. Isn’t that funny? I thought I could write something worthwhile on perspective, and when I lost my post to cyberspace… I lost my temper. Not a very good perspective, huh?

I have a feeling I am not the only one that has those type of moments.

I wish I had it all together. Oh, how I wish! But…I don’t. I admit it.

I am trying to work on perspective. Two steps forward and one step back. That is the way it always seems to work out. Life is all about the lessons, isn’t it? What does God want me to learn today? Am I malleable in the Potter’s hand? Or am I stubborn and hard like a brick? Can he gently smooth  my rough edges, or does He need to hammer away at me, until I soften?

Sigh. So many times I am a brick.

I am so grateful that God is patient with me. He is compassionate to me and forgives me, my human frailties.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new EVERY morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

 

Hangin’ Tight With All My Might

Life.

Difficult. Scary. Unsure.

Those were some of my definitions of life over the past year and a half. Doesn’t seem very positive, does it? Well…for the past several months I was feeling more like Job of the Bible, I thought God had confused Job and me. The last week of January of 2009, my husband found out that he was being let go from his job of nearly 23 years. He and thousands of others. It was no fault of his own…the economy just was going south. Yeah, well I understood all that but, it didn’t help any. At all. It seemed like the beginning of the end. The end of life as we knew it. And that stunk. Big time.

So, here is a snap shot of that time of my life and how it all turned out. A chapter of my life story, so to speak. What I learned about life on the road. Not the fast lane. Not the slow lane. Life from the median……somewhere in the middle.

Job loss for my husband. The sole provider for our family. He had been making a very good salary, and now we knew that was coming to an end. Just like that. Within one week everything changed. So fast. I wasn’t prepared.

I cried. Frustration. Aggravation. Fear of the unknown. All this happening right smack dab in the middle of building a new house in another state. Things seemed dark. I was scared. Change is not something I love. Security is something I crave……and I felt that I was about to drown.

In the midst of all this I totaled my car in a scary accident. (hydroplaning in a down pour) So no wheels for me. Why? Why now? I’d never had so much as a speeding ticket, much less an accident. NOT NOW.

The money that I got from insurance, that would have paid for a new car, had to be used to pay the IRS. That lovely organization had found a mistake that we had made on our taxes 2 years before. We owed them. Good bye car. My resentment grew.

Because things weren’t bad enough, the economy got worse….the housing market froze and we were left with my house in Tennessee that we needed to sell….and fast. We couldn’t afford one mortgage, much less two. At this point how were we going to afford the cosmetic changes the house needed in order to sell?

Our other vehicle broke down on the interstate in December and we were stranded somewhere in Kentucky. A lot of money for repairs. Either we paid or we sat on the side of the road. In the freezing cold. UGH.

We gave up perks. Anything that we didn’t absolutely need we did away with. I was sad. I resented it. I’m ashamed to admit that I had a poor attitude on many occasions. This is not how life was supposed to be when we decided to build a house and move to another state. It was supposed to be an exciting adventure. It was an adventure alright….just not the kind that I had asked for or wanted.

I went through a bout of depression. Not clinical…but, close enough. I wanted to cry all the time and get out of this situation. I felt trapped in a dark place. I wanted to be upbeat. I wanted to say, “this will all work out in the end”. I longed to be “the glass is half full” kind of a gal. I failed. Miserably.

I ended up substitute teaching for a teacher out on maternity leave. 7 weeks. It was okay…but, my heart wasn’t in it. This was not the plan. I still clung to my old life. The one that was supposed to be different from where I currently found myself.

I wish I could say that I had a positive attitude, that I knew God would see us through these trials, that it would all work out in the end. I wish I could….but, I didn’t have it in me. My attitude was in a heap on the ground, I was seriously wondering if God cared about my pain, and I really thought we might lose everything— the end seemed imminent.

Sometime in March things changed for me. Really changed. Most of the circumstances were the same. Regardless of all that, something changed in me. God spoke to my heart, through His Word, through friends, through my church, through my family. It was as if a blindfold had been taken off of my eyes. I began to see how things had worked together… How God’s hand had been on my family’s situation all along. Even after I came to this realization and really took it to heart, it was still difficult. I still had doubt on occasion, but my attitude had changed. Instead of throwing a daily pity party for myself, I began to understand that maybe the reason that God had allowed this situation to continue was to teach me, and my family, a lesson in God’s provision.

Life lessons aren’t always easy. In most cases, if you are anything like me, it is the most difficult lessons that we learn the most from. I for one learned that my security in life doesn’t come from a nice car, a new house, or a fancy job. It comes from the Lord. He alone is where my true security lies. Amen.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”   Matthew 6: 19-21

Addendum:

1. We sold my house in Tennessee, at a loss, but still we sold it so we didn’t have to worry about two mortgages. The lady that bought it wanted to move  in by the end of the year. Our church in Tennessee pitched in and helped get all the cosmetic things done around the house so we would be ready by closing. They were Jesus’ hands and feet to us. They were part of God’s provision.

2. My husband got a new job, just a few weeks ago. This after a year and a half of looking.  Totally unexpected. A job he enjoys. One that provides medical insurance. Again, God’s provision.

3. Family and friends that helped us along the way, both financially and with words of encouragement. They were part of God’s provision.

4. I still don’t have a car….maybe, one day. I’m okay with that. At least we could pay off the IRS and not have to deal THEM. God took an accident and a totaled car and turned it into His provision.

God is good all the time.