Running Your Race – Eyes to See – Day 14

On Saturday, I ran my first 10K race.

For anyone who follows me on social media, that would likely be all that they saw, just photos of the race day.  What you didn’t know is that I’ve been “training” for about 6 months, three times a week.  You didn’t see that I used to run, but that I quit running when I found out I was pregnant with Eleanor.  The first summer after she was born, I tried to start running again.  I did it for a while, then I quit.  The next summer, I tried again, and I quit again. You didn’t see that internal battle.  How hard it was to start again, knowing how long and how fast I used to be able to run, and then being in so much pain when running even a short distance.  You didn’t see me forcing myself to hit the pavement, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, running then walking, and slowly building up my endurance until I could run longer and longer distances.  Getting up at 6AM to get a run in.  Or the times I pushed a stroller with a sizeable toddler in it, which by the way, doesn’t make running easier in any way.  I tried to avoid having to do that as much as possible.

You didn’t hear my internal dialogue, wanting to give up, wanting to quit.  Not wanting to run, not wanting to leave the couch and get out there.

But with discipline, and determination, I did it.  I finally worked my way all the way up to running 10 kilometers in a row without stopping.  I ran with my cousin, and let me tell you, there is just something about running with someone.  It encourages you.  It inspires you.  Actually, the only reason I started running again last spring was because another friend kept posting about her runs, how she’d squeeze them in during her lunch hour even, if she needed to.  And I thought, “yeah! I should start running again too!” so I did. And we messaged each other when we ran and we encouraged each other to get out there when we didn’t feel like it.  And we never regretted a single run, no matter how badly we wanted to put it off.

I’d never run a 10K until this day.  The furthest I ever got was 8K, so I was pretty nervous, but there were just so many other people out there running too, and I had my cousin by my side.  We were going to do this!  At every distance marker, we raised our arms in celebration.  We did it! We made it another kilometer!  I kept my mind on the finish line.  There was a good chunk of time where I didn’t even know when I’d see the finish line.  Honestly, there was a good chunk of time where I kept wondering “WHERE IS THE HALFWAY MARK?”.  I can tell you I smiled so big when I saw that finish line, and knew I was going to make it.

So much of running is a mental game.  My brain wants me to quit.  I tell myself I can’t do it.  I’m tired.  I’ve never done this before.  People are passing me, people are better at this than me, why am I even doing this?  When I’m alone, it’s really easy to give in to those thoughts.  When I am running with a friend, it’s a lot easier to keep going, because she is, and she’s saying nice things like “We got this! Keep smiling! We’re killin’ it!” and I say similar things back.

•••

I can’t help but see the parallel.  I’ve always thought about this, how life is a big course that I am running.  And sometimes it gets so hard, I feel like I’m going to die if I don’t stop right now.  I’m in pain, or I tell myself others are doing it better, or that I’m not good enough.  And if I run alone, I might just quit right then and there.  But life is better when I live it in community, and I have friends to keep me going, to encourage me, to inspire me, to hold me accountable to my goals, or to simply just walk with me if I need to walk.

People pass me all the time on this life-race I’m on, and I often feel like I’m in dead-last.  But I can’t focus on that.  There’s so much they haven’t seen.  They haven’t seen what I’ve struggled with, what I’ve endured to get to where I am now.  The things I’ve had to carry while running.  And I haven’t seen theirs.  I have to focus on my own running, on what I need to do to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I need to keep my eyes on the finish line, not my pace, because everyone runs at a different pace.  And that’s okay.

•••

At the end of our run, we stood on a podium in front of a sign that said “FINISHER”.  And I think that’s what I’m going to keep focusing on, being a finisher.  I’m will throw off everything and every thought that keeps me from going where I’m going.  I will celebrate every kilometer I complete, and I’m not going to give up.  I’m going to be a finisher.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. – Hebrews 12:13

 

eyes to see when i need to stay in my own lane – eyes to see – day 13

Life is weird.

Profound statement, I know.

Sometimes, I just don’t get us humans.  We know what is good for us, but we don’t do it.  We know what needs to be done, but we do everything else but that thing.

I know that not everyone is like this, but surely, it can’t be just me.

I’ve had a busy few days and all I’ve wanted to once I got free time today was spend time in the pages of the bible, soaking in His word, and spend time catching up on writing.

So, of course right after church I spent hours on various social media apps, looking for something to fill me up, and I’m still looking.

Interestingly, enough, I did find something on Pinterest that inspired me, and then I laughed at myself because didn’t I just recently write about going directly to God and not getting to him through someone else?  And about having whitespace for God, making sure to not fill up all our margins with other things, so we still have the ability to hear Him?

I don’t really feel bad about this, or guilty, or whatever, I just noticed it and find it somewhat amusing.

I find myself reading about other people’s relationships with God and experiences with God and thinking “oh I want that so much” and then I just keep scrolling onto the next thing, twiddling my life away with useless things wondering why I am not having that kind of experience.

•••

I’ve been learning a lot lately, especially since returning to writing on my blog.  I don’t even know how many people actually read this thing.  It’s not like I’m some well-known blogger or something.  But things have changed since when I used to write, back before Facebook when everyone had blogs to keep each other updated.  I wrote freely and comfortably, because I knew it was my friends and family reading.  And it probably still just is mostly friends and family, but things have changed in the internet world and blogging is a legit thing now and it seems everyone is an expert on something.

It can be tempting for me to write like I know something, and then turn and say “this is what you should be doing”.  And I have done that.  But in the last week or so, the idea of staying in my own lane has really clicked for me, that what I really want to do is just share my own stories, my own experiences, just as that.  Just as mine.  Not as a “this is what happened for me and now that means it’s true for all of you as well.”  Because maybe it is but maybe it isn’t.  And I’m sorry if it ever came across that way.  So I’m just going to do my best to share my stories and pray like Paul did for the Colossians, that God will “fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might that you may have great endurance and patience, giving joyful thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people and in the kingdom of light.” 

I trust the Holy Spirit to guide me, and to guide you too.

 

Thankful Thursdays – Eyes to See – Day 12

Things I’m thankful for this week:

  • I was able to share my testimony on Sunday at our church
    • this was very freeing in general, but I am so thankful that I am finally at a place where I can look back on the past couple of years and feel set free from the stronghold I was in (grief was not the stronghold, I will always grieve my loss, but my heart was hard and bitter and dark for so long, and now I finally have hope again)
  • My good friend, Dayna, recently moved back from full time mission work in Estonia and I was finally able to connect with her (and her dog, Evie) this week!
  • for a friend who knew we weren’t having a Thanksgiving feast, that I was alone on Monday with 3 kids and not feeling the greatest — and she surprised me by bringing a roast chicken, dressing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin cupcakes and a notebook that was very Chelsey-esque
  • baking Snickerdoodle Blondies with Eleanor (I’ve been making these for yearrrrs and they are a favorite of almost everyone who tastes them!)
  • for a photoshoot with a family who supported our Haiti trip, especially when they said it was the most fun they’d had doing a photoshoot :)
  • watching Ezra at two of his hockey practices this past weekend, he has improved so much and really loves it!
  • tonight I found an “emo” playlist with songs I listened to when I was in high school (back before “emo” was considered an insult). Many memoriesssss flooding back!  The songs are so good… and so bad… haha
  • watching my kids spend time drawing and writing books together this past week — and their awesomely hilarious stories and drawings
  • food, water, shelter — seems like a given, but there have been many times this week I have really taken notice of our pantry, or just appreciated my house, or that I can turn on a tap and have water.
  • Peter and Eleanor singing “Jesus Loves Me” together
  • I am thankful for God’s promises – today on Instastories I asked people to send me a message telling me what promises they hold on to, it was so powerful and encouraging to go through all the verses sent to me and look them up and read promise after promise after promise.  I will share them sometime :)
  • thankful for the deer that Peter and Eva got while bow-hunting on Monday, thank you Deer for giving your life for us.  We are totally out of meat. Thankful for the time Peter and Eva shared together.
  • Eleanor falling asleep in the van after dropping Ezra off at a birthday party, then staying asleep and snuggling with me on the couch — she NEVER naps anymore
  • for my health, my family’s health. This Saturday I will run a 10K (I’m declaring it), and I am thankful that I have a body that can do that.

While I’m sure there is much more, it is late now and my brain is slowly going to sleeeeeeep.

Thanks for following along, my friends!

 

This post is Day 12 of a 31 day writing challenge.  Read my other posts here:

Hemmed & Quilted – Eyes to See – Day 11

Have you heard that old saying, “A day hemmed in prayer seldom unravels?”

You might’ve seen it on a pillow.

It basically means to surround your day in prayer, and it will go better.

Which, I think is true.

But since I like to sew, I thought I’d make one little suggestion.

Hemming your day in prayer is just fine, yes.  I absolutely recommend it.

But you see, the hem is just the outer edge of the fabric.  I suggest also quilting your day in prayer, because quilting twists and turns and goes every which way, until there are little stitches throughout the entire piece.  And the hem really finishes it off.

So pray in the morning when you rise. Pray in the shower. Pray during breakfast. During dishes. Pray on your commute. Pray when something is going wrong in your day.  Pray when something is going right.  Pray when you feel like you’re going to scream at someone.  Pray when you didn’t give into that temptation.  Pray when you did give into that temptation. Pray when you’re holding your children on your lap. Pray when you’re changing a diaper. Pray when you’re unsure. Pray when you are sure. Use all the colors of thread, tell Him honestly how you feel.  There is no wrong way to do it.  Pray. Pray. Pray.  Practice His presence. Quilt and hem that day in prayer.

So, I realize saying “A day hemmed and quilted in prayer seldom unravels” doesn’t sound quite as nice or look as good on a pillow.

But it’s something to consider.

Testimony – Eyes to See – Day 10

This past Sunday I shared my testimony at our church.  And apparently… now I’m sharing it here for the internet.

The night my dad was dying I sat on a plane with my 7-month-old baby on my lap and looked out the window.  It wasn’t hard to notice that the plane next to me was headed to a much different destination.  The plane itself was completely decked out with exciting paint that let everyone know that this plane was headed to: Disneyland.  I couldn’t help but think about how much I wished I was on that plane that night, how much I wished I could hop on it right that moment and literally fly away from what was happening in my life.
But let’s back it up a bit before we dive into that.
I grew up in the Saskatchewan prairies, in a town so small it is technically a village.  My parents divorced when I was around 4-years-old.  Their story is not my story to tell, but it was messy.  Despite that, I actually do feel like I had a good childhood.  I ran wild and free and grew up playing with friends, was close with my brother, surrounded by my extended family, and I felt generally happy most of the time.  But I also grew up feeling torn between my two parents, who never spoke, so I was sometimes literally the messenger between them.  There was alcoholism, loud fights, divorce, lack of communication or expression of emotions, a stay in a shelter, social worker visits, court dates, blended families… just a lot of broken people trying to figure out how to do this thing called life.
And all without God.
High school was a tumultuous, emotional time for me as it is for many teenagers as the navigate their way through high school and changing hormones and trying to figure out where they fit in this world.  I was so overwhelmed by my life and by my pain, I wondered what was the point of life and why was I even born?  By grade 9 I had began to self-injure (which continued until my first year of university), grade 10 I added in disordered eating for about a year, and I took any opportunity I had to party and drink or use other substances with my friends.  I was miserable.  I often thought of ending it all.
After I graduated, I started to feel a sense of wanting something more from life.  I sensed there must be something more, but I didn’t know what to do with that because I didn’t want to go to church.  But in my first year of university, a friend of mine was getting baptized, and she invited me to come witness it.  Choosing to be a supportive friend, I went with her. I started coming to church, I joined a small group, and for the first time I saw people caring about their spirituality, believing in God, and working to live it out in their actual every day lives.  Between seeing this, being welcomed into such a loving community, and Jesus’ teachings, my changed my life forever.
I decided to be baptized the day I first heard about the Holy Spirit.  I am chronically indecisive and so the sound of relying on the Holy Spirit to guide me sounded amazing.  I was baptized soon after, but spent the summer feeling alienated and misunderstood by my friends, and really alone as I hadn’t quite made close friends yet in my church.  Satan found this a prime opportunity and pounced on my vulnerability, not for the first time, and not for the last time.  I spent the first couple months post-baptism partying more than I ever had before, until the day it all became very clear to me what God had done for me in my life, and I knew from that moment on I wanted to give it all back to Him.  Peter and I had been dating about 9 months by then and I told him that I was going all in for God, and he could either join me, or… NOT.
He chose to join me and from there we jumped on a roller coaster of following the Spirit wherever He lead us.
It’s not that I never had doubts in all these years since becoming a Christian, sure I’d had moments of doubt or wondering what I got myself into, but they were very short-lived.  I trusted God and my faith continued to grow.
Fast forward to my dad’s diagnosis.  His second diagnosis in 3 years came just shortly after Eleanor was born. This was the bad one, the final one, it’s in the bones and it is terminal.  I was determined I would stay strong.  Do you know the story in Daniel of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?  They were literally faced with death, and not just any death, being burned to death in a furnace, if they did not bow down to other gods.  And they stood firm saying “our God will rescue us. But even if he doesn’t, we will not bow down to your gods.” Yes, I told myself, I will remain faithful even if this doesn’t go the way I would like.  I clung to this summary of Daniel 3: “and if not, God is still good.”
And yet, one week after his death I found myself wondering if this was all true what I had given my life to, and if it was even worth it.  The devil saw this as another opportunity to pounce on my vulnerability, and this would be the worst attack yet.
I can honestly say I have never felt such confusion, fear, and hopelessness as I did during these last two years.
I knew that I still believed in God, but I stopped believing God.
I stopped believing He was good.
I stopped believing He loved me.
And I started to believe the devil and all the horrible things he whispered into my heart.
It affected my marriage.  It affected who I was as a mother. Who I was as a Christian and as the wife of a pastor.  Many of my feelings from my teenage years resurfaced, that overwhelming pain and self-loathing.  Though I did not engage my thoughts by acting on them, thoughts of self-injury were often there, and it took all of my energy to fight them off.  Leaving this world crossed my mind more often than I would like to admit.  One night I lay in my bed after all of my family fell asleep, I cried and battled the very real thoughts of getting into my car and driving away from it all, knowing it would be hours before anyone would even know I was gone.  It felt as if I was just one breath away from grabbing my keys and going.
I found myself crying often, and feeling angry over very simple things asked of me.  Over the simple fact that my children needed something from me.  I was their mother after all, but I was unable to give any more at that point.  And then the overwhelming feelings of shame would come over me, because even though I wanted to run away, even though I was angry, and sad, I really did love my family and knew that I had so many things to be thankful for.  But I just didn’t feel thankful.  And that made me feel awful.
People tried to encourage me, and tell me to keep praying, or to trust, and honestly?  It was all I could do to not roll my eyes at them.  I have prayed (like, at least once a day). I still go to church. I serve.  I’m in small group.  Sometimes I even get up early to pray and read my bible, AND I have a special worship playlist.  Does God not see my special worship playlist?! And yet, I do not feel Him.  In fact, I feel abandoned.  Abandoned during the most painful time in my entire life.  Proverbs 13:12 says that “hope deferred makes the heart sick” and I was seeing real life evidence that this was really, dangerously true.  I desperately wanted to believe God, and to be my old self again, but every time I got a shred of faith, the devil came in with 10 more doubts.
This past summer I re-read The Practice of the Presence of God.  If you haven’t read this humble yet powerful little book, I can sum it up for you now: “pray without ceasing. think about God all the time. and if you find yourself not thinking about God… don’t worry about it, just start thinking about him again.”  I was skeptical, it seemed way too simple, and of course Brother Lawrence, who wrote the book, could do this — he was a monk for crying out loud!  I bet he didn’t have four kids interrupting his thoughts every 2 seconds, or a million things to do in the monastery. But I started to put try this out, thinking about God as much as I could, offering simple prayers of “help me, God, help me” or “thank you, God” or “wow, God” (just some examples) into practice, and day by day, I have been able to see the good in my life again, I have felt heart-wounds begin to heal, I have felt his presence again.  I can hear the truth again, I have joy again, and I have HOPE again.  Life is not suddenly perfect, but I am starting to have all of these things again because of Him.
You know, over the past two years there is a word that kept coming up.  And I kept ignoring it because I really didn’t know what to do with it in my pain.  Abide.  Abide in me.  Besides, I was pretty sure he just wanted me to abide in Him so he could get me to do more stuff for him and I was pretty much done doing any of that because I felt like all I did was hard things for Him, pushing myself to drag 4 kids everywhere, and coming to church days after giving birth, or going to retreats 37 weeks gestation, or leaving a stable church family for the instability of a church plant, but also choosing Him made me the black sheep in my family, it singled me out and made me different from them, which is such a hard feeling.  And my family-of-origin seemed to be falling apart and my dad died, and all of that happened while I was close to Him, so yeah, I kinda felt like I was done with that for now. I was going to try to handle it myself.
Oh, but our God. Man, I’m lucky he’s such a loving and patient God who could see my pain, and waited like the most loving parent for me.  He heard me think such adolescent thoughts about him, equivalent to slamming the door and screaming I hate you! like some teenager on an hormonal rampage.  But He is all wisdom, and He is all love, and He waited patiently, lovingly, for me to be able to see.  I don’t even know yet all the things he has done to carry me through this pain, while I beat my fist on his chest pushing Him away and blaming Him.
Through all of this, He continued to pursue me: abide in me.  And I continued to wonder, “How? I’ve been continuing to go to church. I’ve continued to go to small group.  I’ve tried to mentor people and help people. I help out with kid’s classes. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I read my bible. Sometimes I get up early to do it, and I listen to worship music, and I’m showing UP, God, but where are you? Why won’t you come to me?”
And then one day, I was laying on my bed, praying.  And I felt that I should get down on my knees, and I was like nope. I don’t have to get on my knees to pray, laying here on the bed is just fine. There’s no rules about this, people can pray however they want. But it became very clear to me that God wanted me to get on my knees, not because he was commanding my obedience, but because he wanted me to trust Him. (I figured that part out later.)
He made it clear, because though I intended to continue praying on my bed, I soon found that I couldn’t continue praying.  No more words were coming, the only thing I could think of was I have to get on my knees.  Begrudgingly, awkwardly, uncomfortably, I got on my knees and soon discovered that I was able to pour my heart out again.
And so, I finally asked. “Why can’t I abide in you, God? What does it even mean? I don’t get it.”
And I didn’t hear a voice or anything but I felt it, very deep in my spirit, “You don’t abide in me because you are afraid to abide in me. You are afraid to trust me. You are scared of what abiding in me may cost you. And, you feel like abiding in me is something you should do, so that you will be able to produce fruit for me. But I don’t need you to produce for me.  I can do all of that on my own.  The only thing I want is your heart.  I want you to abide in me simply to be with me. And once you do that, you will be able to produce fruit, but not because you have to. Because you get to.”
Well.  Let me tell you. I came downstairs from that prayer time a little wide-eyed and stunned.  As someone who feels valued only by what I am able to contribute, as someone who is a people-pleaser, being asked not to focus on producing, not to want to be with God just so I can pour Him out again, this was going to be a challenge!  But also, a sweet, sweet relief.  God does not want, nor does He need, me to do anything.  He’s got that all covered.  But He does want me. My heart. My love. My friendship.
I have given birth four times, three times 100% naturally.  I learned about a method where when each contraction comes, you focus on keeping your muscles relaxed and breathing through the pain, instead of our natural inclination to tense the body up and resist it.  Tensing up actually makes it harder, while focusing and breathing is easier on the body.  An interesting thing about labor is that, when the contractions come, it takes over everything, every thought, nothing else matters as you curl up in pain waiting for it to end.  But when it ends, you can talk normally, and it’s almost as if you aren’t in labor at all.  As I look back over my life, I can see it in just this same way, a really long labor.  Sometimes life is good, but sometimes life is very painful.  The pain does not discriminate, every one experiences it at some point.  Some of us have easier labors than others, but we all have the pain.  It’s equally as part of life as the easy times, but the contraction is what truly progresses the labor.  When the pain comes into our life, we want nothing to do with it, we tense up and we want to run from it. Or hop on a Disneyland plane and get OUT. OF. THERE. I discovered that I must learn embrace the pain, to let my body, and my heart, go with it. I needed to learn to breathe through it.
Now, if you’re going through something painful right now, you may just want to roll your eyes at me and scoff, and you know what?  That is real.  And that is okay.  I’m so sorry that you’re in pain. I rolled my eyes and scoffed at encouragement, honestly, not even too long ago. So I get it, I really do. But, as someone who just endured a painful season that felt like it would never end, and is starting to come out on the other side of it, I urge you to hold onto that shred of faith.  I know that’s all I had, and it really didn’t feel like it would be enough to get me through.  It felt like nothing could lift me up, because I just couldn’t believe it.  You might be thinking, “Well, that’s nice that that happened for YOU, but that’s not going to happen for me.” I’ve felt that. But let me tell you right now, that is a LIE straight from the enemy, and he wants to steal ALL OF YOUR HOPE, and ALL OF YOUR JOY, and he wants you to quit BELIEVING GOD, and believing in His promises for you.  The promise that God LOVES YOU. And that He will NEVER abandon you. And that He will give you His Spirit.  And so many more promises.
I recently learned that the Hebrew word used for breath is the same word used for spirit. Breath. Spirit. Same word. What if when I choose to breathe through life’s contractions, I take in His Spirit? His Spirit, which John 3:34 says is given WITHOUT. LIMIT.  so I can take as many breaths as I need to be filled up.  What if each breath through the pain, I can be given eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand?
I’ve just been through the hardest contraction of my life, but do you know what finally helped to relieve it?  My circumstances have not changed.  My dad is still gone.  There are things I’ve seen that I cannot forget.  But practicing His presence, trying to breathe His name constantly, to pray without ceasing, this is what has set me free from that dark, harmful place, and set me free into the light and into the truth.
The contractions will continue to come in my life, this labor is not yet over.  But I have hope again that when my labor is done, it will give birth to a beautiful new life in Heaven, where pain and sorrow will be no longer.
May you practice God’s presence as you go through your days, may you breathe His Spirit in, may you breathe it in deeply.
This post is day 10 in my 31 day writing challenge.  Read more here:

Abide – Eyes to See – Day 7

There is a word that kept coming up over the past year, maybe two.  And I don’t know how I felt about it. I think I mostly felt lost about it.

Abide.

I kept noticing it, like a little note from Heaven sent down for me.  God calling me, trying to get me to just sit with Him, but I was honestly just so mad and so broken-hearted, and my trust was totally gone.

I thought God only wanted me to abide in Him so that He could get me to do stuff for Him.

And I was pretty much done with doing stuff for Him because church planting was the hardest thing I’d ever done and I pushed myself hard to drag 4 kids to everything, or come to church right after having babies, or go to retreats at 37 weeks gestation, or serve and serve and serve and feel like no one appreciates it.  And at that time my whole family of origin seemed to be falling apart, alcoholism rearing its ugly head and wreaking havoc in so many areas on the one side, and on the other side, my dad died and grief was affecting each family member close to him in different ways (which, let me just say, for some of us, that’s a realllllllly nice way to put it).  So yeah, you know what, God? I kinda just want to sit here and do what I want for now, thanks though.

Oh, but our God. Man, I’m lucky he’s such a loving and patient God who could see my pain, and waited like the most loving parent for me.  He heard me think such adolescent thoughts about him, equivalent to slamming the door and screaming I hate you! like some teenager on an hormonal rampage.  But He is all wisdom, and He is all love, and He waited patiently, lovingly, for me to be able to see.  I don’t even know yet all the things he has done to carry me through this pain, while I beat my fist on his chest pushing Him away and blaming Him.

Through all of this, He continued to pursue me: abide in me.  And I continued to wonder, “How? I’ve been continuing to go to church. I’ve continued to go to small group.  I’ve tried to mentor people and help people. I help out with kid’s classes. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I read my bible. Sometimes I get up early to do it, and I listen to worship music, and I’m showing UP, God, but where are you? Why won’t you come to me?”

And then one day, I was laying on my bed, praying.  And I felt that I should get down on my knees, and I was like nope. I don’t have to get on my knees to pray, laying here on the bed is just fine. There’s no rules about this, people can pray however they want. But it became very clear to me that God wanted me to get on my knees, not because he was commanding my obedience, but because he wanted me to trust Him. (I figured that part out later.)

He made it clear, because though I intended to continue praying on my bed, I soon found that I couldn’t continue praying.  No more words were coming, the only thing I could think of was I have to get on my knees.  Begrudgingly, awkwardly, uncomfortably, I got on my knees and soon discovered that I was able to pour my heart out again.

And so, I finally asked. “Why can’t I abide in you, God? What does it even mean? I don’t get it.”

And I didn’t hear a voice or anything but I felt it, very deep in my spirit, “You don’t abide in me because you are afraid to abide in me. You are afraid to trust me. You are scared of what abiding in me may cost you. And, you feel like abiding in me is something you should do, so that you will be able to produce fruit for me. But I don’t need you to produce for me.  I can do all of that on my own.  The only thing I want is your heart.  I want you to abide in me simply to be with me. And once you do that, you will be able to produce fruit, but not because you have to. Because you get to.”

Well.  Let me tell you. I came downstairs from that prayer time a little wide-eyed and stunned.  As someone who feels valued only by what I am able to contribute, as someone who is a people-pleaser, being asked not to focus on producing, not to want to be with God just so I can pour Him out again, this was going to be a challenge!  But also, a sweet, sweet relief.  God does not want, nor does He need, me to do anything.  He’s got that all covered.  But He does want me. My heart. My love. My friendship.

Ok, God. I think I can do that. You, do the rest.

(I had this bracelet made as a reminder to abide for the sake of abiding. Check out Impress Me Much Jewelry to have your own piece made. Not sponsored.)

 

This post is Day 7 in a 31 day writing challenge. You can read the other posts here:

Oil in the Lamp – Eyes to See – Day 6

I had so much to do, so many places to stop, so many errands to run.  And only so much time.  I heard that familiar *DING* from the dashboard of my mom-mobile mini-van, and it was no surprise to see that I needed fuel.

But I don’t want to stop, I thought, I have so many errands to run, so much to do, and stopping for fuel is going to take up so much time. It’s going to stop me from getting all those other things done as quickly.

It was then that I suddenly saw myself stuck on the side of the road, out of gas, cars whipping by me on Stoney Trail, my babies crying in the backseat because they wanted to go home, they were hungry, but we were stuck, waiting for someone to come fill us up with fuel, so we could continue on.  And being stuck on the side of the road, out of fuel, waiting for a fill up — that, my friends, was going to make the rest of my tasks take way longer than if I just stopped now and did what I needed to do so I could keep going.

That just sounds ridiculous, to read it now.  Of course, if you need fuel, you pull off at the very next gas station and fill up your tank.  Of course, you don’t keep going until you are damagingly empty on the side of the road, calling for help.

But do you think I take this advice very seriously when it comes to my actual daily life?

There was recently a time where both my husband and I pushed and pushed and pushed. Must-do-all-the-things.  And the funny thing is, it was joyful at first.  Neither of us even seen it coming.  But slowly, over time, all-the-things started to wear on us, because we weren’t taking the time to fill ourselves up again.  Our lamps can only stay full of oil for so long, before there is no oil left to burn.  And that’s when you’re in trouble.  That’s when you’re trying to serve on empty.

Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself — and you know what? I always, always, always read that with the presupposition that I already love myself a lot and that loving myself is a bad, selfish thing.  But sometime in the last year, I began to see that verse in a totally new light: we need to love ourselves, we need to take care of ourselves, or we can’t really love our neighbor well.  Because if I don’t love myself well, should I really love my neighbor that way?

It’s a fine line, really, and one that each individual person needs to sort out with the Holy Spirit, but we really need to take time to fill up the oil in our lamps, to take care of ourselves, to do little things that bring us joy, to rest, to commune with the Lord — we really can’t love others well unless we love ourselves well first, and serve from the overflow.

This post is Day 6 in a 31 Day Writing challenge – read more here:

Thankful Thursdays – Eyes to See – Day 5

Today I am thankful for…

  • the thoughtful prayers of the children at the kids’ school Thanksgiving Liturgy
  • crisp, autumn days
  • walking through Nose Hill Park
  • getting to be a mentor to a new believer
  • free latte reward from Starbucks
  • how excited Eleanor was to get her first cake pop
  • beautiful autumn colours
  • two of my children singing in the choir today
  • the evening light
  • impromptu family night
  • kids playing in the leaves
  • the big 3 playing Sorry on the deck
  • food on my table
  • gooooood friends moving back to my city
  • being able to text with gooooooood friends who don’t live in my city
  • AUTUMN – have I said that yet? it’s the best.
  • knowing I’m in “the good ole days” when I’m actually in them (reference from The Office)

This post is Day 5 in my 31 Day writing challenge… read more here:

Whitespace for God – Eyes to See – Day 4

It can be hard to hear Him, sometimes.

We are so busy.

But the truth is.

We all have the same amount of time each day.

24 hours.

We all make 1440 choices a day, of how to spend each minute.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it.

I think that’s something we just tell ourselves.

That our lives, our busy-ness, is happening to us.

But I can tell you this from experience…

It’s mighty hard to hear from the Lord if you don’t make time to listen.

If every spare moment you have is full.

I have five minutes, I’ll browse Facebook.

I have the night off, time to binge-watch Netflix.

Reading novel after novel after novel.

Imagine with me.

What could happen if we took time to talk to God,

and to listen for God,

while we did the dishes?

While we waited for the bus?

While we waited for sleep to come?

While we ________________________?

What if we had eyes to see that we need whitespace for God in our day?

Would we have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand?

This post is Day 4 in a 31 day writing challenge, read the other posts here:

The Parable of The Two Wines – Eyes to See -Day 3

There once was a man who enjoyed wine: the deep flavor, the process, the location of the grapevine.  He even started making it himself.  He couldn’t afford too much, so he always bought the cheapest.  This may not be the best, he thought, but it’s good enough.

One day, he walked into the store where he buys his wine supplies.  The men who worked in the store had samples of wine to try.  The man took one sip of their best wine, and everything changed.  The man decided right then and there that he would not waste his time, money and resources on the cheap wine any more, only the fine wine was worth it.

Jesus tells a similar story:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

Matthew 13:44-46

There have been times in my life where I have been content with the “cheap wine”.  I thought I was satisfied.  I thought it was good enough.  There were even times I was completely oblivious that there could be anything better for me out there.

All it took was one sip.  One sip of true Jesus and my life was forever changed.  Yet sometimes I still even choose that cheap wine over the finest wine.  When I choose Netflix to numb the difficulties in life instead of pressing into Jesus to soothe me.  When I lie to myself and say “I only have a few minutes, so I’ll just scroll social media” and then never find the time that day to pray or read my bible.  When I put others down (even in my mind) to make myself feel better about my own insecurities, instead of bringing those insecurities to Him and asking Him to help me.

I am so thankful he is a gracious God, who still pours himself out, still offers me the finest on the menu, no matter how many times I’ve refused him.

In what ways do you choose the “good enough” cheap wine in life over the true, rich, perfect wine that could change everything?

This post is Day 3 of a 31 day writing challenge I’m doing.  Read my other posts here: