Category Archives: trust

If I could just be like my dog…

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Each week, I get these little gems in my inbox called Wednesday Words from Leigh McLeroy, a gifted writer. Leigh is author of numerous insightful and poignant books such as The Sacred Ordinary and The Beautiful Ache.  She graciously agreed to let me share this week’s post with you. Check her out at www.leighmcleroy.com where you can also sign up for her weekly Wednesday Word.

(By the way, Leigh’s dog is the most adorable Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Owen. I didn’t have a picture of Owen, so I substituted one of my dog Shorty, who I think is pretty handsome too.)

Along for the Ride

Owen likes road trips. He does. His crate fits perfectly in the back of my car, and he’s always ready to hop in. He never begs to see an itenerary. He never questions my route. He doesn’t ask if we’re “there yet,” or whine for a rest stop, or water, or a toy. He gets settled in his crate, I get behind the wheel, and off we go. I’m in charge of the driving – and my sweet, four-legged friend is along for the ride.

I usually put something interesting in the crate to occupy his attention – a chewie rawhide or a beat up toy – but before long Owen’s lying down, his eyes drooping closed and his breathing even and slow. He’s not afraid to sleep while I navigate; he trusts me to get us where we’re going.

If the trip is long and I stop for a bit, I’ll open the back and take Owen out for a break: a turn on the leash, sniffing and exploring, and a drink and a bit of a treat to eat. I don’t leave him unattended; I never forget he’s there. When it’s time to crate up again he doesn’t balk; he goes in easy and settles down quickly. He’s along for the ride.

You see where this is going, right?

My dog’s faith puts mine to shame. In contrast to Owen, I wonder often what the driver (let’s call him God) is up to; question the route he uses to take me where he means for me to go; feel the need for frequent updates to reassure me that we are, in fact, making good progress. And in no way do I relish being “loaded in” for travel facing backward, with no visibility and no control over the trip.

He means to get me from point A to point B, and to mature me in the process. I find it difficult to give myself to this “going” without seeing – to say “yes” to the journey and say nothing more. I struggle to relax, and fear that if I close my eyes we may veer hopelessly off track.

Even writing these words I feel ashamed. I’ve followed him long enough that I should be more confident with his way-finding skills. I should enjoy the trip, and be relieved to not be minding the map. I should feel free to sigh and sleep – to snore even – knowing he is getting us where we need to be. After all, he is the navigator. And I’m just along for the ride.

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake,so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27, NIV)

© Leigh McLeroy, 2012

http://www.leighmcleroy.com
“Speak what you feel, not what you ought to say.”

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Manoah’s Wife

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Sometimes God’s complete disregard for human customs is amusing.  In the story of Manoah’s wife, we’re dealing with a time when, according to custom, women were property–generally useful for sex, having babies, keeping house or working the fields. Companionship was optional.

The story of Manoah and his wife offers many delicious, God-initiated ironies. First, God sends his messenger to whom? A nameless woman! Second, where Manoah is determined to discover God’s name and take control of the situation, isn’t it ironic that God, instead, only re-emphasizes that Manoah’s wife has all the pertinent details?

As Manoah presses for a name, God only responds that his name is “wonderful,” beyond knowing. Ironically, at the same time, God is making himself known to them in a truly personal and marvelous way. But it is all on God’s terms–not Manoah’s. The story also shows how God sees us, even when we are invisible and nameless to the rest of the world, and, even better, he includes us in his story.  Manoah’s wife became an important part, indeed, of God’s story.  Centuries later, another unknown, invisible girl likewise became pivotal to God’s story.  Perhaps the wonder of our relationship with God is that even though his name is “wonderful” and beyond understanding, he still draws near, reveals himself to us, and invites us, just like these people, into his story.

Is God Holding out on You?

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I have a friend who was so hurt over a broken relationship that she became obsessed with the offending party’s wrongs. In fact, she looked for new offenses, each new one a confirmation of her own “rightness.” In doing so, she was blind to her own ungracious heart, and by focusing all of her attention on the matter, she made it an idol.  I’d like to say I don’t get it, but I do. There are times I’d rather be vindicated than obey God’s command to worship him only and to love others. After all, “worship” literally means to “ascribe worth.” How many pointless arguments and vain pursuits do we attribute worth by giving them attention and energy, and what lengths do we take to justify ourselves in the process?

The temptation of Adam and Eve began in their minds, as all temptation does. Did you catch the subtle, slimy tactics that the serpent used? At first, the serpent hints that God’s instructions aren’t reliable. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Then the suggestion that God is actually holding out on them is served up like a delicious dessert:

“God knows that when you eat of [this tree], your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Shadows are thrown on God’s character and motives. This divide and conquer tactic is extremely effective. You are off the hook for your own bad behavior, while doubts are thrown on the other person or on God. All you have to do is hint at someone’s shortcomings or failures, and you come out smelling like a rose. Commonly known as throwing someone under the bus, it ain’t pretty. The ensuing division is the loose thread that unravels the entire garment of community and friendships. Sometimes, we even throw God under the bus, rather than do the right thing.

I am most tempted in this way when I’ve been offended or wronged. Those are the times when that “love your neighbor” rule goes out the window, and I’m ready to drop-kick someone under the bus!  I put more importance then on being justified versus trusting God to grow me past the offense.

What about you?  Can you think of situations where it has been easier to blame and cast aspersions on others versus obeying the command to forgive, to trust, and to honor God first with our attention and energy?

On a side note: If you find yourself tripping up over whether or not there was a real serpent, a real garden, or a real Adam and Eve, can I just offer a suggestion?  Get past that argument and remember that the accounts in the Bible are given to point us to God and tell his story.  They teach us about God’s character, God’s relationship to us, and how we can and should relate to God and to one another. So rather than getting all hung up in the “literal or not” argument, just ask yourself, “What can I learn about God in this story?”

A Time to Walk Away

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cast away

Photo by Beni Ishaque Luthor

Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville” isn’t exactly a pensive song. At first glance, it seems like nothing more than a celebration of a perpetual drunk fest on some Mexican beach. But tucked in the lyrics is a slow, somewhat poignant, realization: As he considers his Margaritavile demise, the singer first claims it was “nobody’s fault,” then “…it could be my fault.” And finally, the epiphany, “It’s my own damn fault.”

Oi vay. I can relate this slow grind to humility, especially when it comes to knowing when to walk away. When I was a young teacher, I was surprised to so readily see among my colleagues the ones who had stayed too long. I remember telling Barry, “Please remind me to quit when I don’t like the kids anymore!”

But sometimes we are the last to see when it’s time to go, aren’t we? Ecclesiastes says, “There’s a time to keep and a time to cast away.”

Wisdom is about knowing when.

When is it right to let go of whatever we are holding onto? A job? A person? A dream? A grudge? A personal war?  I don’t always know, do you?

I do know this: Hang on too long, and the misery that ensues is often my own fault because I’m only hanging on out of fear, comfort…even laziness. I may even have legitimate grievances to pin my frustrations to, but the truth is that I have outstayed the grace I was given to deal with them. Without that grace, the weeds in any human interaction eventually wind round our necks and choke the living daylights out of us.

Knowing the “when” is hard, though.  I’m often too close, too tangled in the weeds to see. I do know this much. It’s time to walk away if–

1) My only reason for remaining involves fear, laziness, or the desire to be comfortable

2) My “round” self just no longer fits the ever-tightening square hole of my circumstances

3) I’ve made a god of the thing or person I’m clinging to–and I’m trying to squeeze life, or affirmation, or provision from it, when I should be trusting God for those things instead.  Ugh.

I’d love to know how others deal with this question, though. As you think about letting go, what determines your “when”?

Beginnings

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Carolina morning

Carolina morning. Photo by L. Kay Johnson

The importance of accepting new beginnings has become clear in recent months. I know I’m in a time of transition, but where there’s no road map or guaranteed formulas, every morning is like a new experiment..a “why not try it this way” kind of day. I’m learning to be okay with that. I’m also learning to rely on that “new every morning” mercy. A few practical routines and practices seem to help:

  • Breathing: Sometimes taking the time to breathe is an act of trust.
  • Gratitude: I’m reading Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts. Timely stuff.  (Highly recommend it, by the way.)
  • Prayer. My favorite these days:  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. Seems if I can keep these two prioritized, the rest is water under the bridge.
  • Journaling: Forgive the analogy, but when my mind is roiling, journaling is kind of like throwing up on paper. Messy and gross. But you feel so much better afterwards. And somehow it all often magicaly transforms into clarity and useful ideas.
  • Exercise. Don’t think. Just do.  Amazing how much clearer my mind is when I give myself this gift.
  • Sleep.  Do I really need to give myself permission!?  Apparently so.
  • Sunshine. Seriously. Amazing what a few minutes outside can do for my attitude.
  • Truthful Friends. No substitute for friends who listen when I wail and then tell it like it is.
  • Trust. Like breathing, all of the above require trust.

One blogger captured some great ideas about how to start the day that I thought I would share as well.  Good stuff. Now trust…and go for a walk.

Daily Manna Gathering

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morning coffeeHad coffee with my friend, Katy.  While we shared the woes of mounting bills and diminishing funds, we talked about the daily manna or bread from heaven that the Isrealites were given in the desert. Katy reminded me that God opted for a daily provision. When the people tried to hoard enough for the week, or even for the next day, the food rotted. They didn’t like having to trust that God would come through for them tomorrow. I don’t like it either.

In fact, like the Israelites, I am often tempted to look back at “Egypt” and think it all looks pretty good in retrospect. Like the Egyptians, I sometimes find myself saying, “Yes, I was a slave, but I was a comfortable slave!”  I keep forgetting that God loves me too much to leave me in places where I have become too comfortable. And he loves me too much to let me remain a slave versus pushing me to embrace my own freedom.

Katy also reminded me that it is just as silly to look forward into the future and allow ourselves to get all amped up with anxiety.  She said, “Just lay out the bills and see which one is due today. Pay that one. For all you know, you’ll be dead tomorrow!”  She’s right. And then I will have spent my last day on earth worrying about a bill that I will never have to pay.

See…this is why we need honest friends. Thanks, Katy.

Soul Weeding: Clearing the Clutter

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clutter

Photo by Emerson

 

I once read that you should get rid of the things that make you grimace every time you pass by. (I’m assuming this does not include family members.)  Still, without external pressure, I’m sometimes more comfortable staying in the weeds than going through the painful process of extricating myself from them. In fact, I start to convince myself that while the view is lousy in Weedville, it’s not so bad. There are lots of other weeds to keep me company.

I read recently, though, about that moment when God calls out to Adam and Eve in the garden, “Where are you?” It’s like God kept a regular sunset-watching date with his friends, but this time they were missing…hiding, as we know….as God knew.  I hear longing in that question: Where are you?  Is it possible that God actually looks forward to my companionship, but I’m so buried in the clutter of my own ambitions or fears or anxieties or agendas that I don’t even notice?

What if stopped, listened, and I answered, “Here I am. Come sit with me”?  I suspect I would gain perspective. Focus. Insight. Wisdom. I suspect I’d get rid of enough weeds to enlarge my view and find fresh perspective.

I don’t know why I hide from God’s call. I find it difficult to shut my chattering brain down long enough—even though I know it’s what I need more than anything. After all, if there’s space for God in my life, isn’t there space for everything else?

Review: Someone Knows My Name

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Someone Knows My Name
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are in a current funk of self-pity, this is definitely not the book for you. On the other hand, if you could use a vision of courage, Someone Knows My Name will not disappoint. This book explores what it means to be a slave and what means to be free. Through the central character, Aminata, we also also explore what it means to be human.

Lawrence Hill has achieved the remarkable in several ways. First, he successfully writes from the viewpoint of an 18th-century African woman, thereby ensuring we see the extent of how slavery affected “the least of these.” Second, his careful research guarantees just enough detail to facilitate our transport to the world of 18th-century colonization. Finally, and I think this is the most remarkable thing, Hill goes beyond simply indicting European slave traders, or even Africans who fully collaborated. He doesn’t shy from the truth that slavery exists wherever human selfishness, fear, and greed exist. In other words, he indicts us all.

Only after Hill has given the reader a real eye-full of the horrors of slavery does he allow his characters to discuss the issues surrounding slavery and the lies that slave-traders and their collaborators used to condone the industry. And only after ensuring that the reader sees the misery and cruelty as blatantly as possible does he show Aminata’s own struggle to identify the right people to blame. Is it the slave ship owners? Is it those who buy the slaves? Is it the Africans who participate and profit from the trade? Is it even ladies in the drawing rooms of London who can’t live without sugar in their tea? And how does she figure in the fact that her own village once owned a man?

Identifying the enemy was far more complicated that she imagined, and knowing how to fight slavery was equally challenging. At one point, she strikes a bargain with an African slave trader to take her back to her native village. She is pained to realize that this man and his followers, who are faithful Muslims, are actively engaged in profiting from slavery just as easily as those who called themselves Christians or Jews. She also soon realizes that she has participated in the threat of her own re-enslavement by paying for their services. Even worse, as she witnesses new groups of slaves being led to the coast, she is appalled to realize that she is just like the bystanders she had condemned so long ago for watching the captives pass by and doing nothing to stop the captors.

As she tells her stories later to fellow Africans, the chief of the village is incredulous when she claims that not all “toubabu” (white men) were devils. He asks, “How could it be possible to see good in some of them?” Aminata replies, “Do you not know the human heart?”

Aminata spent years associating her identity with her father, her mother, her language, and her Bayo village. As her dream of returning there fades, she begins to realize that Bayo and all that it held is a past that she must surrender. The thing that she cannot surrender and that becomes her new identity is her commitment to freedom.

Hill’s book is a striking illustration of how easily we can justify wrongs, even whitewashing them with words like “progress and prosperity.” He forces us to look at the price of greed and evil, while also considering the power that one soul, completely free from fear, possesses to effect change. Aminata’s ultimate commitment to the truth versus even to her own dreams is one we would all do well to emulate. As she so beautifully said, “I don’t govern my life according to danger.”

View all my reviews

The top 5 regrets people make on their deathbeds

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My sister-in-law, Lisa, shared a link on Facebook to an article with the above title. The list was compiled by a woman named Bonnie Ware who worked for many years with the dying.  The #1 deathbed regret?

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Ms. Ware writes, “Most  people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”  Ms. Ware encourages us to honour our dreams before a lack of health limits or eliminates our choices.

I question my sanity regularly, especially since I began working for myself just as the recession was beginning to bloom.  What kind of crazy person does that?  But my gut keeps telling me the same thing: Keep moving forward. I am learning that when you go after your passion, there really is no roadmap. Even with a business plan in hand, you have test your assumptions and make adjustments on a daily basis.

You also have to become very comfortable with uncertainty.  If you can trust God, this isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s a good place to be. I often find myself having conversations with God that go something like this: “Ok, God, I’m moving forward with this idea.  Are you watching?  Ok…here I go.  Stop me if this is wrong!” And then I trust that God will do just that.

testing the waters

photo by Brian Uhreen

I’m not sitting around waiting for daily epiphanies before I move. I’m just sticking my toes in the water and watching to see if they part.  If they do, guess what?  I’m moving. You’ll soon find me making my way across the riverbed. If the waters don’t move, it’s time for a route correction. And if I’m listening, I can hear those heavenly GPS directions and adjust to them while I’m in motion. It is much, much harder if I’m stuck in neutral. My friend Sonya said her father used to remind her,  “It’s very difficult to turn the wheels of parked car.”

Don’t sit around wondering if you can pursue your passion. Just go after it, but keep an eye and ear peeled to heaven for those route corrections. You can trust.

(You can read the full article about deathbed regrets at http://thenextweb.com/lifehacks/2011/05/31/the-top-5-regrets-people-make-on-their-deathbeds/)

What’s got you?

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A few years ago I went rappelling. Can I just be honest and say that I was pretty much terrified?!  The first try was from the top of a climbing tower, only about 60 feet high, but the climb alone was freaking me out.  If not for the fact that I was supervising a group of middle and high schoolers, I might have chickened out, but my pride was on the line.  When it was my turn, the guide took me by the hands and said, “Okay, turn around and face me.” He turned me to face him with my back to the edge of the platform.

“Now walk backwards until you’re just standing on the edge with your toes.”

Was he SERIOUS? 

Charlie had been doing this for years. A modern-day mountain man, he was a little grizzled and rough around the edges, but he was gentle with the kids and with me. He was in his late 50s, and somehow the fact that he was NOT twenty-something was incredibly comforting at that moment.

“Charlie, I’m a mom.  I need to be alive after this for my kids, ok?”

Charlie laughed.  “Just keep your eyes on me, ok?  Trust me.  Now step back.”  He held my arms while I closed my eyes and then quickly opened them again because he said, “Keep looking at me!”  I inched backwards until I could feel my heels dangling off the ledge.  “Keep your eyes on me,” Charlie coaxed.

Fat chance I’m looking anywhere else!

“Now, just sit down.”

“Sit down? You mean…as in sitting?”

“That’s it, just squat down like you’re gonna sit in a chair. You’ll see.  The ropes and harness’ve gotcha!”  He had that wide-eyed smile of a father watching his kid learn to ride a bike.

“Ok, Charlie, if this thing doesn’t hold, I’m gonna haunt you in the after-life.”

Charlie grinned. “Just do it.”  I leaned back and squatted down, as though easing into a La-z-boy…and…amazing!  It really did feel like I was sitting in a chair.  The harness and ropes were dead secure.

Instantly, I lost all fear.  I looked up at Charlie in surprise, and he caught my expression.

“See? I told you. It’s got you. Now just push away from the wall and have fun flying down.”  And that’s exactly what I did.  It was exhilerating!  It was over in just a few seconds, but I could’ve done that all day.  When we graduated to scaling off a mountainside a couple days later, I felt like an old pro, “Pfffff, I got this!”  All because I knew that the ropes and the harness and the guys on belay had me secure.

That’s what trusting God is like.  It’s so scary to go out on a ledge, until you step off the edge and sit into your fear. Only then can you know the safe and strong arms that have “got you.”  I love that scene in Indiana Jones where Jones, in order to solve a riddle, realizes he must take a “leap of faith” off a monumentally scary cliff side.  He sees no alternative but to stick his foot off the edge and walk. When he takes that step, he is amazed to discover solid ground beneath him.  The bridge was there all the time, but it was disguised in such a way that he couldn’t see it until he was actually on top of it.  What a great image of trust.

Trust is a mysterious and powerful thing when we stake our lives on something–or Someone–worthy of our faith. My rappelling experience was only as secure as the equipment and the experience of those on belay, both of which proved to be reliable. There are trustworthy arms ready to catch and hold us.  But we will never know them until we step off the ledge.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

The Dancing God

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Dancing African Woman

© Torsius | Dreamstime.com

I have a few friends who are adopting children from Africa. Yes, not just one—a FEW friends who are adopting children in Africa! It’s been a wild and miraculous thing to watch no less than three families go through this process only to have all the pieces come together almost simultaneously.  One couple is in Uganda now with their new baby girl. Within days, the other two families head to Zambia together to unite with their adopted children.  It’s breathtaking.

As we’ve all joined in their excitement and prayed for them, I have been struck by one thing: Too often we pray as if we’re telling God something he didn’t consider.  Now, God, did you remember to pack the money they need?  Don’t forget the passports! What are we thinking?  Do we think God is going to smack himself on the forehead and say, “Doh!  I don’t know why I didn’t think of that!  Thank you for reminding me.”

I don’t think so.

God is way ahead of us. In an amazing book I recently edited (and can’t wait to see published so I can tell you about it), the authors highlighted the first verse of Genesis where God’s Spirit “hovers” over the formless void. When God creates, there is a dance taking place. God is moving, stirring, changing things…making something out of nothing..and delighting in the dance of creation.

My prayers have changed. Now I pray, “God, give me eyes to see the dance, and let me join in.”  I pray, knowing that the prayer is already answered.  I’ve given up those prayers that were an attempt to kick God into action. My prayers have turned from drudgery (after all—it’s quite a tall order to kick the God of the universe into doing my bidding) into joyful expectation.

Indian Dancers

© Jackq | Dreamstime.com

I don’t have to twist God’s arm. God’s arm is already moving, and He reaches his other arm to me, daring me to give it a whirl as He deftly guides me around the floor.

He creates the dance.  We just follow along, keeping up the best we can, laughing at our clumsiness, and giddy with excitement about where the next steps will lead.

Dancing children

© Jozef Sedmak | Dreamstime.com

As we enter into the high point of the Easter season, it seems appropriate to focus on the God whose choreography included the exquisitely graceful move of kneeling to wash the feet of his friends and his enemy. Who could have imagined a dance like that?

There is a beautiful dance going on in Africa right now, and my friends are spinning around the floor in pure joy.  I wish I could be there to see it!

Go! And know that God has already gone before you. God is creating new things—new dances. Get out on the floor and enjoy!

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

Where do you get your life?

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water

© Olga Donskaya | Dreamstime.com

A friend recently told me I was giving too much life to a situation I was chewing over. Of course, she was right.  And the truth is, for all the energy I expend in worry, I will get no Life in return!  We do that, don’t we?  We give lots of energy— in the form of anger, unforgiveness, anxiety, or jealousy—to people and circumstances. We exchange pieces of our lives on problems that we cannot solve or situations we cannot change.   We give our lives away—not in teaspoons, as Eliot said, but in heaping cups.

So I’m paying closer attention to the things I give life to. Maybe even more important, though, I’m also asking myself, “Where are you drawing life FROM?”  Are you trying to extract Life from something or someone that cannot possibly give it?  Are you drawing water from a dried-up well?  As a Christian, I suppose I should pay attention to Jesus.  He says that he is Water, Light, Bread, the Vine…Life. (He also said he was God. Therefore, go to God–the SOURCE–for things that feed your soul and give you real life.)

It’s so easy to draw life from just about anything BUT God: career, kids, romance, food, friends, jobs, wealth, fitness, hobbies, or even the next good time.  All of those things are part of this crazy, joy-filled, tragic, and magical thing we call life, but none actually breathe LIFE into our souls. For that, we have to turn to THE Lifegiver. And I think we probably need to pay attention when we do find ourselves giving life to something that is incapable if giving life in return. When I find myself doing this, it’s a red flag: I’m looking for something that people or circumstances cannot always give–whether it’s love, forgiveness, justice, understanding, encouragement, acceptance, or affirmation.

Whatever it is, there is only one perfect Source for true Life-giving sustenance. That’s where I need to go. (Feel free to remind me!)

vine

© Galina Barskaya | Dreamstime.com

Bread
photo by Kay Johnson

It’s the art, stupid

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Musician

Musician Isaac Johnson. Photo by Barry Johnson

Artists live in two worlds. In one, they create. In the other, they market. The two could not be more opposite. One requires time, reflection, and solitude. The other requires diving into the fray to network, shake hands, blog, tweet, build a digital empire and land that ultimate publishing or record deal. In such chaotic noise, it is very easy to forget two essentials: 1) The art itself.  2) Your audience.  Without your craft or the people who appreciate its value, the rest is meaningless.

Bob Lefsetz, blogger and music industry analyst/commentator, recently addressed the 20% drop in ticket sales in the movie industry, despite predictions that movies were considered recession proof.

His take as to the cause? Simple. “The movies suck.”  Lefsetz argues that the movie industry has forgotten its “primary mission”—which is to tell stories. He goes on:

Every few years a blockbuster emerges from the fringe that costs almost nothing to produce.  And the real reason these flicks triumph is story…People need food.  They don’t need movies or music.  They can keep their wallets closed.  The challenge is to create something so compelling that people need to go, price ends up being secondary. Read his entire post here. I highly recommend it.

Lefsetz is right. Put your freshest energy into the story, the song, or the painting. Make it compelling. Make it something people have to see or hear or participate in. You do have to network, but begin by networking among those who already love and appreciate what you do.  Build slowly and be patient with the process. It is an exercise in trust.

Filled with Your Fancies

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© Simone Van Den Berg | Dreamstime.com

Ran across this Proverb the other day while working on the book I’m writing. This quote is the voice of “Lady Wisdom” lamenting the decided lack of interest in her offer to help us poor humans learn to live well.

Proverbs 1:29: “They would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke. Therefore, they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their fancies.”

Ooo…I don’t know about you, but the idea of being “filled to the full with my fancies”  sounds a little scary. Wisdom teaches us, doesn’t it, that we are sometimes the absolute worst at knowing what we really want or need. I don’t know about you, but I’m okay with depending on God to keep me on the right path. When you look back, don’t you see those times when God gave you exactly what you wanted, and you lived to regret it?  I can just imagine God shaking his head sometimes and saying, “Ok…if that’s what you want…but don’t say I didn’t warn you.” I’ve learned to listen a little closer, test the waters a little more carefully, trust my latest passion a little less, and move forward with a heart open to allowing God to make route corrections along the way.

Pack up your camel and go

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three camels

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What do you do when your brain turns to fuzz and you need to get the cobwebs out of your head?  Today is Epiphany, which is, traditionally, the day the wise men arrived to find the Christ child. An “epiphany” has come to mean a sudden awakening or realization.  I wrote a couple of days ago about how I had a little epiphany of my own while vacationing in Italy. Like the wise men, I discovered that if you want to find truth, sometimes you just have to pack your camels and go after it!

Psychiatrist Ed Hallowell, author of Crazy Busy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and about to Snap!, is a real advocate for the idea of walking away.  He notes that sometimes our brains are stuck in a loop like a scratched record. We spin away, but we keep hitting that same scratch over and over. We become the noise in our own brains. At that point, it’s time to move. Get up. Go for a walk. Meet a friend for lunch. Pray. Dance. Get out of town for a few days—or even longer if possible.

Again, it’s about trust. Just put that thing you are chewing on into bigger hands and TRUST.  Before you know it, the solution to that problem you’ve been looping over and over in your brain becomes clear.  It’s really weird how that happens.  Kind of like your “big idea” waits politely for the fuzz in your brain to move over and make room for new ideas to settle into your soul.  And if there’s no room for simple ideas, there’s even less room for imagination…for wonder…for amazement.  And what is life if you aren’t filled with wonder and amazement now and then?We become the noise in our brains

The wise men had the right idea. Walk away from your daily work, your routine—even sometimes from all that you know.

Follow that star!

So what about you? What do you do when it’s time to hit the reset button?

© 2011 L. Kay Johnson, L is for LaNita. All rights reserved.