Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Don't Want To

I’ve never been a morning person. My roommate in college called me the Snooze Queen. But when life took a downward turn, I didn’t just hit the snooze button.  I turned the alarm off altogether. I didn’t want to get up. Getting out of bed felt like moving the Titanic. Sliding out from under the covers to carry the weight of my heavy heart was the biggest hurdle of my day.
I know someone who is experiencing a downward turn of their own. We were talking recently and like a helpful friend I offered a string of suggestions. Our conversation went something like this:

“Why don’t you get outside and go for a walk?”
“I don’t want to.”

“You could watch a funny movie.”
“I don’t want to.”

What about taking a bubble bath?
“I don’t want to.”

I gave up and left our conversation feeling frustrated.
And then I remembered how much I appreciate perky people with helpful suggestions when I have the “don’t-want-to’s.”

I always groan whenever someone tells me to turn to Proverbs 31. Seriously, that woman is so annoying.  And here’s the reality - King Solomon waded through 700 wives and 300 concubines looking for that girl.  I’m not sure she exists. Verse 15 is particularly irritating when you have serious sleeping-in skills like mine.

She rises while it is still night…..”

I’ll admit, I’ve made some assumptions about this overachiever. I assume she wants to get up. She’s a morning person. But what if my assumption is wrong? What if she rises not because she wants to but because she knows it’s the right thing to do? What if she gets up even though she doesn’t want to get up at all?

I’ve learned a few things about desire through the don’t-want-to episodes of my life:
  • Desire is nice but not necessary.
  • If I wait until I want to, I may never take action.
  • Doing what I know is good and right to do regardless of how I feel is actually quite satisfying. 
  • Sometimes the “want to” comes AFTER I take the first step.

I’m still not a morning person. Sometimes I leave the blinds open so sunlight will seep in. Nature’s alarm clock is the best. Sometimes I lie in bed and think about rhubarb strawberry yogurt, hoping thoughts of a yummy breakfast will rouse me. Sometimes I let myself linger and read a devotional before getting out of bed.

I won’t let the “don’t-want-to’s” keep me under the covers for long.
She rises. She gets up. She moves forward with or without the “want-to” and so do I.

What helps you overcome the don’t-want-tos?

Originally published at A Bundle of THYME

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hope Paints the Sky

As I watch the sunrise transform the night sky, I remember my darkness.  I remember days when it seemed unlikely light would ever shine again. It’s not easy to remember.

Rummaging through old notes and journals, I found an entry that shocked me. I had honestly forgotten the depth of darkness I once lived in. Our family had taken a trip to the Texas coast. I got up early one morning, sat on the balcony and wrestled with grabbing my flip flops for a walk on the beach.  That wasn’t a safe place for me.

“….the thought crossed my mind to walk out into the waves and never turn back…..”

 I was already drowning in pain. It seemed fitting.

Maybe you find yourself surrounded by darkness. You can’t see a way out. You can’t see your own hand in front of your face. I’ve been there and I remember.

Before the light ever broke through, God was with me in the dark.      
One of the tenets of faith is our God’s omnipresence. He is all-present, with us in darkness just as much as light. It can be hard to feel his nearness in the dark. Jesus called out from the cross, My God, my God why have you forsaken me.”  Jesus felt all alone, forsaken in the darkness of that moment. 2 Corinthians 5:19 tells us that Jesus was not alone. God the Father was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. God was there, with Jesus all along and he is with you right now no matter how dark your situation may seem.

The danger in forgetting our times of darkness is we trivialize coming into the light. We forget how slowly darkness relinquishes its hold on the night. Hope paints a very thin pink line. If you are not watching closely you may miss its initial glow.

Hope rises in our hearts at different tempos.  Sometimes it pops right up.  A one, and a two, and a three and BOOM. Brilliance!  And other times, darkness shrouds hope like thick black molasses and the sun rise drags on like a funeral dirge. It took two years for the sun to rise glorious in my life, for hope to revive my heart.

I have lived in darkness.  But I know without a doubt that light shines. Every morning we see this truth on display. My challenge for those of you surrounded in darkness – wake up early tomorrow and watch the sun rise.  I am praying for you to see light breaking through.

Hope paints the sky in thin pink lines
blooming orange
bursting yellow
The heavens declare it
clear in phosphorus hue
today and each new day

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Need a Breakthrough?

Have airplane spaces shrunk? I’m cramped between the window and some guy reading an enormous textbook that spills over into my allotment.  I’m speaking at a women’s conference this weekend so I’m working on my message, typing on my laptop, elbows in, when the guy in front of me leans his seat back.  The latch from the tray table catches the top of my lap top. I hear a crunching sound and yank it toward me. This space keeps shrinking. Tightening all around me. I feel like the world is closing in.

I give up.
The message will have to wait.
I can’t think in this small space.

I click save and fold the screen, twisting and bending to tuck my computer under the seat in front of me.

When my neighbor reaches for his water bottle, I slide MY elbow on the arm rest between us.  Ah-ha! I’m taking ground, three more inches of space and it feels like I’ve conquered Asia.

With my laptop gone, elbows out and the tray table returned to its upright and locked position, I can breathe again. I plug headphones into my much smaller smart phone and seek an escape.

Are you grateful for music, for the way a song transports and transforms? 

My fingers press imaginary piano keys. I breathe with the phrasing, surrender to the rhythm. Grace washes over me.

My friend Josh Lopez just released a new project called Let’s Love and this song Breakthrough is helping me see beyond my cramped quarters.

It’s been a difficult trip with difficult circumstances and difficult conversations. I didn’t sleep well. I am weary and running low on hope. But as Josh sings, I feel God loving, restoring and mending me. I feel hope rising up in my heart too. I remember my redemption story and somehow I find the courage to believe that God can redeem these circumstances.  I choose to trust him.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, 

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

The music builds. My heart swell. I relinquish my hold on the arm rest and REST.
Do you need a breakthrough? Find a quiet place to sit and soak up this beautiful song. Invite God to break through you.

I'd love to hear from you - share your breakthrough moment!

Originally published at A Bundle of THYME

Saturday, May 10, 2014

4 Parenting Strategies I Would Never Recommend

Motherhood is demanding and it’s easy to get down on yourself.  When you wonder if you’re doing a good enough job, pick up a book of fairytales. Seriously, fairytale parents make anyone look good. I found four parenting strategies I would NEVER recommend in my study of fairytale parents. More in this award winning presentation: