10 Lessons from Weakness

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My journals and Facebook have been reminding me that around this time a few years ago I was finally coming out of an extended time of illness. It was a challenging time of weakness for me. God taught me many lessons but as time has brought distance from that period of life I feel some of things I have learned slipping away. Some of my old habits are returning. These notes have been sitting in my drafts folder for a while so it seemed a good time to dust them off, refresh my memory, and hit the publish button.

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The weekend that we made the decision not to pursue adoption I was very sick. I couldn’t keep food down for 3 days. I was completely drained. I assumed that my physical symptoms were a result of the emotional distress I was feeling. A month later were were visiting my family in Philadelphia for Christmas. I spent the entire week of our visit sick with various symptoms – most of which involved being unable to eat and completely drained of energy. On our drive home I called my doctor and that started a cycle of sickness – doctor visits – a round of antibiotics – a brief respite – sickness again. Over the following two years I had various strange symptoms that didn’t fit any particular diagnosis.

For a period of about 18 month my “episodes” happened pretty frequently. They disturbed my sleep and left me drained for days. They were unpredictable. Some days my energy was so low that I could do only the bare minimum around the house, spending hours in bed sleeping. Interacting with people was draining.

It was a challenging time. I was often frustrated by my lack of energy and ability to “get things done.” I spent a lot of time at home alone while my husband took the kids to church, birthday parties, and family get togethers. I spent a lot of time sleeping. I spent a lot of time watching Netflix marathons.

Here are some things I learned:

1. I learned to say “no.”

This was so hard! I was used to doing and helping. I was used to being at every church or family gathering. I was used to being at every practice and ball game my kids had. But I just physically couldn’t do everything anymore. So…

2. I learned to evaluate my energy and personality in order to say “yes” to the things that really brought me joy.

I took a good look at my priorities and realized that it was good for me to focus on the main things that God was calling me to: being a wife and mother and homeschooling our boys. After those things I had a limited amount of time and energy.

I figured some things out about myself. Even though I enjoy being social and like conversing with people I am really an introvert who needs time to recharge my batteries in between social events. I need some space and quiet time in my schedule. These are not negative qualities that I should be ashamed of and power through in order to “serve more.” This is the way God made me, and he had a reason for making me this way.

3. I learned to let go of the guilt of feeling I “should” do things.

I can’t do everything. I can’t solve all the problems. As I learned to find joy and satisfaction in the things that I felt God was calling me to do I felt the guilt receding. I now see the word “should” as a sign for me to take a step back and evaluate if I am doing something out of love and joy or out of guilt and obligation.

4. I learned to let other people step up and do things.

I tend to just naturally take charge. I am learning to temper that a little. I learned to sit quietly and let other people speak up. I learned that things don’t always have to be done my way.

5. I learned to let myself rest.

Rest is hard. It feels self-indulgent. It feels lazy. But it is necessary. Regular bed times, naps if I needed them, a few minutes to sip tea and read a book, saying no to going somewhere in order to veg in front of the tv, making time to take a relaxing bath – these were all things that I started to allow myself to do.

6. I learned to ask for what I needed.

Oh man, this went against my nature! I learned to be honest with Aaron about how I was feeling and what I needed. Sometimes I woke him up in the middle of the night because I needed him to hold my hand. Sometimes I asked him to make dinner so that I could go lay down. I learned to ask friends to pray for me and to be honest with them about how I was feeling.

7. I learned to listen to and take care of my body.

Every day was a surprise. I never knew if I was going to wake up feeling good and full of energy or sick and dragging. I learned to pay attention to what my body was telling me, did I need more rest? nutritious food? a walk in the sun?

8. I learned how to nourish and care for myself.

This is very connected to learning to listen and take care of my body. I learned that without energy I cannot serve my family and friends and even the greater world very effectively. Good fuel for my body was important. I learned to pay attention to what I was eating and be more disciplined about choosing food that would provide good energy. Good rest was important. I made myself get enough sleep by setting a certain time of night that screens went off and having a night time routine that helped my body shut down. I realized that I function best on 8 hours of sleep and I need to be disciplined about getting that sleep.

9. I learned how important it is to have joy and patience no matter what my circumstance.

This is so hard! And believe me, I have so much more to learn in this area. This is not a lesson I can check off as completed. I know many people who have had longer and more intense chronic illnesses than what I had and their continued perseverance and joy are an inspiration to me. There were some mornings when the complicated process it took to get myself up and going just seemed depressing and overwhelming and I learned in those moments that I could choose what I looked at. I could focus on the depression and all the things I was not able to do, or I could focus on gifts and joys that God had for me that day. Believe me, this did not come easily for me, I am a complainer by nature. On the days that I remembered that God was sovereign over my situation and present with my I was able to have joy and patience, even if I barely made it out of bed.

10. I learned that God loved me.

In the early morning hours when my symptoms dragged me from sleep, I felt God’s love. On the days when I had no energy to give to my children, I felt God’s love. On the days when my house was a mess and I didn’t know what to make for dinner and I had to cancel plans and commitments I had made, I felt God’s love. I felt His love in the practical help of my husband and the caring calls of friends. I felt His love when I had nothing to give, nothing to accomplish, and no strength of my own. It was not easy for me to accept God’s love when I didn’t feel I was earning it. But, ultimately, that is exactly how God loves me whether I can acknowledge it or not.

I tend to fear discomfort or hardship. I prefer comfort and safety. Yet I have clearly felt God’s presence in my weakest times and in the times of hardship in the lives of my friends. I know that there will be more difficult times in my life and I hope that I will remember the lessons I learned. If I forget, feel free to remind me.

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Cross Cultural Sisterhood

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Not long ago one of my new very best friends celebrated her one year wedding anniversary as well as her one year anniversary of living in the United States. She has had an eventful two years and she has always modeled grace and good nature even in the midst of much change. I am so grateful that God caused our paths to cross and brought us together. Her friendship has made my life rich and challenged me in many ways.

About a year and a half ago Aaron struck up a friendship with a young engineer from India who had been sent to our small town by his company. He lived across the street from our church and so had wandered over on a Sunday morning. He and Aaron started talking. He was friendly and outgoing and willing to let us ply him with American experiences and food. He spent a lot of time at our house hanging out, learning about American football while he taught Aaron about cricket. He spoke often of his wife. They had been married for just four months when he had to leave to come to the States and he was eagerly waiting her arrival. He spoke of her proudly and in glowing terms.

I was excited to meet her but also a bit nervous. It had been many years since I made cross cultural connections. I am a friendly person, but I am also a creature of habit, and meeting new people can sometimes cause some anxiety. I shouldn’t have worried. From day one my friend and I connected. She felt like a sister immediately.

Here are some things I have learned from my friend:

Hospitality and Generosity

I learned from my friend that the Indian culture is rich in hospitality. People are always welcome to come in, given delicious food, and given preference. There is no such thing as a quick visit. You sit, you relax, you talk, you stay. I had fallen into the American trap of “busyness.” My calendar was constantly full and time to just sit and visit with a friend seemed like a luxury. But she taught me that time taken to sit and visit is never time wasted. And not only is is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Hospitality in India is also giving the best of what you have; the best food, the seat of honor. That was uncomfortable for me at first. In my letting go of perfection I had prided myself on hospitality meaning that you can stop by and be welcome despite my mess and my bare pantry. Hospitality to me meant that you were welcome into my mess. Now I see hospitality as a combination of the two. Yes, there is a place where welcoming you into the reality of my mess is offering you a new level of friendship, but there is also a beauty to me valuing you enough to make an effort and go above and beyond to give you my best.

Selfless-ness

When my friend first arrived in the States we had lots of long conversations about our lives. We talked about jobs and marriage and family relationships. I will never forget when she said to me one day, “Many women in India serve their husbands because it is the cultural thing to do and required of them. But I serve my husband because I love him and because it is what God calls me to do.” I pride myself on being independent. I draw boundaries to protect me and my time. I am a natural introvert and value my “alone time.” I am married to a man who doesn’t really need me to do things for him, he can cook and clean and do his own laundry. I raise my kids to be independent and do things for themselves. Selfless-ness does not come naturally to me. Over and over again I watch my friend serve not only her husband but others around her. She serves with joy and willingness. I have never once heard her complain. Her example is encouraging me to stretch my selfless-ness muscle and find joy in serving.

Bravery

My friend married her man, moved across the world, went through the changes of a first pregnancy and childbirth and new motherhood far away from her home culture and family. That takes a special kind of bravery. I frequently make decisions based on my own comfort or safety. Straying from routine or predictability does not come naturally to me. My friend’s bravery is inspiring me to step out of my comfort zone in little ways. I see that doing things that may seem uncomfortable or scary can bring good things into my life.

I sometimes wonder why I am still living in this small southern town. I sometimes wonder if I am wasting my childhood experiences of cross cultural living by staying in this fairly homogeneous place. But through this friendship I see God’s preparation and orchestration. I know that God would have provided for my friend when she moved to the United States. But I am thankful that He used me to be part of that provision.

There is a lot of talk in America these days about building walls and putting America first and keeping people out. There seems to be a lot of fear and retreating to our own corners to be with people who are just like us. This makes me sad. This especially makes me sad when I see it among people in the church, the Body that is called to show unity to the world. God’s call to unity is radical, and should be an example of Christ’s love to the world, precisely because it is so challenging. It is not easy to build relationships with people who are different from us. It can be awkward and uncomfortable. It takes time and patience and a healthy dose of good humor and humility. But I can’t imagine my life without my friend. She has enriched my life and is challenging me to be a better person. And I firmly believe that as a culture and community we are enriched when we open our arms and extended welcome because I have seen it in my own life.

Five Minute Friday: Purpose

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On Friday’s I like to link up with a group of writers who take five minutes to simply sit and free write. No over thinking, no editing, no waiting for perfection before hitting publish.

Today’s Prompt: Purpose

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There is a lot of talk among women my age about “purpose.” I don’t know if the generations of women before us felt this way, but in this current internet age where we can be voyeurs into peoples lives via blogs, Instagram, and Facebook the sense of not having a larger purpose to fulfill seems to loom large. Just this past week in one of the Facebook groups I am in there were two different conversation threads started by women who felt like their lives were just ordinary and they weren’t doing anything meaningful.

Not too long ago I was crippled by the idea that I wasn’t living out my purpose for God in the way that He expected of me. My ordinary, safe, life seemed too simple and surely God wanted more from me.

The Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” Meaning: what is your purpose?

And answers: “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

How? How do we do this? There is no clear answer. We are all different and our lives and struggles are different. For me, I work hard to be present in the current moment. I try to do my best in the things that God has given me to do for today: schooling my children, loving my husband, working in our church office, being a reliable friend. I try to notice God’s presence in the most mundane and ordinary of moments; our breakfast conversation, the beauty of our neighborhood, even the moment when I am in the midst of dealing with sibling fights.

Ultimately my pre-occupation with my purpose led to anxiety and totally missing the joy and purpose that God had already given me. It’s not a mistake that He put me where I am and gave me the life I have. That knowledge brings freedom to enjoy life one moment at a time and trust that even my most mundane and ordinary of days will bring glory.

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12

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My Son,

Twelve years ago we were anxiously awaiting you. Stubborn from the start you made us wait. Every evening for about a week the contractions made me stop and breathe and begin to hope but then peter out again. I walked miles and miles. I worked in the yard and pulled bushes out by the roots to keep the contractions going. But you already had a mind of your own.

You made us parents. We were nervous and unsure of ourselves but completely besotted with you. We couldn’t put you down. We memorized your every expression. We analyzed your cries. You taught us how to be parents. This is the burden of being the first child. You get the undivided attention but you also get the first mistakes of parents who are navigating new waters.

Here we are now twelve years later and I still find myself gazing at you with wonder like I did in those first days of parenthood. This year has brought so much change. I see the planes of your face molding into the man you will become. I feel the tenor of our conversations mature.

You are passionate and enthusiastic. You are intelligent and curious. You are attentive and tender and patient with the younger kids that are in our lives. You have the most amazing laugh. You are a natural leader.

It’s been a fun year for sure. We have watched you continue to develop your acting and singing skills, putting your enthusiasm into every role no matter how big or small. You’ve easily tackled more challenging school work, being responsible and diligent. You’ve put your leadership qualities to good use helping to coach your brother’s soccer team and being the playful and interested cousin that all the younger cousins look up to.

This year was a big one. You moved up into middle school and we dropped you off at your first youth group event wondering how we had come so quickly to this moment. We are watching you find your way as you straddle the worlds of childhood and young adulthood. And honestly son, we have no idea what we are doing. The world of increasing maturity looms large and I find myself praying desperately that we are equipping you properly. I know that I am making many mistakes. I am sure that I put too much pressure and responsibility on you and I know that I lecture too much and don’t listen enough. I hope that the weight of my (often unrealistic) expectations don’t burden you beyond what you can bear. But I trust God’s grace to cover up our imperfections as parents.

I have not been the kind of parent that dwells too much on nostalgia. I like to celebrate each milestone and look forward to the future. But I will admit that 12 is a bitter sweet milestone. You have always been independent, but I feel even more independence around the corner and time seems short. I can’t wait to see the ways that you will grow and I am excited to watch the continuing process of your maturing, but I am starting to feel the poignancy of our numbered days together. Goodness, that sounds so melodramatic.

Really, I just feel like I am along for the ride on this wonderful journey that is your life. Your father and I consider it an enormous privilege to be the people chosen by God to guide you. I hope that underneath all of our mistakes, and through the sometimes turbulent times that are sure to come, you will always feel the foundation of our love for you. Because we do love you completely and unconditionally.

Happy 12th Birthday, bear!

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Prayer and Answers

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Yesterday I was reading a post I wrote 2 years ago about the labor of prayer. I had written about how when things seem dark and circumstances in a loved ones life are beyond our control, prayer truly is a labor, a work we do, to somehow spiritually bring strength even though physically we can’t do much.

Not long after re-reading that I got a text message from my sister-in-law. She was 40 weeks pregnant and has had a stomach virus and her water broke. She felt weak. She wasn’t sure how she could do what she was going to be required to do. And so, the labor of prayer for her began, as her labor began.

I am not a theologian. I don’t understand how prayer works. But I know how prayer feels. I know the restlessness of spirit that won’t let me loose until an answer comes. I know the weight I feel when a friend is in need and the only way to help is pray. I know the wonder of seeing prayers answered in big and small ways.

I don’t practice prayer well. I am not one to sit for lengthy periods of time. I have much to learn about the discipline of prayer. I watch women, more gifted than me in this area, and yearn for the same intimacy they seem to have with God while at the same time slightly afraid of what it would take to get that. A deep, intimate prayer life I have observed, seems to be wrought in the fire of trial.

I gathered my boys and we prayed. We prayed for a quick labor. We prayed for strength for my sister-in-law. We prayed for a healthy baby and strong mama. We prayed for peace and wisdom for my brother as he supported his wife. We prayed that God’s presence would be clearly felt in the birthing room. As our evening progressed they weren’t far from my thoughts.

I don’t know about you, but I still get surprised when God answers prayer. I obviously have faith literally the size of a mustard seed. But four hours after receiving the initial text from my sister-in-law I saw my phone light up with my brother’s caller ID and my heart leaped! My newest nephew had arrived after about 3 hours of labor and everyone was well. My boys danced in the hallway because the boy cousins now outnumber the girl cousins. I spoke to my sister-in-law and my tears were flowing when she told me about how God had sustained her through the prayers of her friends and family. That little boy is going to be a living, daily reminder of God’s great love and answers to prayer. Faith grows when we pray and see God work.

Our church has an unusual tradition. Every Sunday we have a brief open mic time for worshipers to share praises of how God has been working in their lives. This morning the praises came fast and furious. One of our members is 10 years out from a cancer diagnosis, another family has seen growth in their daughter adopted just a few months ago, my friend celebrates two years of healing since her stroke, and another friend praised God for three years of no seizures for her little boy. Being able to labor in prayer with these friends and watch God work has taught me a lot about God and who he is. We believe He is good regardless of the outcome, but in these cases where He answered specific prayers and chose to heal and spare life are worthy of celebration and remembrance. We need these markers of reminder like the Israelite’s piles of stones in the Bible. I am quick to forget that God is here, now, working.

Our pastor reminded us this morning that the purpose of prayer is to know God, not to receive blessing. Yes, God does bless us. But the mystery of prayer is that through laboring in prayer we grow in our intimacy with God, we feel His presence. This has certainly been true for me.

This morning as we left for church there was dew sparkling in the grass and sun filtering through the early morning fog. My heart was full of joy and my eyes were open to God’s mercy, promised and new.  This intimacy and joy is the gift of prayer.

Five Minute Friday: Safe

It’s Friday. I have a few things I am writing that are sitting in my drafts folder but I can’t seem to get a handle on them. So it’s a relief to have a time to set my timer and just write for five minutes.

This week’s prompt: Safe

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As the sun rises I am safe and snug. My house is warm. My children sleep deep, tucked in their beds. My steady husband is driving country roads to work. I savor the still morning hours knowing that our day will unfold with the usual daily routine.

This safety and security is not something I deserve. It is a privilege. It is a gift. I have to fight feeling guilty for it, knowing that there are many today who do not have this calm peace of mind that I take for granted.

I can brood over world issues. I can become anxious thinking of all the problems in my community and the world. I worry that I am not doing enough. So I focus on what is in front of me for this day: holding my temper with my children, nurturing their spiritual selves as well as their physical selves, teaching them to think and question, broadening their minds and their view of the world and the people in it, showing them how to give and receive grace. I can create a home environment of safety and welcome and generosity. It seems small. But it’s what I have been given.

STOP

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Five Minute Friday: Control & A Challenge

It’s time for Five Minute Friday. I really was hoping to write more often in this new year, but I just haven’t made myself do it. So I fall back to Friday’s when I know I can set aside five minutes to just free write. It’s something.

This weeks prompt: Control

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It’s a Friday morning and I curl up on my couch with steaming cup of coffee, computer, books, and journal at hand. I cherish my Friday mornings because they are the one free day we have, a whole blank day on the calendar. I am guaranteed some solitude before the kids get up and our day begins. I can stay comfy in my pjs under my favorite blanket and spend a few quiet morning hours as I please.

At 7 am I hear talking from the kids room. I groan inwardly. At 7:20 I hear thumping and banging. I gear myself up for the inevitable. At 7:45 there are raised voices as an argument breaks out and I know I have to intervene.

This was not how I wanted my morning to go. So, I do the mature thing and go in with righteous indignation. I berate and scold and raise my voice a few notches. I point out my kids selfishness and lack of self control. I throw out accusations between teeth clenched with anger.

Control. I battle it every day. I want what I want, how I want, when I want. The tighter I grip on to my control the more I lose the battle with my self-control.

I am challenging myself to a week of holding my tongue when the lectures want to spill out. I am challenging myself to a week of noticing the good things my kids do instead of harping on the things that need improvement. If I desire to encourage self-control in my kids, then I need to set the example. I’ll check back in next Friday!

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Five Minute Friday: Middle

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On Friday I link up with other writers who write for five minutes flat. Not too much thinking, no editing, just letting the thoughts flow.

Today’s prompt: Middle

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I have seen the world from many angles. I have been the person on the outside, the person who couldn’t understand the language, the person who was completely different from all the people around her. I have always been the person on the outside trying to size up a situation and shifting myself to fit within it. I have always been the person who wanted to be average and normal. But I am not.

As I age I am realizing that this constant state of discomfort is a gift. It helps me see the middle. It keeps me from extremes. It has given me the skill of being able to see situations from multiple perspectives. I can compromise. I can see that there can be multiple ways to come to the same outcome. I can play devil’s advocate and delve beneath the surface of an issue. I can change my mind. I can form friendships with people who are different than me.

The problem is that this skill set has sometimes been viewed as negative in the Christian circles that I am in. The drumbeat of “truth” and “right” is loud and lock-step. Questioning or dissent have not always been encouraged. Varying perspective has not been welcomed. The ability to see grey instead of black and white has not always been seen as an asset. Some of my most uncomfortable moments have been in the place that is also my most loved and secure place.

Yet, I love Christ and His church. I cannot walk away. I believe my life experiences and skills are no mistake. So I continue to try and navigate the middle with grace and love because I believe that my perspective from the middle is needed, and also because I suspect I am not alone.

STOP

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Finding joy in releasing control

 

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He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than TO BE JOYFUL and to do good as long as they live, also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been been, and God seeks what has been driven away.

– Ecclesiastes 3:11-15

When I first read this passage this morning I admit I felt that it seemed kind of patronizing of God. The Message words it like this, “True, God made everything beautiful in itself and it its time – but he’s left us in the dark so we can never know what God is up to, whether he is coming or going.” Well, thanks for that God. It seems so condescending of him.

We demand answers. We try to unravel mysteries. We want to know “why?!” We search for meaning beyond ourselves, and purpose to the events that unfold around us. We lose sleep over our choices and our options and the details. Or is this all just an INFJ thing? I can’t even count how many hours of lost sleep I have spent anxiously trying to figure out if I was following God’s call, or doing the right thing, or seeing what God was doing.

As I continued to ponder these verses I began to see the actual peace that can come from surrendering to God’s control. If God is in control, then how can we not be joyful? We, his creation, cannot fathom what he is doing – in us, in the world – so why not rest in that instead of rail against it? We drive ourselves crazy trying to pick apart the weaving of the tapestry, instead of enjoying the beauty of it.

Right here it says that there is nothing better to do than to “be joyful and do good.” If I truly believe that God is in control, that He is at work in the world, that what He does endures forever – then that should translate into my actions in the way I live my life. How simple and refreshing it sounds to know that the best thing I can do is be joyful and do good. Why do I complicate it?

When my kids are bickering and frustrating me – can I trust that God is ultimately doing His work in their hearts and approach my discipline of them with joy instead of frustration? When my husband and I disagree – can I trust that God knows the outcome of our marriage and move toward reconciliation with joy? When I am overwhelmed with the things I need to do for my job – can I trust that God’s work is being done, what will be will be, and joyfully move on to doing the next task in front of me.

I like to control things. I like for things to work the way that I imagine is best. Here’s the thing – thinking that I control things doesn’t bring joy. It brings stress, anxiety, and the need to manipulate others to get the outcome I desire. It also creates a need to worship myself and my efforts rather than God. Trust in God’s control brings rest and joy. The outcome doesn’t depend on me. If I trust in God’s control than I can do my part to the best of my ability and then let – it – go. I can celebrate other’s accomplishments instead of being jealous or self-pitying. I can do the work that I know that God has given me to do with passion instead of comparing myself to others and working out of insecurity.

I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it is going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear. (The Message)

In short, trusting that God has done what He will do means that I can stop needing to perform for approval or acceptance either from Him or from others. Being freed from the need to perform brings rest and joy.

I realize that this is all easier said than done. I am a person who holds on to control pretty tightly, sometimes at the cost of relationships. Sometimes at the cost of my health. Definitely at the cost of enjoying and delighting in life. But I think I am seeing growth in this area. Over the past few years I have experienced peace and a greater enjoyment of life when certain circumstances were out of my control and I practiced just doing what I could do one day at a time. It felt completely counter-intuitive to me at the time, and it was a definite spiritual muscle that needed to be strengthened. God is maturing me in this area little by little.

In what areas of your life would a deeper acceptance of God’s control bring joy?

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Five Minute Friday: Connect

In an attempt to get myself writing more I am re-joining Five Minute Friday. A weekly chance to set my timer and just write – no editing, no over thinking. You can head over to Katie’s Heading Home blog to check out writing on this week’s prompt:

Connect

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You want to know something about me? Connecting frightens me. Well, that is a bit melodramatic. My growing up life was rich and wonderful and full of interesting things. But, there was a lot of coming and going. People came and went. Connections happened quickly and went deeply and then were just as suddenly gone. Connection means great joy and fun but also great pain. This is a fact of missionary life.

So, I love to connect. I do. People are fascinating and interesting (and irritating). But, I am also pretty fiercely self-reliant and independent. So staying connected for the long haul is more of a challenge. It doesn’t come naturally to me to help out, lean in, show up on your door step. I don’t want to intrude. I don’t want to be a bother. I have my own life to get on with. Sometimes it is easier to keep connections shallow and tenuous.

I have now lived in the same area and been in the same community for 20 years. This surprises me every time I think about it because I still feel transient. But, I have friends that I have known, in daily life, for 20 years now. Our children are growing up together. We are in the stage of life where really difficult things have and are happening and we are learning how to love each other well through those things. Our bonds are getting stronger through the long term sharing of daily life. The seasons, the changes, the cycles are all connecting us as they mature us. I feel rich. I am grateful. And maybe I don’t need to fear connecting any more.

Stop

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