Contentment, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Timing, Uncategorized

How Many Pages?

IMG_3213Every night, my 6 year old (who dislikes most things about school and sitting still), reads a book as part of his home reading program. He’s doing well, but every time he opens the book, he gets that disgruntled pout on his face in anticipation of how lengthy it will be. The inevitable moan comes with, “how many pages are in this book?”

Sometimes, there are only one or two sentences on a page, but there might be 40 pages total. This makes him VERY UPSET! So much so, that I can hardly persuade him to keep going. It wouldn’t matter if every word was easy to pronounce and the plot of the story was thrilling.

The mere thought that there are a lot of pages makes him cringe. If there are tons of words on each one but only 15 pages in total, Sam is happy to proceed… even if the words are challenging and he doesn’t quite understand the storyline.

He equates the length of the book with its difficulty level.

Confession: I’m the same in this chapter of my spiritual journey. If a goal seems like it’s a long way off, I tend to lose heart. I get discouraged and I find it arduous to concentrate on the day ahead, even if its pages are filled with fun! I worry more and find myself dreading what’s to come, rather than embracing the “now.”

However, if I must tackle something really difficult but I know it’s tomorrow or the next day, I’m ready to flip the page and bring it on. I don’t shy away. I’m ready for the fight.

Somehow, I, not unlike my 6yo, have fooled myself into thinking the future, that which is out of reach, is more difficult than the “now.” However, the future becomes the now in a few days time. We have to go through it either way.

There are spiritual principles at work as we navigate the stories of our lives, today and everyday. The pages of life keep turning and sometimes our issues stare back at us like the bad 1980s photography in some of Sam’s home readers. We don’t want to look at them!

I’m aiming to be at peace even when the words are unfamiliar.

Our most desperate times, the moments when our worlds are blurry and our endurance is tested, are no different than the more concise, easily simplified issues of today. If we believe God is with sometimes, then we must believe he is with us always.

Full Stop.

Finding rest and peace when our externals seem formidable can be challenging. Trusting a God who exists outside of linear time is hard too. But, if we pause, breathe, take life one page at a time, line by line, not rushing ahead or dreading the future, rather enjoying the present, we will make it to the end.

God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind. (Isaiah 40:28-31 MSG)

Courage, Uncategorized

Don’t Stop Now

I love to run on the nearby Fernleigh Track.  It follows an old railway line and winds me through gorgeous bushland where I can hear Bell Birds and see wildlife like cute bunnies hopping across my path.  I recently ran a little further than usual and as I turned back towards home, I noticed a sign I had never seen before:

Here's the sign on my run!

Since I was a good 5km from home, this “all-caps-command” felt like an order, dictating to my tired legs what they yearned to hear.  I have a policy that I don’t STOP and walk when I’m running.  Otherwise, it feels too hard to start back up again.

Running is one thing, but what about genuine trials in life that press us down so hard, we cave under the pressure?  Our marriage feels too far in the ditch to bring back in alignment.  We STOP putting ourselves out there for relationships because we have been hurt one too many times and trusting feels too hard.  We feel helpless when it comes to our finances or our jobs so we terminate early.

Personally, this journey of church planting has felt lonelier and more stressful than anything I have ever done; at times, everything in me has wanted to fly back to Texas and give up.  The weight of expectation for what it means to be a pastor’s wife feels confusing and daunting most days. And, when our vision doesn’t come to pass quickly, it’s easy to doubt God’s word and wish I could turn back.

We all face trials that cause us pain and moments when we feel like we can’t suck in enough air to go another mile.  There are times our heart beats out of our chest with anxiety and fear and we think our bodies might explode.

Rather than letting an outside voice slow us down, why don’t we let our inner voice speed us past this wreckage that seeks to halt our progress?

Last I checked, as Christians, are actually “more than conquerors” and it’s for “freedom that Christ has set us free.”  We aren’t victims of circumstance nor are we underdogs or fools.

We have been given a “shield of victory” and we are supposed to be bold because of the hope we have in Christ. We shouldn’t be overrun by negative thinking or hopelessness.  Instead, when those thoughts come, we should remind ourselves not to “burn out or quit in hard times; instead, pray all the harder.”

I’m believing for that last bit of leg strength to keep running.  I’m believing for the breath of God to fill our lungs so we are strong and courageous.  I’m expecting God to strengthen our spiritual and mental muscles so they can take us farther than we thought we had strength to go.  That our minds would focus on the long-term marathon, not just the next km.

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.  So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it” (Phil 3:12-16).

Australia, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Patient Endurance

I can quote all kinds of phrases about success being a journey and not a destination.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  Life’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Yet, when it comes to a big goal in life, I’m tempted to let the overwhelming process cause me to give up on my dreams.  How do we bridge the gap between where we are and where we want to be?

One

day

at

a

time.

When I think about living in Australia, my brain gets bombarded with questions:

  • How are we going to get people to come to our house for church?
  • Will we ever have enough people to launch a real service?
  • Who will lead worship for us so its not cheesy?
  • Where is the money going to come from?
  • Will I need to get a job and if so, what will I even do?
  • Not to mention, “Where are we going to live?” and “what school is my kid going to go to?”

God clearly spoke and reminded me to take it

one

day

at

a

time.

He encouraged me that how we got where we are today wasn’t through some out of body experience that promoted us to “leader status.”  We got here one choice at a time.  Handling the small stuff each and every day brings progress.  After each of my three pregnancies, I gained 50 pounds; I wanted to lose weight immediately after I gave birth and ran a couple of miles.  Instead, it took nine months!  Early in our marriage, Greg and I were in heaps of credit card debt.  I wanted to get on a budget for a few months and see it all magically disappear.  Instead, a couple of years of strict financial discipline and working hard to earn extra money finally allowed us to pay it all off.

Think of this: the same logic we use to justify a bad decision can be used to gain positive momentum in life.  For example, I can look at a bowl of ice cream and say, “it’s just one bowl.  Eating it will not make me gain five pounds” (bad decision).  Or, I can look at it and say, “it’s just one bowl.  But, I’m not gonna eat it.”  If I do that consistently for a few weeks, I’ll lose five pounds.  The problem is, instant gratification often overrides this logic.  Instead of convincing ourselves that “a little bit won’t hurt” why not say “a little bit WILL help?”

The phrase “good things come to those who wait” is partially misleading. I guess it applies if you’re talking about standing in line to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Following the crowd mindlessly will eventually lead you to the ride.

For everything else in life, there’s work in the waiting.  While we are waiting to launch Lift Church, we are working hard.  There’s not much I can do today grow Lift Church, but I CAN grow myself.

Who we area today, is a direct result of the choices we have made over time.  The great news is: the person I want to become doesn’t depend on finding a genie in a bottle or winning the lottery.  I just have to work on today. Planting a church in Australia isn’t happening overnight.  The way we are going to get there is

one

day

at

a

time.

We will work while we are waiting.  Everyday, I spend time with God.  Everyday I pray.  Everyday I read my Bible.  Everyday I take care of my physical body through exercise and healthy eating.  Every paycheck, I tithe.   Discipline, praying for God’s favor, serving people, making the phone calls to raise money, keeping our family life a priority, networking.   Even when we don’t feel like it.  Day by day.  Little by little.  One bite at a time.  I’ve spent the last 35 years doing that.  So, today, I’ll just do it again. And tomorrow more of the same. And when worry or fear creeps up, I’ll just do it anyway.  And then, one day, I’m gonna wake up and realize, we have a church!

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. Hebrews 10:36