Tag Archives: Christian

26 to 26: Finish the things you start

Finish the things that you start.

It’s the things that you finish, not the things that you begin, that will define you, shape you, strengthen you.

The beautiful, lasting things are the laborious ones.

Don’t give up.

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26 to 26: Family is a funny thing.

Das my dad.

Das my dad.

Family is a funny thing.

Me:   “Hey mom. Did you know that this yogurt has agave in it?”

My dad:  “AGAVIA!” sung to the tune of the Activia yogurt commercials

My family is a funny thing because they’re funny.

The older I get, even just by the day, the more I appreciate each of them.

Jamie’s dry humor.

Dad’s tight hugs.

Mom’s constant nurturing.

I spend Sunday’s, after church, with my family. I pick Olive up from my house and bring her to “grammy and grampy’s” to play with Shilah, their persistently naughty lab.

I bake apple crisp for my dad and use baby-talk to make attempts at communicating with my 23 year-old brother. I do laundry and watch movies and lounge in front of their pellet stoves.

I soak up all of the love and the home that is in that house.

Since I’ve moved out and as I live life on my own, I’m learning more and more how deeply the roots and bonds of family run. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

The work of family is messy. There are shouts and tears and bruised egos. Yet as messy as it gets, it always ends up all that more lovely. And there are hugs and kisses and laughs and bound-up hearts.

Family is a funny, funny thing, but it may be the most important thing.

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26 to 26: It’s okay to ask for help.

creative commons: VinothChandar

creative commons: VinothChandar

Sometimes I think that I’ll be able to muscle the strength, the stamina, the courage to do something on my own.

Sometimes I think that I can try harder, push myself further.

Sometimes I think that I can bite my lip a little harder, grit my teeth a little tighter, lock my elbows and my knees and pull this life-load alone. My lips bleed and my jaw aches and my joints buckle.

Sometimes I tell myself lies so that I don’t let others know that I need help. They always echo: You’re alone in this.

Sometimes you can’t lift a weight yourself. Sometimes you can’t bear a load as one. Sometimes you need to ask for help.

And that’s alright.

We were built for community and relationship and life-load sharing. We’re wired to need and be needed by other people.

We weren’t meant to carry breaking burdens, secrets alone.

It’s okay to ask for help.

 

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26 to 26: It’s not your responsibility to make everyone happy

I often say that I am a people-pleaser both by nature and profession. My natural tendency, impulse to make people happy makes me pretty good at my job and pretty hard on myself.

This next one is a hard lesson to learn:

It is not your responsibility to make everyone happy.

creative commons; efleming

creative commons; efleming

I’ve been seeking other people’s approval for just about 26 years but I’ve been doing it as my full time gig for just over two. I’ve had some frustrating interactions with ministry leaders, parents, and group members but they don’t usually shake me.

Until a few months ago.

Until a Hispanic woman berated me in the lunch line in her broken English and made me cry. All over a few baked potatoes. I didn’t cry in front of her, of course. I’m too proud, too stoic for that. No. I waited until she had said her peace and I had nodded and I’m sorry-ed myself out. Then I went to the basement and bawled.

Her group leader saw the whole thing and tried to intervene. She had consoled me with Don’t listen to her. She’s crazy.

But they didn’t matter. Again, I nodded and smiled and said that it was fine, fine, fine.

This woman’s words shook me not because she upset with the situation but because she was upset with me. She made it clear how she felt about me. I was unqualified, immature, and impolite.

And the haunting fear: I’m not enough, I’m not enough, I’m not enough.

There will be people to whom you cannot say yes and you will have to say no.

There will be people who don’t like the things that you say, the jokes you crack, the stances you hold, the questions you ask, the answers you give.

There will be people who whisper about you behind your back.

There will be people who say hard things to your face.

There will be people who do not like you.

And that’s okay. That’s actually kind of normal. That’s actually kind of good.

Your life’s purpose isn’t to make people happy. Don’t let that scare you. Your life’s purpose is way bigger than that.

Keep your eyes up and your heart open.

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26 to 26: Rest

It’s okay to rest. I mean, rest is good.

Sometimes rest is hard. Sometimes rest means facing the facts and looking at yourself, really looking at yourself. Sometimes rest means quieting yourself from to-do lists and overbooked schedules to listen. Rest is hard when you just want to run.

But sometimes, rest comes easy. Like today.

Like a day when you woke up at 4:30 am and spent 5 hours in the car and then proceeded to spend six hours awkwardly chatting with strangers and sitting through a lecture on youth ministry in the church even when you don’t work in a church or often in youth ministry.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to rest. It is good to rest. It is gift to rest.

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Spring Breaks and Breaks and Breaks Me

 

creative commons; d. sharon pruitt

creative commons; d. sharon pruitt

 

It’s spring after a long winter. Too long. Too much.

Farmers tilling up dirt, making soil ready for bounty. God is tilling my heart. I am learning, feeling this as I put hands to the dirt in worship this morning, preparing spring ground for summer flowers.

The frost has heaved up rocks, pushed them to the surface. I pull them from beneath the soil and wonder where they come from, how far they’ve traveled only to be tossed aside.

The weeds—they’re so alive. They come up first, pushing through as a glimmer of hope. Toxin disguised as hope. They kill, they choke. I’m pulling up them up and out of this ground but each tug is filled with uncertainty—is this ugly thing only weeks away from radiant bloom? Or is this the poison that strangles out beauty not yet born?

The invaders, the unwelcome, I find their roots so shallow. So weak. A slight tug and they give way.

The flowers, they’re deep rooted, strong. Clinging to dirt deep. Awaking from winter’s long slumber. They don’t go gentle.

Oh, how I wish to be a flower. An iris. A lily. A tulip. A daisy. Dug in so deep. Bursting with beauty and light and newness. A beacon of hope, a pennant of promise.

Oh, how I have longed for spring, for the winter to roll back on my soul, for the Vinedresser to pull out heaved rocks and poison-plants.

This winter of my soul has lasted much longer than New England snow and ice, stuffed turkeys and heart-shaped candy boxes. I found that no jacket or mittens or boots could keep me warm and safe and dry from my own wretchedness.

I’ve waited long for this season—this time of new and fresh and beautiful; this time bursting with life and potential; this time of tearing up dead to make way for life. I’ve waited to feel the Farmer’s hands at work, to feel the plow meet the field of my wintered heart.

And it’s here. Tearing and sprouting and blossoming.

Spring breaks and breaks and breaks me and it feels like life.

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Prayers & Promises

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do but the words formed at my lips, pressed from my mouth before I could grab hold of them:

Can I pray for you?

But…I don’t…I can’t…I…

I am empty of jargon and oft-quoted phrases and trite expressions.

I am silenced. I’ve offered prayers that I cannot utter.

This moment of collision—my empty faith, my thankless heart, this broken world, His hurting people.

My mouth is dry, my throat is tight. I choke out His name.

Father.

One who spoke stars and filled seas and sculpted Adam and fashioned Eve and forsook True Son. Maker of worlds and heaven and these clammy hands and this brain knocking about for words. One who cradles close and promises peace.

Abba.

My voice is quiet and slow. Each word drags heavy and pulls tight.

I’m clawing at Your goodness and struggling to pull it close, to make it real, find it tangible. I’m drawing near, this time not just to Your promises, but because of them.

Come closer.

I’m asking and seeking and knocking. I’m drawing near. I’m offering up these bumbling words and broken heart as an invitation, as a desperate plea.

And another collision— the Giver of good and perfect gifts, my restless heart, His peace.

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” –Psalm 51:17

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