Category Archives: How to Have Grace Filled Friendships

Freedom in the Heart of Surrender: Surrendering My Need for Approval

Standard
Freedom in the Heart of Surrender:  Surrendering My Need for Approval

We sat on opposite sides of a black metal table. It was warm but comfortable in the breezeway between two restaurants; we were enveloped in the clamor of passing conversations and street sounds, but it was just white noise.

I was focused on the her. We’d waited weeks for this opportunity to chat face to face and I was fully present. I asked a direct question, the sort that you have to earn the right to ask. In the moments that followed, a sort of holiness fell over that place. She opened her heart and honest, hard things spilled out on a table turned altar. I was on sacred ground.

In due time she asked about my writing; I chose to reveal a little chagrin over the failure of certain important people in my life to be fully supportive. I lamented that they didn’t share my posts; heck, I admitted that I was pretty sure they weren’t even reading them.

“Why do you need their approval?”

Read the rest of the story by clicking here.

And stay tuned for a special post  next week in honor of my wedding anniversary…and my birthday! Have a happy and safe 4th of July, dear friends!

lorraine

The Best Summer Ever

Standard

Here we are in late June and it’s finally starting to feel like summer. I truly miss summer with kids. I know, those of you with children at home are smack dab in the middle of separating squabbling kids and telling them they just ate, even as you read these words. Humor me.

I haven’t totally forgotten the challenges, mamas; I know the struggle is real.

But I loved the days of relaxed bedtimes and lazy mornings. Even though I worked most of those years, I remember there was less urgency of schedule; there was so much joy in letting loose. When I came in from work we headed to a pool instead of checking homework assignments and laying out clothes for the next day.

In our current stage of life, summer can seem just like any other season, but this week has been so much fun.

After a quiet and restful Father’s day for my hubby we joined friends for dinner on Monday night. The kitchen was lively as we all took on various bits of cooking and serving. It was especially fun as the children selected dishes and flatware for the table and even some of the meal prep.

We sat around the table long after having our fill of delicious food, sipping wine and talking. The children took leave but returned later with an impromptu skit. They were thrilled to entertain and there was so much laughter.

The next evening, we met our daughter and grandson at a favorite restaurant to celebrate Father’s Day. Once again, we sat around a table, sharing a meal and catching up with the ones we love.

Sometimes you think you’ve had the best days of your week already, you know? Have you ever thought that things just couldn’t get any better, planning to just hang out in the afterglow for a stretch? That’s pretty awesome for a Tuesday, the most ordinary day of the week, but that’s pretty much how I felt.

And then Wednesday came along and knocked one out of the park.

It was the first night of book club. It had been a gorgeous afternoon and I jumped on the golf cart and headed to town, ready to meet with friends. The sky looked a bit threatening to the south, but it’s Florida, people. In June. Carry on.

I swung by the church to pick up the mamas as they dropped their babies for childcare and we squeezed everyone and their umbrellas in…the clouds were a bit more threatening.

The hour passed quickly as we discussed the book and caught up on life. We stepped into the muggy parking lot just as it began to pour. Six women jumped on the golf cart, umbrellas extending around the exposed perimeter. Shrieks of laughter filled the air, followed by screams as cold rain soaked our clothing. In the midst of it all, someone recorded the craziness with her cell phone as we splashed through puddles the short distance back to the church.

Gold Cart Rain

After a warm bath and a snack, I snuggled in next to my hubby and thought about the joy of relationships. While I’ve shared some highlights here, there were many more moments of connection with precious people in my life this week; some as simple as a text message and others heart to heart conversations.

I’m determined to care for relationships this summer. It seems like the perfect time to nurture them by making memories. Just imagine how many years we will laugh about that golf cart ride!

Are you intentional in your relationships? Do you have dinner parties, or coffee dates? I’d love to learn more about how you take care of the people in your life. Talk to me by adding a comment – I promise to respond.

Now go out there and have a great summer, friends!

“Walk with the wise and become wise…” ~ Proverbs 13:20

lorraine

An Open Letter To My Friend Who Has Cancer

Standard
An Open Letter To My Friend Who Has Cancer

This post is based on an actual conversation with one dear friend, but I know many of you can relate. I hope it encourages you to keep praying, keep calling, keep holding up their arms.

If you are a survivor or are presently in the fight, I know full well that I just visit cancer and you have lived with it. I am speaking  only as a spectator on this journey.

My dear friend,

You are so very brave. I am in awe of your strength and determination. You keep showing up. I don’t know if I could.

You were feeling good today; you and chemo are “on a break”. On this break you’ve remembered how great “good” feels and you are relishing every minute. The break has been glorious, a chance to catch your breath and regain strength.

But you are counting the days until your furlough ends. In your words, you “can’t wish chemo away” even though you would like to.

I told you I would gladly take one round on your behalf, if only that were possible.

Easy words for me to speak, knowing it won’t happen. My words were sincere, but you can’t take them to the bank. They are as counterfeit as a three-dollar bill; worthless. It’s you who has a port surgically implanted in your chest wall. And yet you are gracious because you know I “mean well’. In hindsight, I’m embarrassed that I said them.

You said the chemo is a necessary evil. I’ve watched it ravage your body, turning your cells on each other. It took your hair and turned your skin to ash and yet your smile is radiant, because you hold fast to HOPE – it is your lifeline.

You are about to return to war. We will send cards and care packages, but you are the one on the front line.

I pray, frustrated over my impotence to help and God brought an Old Testament story to mind.

Moses was leading God’s people, a grumbling band of nomads, into the promised land. It was one gripe after another with them. I’m thirsty. I’m hungry. It was like a road trip with me.

The Amalekites were a nasty bunch who had a reputation for not fighting fair. About the time Moses had had it with the Israelites, they arrived in Rephidim, where the Amalekites attacked.

Moses was old and most likely tired from all of the grumbling, so he sent Joshua into battle.

He promised Joshua that he would stand on the top of the hill, with the staff of God in his hands as a show of support.

Joshua headed to battle and Moses went up the hill, accompanied by Aaron and Hur.

What happened next is the part of the story that the sweet Holy Spirit reminded me of as I prayed over you today.

Joshua fared well as long as Moses held up his hands. However, when he tired, his arms fell and the Amalekites gained.

Enter Aaron and Hur. They stood on either side of Moses, holding his arms up. They gave him a place to sit; they held his arms up until the enemy was defeated.

When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him
and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side,
one on the other–so that his hands remained steady until sunset.
So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
Exodus 17:12-13 NIV

You are a fighter like Joshua; and like Moses, you know that salvation and hope are in God alone.

The visual is so big and beautiful, my friend. All of us who love you are trusting and believing God for your healing have come alongside you.

In the days to come, I pray that you will remember the multitude around you, lifting your arms and your battle to Jesus. I love you!

Because he bends down to listen I will pray as long as I have breath,

lorraine

This is such a hard topic; I write with great care but I don’t know your story. Please use the comment section to share the ways that others have come alongside you in your battle, whether cancer or some other struggle. 

Losing Myself in a Selfie Culture

Standard
Losing Myself in a Selfie Culture

treeThe sun was high, it’s beams breaking through the trees; shadows danced at my feet as the leaves and branches swayed with the gentle breeze. Though the air was cool, the jacket slipped off my shoulders, tied around my waist as I walked. It was as if the woods were drawing me in, inviting me to stay a while.

I inhaled deeply; the loam under my timid steps was damp from recent rains, rich with the scent of mud and wildflower blossoms. The river was just steps away, the color of my morning coffee and scattered with limbs downed by the weight of the past winter’s snow.

A plastic grocery bag was tucked into my pocket; it’s the season for morel mushrooms and this was a great spot to hunt. I determined to pay close attention to every detail as I wandered this plot of ground, wild and yet mere yards from a house filled with many beautiful and well-appointed rooms. Wilderness and refinement are neighbors on this Midwest homestead.

I was not alone. My cousin, a skilled hunter and woodsman, hiked ahead of me. I followed his lead as we broke the thicket and entered the deeper brush. I had slowed to take in the details. I thought he might have intentionally passed a patch of the prized morels as a test. He’s like that… a teacher and trainer at heart. It would be like him to set up an opportunity for me to succeed.

Woods collageOther family members went off in various directions. I couldn’t resist stopping for pictures of flowers, or downed logs and animal burrows. I fell behind, no longer within earshot of the crackling of branches and leaves as my companions trekked through the brush.

For a moment, a tremor of panic welled up, threatening to overtake my joy. I didn’t know my way out. While I had carefully surveyed every tree and wildflower in the shady thickets and examined hollow logs and the play of light with the curiosity of a child, I paid no attention to the direction I had wandered.

He would never leave me here, I reminded myself. And almost to the moment, he called out. I responded, assuring him I was fine, moving in the direction of his voice.

There were others in our small group and we occasionally caught site of one another, always hoping for a report of a find.

Finally we regrouped back at the trucks, driving out. We hadn’t gone far when he stopped and we jumped out again, this time walking to the end of a long thicket. “This is a good spot. I’ll clear the way for you to step in.”

Skillfully he parted the thorny, twisted branches and held them back as he led the way. He continued to coach and lead as I finally entered a clearing. Again I ventured off, exploring and searching but staying within earshot of my trusted guide.

I heard creaking overhead and looked up to see a huge log perched precariously between two trees – a widow maker, I would be told later. I wondered how many eyes were peering out, watching me as I was completely unaware of them. There was some calculated risk in this place, but it was beautiful and wild. There was no need for fear, rather awareness of potential danger.

Once home, I surveyed the scratches; they were superficial. Tick checks were conducted by buddies, since they tend to hitchhike in hard to locate places.

Later, as I lay quiet in my bed before sleep came, I reviewed my wonderful day. There were glorious reunions with loved ones, the simple joy of watching a dog work like a champ for a master he adores, and the peace found in a place of worship seated between two people I love.

I remembered the hike in the woods and I was grateful, even thought we never saw even one mushroom. As I thanked God for a walk in the woods, he used it to speak to me about my often misplaced hunt for affirmation.

“I’m clearing the way for you to step in. Just follow me. You’ll get some scratches, sure…but I’ll be just ahead of you, making a way. Call out to me; I’ll be listening for your voice and I’ll respond.

I’m giving you some space to explore; I want you to experience all that I’ve created for you. There is danger, sure. You may get some wounds, but they will pale in comparison to the beauty of walking with me.”

Friends I know he is leading me toward something new. I’m scared that I’ll get hurt. And I might. This life was not intended to be easy.

He is teaching me to think less about myself in the midst of a selfie culture.

I’ve found myself returning to the empty cistern of people to get my tank filled, looking for likes and loves and affirmation that only he can give. I’ve asked friends (while not openly because that’s just weird) to fill me up, to refuel me for service and I’ve come back empty. Every. Single. Time.

It’s not his plan. He’s the one and only one who never tires of me, who calls me beautiful and beloved. He will literally leave the entire flock and come searching for me (Matthew 18:12) as I wander, trying to find my way, sometimes getting lost in the distraction of the pretty things along the way.

He never tires of you. He is waiting for you to call out; I’m convinced he’s setting up scenarios for your success. He called to Peter to step out of the boat, knowing he would not sink as long as he kept his eyes on him!

Your salvation and honor depend on God alone. He is your mighty rock; pour your heart out to him and never fear rolling eyes or impatient sighs. He is trustworthy. Go ahead, lay it all out in front of him, your REFUGE. Follow him, even if you fear a few scratches. He’s got you and he’s got something beautiful for you just beyond the thorns.

By grace alone, I’m following into this new thing,

lorraine

 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people.
Pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8 (NOV)

 

Never Good Enough

Standard
Never Good Enough

I dared to dream that I would be chosen. After all, it was not a popularity contest. Everything I knew confirmed that selection was based on merit. Surely my solid 4.0 GPA, my outstanding citizenship (to this day I won’t drop a scrap of paper on the ground) and my involvement in extracurricular activities guaranteed my induction into the National Junior Honor Society. Granted, I was a band geek, but nevertheless, involved. I was sure that I was good enough.

By design. students were surprised when they spotted their parents in the room. My mom anxiously awaited the call that would summon her to the super-secret ceremony which occurred during the school day.

Mother was cheering for me. She had the best intentions but she always wanted each of her children to be “the best” at everything. No pressure, right? God rest her soul. I was certain that I would forever disappoint her. I didn’t realize that in her eyes I was the prettiest, the most talented and the most deserving.

I wasn’t the least bit athletic; in fact, I was skinny and clumsy.

I was terribly near-sighted and wore thick glasses.

I was an insecure introvert.

All of my doubts about my worth were confirmed everywhere I looked. Classmates were fashion and brand conscious, wearing Izod “Gator” skirts and Aigner loafers; my mom sewed my wrap around skirts and my knockoff “Keds” were from the J. M. Fields discount store.

But I believed this one accolade was possible; I was good enough. All of the boxes were ticked.

That Spring afternoon, the timid yet hopeful eighth grade version of me walked into the lunchroom\auditorium at Robinswood Junior High with the rest of her class. She looked around expectantly and her heart fell. There was no sign of her mother.

I don’t remember the ceremony. Disappointment overwhelmed me. I reported the outcome that evening at home. My mother wisely scheduled an appointment for me to speak to the guidance counselor.

tea-lights-2229651_1920

I trembled as I waited for the meeting, but I had to know. Never before had I questioned authority, but there had to be a mistake.

The counselor couldn’t disagree with my GPA and extracurricular involvement, although she inferred I could be doing more. She had no idea that band alone required a huge sacrifice. I had responsibilities at home for younger siblings. More was not an option.

The rest of the conversation was my introduction to the squiggly realm of subjective analysis of worth. “We don’t ‘feel’ you have leadership skills”. I’m sure there was more, but I heard that one loud and clear. As I look back, there was no one to help this awkward, struggling, smart and capable young girl to develop the needed skills.

I knew that to be good enough I would have to work harder. I studied to increase my intelligence and became a decent clarinet player, occupying first chair through junior high and maintaining the first section through high school. I had something to prove, if only to myself.

In January of my senior year I heard the chapters from John for the first time in my life. Every week I thought of how hard I had tried to be good enough. The good news of the Gospel brought me to tears and into a relationship with the one who said I was worthy of his life.

Even as I grew spiritually, I continued to buy the lie that I couldn’t lead. I wasn’t drawn into the inner circle of women at church; I knew the reason. It was the big “L” on my oily forehead…Lacks Leadership! Don’t choose her. There are plenty of prettier, smarter, more engaging women out there who will lead and influence women for Jesus.

I quietly served on the third floor, the place where the carpet was worn and the corners were filled with discarded stuff from below; the lower floors where women who were natural leaders sat around tables decorated with flowers as they learned Precepts of the Bible and dug far deeper into Scripture than I would ever go with those mere girls in my little corner room.

Every year I greeted a new group of girls, gangly and unsure of themselves as they ventured into high school. And every summer I marveled at the mature young women who moved on to the next room for tenth grade. I loved them; I prayed for them and I taught them as well as I knew how about loving Jesus and knowing how fiercely he loved them.

I hadn’t given any of this much thought. My eighth grade disappointment is way back in the rear view mirror.

The days that I taught ninth grade girls, often wondering if they a) thought I was the most boring woman alive or b) the meanest because I wouldn’t take them to McDonalds for breakfast during class every week, are already more than a decade ago.

Two weeks ago I got in my car and drove for twelve hours to a women’s conference. The associate women’s minister at the church had extended an invitation. The conference center was beautiful; the teaching was solid and Biblical and the worship of the 500 women in attendance was glorious. Every detail was carefully planned and executed. It was perfect.

At the end of the conference, as Jennie Allen signed books and posed for pictures with hundreds of women, I hung back. I finally took a spot at the end of line and moments later, she greeted me. I introduced myself and handed her my book. As she signed, an arm encircled me and the associate women’s minister spoke to Jennie.

“Do you know who this is?” Playfully, Jennie responded. “Her name is Lorraine…we’ve just met!’

And the response brought hot tears to my eyes, taking my breath and my voice away. “She was my mentor all through high school.”

Cass and the Ugly Cry

“She was my mentor all through high school.”

 

As it turns out, leadership was trumped by God’s grace, worked out in my life as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I could never have stirred up and maintained even one of those over the long haul, but the one who quickened me to life in the Spirit has given them for the building up of the body of Christ.

In that moment, he gave me a sweet glimpse into all that He had been up to on the third floor. His grace had accomplished what my striving could not.

By his grace alone,

lorraine

Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around
so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help.
That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get  all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time.
Oh, yes!
1 Peter4:10-11 ~ The Message

Jennie_Cass_Me

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be part of this beautiful woman’s journey. Cass is leading women at Shades Mountain Baptist Church. The lady in the middle? She’s pretty cool too – meet Jennie Allen!

 

 

 

A Little Coffee and A Lot of Jesus

Standard
A Little Coffee and A Lot of Jesus

 

The coffee pot was sputtering and the smell of the rich brew was beginning to fill the house. The temptation to pour a cup was only slightly overcome by the urgency of a deadline nearly met. I tapped at the keyboard, finishing the email and clicked the send button. The familiar swoosh was the horn that signaled break time.

There was a tap at the back door; I shifted the laptop and rose to greet my expected guest. As I did, I remembered that she introduced me to the joy that is drinking coffee.

♥ ♥ ♥

More than forty years ago, I sat at her kitchen table. “I was about to make William and I a spot of coffee”. I had never learned to drink the stuff, but I added lots of sugar and cream and it became part of our ritual.

I certainly was around coffee all of my life. I have vivid memories of holding my mother’s tupperware-pitchercoffee as she drove us to the junior high school. The plastic two cup measuring cup, made by Tupperware, was likely the largest container she could find. It was way before the days of travel mugs, and it sure didn’t have a cute monogram, but it was mostly functional. I loved the smell of her coffee, although in retrospect I know it was mixed with smoke from her Pall Mall cigarette. I suppose it would have been nearly impossible to drive with an open spouted measuring cup brimming with coffee and a cigarette. I’m forever grateful that she chose to have me hold the coffee.

♥ ♥ ♥

I opened the door and there she stood. Slightly bent and already apologizing for interrupting. “I have been looking forward to this! It’s my lunch break – come in and sit. The coffee is on” I responded.

♥ ♥ ♥

We were a young couple they knew from church. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that they were the sort of folks who always had an open door. While he taught my young husband to finish drywall, I often popped in to see her. She made the best bologna sandwiches and I was a young mom who loved being served, even just a simple sandwich.

She moved around her kitchen with the fluid motion of a dancer; it seemed that she truly enjoyed serving her family and friends.

I watched her deal with a rebellious teenager, which was a terrifying thought to my young mom heart. I learned about adding another potato to the pot to stretch a meal for unexpected guests. She was always matter of fact; it is what it is, she would day.

In hindsight, we always stayed too long but they never let on. When the evening began to wane, she would always say “You don’t have to leave – we’ll hang you on a nail!” They were kind and hospitable; they loved Jesus and we knew for sure they loved us.

As our family grew we spent less time hanging out at their house, but we always remembered (at times a bit sheepishly) their kindness and patience in dealing with our immaturity in life and matters of faith.

When our nest was empty, we began reaching out to young married couples; the value of investing in the next generation had been modeled for us. While times had changed the basics were the same; open doors, food and freedom to share were all that was needed to fill a living room with couples.

♥ ♥ ♥

I pour the coffee; hers black and steaming hot, mine still laden with cream and sugar. She settles in at the table and we chat for a bit about books and crafts. She never arrives empty-handed. She always has something to share, whether it is the “other half” of a loaf of bread or a treasured knick-knack that “just looked like you”.

She’s a widow now; she’s buried a son and today she lives half a mile from my house. I marvel at God’s grace; the gift he has given us to celebrate the relationship that started at a kitchen table over a cup of Folger’s coffee all those years ago.

I love to sit across from a woman who has traveled the road ahead of me. Our conversation always shifts to God’s faithfulness. We confess our frustrations and fears and there are sometimes tears. Unwavering faith in God and his sovereignty does not remove the sting of loss or the heartache of disappointment, but there is great comfort in shared burdens and joys.

He built us for relationship; it is in the communion of our hearts that we remind one another of his promises and his faithfulness. Who has invested in your life? And where, my friend, are you investing in the next generation?

♥ ♥ ♥

So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:18 ESV

Grace to you,

lorraine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heaven Wouldn’t Wait for Her

Standard
Heaven Wouldn’t Wait for Her

Every day, without fail, I talked to her. One or the other of us made the call, and never once did I consider that she might be bothered or too busy to talk to me. Our conversations were as natural as breathing. We looked forward to them.

If one of us needed to run to Wal-Mart after the kids were in bed, we called, already knowing that the other would watch for headlights and run out the side door and into the waiting car. It didn’t matter that our homes were not on the way to the ultimate destination.

Our children were best friends. Our husbands loved being together. When someone saw one of us without the other, the immediate question was “Where’s your twin?” We double-dated every Saturday night and took turns hosting Sunday night suppers after church.

I was crafty and creative; she was creative and practical. I was quick to panic and she always had a calm and confident response. I was raised by a mid-western farmer’s daughter; her parents were from the South. She taught me to cook fresh fried okra and for that alone my family is forever indebted to her. Together we learned to make something out of nothing – we could decorate the fellowship hall with a box of random scraps of fake greenery and ribbons (it was the 80’s – pre-Pinterest, okay?).

We shared our love of diet Pepsi and Almond Joy bars, Hardee’s biscuits and gravy and Chinese food. We both shopped right up until Christmas eve and wrapped gifts until just before dawn on Christmas morning.

But something happened at church. My family left and it wasn’t nice and neat; it certainly wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was the most difficult event of my life to that date. As with most fractured relationships, there was a ripple that went out from the epicenter of separation.

The fallout changed the amount of time we spent together. Too many fingers of relationships in that place couldn’t be untangled. And the thing that we had most in common – church – was no longer ours.

Our lives were more separate, but always along parallel lines. She had time to develop deeper relationships with some amazing women in her circle and I had a lot of healing to do from the brutality of the breakup with the church we had attended our entire married life.

When she told me her diagnosis I was sure it couldn’t be true. Cancer couldn’t happen to someone as pure as her. I prayed, certain that God was going to show himself mighty in her healing. I claimed a verse. I laminated it on a bookmark with a beautiful autumn leaf I found along a path on the way up to Chimney Rock and I gave it to her. It was a bold step of faith, but one I had to take for my dear friend.

goodness-of-the-lord

And then I watched cancer and the harsh treatments ravage her body. I sat by the bed where she lay dying in her parent’s home, silently praying as Judge Judy meted out justice on the television. I prayed and asked Jesus to make this right, to mete out some justice for my dear friend.

The call came early one evening; I remember sitting in the living room of a house we were renting; being strangely surprised and not at all surprised at the same time. I was not a stranger to grief, but I was overwhelmed by it; I was glad when they said I could come see her once more.

Her face was no longer distorted by pain. She looked peaceful and serene, the Sandy that I had known and loved. I told her that I loved her. I said the things that I had been afraid to say before, afraid she would think I had given up. I knew as sure as I was standing there she was in the presence of Jesus. She was finally healed and she was walking among the truly living, in a place where there is no more dying.

It’s been sixteen years since my dear friend left her body behind and joined the saints in Glory. There are so many days that I miss her, but I’ve learned to listen for her. When I get still, when I stop overloading my senses with information and noise, I consider what she would say.

“It’s going to be okay. We don’t need stress over this; we just need to do what we can with what we have and it will be good. And we are going to have fun doing it! Now, I’m thirsty – let’s get a diet Pepsi!”

I love you, Sandy. Happy birthday! I hope that you are enjoying heavens equivalent of candy corn, Pepsi (because who diets in heaven?) and Southern cooking. One of these days, I’m coming, so watch for the headlights and meet me at the side door okay? You can show me around.

4-lorraine-and-sandy-with-kathy-1995

This is one of my favorites of us!

 

By his grace we carry on,

lorraine

 

 notdesigner.blogspot.com_logo_facebookPlease visit and “like” the Grace and Graffiti Facebook page here.

And remember, it’s nice to share with your Facebook friends!  Thanks

I’m Way Too Busy for You!

Standard
I’m Way Too Busy for You!

 

Don’t you just love it when you ask someone how they are and they quickly respond “Busy!”? There are times that I walk away from that person, feeling that I’ve been an unwelcome distraction from the important stuff that just lagged behind because they slowed a bit to respond to my question.

I absolutely understand that often people are truly busy. Everyone has a lot going on.

I have some little grandchildren who are BUSY. On a recent visit I followed one toddling little munchkin along a trail of pint sized clothing to find that he had opened a dresser drawer and was methodically removing all of the carefully laundered, folded and matched up tops and bottoms and scattering them about the house.

I tried, to no avail, to interest him in play with age-appropriate, entertaining toys. He preferred running amuck and creating havoc. He is the cutest little mess and I love him!

Ellie and Eli

As I’ve thought about my penchant for overscheduling, overcommitting and overextending, I keep going back to that toddler’s mess. I wonder if that is how my life looks to my heavenly father as he observes me dashing from one thing to another rather than settling down and allowing him to lead me into worthwhile, enjoyable activity. Thankfully, he loves me!

But wait, people who are making a difference, people who are movers and shakers are busy, right? Perhaps, but I’m learning that the people I admire, people who accomplish much, are avoiding busyness – they are taming the beast with intentional planning.

Reaching this stage of life is no joke, friends. There is an undeniable reality; life is now fleeting. Nearly every week we hear news of someone we know who has passed into eternity. This verse is speaking to me, bringing me to a place of longing for God’s plan for every day, so much more than my own:

Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! – Psalm 90:12 MSG

So, I’ve been paying attention to smart, Godly people when they speak about time management. I’m searching Scripture. I want to know that I am ready for the next thing, especially if the next thing is meeting Jesus.

Here are four things I’m doing to make sure busyness doesn’t rule my life:

  • Plan. Count the cost, for every yes is a no to something else.“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” ~ Luke 14:28 ESV

    I’ve found that a planner is a great visual; it is easy to see when the squares are filling up and spilling over into each other. I use washi tape and markers emphasize the important days and events, the time that is sacred to me and/or the ones I love. I find myself protecting it, drawing actual borders around those hours and days. Make dates for happiness and keep them.

  • Build margin into your planning. Make room for the unexpected, the divine encounters.“We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.”.~ Prov 16:9 MSG

    When every square is full there is little opportunity for spontaneity. I don’t want to be an inhospitable, unapproachable busy person who doesn’t have time for people.

  • Establish priorities. While some priorities are set (God, Family, Work) the way that we manage them is fluid. Different seasons of life may change your time allocation to each.

    “There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens…” ~ Eccl 3:1 ESV

    What are your goals? Make sure that you have time set aside to work toward them. Write that list of books you want to read this year in the margin of your planner. List the steps required to reach those ambitious goals. You will do it!
  • Establish an inner circle of friends. Are there so many people texting you that you lose track and don’t respond? Have you offended someone close to you because you just didn’t have time for them?Consider this. The Lord himself invested himself personally in just twelve others. He narrowed that even more to an inner circle of three who were there for him in his darkest hour.

    “Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.” ~ Matt 26:37-38 MSG

    I’m focused on building meaningful relationships with a few. I will be a better friend and will have dear friends to walk with me through the most difficult days. Influence many, but invest in a few ~ that is the example of Christ.

Time is the one of the few resources that is equally granted to each of us. When the master comes, will he be pleased with the way that I invested mine or disappointed in my foolish spending?

Only by the MARVELOUS grace of God,

lorraine


 notdesigner.blogspot.com_logo_facebookPlease visit and “like” the Grace and Graffiti Facebook page here.

And remember, it’s nice to share with your Facebook friends!  Thanks!

Giving Up Wasn’t an Option

Standard

woman-164299

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. – James 5:16

I had forgiven her. I laid the offense at the feet of Jesus and left it. My dear friend had been part of something that wounded me deeply. I knew that it would take time to heal, but forgiveness was my part of the process and I’d offered it up with complete abandon.

But something was off; it was a sort of niggling in my spirit.

angel-1106990_1920

I’m thrilled to be sharing this story over on Kelly Basham’s blog, Blossom in Faith. Please click here to read the rest of my story.

 

 

Confessions of a Fitwitch

Standard

What good is walking if my steps aren't counted_

Way back in the 1960’s when I was in elementary school the Johnson administration established the Presidential Physical Fitness Award. To test for the award, students completed a softball throw, a broad jump, a 50-yard dash and 600 yard walk/run.

Imagine a skinny little girl wearing black eyeglasses pulling back to throw her hardest, only to drop the ball behind her back. That would be me.

I developed a “stitch’ in my side before the end of the 50-yard dash and the 600-yard run/walk was excruciating.  Although I was an active kid, I was more of a sprinter than a distance runner. And by sprint, I mean to the end of the twenty foot sidewalk in our front yard where we played kickball for hours or to the ice cream wagon as it passed down our street.

As an adult, I talk about getting in better shape. In fact, if talking were an aerobic activity I would be in awesome shape. I convinced myself that I would eventually find the time and energy to devote to a more fit physical body, but it never happened.

Then I got a Fitbit. I synced it up with my iPhone and found some friends. I had no idea how much my life would change over the next few weeks.

For the first few days, I was content to get to know my new device, privately counting steps. The American Heart Association recommends ten thousand steps each day. Let’s just say I was significantly south of that.

I decided that I would strive for the recommended number and began looking for ways to “get my steps in”. I had no comprehension of the dark labyrinth of step counting compulsion.

I have a sedentary job so I added a stroll around the building midday and gained several hundred steps. I vowed to walk the five flights of stairs at least once a day.

Still straining toward my goal, I sensed my purple friend mocking me. I spoke the words aloud for effect. “This device is designed to serve me; this routine will bring me joy, not condemnation!” I had increased my activity and I was content.

Or was I?  (For full effect, read that with an evil, echoing voice)

FitbitThe bulky purple band had replaced my lovely rhinestone studded wristwatch. At first, I glanced at the beautiful watch as I dressed each morning and thought, “Later, baby. I’ll take you someplace nice later. It’s just that I need to count my steps. I’m in a different place right now…you understand, right?”

It never happened. What good is walking if my steps aren’t counted?

We began walking every evening as a part of my hubby’s recovery from spinal surgery. Little by little, we increased the distance. Before we knew it, we were walking three miles. The first time that band vibrated at the ten thousand step mark was a milestone and I was hooked.

The challenges seemed innocent at first.  I was walking miles every day and I was confident that most of the people challenging me were not hitting the trail for a (by then) four mile walk every evening. For the first time in my life I felt like a competitor.

But winning has been elusive. As I sync my band to the app throughout the day, I gain a lead from time to time. But at the end of the day, the coveted “Workweek Hustle” virtual trophy slips from my hands. The screen on my phone lights with a mocking message, “Friend A just zoomed past you for the lead”.

I’ve obsessed over steps that “weren’t counted” because I was pushing a stroller or a shopping cart. I pay closer attention to the battery indicator on my Fitbit than on my smartphone. I have secret doubts about the legitimacy of others step counts (seriously, what is wrong with me???) I might have a problem.

It’s as if I developed a stitch in my side just short of the finish line. I am disappointed and frustrated over losing challenges. Apparently, I’m not only competitive but also a sore loser.

So I venture out to walk again, this time alone and with no more agenda that to listen. A quiet whisper reminds me that the greatest steps I will ever take are those that bring me closer to eternity with Jesus.

The only trophy that will last is offered for all who make the finish line.

The feet that bring the Gospel are beautiful.

All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. ~ The Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:25-26

There isn’t a category on the dashboard of my Fitbit app for transformation of my spiritual heart, but it’s as real and impacting as steps counted and calories burned are to my physical heart. He knows; he sees my struggle and my determination to never give up on the daily work of denying my flesh and choosing to walk after him.

Meanwhile, I’ll catch you later. It rained today and we couldn’t walk so I’m going to go run around my house until I get my ten thousand steps.

May all your steps be counted…

lorraine

 

 Please visit and “like” the Grace and Graffiti Facebook page here. And remember, it’s nice to share.  Thanks!

facebook_like_logo_1