Category Archives: Seeing yourself through the lens of God’s grace

Are You Asking God the Wrong Question?

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Are You Asking God the Wrong Question?

This afternoon I heard a quote that stopped me in my tracks.

“God isn’t after productivity; He’s after your heart.”

I was slain and relieved all at once.

It’s not been my most productive week. I haven’t felt well so I’m mostly going through the motions. I’m showing up where expected, but I don’t have much to show for the time spent. I can feel guilty pretty fast over that because I’m sort of driven.

The dictionary defines driven: Motivated by or having a compulsive quality or need.

I admit that I tend to measure my success and even my worth by how much I produce and how happy I’m making the people I’m producing for (craving approval is another story for later this month).

I’m my harshest critic. I should be more productive, I should be working harder, I should take a shower….

That familiar thief, comparison, is poised to snatch away my joy. I find myself discouraged over nothing in particular and everything in general. I’m frustrated over my inability to get things done even as I take careful note of all that everyone else is accomplishing (thanks, social media).

And then this afternoon some guy I’ve never heard of pops up on my radar and I decide to listen to him.

He talks about walking into every day, into every meeting, into every circumstance as a child of God.

He says my primary identity is not wife, mom, employee, or friend. My primary identity is God’s daughter.

I’m not an orphan who must figure it out on my own; I have a Father who loves me and who is going to take care of my needs.

I don’t have to claw and scrape out an existence today. Nothing is dependent on me and everything is dependent on Him.

Thanks, Allen Arnold. Thanks for the reminder.

I’m looking forward to feeling better and doing my part as He leads, but I’m so thankful that it isn’t up to me. He did not leave us as orphans!

I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18

Friends, it begins when we start the day with this conversation: “Father, I can’t wait to see how you are going to work today.”

I’d love to hear how you walk in confidence, knowing that you have a faithful Father who is going to come through for you, in the most unexpected ways. Share your stories in the comments!

His daughter,

lorraine

If you would like to know more about Allen Arnold, check out his book. Yep, it’s one more on my growing list of must-reads!

 

Let it Be; On Messes and Control Freaks

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Let it Be; On Messes and Control Freaks

Hubby and I have been at the beach all week. Vacation paradise, right?

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What an office! I loved working in the warm salt air.

Actually, we are both working from the beach…he is doing some work in a friend’s condo and I’m doing what I always do, just with a much lovelier view. That is, as long as I keep my gaze to the East, toward the ocean.

You see, this condo is in total disarray. All of the furniture is pulled to the center of the rooms, covered in bed sheets and plastic. Every cupboard and closet is emptied. Their contents are piled high on every surface. Finding the coffee pot was a scavenger hunt.

Messy Condo

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As you can see, we found that coffee pot – survival ensured!

 

 

I happiest when my surroundings are in order; I’m easily rattled by confusion. This situation, my friends, is a recipe for disaster.

All of the televisions are disconnected; the internet signal is so weak that we can’t stream Netflix on our iPads. (Thankfully it’s been more than adequate during the day so I can work!)

There is no cell service.

We are both tired. We’ve had a couple of really full weeks and hubby is as put off by messes as I am.

So we spend most of our “down” time outside. As we should, it’s the beach after all!

On our first night here we walked along the beach. It was beautiful and relaxing. We’ve spent lots of time in the hot tub, as it’s my only option for soaking (there is not a bathtub in this condo…another interruption to my normal.)

I continue to work, testing new applications, with Jimmy Buffet singing in the background. It’s almost like vacation, but it’s not.

Honestly, by Tuesday evening, I was a grump. After a wonderful shrimp dinner, we returned to the mess and navigated the path to the bed. There was no TV to watch and I didn’t feel well. I flipped on my side and fell asleep fast.

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Storm clouds building down the beach – just like the ones building in my anxious heart.

After some rest, some coffee and some time with Jesus, I knew that I was at risk for missing the blessings of this week. So I began listing them:

  • I can work in close proximity to the man I love
  • We are eating every meal together; breakfast and lunch are on the balcony overlooking the ocean
  • The view…did I mention the view? I usually see only cubicle walls
  • Eating the best local burger
  • There is nothing I can or should do about this mess

That last bullet was a “Come to Jesus” moment for me. It was as if he said “Why is this bothering you? It’s not yours; don’t own anything that you have no control over.”

In that instant I knew this week was about more than the view and a messy condo. In fact, just a few days ago, I answered these questions in my quiet time:

  • Are you a control freak? My answer: Yes, I like to make sure things are orderly and neat. Somehow I think that if I can just control everything it will be ok. No wonder my chest hurts!
  • When is it hardest for you to trust God? My answer: When the present seems to be a train wreck.

This is the verse that He gave me that morning, as I confessed that I’m not always willing to wait for him to make things right, that I want to take charge and bring order and sense to everything around me.

Let your unfailing love surround me, LORD, for my hope is in you alone.
Psalm 33:22 ESV

As I write, I am also getting inspiration from the spiritual giants, The Beatles. Paul McCartney croons “Let it be”. And Jesus whispers, “Yes, that is for you. Just let it be.”

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This morning’s sunrise – right on schedule!

 

As I survey this mess, knowing that I own none of it, there is absolute freedom. I lift my gaze above the stuff and I see the ocean. I hear the constant roar as the waves return again and again to the shore. He’s got all of this; I can trust him with my life, messy as it gets.

Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is the name of his son?
Surely you know!
Every word of God is flawless;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Psalm 30:4-5 NIV

By his grace, in the midst of so many messes, taking refuge in him alone,

lorraine

P.S. – By some miracle of modern technology, a restart of the WIFI router has improved the signal strength and we got to watch Parenthood last night on the world’s smallest screen. Thank you, Jesus!

If you read last week’s post on my kitten adventure, here is the beginning of her new story…delivered safe and sound to her new momma:

Phoebe and Rose

 

If you missed her story, you can read it here. Thanks friends, and may all your days be “beachy”!

Spotlights and Hissy Fits

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Spotlights and Hissy Fits

She was perched on my lap, knees digging into my thighs, peering over and around the head of the very tall gentleman in the row in front of us. She was literally quivering with delight as she watched the lights come up on group after group of dancers. Without fail, she clapped fervently then cupped her hands around her mouth and let out a whoop as each took a bow.

Periodically she turned a bit to face me, excitement lighting her face. “That was so good!” she exclaimed over and over. She could barely contain her joy.

She celebrated every performance including her own. This afternoon it was about her and her dance company and she was loving the costumes, the makeup and the spotlight.

After the final curtain we all loaded into the fifteen passenger van. In a matter of moments, she went from celebrated performer to big sister/little sister/six-year-old girl whose sparkly costume was suddenly itchy and whose blood sugar was crashing. She was near having a hissy fit, but Mommy assured her she could in fact endure the costume for the short ride home.

Once there, she slipped into something far less itchy and was given some quiet time in her room to unwind. In a bit she rejoined her six brothers and sisters in the kitchen for pizza and it occurred to me that her moment in the spotlight was short.

I thought of how I deal with my “fifteen minutes of fame” experiences. We all have them from time to time…. a short period of time when the spotlight and the attention turns to us and we feel special, important and celebrated.

But for most, those are short-lived and we climb back into the fifteen passenger van that is our daily life. To be honest, I sometimes throw a private hissy fit when the celebration is over.

Oh friend, I’m so thankful for GRACE that assures us that no matter how short-lived our moments of fame may be, we are valued and loved. 

GRACE even when I’m out of sorts because the current circumstance, maybe even the thing that just a day or so ago was beautiful and sparkly, is now irritating and I just want out.
If you find yourself just outside of the afterglow of a great experience, give yourself some grace, friend. Recharge with food for your soul and take a break. Then come join us at the table, where we will again celebrate the goodness of our Father and what He does for us and through us.

“Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace.
It’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people
who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you.
The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God
is and by what he does for us, not by what we do for him.”
Romans 12:3  ~ The Message

 

Enjoying his grace in spite of my hissy fits,

lorraine

 

 

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My beautiful dancer, and her mother’s efforts to keep her flat on her feet when she’s not in the spotlight.

 

 

 

Losing Myself in a Selfie Culture

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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

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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.

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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

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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!

 

 

 

I Want What I Want

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I Want What I Want

 

As I stepped into the salon, Kate looked up from her client and smiled, her dark lashes fluttering as she flashed a bright smile. “Hi Lorraine! I’ll be finished up here soon, okay?”

I sat on the lumpy parson’s chair next to the bay window and selected a worn magazine from the stack. Flipping through the pages, I focused on her client. They chatted about styling tools and I silently admired her cute outfit. “Love those thongs”, I thought. I almost asked her about them and then noticed the Tory Burch signature hardware on the strap.

They finished up and I caught sight of the exquisite setting of her diamond ring as she pulled her Louis Vuitton tote from the shelf behind me. Kate excused herself as they walked toward her Lexus, cheerfully chatting.

As we began the process of highlighting my hair to hide some of the evidence of my age, I mentioned the previous client. “She’s beautiful; and she has lovely taste in accessories and cars!” Kate agreed and we went on to catch up on one another’s lives.

A day later I sent my sweet stylist a text with a selfie, thanking her for my new look. She responded with an innocent comment that made me stop and think.

“You look stunning! You look like you drive a Lexus and wear Tory Burch.” She was humoring me based on my comments the previous day. I admired the woman’s sense of style and her impeccable taste, but that was really all that I knew about her. Was it that obvious that I might have wanted her stuff, if only for a moment?

I hesitated and then responded to her text from a place where God is working overtime to transform my heart. “I hope I look like I care about people; that I would drive my Passat to wherever you are when you need something.”

Lest you think this is a rant about designer handbags, it’s not. I own some; but I don’t want to be defined by the clothes I wear, the bag on my shoulder or the car that I drive.

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Image is powerful. I’ve wrestled with wanting a certain look and with not looking my age while not looking like a fool who’s in denial about her age. I want to be a Godly woman with great taste, who loves people. I want what I want.

Last night I sat in the quiet of my living room. It was early evening and the sun was streaming in the window as it crept lower toward the horizon, landing on the pages of a book I am reading. A phrase jumped off the page and I was arrested by it.

The author, Jennie Allen, was sharing a conversation she had with her friend, Jessica. Jessica spoke these words: “Jennie, I think most of us live thinking there is a medium. A place where we can live regular lives and serve God too.”

The truth is that when we finally surrender our lives, there is no medium. There is no contentment in living in the middle. I’ve spent most of my life precisely in the middle. Medium seemed safe and moderate, you know?

Your surrendered life won’t look like mine. For some, a surrendered life is a fifteen passenger van filled with car seats and kids who may or may not bear resemblance to you. For others it’s a hut in Africa or a shanty in Haiti. For some young adults it’s contentment in singleness and for others it’s contentment in a marriage that needs healing. There are moms who are worn out and worn down by a rebellious child they continue to love unconditionally.

Jennie went on to say that the only way to live is to die. It’s backwards and counterintuitive, isn’t it friend? And yet, there it is:

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
Romans 6:6 NIV

 I want what I want. But in Christ, when my heart is truly his, when I am fully surrendered, I will want what he wants. Every day he’s opening my eyes to the reality that my pilgrimage is short compared to eternity. He’s realigning my priorities.

This is certain. When we approach Mt. Zion in the heavenly Jerusalem, as countless thousands of angels sing and God’s firstborn are assembled in a joyful gathering to welcome us, it won’t matter who we wore or what we drove. Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant will greet us, speaking forgiveness.

On that day, my only adornment will be his grace. I think it looks really good on me.

Stunning, in fact.

Grace to you,

lorraine

I referenced Jennie Allen’s book,
Anything – the Prayer that Unlocked my God and My Soul.
I highly recommend it and you can get it here.

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Making Room for Change

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Making Room for Change

 

I really hate to throw food away. I’m not sure if it is my humble upbringing or my overall frugality, but I’m bothered when I realize I’ve let food get past its prime and have to dispose of it.

Recently the out of town grands were visiting and we made lots more food than normal. As they prepared to leave and I surveyed the mass quantities of leftovers in the refrigerator I openly lamented all of the waste.

My daughter remarked that we’d had our fill; we ate well, and the food was wonderful but no longer beneficial.

She suggested that I let it go while being thankful that we’d had more than enough. Good word, I thought as I discarded the old and made room for the beautiful fresh veggies I would pick up later at the farmer’s market.

Recently I was given lots of gently used clothes; they were mostly from the Loft, one of my favorite stores. It was a huge blessing, but I quickly realized in order to make room for them I would have to part with some things that had served me well, but no longer brought me joy. They had to go and frankly many of my “old” favorites were just that. It was time to let them go!

I’m in a season of waiting; I feel like God is on the brink of doing something new, but change isn’t something I typically embrace.

Could it be that God’s waiting for me to make room for a new thing?

I’m trying to rest, to wait and see what He’s up to.

Even as I type the words, I think “How ludicrous is that”?

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Rest is not trying; rest is surrender. Rest is restorative.

When I lie down at night and realize that every muscle is tense, that my jaw is clenched and my hands are tight fists, I have a routine of consciously relaxing from my head to my toes. I release control and allow my mind to let the stresses of life go for a bit…I focus on a favorite scripture passage or picture my favorite place to let go…the beach.

I surrender to the rest that I know I will need to face a new day. I release control of life for seven or eight hours and I sleep. It is during this rest that cells are repaired; the body restores itself from the effects of the day’s exposure to stress, toxins, UV rays and all manner of other harm.

Spiritual rest is only found in the quiet place; I hear him best when I choose to turn off the noise of the outside and consciously relax every corner of my heart, surrendering them each to his calm. It is in this rest that my heart can hear Him speak healing words of love over the places that exposure to the world have been scraped and made raw.

I’m acting on what a friend has been praying for me. I’m free falling right into the arms of Jesus; it’s the only place of true rest and restoration.

I’ll let you know how it’s going, friend.

Resting in his grace,

lorraine

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun!
I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Psalm 43:19 NLT

TOM

And speaking of rest, how would you like to win a new mattress? My friend Rebecca Huff is sponsoring a big giveaway this month. Head on over to this post to see what it’s all about and learn more about getting rest through quality sleep.

The Easy Wife

Another great giveaway is happening over here on The Easy Wife Facebook page. What a great way to get started with Essential Oils! Check out Jami and Stacey’s podcast – you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excuse Me, That’s MY Tiara

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Excuse Me, That’s MY Tiara

It was less than a week after my birthday. While not a Hallmark milestone year, it was a benchmark for me. Suddenly I was eligible for even more “senior” discounts. At 62, theater tickets and even hotel rooms are cheaper.

I receive your blessing, Lord. I didn’t come this far to walk away from a good deal!

While I was willing to embrace the discounts I was not willing to accept the tag. Senior.

My parents were senior citizens. Senior citizens grumble about their “fixed” income and eat dinner at 4:00 to avoid crowds and save two dollars.

I was scrolling through Facebook, which always makes me feel better about myself. Right there on my news feed was a post about the Disney Princess Half Marathon – my friend had just signed up. Suddenly (and a bit impulsively) I was in.

You should know this about me: when the total of any purchase approaches high double digits my pulse quickens; if it hits triple digits I need a gut check. And yet I navigated over to the web site, whipped out my credit card and shelled out $185 to register. I was giddy – it might have been the tiaras or the hopes of a “dream come true magical experience”, but I had grand visions of crossing the finish line, hand in hand with my dear friend.

I imagined we would spend hours comparing training schedules and cheering each other along as we added distance and shortened times.

I made a meme for my Facebook cover. I wrote it down in my goals. Oh, this was going down, friends.

Perhaps this would be a good time to mention that I hate running. I love the idea of running; but running hurts me. It twists my guts in knots; I get something called a “stitch” in my side. With every foot fall I feel the jolt, first in my feet and then up my legs and into my torso. I literally feel like I’m pounding the pavement.

After I’ve been in motion (I can’t run very far, but at least my body doesn’t revolt against walking) for thirty minutes or so, the nerves behind the third and fourth toes on my right foot begin to burn. It’s somewhere between fire ants and electrical shock. It’s most painful with foot fall, so it’s only hurts every other step.

My breathing is labored and because I’m panting so hard I’m thirsty before I get to the end of my driveway.

I should also mention that this friend lives as far away from me as you can get and still be in the Continental United States. With almost three thousand miles separating us, our joint training was not impossible, but highly improbable for two people who can’t seem to get together for an occasional phone call.

You have a question, don’t you? You are dying to ask. 

Go ahead…I’m waiting.

Okay, I’ll ask it for you.

Why in the world did I think this was going to happen?

Twice I’ve positioned myself along a fence near the finish of the Disney World marathon. I watched every face as I checked the status of my runner on my smartphone. The first time, I was torn between urgency and dread.

26.2 miles. How could her body endure such punishment? And yet, I never took my eyes off the course as I scanned every face for the one that I loved. My child.

And I saw her. She was smiling, she was running well, and I cried. Relief and pride and joy swept over me. My baby girl had done it. 

Again last January I stood near the same place, watching. When I spotted her I made a spectacle because I wanted to make sure she knew I was there. It was a harder run; she hadn’t trained as well and she was hurting. But she did it. I know she had to dig deep to cross the finish, but she did.

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My beautiful daughter and her son at the finish.

 

Each time, I carefully surveyed the runners. They were all shapes and sizes. Some were running alone, others part of a team. Some ran for a cause emblazoned across their chest; others I was sure ran for reasons much more private but no less noble and meritorious.

I was inspired. I allowed myself to consider the possibility. I decided I would do that. One day.

And so it is not surprising that on that day, as I considered the number of days I hope to have left, I knew it was time to walk right into the dream that was birthed in my heart years earlier.

But August came and with it some significant pain that started in my hip and radiated down my leg and into my shin. I rested.

The pain persisted. It got a lot worse when I walked any distance. I relented; an appointment was scheduled and the diagnosis was harsh. Arthritis.

The short story is that I can’t do 13.1 miles. I’ll never cross that finish line, exuberant yet exhausted.

I’m been bummed. I’ve felt guilty about wasting the money. But most of all I’ve wondered what else is no longer possible. I have regrets over things not attempted. I also am beginning to understand why some of us are less “Snow White” and more “Grumpy” with age.

I’ve given this some time to marinate in my heart. I’ve asked God to cover it with grace and mercy as I consider what He would have me do next.

He is amazing ya’ll. He began to roll a highlight reel of my life. He showed me the races I have run; the ones where I crossed the finish line bloody and bruised and alone.

There were some where I barely could barely walk as I held the hand of one who came alongside and literally walked me across the finish. I saw the times that I crawled, too weary to look up…but he was always there.

I don’t know if I have days, years or decades left in this life. I don’t know how many of my dreams I’ll realize. 

But I know this for sure:

When I cross the the final finish line, he will be there waiting for me.

He is watching, he is checking my status and when I get near, he’s going to make sure that I see him. I believe he will take my hand and help me across.  

It’s true that I won’t be running with a tiara but I am his nonetheless. 

Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;honor him, for he is your lord. Psalm45:11

The hardware of this life’s races will pale in comparison to all that he has for us in heaven.

 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because,
having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life
that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12 NIV

He will give you a crown of beauty for ashes. Isaiah 61:3

Can’t stop, won’t stop,

lorraine

Travel Advisory – Narrow Road Ahead

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Travel Advisory – Narrow Road Ahead

I had been out of sorts all weekend and now I was stepping off a flight, still in a funk.

I’d been in this airport before; it was familiar though not the least bit comforting.

It was barely October but the northeastern air was cold as I exited the terminal toward the rental cars. “At least I know my way around” I thought as I trudged in that direction, pulling luggage and balancing a heavy computer bag on my shoulder.

I settled into a sedan and drove away from the airport, remembering the first time I flew into Manchester. That time, the luck of the rental car line-up afforded me a Mustang convertible. I had put the top down in spite of the chilly temperatures.

One wrong turn transported me into a fragrant forest of trees. Realizing that I must be off course, I navigated onto a side road to turn around. The sound of the gravel under those tires and the earthy scent of the trees reminded me of places I love. Even now, the memory calmed my heavy heart a bit.

I passed the spot of the errant turn and smiled to myself. Maybe a cup of coffee would perk me up, I thought. I spotted a new Dunkin’ Donuts just before I reached the on ramp for the interstate; in just a few minutes I had a steaming cup and was on my way to the hotel that would once again be home for the week.

After a quick call to let my hubby know I was bound for my destination, I reflected in silence as I drove the mostly deserted highway.

I’m too old for this.

I am too tired for this.

I can’t do this.

I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. I recited a litany of reasons and excuses – all well-rehearsed over the past few days. Weariness set in as I sipped my coffee and focused on the road.

I had forgotten the natural beauty of the drive south toward Boston. It was overcast, but even under gray skies the glorious colors of fall brightened the landscape. The birch trees stood tall, their white bark like dress whites crowned with colorful leaves.

I noted one of those highway signs that marks a famous landmark. Robert Frost Farm. The client had mentioned it on my last trip and suggested it might be worthwhile to stop and explore on my return to the airport. Ever the worried traveler, I didn’t dare risk missing my outbound flight.

But now I was in no great hurry to reach an empty hotel room. There was no mystery or excitement or even concern about finding it. I’d stayed there before and it was just the standard place to rest after a long day.

Only days before an Amazon box awaited my arrival home after work. I opened it with curiosity, since I didn’t recall ordering anything. To my great delight, my sweet hubby had ordered a stack of books recommended for writers! Among them was Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott. And so I had just read and underlined these words:

“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things,
to go places and explore.”

“I’m a writer”. I had only recently mustered the courage to make that declaration and in the moment I felt a fresh determination to walk in that. I took the exit and navigated to the tiny, unassuming farm.

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I shivered as I exited the car and approached the barn. A lone man sat just inside. After greeting me, he quietly waited as I explored the artifacts and books displayed.

“Would you like to view the video and tour the home?” I hesitated only a moment. Writing was a great excuse to explore this place that had inspired Frost to write. For the next half hour, I settled under an afghan on a rough wooden bench and watched a poor quality film about the life of one of America’s most beloved poets.

I toured the home; the simple farmhouse was anything but inspiring, but as I peeked out windows and imagined life there in the early 1900’s, I realized that inspiration comes in the ordinary moments of everyday life.

I purchased a small paperback collection of Frost’s poems, said goodbye to my tour guide and walked the grounds, collecting damp leaves as I wandered. The question hung in my heart and mind. “What am I doing here?”

There was small stone wall; I stopped to rest a bit despite the chill. Opening the small book, I found Frost’s famous words:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.[i]

Frost’s reference to a road less traveled reminded me of the words of another who had this to say about choosing a path:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road
that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life,
and only a few find it. ~ Jesus, Matthew 7:13-14

That chilly afternoon, I realized that I choose a path every day.

The wide road is so appealing. I want easy. I long for wide lanes and smooth terrain. I stand at the fork and want to choose for my comfort, for my peace and for my convenience. Me, me, me.

fall-leaves

I lingered for a bit, considering the week before me. It was not the road I wanted to choose. It was hard; it was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. But it was ordained. It would stretch me and at the end of it, I would be spent. And that is exactly the way I long to live: poured out and used up for the reasons I am alive – to love God and to share his love with others.

I stood and walked back to the car, my steps lighter. I breathed the autumn air deeply and paused again to look back at the homestead.

It was going to be a great week. I was sure of it.

Navigating the road less traveled,

lorraine

[i] The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

 

Are  you looking for a safe place to seek encouragement?

Hopelively is a private community for women desiring to find and keep their Hope. For women seeking encouragement in their wellness pursuits or recovering from loss. Our goal is to promote a spirit of hope in the midst of struggles, both physical and spiritual.

Find us on Facebook.

Administrators: 

Jami Amerine of Sacred Ground Sticky Floors,

Lorraine Reep of Grace and Graffiti,

Rebecca Huff of ThatOrganicMom 

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Will I Ever Be Enough?

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Will I Ever Be Enough?

The sound woke me suddenly and my heart was beating fast. Adrenalin was coursing as I identified the source of the alarm. Two vibrations and then a few rising tones meant that my hubby’s blood sugar had exceeded the high threshold and his monitor was alerting.

I laid there in the dark, processing the information for a few minutes and it alarmed again. This time he sat up, insulin pump in hand. He took stock of his number and administered the insulin.

Five minutes later, the alarm sounded again. And five minutes later, and five minutes later….

He dozed beside me but I couldn’t sleep. Now awake, I thought of design ideas for an improvement to the continuous monitoring device. A temporary hold on alarms came to mind; a way to communicate that insulin was delivered, now hush and give it time to work its magic already.

Still awake, my thoughts went to the previous day. It was not a good one for me. Work was fine, home was fine, my commute was fine. I was not. Fine. The tension had been building for weeks.

I reviewed my conversations, my mindset, my attitudes. I regretted spoken words. It had been ugly.

I gave much thought to my husband’s earlier wise counsel over a situation that I was struggling with.

I was filled with regret. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I was truly sorry.

The truth is that I’m overwhelmed. Deadlines missed. People disappointed. Criticism hurled. Expectations dashed. I have a litany of reasons to be disappointed with myself that I recite when I turn the attack inward.

I am as hard on myself as I am on others. “Why did you ever think you could complete a half marathon?” I have guilt and embarrassment over yet another thing that I started and couldn’t finish. Mind you, an arthritic hip is the real demon here, but I’m glad to take a beating over it.

I took stock. I asked myself a question.

“What are you afraid of?”

Immediately, I thought of my every day fears. Lizards. Snakes…most any reptile you can name. But really, those aren’t the things that scare me when I lie awake in the night, when I’m driving my car, or when I sit down to write.

The truth is that I’m afraid that I’m not enough.

When I was expecting my second child (we didn’t know she was a girl – it was the 70’s) I was afraid. I had normal expectant mom fears like birth defects and whether something I ate or something the doctor prescribed might harm my baby.

But my biggest fear? I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough love for another child.

I loved my firstborn daughter with a love that I had never known. She was our life. I couldn’t wait for her to wake up in the morning and I stood over her crib and watched her sleep at night. There was no way that I had the capacity to love another child like that. This new baby? I feared she would get leftovers. If there were any, that is.

Of course, our second daughter was born and I loved her dearly – she was such a gift to our little family.

That fear was ridiculous but it loomed large and in charge for the better part of eight months (again…the 70’s – I had to actually wait a few weeks to get a pregnancy test at the doctor’s office).

Fear unfounded. God created our hearts with the capacity to love beyond our wildest imaginations.

Back to that alarm in the night…the problem with it was lack of data. The device knew only the number that it was reading. It was not aware of the on-board insulin and therefore didn’t take it into consideration. It continued to act like there was not enough.

Through tears I confess that I am just like that. The fear is real, just like that number. There are plenty of triggers that cause me to be alarmed. There always will be. And I feel despicable. I’m ashamed. I’m afraid that no matter how much I do, how hard I try, I will never be enough. And data is proving it. The world, even good people, even some of the people who love me, will never be fully satisfied with me.

But unlike that device, I know the remedy has already been supplied. There is no need to walk about with anxiety and weariness over feeling I am not enough.

“Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.”
Isaiah 43:4

I recently read these words from Kelly Balarie: “If it wants to beat you, tie you down, and throw you out back for always being despicable, I assure you, it is not God.”[1]

And further, if I constantly find fault with myself, I will not have the confidence to recognize the good in those around me. I will never honestly admire others more than I admire who God designed me to be.

i-will-never-honestly-admire-others-more-than-i-admire-who-god-designed-me-to-be

I wish I had a nice little bow to tie on this post. All figured out. Got it.

The truth is that I’m taking baby steps. I’m reading the words of a trusted mentor and I’m making a choice to walk in faith rather than fear.

He is enough, therefore I am enough…

lorraine

 

What fear are you struggling with today? I pray that you too, can begin to walk in faith and I highly recommend you join me on my fear-fighting expedition.

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About the book, Fear Fighting, Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears:

Author and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers, anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day.

 

About Kelly Balarie:

Kelly is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear at http://www.fearfightingbook.com/.

 

[1] Quote from: Fear Fighting – awakening courage to OVERCOME your fears, by Kelly  Balarie