What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do: Just STOP. Now.

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Photo: Picsart

“Your card is expired.”

So said the email from WordPress notifying me that if I want to be here with you, I best tend to business. I do and so I did. It was a bit of a gut-punch, though, realizing how I’ve ignored this space…and you…in the past weeks, months.

The blog has been waaay down the list of things that take my time right now. And there may be some changes in what you see here. Hope you won’t mind too much, as living things are always growing, changing.

In the world of blogging inattention is the [nearly] unpardonable sin for so many reasons. Chief among them is how it dishonors the relationship with you, Dear Reader. I’m sorry…really, I am. And given how sporadically I post, there likely isn’t one unless, for some reason, you know me in real time.

Real time is what we’re all short on, right? And all for good reason. Take this last week, for instance.

  • It began with a an out-of-town work trip Monday and Tuesday to attend a board meeting and plan next year’s spiritual formation curriculum. Yay!! You really shouldn’t miss this…
  • Wednesday was errands and home life–dog food, prescriptions, groceries, laundry.
  • Thursday, a neighbor needed help selling, moving, late into the evening–county permits, dishonest movers…grrrrr
  • Friday was grandkid-sitting–foster babies, Mom attending court
  • Saturday and Sunday there were family celebrations–graduations, recitals, parties and all the activity that produces.
  • In between, me and Mr. S ate and slept, watched a Father Brown mystery here and there (yes, I confess to a BBC addiction), fielded emails, texts, attended church and tended to animals and aging parents (Mom’s in the hospital, the goats are out…again!).

Add to that the business of renovation that has upended my environment in a big way and a digestive system that has decided to go rogue–which is a little like carrying a whiny toddler on your hip all day. It’s all part and parcel of this life I love but it demands of me, of us, an outward focus that requires an inward stability if we’re to love freely as we move about in it.

Inward stability has to be nurtured, which languishes when we run short on time. Words like margin, solitude, reflection all feel a bit contrived in such a state. Yet it’s exactly what’s needed. I have learned to build these things into my days in small ways, but sometimes there’s a need to stop the swirling–whatever the cost–and build in wider spaces, intentional times to rebound. Spaciousness in which to think, pray, and listen, which helps us discern a bigger picture, can get relegated to the “B” list. Action and conversation can get prickly, relationships become characterized by tension–audible or silent.

When that happens, it’s time to stop. When the toddler on my hip refuses to be consoled or content, I know I’ve pushed too hard. It’s time to stop. When there is no regularity of rhythm, it’s time to stop.

Like a pacemaker that’s out of sync and must be shocked to restore proper function, we may need the stark interruption of a period of silence. We may need even more. But always it starts with stopping.

Which is what I’m going to do. Now.

Hope to see you more often. Ciao.

 

 

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Thoughts On Desire: Do you even KNOW what you’re fighting over?

Is anybody else confused about desire? On the one hand “God will give you the desires of your heart..” On the other, “The heart is deceitful…who can know it…” If you’ve been around the Christian faith for any length of time you’ve likely heard a sermon (or forty) about the tug-o-war between what I want vs. what God wants.

Digging into desire includes:

  • Opening to consider God’s dream of us–seeing
  • Recognizing where we presently resist invitations to freedom–suspicions
  • Looking at what has shaped us–self-awareness

Seeing
What if the more in touch with our desires we become, the closer we come to “knowing God’s will for our lives,” a Christian phrase that has caused many well-intentioned high school seniors ulcer-inducing anxiety which turns into  adult exhaustion?

What if we put some effort into becoming aware of what we want and responding to that, instead of making “God’s will” a mysterious code that only a lucky and smart few are able to crack? What if God’s will is inside us, not outside us? What if God’s will is less about what we do to be loved and more about our living into our identity as The Beloved? What if we paid better attention to what our hearts are already whispering to us? It is not the only factor in discernment, but it is a critical one.

Suspicions
Are you suspicious about the topic of desire? Perhaps it is warranted since we know that desire gone awry can lead us down nefarious paths.

But what if instead we put all that suspicious energy into the exciting prospect that God puts in us what he wants us to want, according to who God dreams of our becoming?

Self-Awareness
My recent trip to the cemetery made me think about what I want–but not, as you might assume, in the bucket-list sense of the word. It felt good to be there since it had been a while.

Dad’s marker reads, “Gone to Heaven; meet me there.” Beside it, Mom’s declares, “Beloved Wife, Mother and Grandmother.” Characteristic of headstones, they each capture some essence of a life but neither is comprehensive in scope.

I only lived in their home for my first eighteen years yet their influence left an indelible imprint that 40-plus years of marriage and a life independent of their authority did little to obscure.

For instance, my penchant for overthinking, and my appreciation for road trips and ranches comes from Dad while Mom left me with unparalleled expectations for grandmothering. I tried to love quilting and crafting because she did. Honest. It took some time (and a lot of unfinished projects!) to discover that those were her preferences. I am still discovering my own.

As I have grown in self-awareness, I have begun to understand why I have difficulty with knowing my own desires, or giving myself permission to have desires at all.

For example, Mom had a charming way of steering my younger self which was full of FOMO (fear of missing out). “Oh, no…you don’t want that,” she would say with a chuckle,  avoiding many a meltdown by gently whoosing away my childish requests as if they were nothing of substance to cause either of us a moment’s concern. And for the moment, they didn’t.

Such strategies work for petulant children, but over the long-term it becomes important to name one’s needs. The inability to do so can result in:

  • Paralysis in choosing
  • Fear of asking
  • Feelings of unworthiness
  • Holding too tightly to acquired possessions
  • Impacting every area of life from deciding on a career to shopping for shoes

Perhaps what you want and what God wants aren’t all that different. It just may take a little excavating. What awaits is the freedom of discovering that what God desires, God has already put in your heart.


How can you dig into your own desire?

Get curious. It may be buried deep. Ask God to show you what you want.

Notice what your heart is drawn toward. 

Pay attention and record it over the next week or so at the end of each day.

What do you notice in nature, scripture, spontaneous thought, snippets of engaging conversation, memories that randomly surface?

What might God be showing you about your desires though these moments?

How are you responding or resisting? Why?

  • Spend a few minutes in reflection at the end of the time
  • Note any common thread(s)
  • Talk to a trusted friend
  • Trust your desires to God

BONUS: 
Ruth Haley Barton of The Transforming Center does great work around the topic of desire. If any of this resonates with you, you can watch her talk about it here.

[Mom and Dad raised Boston Terriers. I had to include this photo which looks just like theirs. :)]

 

 

Injured? 3 Essentials for Returning to the Game (Pt. 2)

Jeans with hole in knee

When we sustain an injury, a little self-care may be necessary if we’re to return to the game. Consider taking an intentional approach to recovery. (Click here for Part 1 of this two-part post.)

Acknowledge – Be real with ourselves and our situation

Pride is a killer. I hate it when I have to admit that everything’s NOT okay. But sometimes it’s just not. And while our difficulties don’t need to be broadcast to everyone, we need to be willing to tell the truth at least to ourselves. It’s normal and healthy, and in fact good Continue reading

Injured? 3 Essentials for Returning to the Game (Pt. 1)

Man and woman playing pickleball outdoors

Courtesy of Creative Commons. Photo credit here.

Pickleball. I started playing two or three years ago at my husband’s urging as a way to get some moderate exercise–and so he would quit nagging me. I figured it had something to do with the comic strip that follows the antics of Earl and Opal Pickles as they learn the ropes of retirement, and while it is popular with the retired set, don’t be fooled by the association. It’s actually a rather rigorous court sport originating in the Northwest, which shouldn’t be played by people with bad knees.

Some sessions result in more-than-moderate exercise. Ergo, six months in, my “all out or get out” approach netted me a severe sprained ankle that sidelined me for the next Continue reading