Wednesday, June 5, 2013

one sure step: how a marathon begins.

When I go hiking with people who are new to it, I often say to them, "every step a sure step."  Meaning take your time, get your foot set in a good place, and then take the next step in the same way. It prevents many unnecessary falls, hurts, and backsliding.  It ensures healthy, solid forward motion, one step at a time.

This sentiment has been echoing throughout blogs and books I've read, Bible studies I've attended, and guidance I've sought out in the past week.  I'm beginning to get a clear picture of my newest goal--simply taking one intentional step.

I'm a big change kind of gal.  I want to do something major.  Funky colors in my hair.  Write an album's worth of songs.  Make banners for every week of Lent and each Holy Week service (but seriously..what was I thinking?).  Become an expert at all that I scratch on the surface.  When asked how I can work on myself, I give a list of 10 things I'm starting immediately.  This is me.   I won't always jump, but when I do, I run, leap, twist in the air, and cannonball into whatever it is, expecting to make the tidal wave splash.

I want to win the marathon as soon as I cross the starting line.  I struggle with the single steps.

If you're anything like me, you can get hung up on the fact that life isn't perfect.  When things are hard, out of sync, or even feel broken for me, I follow one of two tendencies (usually one, then the other).

1.) I wallow thinking all is lost.

"This thing sucks.  He hurt me.  She is so difficult to deal with.  This isn't working.  I'm not where I want to be.  I don't know what to do."  Sound familiar?  Maybe it's just me.  I struggle to turn off the reruns of my life's worst clips.  I have to put up mental stop signs and not allow myself to go there anymore.  I have to ask God to show me all the blessings He's given me and to fill me with gratitude.  Choosing not to wallow is difficult sometimes, but choosing to continuing wallowing is, by no means, what Jesus had in mind for our "life to the full."

2.) Scrap it all and start over!

Then, I pendulum swing.  I make some bold proclamation followed by a bold step.  Usually it doesn't last for too long, but actually, usually shifts me just enough to accomplish jarring me out of my wallowing funk.  I try to be super intentional and make a big change, but that's the problem.  Gym memberships go half used.  Books are left read a quarter of the way through.  Healthy food spoils.  The scope has been way too broad for me to be successful.  I wind up feeling frustrated with a diminished sense of self-efficacy.  "Welp...guess I can't fix it, so I'll just ignore it or go back to being bummed about it."

But God is teaching me about small steps.  Well, even a singular "step."  One step taken with purpose.  One step to grow in my relationship with the Lord.  Then one change to be more healthy.  Then one action toward better boundaries.  Then one step to grow in community.  Being intentional one step at a time not only keeps us from ending up somewhere we didn't want to be without us realizing it, but it takes us somewhere better than where we are.  Bit by bit.  Because small steps are sure steps, that encourage forward motion without fear of backsliding or failure.  Not many have energy to overhaul their life every time something feels off.  Small steps are manageable and grace filled.  We can win at them and victory spurs us on to take another.

I adore St. Francis of Assisi who said this: "Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

That resonates with my "go big or go home" attitude. :-)  That's the power of taking a hike full of sure steps.  Asking God to shape us one small adjustment at a time, takes us to a totally different world that we never thought we could actually reach.

Small steps have revitalized me and given me hope to believe I can make positive change in my story.  To feel more focused, more healthy, more free with each drop of my heel is invigorating.  I know I will require much grace for this less than expedited process, but I trust and believe that everything God grows takes time.  Growth is slow, but somehow so riveting.  Even though you never see the exact moments of movement, growth is measured over time and the beauty that unfolds is well worth the wait.

I know that I'm just starting the marathon of intentional steps I want to take in my story, but I'm learning that I can't finish a marathon without taking that first sure step.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"3 reasons why you must guard your heart" : a blog from Michael Hyatt.

I recently came across this blog post from Michael Hyatt, who is a guru in the realm of leadership and who recently published a book called "Platform" that is making quite a splash.

This blog post, however, brings such humility, humanity, and reality to this big named leader.  Someone with years of experience and who has seen favor throughout his career, points out the incredible importance of the heart.  It just might be one of the most truth-filled and important things I've read in awhile.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

writing on the hard days: beautiful things in his time.

Creativity is an overflowing of life for me.  And when I “don’t feel like it,” it’s difficult to create, to design, to write.  I love writing.  More and more all the time it seems.  But on hard days, it’s a struggle to get there.

I don’t want to remember the junk and frankly, I think people have enough of that to read and deal with in life. 


Last week, God showed me something amazing.  It’s like He was letting me in on a backstage tour of some of His recent top-notch work.

I had coffee with a friend who was visiting from out of town.  It’d been awhile since I’d seen her and I was thrilled to meet her new little baby girl.  As I held this sweet angel in my arms, I looked up at her mama and reminded her where we were a year prior.  Just months before, we were pleading with the Lord to bless her family with another child.  Our eyes filled with tears just thinking about what God did in a year!  Beautiful things in His time.

Later that day, a dear friend called me to let me know she was engaged!  I knew it was coming and was so happy to celebrate with her.  She’s a long-time friend whom I’ve had the wonderful privilege of walking with through the ups and downs, the uncertainties and unknowns of life.  And we, too, had a moment of remembering the transformation of the past year and what God had done in her story in such a short time.

God delights in redeeming stories; in working things out in ways we could never ask for or even imagine.  (Eph. 3:20-21)  I loved how He let me watch that happen and made sure I noticed His mighty work of the past year, twice in one day.


After some days of not writing, I presented my struggle to the Lord in a conversation of prayer.

He said this: “I want you to write on the hard days.”

“Really?!  Why?” I reply.  “I don’t want to remember this or stay in this place.  I don’t want people to think this is who I am.  I just want things to be different.”

“That’s just the point.”  I imagined Him saying it with a smile.

“I want you to write on the hard days.  Remember the struggle and ache.  Remember all of the things you’ve laid before me in the midst of your hurt.  Remember that I'm there, reminding you of My love and promises; that my faithfulness is unwavering through difficulty.  Remember just where you are today, so when I’ve redeemed this day in your life and further unfolded your story, you will be able to look back with the deepest sense of awe and gratitude about what I’ve done.  You’ll be able to look back and be amazed at how I made everything beautiful in its time.  Just as I’m promising you, today, that I will.  Write about your hard days, so you can see just how I unveil my redemption in ways unexpected and in a time unknown.  Write today, so that a year from now, you will be able to see my beautifully creative work reshaping and guiding your story.  You’ll see how I’ve been working behind the scenes.  The more you trust Me, the more you will be different.  You won’t be in this same place when you look back.  This is your before picture, so you can more fully praise Me for what you see after.”

I know that sin runs too deep for hard days not to exist and that the resurrection of Christ is way too big for better days not to come.  So today, trusting that God’s living and active promises are bigger than what I see and feel in this moment, I write.