Consistency

20190420_100051I planned to walk my favorite trail my first Saturday off work following a busy season. It was going to be a bit chilly to start, but the sun felt good, and I was ready to breathe the fresh morning air.

I checked Timehop before leaving, and apparently, I’ve thought of walking the trail on the same day years apart.

Consistency.

It made me smile. I’m sure it’s because, as spring arrives and the weather warms, I am ready to recharge outdoors. I’m certain there have been years I didn’t think of walking the trail around this time, likely because of my schedule, weather, or simple laziness.

export63341891Consistency isn’t about getting stuck in a rut. And sometimes we’re consistent with the wrong things. But it’s important to reflect on the patterns we’ve created (and are creating) and determine if it’s the type of consistency we want. How is it affecting us? What are we prioritizing? How are we impacting relationships?

We’re all consistent about something. Notice your consistencies today and make adjustments more than excuses.

Cleaning Forward

photo-1529220502050-f15e570c634eMy daughter asked what I needed for my new house. I knew she’d want to do something, so I decided not to avoid the request. I like to help, and others like to help, too. I told her a Swiffer Wet Jet. She already had it in her shopping cart, because I had mentioned it before.

I joked with her, pointing out it might be a weird gift for her to give me, since she had given me one before. Well, she had given “us” one before, when my ex and I moved into a new large house with lots of wood floors. When I moved out a little more than a half year later when my ex decided he’d prefer to do life without me, I left the Swiffer. After all, he was the one with the big house and lots of floors to clean. I knew he could buy another one, but I did what I could to keep the transition as simple as possible for him.

Some of the decisions I made back then seemed like no-brainers. I didn’t have enough brain power to process much of the time. Some of what I did was habit, and I was thankful for the good habits I had. Otherwise, I might have easily derailed. At times, I felt like I was off the rails anyway.

But I have moved forward. And I will soon be in a new home. My home. And I need a Swiffer Wet Jet, because (1) I like clean, and (2) Swiffer makes cleaning easier.

I’ve moved forward fairly well, I think. I am in a healthy place or, at least, in a healthy process, I think.

But thinking back to moving into the new house with my ex a few years ago and the small touches like getting a Swiffer Wet Jet as a housewarming gift and taking care of the floors without knowing what was happening around me until it imploded, thinking back to when I cleaned the floors for the last time before I moved out, something squeezed my heart just enough that tears fell.

How many people cry at the mention of a Swiffer?

Of course, it’s not about a Swiffer. And it’s not even about the past. It is simply part of the healing process.

Am I ready to move on? Yes.
Am I content to move on without my ex? Yes.
Am I thankful for the life I have? Absolutely, without a doubt.

Sometimes the healing process surprises me.

Sadness used to be oppressive. It clung to me like pesky plastic wrap. But sadness is different now. It surprises me from time to time, because it’s not the norm.

I am excited to use my new Swiffer. I’m excited for the strands of continuity with friends and family who remain. I welcome new adventures. And I’m ready to make a new home and savor the new memories of moving forward in faith and hope.

God is good indeed.

Gracefully Broken

photo-1516571350010-5662511cb065There’s something about the phrase “gracefully broken” that speaks deeply to me. I’ve experienced different brokenness. Sometimes within the same situation.

For example, when my ex left our marriage, I felt shattered and beaten. My brokenness felt ill-intended and destructive. It felt dark,  but through and within that brokenness was something else. It was still difficult, but it was a process of being fractured into wholeness. It was pierced with light, truth, peace, and hope. It was a feeling of being gracefully broken. I faced a daily drudgery of dealing with the consequences of someone else’s decision. I often couldn’t see beyond the devastating ripple effects throughout the family. The light of my graceful brokenness seemed swallowed by the ugly, dark brokenness.

It wasn’t.

God continued to shine light on it all to reveal truth – truth about God, truth about me, truth about the situation.

And I am thankful for being gracefully broken.

God is good even when people are not.

Brokenness is not a bad thing as long as we trust God through the process.

Love In Spite Of

photo-1516967124798-10656f7dca28Know the kind of love you are seeking and giving.

As I listened to a simple message shared by a college student, I reflected and learned.

If love is conditional. I love you if you do what I like and don’t do what I don’t like. I love you if you provide in a specific way or like the same things I like.

Because love is conditional. I love you because you are beautiful, successful, or respected. I love you because of what you have and what you can give me.

In spite of love is unconditional. I love you in spite of your faults, weaknesses, and struggles. I love you in spite of how difficult our relationship is or becomes. I love you in spite of your mistakes.

Sometimes people say they love you, but how they treat you does not match their words. The same is true for the claims that I care for or I respect you. But they might truly believe they love, care for, or respect you. Their concept of love might be different than yours. God’s love is the standard, and he always loves in spite of. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and he loves us in spite of.

No one else is capable of loving you as fully and as generously as God does. But the better we know and experience his love, the more purely loving we can be and the more wisely we can determine how people are loving us and how we can respond – not how we want but how God would respond.

Love in spite of.

 

 

Well-Timed Friend-Time

photo-1491438590914-bc09fcaaf77aIt was a perfectly timed night with two good friends. We had planned it a month or two earlier. It was a risky plan for me, knowing it was near a huge deadline at work. That day, I thought I might have to back out when work got busy, but I was able to slip away.

Not only did I get to spend time and catch up with good friends, but I also savored a night of worship. The music was outstanding. A large group of college students led, taught, shared, and worshiped. The auditorium was filled with a variety of people, and every now and then, I glanced around and appreciated how different I felt from many of them, yet how similar we all were.

God highlighted specific lyrics to remind me of his promises. He used music to soothe my soul. He used people’s teachings and stories to reveal his character to me.

And I soaked in his presence.

On the drive to and from the venue, my friends and I shared life. We talked about plans, struggles, and celebrations. I knew the next morning and work would come quickly, but for several hours, God calibrated my soul, mind, and heart.

Reality checks are good. They help me live a spiritually and emotionally healthy life.

I am thankful.

Resting Awake

photo-1468343966296-e9b4b71804ffI arrived home late after a long but fun day with family and friends. Perhaps I should have gone to bed right away, but I didn’t. I rarely do when I get home late.

There’s something about ending the day with some down time, simply savoring home.

Home looks different for many of us, but in this season of my life, home is quiet and grounding. I am not there many hours of the day, but it helps me reset. It is a safe place where I can breathe, relax, and be grateful. I am there by myself, but that’s okay. The last weeks I shared a house with my ex were volatile, and being able to have a space that was safe and filled with God’s reassurance began to heal me. And continues.

Not every home feels that way. I understand.

Try to savor moments when it is as if a reset button is clicked, and you can breathe for a moment.

I slept very few hours that night, but sometimes rest comes when eyes are wide open.

Ask God to reset you today. It might be uncomfortable at first as you adjust to a shifting experience of what home can be. Be patient. Be intentional. Be grateful.

The Shock of Winning

photo-1475721027785-f74eccf877e2My nephew’s acapella group advanced to a competition close to me. So several in the family planned to go. What a treat! The ten groups (and one featured local group) were all excellent. Their talent and energy were inspiring. Because I knew I’d get home late, I considered skipping out before it was over, but it was too good to leave.

The awards presentation began. I thought my nephew’s group would be in the top three. Only the winner advanced to the international competition in NYC. Some special awards were given, then 3rd, then 2nd. I thought my nephew’s group had been shut out.

Then, the winner was announced, and they won! They looked shocked, as if they had resolved a shut out, too. Someone on the other side of the auditorium caught their reaction and celebration on video. They were definitely surprised.

Sometimes, even when we’ve practiced and committed to something and have some confidence in our ability and growth, we are surprised by the outcome. We might be disappointed or elated. Either can surprise us. When we have reason to celebrate, when we don’t expect it, we are hit by waves: Is this happening? This is the best thing ever! Wait, but this also means…

We slowly realize winning comes with new opportunities that require new commitments and responsibilities. We have new challenges to solve. And we get to choose appreciation and humility or pride and haughtiness. Our response ripples onto others – good and bad.

Sedoctave is now working hard to prepare for their next competition and figuring out how to get everyone to NYC in a couple weeks while also wrapping up the semester at college, including finals. They are supporting each other along the way.

It is good to share life with others.