God’s Silence

photo-1464290109611-fe29ef5669c9Just because God is silent doesn’t mean he is absent.

Whether we welcome or dread silence depends on our perspective and comfort. We want peace and quiet at times, but we impatiently await a response at other times.

God’s silence is the most filled silence I have every experienced. When we know him well, we hear him through his Word and through his Spirit.

Silent? Not really.

Perhaps we define God’s silence as a lack of clarity. If he doesn’t make something obvious to us, we might want to claim his silence out of frustration, confusion, or irresponsibility. If we don’t think he is speaking, can’t we excuse our lack of response?

Knowing God doesn’t require him to meet the level and type of communication we want from him. It requires our minds, hearts, and souls diligently opening to him – ready, attentive, and responsive. Always listening. Increasingly patient. Never excusing.

Ripples

photo-1495818593256-9fd182062c17There are ripple effects from truth, and there are ripple effects from deception.

There are ripple effects as people attempt to deal with conflict in healthy ways as well as when they avoid facing reality and inviting accountability.

There are ripple effects from accepting and shirking responsibility.

There are ripple effects from humility and pride.

There are ripple effects from the way you live your life.

Choose well today.

It’s not all about you.

Integrity Shows Up

photo-1515678916313-2263ebfad5cbWe can talk about integrity. In fact, I think I hear people talk more about how others lack integrity than any other context. But integrity is less about discussion and more about action – not just any action, but consistent action.

Integrity shows up. Not to be seen or recognized or to prove a point. It often goes unnoticed. It is more about who a person is than what he or she does. People can go through the motions of good deeds. It’s when the character overflows through actions that reveals truth.

Integrity never shows off. It always shows up. The lack of integrity shows through, too. You cannot hide for long  what it deep within. But you may try. In fact, people who lack integrity often hide the truth from themselves through rationalizing, excusing, judging, and compartmentalizing.

Integrity breaks down walls. It lets in light. It is measured by truth, so smudges and smears are easily identified.

Integrity isn’t about staying, appearing, or behaving. It is drilling, tapping into, and accessing. It is integral to a life well lived.

Adventures Together

photo-1504567961542-e24d9439a724I enjoy hanging out with and helping my mom. When my dad was going through treatments for melanoma, I got into the habit of helping around the house and yard every week or so. My parents are workers, so while they didn’t really need my help, they always had projects going on.

My work schedule doesn’t allow as much flexibility as I once had, but I still try to spend weekly time with my mom, and at least every few visits, I ask what projects are on her list. I enjoy helping however I can.

Recently, we had a full morning planned. It got redirected first thing when one of her neighbors called to see if she/we could pick green beans. One of his regular pickers cancelled. Not only did I get fresh beans for the week, I also got to spend time catching up with one of my very best childhood friends. And we had the added adventure of maneuvering the exceptionally muddy garden.

Mom and I returned to her house and hosed off buckets, shoes, and ourselves before more adventures. We (hopefully) cleared a gutter, de-birdnested her garage, and trimmed trees. That’s the simple explanation of what we did. A bit more detail: I chickened out climbing onto the roof, might be scarred for life by the denesting experience, and had a blast trying to trim tree branches while standing on the back of the ATV while Mom drove. The fact that neither of us got hurt or caught poison oak from our adventures is remarkable.

We had fun together. We accomplished a lot. We made more memories together.

My mom has been through a lot in the last several years. She stood by my dad and loved him well through some tough treatments and decisions. She said goodbye to her very best friend and life partner. She watched my pain as the person I loved and she welcomed into the family as a son walk away with betrayal, dishonesty, and disregard.

Yet we laugh. We move forward. We appreciate what we have. And we have plenty.

Appreciate the adventures of today and the people in your life. Take time to look around, take a breath, and smile.

Nearing the End

photo-1474546652694-a33dd8161d66I sometimes lose track of time on the treadmill, but I am nearly always aware of the last stretch of time as I near the goal. I walk by time. I also have distance and pace goals, but they either match or lead me into my time goals.

As I near the end of my time, I often take a quick evaluation and determine if I want to change my pace for the last five to fifteen minutes.

  • Should I slow down and coast? (Rarely.)
  • Should I keep my pace? (Yes.)
  • Should I push myself at the very end? (Often.)

No matter what I choose, I will reach the goals I set, but how I end is the final stretch, measuring if I’m wiling to lean forward to give it a little extra effort and end with a breath of satisfaction.

There is not one singular finish line of life. There are many laps, many goals, many attempts. We have many opportunities to choose our effort.

Today is one of those choices.

Unconditional Love

photo-1522849917652-bd197c101eccThe process of unconditional love is not passive.

We often misconstrue what unconditional love is and what it looks like in practice. If we truly love someone, we will speak truth into their life. We will attempt accountability. We will be respectful, too. We will give them a safe space, too. We will go out of our way to meet them where they are…at times. We will hug them without saying a word and listen without giving feedback…at times.

But we will do those things in specific situations. If that’s all we do while the person continues to choose poorly – in ways that destructively impact their own lives and others’ – when they continually refuse to take responsibility and consider other people – we add to the damage by coddling them. We enable them and become part of the problem.

Unconditional love isn’t passive. It’s not permissive. It is compassionate and caring – and bold and brave.

And it always requires humility and wisdom.

Coping

unsplash_52403df6209f9_1There’s a difference between good coping strategies and healthy coping skills. They sound the same, but they aren’t.

The strategies we use in a crisis aren’t necessarily the healthiest choices for the long term. We can get stuck with rationalizations, such as

  • Someone told me…and it really helped, so I’m going to keep doing that.
  • I will always (or never)…
  • I couldn’t have gotten through without…so I’m not giving it up now.

Some coping strategies might convert into healthy coping skills but not always. Coping strategies help in the crisis. They are survival techniques. They have short-term intentions to help us through. But as we get a little farther “through,” the regularity of life begins to resume. It might look and feel very different, but we begin to establish a new normal. The effects of the trauma continue, but we are no longer in the center of a detonation zone. We begin to have a bit more focus.

What strategies helped in the crisis might impede our ability to cope well within our new normal. If our perspective and coping remains the same, so will our results and location. We will stagnate.

Coping with healthy skills is a process. We learn, try, change, listen, practice, and move forward. If we are willing.