Hard Things

photo-1519144565251-d0bd1b311d1eI had a rough day.

Nothing much happened, but it was just oppressive.

Two of the people I love most in the world dealt with specific issues of the fallout of the divorce. I am so thankful they are able and willing to come to me with their struggles. It’s difficult to listen to at times and process, but it is good, too.

Doing the hard things of life are worth the effort and humility. Relationships are worth it. But I just felt heavy. I did all the things I knew to do to stay focused and give what I could identify to God. I stayed up too late, and while I felt some peace, I also still felt “too” of something.

Too much.

I woke up the next morning with gratitude. Before I went to sleep, the last words on my mind and lips had been to thank God and to put on his armor. I don’t think I moved an inch overnight. I woke up in the same position I had gone to sleep in. My mind was still on gratitude and his armor. But I was lighter. Nothing had changed except that God reminded me of his faithfulness. I went through the day with a cloud close to me, with my heart burdened for my girls and for others, yet my step was just a bit more springy, my heart was a bit more light, and my mind was a bit more clear.

Through the Mess

photo-1522167428-d603a1d62f26“This is not easy, but it is easy to mess up.”

Well, that’s encouraging instruction.

My daughter received the instruction at the beginning of a DIY video. At least, they were honest about the challenges ahead!

It’s a little like life. It’s not easy. It’s easy to mess up. But I would add, “Messing it up isn’t the end of the world.” It invites healing, humility, and growth. We can learn when we mess up. (We can also rationalize, excuse, and inflict and amplify pain.)

You might be in a mess right now. You might feel as if you are the mess. Take a breath. Pause.

Our response is often to retreat or to forge forward with force and control.

Breathe. Pause.

Getting through the mess doesn’t always mean tidying it all up, tossing pieces aside or using it all for a masterpiece. The mess is a process – getting into it and getting through it.

Breathe. Pause.

Then pick up a piece. Let God determine if you are supposed to use it, set it aside for later, or toss it. Repeat. Again and again.

It’s not easy, but most worthwhile, purpose-filled pursuits aren’t.

Living Your Purpose

photo-1506680368596-e788fc0055f4I recently found myself in a conversation about purpose. We discussed how different generations have been encouraged to work for and find purpose in different tasks and routines. Sometimes that means defining the purpose within the tasks. For others, it means letting the tasks feed into the purpose.

We can get so focused on our tasks that we forget what the purpose is, but we can also become so focused on purpose that we sift through tasks and refuse to see how purpose can infuse many unexpected areas of our lives.

We can find our purpose where we are while we’re simultaneously growing toward purpose. We can find contentment yet also be pursuant in growing beyond where we are.

We can get picky about what we believe God has determined for us. We can ignore what God is leading us into. We become the determiners of our purpose, goals, and tasks, and we miss his truth-checks.

God is invested in us, and our purpose is only pure when we are seeking and following him. Our circumstances, including our tasks and routines, can greatly vary, yet God can infuse purpose into anything. We sometimes think our purpose demands a specific path, when God wants to reveal how his purpose is much more flexible and invasive. His purpose goes where he wants it to go. He can use a lot that we might think is out of bounds.

God wants our humble, willing obedience.

Instead of focusing on a checklist of requirements of what a purposeful life will be, open it all to him. Let him determine the purpose. Let him sift and filter. Let him guide and provide. You can trust him. You will find your perspective of pure purpose shifts.

It’s okay. God’s perspective is better.

Sweet Bites

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©2018 OneGirlCookies.com

After lunch at a delicious pizza place in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, Anna suggested we stop by one of her favorite dessert shops: One Girl Cookies.

What a gorgeous, cozy shop! As most of the neighborhood, the shop was located in a repurposed riverside warehouse. Small groups of people relaxed with their sweets throughout the space. A sweet warmth filled the air, a comfortable respite from the drizzly, windy afternoon.

I had no idea what I wanted. Anna was happy to guide my choices…until she started considering the many options, too. (The pumpkin whoopie pie ended up being my favorite, but I don’t think there was a single item I wouldn’t have liked.) We explored the options, determined what we wanted, then saw more options and changed what we wanted. We ended up with a variety. It’s a good thing the cookies are bite-size. There was a deal on any combination of four cookies. And there were four types of cookies on each display row. Easy-peasy.

“We’ll take one of each on the top row and one of each on the second row….plus, whoopie pies.”

We waited to open the bag until we were relaxing on the ferry.

Scrumptious.

Sometimes the many options of our decisions is a bit overwhelming. Sometimes we don’t have to choose just one thing. Sometimes no matter what we choose, there is a taste of sweetness involved.

But we have to make the decision in order to experience the sweetness.

You are likely facing a decision today. In fact, you will have a lot of decisions to make today. You’re not going to enjoy the taste of every single consequence of your decisions, but you will savor more than a crumb of sweetness if you “taste and see that the Lord is good” along the way (Psalm 34:8).

 

Scratches > Polish

photo-1463462927315-fb10af2c68d8Scratches > Polish

It’s a statement of a car commercial running on TV right now. The underlying presumption is to enjoy life. Instead of having a good-looking, shiny, polished life,

live!

Yes, you’ll get scratches and imperfections. You’ll be sweaty, exhausted, and hurt at times. But you will have lived.

Fully living life is not throwing caution to the wind and refusing to apply common sense and wisdom. It’s not doing whatever you want, focusing on selfishness and failing to consider others. It’s not justifying everything you do as “just doing life.”

Fully living life includes humility, transparency, honesty, accountability, and lots and lots of patience. The pay-off of the depth and breadth of joy that come with those sacrifices is abundant. The people with whom you end up investing and living are beautiful.

When you live a polished life, you try to protect that polish. You don’t want any imperfections to taint that shiny smoothness. You try to cover any scratch, seeing those scratches as inconveniences that happen to you. But those scratches remind us of our real life experiences. Our imperfections, which are inevitable whether we acknowledge them or not, become part of our memory banks and learning curves.

When that scratch happens today, shift your perspective. It might just add character.

Too Much of a Good Thing

photo-1477003580086-917054ea8418Being tough can be good…until you are too tough. It begins to impact your relationships.

Being confident can be good…until your confidence slips into a blinding self-centeredness when you believe your perspective and goals are the only good ones.

Being proud of people you love can be good…until you are too proud. It blinds you to the areas that need more honesty, confrontation, and accountability.

Consider the tipping point of your strengths, when they become weaknesses and liabilities.

Consider the tipping point of your weaknesses, when they become tools for growth that develop strengths.

Anytime I yield my weaknesses to God, he exponentially strengthens them and maximizes their impact. Anytime I yield my strengths to God, he humbles me and sifts their benefits and costs.

Whether we have too much or not enough of a good thing always makes more sense when we’re trusting a good God.

Magnifier

photo-1504639725590-34d0984388bdI was watching a webinar at work when I noticed the trainer using a tool I hadn’t seen – a magnifier. Maybe you know it’s a feature on your computer and use it often. I knew I could change the resolution and font size of my screen, but a magnifier to look at just one area of the screen?  I had no idea.

The webinar presenter used it during screen share to emphasize something that might be difficult to see for anyone using a small screen. But I could immediately think of a few other uses. I added it to my taskbar and bounced around the office to share with a few others I thought might find it useful.

Sometimes we don’t know we have access to tools that help us see better, more clearly. And I’m not just talking about the tools on our computers. There are so many options in our daily lives that we don’t use often or well enough. Of course, my favorite is God. When I yield to him, I have access to so much more (trustworthy) insight, clarity, guidance, and peace. I still have to strain to see well and wrestle with options at times, but he provides authority and wisdom in the context of a caring relationship. He’s invested in me. He knows what I need. He knows what to magnify and what to cloud. He knows what to highlight and what to darken. He knows what to shed light on and what to leave behind.

And I am grateful.

Always be aware of and attentive to the options you have for seeing more clearly.