photo-1520563866959-a06275270eb7I have seen what cowarding does to people.

Cowarding can seem to be passive, almost as if someone is a victim because of their circumstances. I’ve heard many excuses, and most of them have been sad rationalizations. But what is sad is the choice someone makes to give up strength, humility, courage, and honesty. When those things are given up, there is damage.

Cowarding wrecks a person. It masquerades the very things it gives away. It gives away strength, humility, courage, and honesty, yet cowarding backs away, leaving the appearance of those things as a shell, a false front that makes it look as if substance is there. In reality, there is just a set of motions.

Motions to justify there was only one choice, and it was the best choice, and everyone can learn to deal with the consequences. Motions to appear to take control when there has been no control at all. Motions to appear to only have positive influence instead of taking responsibility for negative influence. Motions to make what is not okay appear to be okay.

Cowarding is not facing our stuff.

We’ve all done it from time to time. Is it a chronic pattern, or is it a temporary slip? Are you willing to loop back and reconcile and restore, or are you stuck in the quagmire of pride justifying cowardice requires?

Be honest with where you are and what you’re doing today. It’s easier (and likely maintains your self-respect) to keep going in the same direction, but stubbornness can wreck your life.

You are braver than you think. And God shares his strength with you as you let him.

A Friend’s Perspective

photo-1521799030593-f325bd2b36c2A good friend and her husband have faced a series of challenges the last several years and have had a challenging past couple weeks. She recently shared her thoughts in the middle of a perspective shift and gave me permission to share. No matter what you are going through, God can strengthen you with a slight shift in perspective.

I feel like some of my updates have been a little Debbie Downer, so I wanted to add some good things that have been happening.  

#1 good thing for today: After we spoke to the doctors today and got things sorted out, E had a good day…ate real food, pain very well controlled, took good naps and was generally really content (he is typically a good sport regardless but was extra chill today).

#2 good thing for today: I had delicious smoked gouda soup for lunch. Good soup takes me to my happy place, and it was a great respite from an emotional morning. Double bonus is that E couldn’t care less about soup, so going back to his room and raving about delicious soup doesn’t make him feel like he is missing out but just makes him happy that #1 caregiver got recharged.  

Lunch got even better with #3: I met sweet little Emma and her family, who were at the next table. Emma (whose Mom told me she was almost 2) was chillaxin in a little wagon with a pillow. She had a hospital bracelet on her ankle and a feeding tube down her nose. She was munching on chips and completely content to ignore her family (mom, dad and what appeared to be grandma and grandpa), I didn’t inquire of her story but it appeared she was let off floor to join the family for lunch in the cafeteria to see if she would be encouraged to get her appetite back. I smiled at her because she was super cute, and she looked right at me, paused eating chips, waved and said in a voice loud enough to get the family’s attention, “HI!” Her grandpa commented that she had been so quiet with them and was surprised she said hi to me.  I winked and smiled a few more times then went about eating my soup. A few minutes later, she started talking/babbling at me. She was obviously a sick little girl, but I told her family, who was baffled by her being so social, that I had a rough morning and she was obviously ministering to me with her cuteness.  Her mom chatted with me a bit, saying “Have you ever seen a little kid eat Salt ‘n Vinegar chips? She is just now getting her appetite back and they don’t have her diet restricted, so we aren’t taking them away. She also likes shrimp with cocktail sauce.” I replied that I had never met a two-year-old I had so much in common with and that Emma could invite me over for dinner anytime, as I love both those things. Anyway, Emma was my little gift from heaven today. Her Mom said they were hoping to go home soon, so if you are so inclined, say a prayer for Emma and her family.

#4 good thing for today continued the cuteness: A 35ish woman in the hall face-timing her little boy. They were both so excited that “Daddy gets to come home from the hostipitabull tomorrow.”  A nurse wheeling a patient by in a wheelchair overheard as well, and we agreed it was pretty much the cutest thing ever. I told the nurse, “If that doesn’t get you excited about your job, I don’t know what would!” 

The past week has been rough, but sometimes we all need perspective.  Unlike Emma, my husband can express what hurts and his needs.  Also, all I have to take care of is him; I can’t imagine how I would take care of a husband and have little ones at home.  

Thanks to everyone for the prayers, especially to whoever prayed for perspective. Good night.

Where to Camp

photo-1517968382857-9c08a40a988bThere is nothing new under the sun, including the many false conclusions people draw regarding God.

There is no God at all.

There may be a God, but, if so, He’s no different than Dr. Frankenstein, at the mercy of the monsters He created.

If there is a God, He has either checked out on planet Earth, or He’s cruel and spiteful.

If there is a compassionate God, He is clearly not all powerful.

If there is an all-powerful God, He is clearly not compassionate.

If there is an attentive God, He plays favorites.

There is probably a God, but there’s no knowing Him and certainly no trusting Him.

excerpted from Beth Moore’s The Quest

We have all considered some of these. But where do we camp? Where do we reside? When we declare we have come to one final conclusion that cannot be challenged or pruned, we are tempted to dig a pit and stay in it, trapped by our own stubbornness. But when we ask God these tough questions, when we wrestle with him, we face and stay close to him. We talk to him instead of turning away.

If we’re making assumptions about him, shouldn’t we at least consider his perspective?

Challenging Peace

photo-1501139083538-0139583c060fI spoke with a friend the other day. We share a love for the person who walked away from me and, more significantly, walked away from God.

He mentioned Brennan Manning and recalled several details of his life story, especially his journey toward God. The truths he spoke sent peace to my core. I exhaled with the reminder of who God is, what he promises, and how he provides.

Perhaps some of Brennan Manning’s words will challenge you today:

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.

Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.

In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.

Hope knows that if great trials are avoided great deeds remain undone and the possibility of growth into greatness of soul is aborted.

True Concern

photo-1503980599186-9cc36eda351aI appreciated the way someone brought a concern to me. It was about someone else, but it was obvious that gossip was not the goal. There was no lengthy discussion, just a simple inquiry as to whether I was aware of someone’s struggle, because he knew I had a good friendship with the person at one point. We hadn’t stayed in contact recently, but the past connection was enough foundation for me to reach out right away.

I’m glad I did. The reconnection is sweet, regardless of the circumstances behind it.

Bringing up someone’s name isn’t always gossip. Sharing a concern about someone isn’t always gossip. Motivation matters, of course, and we can’t always be certain of someone’s motivation, but respect is a good indicator. When truth and compassion is at the core of our concern for others, we will want to reach out. We’ll want to help others. We’ll want to help others alongside others. It’s a community thing.

Not everyone will experience respect (or the lack of it) for what it truly is. We’ll mis-assess it at times. But we can always choose it. Regardless of if we’re on the giving or receiving end of sharing information or reaching others, we can be respectful. It’s a common decency that, sadly, isn’t quite as common as it might have once been. But whether it’s common or not, you can choose respect today as live life alongside others.

To Inspire Or Distract

photo-1493710494541-43364cb47485There is a difference between inspiration and distraction.

We scroll through social media at times to be inspired – home improvements, recipes, family trips, life quips and wisdom – but we often mistake distraction for inspiration. We spend more time searching for what we’re unsure we want and get sidetracked by what we don’t need.

Not always. I’m not bashing social media. I’m encouraging more active engagement, applying discernment, using filters that purify, not disguise or distort.

Social media isn’t the culprit. The way we interact with it is the issue. And it’s not isolated to social media. It’s everyday life, the choices we make about what we focus on and how we process.

Identify distractions and refocus in every situation of today. Use good filters and focus on the core things of life. It takes some effort to get to them and it certainly takes time and effort to keep your eyes on them. But the core purpose of life is pure and worthwhile.

Strange Things

photo-1524448253781-ca41dd022f62I’m thankful for strange things. They aren’t strange in a weird way but unexpected in their timing and impact.

Some of those experiences have come through my writings here. People I know encourage me. I appreciate it. It warms my heart, but it doesn’t usually surprise me.

But there are people I don’t know or have had limited contact who reach out to say thanks for a variety of things. Giving a glimpse into my life might remind them they aren’t alone. They might feel a dose of strength to take the next step. They might be reminded of who God is.

There is give and take in this faith-filled journey of life. I give, and I receive. Many of you have received and given back to me or forward to someone else.

Being on this journey together doesn’t require we do life physically side by side. It requires what only each of us can offer: humility and transparency. We help one another when we’re willing to travel each step of our journeys with humility and transparency. We step closer to God with our humility and transparency. We face our next steps with renewed strength and perseverance with our humility and transparency.

Humility and transparency are strange things in the sense they are not as common as we’d like to assume. We want to define what they are, but in doing so, we step away from becoming them. Depending on where we are in our journey, we can be repelled by or attracted to humility and transparency. Even when they feel strange to us – perhaps especially when they feel strange to us – stepping into them invites us to walk together.

Thank you for walking with me today.

Look around. There are many others who might need to take a few steps with you today.