Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Quit Taking the Wheel

"A watched pot never boils."

Does that mean it NEVER boils? No, it just means that watching it isn't going to make it boil any faster and just get you frustrated.  People are the same way only the watching can literally deter or delay the process.  Here's what I mean: If you are going to grow, my badgering, hounding and lecturing probably won't help it go faster or better.  Often it will create more hurdles in the way, delaying or eliminating the potential growth.  God can provide plenty of growing opportunities. It is not my responsibility nor my right to demand growth from everybody around me.  I guess it's easy to be like (Abraham's) Sarah and decide God isn't handling things well enough for us and decide to take over.  If we'd spend more time learning to love, be patient and merciful with each other, God can handle everyone else's growth or give us extra patience to deal with it! 

I have a beautiful song that I'd love to share with you but can't find a video of it and not enough time to figure out how to embed it.  So, if you're interested in a beautiful piece of music and have time to find it, look up the CD Mozart Variations.  Paul McCandless performs a version of Ave Verum Corpus that is awesome!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Worthlessness of Fear

"There is nothing to fear but fear itself."

I've not thought about this statement probably since high school and certainly have never believed it to be true as I do today.  Having lived most of my life with fear as my navigator, I didn't know what peace felt like or what it meant to look into the unknown and smile.  Today is not the first day of a different perspective about fear, but it is the birth of a realization that there really is nothing to fear.  There is work to be done, decisions that must be made (or will be made for me), and requirements for my preferred outcomes.  But there is nothing to fear.

Fear is a disease, I think (cultured by satan of course).  Once you make room for it, it begins to possess the entire vessel.  It does nothing profitable for the vessel, just restrains and limits. Some talk about a healthy fear - one that says if I stand too close to the cliff, I'll fall.  That, though, isn't really fear in this way.  To me that's decision making, prudence perhaps.  I don't want to fall off the cliff so I've decided that to ensure that outcome I won't stand too close.  Refusing to ever approach a cliff for fear you might launched off of one from 100 feet away - that's the disease I'm talking about.

Anyway, as a teenager I recall heading home with my mom from a baby shower and expressing terror about childbirth.  I have harbored fear of that event for many years.  Because of that fear for the past few years I've been focusing on eliminating it as much as possible.  Still, old habits die hard don't they? :)  My sister-in-law is due to bear my first nephew in a few weeks and that's my cue that my turn will be here before I know it.  So, I've been thinking about fear and what it really is and does.  And guess what? I'm not afraid anymore.  There's always outcomes we might not want, but ultimately, if I do my best and the worst still happens, then I have to trust the Lord that He'll use it and take care of me in the process.  And in what circumstance does that not apply? The Lord is faithful, has made all the necessary provisions for our failures and what is there to fear? Instead of spending time in fear and stalling, it is my job to make wise decisions, follow through on what I know is good and right and then trust.

When you take the disease of fear out of the picture, we're just left with the responsibility to make wise decisions, proactive choices and grow into the best version of ourself. Fear isn't really a part of the equation.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Remembering What It's All For

"Remember, with hurry comes anger."

In a book I was reading, the author was addressing the issue of extra-curricular activities and how much is too much.  The above statement was made and I stopped for a while to think about that.  The author says it as though its an understood thing, but I had never thought of it that way.  Still, I could see the truth.  I hate being rushed.  I'm not great at being early or even on time sometimes, but its mostly a result of not rushing myself.  When I am rushed, its easy for all the important things I'm supposed to remember to fly halfway across the globe, not to return until halfway to my next destination.  But yes, a constant state of hurry stresses me out, makes me irritable and angry.

Let's be fair - deadlines are a part of life and running behind and rushing around happens.  I don't see that there is any way around that sometimes.  However, doesn't it seem like we idolize the fast pace sometimes?   To some a fast pace equals more accomplishment which equals more validation and success.  Or if you master a fast pace, you're doing so much more good in one way or another.  A friend shared that according to some morning show there were some parents being treated for cell phone addiction because they were neglecting their children.  Call me crazy, but that sounds like we've got our priorities confused.

There is a great place in life for organization, being on time and task-accomplishing work.  But what is all of that for?  Isn't it ultimately for the sake of our relationships? Providing for our family, providing opportunity to enjoy our family and friends, and ultimately loving those in our life.  So, if whatever you spend your time and energy doing, if it is hurting yourself and neglecting those in your life, shouldn't you reconsider?  Sure, let's learn to do some things faster, more efficiently, but if you're so committed or so behind all the time that the other members of your household think their names are Hurry Up and Let's Go, it might be time to take inventory of what the point of it all really is for you.

I'm learning that the best gift I can give to those I love is a healthy me - emotionally, physically, all-encompassing everything.  If I'm content, satisfied with my decisions and full on board with the activities I choose (and am not stretched too far), I can love and be loved so much easier than if I'm stressed out, exhausted and pushing myself in directions out of obligation.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How Far is Too Far?

It's hot.  Hot and humid - a heavy combination.  Yesterday afternoon I went outside to deposit some veggie castoff in the compost heap and check on the garden. After less than a minute's time, I was sweating and convicted that all the work that needed to be done out there should not be done by pregnant me.  I was already a bit run down and that would only make matters worse.  So, instead I came inside and rested in the cool air.  A good decision that I stand by - this time.  

See, I live with a robot of a man who is superb at conquering goals and standards.  He pushes himself and follows through where many, myself included, would have failed and closed up shop. So, pregnant or not, he and I have had discussions about how far is too far.  When are we (usually me) being wimpy and when is enough enough?  I'm thankful for his ability and commitment - it's one of the reasons I married him - because he makes me better.  So, regularly I'm asking myself (especially b/c of the baby) do I need to rest or do I need to not quit yet? For me it is important because I don't want to hurt myself or the baby, but I also want to be as healthy as possible, especially come delivery time, and that includes significant effort on my part.

This parallels my spiritual and emotional life a great deal. And to be honest, I'm much easier on myself in this area.   There is a great need for rest, without it very dark and unhealthy things can grow. But if rest is all there is, dark and unhealthy things can grow there too.  Today, let's try to keep the heart full of rest AND work so that growth can happen!

Oh, and speaking of growth, here's an example of 23 weeks worth!  Randy thought I needed a prop and Lizzie is continually my shadow. :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Peak of Perfection

Ideal. Slam dunk. Perfect.  Whether you will admit it or not, many of us think in these terms. We want our bodies, homes, things, relationships, other people to be the very best - perfect would be great! While having  goals and high standards is healthy and good, this past week I've noticed a theme of perfection that leads to a lot of treading water and arriving nowhere new.

In learning the piano, the thing I encounter the most within myself and my students is this desire and expectation that everything should be played perfectly the first time. When that doesn't happen, a couple of things can happen.   If you're like me, you are tempted to quit.  It's no "fun" to practice.  Or, like many of my diligent students, you take every measure painfully slow insisting on determining the exact correctness of each note.  While sometimes you need to just slug through a song to understand what you're doing, mostly you just waste a lot of time.  In demanding perfection, we paralyze the learning process.  However, allowing yourself to make mistakes but continuing through with the entire song enables you to get somewhere.  Before long, after pushing through (allowing mistakes here and there), you'll have mastered most of the minor problems and are left with 2 or 3 areas that you DO need to pick apart.

If you don't play an instrument, all of that might not mean much to you, but I think the same concept applies to all aspects of my life.  It's easy to be all or nothing with exercise and diet.  Expecting perfection and then when you foul up, what happens? Either quit all together or obsess over the mistake. Relationships - we expect the people in our life to treat us the way we need every time.  What happens when they don't? We write them off or retaliate. Your home - Everyone has an opinion on housework  and whats important. Don't we worry that everything isn't good enough or up to someone else's standards, perhaps our own? Either we spend excessive amounts of time ensuring that perfect home (sometimes to the neglect of others and other things) or we view it as impossible all the while beating ourselves up over not doing enough.

Here's the point: Perfection is a wonderful destination as long as we realize that its located in heaven. Extremes always come with a heavy price tag that usually isn't worth it.  Instead, accept that mistakes come and see the benefits that come with following through to the end despite them.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

To What End?

Happy July everybody! July 1st and the high here in OKC is expected to be 88. Can't complain about that!  

Today there are two separate things that have found their way to each other to teach me a grand lesson that I feel the need to share.  A friend of mine recently talked about our concept of youth and adulthood, especially as kids and talking to kids.  Society tells us that youth is the best time of life and to hold on to it, as though once adulthood sets in, life is miserable.  She made it clear how much she wanted her daughter to know how fulfilling and contenting the rest of your life truly can be.  Though I'd never thought about it before, I completely agree.

On the other hand, I have lived my life in direct conflict with that idea most of the time.  Recently, I was presented with some information that hit an adolescent nerve and brought about a reaction that was not only childish, but embarrassing and hurtful.  Though my choice to react was completely in my control, the reason I fell so easily into that trap was that my emotions were deeply rooted in my youth.  The issue mattered so much to me years before for understandable reasons, but the fight ultimately accomplished/es nothing.  I regret my actions but I'm thankful for the lesson learned.  Sometimes we are carrying around chips or causes that we don't even believe in anymore mostly out of habit. Re-evaluate your motivations.  Where are they from?  

The thing is, being a grownup -single, married, working, school, whatever- is so freeing, when adolescence really isn't. As a kid you are limited by perspective, understanding and judgement.  It feels awesome because you are feeling life for the first time but of course it does - you've never done it before so how would you know any different? :) Every part of life is amazing and God continues to amaze me at the things He designed and put in place on purpose.  So, truly we should cherish wherever we are at as much as we can, but ultimately remember that here (wherever that is) isn't the end or goal.