Fruits of the Spirit + Courage

A co-worker gave me a calendar last Christmas from Hawaii as a gift. It has hung in my cubicle all year, most of the time on months past. I took it down to toss it, it was still hanging on the month of October. I flipped through the pictures and thought, this is pretty and I don’t want to throw it away. I saved it from garbage death. After all, scouts are thrifty! (#scoutlife)

Courage. It has been a word that keeps reoccurring lately. On Monday, I either read or heard that the root word of courage is ceur, or heart. Then I went to the dictionary and read the official definition: “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.” Put those ideas together, they make a baby:

Courage is telling my story whole heartedly.

I doodled this definition and hung it on my cubicle wall. I grabbed the calendar and tore out a pretty picture of the beach. I cut out COURAGE and hung it by my little doodle. My friend Marlo swung by and complimented my word. She said, “I need one that says PATIENCE!” So I made one. I didn’t stop there. I cutout LOVE and JOY.

courage

Then I thought to myself, or God spoke to me. I like the latter idea better, He speaks in thoughts and this was totally not my idea anyways. I have to give Him the credit and the glory on this…He said “fruits of the spirit.” Then I thought, “gosh God…genius!!!”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. -Galatians 5:22-23

So I cut and cut and cut all week. It was my little project that I would turn to in between the phone calls and the emails and the boring work stuff. It became a beautiful release.

Yesterday while leaving the house, I snapped at my son. He peed on the toilet and was lying about it. Both pet peeves. When I got to work I looked at my phone and saw a text message, “stop slamming doors please.” This did NOT go over well in my head. I don’t even remember slamming doors, for the record. I wrote back multiple times without hitting SEND, thankfully! I spewed bad words to my husband and to a coworker and 2 dear friends. I wear my life on my sleeve, I can’t keep my emotions hidden. I turned to people I knew would tell me to let it go, and that it wasn’t even a big deal, and that I was only upset because of the real underlying issues, and that I shouldn’t take it out via text and blah blah blah. I have the best of friends and husband!

I started distracting myself to keep me away from my phone. I worked. I put some tunes in my ears. The thoughts kept coming and over powering every effort I was throwing out to get them to hush. Then I had a break in the work flow and turned to my last word. The last fruit of the spirit. SELF-CONTROL. And I laughed out loud, not just lolled…..way to go God! I see what You did there! Very clever. My anger suddenly stopped. Ha go figure! God is cool.

fruits

These words became a ministry. Marlo asked for patience and it was given. Self control drilled me in the face. It was a co workers birthday and I gave her FABULOUS and she gave me a smile.

Then an interesting co worker came by. He was in the army and has a bit of a short temper. He reminds me of the high school quarter back who peaked senior year and is now stuck in a job with a bitter attitude. But I like him, nice guy..sometimes. He complimented me on the words and hinted that I make him one. I choose BE STRONG. As in army strong…because ya know he’s an army guy. He just paid me another visit after noticing the period I cut out and placed at the end. Since his was a sentence and not a word it needed a period. I choose this small little tree hanging on by its roots. It is white knuckle rooting the side of this hill. Strong little thing. He likes the tree. He also mentioned that he once lived in Hawaii, which is the location of the photo words. Connection.

God is smiling on us and in us. He is softening hearts. I reorganized my cube today and put my words in a place that all can see as they pass by. I just found the same calendar in a coworkers cube on the verge of garbage death and I saved it. God has 11 new lives to touch with words.

The words will come. They always do with time.

Have a God-willed week friends. Will, not fill. That isn’t a typo.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. -Matthew 6:33-34

 Fruits explained:

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:13-26

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Cheesy Running the Race Post…

I counted 4 dead skunks on my drive home from work last night. It’s mating season. I get really empathetic at this one curve. There is a carcass on one side of the road and another lifeless one across the road from it. Romeo and Juliette of skunk life. I can just imagine Romeo skunk being struck by athHWIZLZAW clunky trunk rattling down the road. BAM! Skunk dead. Juliette skunk is so taken with grief. She finally found her smelly skunky soul mate of the season. Filled with grief she lays in the road until she gets plowed by the SUV rolling around the bend. She looses hope for the season and lets go. Her feelings overcome her with grief and she stops running the race to mating happiness. Sometimes we die for love. Sometimes we die from stupidity and bad choices. But we all do fade away.

Dying for love? Yes. Some things are worth giving up our breath for. For skunks, mating is their “thing”. For Jesus, his “thing” was us.

What would I give my life for?

Surely I would NOT give it up for a night in the sack. No way. Maybe for my husband? my kids? a stranger? If it were a choice, them or me? If I go they get to live, but with grief, while I rejoice and dance with my creator. If they go, they get to experience full on the love of God. Could you imagine that embrace? Whhooossshhh…mind blown type of stuff! But gee, how did Jesus do it for us!?

I cannot wait to be in the presence of God. I am eager to reach my eternity. The actual act of dying and watching my loved ones do the deed is just too much of a thought. We’ve seen a lot of death this year. As the years add up in my earthly existence, the more fragile I learn that I am. I am shaken daily with how precious life is. What a treasure love truly is! What a gift is belly gut laughter! I cannot waste time in fear and regret, guilt and shame, anger. Any moment a truck could ram into my side and send me to my eternity and into the palms of Jesus. My time here cannot be wasted.

We must keep running the race. We must keep trudging the road to our happy destinies. We must not give up and give into our feelings. We know thAVP1GGA1where we are going and we know that kingdom of eternity can be brought here, in the now, with love. Throw off the extra weight, lighten the load, let Jesus carry the yoke of burdens, you have loving to do! You have compassion to share!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. -Hebrews 12:1

I’ve read so many running the race stories. I’ve listened to podcast after podcast. But I needed it repeated, and I needed to teach it. In teaching environments it is suggested to repeat the idea you are trying to teach at least 3 times and in different ways. Tell it, write it, show it. It is the most likely way to stick. I learned in elementary that the best way to show you have learned and grasped a concept was to teach it, or to help a friend. So here. I have heard, I have read and now I teach….with dead skunks. I learn from repetition. I will need this lesson again…probably as soon as tomorrow.

You Are Welcome

There is power in the words, “you are welcome.” This phrase was one that was foreign to my mouth until it was pointed out just recently to me that I rarely ever mutter it. This week I made it my task to say these 3 little words.

This is a small little, often thoughtless, phrase that people wiggle from their lips on the daily. But darn it, these are important and should be acknowledged! We are taught as children that “please” and “thank you” are worth their weight in gold. We are told to be polite little creatures and to mutter these, even when we don’t feel the need. It becomes implanted in our minds, but not necessarily in our hearts. I don’t ever remember my mom shoving “you are welcome” down my throat and into my vocab. She never taught me to recognize the “thanks you”‘s.

This week I learned that it isn’t the “thank you” that is important, it is the “you are welcome” that shows the magic. It is a response to show pride in the work you just did for another. It is recognition for a job well done. It is a mindful thank you for thanking me for what I did for you. Don’t respond with “no big deal” or “it was nothing.” Because it WAS something. It WAS a big or small deal. A deal is a deal no matter the size. You just took time from your day to serve someone. Let them thank you and in return give them the gift of “you are welcome.”

Pay attention this weekend my friends. Acknowledge the “thank you”‘s and give them a hearty welcome. Welcome the “welcomes”.

All About Pink, just for today.

There is pink everywhere today. I can’t stand the color.

It’s the color of you. You weren’t ready until that bright obnoxious color was on your body, even if it that meant your underwear.

I miss you.

There will be an article written about you soon. About your love of horses and of children. It’s funny because children were always creepy little humans full of dirt, until you started to teach.

I can’t believe it’s been 6 years. It doesn’t seem so long ago. Until I think of how much has changed. I was a smoker. “Single Ladies” was the #1 song. Obama was inaugurated. My life was a hot mess.

I’m sad I let you slip away…no, I am sad that I slipped away at the end.

We had a friendship that sparkled. The kind you see in movies. We could read each other’s minds with a glare or twinkle of our eye.

You were my person.

It’s ironic the animals that brought us so close, and brought your joy to so many lives took yours away. They robbed you of breath and broke your heart. Then again, it isn’t ironic at all. Its beautiful. With life comes death.

Horses were your obsession. It wasn’t just a child fantasy of Barbie and ponies. Yours was real. And you got to live it.

Pink and ponies.

Today I will hug my girl. And as I brush out her mane I will remember all of the times I sat on her back in your presence. You taught me life. You taught me love and how to be passionate. You showed me how to be an idiot. You were the first light I saw that pointed to God.

 

I am forever thankful.

Until we meet again my dear dear friend, love you bye!

The Weekend of Beauty From Ashes

I am a thrift store $1 picture frame hoarder. I repaint them and frame everything. One of the frames fell and broke, no heartbreak there because it was only $2. My son picked it up, he is 8, and said “Don’t worry mom! I got this. I will make beauty from the ashes!” This was on Friday. It set our theme for the weekend.

…Then came Sunday. I feel like I get stuck in those stupid revolving doors sometimes. I just keep circling. Just as I am about to step outside, that stupid door spins too fast and throws me back inside. Seriously.

I know I NEED to love. I know I NEED to throw away my resentments once they poke their little heads up and say “Yo! I’m here again!” But so often I just keep spinning…in the stupid glass revolving door. I can see the light, but I get stuck in my darkness which turns to shame when I see my son carry on my same behaviors. Monkey see, monkey do.

We often have karaoke parties at the house. Not our doing, not my house. Karaoke tunes are thrown against the walls and reverberate their squeals of pain, which creep under the cracks of all of the closed doors. There is no running away, especially when it is dark outside. (Trust me, I tried and running in the dark didn’t end well.) This is not a favorite past time. I would love karaoke if I could escape it or if it were an option. Usually these unwelcomed parties leave Eli and I locked in my room with some version of Harry Potter on the tele with volume cranked to 30. It is my small attempt to make the unwelcomed circumstance better. Because after all, we can’t control our circumstances, only our attitudes towards them…biting and cringing on my own words here. I’m such a hypocrite haha! Then I scan the rentals and apartments in the area and get depressed because to live in California, in our town, you have to have handfuls of cash falling from your pockets. I then realize I am stuck, and I sink into my dark spot where I lose my words and become a robot. and I HATE IT! I’m such a freaking baby. Pity parties are my specialty. And for the record I would never move out without my husband in tow, I would miss him terribly and be lost. It’s just a fantasy I play out in my head.

Well let me tell you…NOT MORE! NO MORE! I won’t sit there, in the dark anymore! That devil sneaks his way into my mind, and now I am saying no. This new found inspiration came from the 8 year old.

This time, the vice president of the pity party council said “NOT ANYMORE!!!!” Eli went upstairs, grabbed his guitar and my husbands laptop. He plugged in his amp, blasted some of his favorite Jesus tunes and sang, danced and strummed his little heart out. I emerged, pissy faced, from my pity palace and saw Eli wide eyed, crazy smiling and laughing and singing alone. I felt bad because he was alone, so I became the 1 woman audience. He said, “Mom! Guess what! I can play as loud as I want to because they can’t hear me over their own music! How cool is that!? Beauty from the ashes!” and I thought to myself “that stupid phrase I always say when he finds himself in an ugly situation, he is now using on my ugly situation for the second time this weekend. What a wonderful world it is!”

Then I walked into crazy loud karaoke room and saw my husband finishing up the sewing project Eli and I started this weekend, that I was too burnt out on to finish. In all the craziness, he was sewing. Yes, sewing. HA! I know…totally crazy!

So I smiled and went back to Eli and praised God for using Eli to pull me out of that stupid glass door. Then, I laughed at how small and insignificant my problems are in the shadow of the cross. My ego surrendered and retreated. Actually she was more crushed with humility.  And I was free from myself.

The only thing powerful enough to squish down my resentment is love. In memory of the beautiful MLK, he says “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

Love wins.Heart Redemption is here.

Today I will choose to love hard instead of holding that resentment.

The cool thing about those circle glass doors, is that they are glass. You can see through them and to the other side. This is hope. It is setting my expectation, that I will get out. I can see it. All I have to do is make the move and step into love. The sunshine of love.

Keep Coming Back

We would sing the birthday song for sober birthdays every week. Years of sobriety, months, days, even hours…we weren’t picky or concerned with the details. We would just sing. At the end of the song we added our own little line, “keep coming baaacckkk!” Keep showing up.

Courage is letting myself be seen. It is to fierce-fully love people. It is standing in my vulnerability and walking into my gooey sticky feelings.

Self,

Don’t be numb. When feelings come, soak them in. Chew on them, sit with them, stare at them, cry with them. They all get lonely and need to pay their visits on their own time. Don’t be numb. Don’t be afraid of the unannounced visitors. When guilt/anger/compassion show up invite them in. Feed them and let them rest. They are gifts from God that are there to tell you to love harder, give deeper and to be patient. Keep living loud. Keep singing praise of key. You are not perfect, you are beautifully imperfect and are so worthy of love and belonging in your creator’s hands. Keep pressing on. Do not be afraid.

I love how Paul says it:

 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Phillipians 3:13-15

Just keep showing up. Harness that fear, grab it and stand on it. Over power it and show up.

Insert your rant: “I can’t stand _____ people! So disrespectful. All they do is _____ and don’t do _____! How were they raised!? Someone needs to teach them….blah blah blah.” …..and on and on it goes.

Pause.

Now in doing so or venting against a particular person or action, aren’t you doing exactly what you can’t stand? By calling them disrespectful, aren’t you being disrespectful and unloving?

Just a thought from today.

I think we are most often like those we cannot stand. We are, I am, most like the people who drive us, me, crazy.

And why?

Because we are all human and although circumstances on the outside appear different, the core issue is the same. We are all the same. Made of the same junk.

You never know what is behind someone’s plasticity.

We are the same as our enemy. We are our enemy.

…so then why have enemies? Why hate?

Enemy

Fighting has never solved a problem. It has only temporarily crushed the weaker into submission. But just as a seed grows into itself, so again will the hate.

I will choose to love. I will choose to show up. I will choose kind words. I will trip, stumble and apologize. But I will keep showing up. Loving takes practice for me. It does not come naturally. Every day I have to make that choice. Will you?