How much easier life would be if I could learn a lesson once, and then walk away sufficiently grown and brilliant from that experience, ready for the the next one?

But then, I guess I wouldn't be human. Perhaps I could be Vulcan*, but I have a feeling that being a Vulcan, always so concerned with logic, wouldn't exactly be a party. I guess I will have to stick with humanity.

With everything that has gone on the in the last eight months with my nephew Jayden, you might think that I would be more quick to trust God, less quick to worry.

Unfortunately, if you thought that, you would have been wrong.

Last week, when I went for a pre-surgical check, before the minor surgery I am scheduled to have on my leg tomorrow, the doctor discovered that my blood pressure is high. Dangerously high were her actual words.

Not something that I was expecting.

Then there were other complications, some of which will have to be dealt with today, my last work day before I am off for the surgery.

Again, not something that I had planned.

So, what is a girl to do when all her plans seem to be preempted by intruders?

Well, this girl's first step is to worry. Then, thanks to some well-timed reminders, to pray. And then, this morning, when I pulled out my Life Journal, and let God's Word speak to my mildly turbulent soul, I was reminded that there is always Truth.

And Truth is strong.
Truth does not back down easily from a fight, because it doesn't have to.
That Truth can shine alone in the dark, because it can.
Truth cannot be bullied.
That Truth does not change with the circumstances.

And the Truth is, that God is love. And He loves me. And He wants me to be the very best version of me, the one that He created. And that doesn't include worrying about things beyond my control, but rather to trust in Him.

So today, no matter what happens, no matter what comes my way, I will stand firmly on Truth.

Standing anywhere else would be silly...

*For those of you who are not into Star Trek, this is a shameless Trekkie reference. I cannot even bring myself to be sorry for it. Live long and prosper.


The Reader {#280-282}

Last week, in the Year with Rilke, I came across this poem, and it resonated deeply within me...
The Reader
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Who has not known a child like this,
who sinks into a deeper level of his being,
undisturbed by the swift turning
of each brimming page?
Even his own mother might wonder
if it is really he who sits there
saturated with his shadow.
And we, can we know
how much of him
disappears, as he reluctantly looks up
with eyes that yield
to the ready-made world without complaint?

—New Poems
How often, as a child did I find myself lost in book, preferring the world encountered on the page to that which we called real life? How many times did I choose to ignore my brothers to read and play with my favorite characters in a book? And when there was no book to read, how often did I pick up pen and paper, writing my own stories, creating my own worlds to dance and play in?

I couldn't put a number on it if I tried.

If I could choose to leave one part of myself to my niece and nephews, it would be this love of the written word, this love of books. Nothing makes my heart happier than when one of my little people picks up a book, either on their own, or to ask someone to read to them.

* * * * *

Today I am thankful for...

280:: for parents who, while they didn't fully understand my desire to constantly have my nose in a book, let me spend countless hours doing this thing that I loved.

281:: for authors who sacrificed their time, energy and stories to bring my imagination to life and create for me the infinite and endless playground of imagination.

282:: for the Bible, the ultimate book, and love letter from God. If there was only ever to be one book, this would be the one.


A Good Reminder

For a while now, I have attempting to incorporate more prayer into my life. To help do this, I have been using a great book called The Divine Hours, which takes you through the four sets of prayer offices—morning, midday, vespers and compline.

To be honest, there have been times that I have been more faithful than others, but the process is one I will continue to weave into the fabric of my life.

This is an excerpt of my morning prayers. I know I have read it other days this week, but this morning, the full weight of the reminder hit me...
Grant to me, Lord. I pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that I, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
...I, who cannot exist without you...

In the busy-ness of life, I forget that I cannot exist without God.

In my self-importance, I forget that without my Creator, I am and have nothing.

That I have no hope of living the life He has called me to without him.

That all I have and all I am is solely because of Him.

Today, when I am surrounded by all the things that will demand my focus and attention and time and energy, I will remember this beautiful reminder.


You would think...

For someone who has been a follower of Jesus for as long as I have, I dwell way too much in the land of the humanly possible, the physically believable. Those things which are provable and measurable by human and earthly laws.

But for someone who believes in a God—

        who created everything from nothing

        who made a walking path through the Red Sea

        who gave a donkey the words someone needed to hear

        who arranged a ride for a wayward prophet in the belly of a whale

—you wouldn't think that I would get so hung up on the challenges of my own life.

You would think that I would trust more in a God—

        who used a little mud to cure blindness

        who walked on water

        who raised his friend Lazarus from the dead

        who raised Himself from the dead

—than in my own logic and only that which my eyes can see.

You would think...


One Thing {#270-279}

He (the formerly blind man) answered, "Whether [Jesus] is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." {John 9:25}
When he woke up that morning, of all the things that this man, blind from birth, thought that the day might hold, I am pretty sure that looking into the angry faces of Pharises defending the circumstances of his healing was not at all one of them.

After all, the poor man was just sitting there, minding his own business, when Jesus saw him, made some mud with his saliva, and gave him the gift of vision he had never had before.

But, as usual, where Jesus is concerned, people like to complicate things.

First there was the matter that the vision-inducing mud-making happened on the Sabbath. Then, they had to drag the man's parents in to confirm that he had indeed been blind since birth, and not just faking it. The parents are afraid, and tell the Pharisees to ask the man himself. They are afraid to say anything remotely good about Jesus, because the Pharisees only want to hear people say he is a sinner. That there is no way he could be God.

The whole situation seems to have been blown quite ridiculously out of proportion.

But for the blind man—seeing angry faces for the first time, marveling at what the sun looks like suspended in a cerulean blue sky, watching leaves on trees dance in the wind—for him, there is only one thing. All the proof he needs about who Jesus is is wrapped up in this one thing—yesterday I was blind, today I can see.

Sometimes I over-complicate not only my life, but my relationship with God. I feel that I must do this, and this, and this, and then, if I have messed up on any of them, I must get it right before God can love and accept me. But in my overcomplication, I forget the one thing that I know...

This one thing I know: God is love.

When I feel most alone and unlovable and hopeless and pathetic and useless, God still loves me. When I have messed up more than more my share, when I have failed to be who I know God wants me to be, even if everyone else justifiably turns their back on me, God's love will never fail.

I need to remember the simplicity of this.

Like the blind man, yesterday I was blind, now I see. No one else could ever have brought about such a change.

I am going to stick with Him.

* * * * *

Today I am thankful for...

270:: the One Thing of knowing that Jesus loves me.

271:: phone calls that remind me how blessed I am to have all the beautiful people I have in my life.

272:: passport photos that don't make me look like a felon this time around.

273:: finding a cookbook I really wanted for only $5.

274:: that there are only 60 days left until I leave for Paris.

275:: the leaders of my church, and how much time, effort and love they put into serving.

276:: the lemony smell of Pledge after you finish dusting.

277:: crockpots, and walking into your home at the end of a long day, and knowing dinner is ready, even especially if you live alone.

278:: coffee, beautiful coffee.

279:: the beginning of a new week to serve and glorify God.

How blessed I am...


How to be a better listener

Given the silence theme of my week, when I came across this TED Talk by sound expert Julian Treasure, I decided to give the video the eight minutes.

I was not disappointed.

Mr. Treasure begins the video with the words, 'We are losing our listening.' I could not agree more. He goes on to talk about the world we around us, how we listen to it, and how to become better listeners.

The first of the five exercises designed to help us listen better is [*spoiler alert*] silence.

Enjoy this, it's well worth the almost eight minutes.


Unafraid of What Is Difficult

You know how at times it seems like there is Something out there trying to send you a message?

Yeah, me too.

After yesterday's Life Journal entry, the one from Psalm 62, about silence and waiting, when I turned on my Kobo this morning, to read today's reading from, A Year With Rilke, this is what greeted me:
Unafraid of What Is Difficult
Don't be confused by the nature of solitude, when something inside you wants to break free from your loneliness. This very wish, when you use it as a tool for understanding, can illumine your solitude and expand it to include all that it is. Bound by conventions, people tend to reach for what is easy. It is clear, however, that here we must be unafraid of what is difficult. For all living things in nature must unfold in their particular way and become themselves at any cost and despite all opposition.
—Rainier Maria Rilke
Rome, May 14, 1904
Letters To A Young Poet

Yes, silence and solitude—heck—ALL the spiritual disciplines are difficult. Everything that causes you to grow has difficulty that comes automatically with it. I don't need to discipline myself to eat potato chips; that comes perfectly naturally to me. But I do need to push myself to eat broccoli.

So, while yesterday's goal of the week may not have started out well, I am continuing to press on...


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