Posted in Monday Meditations

Freed to Love

((*Note: In the past I shared recipes and printables on Mondays.  However, moving forward, I would like to share a meditation from my devotions instead.  I will try to post as many Mondays as I can but can’t guarantee that I won’t miss a few!  Hope you enjoy.))

“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5

Loving others can be hard.  Sometimes I don’t have the emotional reserve for it.  I’m too tired, stressed, worried, or depressed.  The weight of my own burdens is so heavy, that I don’t have strength to even think or care about what other people are going through.

1 Timothy 1:5 gives a clue as to how we may find the strength to love others.  In this verse Paul says that love comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

What is the common thread through each of these points?

Honesty.

A pure heart – An honest heart that is truly and intently focused on pleasing God.  A person with a pure heart still won’t behave perfectly.  However, they will turn from their sin quickly and humbly repent of it before God.

A good conscience – If you are honest about your sins and failings before God, He will cleanse you of them.  You will not be weighed down by your sins any longer or the emotional burdens that they cause.  You will be more truthful with other people about who you are, including your weaknesses – because by the grace of Jesus you are no longer condemned or held hostage by them.  A good conscience feels light, and free, and will be given to anyone who asks.  This is nothing short of miraculous.

A sincere faith – Do you actually trust the Lord?  Is your faith in Him sincere?  Or do life’s troubles bring you to a state of depression and worry?  If you entrust your life confidently to the Lord, acknowledging that He will replace your anxiety and sadness with victory and joy, your emotional burdens will be lightened.  Then, you will be able to shift your focus to others.

Response

Jesus, please forgive me for not believing you with a faith that is sincere.  For holding on to depression and worry, rather than entrusting my troubles confidently to you.

Lord, I give you my day and all the challenges that will come with it.  I choose to believe that you will bring me victory and joy in place of anxiety and depression.  Please strengthen the sincerity of my faith, that my emotional resources could be freed for love and service.  Amen.

Posted in Friday Rambles

Because it Hurts

The reason it’s hard to take pictures and videos of my kids, knowing the fullness of the moment could never be captured and I will miss something of it by hiding behind my camera or phone.  And, the reason it’s even harder to view them later, feeling an acute sense of loss over the passing of time.

It’s the reason that, though I want to write down every moment and record it just as it happens, I can’t bring myself to do it, knowing I will inevitably miss things or record them wrong.  And the reason that later, I avoid reading what I’ve written.

Because it hurts.  We cannot hang on to the way things were, or even the way they are right now.  I’ve heard it said that the only constant in life is change.  Perhaps I have become more aware of this since having children, because they (and thus the family’s experience) change so rapidly.  There’s no going back; every moment is a fleeting one.

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It’s also the reason, that we keep busy enough to distract ourselves from the passing of time.  A decade may be over in a blink, without much thought or reflection.  From a short-term perspective, it’s easier this way.  Eventually, though, the feelings we have ignored may catch up with us.  When the kids move out, perhaps.  When we sell the house.  Or retire.  Or when death approaches.  A large, jarring change yanks us from the steady rhythm of our lives, and suddenly, we become aware of 1000+ minor adjustments that have led to this point.  Maybe this is partly why we cry at momentous occasions, when we are forced to stop and take notice: graduations, weddings.  Births.  Funerals.

I used to work with elderly people in personal care homes.  Depression there was rampant, because time had caught up.  Things were not the way they were.

And, no, they’re not.  They never are.  They never will be again.  They are, in a way, lost.

And that, I believe, is what hurts so badly.

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But according to what the Bible teaches, God is outside of time.  He created it, and is therefore not bound by it.  He counts our hairs, and saves our tears, and writes down the times of our lives in His book – just like I try to do with my kids.

This softens the blow, when I view a photo or read something from years ago, and feel that sharp pang of loss.  It gives me the courage to continue recording, in my meager way, the history of my family.

Although the joy of our earthly moments may diminish, change, or dissipate the moment we glance away, these moments are also important to God.  And He remembers them all.

They are not lost.  They are entrusted, to the One who gave them, in the first place.

“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:30

“Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll – are they not in your record?” Psalm 56:8

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelation 21:4

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16b

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4

Do you find it painful to reminisce?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Friday Rambles

Today Can Be Wonderful

Isn’t that a cheesy and idealistic title?  If you are like me, you will have passed right by.

Naturally, my tendency is to worry, and project imagined, negative outcomes long into the future.  I will wake up in the morning and think, “What am I doing with my life?  Will I ever be able to get a job after all this time spent at home?”  I will look at my kids and wonder, “Are we messing them up?  Are they developing to their fullest potential, or do they need more – vacations, extra-curricular activities, quality time…omega-3 fatty acids??”

At the very least, I’m not one to close my eyes and ignore the difficulties of life, in favour of a whitewashed, artificial, ‘positive’ outlook.

But a friend of mine recently told me about a technique she learned from a counsellor, that she calls 3-3-3.  Very simply, it is an exercise in which you thank God for: 3 things you can see, 3 things you can touch, and 3 things you can hear.  I tried it, and my mood improved.  I felt calmer.

I had practiced intentional thanksgiving in the past: thank you for my family; thank you for my health; thank you for my coffee maker; etc.  And yes, that helped too, but I felt there was something unique about the “see,” “touch,” and “hear” component.  What was it?

I think that by focusing on see, touch, and hear, you pull yourself out of your fearsome imaginings and bring your mind back into the present moment.  Back to today.  Look around you!  And listen, and feel – all of the things you have been ignoring, because you were so busy stressing about things that have not yet happened (and probably never will).

More than likely, you will come to the conclusion that: there actually are wonderful things all around you.  And no, not every day can be wonderful.  But many of us are privileged enough that the vast majority of days can be, if we will only open up our senses.  (Maybe sometimes, it’s good to be a little short-sighted.)

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There’s a woman living on my street who has the bubbliest, friendliest personality, and the most infectious giggle, that you could ever imagine.  She’s one of the first people I met when we moved here.  She’s probably the first person everyone meets!  Because, that’s just the way she is.

After our morning chats at the school bus stop, she will often send me away with an exuberant salutation: “Have a wonderful day!”

I have often heard people say: “Have a nice day.”  I’ve grown accustomed to it.  But here she is, with the nerve to speak of a “wonderful” one!

It got me to thinking.  Could today be wonderful?

And you know what?  Most days, I wake up to a fresh pot of coffee that my husband has brewed.  To healthy, joyful children bounding around the room and climbing up on my bed.  To warm sun on my face, or crisp, cool air in my lungs.  And to many other great things that I can see, hear, and touch.

I cannot know or control what will happen in the next 10 or 20 years.  But yes, today can be wonderful.  And probably, tomorrow can be too.

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

Do you struggle to live in the moment?  I would love to hear your perspective in the comments section below.

Warm wishes,

Lisa