why I avoid the important

I've noticed an odd pattern in my behavior. 

It's something that's occurred as I've gotten older.

And it puzzles me every time.

Here's what I do - anytime I have a wonderful, exciting, always-dreamed-of opportunity staring me in the face that needs my input, response or application, I find myself putting it off.  Insteading of sitting down and doing the work of making a little dream come true, I will do anything but by tending to mindless distractions when I should be paying attention to the (wonderful, exciting, always-dreamed-of) opportunity at hand.

This happened the other day when I was working on something online that was just up my alley, but I could hardly sit still or focus on the laptop screen.  At one point in the process, I needed to open another browser window.  Now, most normal people would just sit there and wait during the 4 seconds it takes for that to happen.

My thought process?  "I'm gonna go clean the fridge grill until that page loads." 

That, my friends, is procrastination and avoidance at its best, demonstrated right here in my very own home.

I want to emphasize that this is not drudgery or grunt work, people.  It's applying to sign up for the fun stuff that God and life gives us once in a while.

And I seem to struggle with that.

I wish I could say that it was because my excitement about it won't let me sit still, but that's not the case.  In reality it's due to my anxiety over the fact that if I really go for whatever "it" is,

I might not make it. 

I could fail in a grandiose way. 

I don't know how I'll deal with that if it happens.

And I must remember that that's where I'm making my error.  I only fear failure because I'm putting my hope and trust and value in a thing, a job, an opportunity.....and not a Person.

My worth isn't measured by what I do.

It's measured by Whose I am.

I need to remind myself of this the next time something fun-yet-scary comes along.  Take it, go for it, do it, because I might succeed and if I don't.....well, it's okay to fail.

Either way, I'm secure in Him.

And that gives me the freedom to look those opportunities square in the eye and say -Game ON.


It's raining, and I can hear it.

Because the house is quiet.

Because the house is empty, save me (and the dog).

Because.....the one we've raised for 18 years lives away now, a two-day-old freshman at a nearby university.

Finding his way.

Without us.

Because.... our daughter has this very day stepped into the classroom to begin her fall semester of student teaching.  This girl who has wanted nothing else but to be a teacher for as long as she can remember, and who was told more than once along the way she'd never make it.

But made it she did. 

And away she goes.

Because.....our oldest has found his new digs, and plans are in the making for his move from our home in a couple of weeks.  While we don't see him much, it's always nice to know he'll be home at dinnertime and we can catch up on the day.

But we won't be doing that anymore.

The rain is getting louder, and magnifies the silence within.

Children.  It hurts to give them birth, and later, selfishly, it hurts to give them wings and to see them fly.

We raise them to be independent, and get mom-miffed when they are.

Ultimately, they are God's children more than they are mine.  I give them to Him and His watchcare, as He can be with them everywhere and every time, and I cannot.

I must remember that they are safe in the shelter of His wings.

And that's the best place for them to be.

awaiting the storm

There's something magical about waiting for an impending storm.  Well, maybe not Disney magical, but at least interesting.  If it's a snowstorm, it's the thrill of the bread-milk-and-eggs run to the store before the snow starts.  Today, it's more of bring-the-laundry-in-and close-your-car-windows kind of anticipation because it's going to be a thunderstorm or ten to break up the excessive heat we've been having for weeks.  Our thermometers are begging to see their mercury rise only to the low 80's.

So while I'm not running to the store for supplies (and my chocolate stash is in good shape; I checked after the weather report), there is something causing me to hunker down even in the middle of the afternoon; I find myself watching the skies, studying the clouds, and noticing the breeze picking up slightly as soon it will turn to a full scale howling wind.

This is enjoyable and exciting because the storm will be outside my home.

This would not be either of those things if the storm was predicted for inside my home.

That's a whole different kind of weather.

I don't ever get those kind of predictions.  If you've lived a little, you probably don't either.  Those storms come on fast.  They usually start with a lightning strike to the heart and then proceed quickly to gale force winds that take your breath away and rain that pummels at your very core.

They soak you in misery until you feel that you may never be whole and dry again.

They leave you dripping wet, soggy and messy, and you wonder what happened to the sunshine you had been sitting under.

Even though they are unwelcomed precipitation,  I've learned that God uses them.  As a matter of fact, He designs them.  Not for our bad, but for our good.  They bring about the change in the temperature that's needed, that couldn't be accomplished any other way.  They draw us up short and force us to look at our reflection in the puddle that remains long after the showers have passed. 

I am wise when I look fully into what I see.   When I pray and ask to see the me that  God sees.  When I long to align my will and desires with His, which are always ulimately better than my own.

It's worth the rain.  It's worth the thunder.  It's worth the storm.

May God use it for His glory.

what to do when your titanic is sinking

She was a beautiful ship.  I launched her a few years ago, thinking she was ironclad and well constructed.  Hadn't heard from her in a while, so I assumed she was having a safe voyage to her final destination. I always figured no news was good news and I went on about life without giving her a second thought.

Until last Friday.

With one phone call, I found out there was massive devastation aboard ship.  She had sprung a leak about a year ago and unbeknownst to me, she had been filling with water for quite some time now and if she doesn't get fixed soon, she'll go down and take all of us with her.

The person on the other end of the phone told me it's way too late to run a bucket brigade or simply patch holes.

The damage has been done, and the only way to move forward with repairs is by drastically changing course and taking some very deliberate action.

Numbly I hung up the phone, trying to process everything I'd just been blindsided with.

I scrambled for answers.  I clawed for opportunities to make this right.  I grieved over the loss of what I thought was my foolproof design meant to sail the high seas flawlessly with no harm to me or my family. 

For hours, I wondered why God would allow this to happen.

To my perfect life.

When I finally calmed down and stopped crying long enough to listen, God whispered,  "This is by design.  You need this. I'm going to do something in your heart and life that I couldn't do unless I show you how to stop trusting in your own abilities."

Land, ho.

It's hard to learn humility.  It's uncomfortable to see how fallible I really am.  It's not enjoyable to see that any control I feel have is really only an illusion of control.

I am so not the master of my own destiny.  This experience has shown me that.

But on the other hand,

it is good to have my eyes opened.

It is wonderful to have a God who catches me when I fall.

And it is the best thing ever to realize He is doing this because He wants me to be more like Him, lacking nothing in this life.

God says in Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

God desires to see me through this.   He doesn't leave me to drown, but instead throws me an anchor by showing me a promise in His word.   Once anchored, I can assess the damage with a level head and ask Him how to proceed.

So that's what I'm doing. For now, He's made it clear that it's time to rebuild; it's time for a total makeover.  Things will look different from here on in, but they will look like they should.

Like they were designed by Him instead of me.

my Panera community

This morning I am sitting at Panera Bread to write.  I brought my journal filled with topics and ideas for stories and blog posts, but this experience is just so cool that it is, in and of itself, enough to write about.

Bringing my laptop to a place like this is a very trendy thing to do.  I am not a terribly trendy person so I feel a bit out of my comfort zone, but after my cinnamon crunch bagel with honey almond cream cheese I am convinced this is a lifestyle I could get used to.   Quickly.

As I sit here listening to classical music playing while occupying a private table with Wi-Fi, knowing that good food and drink are just a counter away, I realize this is the life I was destined for. (insert wry smile)

Something about being here makes me feel..... author-y.  Meeting-ish.  Important-like.

Is that why I came?

Good question.

As you might have guessed, my laptop works just fine at home where the food is (almost) free.  I have Pandora on my computer so I can listen to all the classical music I want.  And when my browser opens while I'm sitting in my dining room, I don't get a welcome/login screen that asks me to be considerate and leave the table after 30 minutes if the establishment is busy.

So why am I here?

I've  read that a writer's life can be a very lonely one; quiet, somewhat sequestered, working solo on project after project.   I'm hardly living the writer's life, but this morning I felt a strong need for community, even if they were community I didn't really know.  To my credit, I picked a back table so as not to be noticed, but to at least be here.  With similar others doing similar things.

God created me to crave community.  I cannot do life alone.  Sometimes that community needs to be intimate enough to hold my hand and walk me through a tough spot, but more often than not it just needs to be background noise keeping me company while I do something else.

And some days, like today, I need a cinnamon crunch bagel and classical music thrown in for it to be just what the doctor ordered.

Thanks, Panera.  It was wonderful doing community with you today.  I'm sure you'll see me again soon. 

I think I'm beginning to like trendy.