Monthly Archives: September 2014

Getting Tired

Life seems to be addicted to just being plain crazy all the time. You know the feeling? Get up at 5:30, shower, snarf something down, and for goodness sakes, don’t forget to brush your teeth before heading out the door at 6:15. Fifteen minute drive, park in town. Restock cups and lids and straws and sweeteners and cup holders, get the coffee brewed, pray, flip on the extra lights, and open shop by 7:00. Then it’s making lattes and freezes and americanos and serving freshly warmed muffins and cinnamon rolls and egg cups and Heaven help me if they ask for a breakfast sandwich! Mess up the cash register, fumble through a gift certificate, wash dishes, sweep, spray down the table that the eight-year-old and his big brother ate chocolate muffins at. Wash dishes, clean the counters, and close up shop at 11. After a few more dishes, it’s back in the car and home again by 11:30, just in time to catch a breather before I have to snarf down something for lunch, grab Noelle, and hop back in the car at 12. Thirty minutes on the road and ceramics class awaits at the end of the drive. Squish clay for two to three hours, try to be sociable, get clay on my face and all over the wheel and my apron (guess I won’t be wearing this outfit to work again). Clean up, scrub arms up to the elbows, forget to wash the clay off my face, crawl into the car and try not to fall asleep while driving the thirty minutes back home. Crash on the couch for a while, haul my tired carcass down to my room to speak Spanish into a computer program until supper time. And somewhere in all of that, I need time to do my devotions.

I’ll admit, some days it gets a little rough. In the middle of a part-time job, three college classes, and reading the Bible through in two months, I can get totally exhausted so easily. And I stare at the now-nine-year-old brother and wonder how in the world he could ever expect me to sword-fight him or build a fort. And I look at the mountain of dishes that it’s rightfully my turn to wash, but my hands are still wrinkled as prunes from washing a similar mountain of dishes at my job. And one of these days I ought to take my turn making dinner so Mom and Noelle don’t have to do it all, but I just can’t seem to work up the energy it takes to think of something to cook.

It does get a little rough sometimes. And as I get exhausted, I start falling back into the old habit of self-pity. “How can they expect me to manage to do my weekly cleaning and do supper when I have all this other stuff?” “They don’t make Erica cook supper, and I’m basically as busy as she is. Why is it they still expect me to do all the home-stuff on top of work and school when they don’t make Erica work at home?” Blegh. I hate it when that whiny voice in my head gets started. Because once it starts, it’s so, so hard to get it to shut its mouth! My old whiny sin-nature just wants to plunge back in and  wallow in a pity party. And of course, it invites my depression to come and join it in the mud.

You could say that I don’t always have the greatest perspective on life. Sometimes I’d rather just stay tired and crabby and selfish and pout. But it was my choice to be this busy. I applied for the job. I signed up for college classes. I chose to read my Bible through every two months. I chose them. And I love every single one of them! So why am I sitting here griping about how tired I am when I chose do do them all? When I want to keep doing them?

I was talking with the shift manager at work yesterday as I was washing dishes, and she reminded me of something that I had let my tiredness and depression crowd out of my brain. She talked about how some of the Psalms start out and David is complaining about all his woes (and his were far more major than any problems I think I have), and as he keeps going he starts recounting all the things God has done for him. And by the end of the Psalm, he’s praising God. And she reminded me that when I let the depression creep in, I need to recount God’s goodness and His blessings (because He has heaped so many – so many! – on me). And if I do it enough, I will find it in me to even praise Him in the midst of being tired and blue.

What she said reminded me of a verse I stumbled (well, not quite stumbled) over in Hebrews. It comes right after the verses about throwing off the weights of sin and running the race set before us. You know, the ones that get quoted a lot. But I had never noticed this verse before, and it took me by surprise for some reason.

Hebrews 12:3 – Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Consider Christ – who underwent persecution, exhaustion, torture, and death, so that I may not grow weary or fainthearted? O…kay? But really. Consider Him – and all that He’s done for me, starting at the cross up until this minute. If I honestly stopped and counted every single good thing He’s done for me, I’d be here for days. And by the end, would I be feeling sorry for myself? I don’t think so! I may have a headache that doesn’t want to go away. I may not feel well because I keep eating things I’m allergic to. I may be tired. I may have to stay up late to finish my day’s Bible reading. So what? God is still good! Maybe my back hurts from bending over to wash dishes, and my feet are sore because we had a busy morning at work and had no time to put our feet up. What difference does it really make in the long run? God is still good! And I need to praise Him instead of pitying myself. And I wonder…could that be part of the cure for my depression?

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“Worst Day of My Life”

It’s funny sitting here in the cool of the Stafford Mercantile’s air conditioning and remembering being here two years ago – to the day. It’s funny to think that only two years ago we were only just getting the place set up. Two years ago to the day we were wrestling pallets full of merchendise in through a teeny doorway. And…two years ago at 11-something AM a sudden phonecall arrested our work.

And suddenly Life as We Knew It vanished without so much as a “by your leave”.

Funny isn’t it, how things work like that?

I think I’ve talked some about my sister Noelle’s wreck, although not a lot. For quite some time after the wreck I considered September 20, 2012 as the very worst day in my entire life. And in some ways, it still is. September 20 marked the end of my previously fairly uneventful life and the beginning of a tumultous few weeks, sudden broken friendships, fear, and a too-close-for-comfort observation of the medical world. There are admittedly a lot of scars leftover from the chaos that surrounded the wreck.

But September 20 doesn’t just mark the end of something for me. It marks a beginning. It marks the time when I finally reached the end of myself and realized that I had no power to fix things. When I finally realized life was totally out of my control and had to choose to trust that God knew what He was doing. September 20 doesn’t just mark a horrible wreck and traumatic memories. It marks when my faith moved from just my head to my actions. And, in a sense, you could say that makes it one of the best days of my life.

And I guess that’s the way it works. “Best” and “worst” days don’t really depend on our circumstances, do they? They depend on how we choose to respond to them.

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Choose to Love

Have you ever thought much about love languages? You know – the five basic love languages that everyone speaks at least one of. (At least, that’s what the experts have decided. I suppose they could be wrong. For the sake of this post, and because an argument about the accuracy of the love languages thing is beside the point, let’s please assume the experts that decided all that stuff are right. Thank you.) Love languages are troublesome little…things. I mean, they’re just another neat way that God made each of us unique, but they also make it difficult to communicate sometimes. Not everyone speaks the same love language, and that can be a problem. I don’t know about you, but I have a very bad tendency to ignore the love languages that don’t mean much to me personally.

This summer I got to practice really working to speak someone else’s love language instead of mine. (Yes, at STEP. How did you ever guess?) See, my primary love language is “physical touch”. Mostly because it’s the easiest one to use, but anyways. I like hugs. They’re easy, and they mean a lot to me. Well, my group leader’s love language is seriously not physical touch. At all. When she initiates a hug it’s a major thing, because we all know it’s not natural for her. Anyhow. Since my natural instinct is to hug, and hugs don’t really mean anything to her, I had to find another route. And it was good for me to have to pay more attention to her love language rather than just doing the easy thing. Ended up, I got to spend time talking with her several times throughout the month, and I feel like I got to know her much better because I had to work to try to speak her love language instead of my own than I would have if I had stuck to what I knew best.

Recently I had the thought that love languages are sort of like Phileo (brotherly love – aka, I love you because you love me) verses Agape (unconditional love – aka, I love you whether or not you deserve or return it). Let’s say that my love languages represent Phileo love. It’s easy to speak them, because they come naturally to me; just like Phileo love – loving people in a way that comes easily. What about the love languages that I don’t speak naturally? I think they represent Agape love. Because Agape love is intentional, it’s unconditional, it doesn’t come naturally to me. You really have to choose to use a love language that is not your own natural one, just like you have to seriously have to choose to love someone that you don’t naturally want to love. Agape love is intentional. Agape love takes grace. And it takes Agape love to speak someone else’s love language.

Real love is intentional, no matter what language it is in. It’s not just fuzzy feelings – it’s a deliberate choice, one that you have to make over and over again. I know from experience how easy it is to float along and not bother to intentionally love the people around me. I could just go through my day making coffee at my job and not trying to see the souls behind the people that come in needing a boost of caffeine. I could float through college classes just enjoying myself and trying to get good grades and keep the instructor happy with me, and totally ignore all the other students. I could go to church and just do the necessary stuff and never bother to look into the eyes of the people around me, just as broken and in need of love as I am. I could sit around at home and forget about my brother who is bored and needs someone to play with him, my mom who has work she would love for someone to help her with, my dad playing sudoku or solitaire on the couch all by himself, my sisters in their room on their computers. I could. It would be easy. But real love is intentional, not easy. And there are millions (or is it billions?) of people in this world who desperately need intentional, tangible love every day. I need to – through God’s power – take a step back from all the stuff I have to do and look at the souls that are constantly staring at me through the eyes that I habitually avoid. It’s not enough to do my stuff. If I am not loving the people I come in contact with, I am nothing. (Referencing 1 Corinthians 13)

Love people. Not the easy way. Remember that greater love has no man than this – that he lay down his life for his friends. Laying down your life for someone else is dying to yourself and your own desires and seeking to meet the needs of other people, whether it’s easy or not. It’s choosing to love.

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Procrastination Monster

Sometimes it seems like every week has a different ‘theme’ to it. This week’s theme had to do with getting around to taking care of things that I had been procrastinating on. Procrastination is kind of weird. It latches onto the tiniest jobs that really aren’t all that much work, and makes you feel like you can’t possibly do them because you don’t feel like it.

But something I’ve been realizing lately is that procrastination is no laughing matter. It’s not just some harmless habit to pass off lightly. It’s a productivity-eating, time-wasting monster that keeps us from being all that God intended us to be. To make matters worse, it does all that with little to no effort because we usually make little to no effort to resist it.

I think that we tend to forget that time is not ours to waste. God has given the time to us so that we might steward it to the best of our ability. Our days on this earth are terribly limited, and no one can say when they will be over. Why do we waste them on putting off things that won’t take very long if we only set to work on them?

Something that God has been revealing to me over the summer is that my life lacks a sense of urgency. Christ could return any time, and I only have until then to reach out to the lost and do the work that He ordained for me. So why am I sitting back on my heels and waiting for a ‘better time’ to do it? I don’t have time to waste time.

So, I thought I would pass along my latest challenge. *Grin* What things do you tend to procrastinate on? I challenge you to tackle the big hairy Procrastination Monster and slay him. I’ll be doing the same on my end. Carry on, soldier!

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. ~ Ephesians 5:15-1

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Faithful

Life is insane and full to the brim with things to do. I get overwhelmed and exhausted and wonder if I can make it through. Exhaustion seems to be a normal part of my life all of a sudden. Emotional and physical. Which of course means they bring along their best buddy – depression. Not so much fun.

It’s a comfort to me to know that God hasn’t forgotten the things I’m struggling with. He hasn’t forgotten how wearying life can be. He hasn’t forgotten that I don’t have what it takes to be what I ought to be. That I’m not enough to handle circumstances. But have I forgotten that He is enough? Have I forgotten that it’s not by my strength that I keep going every day? “Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.”

And just when I needed it, God arranged my work schedule so that I would work with a certain beautiful woman who is wholly in love with her Savior. A woman who shared with me how hard it was to keep going sometimes, and then quoted a verse I’ve become rather familiar with over the past year.

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Oh yes, He knew exactly what I needed this morning. And He sent exactly who I needed, and prompted her to share some of her own struggles – struggles that I too face. Once again He showed me His faithfulness. *Smiles* Isn’t God good? He doesn’t leave us to muddle on alone. He is faithful – oh, He is faithful!

“Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful!”
~Never Once by Matt Redman

Categories: Ponderizations | 1 Comment

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