Tag Archives: courage

Press on!

For the last several years, it has been my practice that in December I enter into a time of reflection on the closing year, and goal setting for the next.

They say that something like only 8% of New Years Resolutions are kept, and I’ve certainly made regular contributions to the 92% failure rate.  Yet in spite of all those ‘failed’ resolutions, I have made great progress towards the fulfilling of some of my recurring resolutions.  For example, while I still haven’t reached the level of physical and mental fitness that is required for me to run a 5K non-stop, I have discovered that I like to walk/jog – and I’ve completed at least five 5K’s since my first in 2012.     I’m now looking forward to restarting my C25K training this spring, but with a body prepared over the winter with strength and flexibility exercises.  Progress! 

Nor do I weigh what I want (and ought) to weigh.  Yet I have completely changed my eating habits over the last 6-7 years with even more changes being implemented in 2015, and as a result I am better positioned than ever to live strong well into my 90’s.   Progress!

As I vision cast for 2015, an image comes to mind … that of a seedling imprisoned by stone, yet pressing onward into life.  These wonders of nature are even more inspiring when they are seen growing out of the side of a vertical rock cliff.  The SeedlingOne can only imagine their journey from seed to seed-producing and bird-sheltering trees that survive season after season, decade after decade.

In my mind’s eye, I envision a lone seed being dropped by bird or squirrel, later washed by flowing currents of rain deep into the crags between opposing rocks.

In darkness, the seed finds a little pocket of dirt, just enough to enrobe itself with the necessary soil, moisture, and organisms required to initiate the transformation from seed to seedling.

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?  It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”  (Luke 13:18-19, NIV)

Time passes and from the safety of its craggy entombment, tender tendrils of life emerge.  Against all odds, the seedling presses through dirt and rock to receive nourishment of the morning sun. Eventually, the seedling outgrows the confines of its home.  It is root bound and has used up every millimeter of space for its ever increasing trunk.  As a result, access to the root system has been blocked for rainwater and airflow.  What once was shelter has now become a prison, and the young tree is entrapped and compromised.  The situation appears hopeless.

Have you ever felt like that?  I have!

Now about this time I expect you are asking yourself, “What in the world does this have to do with new years resolutions?”

PerseveranceAnd the answer is PERSERVERANCE!

For with perseverance, even a 1-day old seedling can eventually force the rock to move out of its way so that it can grow into full maturity as an adult tree!

This truth gives me great comfort as I make New Years Resolutions for 2015 that are echo’s of 2014 resolutions, and 2013 resolutions and so on.  After so many failed attempts to _______________, the temptation is to either lessen one’s goals to something believed as more readily achievable, or to discard those dreams altogether.  I mean, who needs yet another reminder on 1/1/2016 of ones failure to _________?

But not this year!  I shall not quit pressing on for the dream of what is in my heart to do, for I know that with perseverance of faith and continued obedience to His leading, I will eventually see manifestation of what which I am presently believing God for.   The mountain WILL move!

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.  (Ephesians 3:20, The Message)

So here’s to 2015!  Let us dream big, and press on to take hold of all that God has put in our hearts to become, and to do for the glory of His Name!

In Him,
Jenny

Lead me on

Photo used by permission of TouTouke (Agnes Scholiers)
Photo by TouTouke (Agnes Scholiers)

I think that for the most part, I am a ‘half-glass-full’ kind of person.  Or as I like to call it – a “HOPE-filled” person.

I truly want my life to reflect the Light of HOPE that guides me, comforts me, inspires me.  I want the HOPE found in the promises of God to be the anchor for my soul [my mind, my will, my emotion].

But sometimes   …maybe for a few minutes, or maybe for several days… a feeling that is not hope-filled overcomes me.  David describes it as ‘downcast’-ness.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?  ~Psalm 42:5

I call these days my ‘wobbly’ days, for instead of being steadfast in my faith [firmly fixed, immovable], on these days I am ‘unfixed’, ‘movable’, and in some cases on the verge of ‘completely toppling over altogether’.   Clearly, on ‘wobbly’ days my focus is less on the Promise(s) and more on the present circumstances.

Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me.  ~John 14:1 (Amplified)

One of my daughters recently shared the song “Steady Heart” by Steffany Gretzinger (of Bethel Music) with me.  It has completely captured my thinking, or more specifically – the image inspired by the chorus has captured my imagination, and speaks deeply to my soul and spirit.

Steady heart that keeps on going, Steady love that keeps on holding
Lead me on
Steady grace that keeps forgiving,  Steady faith that keeps believing
Lead me on

~”Steady Heart”, by Steffany Gretzinger (chorus only)

To my hearing, the singer is speaking to Someone, who is intimately referred to as;  1) Steady Heart, 2) Steady Love, 3) Steady Grace, and 4) Steady Faith.    And in those four Names, I am reminded that steadfastness of faith (that continued HOPE-filled pressing-in and pressing-on towards full possession of the Promises of God) is not experienced by of lack of trials, but is the result of maintaining a fixed focus on the One who goes before us, Jesus Christ.  He is the Good Shepherd, and if we will simply focus our attention on listening, and following, and obeying His instructions, He will safely lead us through the storm and back into open spaces of peace and rest.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.  ~Psalm 42:11

The heart knows it’s own sorrows

At the time of this writing I am on vacation … a much deserved break, and an unexpected blessing for me and my adult children (and their families).  We are all staying together in a beautiful log cabin rental in Trenton ME (just mainland from Desert Mountain Island – home of Acadia National Park).  It is BE-U-TIFUL here, and this simple snapshot from the back deck just doesn’t do justice to the view nor peacefulness of the home.   After such hardships on my last job, and then all the excitement of starting my own business – this time of ‘decompression’ is a delightful balm to my soul and has given bandwidth/margin for my creative juices to start flowing again.

2014 VacationSo while grandkids get their tubbies, and their daddies take charge of the BBQ, I stepped upstairs to work on the ‘vacation puzzle’.  We are 4 days into a 7 day vacation and it is about 2/3 complete.  (Don’t be overly impressed – it’s only a 500 piece puzzle, and so far, it is kicking our can’s … but I am hopeful we will win this challenge before the vacation is over!)   Anyways, while working on it, I started singing a familiar song I used to sing to my daughters as a lullaby at night.    Maybe you heard of it …. “Songbird” made famous by Barbara Streisand?  Gosh, I have always loved her artistry, and this was such a hauntingly beautiful melody in it’s time, and a much requested ‘goodnight song’ from my daughters even into their early teenage years.   But as they became mothers themselves, one of my girls commented on the actual lyrics of the song … something to the effect “geez … it’s a really depressing song, mom”.

And here I am again, singing it on a family vacation??  Of course, now I am singing it primarily because I think it is a beautiful song.  But there is also a place in my heart that is comforted by the song because it reminds me of days gone by – those difficult and heartbreaking days when I grieved a broken marriage, and was learning what life would be like as a single parent.  Back then, even as I sang the song as a soothing nighttime lullaby to my girls, the lyrics brought a ‘secret comfort’ to my own heart  – and singing of the unfulfilled loneliness of the songbird was rather like making a silent admission of my own pain and sorrow (behind the brave face I put on for my children).

When I’ m all alone
I sing my saddest song
Lonely, and no one can see
This time the song is for me

Thankfully, those days are long behind me now and as I consider the lyrics of the song from my ‘2014 log cabin vantage point’, I am now reminded of this scripture:

Your joy is your own; your bitterness is your own. No one can share them with you.  (Proverbs 14:10)

And in the same way that someone might struggle to understand the familiar comfort of such a sad song (even decades after the tears of sorrow have been transformed into tears of great joy!), I think that too often I have been too quick to dismiss someone else’s pain because from my vantage point – they are just making too much of this or that.  [Yuck!  What a horrid admission to make.  But it is true].

But who am I to judge? 

WHO ELSE CAN KNOW (besides Jesus) the bitterness or depth of pain experienced by another heart?

Lord, help me be more tolerant of others pain!  Empower me be gracious and show your love!  Help me extend mercy and walk with them through the process of healing, without becoming impatient if they don’t heal as quickly as I think they ought to.  [again – yuck!].

Well, that’s about as much self examination and yucky admissions as I can take today.  I will close with this quote from my most favorite blogger in the entire world … who also happens to be my daughter!

Life is a dare to love, everyone”   (from her blog “Life Is A Dare“)  http://www.lifeisadare.com

 

Goodnight and be blessed,
Jenny

 

Leaping or Deeping, it’s all a test of faith!

Here’s the thing about taking ‘a leap of faith’.   In order for it to qualify as a ‘leap’, there has to be a period of time that you are in a free-fall of some sort or another.  That exciting, but often very unnerving span of time between when you left Point A, but haven’t quite reached Point B.   That is, assuming you even know where Point B is!

Well, like I shared a few months ago, I recently felt called to take a leap of faith; but in my case it felt less like ‘leaping’ and more like ‘deeping’ (sorry – I couldn’t resist the urge to rhyme!).

Have you ever felt like that?  Felt the prompting to leave what was known and comfortable, and instead take a leap?   Or heard the Lord inviting you to step off the shorelines of safety trust in Him to elevate you over the depths of the unknown?

And if you have, how did you respond?

Did you leap?  Did you deep?   Are you still deciding how to respond?

Water Walking
Water Walking

So much has happened since I wrote the post Water Walking.  I am still very much “in the deep of faith” stage of things, but I take great comfort in knowing that I am not alone in the deep, and neither are you!  Let me say that again … YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing.

Just because we don’t yet see the full manifestation of what we are praying for, we can press on during the ‘water walking’ stage of the journey with confident expectation  – knowing that He who called us out into the deep waters of faith will be as faithful to us as He was to Abraham God will not leave His promise unfulfilled!!

May that truth be as comforting to you as it is to me, and may we both soon make it to the other side of the waters and into our very own ‘promised lands’.

Blessings,
Jenny

Lord of the past

I have loved this song since I first heard it in the early 90’s.  It was my anthem during a particularly difficult time in my life, but lets face it – everyone has a past!  Everyone has been hurt by harsh words and experienced the disappointment of broken promises.  Everyone has experienced the pain of loss, disgrace, shame.   Everyone has watched dreams die and grieved for missed opportunities.  Everyone has said and done things they deeply regret and wish they could take back.

Everyone hurts!  The question is – what do you do with that hurt?

photo provided by Dez Pain.
photo provided by Dez Pain.

Some of the most personally impacting lines of the song come at the bridge and poignantly speak to the way we so often try to isolate ourselves from the risk of future pain by building walls of self-protection and even self-deception.   I did this for years, refusing to come to terms with my past and doing everything in my power to convince myself daily that the truth that was staring me right in the face did not exist; in effect creating ‘my own reality’ so that I didn’t have to deal with the actual reality that hurt too much to acknowledge.   And like the song said, it was killing me.

Are you hurting today?  There is hope.

For me, it was only when the train-wreck of my life reached its lowest possible point, that I finally surrendered and cried out to God to be the Lord of my past, my present, and my future.   I pray you don’t have to get to that low a point before you reach out for the hand of Love that is reaching out to take yours.  There is no judgement in His eyes, only deep compassion for you and a longing to restore you.  And if you will allow Him, He has promised in His word to transform even the most painful aspects of your past, and give you beauty where there was once only ashes.  He is able.  He can do anything.  Truly, He can.

LORD OF THE PAST

Bob Bennett
© 1989 Matters Of The Heart Music (ASCAP)

Every harsh word spoken
Every promise ever broken to me
Total recall of data in the memory
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
(You can redeem these things so far away)
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of the Past
(Be the Lord of my Past)
Oh how I want you to
Be the Lord of the Past

All the chances I let slip by
All the dreams that I let die in vain
Afraid of failure and afraid of pain
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Well I picked up all these pieces
And I built a strong deception
And I locked myself inside of it
For my own protection
And I sit alone inside myself
And curse my company
For this thing that has kept me alive for so long
Is now killing me.
And as sure as the sin rose this morning,
The man in the moon hides his face tonight.
And I lay myself down on my bed
And I pray this prayer inside my head

Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of my Past
You can do anything
Be the Lord of the Past
I know that you can find a way
To heal every yesterday of my life
Be the Lord of the Past