LEAP – patiently (July 29)

For all my efforts to, L.E.A.P. (Live, Enjoy, Add, and Pray) “generously” last month, I have come away with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the generosity of others: the generosity of God, my family, and my friends.

So, as I head into a month with a focus on patience, I especially want to add something, to be a blessing to others with an uplifting, unhurried calm, and not just to be learning from the example of patience I see in others.

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Noah Webster’s definition is both encouraging and  convicting; because it shows a secret key to patience, “a submission to Divine Will”.  I believe this is the secret of contentment too, resting in the Sovereignty of the LORD.  (My own determination and strength,  my “constitutional fortitude” and “heroic pride”, just won’t cut it.)

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PATIENCE - from Latin patientia, from patior, to suffer ... 1. The suffering of afflictions, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance with out murmuring or fretfulness.  Patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from Christian submission to the Divine Will.  2. A calm temper which bears evil without murmuring or discontent.  3.  The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent.  4.  Perseverance; constancy in labor or exertion.  5. The quality of bearing offenses and injuries with out anger or revenge.   (American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828)

If this month is anything like the last five, I can be certain the LORD has had PATIENCE marked on His calendar and has relevant divine appointments scheduled in the coming days for me.   In fact, He has already been preparing my heart.

As I write this, David Jeremiah is starting a message series on the book of Job (Tried, Tested, and Triumphant), I can’t help but smile again at God’s timing.

“Remember the patience of Job,” James 5:11.

Much of the last message (Stay Committed) of Jeremiah’s previous series (Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World) was about patience.   In it Jeremiah half jokingly said, “Don’t ever pray for patience; because if you do, God will send you tribulation.”  His audience chuckled, but I prayed for patience anyway.

I am praying for patience…

and here’s why…
  1. I need it!
  2. I’m going to go though trials and sufferings anyway; so I might as well ask the LORD to help me face these testings and come through it all victoriously and with something to show for it, like increased faith and character.
  3. Without patience, I (and the people around me) will only be more frustrated and miserable.   As I see it, either I will develop patience, or I will be testing everyone else’s patience.    (So, I’m basically asking for patience out of consideration for my husband and children, my friends, and even strangers that will have to interact with me.)
  4. Also, I’m asking the LORD to give me patience for the sake of not digressing into a grumpy, demanding, and irritable old lady.  I don’t want to stay the same, and LORD have mercy on us all if I become any more impatient!
  5. (And, maybe, the LORD might just generously give me some initial patience outright, some seed-maturity to grow from, a foundation to build more patience on.)

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I want to L.E.A.P. PATIENTLY.

So, I want to LIVE, “just live” (relax, breathe… , contentedly taking life as it comes), patiently! Not up-tight, not controlling, not demandingly, not anxiously, not angrily, not irritably… but patiently!

I want to ENJOY patiently.  Not waiting till circumstances are “perfect” or life is stress free, which may never happen, but with patience, trusting in the Sovereignty of God, giving grace, and able to experience the JOY of the LORD and appreciate His blessings with an unhurried, cheerful disposition.

  • whether I am in traffic (and get to listen to an entire sermon on CD),
  • have a flat-tire (and have unexpected time to relax and read),
  • am in a stand-still price-check line at the grocery (and get to listen to elevator music or visit with someone),
  • or must correct a child or forgive for the 70 X 7 th time (and can be thankful for the fact that I have a child/family/friends)

 In any circumstance, I can still be at peace and filled with joy with patience.

I want to ADD patiently.  Rather than rushing about and making others  feel that they are an interruption or an irritation, I want to be an inviting source of calm especially in stressful or irritating situations.   (Just as it was the example of others’ generosity that taught me to be generous last month, I hope that my patience might be contagious.)  I want to…

  • smile anyway
  • laugh, find humor in the situation
  • when circumstance are frustrating, I will pray
  • when there’s a delay, I will play a game, start a conversation, give thanks, or simply notice the beauty of the world around me,…
  • I aim to continue to apply all that I’ve learned about being attentive, intentional, and generous over these past months!

I want to PRAY patiently, persevering in prayer for those unanswered request and waiting on the LORD with a quiet, faith-filled, trusting heart.

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My personal challenge:

This month, I am marking every verse I read in my Bible that pertains to patience, self-control, perseverance, endurance, and long-suffering; choosing 29 verses (one for each day) to meditate on.

And, I want to list 29 things that test my patience to identify the circumstances that stir up an unsettled spirit in me, those issues that provoke me to respond selfishly or in anger or to step in to take control of things that are meant to be controlled by the LORD.

Dear Seeker, last month I rediscovered how much fun it is to be generous, to spontaneously bless a stranger and be equally blessed by their initial surprise and then the lingering smile on their face.  But, as unnatural as it is for the selfish-me to be generous, it is even more difficult for me to be patient.    If you feel this way too, join me in admitting weakness, and rather than being defeated, let’s depend on the LORD and bravely ask for Him to gently and generously grant us patience.

Ask God to make you aware of where and when you are most vulnerable to being impatient, rude, harsh, selfish, or controlling.  Let’s ask Him to give shape our character and faith.  Let’s seek His word for His practical wisdom and make the next month of this LEAP year one that moves us forward in victory!

Keep Seeking first

the One that sought YOU first

and wants you to find

everything you need in Him!

Healing for the Soul

Have you ever tried to hobble around with an injured spirit or an aching heart (on a not-so-little “stress fracture” of faith, a careless self-inflicted “fall”, or bruises from an “accident” caused by another)?  Too often these hurts go undiagnosed because these don’t show on an X-ray.

From shin splint to sprains, the treatment for many minor injuries is R.I.C.E.:  Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.   And these treatments can aid in the healing of a wounded soul, too.

Care for the Wounded Heart

  • R – Rest (Rest in the LORD)
  • I – Ice (Ice the Negative Thoughts)
  • C – Compress (Compress the Pride)
  • E – Elevate (Elevate your Perspective)

…more on this in a minute.

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“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the ONE who holds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24

My momentary slip was a result of high heels and gravel, a precarious combination.  I was in a hurry, literally “running” late in my favorite pair of Sunday sandals.

“Didn’t you see ‘Mom’s Night Out’?” asked my son, the only witness to my awkward scene.  “Mom, even I know that you’re not supposed to run in heels!”    —    It didn’t seem as funny at the time as I remembered Sarah Drew looking in the movie, but now, I do kind of wonder how I might have looked stumbling in slow-mo. 

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“High Heels are a Sprained Ankle Waiting to Happen.”  –  I read that on a medical website last night.  – I believe it, but as I see them still lying on the floor, I feel torn. How can I not wear those wonderful shoes again!?!  – Some beautiful, yet potentially so called dangerous, things are worth the risk. — Like love… marriage, parenting, friendsips, even trusting God.

“Even in laughter a heart may be in pain.”  (Proverbs 14:13) It’s the sadness behind the smile.  I saw it in the eyes of a friend just the other day.  It reminded me of a look I’ve seen in the mirror before, and I ached with empathy.

There isn’t a lot humor in how our hearts are wounded, especially if there is laughter at our expense or unanswered questions that cause our faith to quake in the aftershocks of a trial.

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It hurt when I stumbled, but not too badly at first.  Then, as the day went on, my ankle became stiffer and movement more painful.  Eight hours later, I was unable to walk from the car to the house; so Handsome scooped me up and carried me to the couch.

And, three days later, here I still sit with my foot up and unexpected time on my hands.

Time doesn’t always heal.  Sometimes it makes us hard, crusty prisoners of bitterness; gun-shy and withdrawn in insecurity or angry and over-reactively shooting at everything that breathes and we don’t know why; or desperate for approval or shut off and pretending to need no one.   We can become more controlling, more fearful, or all the more vulnerable victims, or maybe worse, just more manipulative and obnoxious old nags.   There are so many ugly and twisted alternatives to healing.

The Enemy doesn’t want us to be whole and strong in our faith or walking in victory.  Satan wants to conform us to his evil image, lame from false healing and lies, a counterfeit of everything Christ desires for us!

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Life is hard.  We are imperfect people, sinners, living  in a fallen world of imperfect people, also sinners.

  • Things break.
  • People get sick.
  • Strangers offend us.
  • Those closest to us say hurtful things.
  • We make unholy choices and cause more ripples trying to catch the echoing consequences.
  • … not to mention the seeming chaos of a maddening sinful world in rebellion against God.

We’re hurt, or embarrassed, or regretful, or offended, or one of a hundred other things that invisibly wound us.  We brush ourselves off, tell ourselves we’re alright, but left untended, we secretly struggle along, about as successfully as me trying to fake walking on this ankle.

I could continue to list common causes of a sprained spirit, but if this post resonates with you at all, deep down you probably already know what ails you.

To continue to limp along will only make maters worse; so let me offer you some healing advice.

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R. – Rest In the LORD

“Trust in the LORD… Delight yourself in the LORD… Rest in the LORD, wait patiently for Him… Wait for the LORD… He is their strength in time of trouble.  The LORD helps them and delivers them… because they take refuge in Him.” Ps. 37

Remember Who He is:  the LORD.   He owns everything.  He knows everything… even the future, the good and glory at stake in this situation.  He made everything (you, them, every cell in every body… even brain cells, ways-of-thinking cells and memory cells).

If you’re in a mess, if you made a mess, if someone is creating a mess, God can clean it up and make something beautiful of it.   And, if it seems that He isn’t, rest.

God is always working.  God is always good.  God is not in a hurry, and His ways are perfect!  Perfect for you and for whatever difficulty you’re facing.

God can carry the whole world on His broad shoulders; let Him.  If He’s told you something specific to do, do it; if not, don’t invent something.  Trust Him.  Keep living, breathing, and doing those everyday things that you know are His will.

Rest in His revealed will.  Lay your head down on His promises each night and let Him carry you through the day as you remain in His presence.

This is probably the hardest truth of all to apply because you don’t “DO” anything.  You believe what God said, trust Him, and allow your faith to grow as you watch and wait.

Resting has been the hardest part of healing my ankle too.  There are so many things I want to DO, but to stop walking around in my own strength and to stop putting all my weight on this injury is the best thing I can do.

I. – Ice the Negative Thoughts

“Do not fret… Do not be envious… Do not fret; it leads only to evil doing…” Ps. 37

So ya’ want to DO something?  Try a couple of these Scripture based prescriptions…

  • Take your thoughts captive . (It’s impossible to think on two things at the same time.)
  • Think on excellent things
  • Be thankful (Do it. Literally count those blessings!)
  • Pray (for yourself, for your loved ones, for your enemies)
  • Read Scripture. Memorize Scripture. Mediate on Scripture.

C – Compress the Pride

“…the humble with inherit the land and will delight in abundant prosperity…the LORD knows the days of the blameless…”  Ps. 37

Stop swelling pride by thinking about someone other than yourself.  The more you think about you and your problem, the more you will think about you and your problem… stop the cycle by encouraging someone else.  Pride won’t help any situation; so don’t waste time being consumed with self:  being self-centered, self-conscious, self-righteous, or giving into self-pity or self-loathing, … or just plain being selfish.

Humble yourself.  Forgive… yourself and everyone else (even Adam and Eve for the fall of man and all the consequences of sin passed down).

Quit asking, “Why?”  and start asking, “Why not?”  (There’s a awful lot of “why-nots” because of God’s grace.  And, even what you’re facing is not removed from the grace of our Loving Father.)  Maybe what you’re facing is not about YOU anyway.

E. – Elevate Your Perspective

“…He will do it.   The LORD knows…  The LORD is the One who holds his hand.  .. the LORD loves justice… The LORD will not leave him…  He will exalt… He is their strength… He helps… He delivers…”  Ps. 37

Look up, and keep looking up!

We’re to have our minds set on (preoccupied with) things above, on eternity, not on these temporary trials and earthly things.

Are you “weary and troubled?  No light in the darkness you see?” The best thing you and I can do is remember and follow the lyrics of the old hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.   Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Painful as this moment may be, today’s trials are light and momentary.  It’s difficult to explain, but we all know it to be true:  when we’re distracted time flies and pain is less intense.  As long as we are here, we’ll be tempted to focus on ourselves and our  wounds, but when we see Jesus, either face to face when He calls us home or now if we choose to look up and past the distractions, there is healing for our souls.

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My father often reminded me in hard times that we are physical, spiritual, and emotional beings.  The body, soul, and spirit are closely connected, one affecting the other.  

That's why when we go with out sleep for a long period of time (physical), we can be more easily disturbed (emotional), or when we are in physical or emotional pain for a long period of time, God may seem more distant and we feel more spiritually vulnerable. 

So when we are struggling in one area, we are wise to do what we can to care for the other areas as well.  

If you're going through spiritual testing, don't neglect yourself physically (eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, go outdoors and get some fresh air, take a shower, get dressed), lean on those emotional supports the LORD has given you (don't neglect friends and fellowship, ask for accountability and prayer support, find a wise and safe person to confide in and ask for counsel).   

If you're struggling physically (up nights with child, have an illness, etc...) or emotionally (feeling depressed, are being persecuted, are lonely, etc...), don't neglect yourself spiritually (listen to worship music, read the Psalms and uplifting poetry, attend church or listen to sermons on-line, etc...).

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Since I want to keep running and am already making plans for my next half marathon, I’m determined to care for this sprain as best I can.   So, R.I.C.E. it is:  Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  And, since I want to run the race of faith well, I will tend to my heart when it is wounded.

We’re all runners in a spiritual race; let’s treat our souls with the greatest care, through preventive spiritual measures, but when we’re knocked off our feet in our walk of faith, let’s be especially quick to come to the Great Physician.  With spiritual symptoms, it is never sensible to wait a day or two.

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So, how are you?   Are walking with a spiritual limp?

Apply R.I.C.E., come to the LORD in REST for His diagnosis.   ICE those negative thoughts by follow His prescription, whatever His Word tells you to do.   COMPRESS your pride by having a humble and sensitive heart to hear what the LORD would say about your situation.  Then continue to ELEVATE your attitude.

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And, if you’re “feelin’ fine” spiritually, be a blessing!  We’re all struggling at times and need extra grace.  So walk gently with eyes attentive for those who are especially vulnerable or frail.  Encourage someone today!

As always, if you’re reading this, I AM PRAYING for YOU!!!!

Rather than waste this painfully unexpected realigning of my plans, I’m embracing it as the gift it is, a Divine adjustment and an opportunity to write.   For whatever reason, the LORD had Couch-Time  with me on His “all-things-together-or-good” agenda.  (He’s been on  me about writing a particular post for a while, maybe that is part of this blessing.) What will you do today?