#18 Use a Bible Reading Plan

I heard once that the person who’s Bible is falling apart probably means that the person isn’t [falling apart]. This simple phrase has stuck with me, especially in the times that are difficult. Whenever we lean on truth there’s an endurance that gets you through different hurdles.

I am horrible at reading my bible consistently. I use a bible app on my iPhone that has a reading plan and try to be good at reading that, but lets just be honest, it’s usually at least a week that’s gone by each time I remember to launch the reading plan. I wish it was as easy to pick up the Bible as it is any of the other 100’s of books that I have. Even though many of my books are non-fiction christian authors I need the Bible to use as my foundation of truth by which everything else (books included) are filtered through.

Any recommended Reading Plans, both for individuals and for [newly] married couples?

Advertisements

#17 Clear Out Emotional Clutter

It’s been a while since my last blog, and I figured it was about time for another post. I never seem to finish what I start and I’m determined I can make it through this one goal. I know I can!

‘Clearing emotional clutter helps you live life more freely from the heart’.

I have always told people and tried to convince myself that pain is liberating because it reminds you that you are alive.

This year I’ve had plenty of painful reminders that I’m alive.

January 11, 2011 I became an aunt to Mikah Skye McLain. The most beautiful joyful baby you’ve ever met. And I love him. I dare say that I love him as my own, but being that I have never had a baby I feel that is a claim beyond my grasp of understanding. There were complications in the birth and Mikah was resuscitated and my sister began a long healing process of her pelvis that was separated during delivery. To say Mikah brought joy into our lives would be the biggest understatement that I’ve ever made. Beyond the joy of being an aunt I felt as though I had my sister back in my life. The two of us were never as close as I wanted, mostly because we lived very different life-styles. I don’t think either of us doubted that we loved each other, we just weren’t highly involved in each other’s lives. She moved from the hospital in FL back in with my parents in OH, bringing her geographically close enough to me that I could take weekend visits to help her with what she needed and smother Mikah with more love then he was already getting.

Then Jon came into the rest of my life. My relationship with him put understanding into the phrase that ‘when you know, you just know’, and truth to ‘it happens when you least expect it’. I will spare any gushy details and just say that his timing was perfect and inconvenient. Perfect in the sense that the LORD was providing for me in a way that I didn’t know I would need, and inconvenient because Jon wasn’t a part of MY plan and the direction I was prayerfully taking for my life.

In addition to the many things Jon has been juggling recently, on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2011, I received the news that little Mikah didn’t wake up. The phone call you know you will eventually get one day about a parent, or a grandparent, and eventually siblings, and it will be heartbreaking. But your 4 month old nephew… you are just never quite prepared. You hear stories of parents losing their children at a young age, and I am so thankful that Mikah’s passing was in his sleep and not by way of an automobile accident, or sickness, etc. He’s spared from all the hurt and pain this world has for us. But you also mourn for the life he could have had. The birthday parties we never got to celebrate. The soccer games that will never happen. The memories are so few and are full of his infant and dependency on whomever is taking care of him. But never a bad memory either. 3am feedings helping my sister. Waking up and holding him while he is snuggling. Falling asleep on your chest. His lip that quivered when he cried, which was only when he was hungry and needed his diaper changed. His little giggle. The look of recognition when you took him from someone or he heard your voice.  And I was only the aunt that got to see him about a week out of the month. My heart breaks and grieves for my sister, and my mind can’t grasp what she is going through.

Mikah not only made me an aunt, he set me on the path to emotional healing and freedom. We all have growing pains, and all deal with them differently. I bottled mine up and decided I didn’t want to deal with them, which eventually led to not being quite sure how to differentiate the emotions from each other to deal with them. It’s not easy to express love, not unconditionally. There’s so much risk involved and it’s unnatural for us as humans. But a baby, babies are easy to love, and you can love them fearlessly because it’s not a two-way relationship and expectations cannot be unmet. Were it not for Mikah, I truly do not believe that I would have been able to trust and fall so easily for Jon. Not to say that I love Jon because of Mikah, but that Mikah allowed me to fearlessly love again. And there’s so much redemptive power in that love that you are more willing to take risks. And being able to take that risk on Jon stretches me and gives me more reward than is possible outside a relationship that is seeking unconditional love, acceptance, and forgiveness, and grace. One day at a time. Each failure tackled and handled better the next time… hopefully.

“The shell must break before the bird can fly.” Tennyson

Emotional Clutter really can keep you from living. Being overly emotional, and lacking emotions. As everything in life there is a balance to find, and work to keep getting better at it. To find the balance and realize that in all things contrast is so important. The pain and joy that have been going on the last six months have been in stark contrast to each other, and although I wish all the pain could be removed I know that the LORD can and is being glorified, and that without that contrast of pain I wouldn’t begin to truly understand real joy, peace and love.

Grief is a funny thing. Your range of emotions switches to without warning, and then all emotions happen at once. Until you really grieve yourself, true empathy is near impossible. But grief brings healing as well. For the situation you are grieving, and all the facets of life that are intertwined with it. I don’t know that grieving ever ends, because life blossoms out from it. But we have to let ourselves be broken.

Brokenness… that’s the hardest part, and the most rewarding.

“Most obstacles melt away when we make up our minds to walk boldly through them.”

#16 Simplify your Surroundings

We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.
Sir Winston Churchill

I think one of the main things I have really learned with my last few moves is how burdensome “things” are. Every move is a great opportunity to just get rid of junk, but I still look around and think “too much”, yet why am I tied to so many things? Especially because I’m not very materialistic. I’ve tried lately to be a lot more intentional about my accumulation of stuff, but sometimes I just want to grab a handful of things I wouldn’t be able to part with, the important timeless things, and just leave the rest behind. Out of sight out of mind, and when I start going through it all again I think “oh yeah I remember why I kept this”… crap.

My goal for the rest of 2010 is to significantly reduce. Whether that is selling, giving away, or donating to Salvation Army or Goodwill. Stuff needs to really go. Not that they are bad things, and I’m definitely not a hoarder by any means, but the more you have the more it owns you. I really believe that. Reducing the clutter in your life is liberating. Whether it’s tangible items, relationships that are unhealthy, or baggage we shouldn’t be carry around so long. All these things are distracting and suck energy out of us.

One of my newer Nashville friends has recently gone through a major shift in his life, walking some of that with him and helping him just get rid of things has really been inspiring. Not to say that it has been easy for him, mostly it was forced. But there is a certain freedom that comes with just letting go.

and sleeping more.

I started this whole regimented-ish blog not for anyone to read but just to try and practice one of the many spiritual disciplines I should be implementing in my lives, and instead it has only shown my lack thereof. *sigh* need to work on this for sure.

#15 Recharge Your Spiritual Batteries

The time lapse between the last post and this one should serve as proof of how busy this season in my life is. But it’s a different busy. I’m loving life, I’m living life, I’m enjoying time alone, time with family, time with friends, time with my co-workers and the people that I get to help on a daily basis.

When I think “recharge”, what comes to mind is stopping.

Coming to a complete halt and resting in solitude.

Although this may be ideal it’s usually not very realistic. Lately I’ve experienced a ‘recharge’ that has come out of a whirlwind. I look back on all the changes in the last 3.5months and just the stark contrast is enough to give me more energy.

Last week and today I saw faces from people that were a part of what I’m going to references as “before”. Both faces were great to see, not only because they belong to wonderful people, but it served as a reminder of where the LORD has brought me in the last few months, and the situations he has saved me from, and the new opportunities and people that now are a huge part of each day and life here in Nashville.

Sometimes for me a recharge comes in the form of a reminder. Hopefully in the business of life, (esp. when we can’t take a ‘stay-cation’ and chill for a bit) we can recognize the reminders of the grace, love, and provision that the LORD gives us and find energy and a spiritual refresher in that.

Thank you, Jesus!

#14 Enjoy Seasonal Abundance

Enjoy… what does that mean… REALLY?

To really enjoy something well doesn’t come natural to me. To remove all situations, appointments, protections, opinions, thoughts, hesitations, and just… enjoy.

A friend posted this article by Peter Bregman on Facebook today, and there was a section of it that really resonated with me.

So what’s the problem? It sounds like I was super-productive. Every extra minute, I was either producing or consuming. But something — more than just sleep, though that’s critical too — is lost in the business; something too valuable to lose…

Boredom.

Being bored is a precious thing, a state of mind we should pursue. Once boredom sets in, our minds begin to wander, looking for something exciting, something interesting to land on. And that’s where creativity arises.

My best ideas come to me when I am unproductive; when I am running without an iPod, when I am doing nothing or waiting for someone, when I am lying in bed as trying to fall asleep. These “wasted” moments, moments not filled with anything in particular, are vital.

They are the moments in which we, often unconsciously, organize our minds, make sense of our lives, and connect the dots. They’re the moments in which we talk to ourselves. And listen.

To lose those moments, to replace them with tasks and efficiency, is a mistake.
What’s worse is that we don’t just lose them, we actively throw them away.

One of my roommates and I have been talking recently about how we can take great things/ people that LORD abundantly blesses and graces us with and turn them into an ultimate thing that replace the LORD in our lives. We are such beings of idolatry even without realizing it. These small things are where we usually find ourselves reveling in the most joy, or the most under bondage. I know for myself I sometimes don’t realize I’m idolizing something/ someone until I get smacked in the face with some loving honesty.

Coming out of a semi difficult season in my life, I look back and am disappointed in myself for not finding joy in things that in hindsight are so apparently the LORD working in my life. Instead I either moped around with a complaining & unappreciative spirit or I busied myself so that time would pass quickly. Clearly the first of my responses listed is selfishness, but the later, business, that isn’t the best response either.

Can business be idolatry?
Can the people or things that we busy ourselves with become idolatry?
It’s a subconscious comfort of sort, instead of resting solely in the LORD, from whom all blessings flow.

This morning I woke up to quite the thunderstorm here in Nashville. I love thunderstorms. It is one of those things that awaken my heart and soul, like my lungs and every pore in my body opens up so that my soul can inhale its resounding beauty and be completely refreshed. I pulled up the blinds a little on the window next to my bed so that the breeze was able to meet my face, lit some incense, and just laid there for a while breathing deeply. Enjoying the smell of it, and the breeze from it, until I drifted back to sleep.

These small things are the times I want to be more intentional about enjoying. To just slow down and observe my surroundings, whatever they may be. The places, people and things of every season.

#13 Discover the Delights of Poetry

I’ve never really LOVED poetry, per say. To some people poetry opens their soul up to a life that I’ve never quite understood. But books. I do love books.

Trusting in the Character of GodOne of the books that I’m currently reading is called The Holy Wild by Mark Buchanan (author of Your God is Too Safe and other GREAT books). It’s a book about trusting the character of the LORD so that we can venture in it and live by it.

“There are actually only three things God promises with a guarantee, and in these things God is always true to Himself. These three things are the bedrock of His faithfulness. They are the utterly trustworthy things that God promises on the basis of His own character. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. These three things are the aspects of God’s faithfulness in which, no matter what else goes amiss, we can rest completely. 




1. God is faithful to forgive our sins if we confess them. 
2. God is faithful to make us holy and blameless before Christ. 
3. God is faithful to get us home.  

None of it depends on you. 
It all depends on the God who promised. 
And he is always true to Himself.

Not poetry, but enriching just the same.

#12 Focus on QUALITY, not quantity

Quality is something I always crave, probably because ‘quality time’ is one of my main love languages, and carries over into other areas of my life. Relationally I don’t like surface conversations. I don’t care about what people like or do as much as WHO they are. I think this can be weird for some people that I meet when off the bat I dig for the WHO instead of the WHAT.
Christ calls us to a higher standard, that is the ultimate quality we should strive towards, for ourselves, for our relationships, and even in smaller areas such as the items that clutter our lives.


Lord help me to seek quality in every area of my life, including who I am in you.