This is one of my favorite songs from Isaiah 40:31, but this week I read something that made it even more special. I’ve always assumed that it meant I would rise up and fly like an eagle. But Hannah Whitall Smith says that the mother eagle stirs up the nest and thrusts them out of the nest to teach them to fly. She floats under them ans watches them carefully. But as they grow weary, the mother flies under the eaglet and spreads out her strong wings to bear it up until it is rested and ready to fly again. How like my Savior! I’m the great eagle; He is.
This song, another by Andrae Crouch, was popular when I became a Christian 38 years ago this month. As I was going through hard times and trying to figure out how to live this life called Christian, it was a comfort to me. And it reminds me of my dear friends from that era — Chris, Beth, and Marti — who have all graduated to glory. I miss them. But through it all, Jesus has been faithful.
Occasionally I like to review fiction, especially when it’s written by someone I know. Being an ordinary woman, I do love to relax with a good novel from time to time. I call this feature Fiction Friday. It won’t happen every Friday, but every now and then, I want to encourage you to take a few hours off and snuggle in with a good book. Today’s book is At Home in Last Chance: A Novel (A Place to Call Home) by my friend and colleague, Cathleen Armstrong.
Free spirits Kaitlyn Reed and Steven Braden have always had a similar philosophy of life: when the going gets tough, they get going – out of town and away from the problem. Now they are both in Last Chance, New Mexico and trying to start over.
Kaitlyn is working to reestablish a relationship with the seven-year old daughter she left behind with her brother, the new owner of the Dip n’ Dine, six months earlier. Steven is working on the family ranch with Uncle Joe Jr. and trying to prove that he isn’t the irresponsible charmer the town has always known him to be. As Kaitlyn and Steven are drawn to one another, one big question keeps getting in the way: how can they learn to trust each other when they don’t even trust themselves?
At Home in Last Chance: A Novel (A Place to Call Home) is the third in the Last Chance series. My friend Cathy Armstrong has once again captured the folksy, small town friendliness of rural New Mexico. Her characters and plot are strong, but the town itself is what captivates me.
Just in case you were wondering, there are some surefire ways to guarantee that you will be chronically unhappy.
Tamara Star shares 7 Habits of Chronically Unhappy People in an article in the Huffington Post. I can confirm from my ministry with hundreds of people that these characteristics are unequivocally true. They’ll make you miserable in no time at all.
So if your goal is to be depressed, despondent, and glum, try these can’t-miss tips:
Refuse to trust others. The reality is that most people are good and trustworthy. But unhappy people assume they are bad and untrustworthy.
Focus on what’s wrong rather than on what’s right. Sure there is a lot wrong in the world, but seriously, there’s a lot more that is right. Unhappy people can find the negative in anything.
Negatively compare yourself to everyone. Yep, everyone. Decide you can never measure up, and sure enough, you won’t.
Strive to control everyone and everything. After all, you are doing such a good job in your own life. That vice-grip control is guaranteed to make you miserable.
Worry and fret about the future. After all it’s the one thing you can’t control. And heaven knows all that might possibly go wrong.
Gossip and complain about everyone you know. And those you don’t know.
Do these things and I can assure you that you’ll be miserable, depressed, despondent, and just plain unhappy.
Of course, if you don’t like it there, consider behaving just the opposite and see what happens…
What are the strategies you use to hide your brokenness? Come on now… You know you have more than your share of broken places. Wounds that you cover up with habits, addictions, sinful attitudes, lies…
Problem is, most of us hide our brokenness. We make excuses. We make sure our hair and make-up are done. We avoid the people who rub us the wrong way or make us feel inadequate. We enhance our stories in our favor, while demeaning those we are in conflict with. Anything to hide our brokenness.
Would you consider another way? The Japanese have an art form called Kintsugi, where broken pottery is mended with lacquer resin dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. The idea is to treat both the breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. In fact, the repair (as well as the brokenness) is literally illuminated.
Perhaps rather than hiding our brokenness in shame, we need to illuminate it. I do this by telling my story when appropriate. Recently I met with a new discipleship mentee. The first thing she wanted to know was my story. Rather than creating shame, it gave me credibility. She knew that I had experienced pain and not only survived, but thrived. It made her willing to trust me. Had I tried to pretend that my life was flawless, the result would have been very different.
So would you consider illuminating your brokenness? Not to glorify it, but to share your history? Let me know how it works.
Today we offer a tribute to Andrae Crouch, who moved to his home in Glory this week. This was one of my favorites of his. And the message is so needed today. We seem to have forgotten the absolute power in the blood of Jesus.
I just ran across this list of prayers to pray for our young people. As a grandma, I’m especially concerned about the world my granddaughters are growing up in and the influences they will face as they mature. Although they are still a little young for these prayers, it’s never too early to start. After all I’m already praying for their husbands! So as you pray for your kids and grandkids, consider adding some of these prayers to your list.
This is a wonderful reminder for the first Sunday of 2015. Through many years of sorrows and challenges, I’ve learned that Jesus is indeed all I need. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s true.
My life has little room for silence. My guess is yours is about the same.
I wonder why that is? We know intuitively that silence is important, but life seems to move so quickly. We are over-stimulated at every turn – freeway noise, music, podcasts. I can’t get dressed in the morning without talk radio—my way of keeping up with current events in a life too busy to read the news. Our homes are filled with sounds we no longer hear – the refrigerator motor, the washer, the heating system. All of this contributes to a sense of frenzy that has become normal.
Thai Nguyen has written an article on 10 Important Reasons to Start Making Time for Silence, Rest and Solitude Using the latest research, he point out ten benefits of silence, rest, and solitude. I like and especially need number four – memory benefits. He says that taking a walk alone gives the brain uninterrupted focus and helps with memory consolidation. At my age, I could certainly use that!
As I prepare for my annual planning retreat in a couple of weeks, I am going to make sure I have time not only for planning, but also for silence. Maybe it will even help me hear from God more clearly!
How about you? How do you incorporate silence into your life?
2014 was a hard year for me. What about you?
Mom has continued to become more difficult this year, with almost a month of hospitals and skilled care in October. She hasn’t regained her strength, and it comes out in every way.
Then I saw these caregiver resolutions in a post on Caring.com and decided I need to implement them (or something like them) this year. Not all of these apply to all of us, but let them be a jumping off point for your own declarations.
Here’s the sample from Caring.com to start you off.
- I will organize and dispense all my loved one’s meds. . . but not beat myself up for forgetting the occasional dose.
- I will apologize when I lose my temper, but realize that caregiving is so chock-full of temperature-riling situations that eternal calm is impossible.
- I will be there for my loved one, but I will continue to run my own life at the same time.
- I will let myself grieve and cry and feel sad, instead of trying to keep a chipper smile on my face all the time.
- I will accept or ignore criticism for what it’s worth (or not worth) rather than letting it eat at me.
- I will quit blaming myself when bad things happen. Bad things happen.
- Finally, I resolve to take care of me this year, not just my loved one. Because eventually I may be the one who needs care, and better it be later than sooner.
I resolve. . . not to try to be perfect this year.
How about you? How are you going to take care of YOU this year? Share with us your declarations.