Tried & Trying

“Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

Psalm 37:24 

 I once had a mentor tell me that it took an average of 22 attempts for a person to quit smoking.

22 tries at briefly achieving and then falling off the wagon. 21 falls and 22 rises. And that is an average, which means some took less attempts… while others took more.

What strength is that to fall and fail and fall again, yet at some point reaching a period where you dust yourself off and you continue to try?

This fun fact was shared with me on Tuesday.

And then on Wednesday I received a “Last Day to Sign Up” email from a motivational group I follow- 90 Day Workout challenge.

I am not sure if I have reached or surpassed 22 attempts at regularly exercising, but I can tell you I feel I am definitely in the ballpark. And the sad thing is I love feeling healthy and having energy. I enjoy running, at the very least I enjoy hiking and doing things that generally require strength to a certain degree.

And it was just last week I was explaining to my sister that I did not like the gym. And I didn’t want to go to a gym.

But I do want to get into better shape. And with the MS, my doctor highly suggests that regular, healthy, daily exercise is beneficial and at times essential.

So the email arrives. 90 Day Challenge. At home workouts. Last Day to Sign Up.

Oh and Level 1…

Free.

So in a split decision on my lunch break- I signed up. Fully committed? I wanted to be. Think about it later and change my mind? Hopefully not.

The more I thought about it I could feel an outside thought whispering I was too busy, that it wasn’t fair to put this pressure on myself, why couldn’t I be happy with all I was already doing… However, the more I thought about it, the more I also remembered all the reasons I knew it was worth another try.

And through all the naysaying I could feel the small still voice that had encouraged me to sign up continue to get excited. Because what is better than reaching a goal?

Making a goal.

And what solidifies this goal today? What makes me want to write a post and share it on my online journal space, to let all who read know I am starting a 90 Day Workout Challenge?

Thursday morning when I was getting up and getting ready for work I wandered onto Facebook (I know, I know) – and the first thing I saw on my newsfeed- Run for the Soul, September 28th at the Columbus Zoo.

The same race I attempted to run in 2017, following my August diagnosis of MS.

The same race which encouraged me to take to the sidelines.

The same race that almost broke me.

Now the race’s victory was short lived and I made a fairly quick come back, running a race that October. And I have committed to fearlessly doing all the things, as well as I can, regardless, since. However…

I cannot help but draw a parallel between the timing of the challenge and the timing of the race. Call it coincidence. Call it me being unnecessarily dramatic or imaginative. Call it me having really loved my last t-shirt from that race (because I did and still do)…

But Attempt #22, here we come.

And my friends, I do not know what you have attempted time after time with temporary success, but please remember failure is only permanent when we fail to try- and to try again.

 

Living Legacies

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,”

Philippians 1:3

It is strange, the coexistence of love and grief.

To experience such pain, grounded in the purest joy.

The sound of your voice on a recording, a picture with your smile from a happier day…

My heart fills and is full as my stomach drops and feels sick beyond measure.

Sweet memories tinged with bitterness yet now more valuable than any treasure imaginable. Regardless of the pain, remembering you is one of my favorite things.

I believe there is a part of us that will never fully accept that you are gone. I believe there will always be a piece of us that is shocked at the sentiment that you are no longer here.

And I believe it is because deep down you are not gone- deep down our soul knows that this life is not the end and that one day we will be reunited- in a place with no more tears and no more death and no more goodbyes. In the core of our being we have the vaguest inclination of eternity and while we cannot fully grasp it and all its wonder- we know.

We know that this is just part of the journey home.

We all have been sent on our journey and will take different roads home. The duration of our journey may vary, some will take longer and some will arrive sooner- but we all seek the same destination.

And we will collect our souvenirs. Our experiences and blessings we have acquired on the trip, some welcome and unwelcome. More importantly though, we will leave some pieces of ourselves behind.

We will sow seeds and give from what has been given to us; our talents, gifts, words, hope… These things given freely are given in love. And seeds sown in love grow into legacies. Legacies of light, hope, compassion, care… all grounded in love.

And long after one is home, their legacy continues to grow- more often than not in ways unseen, too small to notice yet too large to measure- carried on by those they left to continue on their journey. The seeds they had planted beginning to take full affect as their loved ones seek to fill this world with as much love and joy as the sower afforded them.

Mom, we miss you. We were not, and still are not, ready for your journey to be over. How we wanted you to stay.

You are home, at the home, but it is not the home that we know- it is not the home we have shared.

We hear the echoes of your laughter in our memories and home videos though no longer in the room. We hear your comforting words of wisdom buried in our hearts but no longer on the other side of the phone. We see the physical evidence of the beautiful life you led here on your journey, though we no longer have your physical presence.

And it hurts, God, it hurts so bad.

But Mom, though it was too soon, it is universally acknowledged that generally one cannot have too much of a good thing. The reality is that given five more minutes… we would always want five more minutes. And you mom, you did not leave us with nothing, but with the greatest of somethings, your legacy. Your light. Your laughter. Your smile. Your heart. The seeds were sown and they took root and we remember.

As we prepare to celebrate you today I pray that we can carry your legacy proudly. That we can love and serve as you did. That when we finish our journeys and reach the final destination, we can look at our adventures and point at some of those moments and say “That, that I learned from my mom” and in which God will respond “I know and I knew. For I always have a reason.”

Though our earthly hearts cannot always fathom divine reasoning, I continuously thank God for you at every remembrance. There are days when the memories are harder to weather than others. Days when the grief saturates every memory and turns laughter into tears. However, behind those tears lies the greatest of joys, for those tears only exist because of what was once so wonderfully happy. Truly happy.

No, I wouldn’t change a thing. For the happiness of one moment with you far outweighs the unbearable pain of the days ahead without you. Always my heart remembering, that this is not the end just our final and temporary goodbye. And what is time compared to eternity?

Until then, we will walk our journeys, your legacy firmly rooted in our hearts and in the love you gave to us.

 

Lord Bless the Fireflies

“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.

John 12:46

I am so far behind.

Assignments unfinished.

Emails unanswered.

To Do Lists unaccomplished.

Phone calls unmade.

And projects untouched.

More often than not I find myself thinking of everything I have not done with little celebration for what I have finished…

I was probably late finishing it and therefore its completion brings its own guilt. It may be finished but not when I had hoped it would be completed. An accomplished relief filled guilt. But still guilt.

And after a period, if left unchecked you can get buried under that heaviness. Each “To Do” a stone carried on your back. And it feels for every stone you finally let go, two more appear.

One task done, two more come. The mystery of the never ending “To Do” list.

And sometimes the list seems so long, a chaotic jump from bullet point to bullet point, that you freeze uncertain of where to even start.

The bag of stones is too heavy, the mountain too steep and you are too tired. Dust covers you as you hit your knees in surrender. Some of your stones roll away. Most of them remain by your side, seemingly taunting you or calling out to be accomplished.

Remember? Remember how important I am? Remember why I am in this bag?

And you do. But you’re tired.

However, after a few moments having hit your knees something miraculous begins to take place. You rest, your burden at your side but no longer on your shoulders, and after a moment you look up. And for the first time since you have been struggling with your burden you can really breathe.

Not the labored breath of climbing a mountain with a weighted sack filled with everything you should do or need to do. But a deep, life giving, relaxing breath.

You remember that you are human. And that means something.

How awe-inspiring it is to know and be loved by a God who created fireflies.

As we go about our daily tasks and assignments we can get caught up in the imperfections and frustrations of this world. The heart wrenching realities and painful truths and exhausting call to move, move, move. Never fast enough, almost always behind…

But when we stop we give ourselves the opportunity to tap into a power beyond our own. A power who created the universe, light as bright as the sun and as magical as the fireflies.

A power who created and loves you- who loved you before any of the “To Dos” on your list even existed.

A Savior who when you look up you realize is at your side offering a hand as he shoulders your sack of stones taking your burden as his own.

Summer always goes flies too fast.

My prayer is that aside from the “To Dos” and list of hoped accomplishments, that we remember to stop and take a moment and appreciate the wonders around us- reminders that we do no walk this journey alone and our burden is not our own.

And when in doubt, look to the fireflies, they’ll remind you that the God who created you also created them, and what is more loving and reassuring than that?

*Thank you toan phan on Unsplash for the photo.

 

 

Step Out – Jump In

 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

Matthew 14:29 

Step Out Jump In.

If your best friend jumped off of a bridge, would you?

I remember hearing this question as my best friend and sisters and I were not often, but occasionally, in need of a wise and correcting lecture. Of course this question stemmed from the fact that we were generally all in the same boat, in an essence “we all had jumped in together” though one of us had assuredly gone first.

And then one day my best friend Jamie and I actually did jump off a bridge. (Into a lake. While camping. Not incredibly large. A ton of fun. Note though still a bit a ton of trouble when the Moms found out.)

It is one of my favorite and most treasured memories. Climbing up to the top, standing on the edge side by side and then that last look as we stepped off. We could have taken on the whole world, at least we felt we could see the whole world from way up top. A few nerves, but no fear, not when your best friend is at your side. The sun shining and that water. Having the courage to jump led to the greatest of personal triumphs at the time. (Before the Moms found out that is- but that is not the moral we are going to discuss today.)

The moral of the story today is that sometimes in life, when Jesus calls us to come, we may not be stepping out of the boat in faith- but jumping out- in faith.

I graduated from OSU with a duel bachelor’s in Animal Science and Agricultural Business  and was blessed with an incredible job. It was hard work and long hours. But on the daily I enjoyed the work I did, enough. The people were great and we had fun when we could.

But something was missing. After two years having discussed, debated and weighed the possibility I was feeling a call to completely change my entire career, and education. All of it. After all of those years, still paying the student loans. Changes that would entail;

A dramatic decrease in my income.

A dramatic undertaking in my schedule.

A dramatic change… period.

From Agriculture to Ministry.

Soooo I dragged my feet. I assured myself I had misunderstood- I had misunderstood the call to come. He wouldn’t call me. I am not… (insert varying and lengthy list here of faults and failings). And then I would second these thoughts by recognizing all of the impossibilities; bills, location, education, finances, time… did I mention bills?

It was a really great rebuttal. I must say. Defense lawyer status 10/10.

Blessedly, though, I lost the case.

After three years I finally jumped out of the boat.

I jumped, not stepped. When I attempted to step out of the boat, I generally hesitated. And that hesitation usually caused me to bring my foot back in, running through my 10/10 rebuttal until God would bring me back around again. No as I stood there the moment came when I realized I had to jump, leaving no opportunity to turn back. If I was going in I had to go all in, full commitment.

And all the things I knew would happen- happened.

Dramatic change in income. Dramatic undertaking in my schedule. Dramatic changes all around- the expected and the unexpected.

And I had never been happier. I had never felt more on track. I had never felt more productive. Chasing the call. Leaving fear behind for freedom. I was significantly poorer and significantly busier. But- I was also significantly less burdened and significantly happier. Not abandoning my responsibilities; yet not deafening the call.

And so I have continued to step out of the boat when called, jumping if needed. Sometimes the process still entails my attempts at a rebuttal, but I with so many past experiences, it does not take quite as long for me to accept that I may be the one he is actually calling. It can be scary, but scary I believe is often just the darker connotation of unknown possibility, opportunity and excitement. Reaching for the stars is not easy, but to try and fail is fulfilling in a way that to not try at all could ever be.

In the words of C.S. Lewis, “You are never too old to set a new goal, or dream a new dream”. And seconded by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing…. I hope you live a life you’re proud of , and if you are not, I hope you have the courage to start over”.

That day on the bridge standing beside my best friend, I learned one of the greatest life lessons. I could of stood on that bridge forever (or at least until dinner time) and ran through hundreds of 10/10 rebuttals… but what possibility waited on the other side of the jump made all of them null. Stand on bridge vs. An adventure with my best friend? And the sooner I jumped, the sooner the adventure could begin.

I knew I wasn’t going in alone. Someone else was going to be there. And that someone… well I would have gone wherever the adventure took us, 100%. Today, Jamie and I’s adventures look a bit different- I look forward to the day we can compare notes. Meanwhile when I am called from time to time to jump, I know I am not called to jump alone.

Jesus will not call you to where he is not willing to be. The Creator of best friends- is your best friend- guarding your back, while being one step ahead…

But most importantly standing at your side turning to you with a smile and asking “Ready?”