I keep thinking there’s a post in me somewhere, but part of the problem is the “sometime.” It takes time for me to process all that’s been absorbed before I can spit it out, er, I mean, craft a blog post in response.

First things first. It’s neither the end or beginning of a month when I usually share a list of What I Learned, but here’s some curated links.

  1. Neighbor – Today’s Sunday school lesson was on Love. Not “ooh” gushy love. The sacrificial kind that Jesus came and modeled. There is a goodness in living life with a quiet, sacrificial love, if just to point to the One who showed perfect love, and not for boasting rights. One of the examples in the Bible of love in action was that of the Good Samaritan. Love is not self-seeking, love always protects, always trusts.
  2. PURE – A CD I’ve been playing on and off for weeks now. First song to catch my eye was A Mighty Fortress, a hymn I learned in the past couple years at BSF. Special mention for I Wanna Look Like You, Better, Psalm 103, and Psalm 73.

One of the things I’m learning is Joy. (It’s my word for 2016.) Its corollary is Celebrate! We spend so much time moving on to the next item on our to-do list, do we ever take a minute to congratulate ourselves for a job well done?

I was able to take a day off on Friday. I’m telling you, the clouds never seemed more awesome, the people never seemed more precious, the moments never seemed more free. I walked into a convenience store marked by its large LIQUOR sign and headed to the refrigerated section for 1L water bottle. At the register, there was a sign that debit/credit transactions under $10 would incur .75 processing fee. I usually have some cash on me, but I had paid copay, medical offices parking, and was cents short. “Is it still cold out there?” I turned my gaze out the window and mumbled something about it being cloudy. I gave the cashier my credit card mentioning I would take the hit on the 75 cents. To my surprise, he reached from out of his plastic enclosure to reveal a blue Solo cup taped to the side and dumped its contents onto the counter. A smile grew on my face. I ponied up two pennies and a dime (I had a dime!). “We’re like family here,” he said. How could I repay this, it wasn’t likely I’d be back in the ‘hood, but wondering anyway. “This is amazing,” I stammered, face wide and grinning. As I left, he slid the pennies back into the cup and returned it to its place.

You know, Friday grace.

It was the ease of generosity, made more palpable because there was a warmth and kindness, it wasn’t rote, as if–sigh–here we go, again. Do you know the Someone who poured it all out for us, not mere cents this time, but His life?

One of the ways that I hope is by planning for the future. Aided by my imagination, I form mental snapshots of what life is and what I hope life will look like, which in and of itself is not bad. What is less desirable is when my planning morphs into my controlling, when I’m counting what-I-have and what-I-lack instead of trusting and obeying.

Taking a day off gave me my pick of upholstered leather chair at the library, gave me my choice of a parking spot at the outdoor plaza, allowed me moments to wander and be found. I’m convinced there’s a need for vacation, not just working 365 days straight, even if leaving is hard and returning is harder.

If we are to be aware of life while we are living it, we must have the courage to relinquish our hard-earned control of ourselves. –Madeleine L’Engle

I’m praying for more opportunities for deeper breaths, for head-tilted-back wild laughter, for slackjawed awe.

How ever did we forget to dance and laugh and play–and live? –Mark Buchanan, Your God Is Too Safe

Celebration is a way to name the presence of God in our lives. When I finish something and immediately move on to the next, I forget to see the divine in the natural. We live in the reality of being physically on earth and presently in time; this is our experience. But God is with us, making all things new; this is our experience, too.¹

Taking a step of obedience, however hard, reaps untold blessing. I can be tempted to hold on tightly to my own effort, to conclude it-is-this-way-or-that decisively, to devise methods for achieving the results I want but when I surrender even “this,” when perfectionism and fear go out the window, the root of which is pride, I sing happiness plainly and celebrate others’ happy news gladly. Oh, the wonder.

 

“…And we pray, not for new
earth or heaven, but to be quiet
in heart, and in eye clear.
What we need is here.”

Wendell Berry

 

¹Currently reading The Gift of Being Yourself by David G. Benner and have read Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, from which ideas were culled and synthesized

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