Contentment, a Choice

Towards the end of my walk sans Labrador and with instruction in my ears,

I took the trail instead of the cul de sac.

I gave up one thing already, an obligation accepted because someone thought I’d be good at its demands.

I didn’t paint a pretty or pitiful reason why I’d be quitting, simply said not for me anymore. Here’s what I accomplished, it was small, happy I could help meet a need. Now, you’ll need to find someone else.

I was truthful, confident in my choice of no.

Done. Accepted promptly and the reply was with gratitude.

I’d waited a month to tell them, Lord knows why.

Podcast almost done, one about the secret to contentment.

The voice in my ears started with a story of seasons in our lives when we’re so focused on the attainment of something to complete us, striving towards what we decide will be satisfying and then realizing why on earth did I push so stubbornly and steady towards what I know now didn’t shine so brightly after all.

Did that, done, what now, what next?

What can I do that might finally feel well done?

I’ve heard it before. The secret to a full life is learning to live in the moment, to be satisfied where you’re standing, to be content no matter the circumstances.

I listened as the podcast voice reminded of Paul’s teaching to those in Corinth and in Philippi.

His life, the fodder of many a memory verse, he learned to be content.

He learned. He learned through his mistakes. He paid attention to his times better, not worse.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I approached the place where the anonymous dog barks incessantly, longing to know the footfall on the trail encroaching on his property.

I barely hear it; yet, I know he’s growling, struggling to break down the fence. I know he’ll keep barking, following me til I’m far from his fence.

I don’t hear him the same. The words in my ear, wisdom and better.

I turned just in time to see the way the sun was laying down its shadow on the open field, deciding it was good for me to walk this way today.

The right thing to choose long walk with a chance of a storm over a crosstown drive for a night of boot camp with the trainer.

It was good that I paid attention and I chose the other.

Later, I sent an email, informing an editor that June would be my last monthly contribution, explained to her I was trying to free up some space so that I could hear God’s plan more clearly, trying to make sure my focus is His.

Many will miss my column, the sweet ladies will wonder why. They’d grown accustomed to anticipating my picture in the paper and found it somehow celebrity like.

I realized I did too.

So, the secret to contentment is less me more Jesus.

Less believing that achievement and recognition will equal satisfaction. More realization of the thing that feeds my soul and enlightens my mind.

More quiet, being content no matter the notice of others, knowing so much more surely and unending I’m noticed by God.

Contentment, I’m reminded does not come naturally. It’s something we come back to because we remember how it feels.

We remember to be satisfied in so very little of what we say, do, aspire towards or even are recognized for.

We learn it’s not about us and we stay as surely as this crazy world allows in that place where the light came in, the place where God was illumined quite beautifully and clearly.

We give up being responsible for creating it.

We stop striving, cease controlling and we shield our ears from critical, chaotic or demanding requests like the bark of angry dog.

We learn to hear,

to fix our focus, the secret to being content, our choosing.

I’m prompted by the Five Minute Friday word, “Secret” and I always hope I can stop at five minutes, but never do: full disclosure.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/05/17/fmf-link-up-secret/

Still I couldn’t help but think of contentment and the secret to keeping it.

The “change-up”

Slowly, my perspective is changing.

Consistently, I am enlightened by God.

Finally, I am beginning to create a space for freedom to be true.

I heard a sermon from Lamentations last week, the highlighted passage was on the steadfast quality of God’s love. It’s well known, an affirmative promise.

My mind wandered, I admit.

I have a hard time in a room with noises that distract, so I’ll focus my attention on my little space.

I’ll buffer the outside and go inside, reading ahead, veering a few lines or a chapter away to the other verses, protective of my focus and intentional in my holding close what’s mine, what’s beneficial.

Same way in my daily readings. this morning, only a few words because of time.

Yet, timely, so timely.  Gone, going are the days of holding onto hurt like a treasure, a badge marking honorable mention for making it through.

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I’m adapting.

We talked about my story last week, my friend and I.

Talked about the possibility of a changeup.

“Change-up”, the phrase paints a memory for me and I digress. My son’s reaction when he got that one right, priceless was his joy! The batter befuddled by the sudden change in pattern, tricked by his expectation of the fastball or the curve, he couldn’t adapt.

He couldn’t throw it too often, the batters grew to expect it, prepared and anticipated and they’d connect, triumphant their expression, they adapted, adjusted and met what was thrown a little differently, refusing to be struck out, struck down and defeated.

My story is wrought with trauma and it made…makes me vulnerable, just the thought of its presentation and mostly, its lack of completion.

Beginning even.

But, a changeup is in the works, slowly the perspective is changing and my mind is catching up to the curve.

Not fear, not remorse, not hard heard recollection, rather an authentic expression of gratitude and hope in the midst of every stage.

I’m adapting. I’m hopeful, less hindered by my vulnerability and my striving towards redeeming my wrongs and the wrongs done towards me.

Adapting my story from a fearful perspective to more of a welcome gift of forgiveness to others.

Not about me, my fears or my falters, rather about those steadfast in their hope for me.

My life, an adaptation of God.

“I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’ “You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life.”

‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:55-58‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Linking up with others, writing for 5 minutes, prompted by “adapt”.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/05/03/fmf-link-up-adapt/

 

Quiet Voila’

Last week or maybe last year, sporadic in my notice and recognition, I decided “child’s pose” was very much like prayer.

The prayer pose in the dark of early morning beside my bed or in the middle of a day when my pacing feet and pounding heart had left me with no place to go but to

Go there.

To hide away on my side of the bed.

You’d have to walk around to find me.

To hit my knees and find my soul beckoning me rest and my shoulders, lower, lower until they too are closer to the bottom and to wait, my muscles groaning in extension, I’m reaching, now gently.

As far as I can and I wait for God to cause my hands to open towards heaven.

Like a quiet “voila!”.

Saying, this is yours God, not mine.

Like a child, my outstretched hands are both released from my heavy thing and opened for the pure embrace of God.

Lean a little deeper into the prayer like a languished stretch and then ease back upright to maybe a sort of sun salutation.

I rise. I’m better, Son of God, I salute you, your Spirit, now.

I’m better today.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Linking up for FMF prompted by “release”.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/04/05/fmf-link-up-release/

Oh, and by the way, my book review of Kate Motaung’s recently released memoir, “A Place to Land” is in a draft right now, I’ll be posting tomorrow and giving away a couple of copies!

or you can order here: https://www.amazon.com/Place-Land-Story-Longing-Belonging/dp/162707662X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=headhome-20&linkId=3e098af8efaaaff2f28a716b3f563944

Morning Light

Jesus told the disciples how they should pray. They’d seen Him praying and asked to be taught. He responded with The Lord’s Prayer and then continued by telling them to be persistent and specific, to be, I suppose you might say, “a pest”.

This morning I woke up too early. I’d been bragging about my internal clock and being able to wake without alarm at just the right time. Not today, 5:30 a.m. and I begin.

Pretty pencil and pad in my lap, I leave the lamp off.

I think, out of nowhere…Lord, teach me to pray.

Cup one down, I flip on the lamp and find the place in my Bible where this request rests.

Prayed yesterday while walking Colt and before sleep last night and now morning routine, I’m still seeking more.

Lord, do you tire of the same requests?

I wonder do you watch over me and my circling round, back tracking and circumventing supplications?

Do you grow weary of my questions?

Do you feel I’m ever looking for answers; but, not hardly ever seeking you?

Jesus told the disciples that a good father gives his children what they ask for and never anything less or not suitable.

He told the disciples a hungry soul asking to be fed will be fed as long as they are persistent in their need for food.

“And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Jesus Luke‬ ‭11:5-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I look towards my left, a desk where two boys sat who are now men is filled with old school papers and things like Hot Wheels and Pokémon cards.

On top rests the broken edged pot from my mama’s. The succulents have not survived but, the bird nest rests there, gold coin from a foreign place and the pine cone and the pebble. There’s a feather near and a magnolia type pod.

I’m reminded to pray, prompted by what and who each oddity means.

I’m reminded that my morning routine is never routine to God.

In the Chapter just before the 11th of Luke, Jesus told Martha to be more like her sister, Mary.

Told her to choose the better, to linger at His feet awhile instead of trying to keep straight everyone and everything around her, unfocused, persistent only in her perfections sought after.

Morning light now all around, I’ve sat for longer than I should again, I think.

And then quickly decide no, not at all as another verse God brings to mind. One about a boy who woke to hear clearly what God had to say, had prepared him for.

“Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭3:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Morning light, now fully bright.

Thank you, Father I’ve sought you and I’ve sat and you have spoken to my heart.

I’m now prepared.

Thank you for my routine every morning.

I’m thankful for FMF prompts. Admittedly, I rarely stay within 5 minutes…still I enjoy linking up and learning from others.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/03/22/fmf-link-up-routine/

P.S. pray for Colt, the big brown lab aka Colton Dixon, his old hip injury has him limping this morning, not his usual goofy self. 😒

Love Every Morning

I reach for a cup every morning, thoughtful or not. I’ll grab the big one that says I’m the universe’s best mom or the one from a long ago trip my son took.

A favorite is the “sunshine” cup, from my sunshine, my daughter, bright yellow with a little hope reminder in the bottom you see when your coffee runs out.

If I’m open or uncertain or meh, I’ll just go for the cream color from the set.

Today, I went for the Valentines mug, not a gift from anyone, it ended up at the office and then my desk and now home. To be honest, it was a donation and we promptly ate all the Hershey hugs and I claimed the empty mug.

So, today I took the mug from the shelf and I’m drinking creamy coffee sweetened with honey because I know it’s true.

It’s true every morning. All I need is provided. Many of the gifts I cherish, He has provided.

Every morning, every minute, I am without a doubt reminded.

God loves me.

Loves me more.

Loves me despite sharp words spoken, selfish moods and motives and mostly my less than focused focus on Him.

He loves me meek.

Loves me mindful of Him.

Regardless though,

Loves me more.

“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭31:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Linking up for five minute Friday writers on the prompt “provide”. I am so thankful that God’s provision of love never runs out . Happy Friday!

Sweet Spot

The blanket’s all stretchy from my toes and it’s folded tightly underneath my feet resting on pretty footstool.

Pillows moved to the end of sofa, my Bible, my books, my pencil and my pad, these are my morning things.

My eyes move towards the mantel and rest there, reminding of the sea, the abstract I got right, one I decided I’d keep.

I long to stay here, paint later, then write, I long to be a home woman.

I am in my sweet spot. I’m exhausted from other places, I want to stay, to paint, to write.

I told my husband, told my daughter. They’ve heard it before.

I’m tired of other things, things I don’t enjoy; but, have to do, I call it “peopling”.

I long to be selective with where my energy goes. I long to stay in my sweet spot, to do work that feels like treasure not toil.

Retired last night thinking this and woke with the same.

Then, remembered, it’s not me who gets to choose timing. I’m not the keeper of doors closing or opening wider. I just do what I can where I am and let God do the rest.

Right?

Yes, If I’m honest it’s not that I’m weary, it’s more that I’m waiting, excitedly and expectantly.

Like up to bat and on a hitting streak, I can’t wait to get back in my batters box, my painting desk, my writing desk, my sweet spots.

Closer to the wholeness that God will use, tired of the halfheartedness of before.

Maybe not so tired of what I have to do; just more sure of the sweetness of my sweet spot and the seeking His will there.

Going out into the work world and returning here every day.

“Therefore thus says the Lord: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭15:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Rambling and all over the place today, still linking up with FMF on the prompt of tired.

The Sound of Sigh

It was audible. The whole house, empty and I’d heard it once already. A peaceful type awakening of thought wrapped up securely, held safely down deep.

The bottom of the soul’s well, causing a welling up.

That’s what a sigh sounds like, I believe. A bringing up to our surfaces, the soul’s regrets, letting them see the light and to leave us better, leave us in peace.

John was born for that, to show others Jesus as peace, Jesus as redemption, not regret.

Someone saying they had so much more to say and I remembered my regret.

My “ohh” came out all gravelly like the sides of my heart somehow roughed up the edges of my words and my voice was a sad sigh tarnished by memory.

I remembered regretting coming back home that night. And I remembered what I said by her bed.

I sighed, my understanding audible.

My voice muffled by the knot in my throat as my daughter shared what her friend said her husband said, his father gone before he had the chance to say more.

I sighed; but, not for long, I listened instead, stopped my taking of another’s grieving thunder.

My sigh changed then, from oh I know to hopefully more, I understand.

Same morning, I’m thinking of what I missed finishing the day before, good intentions stolen by circumstance and once again, I regretted not painting, not writing, not following through.

I opened my little book called “Joy and Strength” to the place chosen for the 2nd of March.

And again, the sound of sigh, this time a sigh of affirmation and of hope.

This one, “Ohhh”, more like “oh, my goodness, oh, my soul,

Oh, how amazing, oh, the love of God”

I sighed, “oh” again, the sound softer then, a validation.

I believe that love reigns, and that love will prevail. I believe that He says to me every morning,

“Begin again thy journey and thy life; thy sins, which are many, are not only forgiven, but they shall be made, by the wisdom of God, the basis on which He will build blessings.”

Thomas Erskine

“Oh”, I sighed, a prayer, again today.

Heavenly Father today I begin again.

Steady my heart, give me opportunity to remember and sweetly sigh, “oh” as I walk along the path of peace that you have made so amazingly free and possible despite my past sins worthy of many regrets.

In Jesus’ name and because of mercy.

Amen

I’m afraid I never can finagle all my thoughts into words in five minutes. I’ll link this post with the others though. I’ve already read so many very good posts on regret from others, I’m joining the conversation.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/03/01/fmf-link-up-regret/