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Archive for April, 2011

This post is based on a devotion I wrote on 6/21/09.  It follows the SOAP study method, described by Wayne Cordeiro in his book, The Divine Mentor: Growing Your Faith as You Sit at the Feet of the Savior.  In this method, S stands for scripture, O for observations, A for application, and P for prayer. 

I share it with you today to remind myself that God’s plan for my life may not always be what I pictured.

S: 2 Kings 5: 10-12  But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of leprosy.” … So he turned and went off in a rage.

O:  Naaman went to Elisha to be healed of his leprosy but was offended in the manner Elisha offered healing.  Naaman thought it should be more dramatic, more something, not just “go wash yourself in the Jordan river seven times.”  He was so offended he walked away angry, willing to give up his healing.  Thankfully, his servants helped him realize how foolish he was being and he finally followed Elisha’s instructions.  When he did this, he was healed.

A:  How like us to bypass God’s instructions because they’re not what we think they should be.  The first step to healing our lives is turning to God, but the second is listening and following his instructions.  It can be hard to discern His voice sometimes, but I believe we know truth when we hear it.  When we find peace in the truth, we know we are following God’s will.  This passage also reminds us how valuable it is to have friends who can hold us accountable and help us more clearly see through our anger and disappointment.

P:  Dear Lord, Help me to hear Your voice within me so that I may follow the path you have set for my life.  Grace my life with people who will help me see Your will.  Your way is better than mine.  Amen.

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Butwhatifing All Over Myself

Have you ever buried yourself in Butwhatifs?  What’s that, you ask?  You know, Butwhatifs.

Butwhatif it storms tomorrow?

Butwhatif the car breaks down?

Butwhatif the kids get sick?

Butwhatif my husband doesn’t know the right way to fix the kids’ dinner?

Butwhatif I forget what I’m supposed to say?

Butwhatif I don’t know where to go?

Butwhatif no one likes me?

Need I go on?  You get the picture.  I’m really good at this.  Maybe even better than Shoulding all over myself. (You know that one, too … I should have done this, should have done that, etc. etc. etc.)  Butwhatif-ing comes naturally for us worriers.

It’s easy to look at the Butwhatiffer from the outside and say, “You’re being irrational,” or, “You have no control over that stuff, so why worry?”  But when you’re deep in the vortex, it’s almost impossible to see out.  The thing is, I know it does no good to worry.  And I know I have no control over some of these things.  And I know it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if some of it did happen.  But once you start Butwhatiffing, it’s very hard to stop.  I’ve been in the midst of this a few times in the past couple of weeks and I find that I have to go through the rabbit hole and back before I convince myself of all the things I know.  If only I could find a way to know what I know at the beginning, I’d save myself a whole lot of energy.

How about you?  Do you get lost in the vortex of Butwhatif?  How do you keep from getting sucked in?

~mwe

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Yesterday, I wrote about a girl who climbed a mountain but found that the mountaintop wasn’t all she expected it to be.  She did find, however, that the trip up and down was filled with much more than she expected.

That girl, of course, was me.  My husband and I took that trip up Mt. Washington on August 14, 2008.  I remember the date because it happened to be our 15th wedding anniversary.  It was quite a day – filled with anticipation, apprehension, excitement, some disappointment, and a great deal of exhaustion.  The significance of all I learned on that hike didn’t sink in right away.  But once it did, I realized how important it was to remember that there is more to life than mountaintops.  And here’s why …

1.  Jumping from one mountaintop to another is no way to live

First, it’s exhausting.  Second, that mountaintop feeling (or climbing up to it) becomes an addiction.  When we live like this, we don’t feel alive if we’re not killing ourselves to get there or basking in the gloriousness of being there.  Everything else feels like a disappointment.  So you get to the top and after a short time find yourself thinking, “Ok, what’s next?”  It’s great to have goals, but I’ve found that it’s valuable for me to just be.  Live in the here and now and not always in anticipation of what comes next.

2.  Sometimes the mountaintop isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Just like I found, sometimes it leaves you asking, “This is it?  This is what I busted my butt to get to??”  This feeling can be devastating if you’re also stuck in point #1.

3.   A whole lot of life takes place on the way up, on the way down, and in the valleys.

If I didn’t realize this on my hike, I would have felt a sense of accomplishment, but I would have missed the beautiful views, the grey jay, the fox, the sun dogs, the fog rolling in.  How much of my life would I miss if I only marked time with the mountaintops?  The bedtime conversations with my girls, breakfasts with my husband, countless drives to music lessons with my father  while we listened to Karl Haas- they’d all be thrown away because they weren’t “significant” events.

What about you?  Are you a mountaintop hopper?  Does that work for you?  How do you make sure you soak in everything life has to offer on the trip up, down, and in the valleys?

~mwe

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Once there was a girl who wanted to hike up a mountain.

The girl read about the mountain.  The girl looked at pictures of the mountain.  She imagined herself standing at the top.

She spent months exercising so she would be strong enough.

The girl drove for two days, almost 900 miles to get to the mountain.  She saw beautiful sights along the way.


When she got there, she decided to take some shorter practice hikes first.  So she hiked to a pond and on the next day to a lake.  


She took her shoes off to cool her feet in the cold mountain water.


The day came to hike up the mountain.  She ate a big breakfast.  She made sure all her supplies were in her pack.

The girl stood at the bottom of the mountain and couldn’t even see the top.

She saw people driving to the top.  She saw people taking the cog train to the top.

She was ready to hike.  And so she did.

It was hard work.  First through the woods.  Over rocks.  Over streams.  Higher and higher.


She was getting tired, but she told herself, “Don’t stop now, you’re almost there.”


More rocks.  And more rocks.  Almost there.


Finally – the top of the mountain.  This was it!  This was it?

It wasn’t what she expected.  There were so many people she had to stand in line to get her picture taken next to the summit post.

She smiled for her picture.  She had done what she set out to do. 


But she didn’t feel the way she expected.  This was it?  She had a sense of accomplishment, but it didn’t feel as wonderful as she imagined. There had to be more.

Buildings and cars and a parking lot.  These had not been in the pictures she had seen.

As she started back down over the rocks her legs were very tired.  Very tired.  How far to the bottom of the mountain?  So, so far.

Every step over the rocks took total concentration.


She no longer thought about the top.  Only each step before her.

Not about her tired, sore legs.  Only each step before her.

Not about how many steps there were.  Only each step before her.

She no longer thought about the bottom.  Only each step before her.

At times she wanted to quit. There was so far still to go.   She concentrated on each step.  There was no quitting.  The girl had to keep going.


Finally the rocks ended and the woods began again.

It was still a long way to the bottom, but she no longer thought about it.  She talked to the people around her as she took her steps along the trail.

She didn’t have to think about where she was going.  Just stay on the trail.

Walk.  Talk.  Walk. Talk.

A grey jay was perched in a tree along the trail.  A friend of the girl’s put some trail mix in his hand and the jay flew down to take it.


The girl held trail mix in her hand and the jay flew down and sat on her hand to eat the nuts.  A wild bird eating out of her hand.  This was the more.

The bird finally had enough and flew off.

Following the trail again.  Walk. Talk. Walk.  Walk.

Wild blueberries grew along the trail.  She picked some and ate them.  Eating wild blueberries she found while hiking.  This was the more.

She followed the trail again.  How much further?  Who cared.? Who was thinking about that?

Who was thinking at all?  Just follow the trail.  Trust your legs.  Trust your feet.  She knew what she was doing.  She’ll get there when she gets there.

A clearing between the trees allowed a view of the mountain range.  The mountains went on and on – peak after peak.  Some shrouded in the clouds, others basking in the sunlight.  This was the more.


The trail emerged out of the woods.  There was the train station where she started.   The sun was setting behind it.

On the grass in front of the station sat a fox.  She had never seen a fox before.  This was the more.

She walked to the car.  As she put her gear away she looked back at the mountain she had just hiked.  She saw sundogs in the clouds.


This was the more.


~mwe

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“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived, and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.” – John F. Kennedy


This statement solidifies something I’ve noticed more and more in the past years.  We believe the things that fit into our perception of reality and refuse to believe, or refuse to see, those things that don’t.  I believe it’s the biggest obstacle we face when trying to find solutions to problems.

There are all kinds of scholarly theories on this and examples of it in our lives and society.  I won’t bore you with all them, but the basic premise is that there are certain values, morals, and beliefs that we are born into.  They seep into us from the day we are born (maybe even before) and become our reality.  It’s almost as if they are part of our DNA.  We see them modeled in our homes and most likely in our communities.  It colors how we see everything – people, races, ethnicities, money, lack of money, education, religion, faith- these values, morals and beliefs are the lenses through which we see the world.

The problem is that these lenses may very likely fail to reveal the true nature of the world to us.  If I use the terms in Kennedy’s quote, I would call them Myth Colored Glasses. Myth Colored Glasses only allow us to see the world from one perspective – our perspective – the one we’ve been living in our entire life.  I think we all wear them.  The interesting thing is that at some point, some of us are willing to take off our Myth Colored Glasses and try on other’s lenses, while some of us prefer to live in our own myth forever. (I’m going to keep using the word “myth” because it fits with Kennedy’s quote – but I could also use the words reality or perception.  The point is, it’s our story.)

It can be easy to identify lies.  Especially those that are deliberate and contrived.  They serve a purpose to the person perpetrating them, but when viewed in light of facts, they don’t hold up. (Of course, there are instances in our political climate where this is not true, but we’ll save that discussion for another day.)  It’s much harder, however, to identify the myths we live in.  In fact, it’s almost impossible, because the myths that are perpetuated through our Glasses are invisible to us.  We’re so immersed in our reality, our story, our myth, that we don’t even realize there is something else beyond.  Does a fish in the ocean think about the water he swims in?  Do we think about the air we breathe?  Not as long as it’s what we expect it to be.  It’s there.  It’s a part of us and our surroundings – our story, our myth.

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who was expressing their opinion about something and realized they assume you feel the same way?  I think this is because they are wearing their Myth Colored Glasses.  My opinion is invisible to them because they view their opinion as the one and only truth.  Notice I’m talking about opinions here, not facts.  Our opinions become problematic when we refuse to recognize their source, which is our perception of reality – our myth.  If we can’t recognize the source of our opinion, we can’t recognize the possibility of other valid opinions.  Until we can do this, it’s virtually impossible to find solutions to the problems our society faces today.  Sounds like a job for the Mythbusters, doesn’t it?

What do you think?  Do you think you wear Myth Colored Glasses?  What experiences helped to form them?  Do you ever take them off and try on other glasses?

~mwe

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This post is from a devotion I wrote on 7/13/09.  It follows the SOAP study method, described by Wayne Cordeiro in his book, The Divine Mentor: Growing Your Faith as You Sit at the Feet of the Savior.  In this method, S stands for scripture, O for observations, A for application, and P for prayer. 

I chose to share it with you today, Good Friday, because it reminds me of the power of the Easter Resurrection.  The words I’ve highlighted in bold print have made an immense difference in my life.

S: Hebrews 10:10  We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

O:  Paul is talking about how the priests, before Jesus came, had to make sacrifices for the sins of the people at least once a year.  Even with this act, people felt guilty and never pleased.  Jesus came, however, as the one perfect sacrifice to take away sin once and for all.

A:  If I carry guilt with me then I am telling Jesus his sacrifice wasn’t enough.  I reject the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  This sacrifice doesn’t mean I am blameless.  But, through praying for forgiveness and my repentance, I am able to cleanse my heart and lay down my guilt.  If I  truly believe He died for my sins, I will accept His sacrifice and learn from the mistakes I make.

P:  Lord, I do believe that Your sacrifice was enough to cover my sins.  Help me to lay them at Your feet and create in me a clean heart.  Amen.

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Today marks one month since I started this blog, so I decided to take a minute and reflect on what I’ve learned in the past month.  I’ve posted every week day since I started, which I find amazing.  Quite a few people read what I write, which I find even more amazing.  And some even share what I write with their friends, which I find amazingly amazing.  Mostly, I’m shocked at how easily I’ve fallen into this process and how much I value it. But I’ll try to narrow it down to three specific observations I’ve made about the past month.

1.  Writing has become an important part of my day

I look forward to the time I set aside to sit and write down my thoughts.  I’ve journaled on and off over the years, but this is different.  Journaling doesn’t really require coherent thoughts.  It’s more like emptying the contents of my brain onto paper.  That’s part of this process, but now I have to make sure it makes sense.  And that’s important (for you and for me.)  It helps me organize the thoughts that swirl around in my head and gives me a feeling of peace when I’m done.  I can say to myself, “Whew, now I get it.”  Or, “Hmmm, I haven’t quite figured this out yet, but that’s ok, because I’ve put my questions into questions.”

2.  I haven’t run out of things to say

For some of you, this is a surprise, because I can be very quiet at times.  For others, it’s no surprise, because you know that when I get started, I have a lot to say.  I’m sure there will be a day when I find myself thinking, “What should I write about today?”  But I’m not there yet.  I find myself looking at the world and my thoughts as opportunities to say something.  This might be a result of turning off my “inner evaluator.”  (Well, it’s not turned off completely, but it’s much quieter than it used to be.)  You know that voice that says,  “You can’t say that, it might make someone mad.”  Or, “Are you sure you want to say that?  What will people think?”  Or the ever popular, “You don’t want to say that, people might not like you.”

I love what Jon Acuff has to say about getting past this feeling.  I read it on his blog a couple of months ago and it’s stayed with me ever since.

90% perfect and published always changes more lives than 100% perfect and stuck in your head.

The things you create and actually share will always out perform the things that stay stuck in your head or your desk or your laptop. You might love the ideas you have inside you. You might be blown away by how awesome they are, but if you don’t share them, it doesn’t matter.

A moment of honesty here – there have been occasions in my life where I’ve said to my husband, “Can you believe how smart I am?”  Granted, I’m always brought back down to earth quickly, but the thought crosses my mind.  And I know the world doesn’t usually think I’m awesome, but take my word for it, it feels great to write down an awesome thought and put it out here for people to read.  Even if you don’t think it’s as awesome as I do (which you probably don’t), leaving it stuck in my head is just frustrating.

So, as long as I have thoughts in my head, I’m going to have something to write about.  Because now I know the power of putting them on paper (or a computer screen) and sharing them. Thanks, Jon, for helping me realize this!

3.  I DO care if you read

When I started this blog, I said it was about taking action.  The action being the writing of blog posts.  I said it would be okay if nobody read them because I wanted to concentrate on the action of expressing myself.  Well, I still value the process of expressing myself (see numbers 1 and 2 above) but I also care if you read what I write.  I love the feeling that something I wrote spoke to someone – made them think about something in a new way, helped them know that someone else feels the same way, or made them laugh.  It’s a form of connection.  And I like it.  I especially like it when you let me know what you think.  So leave comments.  Share links.  Tweet links.  Write them in paint across the side of your car.  Writing is solitary.  It’s great when you know someone else is at the other end to receive your words.

So thank you for spending the last month with me.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for sharing with your friends.  Thank you for your comments and feedback.  I’m not sure if this blog has met your expectations.  I’m not sure if it’s met mine.  But that’s another lesson in itself, isn’t it?  Why would this need to meet anyone’s expectations?  It can grow in whatever direction it wants to – just like the trees that are my inspiration.

~mwe

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