Oh, shoot! It’s love! #(31days)

 

 

I’ve got a new set of highlighters. They’ve got some fancy new gel system in them. Guaranteed not to bleed, smear, or run. The original text shines through the bright pink, orange, or yellow. But they’re about as precise as crayons.

As I glanced back through the pages I had just read, there it was. One solitary word highlighted with a messy pink highlighter.IMG_9695

Hesed.

The Hebrew word for “unfailing love.”

Those words filled me. A love that never fails. Ever.

Unconditional love is amazing enough. A love you don’t get based on your achievements and don’t keep based on your own merits. It’s a love that is always there and is never changing. It doesn’t make sense. But it exists.

But unfailing… that’s a different idea altogether. It’s an action word. It means a love that pursues and succeeds. A love that will battle for you…and win. It’s a love that will do whatever it takes to demonstrate and express itself. Even if it means a fight to the death on your behalf.

Hesed. Unfailing love. This was the word used around 275 times in reference to God in the Hebrew Bible. Then it was demonstrated and documented in the New Testament.

“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” Romans 5:8 (HCSB)

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Oh, shoot! Hang in there! (#31days)

IMG_9539It was bound to happen at some point in this 31 day writing challenge. It’s 8PM. I have a lot to do tonight. I haven’t written a post for today. I don’t think I’ve taken a single picture. Oh, but I was prepared for a time such as this.

We have a special visitor that lives around our back porch. It’s a cute little frog. We’ve seen him sitting by the hummingbird feeder snagging ants as they dutifully march toward their sweet, sweet sugary reward. Froggy send them to his belly and then on the express train to ant heaven.

Sometimes we spot froggy clinging to the kitchen window. The light pouring out into the night attracts quite a variety of yummy bugs. The moths are theIMG_9117 best. At least that’s what our little froggy says. He’ll stick to that window for hours.

I’ve been holding onto these pictures for a day just like today.

Hang in there. That’s it. That’s the lesson for today. Just like little froggy. Hang in there, and pretty soon your belly will be full of flies. Or whatever it is you’re hanging in there for. Just keep sticking to it.

 

 

Oh, shoot! It’s the shoes! (#31days)

IMG_9681It’s not the shoes.

I have this awesome pair of shoes. In fact, I affectionately refer to them as my awesome shoes of awesomeness. I get more comments on these shoes than any I’ve ever owned. And I used to wear checkered Vans! If the way a shoe looked could give us special abilities, I’d be setting all kinds of records right now.

The problem with my awesome shoes of awesomeness (ASOA) is the feet that go in them. Well, and the legs attached to those feet. And the lungs in the body that is attached to the legs that connect to the feet that are inside the ASOA.

You see, I’m a heel striker. A what? Well, for as long as I can remember, when I run I lead with my heel. I throw my leg far out in front of me and let my heel take the impact of the momentum I’ve generate by leaping forward. In my mind, I’ve got this graceful, fluid cycle that my legs revolve through. I land effortlessly, my energy gliding forward as the weight on my foot rolls from my heel to my toe, which then launches my body forward. In reality, though, every time my foot lands it’s like I’m throwing on the IMG_9682brakes. The shock of the impact halts my momentum as it travels up my leg and through the rest of my body. It’s like I’m trying to beat the asphalt into submission using the full weight of my body. Once it’s out of my way, I’ll go faster. I’ll be unstoppable!

Breaking this habit is hard. It takes discipline, practice, and personal coaching. It’s like re-learning how to run. I haven’t done it yet.

In the meantime, what lessons can I learn from this?

Well, the first is that even when we feel like we’re pushing forward with all our might, it’s possible that we’ve left the brakes on without realizing it. We feel like we’re nowhere near as far as we expected nor as fast, and the reason isn’t clear. Take a break to check your equipment for signs of wear. The inner heel of all my shoes show the same wear pattern. That was my first clue that I’m such an awful heel striker. That’s how I know I’m applying the brakes with every step. That principle applies to other areas of life, too. What have you been striving for? Why aren’t you there yet? The answer might be right in front of you. Or directly underneath you.

IMG_9680The second lesson is just as important. You see, even as a guy that runs with my parking brake on, I’ve completed quite a few sanctioned 5K runs. Yeah, I finished. Repeatedly. This reminds me that even if we aren’t perfect, we can still push forward. We can still accomplish what we are working toward. Because you’re awesome. With or without the shoes.

 

 

 

Oh, shoot! The moon! (#31days)

IMG_9553Yesterday’s post has generated more “real world” comments than any I’ve ever posted. I’m grateful for everyone that believes in me and I appreciate the kind words. Every single one of them.

As I embark on this insane journey, I continue to wrestle. There will be a lot of reading. There will be a lot of writing. I’m sure there will be ambiguity to work through. I’m not good with ambiguity.

This journey I’ve been on for seven years now has been full of twists and turns that I never would have imagined. I’ve never been an adrenaline junkie. Yet I keep trying to say “yes” to anything God has for me. Working with authenticity and love with people experience life’s lowest points. A few overseas missions. Soup dinners. Teaching classes. Opening our home to non-family members and doing our best to show them they are family to us. It’s been a wild ride.IMG_9557

And now this. Why? The words of my oldest son’s favorite speech came echoing back to me today.

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. — John F. Kennedy

Because it is hard. Sometimes that’s the point. When we follow God past the point where we can make it on our own, it forces us to lean on Him. We learn more about Him, and we learn more about ourselves. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to be self-sufficient. We weren’t created to be independent, though. Our souls crave interdependence, even though it’s messy. Even though it’s hard.

We often fool ourselves into believing we want a life of comfort. But comfort doesn’t satisfy us. At best, it satiates us, but only temporarily. We were created to push farther, to dig deeper, and to change the world. We were created to exceed our limits, but not alone. With each other. And with our Creator.IMG_9555

This part of my journey will challenge me. I’m going to need help. The bonds I have with the people in my communities will be tested. I’m sure some of those will break. But some will strengthen. New ones will form as well. Ultimately, it will be beautiful.

My dependence on Christ will be tested, as well. It is one thing to know the right things to say on Sundays when asked. Lingo can be mastered. Attendance at church isn’t an indicator of spiritual depth. Even mission trips can be “successful” while maintaining self-reliance. So it’s important to push past all of that. And so I am.

Where is God calling you that is past your point of comfort? Where is He calling you that is hard? Maybe it’s another country. Maybe it’s someplace closer. But He is calling you to something.

 

 

 

Oh, shoot! I’m crazy! (#31days)

 

IMG_9634I’m insane. Clinically, certifiably insane.

I graduated from college in 1997 with a couple of degrees. I graduated again in 2005 with another one. It’s been almost exactly nine years since I put my pencil down on after a final exam.

Two days from now, class starts again. Am I a bit nervous? No. That’s too much of an understatement. It goes beyond nerves. I’m scared. Terrified, even. Even though this is familiar territory, this leap is more mentally disrupting than I expected.

My books were delivered today. My online account was activated this week. I’m in that magically uncomfortable space somewhere between “This is real” and “you’re going to be able to do this.”

There are a few people around who confident in me. People that have been through this. People that know me. They believe in me.

I have frequently told people, “I believe in you, even when YOU don’t believe in you.” As an outsider looking in, we can see the ability, character, talents, and potential in others without the burden of that internal critic that can be so overwhelming and loud. I guess that’s what I need my closest friends to echo back to me right now.

 

Oh, shoot! It’s Over! (#31days)

Tonight, I returned to That Place I like to Watch the Sun Set. It was beautiful. As the sun disappeared behind the hills on the other side of the river, the majestic colors bounced off the clouds.

And then… it was over.

The sun was gone. The last of the fading sunbeams glanced off the clouds, ending the day with a delicate kiss. I stood in awe as the orange faded to pink and then toward blackness.

But October 9th had one surprise left.

Thirty minutes after the sun disappeared, even more beams of light exploded over the horizon. An eternity after the beauty had faded, one last burst appeared. It was as if Thursday was telegraphing a reminder. Never give up. Even after the light has faded. Light can be persistent. Even after we think it’s too late. The light breaks through.

Oh, shoot! I’m dreaming! (#31days)

It’s Monday morning. Time for most of us to walk away from the weekend and rejoin the daily grind.IMG_7604

The words of a friend are echoing through my head. “What can you not NOT do?” I read the words of another friend this morning: “I believe that when we are each living our story well, we are fulfilling the greater narrative.”

So I dream. And maybe you do, too.

But we have responsibilities. We return to the grind because it’s what is expected. It’s safe. It’s normal. And normal is comfortable.

What if you were meant for more? What if you were created for more?

There is a reason we’re drawn to dreamers. We have dreams inside us, too. We feel called to something greater. There is a tension between safe and extraordinary. That tension–that sense of purpose–is an indicator. It’s something I believe we need to pay attention to.

Today, take a step toward extraordinary. Boldly press into becoming everything God has created you to be.


NOTE: This post is part of a 31 day writing challenge. You can read more about it here and more about my contributions here. Many writers are picking a single topic to write about for the entire month. My writing is focused on sharing a photo or two along with a few thoughts that come to mind when I see it. Thanks for reading!