Ouch

OUCH

I love the Bible App. Maybe it’s the convenience of it or that I can make the letters huge on my screen? Don’t get me wrong, I am still a paper girl and love a good pen and my old Bible but I’m also a tech girl and love my gadgets. Many mornings I grab my phone while still in bed and open the Bible app. The light is too bright and my eyes haven’t adjusted to the world yet so I have it read to me. I listen to the words and pray.

After a month of zero sleep in or lazy start mornings, I am up early even though I don’t have to be so what seems to be a normal response to me, I refuse to get up. I will stay in bed, wide awake. After 20 minutes of my mind wondering here and there I decide to wrangle it back in and be intentional. I open my Bible App.

I see a large number staring at me, 291.

Hmmm, my mind is in for one more rabbit trail before I settle into the word. 291, I tap into it. Oh wow! I have been in the Bible 291 days this year. I fall for it and take the pat on the shoulder I know is coming from somewhere but instead I feel the comforting rub on the shoulder with the words, “Ohhh hunny”. You know, the one gentle hand shoulder rub? The “it’s okay, I fell for it too” one? Yup, that was it.

I did the math. 291 days is 79.7% That is not even a solid B! (The semester grades were recently finalized in my household so these convos are fresh in my head.) I was ready to throw a victory dinner for the lower end of a borderline grade at best. OUCH. Well, maybe I should review this further and ask the questions parents ask. Because I am an adult I will immediately put the excuses aside and not discuss how I also read my paper Bible and books about the Bible but I won’t go there because as an adult I would also have to look at the time spent on the phone total vs the time in the Bible app. DOUBLE OUCH.

Instead stick to the questions, only the questions….. Did I put my full effort into it? Did I do my best work? Is this my full potential? Is my current ability only C+/B- work? Is the Bible App not my thing?

Gulp.

No.

No. No. No. No.

Deep breath. Sigh. Ouch.

Thank God, literally that God is not a shaming parent and not one of condemnation and guilt. Instead God looks us in the eyes and says, “Good effort but I know you can do better. I love you, now keep at it and maybe look at completing those many reading plans you start. Focus, I need you to be prepared for the big plans that are in store for you. Go girl, you got this because I got you.”

I’m sorry God. I’ll do better because I KNOW your plan is better than mine. You see the big picture and know what is best for me and in order to hear your will I must spend time reading your words, not the worlds.

This journey isn’t easy and requires commitment, reflection and grace. This is how we grow.

I’m still not out of bed but have a lot stirring in my heart and head. I am grateful God is not done with me yet.

What is God rubbing your shoulder gently and saying “Oh hunny” to you today? Read. Pray. Listen.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:30‬ ‭NIV‬‬

MOSI-VALI-TATU…

I grew up spending my summer on adventures with my grandparents at camp in in the UP,  a cabin on Diamond Lake in Canada or a cabin on a tiny lake in Northern Wisconsin. The common elements of the 3 included unplugged family time with each other, God and nature. As a kid, the common element was the lake, all day lake time. I am a lake girl at the core.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the ocean but there is something special about a lake, maybe it’s my shark phobia, but I digress.  I am a lake girl just like my Gram.

My Gram lead the charge to the lake every day, no matter the temperature.  Those northern mornings are not what many would consider swimming weather but we typically did not take that into consideration, every sunny day was a swimming day.  My sisters and I would get in our suits, stay wrapped in our towels and stand at the end of the pier waiting.  We were waiting for an adult to come down, of course there was no swimming with out an adult near the lake.  We giggled and danced on the pier. We stared at the water. On warmer mornings we would dangle our toes in, but not on the side where a Muskie lived. Our toes were only safe on the swimming side. We did all the things we could do to distract our minds while we were in the waiting.  Sometimes, if we waited long, mind you 4 minutes is long in a young mind, on the cold mornings we began to question why we were standing there watching the fog from the cold air hitting the warmer water.   Minute 5 is when the doubt began to creep in.  Maybe we should find something cozy to do? Maybe today should start out slower? Maybe today was not made for adventure?  MAYBE….but then we would hear the screen door creek open and hear the squeals and joy of my Gram.  The adventure filled day was about to erupt.

Gram greeted us each with her laughter and love.  She got to the end of the pier and exclaimed… MOSI-VALI-TATU which is 3-2-1 in Umbundu and then she leaped off the pier.  The hooting and hollering started as soon as she bobbed up.  She laughed and yelled it was cold, cold, cold then had to reassure us that is was not too cold.  It seemed the hooting and hollering made the cold fade and soon she began to count down for us to jump, MOSI-VALI-TATU,  MOSI-VALI-TATU, MOSI-VALI-TATUuuuuuuu, until we each jumped in.  Filled with excitement and fear, we jumped into the cold dark lake.  Sometimes we jumped alone and sometimes together. Sometimes we jumped on the first count but sometimes it took a second count.

Each day was  different but lake days started with this little ritual. It seemed like nothing more than a fun game at the time but as I wrap up 2018 and think about 2019, I see  all that it provided.   First, we learned the value of waiting.  Waiting can be hard, but worth it.  When I have a plan in mind and  I wait on God’s plan instead of rushing in, the blessings are better than I anticipated.  Gram taught us that we needed guidance and we could trust her.  Today she is gone but I remember her ways.  She also taught us that God is our true trustworthy, everlasting guide.   She showed us how to be brave and to encourage others to be brave too.  We need to cheer each other on and count down together.  Sometimes it looks like cheering from the water and sometimes it is standing next to each other holding  hands and counting it down.  Finally, choose the adventure! Don’t doubt yourself, retreat or sit on the sideline.  Jump in, the adventure is waiting. The adventure is worth it.

So, spend some time and write down  bold dreams for 2019.  Think about who will  cheer you on or hold your hand and count it down.  Pray about these dreams and ask what more God has in store for you. God’s plan is always good and bigger than your dreams. It requires you to be strong and courageous and requires a YES and AMEN.

Are you ready?

MOSI-VALI-TATUuuuuuuuuuuu

 

 

Look up and ahead, not down

It is the end of the year and once again my schedule is overloaded.  I’ve been cherishing the bits and pieces of down time with my people but definitely found myself looking down instead of ahead.  It’s time to look ahead, plan my route. I came across this reminder I wrote  and thought if I needed the words, maybe you do too…

 

When you first learn to ski you have the tendency to look down at your skis thinking it’s helping you control your skis and out come but actually you need to be looking ahead of your skis. You need to trust the equipment and the skills you’ve learned to know how to maneuver and look ahead to see what’s on the rise and determine where your next best move is.

There are days, weeks or even seasons where we get stuck looking down at our own circumstances or even checking out other’s circumstances instead of looking ahead and trusting what we’ve got is good enough. When we are caught up looking down, we can miss what is coming up and wipe out terribly. Don’t do that.

So, if you find yourself staring at your skis these days, take a pause, a deep breath, look up to the skies and thank God for all his beauty, then trust your equipment, look ahead and GO!

xo, ari

Look up and ahead, not down

It is the end of the year and once again my schedule is overloaded.  I’ve been cherishing the bits and pieces of down time with my people but definitely found myself looking down instead of ahead.  It’s time to look ahead, plan my route. I came across this reminder I wrote  and thought if I needed the words, maybe you do too…

 

When you first learn to ski you have the tendency to look down at your skis thinking it’s helping you control your skis and out come but actually you need to be looking ahead of your skis. You need to trust the equipment and the skills you’ve learned to know how to maneuver and look ahead to see what’s on the rise and determine where your next best move is.

There are days, weeks or even seasons where we get stuck looking down at our own circumstances or even checking out other’s circumstances instead of looking ahead and trusting what we’ve got is good enough. When we are caught up looking down, we can miss what is coming up and wipe out terribly. Don’t do that.

So, if you find yourself staring at your skis these days, take a pause, a deep breath, look up to the skies and thank God for all his beauty, then trust your equipment, look ahead and GO!

xo, ari

Dear Church,

Dear Church, I’m waiting. I’m listening.

I will and listen for your comforting voice. The voice that sounds like mom when I am sick or the voice that should like dad’s pep talk ..

but I hear nothing.

I wait and listen for repentance and an apology to all those you hurt. One that is fully humble and sincere, one full of truth and heartache but hope that Jesus can heal it all…

but I hear nothing.

I wait and listen for words that rebuild trust instead I hear labels and names like “decisive and destructive” and the “wheat verses the weeds”. When will I hear the words that unite, heal and restore my trust? When will I hear truth to the many unanswered questions?

My heart aches for the healing of the church.

I wait. I listen. I hear nothing but pieces.

As I wait, confused why you don’t speak these needed words, I hear whispers to my heart through a song, Pieces by Amanda Cook. She sings of God’s love for us, the love modeled by our Savior, Jesus Christ. The singing of promises soothe the ache…

You don’t give your heart in pieces. Unreserved, unrestrained, your love is wild for me. It isn’t shy, Your love is proud to be seen with me. Not passive, never disengages, not broken, keeps it promises, not selfish and always pure….You don’t give your heart in pieces.

Dear Church, As I soak in the reminders of God’s love, I realize that all these things I’m waiting to hear boil down to love. I want the church to fully love, not just pieces of love. The Church must lead with love.

So Church, Where is your love?

My heart races as I ask such a scandalous question but

help

me

understand.

Where is your love? Please ask for a do-over and lead with love.

Oh Church,

I will wait and listen for you to lead with love. I will wait for the humility, honesty, integrity, repentance, full disclosure to your people, apologies to the masses; to the woman, to all those dismissed like the least of these out of the church, to the congregation for the secrets, misleading and broken systems.

I pray you get it right.

I will wait and pray but it can no longer be a passive wait, it must be an active wait. As you taught me the importance of community, of the Acts 2 church, I will gather my people, my community and seek a place that leads with love, not pieces of love, but fully leads with love as Christ did, a place that welcomes, everyone always.

Family is all we have

Family is all we have

I was encouraging someone on their quest to rebuild relationships and I typed “at the end of the day, family is all we have.” and as I looked at the words on my screen, I could not hit send. Something is wrong with this statement. I believe it, don’t I?

So, here I am once again; a girl and her keyboard exploring life and what I believe. I am a truth and justice seeker by nature. Some like this about me, some don’t and I am okay with that. Today, I need to dig and uncover this truth; Is family all we got? Is family all that matters?

Loyalty is important to me. From a young age, I learned the destruction of dis-loyalty and decided that being loyal to people, especially your family was a priority. When you live your life like this, family becomes a top value. You sacrifice, put others first, put what is best for the family ahead of your desires because you are loyal. Our family is not with out fault, disagreements or mistakes but at the end of the day when everything settles down the family is still there.

So, why couldn’t I hit send?

As you know, I’m a faith girl. I wouldn’t say I am religious but I have deep faith and I believe Jesus’ greatest command is for us to love, love like he did. (I wrote a piece called Learning to Love if you want to know more of what that means or better yet read the New Testament.)
Maybe, I couldn’t hit send because this may seem to exclude God? God promises to never abandon us. Would I be offending God with the “all we have” part of the statement? Is that why I couldn’t hit send?

Hmmm, I do see God as my Father, as the head of the family. Decisions do not get made with out passing them by God, most ones anyway…maybe more decisions than not is safer to say. To know me is to know that this is deep rooted in me and this person would know this about me. It is safe to say that God is family to me, the top of my family so no, that is not the reason.

So, why couldn’t I hit send?

If I believe that family is needed to thrive in the life and if I believe I can say this without offending God because God is family, in addition it is known that I would never be excluding God, what is it that kept me from sending, “family is all we have”?

I re-read the sentence.

“at the end of the day, family is all we have.”

I read it again and then is comes.

Words trip me up. I am a word person. I read into meaning of words and I am conscious of the words I use.

The word in all this that is holding me up is family.

You see, I hold a different definition of family.

 

The official definition of family is as follows…

family

1. 
a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.
◦ a group of people related to one another by blood or marriage.”friends and family can provide support”
2. 
all the descendants of a common ancestor.”the house has been owned by the same family for 300 years”

synonyms:
ancestry, parentage, pedigree, genealogy, background, family tree, descent, lineage, bloodline, blood, extraction, stock; More

 

I grew up in a household that blood, lineage nor ancestry alone determined the lines of family. God brought people into our lives to love, to include, to be family. Yes, blood and marriage determine family but this is not it for us. People are brought into our lives for us to love and some of them are brought in to be family— to do life together, the good and the hard, to encourage and help, . My parents and grandparents taught this, their parents taught this. My man and I are teaching this to our children. Family matters and God extends our families. We must celebrate and stand with them in deep waters. Family is more than blood.

I may now be able to type and send this variation, “At the end of the day, family, including God, is all that we have and by family I mean blood family as well as our God family.” Seems a bit wordy, but I feel better about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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