Monday, March 10, 2014

A few years ago I jumped on the blog bandwagon. I kept it up, sporadically at best, and then fell off said bandwagon. Or perhaps I just jumped onto a new bandwagon all together - the "I started a biog but never kept up with it" bandwagon. Sheesh. And just when I was about to shut down the blasted thing all together I decided to give it one last go. And this time, with a real, actual, centuries old motivator. Lent. So I've never been good at Lent. Meaning I don't ever put too much thought into it and my caffeine addiction is so far gone that it's not even an option (hang on, let me take a sip of my coke zero. Yum.) So what then? It's a practice I know is good and one I want to see the fruit of, but can't quite seem to pull it off. I was reminded that during Lent you can either take away something or add something. Take away TV or add a daily jog for example. The overarching point being the slight change in behavior that stretches you, challenges you, enhances your ache, if you will, for more Jesus in your life. I've had several conversation with friends recently about gifts. Not wrapped gifts or blessings, but giftedness - how God has made us uniquely, with a unique set of gifts. When we can identify these gifts, embrace them, and live out of them, we find ourselves full of life and more fully alive. Your gifts are different than mine. My gifts are different than yours. And that's not the point. Well, actually it's exactly the point. When I can find the courage and clarity to live out of my own gift set - a set that God has crafted uniquely in me and for me for the purpose of reflecting Christ to others - then I stand a really good chance of, well, having the wind put in my proverbial sails. If, on the other hand, I get stuck trying replicate someone else's gift set because it looks cooler or better or easier then I stand a really, really good chance of having my sail crumple into a sad little pile after my sad little boat went absolutely nowhere. Since that little boat analogy wasn't so hot, let's try this exercise out. A really sweet and smart lady whose name I can't remember led a seminar on this exact topic at a Young Life women's conference I went to recently. She had us take a pen in our dominant hand and right the word Jesus as many times as we could in 5 seconds. Yes, please, go ahead and try it. My speedy, albeit illegible script, cranked out the word Jesus 5.5 times. Not too shabby. She then had us put the pen in our other hand (so for me, my left hand) and do the same exercise. I'm pretty sure I only managed to write the word Jesus 1.25 times and it looked remarkably like my preschool daughter's handwriting. The point being fairly obvious but no less spot on - that when we live our lives true to how God created us, authentically and humbly, we will reflect Jesus with as much ease and effectiveness as is possible. But when we try to live out of the expectations of others, whether they are actual people we can name or that darn imaginary audience so many of us come up against, then our ability to reflect Christ to others will be labored, effortful, and lack that genuine quality that is so characteristic of someone living in the Spirit. This concept has resonated deeply with me in ways that are both frustrating and freeing as I try to embrace the gut check that came complimentary with this little exercise - am I living out of my genuine, uniquely created self? In my friendships? My marriage? My mothering? In ministry? Hoping to unpack that over the next few weeks Oh, right! I forgot to mention that little tidbit. I've decided to "add" a discipline to my life for Lent this year and I'm adding writing. As often as possible. Throughout Lent. Yowzers. Not yowzers because that's anything earth-shattering but yowzers because that's a long road to walk for yours truly, who apparently falls off bandwagons with ease. But writing is just such a thing that brings me life. It is a thing that I never regret doing but often regret not doing. And when I do it with any amount of consistency I find that the clutter of my life starts getting elbowed out. So feel free to join me, to read along, or not. Your call. My hope is NOT to impart wisdom or share clever recipes or DIY projects. That would be over-reaching my friends. My HOPE is simply this: to just do it and do it until I cross the finish line. To keep my pen in my right hand with the hope that the wind will, in fact, fill my sails and take my boat to places where the water is very, very sweet. Day 1 is in the books!

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