Back to Radnor

Sometimes, you just need to get back to nature. There’s an almost irresistible urge to get away from everything mechanized and electronic and just commune with God’s creation.

For me, that was the urge and Radnor Lake State Park was once again the place to go to  satisfy that craving. It had been far too long since the last time I actually hiked there.

Almost immediately, I felt my blood pressure lowering and my anxiety levels bottoming out. Not that I was overly stressed, but any normal working day carries with it some amount of stress and worry.

I read somewhere that if you have trouble sleeping, the best way to reset your internal clock is to spend a week away from everything electronic and digital. For most of us, that’s not exactly the most practical solution.

I do think that even an hour or two can be beneficial to resetting your mental calm. You can actually hear yourself think. Life slows down for that brief period of time. Everything that seemed so pressing and urgent fades into the background for a little while.

I love it. I don’t know why I don’t go there more often.

The extra added benefit is that I got at least half of my 10,000 steps there. I walked until I was weary. But it was a good kind of weary that usually leads to a good night’s sleep.

Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to live that way all the time. You hear all the time that the best nutrition is to eat foods as close to the way God made them as possible. I wonder if we could learn to live as close to nature as possible if we wouldn’t be healthier– and not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

Anyway, I recommend Radnor Lake if you’re ever in the area. It’s good for your soul.

 

Too Good Not to Share

“look — we’re facing some pretty big things, Lord,
And You whisper: “Child, look — look at Me.
Now You’re facing the Best thing, who dwarfs all the other things.”
And we exhale.. and we get it, God, because that is the thing:
Prayer isn’t so much to remind our God of what all the problems are —
but to remind all the problems of who our God is.

And You cup us close tonight and tell us: No matter what you’re facing, look into My face — and know it, feel it: Your God is greater than what you’re trying to face, your God is bigger than what you’re trying to escape, your God is better than anything you’re trying to chase.
And our problems fade in the light of Your gentle face, Your tender embrace….” (Ann Voskamp).

That’s it. “Prayer isn’t so much to remind our God of what all the problems are– but to remind all the problems of who our God is.”

That sentence. For the win.

I got my health insurance premiums for 2016. Apparently, they’re going up over $150 a month. That’s a whole lot of moolah.

But no matter how big my insurance premium gets, God is bigger.

No matter how overwhelmed I’ve felt over the pressing issues facing me, God has been and will always be able.

That’s not a news flash, but it’s a good reminder out there to all the weary and heavy-laden hearts tonight who need to hear it one more time. It’s a great comfort to all those who feel like they’re less than adequate to meet all that life has thrown their way this past week.

No matter what, God will be enough.

Let that be your mantra for the days to come. Let it resound in your heart and mind when the lies come and try to drag you down into defeat.

No matter what, God will be enough.

 

Belmont Move-In Day, 2015 Edition

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I’m sore. I don’t think I’ve been this sore in quite some time, but it was more than worth it.

I got out of bed at the most ungodly hour of 5:40 (on a Saturday, no less) to drive to Belmont Heights Baptist Church. From there, several Kairos folks and I went to the Patton-Bear Dorm to help move freshmen into their dorm rooms.

I’m feeling every bit of those six flights of stairs I climbed more times than I can count. I’m also feeling satisfaction over the knowledge that we helped to ease the stress and trauma (mostly to the parents of the freshmen). What would’ve taken all day for them took approximately five minutes.

I met four new canine friends who just happened to be hanging out at Belmont near where we were working. One was a rescued Boston Terrier who had the distinction of having one blue eye. I can’t fathom who would get a dog only to neglect, abuse, and abandon it. But I am glad he’s found a good and loving home at last.

Most of service in the Kingdom of God is being faithful in the details and small stuff. We earn the right to have our gospel message heard when we walk the extra mile with people and help them carry their burdens (in this case literal burdens). We gain an audience when we first listen to what they have to say.

I counted in my head and this makes my fourth year of toting boxes up and down stairs and seeing the faces of grateful freshmen and their parents. I also figured that most of the freshmen I helped the first time are probably getting ready to graduate in May of next year.

God willing, I plan to be back for my fifth year in 2016. Maybe by then I’ll be in better shape. Maybe we’ll get assigned to a dorm with less floors.

 

Be Encouraged. B-E Encouraged.

“God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, The Message).

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read this verse aloud at least once a day for the next five days. Unless you feel really weird reading it aloud, in which case you may read it in your “inside-your-head” voice. You have my permission.

Remember, Jesus didn’t die to give us a get out of hell free card. It isn’t about something that’s waiting in the bye and bye.

It’s here and now. It’s life– abundant and full and overflowing life– right now.

Some of us are having a hard time remembering that right now. Some feel so weighed down by grief or stress or despair that it’s hard to feel alive. It’s hard to live abundantly when you feel as if all you’ve been doing is treading water to stay afloat in the flood.

That’s why Paul tells us to encourage each other. He didn’t say think good thoughts toward each other and have the best intentions to let them know that their in your prayers. No. He said to actively encourage them through any and all means at your disposal, whether that be pen and paper, face-to-face affirmation, smoke signals, social media, or morse code.

Who needs your encouragement most? Who is God putting on your heart? Your real mission is to encourage that person in a real and tangible way in the next 24 hours. Go!

 

Lent Update for 2015

I have two more weeks to go for my Lent break from social media. So far, so good. More than having extra free time, the best part has been clearing my head and getting my perspective readjusted (again). As much as I love all things social media, it can mess with your head if you let it.

You know it’s time to step away for a bit when you start valuing your self-worth based on social media. I should know, being a recovering approval-addict. I’ve been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and worn it.

I’ll confess that not everything God has shown me during this season of Lent has been fun or easy. I’ve seen just how much I’m addicted to worry and stress and doubts. My faith is smaller than I thought, but I’m also finding out that God os much bigger than I ever imagined.

It’s been a long journey from that day on May 22. 2012 when I got laid off from my job. It hasn’t gone nearly the way I thought it would. But I have seen God’s provision and felt His nearness more in these past three years than ever before.

Lent is a way of me reminding myself that 1) God owns it all and controls it all, not me; 2) if I have God and nothing else, I’m better off than if I had everything but God; 3) it truly will be fine in the end because God said so, and if it’s not fine, then it’s not the end (to borrow a line from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

I think that covers it.

 

Keep Calm and Don’t Forget to Breathe

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All of us have those moments of panic. Or maybe it’s just me. Like yesterday when I couldn’t find my keys. It was like they went to that special hidden worm hole where all those socks go.

I was sure I had set them down, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember when. In times like these, I remind myself to breathe. Take a deep breath and exhale it slowly.

I found my keys hidden under my wallet.

Sometimes, you get to anxious over what you’re missing and can look right at it without seeing it because you’re too distracted by trying to find it. Raise your hand if that made sense.

I have to remind myself that God is present even when my senses tell me He’s absent. Too often, I miss Him when I look for Him in times of stress and anxiety. Too many times I might be looking right at Him and not see Him because I’m too worried about finding Him.

He’s not lost. He never was. It’s me who gets lost. Breathing deeply helps me remember that. It helps to remind me that if I only stand still, God will come to where I am and find me.

More of My Signature Randomness

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So far, this has been one of the coldest winters I can remember. And for most of the nation, it has been one of the snowiest (and I’m fairly certain that’s a real word– or it needs to be). Just about every state in the Union has seen snow and every part of the country has been under a snowy white blanket– except for Middle Tennessee.

It’s almost like a reverse miracle. Sorta like the dry fleece/wet fleece miracle that Gideon witnessed in Judges. It’s also like there’s an anti-snow bubble over the middle part of the state as snow tends to either go north or south of us.

I’m still hopin’ for one good snowfall before the winter of 2014 comes to an end.

In addition to Philip Seymour Hoffman, we’ve lost two more from Hollywood: Shirley Temple and Sid Caesar.

Most people know Shirley Temple from her days as a child star back in the 30’s. Few know that she was a diplomat and activist after her Hollywood days ended. Even fewer could tell you who Sid Caesar was (though if you’ve seen Grease, you might remember him as the gym teacher guy).

It seems like celebrity deaths almost always come in threes. I don’t know why. If you do, I’d love to hear your theories.

Finally, I’m still learning the concept of living out of gratitude and thanksgiving instead of fear and anxiety. I know worry is my default setting and it’s very easy for me to lapse into doubting God’s faithfulness. It’s an effort to retrain my mind to look for all the blessings and see all that I have instead of focusing on all that I lack. It even takes seeing with a different set of eyes– eyes of faith.

But it is so very worth it.

That’s one of the reasons why I blog. I want to remind you (and myself) that God is good and that I am  blessed. Plus, I want there to be something out there that isn’t the usual doom and gloom prevalent in the media these days.

 

For When You’re Feeling Anxious

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It’s February. And unless you’re living in Hawaii with all those palm trees and beaches, it’s cold.

My feelings on cold weather go something like this: if it’s gonna be this cold, it might as well snow, or what’s the point?

Maybe you’re feeling more than just cold. Maybe you’re feeling anxious or stressed.

Perhaps you’re out of a job and wondering how that big stack of bills is going to get paid. Or where they money is going to come from to put gas in the car. Or food on the table.

Maybe you’re still single and wondering when (or even if) that special someone will ever come along.

Maybe you’re children don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore and you don’t know how to get through to them anymore.

Maybe it’s just a combination of a million little things all rolled up into one big case of anxiety.

Don’t you know that Jesus didn’t come to bring your peace?

He came to be your peace. He is after all the Prince of Peace.

That’s what all of us who are overwhelmed with worry and stress need to remember. Jesus may not take away all those things that cause anxiety, but He promises to walk with us through every trial, every tribulation, and every dark valley.

Jesus has already overcome whatever you’re afraid of. Nothing can touch you apart from God’s permission. And absolutely nothing can come between you and the love of your Abba Father.

Sometimes, you need medicine to make those anxieties go away. That doesn’t make you less spiritual. It just means your brain needs a little help to function normally.

I love the line from that movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: Everything will be fine in the end. If it’s not fine, it’s not the end.

Grace Notes on a Thursday Night

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As I type these words, I have one extremely sleepy therapist curled up in my lap. I can feel my blood pressure dropping and my stress melting away. It’s almost like I’m living inside a Norman Rockwell painting.

I visited my favorite place on earth again. Downtown Franklin for me is almost like leaving Middle Tennessee and entering Middle Earth. If Middle Earth had amazing frozen yogurt and talking crosswalks.

I saw two of my favorite friends down there and ate at McCreary’s Irish Pub yet again. I felt like a senior adult eating at 4:30 pm, but I didn’t have to wait and I was able to sit outside and people-watch while I ate.

I really think the way to slow down your life is to be intentionally thankful for each moment, grateful for each frame of your fleeting life, and to seek joy where you are. Once you start looking for them, you’ll be amazed at how plentiful the blessings are. How numerous the little joys are that quietly intrude on your day.

Sometimes, you have to put down the iPhone and the iPad and the MacBookPro and live in the moment. Actually be present in your life to the people and places around you.

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I find that my gratitude increases my awareness of grace and my need for it and my capacity to both receive and give it. Everything I have and everything I am that’s worth anything at all is grace, including possessions, people, health, education, and (as hard as it is for me to admit) even the faith to believe in the promises of Jesus.

I say take time to bless those people behind the counter. I went back into Sweet CeCe’s after I finished my divine Southern Sweet Velvet yogurt and told the girl working there that they always did such a great job and made me feel welcome every time I went in there. I’m sure plenty of people probably complained or took out their frustrations on her, so I felt she needed at least one positive and encouraging word that day.

Even if it’s only a smile, you can change a person’s world. And as I’ve said before, to change one person’s world is to change the world.

Gee, I do so love grace.

dorie

Things I Love 21: This Blog Series Is Old Enough To Drink (If It Weren’t a Baptist Blog)

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“Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control, let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy’s fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper a surprised thanks. This is the fuel for joy’s flame. Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty. I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust” (Ann Voskamp).

My list continues at #551.

551) Going back to swing dancing at Centennial Park on July 13.

552) Conversations with people of different faith-traditions where we both learn something new.

553) Embracing my own uniqueness instead of giving in to the pressure around me to fit in.

554) When I finally realized that the song “Father Abraham” was about the Abraham from the Bible and NOT Abraham Lincoln.

555) The joke about what a vegan zombie craves– “Graaaaaaains!”

556) That true belief is active and results in actions– works if you will. It’s not mental assent; it’s putting hands and feet on faith and living it out every single day.

557) That defining what truth is and is not is not up to me.

558) Getting coupons for free Chick-fil-A sandwiches.

559) The random way my brain works and how it makes all my conversations extremely unpredictable yet very interesting.

560) God being so much bigger than my fears and doubts and questions.

561) Knowing that my eternal security doesn’t depend on my skill at playing Candy Crush Saga.

562) Knowing my ultimate hope isn’t in a president or a republic, but a King and a Kingdom.

563) Half-priced shakes from Sonic.

564) The thought of never having to take another math class as long as I live.

565) The movie That Thing You Do!

566) The conversation I had at Best Buy with Jamie (who I will probably never see again) where I completely lost track of time.

567) Chihuahuas that fit into tea cups.

568) Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens (is that how the song goes?)

569) The perfect cup of Earl Grey tea.

570) Capturing a magical moment in a photograph.

571) Running through a sprinkler just I used to to when I was little.

572) The uncomplicated faith of a child.

573) Fireworks on the 4th of July.

574) My friend Lara getting married (and me getting an invitation to her wedding to see a prayer of mine getting answered before my very eyes).

575) That I still have 6 months to finish my goal of watching all of the 9 nominees for 2012’s Best Picture Academy Award.

576) Never having to watch Life of Pi ever again– once was definitely enough.

577) Hugs.

578) Every single cartoon featuring that loveable dog named Droopy.

579) How a faithful pet can actually lower your blood pressure and reduce stress.

580) Hearing my cat Lucy snore.

581) Making peace with the past– all of it.

582) Cool Hand Luke– because it is such a great film.

583) Truly worshipping in spirit and in truth.

584) Government square pizzas like they used to have when I was in grade school.

585) All of the people who follow this blog faithfully.