Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Note for January 1

The week between Christmas and New Year is one of my very favorites of the year.  Sometimes the 26th....or even about 3pm on the 25th...brings a little slump as the gifts have been unwrapped, the prime rib has been engulfed, and the candles on the cake have been blown out and the delicious Italian Cream Cake underneath those candles has been devoured, and well - it's simply over.  Over.  The over-ness slump has become a shorter and shorter one for me over the years.  Because something else starts stirring!  I'm reading a book right now that is so so so dang good and here's one little line that couldn't be more true: "'s the thing about despair: It overtakes the place meant for hope.  It steals the belief that healing is possible." (Rebekah Lyons, You Are Free)

And hope is what starts stirring as January 1 inches closer to our present instead of our future.

Hope for what may come.  Hope for what is happening.  Hope for the wonder of beginning to see what the next chapter will hold.  Hope for Him.  It's exciting.

It's exciting even when we feel like we are limping over the finish line of 2016.  That's how I feel this year.  I feel like He's turned my world upside down and he's bringing healing to things that, frankly, I didn't see as areas that needed that much attention.  Ha!  Ain't that a kicker!

I rather like leaping and bounding over the finish line of one year and into the race track of the next. I went through a few years of loving to run.  My longest races were two half marathons and, by far, my favorite part about running was the end of the race.  When your muscles are fatigued and worn and every little voice screams 'this is too much' as your near the finish line..... and you contemplate walking instead of running over that dang line.  But then.  Something rises over all of that.  My eyes would lock in on that line and from somewhere a sprint would take over my legs and my arms would pump harder pulling my body to run faster than I had the entire race.  Now that's good.

This year, I'm definitely walking rather than sprinting over the line.  But even typing those words, brings a smile because it is okay to just get over the line!  Sometimes, weakness is a gift. Sometimes, it realigns perspective.  Sometimes, it reminds me that success in life and in Him is not born from my feelings of strength.  Feelings of strength are often mistaken for strength.  Strength is deeper than what feelings tell us.

To me, the connection between strength and hope is undeniable.

And that makes me wonder, do you feel hope?

It's okay to be honest about feeling despair.  It's important to be honest about what we feel.  It's the starting point, after all!  But keep this in mind....despair and hope contend for the same spot.  The same spot!  And there are times that hope feels out of reach.  It feels like having hope would require more faith than is available to us at the moment.  My friend, that's a good time to ask Him for help to hope.  A simple plea, a simple call for rescue.

So know that I'm thinking over you as we approach January 1 and the beginning of new.  The cold and clear air a picture to us that He really does make all things new.  He is the changer.  He is the One who moves swiftly when the time is right.  He is the holder of everything that we need.  He is trustworthy.

As you read today, may you be filled with hope.  May you be filled with hope.  It doesn't matter if we are leaping and bounding or if we are slowly walking over the line of one year into the next....He is hope.  My prayer is that all despair loses its grip and that hope floods in, in its place.

Much much love and happy New Year!

Honest Abi and her honest chin...and its honest companion, The Christmas Cold Sore

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Wrestle and the Recovery

What could be more Christmas-y than writing about wrestling and recovering? Precisely: so many many things.  But, whether you wrestle on a tiny scale or an obese scale, I bet there are many of us who find ourselves wrestling in December.  And maybe wrestling with the fact that we are wrestling in December.  HA!

It is good to wrestle.  Yes it is.  When the wrestle comes up for us, we can either make a side-step and avoid it, or we can engage, go deep and walk through it.  Who am I kidding? Walking is far too positive of a word! More like tremor/slather/stumble/army crawl/eek through it.  But, the deception in the side-step is the belief that we can escape it.  To side-step it is a delay and not an escape.

Some straight forward words: I hope that there are people who read these words that aren't like me.  I hope that friends or acquaintances I have that do not share my faith in God are reading and processing with me.  And so, on the hope that that is you... I must say that being 'saved' by Him has not been a one time occurrence in my life.  I have desperately needed to be rescued from myself time after time.  But, I have seen Him, felt Him break into my story and rescue me.  I have lived it.  He rescues me.  And once again, I am taken away at how He has rescued me.  I have needed Him to pull me out of the crazy in my head and HE HAS.  Christians can be crazy in da head.  Christians need to be re-rescued often.


So, there is no one more relieved to be checking in from the upswing out of the pit of a wrestling phase than this girl right here.  Re-la-la-la-la-lieved.

When you come out of something intense, you is tired.  Real tired.  And what I wanted to dive into a bit was the space of time right after the wrestle.

And when you're tired, prayers are simple:

'What now God?'

And then so clearly and so consistently He has invited me:

'Come recover in Me.'

It made me pause...the word recover.  Frankly, my natural instinct is to brush myself off, get up, and walk (quickly) away from the scene.  As if it never happened.  I mean, I want to get the good out of it and not forget it.  But, I'd sure like to look as if it never happened.  No sweaty brow, no shaking muscles, no weariness.

But the invitation to recover is not very unclear, now is it?

So as I've moved through recovery, and still am doing so, I've asked Him what that looks like.  How do we recover with Him?  Recovery can be necessary after the smallest wrestle.  After a tough day.  After a difficult run-in.  Recovery need not be saved only for the 'big stuff.'  What if He's inviting you to do the same? Come recover with me....

There are a few things that I know about recovery and much of it mirrors recovery in a physical sense.

1. SLEEP.  Not spiritual slumber....dude, go get a good night of sleep.  Let that rise to top priority.  Has one too many Netflix shows caused you to stay up too late to get a full night of sleep? Catching up on the list of to-dos that didn't get done while you were a bit down? For a bit, sleep needs to be seen as one of the most productive things you can do.  I'm not talking about sleeping the days away.  I'm talking about doing the things in your power to get consistent full nights of sleep.  Allow your body to restore and recalibrate....which impacts everything else.

Hebrews 4:9-11 The Message Translation
"The promise of 'arrival' and 'rest' is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest..."

2. QUIET. Just as if you were side lined from an injury and were forced to let your body recover.... let some things stop that keep the brain busy.  Create some quiet.  He most definitely is right there with you in the wake of the wrestle.  And He wants to process with you...not you on your own trying to figure it all out.  Will He speak? Oh yes, my friend.  He wants to put the puzzle pieces together with help you make the pull you up so you can see the wrestle from higher up with perspective.  Make some consistent spaces to be quiet with Him and see what happens.

3.  EAT.  What we take in, impacts recovery.  So - let truth and wisdom in.  And that means, seek it out.  Seek out the people who have it.  Read Truth.  Plant yourself in the Psalms if you need a starting point.  This is personal to me...but I find it important to guard the atmosphere around me when I'm recovering.  It's not a time to watch/read/listen to dysfunctional story lines.  Even if it's artistic and well-written or deliciously composed.  Even if the stable you can handle it, the recovering you shouldn't need to handle it.  Take in things that stir up beauty, inspiration, love and truth in you.

Recovery: sleeping, quiet and eating.  It can be challenging in a month like December, but it is possible.

He's in the recovery just as much as He's in the wrestle.  Take it to the bank.

Oh friend! What a journey we get to walk! It takes my breath away and blasts air under my wings all at the same time.

See that dark side strand/chunk of hair on my right cheek?  The one bending by my nose and then sticking straight out?  Yes, that's because it's sticking straight out due to dire need of a good wash.  Tomorrow morning, it's on.  Recovery = dirty hair = but recovery hair has had its last day.  There's only so far dry shampoo can take ya, am I right?

Mucho love,
Honest Abi

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Honesty: When The Wrestle Ain't Over

Every time I write something in December, I feel it ought to be something regarding Christmas, Advent, cookies, memories, gifts, peace: you fill in the blank.  I did actually do it once and I still like it! I don't have it this year, yo.  Don't have it.  Maybe on Christmas Eve.  Maybe the beautiful writing that stirs the Christmas heart will hit me then.  

My last post was gritty. But it was truthful....and may I say, I am a glass half-full girl.  I like that full lens....I like joy. I like rising up. I like wrestling forward.  Progress.  So, when two weeks later, ya still wrasslin, well shoot.  It throws me for a loop to not be upright and on top of all of it.  Instead, I feel like I keep grasping for stability.  Do you ever feel that way?

A few brief thoughts: What the what?

It's seasons like this that make me ask aggressive questions of God.  My big girl voice comes out, honesty breaks in and my prayers sound like heated discussions. "WHAT am I supposed to do? No, I am actually serious here, Sir.  I need you, here, now, and I need to know what to do." And then the verse in 2 Corinthians 12:9 pops into my mind:

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

You think to yourself once again, what the what?!?!  Sometimes it's all confounding. I love the thought of His grace being sufficient for me and His power being made perfect in my weakness.  But when you're in the spin of the wrestle, or at least when I am in the spin of the wrestle, lovely thoughts do little for me.  They irritate me.  I get very practical when I'm in the fight.  Practical and real pave the way for inspiration and beauty to come running back.  

So, what does it mean for Your power to be made perfect in my weakness? Some translations say, He is strong when I am weak.  I decided to pull up The Message.  Sometimes the total rephrasing helps me understand the point being made:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 The Message:

7-10 "Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."
It's that sentence after 'My strength comes into its own in your weakness' that gets me.  The 'once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen.'  AHA!  There is something I can doooooooooooo. It's not all about feeling it - it's not just that the fact is true that His strength comes into fullness when I am weak.  It's that it is true and I let it happen. Puzzle piece.  Next thought: how do I let it happen?
No solid answers.  Only guesses.  I think it has something to do with letting Him take over.  Letting go of the time table.  "Ahem, Darling Lord, let's get the thing done.  Let's wrap 'er up!"  So, cut that concept out of the picture: objective of quick resolve gone.  Apparently, there is more wrestle to do so who am I to say, 'we've had enough fun'?  And in that, 90% of the battle is simply acknowledging that it's happening.  I'm so glass-full that my natural instinct is to see the beautiful fall leaves, adore the fatty ruby red sparkling balls on my Christmas tree, delight in my morning latte, gaze into the sets of gorgeous blue eyes my sons both have, and go on my merry little way.  As I type those things, of course, the answer is not stop seeing beauty and receiving love through the simple things He puts in my path.  But, to the point that I allow those things to aid me in effectively burying my head in the sand and pretending we're done with the wrestle, it prolongs said wrestle.  I would rather pretend it is not happening! Lalalalalalalalalalala.......So, one thing I have started doing is adding some words to my conversations with Him that go a little something like this:
"I appreciate what You are doing in me, Jesus.  I honor it.  I thank you for helping me to wrestle through this.  Help me to be weak when I want to pretend I'm not.  Help me to not hide from what You are doing. I declare over myself that I WILL get to the other side and that I will not circle this mountain endlessly.  By your grace, I will get what You want me to learn.  I won't quit because you are with me.  I won't be afraid of the wrestle."
And I'm going to tell ya, when you pray those words, the fight comes up.  Dagnabbit, yeah! I am not going to wrestle endlessly.  Huh-uh.  Oh we are going to do this thing.  Who wants to walk around a mountain for 40 years? NOT THIS GIRL.  So, even if I don't feel like I'm making a lot of progress, I pray over myself and say that I will get what the Lord wants out of it.  
So, here I sit, the girl in the wrestle.  Don't have the exact language for it yet, looking forward to the other side, but refusing to jump ship because conflict is uncomfortable.  
Even if I like to pout about it sometimes.
Are you wrestling?  Perhaps we should meet for coffee and swap sob stories.  It will be a real good time. Ha!
Much love,
Honest Abi