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Showing posts from October, 2012

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 31

Well, I did it. I blogged for 31 days on one topic. I was reminded of last fall when I blogged almost every day during Fire in the Night. I find that having a challenge to write daily helps me to write more. But, I also tend to put pressure on myself to do it perfectly, which means that I have to post every day. I intentionally chose not to blog on Sundays, to give myself a day of rest, and I took a few more days when I didn’t have anything to write. This protected me from the pressure of perfection because I started with an imperfect goal. I hope that my heart is tenderer today, October 31, than it was on October 1. But, I am realizing more and more that I have to fight to keep a tender heart. Pursuing the goal to write about having a tender heart almost daily helped me to do more heart checks and take action when I discovered hardened places. I haven’t had any big discoveries or significant insights. The only thing that felt really different was that I was inviting others into what …

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 30

I was counseling a person who is suffering great despair over painful life circumstances. They told me that they were hanging on to their faith by a thread and that they were afraid it would break at any moment. They said that their joy had been taken away and that they were not sure that they would be able to get it back. They said that they were having a hard time locating hope because they cannot see how God is working in their impossible situation. I was reminded of this as I was reading Lamentations 3 tonight. He (God) has walled me in, and I cannot escape. He has bound me in heavy chains. And though I cry and shout, he shuts out my prayers. He has blocked my path with a high stone wall. He has twisted the road before me with many detours. (7-9) He has made me grind my teeth on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!” The thought …

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 27

I think I’ve fallen sick with rule-following again. I hesitated to put lotion on my face this afternoon because I had already done it this morning. My rule is lotion twice a day, once in the morning and once at bed-time. Lotion in the middle of the day, even if my skin feels really dry, is against that rule. I almost didn’t put it on and was about to let my skin suffer until I realized that I was being ridiculous and I am free to put on as much lotion as I want. I’m here at the House of Prayer for our 12 hour burn and I have hardly said two words to God. I have been too busy serving as a prophetic singer, catching up on my one-year Bible readings, taking care of administrative tasks, reading my next section of Grace for the Good Girl and now, writing. I have been really busy doing things for God, instead of enjoying His sweet presence. I should have recognized my symptoms when I woke up at 5:30 this morning. I was sure that I am a terrible person. I felt so awful that I started trying to…

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 25

I feel sad for trees losing their leaves. They look so exposed and vulnerable with their bare branches. I felt a bit like that the other day. I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, but every once and a while I will look at other people’s pages. A few days ago, I was looking at a friend’s page and I started having some insecure feelings. We graduated high school in the same year and she is only a few months older than me. But, she, unlike me, has been married for a few years and now has a baby.

I was looking at some of her pictures and I started feeling exposed. The questions that I try to avoid asking myself started coming. Why is everyone my age married? Why do so many of my friends have children already? Why am I so different from all these people? Is my life less than those of people who are married and have kids?

My singleness and my childlessness felt like bare branches whose leaf covering had fallen away. I wondered what people my age think when they look at my Facebook page. I t…

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 24

When I go out to the waiting room to get a client, I try to always greet them by name and with a smile. As we cover the short distance from the waiting room to my office, I usually ask, “How are you today?” Almost always, my client will respond, “Fine.” Once we are safely inside my office with the door shut, I will ask this question again and my clients are almost never “fine”. They are angry, sad, depressed, terribly anxious, disappointed and uncertain of how to handle all of their “un-fine” feelings. I really appreciate this exchange with my clients. I have laughed with several of them over how they really aren’t “fine” and why do they say this when it’s not true? But, I understand the problem because I have it too. Chances are, if you have ever asked me how I am doing, then I probably responded with, “Fine.” And I can guarantee that some of those times, I really was not fine in that moment. Why do we do this? Why this obsession with being “fine” all the time? Why not share how we are …

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 23

Have you ever been afraid to hope? I have. I imagine hope like a little plant with bright flowers that wants to grow in the soil of my heart. I’m afraid to let this little plant bloom and grow because it can open the door to disappointment. Disappointment, when it encounters hope in my heart, rushes in like the secret police discovering a fugitive. Cruel disappointment crushes hope and forcibly removes it from my heart. This leaves a gaping hole that hurts. I can feel where hope used to be and how it was torn away. As a result, I am extremely cautious about letting hope grow in certain areas of my heart. In areas like work, where I perform well and disappointment only visits rarely, I actually enjoy when hope blooms and grows. I will even pitch in and help to cultivate it. But, in other areas, like in the area of hoping to be married, I almost never let it grow. A good friend from church pointed this out to me the other day. She said that I can feel hopeful every day because any day ca…

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 22

Yesterday, my sister and I had one of those rare moments where it’s just the two of us and we get to talk for an uninterrupted period of time. It was wonderful and I delighted in every second of it. Karyn is one of my best and safest friends, but I still get nervous when I want to be real with her. I was telling her some of my thoughts and feelings that have been provoked by reading Grace for the Good Girl. I started telling her about some of the terrible things my “good girl” says to me when I’ve done something that I should not do. She looked at me with a mixture of surprise and compassion as she said, “Wow, that’s what it’s like in your brain?” It was interesting and helpful for me to see how my perspective looks to her and to hear her perspective on me. Karyn went on to share with me some of what she is struggling with and I got to share my perspective with her. Somewhere in this refreshing and authentic exchange, I told Karyn that I really want to offer what we were experiencing to…

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 19

I’ve been fighting a cold this week. There, I finally admitted it. A few people have asked me if this was the case over the past few days and I repeatedly said, “No.” I blamed allergies and changing temperatures initially. And, I’m sure those things contributed to my sore sinuses, my tender and tickling throat and the choking cough that gets provoked. (Those of you at church last weekend will remember what that is.) Still Counting Gifts: ·#569: I am thankful for this cold. ·#570: This is the first time that I have been sick since June 2011! ·#571: I’m not sick with a sinus infection or bronchitis as I used to be 4 to 5 times a year. ·#572: I’m not confined to my bed or forced to sleep all day long because I’m so miserable. ·#573: I’m actually very functional, just a little tired and dragging. ·#574: This is just the thing that I need to give myself permission to say No to being overly active this weekend. ·#575: This is a great excuse to spend my time in my pj’s reading my Bible, reading …

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 18

Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 Ann Voskamp quoted this passage in her blog recently. Then, I read it in my one-year Bible for October 12. Seeing it twice within a week caught my attention. Verse 16 is: Always be joyful. This sounds like a command to me and I don’t think God would command us to do something we can’t do. If He tells me to always be joyful, then I believe that it is always possible for me to be joyful and that this is what God desires for me. Verse 17 is: Keep on praying. I hear another command. And, it follows the first one, which I understand to mean that prayer is related to being joyful. The joy provokes the prayer; the prayer sustains the joy, or both. Either way, I like how God has placed these two directives right next to each other. Verse 18: No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Je…

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 17

I had some overwhelmed feelings as I drove home from work tonight. I felt tired from the day and still had important items on my to-do list. I was relieved that the day was almost over and trying to figure out how to persevere through my final tasks for today.
Somewhere around this time, I realized that I had snuck back into partnership with my old friend perfectionism. He always reassures me that I can do absolutely everything with excellence. Perfectionism also tells me that I should never say “No” to anyone. He tells me that I have to help everyone who asks and that my best is not enough. Perfectionism is actually a bully. He weighs me down with heavy burdens that are impossible to lift and insults me when I fail. I broke off our partnership two years ago, but he hasn’t taken it well. He keeps trying to get back with me. Sometimes, he sneaks back into my life when I’m not watching. We were friends for so long that he feels really familiar and I forget that I don’t want to be associ…

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 16

#538: Today was a beautiful day. #539: I took a different way to work and got there 5 minutes faster. #540: I discovered that 3 of my 4 clients had rescheduled and I was finished with work by 10 AM. #541: I got to hang out at YMCA Camp Winnebago with a group of 8th grade students from Thurgood Marshall School for the Rotary Academy program. The sun was shining, the arm was warm and the students were doing team-building exercises. I spent 2 hours watching them have a great day. #542: For the first time in over a week, I am caught up on all my paperwork. #543: I drove around a Rockford neighborhood near the river and looked at fall leaves everywhere in gold, red and orange. #544: I sat with my mom in the afternoon, a rare treat, and ate popcorn while we sipped coffee. #545: I visited the neighbor with Karyn. I watched both of them in mom mode, responding to the needs of their children with love and grace, and felt impressed by how they handle the challenges of parenting. I hoped to be a mom…

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 15

I saw a fox in broad daylight today. This was concerning to me because I saw him yesterday, also in broad daylight and around the same place. He looks thin and unwell. I was on my way to work and I felt scared for the little fox and powerless to help him. I called my mom and left her a message explaining about the fox and asking if she knew who we could call to get him some help. I don’t think I begged her to do something to help him, but she must have heard the fear in my voice because she made several calls and texted me about them. I felt fragile and tearful after my fox sighting. I was afraid that he would die and I desperately wanted to help him. I felt weak in my impotence to help that creature and this feeling started creeping into my feelings about my work day. I had a full schedule with at least one very challenging client. Suddenly, I felt unprepared, tired and worried. If I can’t even help one small fox, then what do I have to offer people in pain? So, I prayed. I confessed a…