All right. I did it again. I feel a little like the Reese’s Cup guy: Sorry…not sorry.
There was no way I was going to get the weekly word posted yesterday. I thought maybe. I thought several times: I need to get to it. But I was glued to my TV all day. I needed to be.
I needed the return to decorum. I needed to feel the healing that comes from change. I needed ritual. I needed the ceremony. I needed to feel connected to something bigger than me…and something positive.
I went to bed thankful. And I woke up literally formulating this post. My first thoughts at 4:12AM were this post.
My prayer is that you can see and feel hopeful.
One of the highlights of the day was the reading by the Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman. Her words bring me to tears…in the best kind of way.
Today’s word was suggested by my friend, Deborah Helm Liffick.
I want to apologize for not getting this out on Wednesday (1/6/21). I don’t know how your day went, mine was an emotional roller coaster. My husband had to return to Ohio. We had a wonderful visit. He also accomplished several “honey do” items that will make my stay here easier. But good byes (even for a few months) are hard.
Then there was all the insanity in Washington with the attack on the Capital. I was up until after midnight watching the news. I grieve the loss of life and the loss of our ability to engage in civil discourse. Accountability and consequences for deplorable and illegal behavior is a thing of the past.
But I had determined that I was going to establish a weekly post utilizing the encouraging words given to me by friends. I couldn’t allow yesterdays emotional obstacles to deter me from my goal.
So, here it is. The post. I don’t feel all that great about it, but the feeling may come as I build upon the weekly achievements and prove to myself I can finish this goal.
So the plan for this weekly post is to have an encouraging word for those extra long days and weeks that weigh heavy and are discouraging.
Today’s word is a great word for that purpose. So many days we get tripped up by the mundane, sabotaged by the pain, or overwhelmed by the struggle. We’re taken down by those things because we lose perspective: the ability to see above and beyond.
A scripture that lifts me to a place of awe is found in Isaiah 40:
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
God can give us the ability to soar above…and that’s pretty awesome. He keeps his promise, gives us everything we need—including the ability run, or the strength to just keep walking.
I have spent most of my life in the shadow of the Cowardly Lion of “Wizard of Oz” fame. He was afraid of everything. He spent most of the movie working himself into a state of anxiety over all the things that could go wrong.
I get him. This is my “me too.”
Yesterday, I got a call that a family wanted me to come to the hospital to pray. The hospital is in Cleveland—somewhere I’d never been before—and the sky was threatening to dump a deluge of hurricane proportions. In my heart I was ready to run out the door, but in my mind I was seeing all the things that could go wrong.
I asked a few trusted friends to pray for me, keyed the location into my phone, and with fear and trembling walked out the door.
I don’t consider myself brave. I have to draw on other resources: God, the prayers of friends, the encouragement of my husband to do the things I would otherwise shrink back from.
Courage is not the absence of fear. According to Dorothy Bernard: “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
Many times in the movie, when the Lion wanted to run, his friends would lock arms and walk beside him into the fearfulness of the moment. God promises to never leave us or forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5ff). So there’s One who is always on our side, and at our side.
But don’t discount the friends who either by their presence or encouraging words will go with us as well.
When the situation calls for bravery you cannot muster on your own, who will you call on to help get you through?
And by the way, the hospital visit was great! There were only occasional droplets of rain. I found the hospital with no problem (parking was a little trickier, but accomplished). The family was a joy to be with. And I came home blessed and encouraged.
“They” say laughter is good medicine. If that’s true, then being around me must good for other people’s health. Because I make people laugh. Sometimes they laugh with me—other times at me. But it’s laughter all the same.
I remember a conversation I had with one of our foster boys. He got in a fight with another boy. A careless comment ended up coming to blows. As I pulled the details out of him, I uncovered some humor he had missed. We take ourselves to seriously. I pointed out the ridiculous statement that had been made and we both had a good laugh.
On a different occasion I was the one who needed to laugh. I recognized the comedy in the moment, but wouldn’t allow myself to laugh. Instead I adopted a controlling, dominant parent. It was awful—for both my daughter and myself. Laughter would have been much better than humble pie that day.
Perhaps it’s easier for me to find humor because it’s easier for me to see good, and find joy.
I hope you’re able to uncover plenty of reasons to laugh today.
Today’s word is one that isn’t used very often today. We might know what it feels like. When the test comes back positive and you’ve been trying to get pregnant for years. You’re exuberant. Your team wins the national championship. You feel triumphant. You complete your final round of chemo and ring the bell. You’re celebrating.
These are jubilant moments.
But can we live that way?
We are much more familiar with the opposite of today’s word: unethusiastic, discouraged, unexcited, and sorrowful.
Jesus saw a lot of the downside of today’s word. The people were oppressed by the Roman government from without, and by the religious leaders from within. One day he looked out at the crowd, and was moved to compassion. I imagine that happened more than once during his ministry.
That day he invited them to learn a new way from him. On another occasion he assured his followers with these words: I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (John 15:11, NIV).
Complete joy? That’s jubilant. That’s what Jesus offers.
James instructs us to “count it all joy!” (James 1:3)
Jesus told his followers: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33, NLT).”
The world may feel like it’s falling apart, but maybe it’s really just falling into place.