Sunday, March 6, 2016

Cliiffs, Ravines and the Hand of God

Several years ago, during a time that was very rough for me emotionally, I had a dream that has meant a lot to me since then. Part of the reason I was having such hard time was simply fear. I feared doing the wrong thing, in a variety of situations, and it was really hindering my life.

In my dream I was walking along a path. The path led alongside a building and as I followed this path I suddenly realized that, without me noticing, the ground alongside the path had dropped away and now I was on a narrow ledge looking into a deep ravine! The ravine was so deep I couldn't see the bottom and I was terrified. I looked ahead and the path stretched long beside this ravine. It was so narrow and I was so afraid of heights that I was sure I would become dizzy and fall long before I reached the other side. I looked back and the path to safety stretched just as long behind me. I looked to the other side of the ravine and saw that maybe I could jump across but it would be difficult and I might not make it. I stood in awful indecision, so afraid of making a wrong choice and plummeting to my death. Suddenly, hardly knowing when I had made the decision I jumped. And as I jumped, I awoke. And I was disappointed! I really wanted to know if I had made it to the other side. Somehow this dream seemed symbolic of everything I was going through and I wanted to know I would land safely. Why, I wondered, could I not have been given the assurance of landing safely? Then, almost as if it had been whispered in my ear the answer came to me. 

"I caught you, my child. You were, as you are now, safe in My hands. If you had, in your own strength walked to safety in either direction, or jumped to the other side, you would have felt secure in your own strength. But I caught you, and no matter which choice you had made I would have caught you and brought you to safety because you are My child!"

There is so much peace in knowing that no matter what is going on around me, He's holding on to me and I am safe. And he offers that assurance to every one of His children. We are never, ever left to face life alone! There have been several very hard situations in my life since then. My mother went to Heaven, adjusting to functioning as a single parent again, moving to a much smaller but more affordable home. But no matter how hard these things have been, I've also been very aware of His hand , holding me and carrying me safely through every circumstance. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Sustaining Words of Life

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat it's fruit. 
Proverbs 18:21

From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things.
Proverbs 13:2

Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin. 
Proverbs 13:3

Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
Proverbs 21:23

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.
Isaiah 50:4 

Over and over the Bible reminds us of the power of the spoken word. Our words are important. They provide a window into the heart and mind and can also bring change, for better or worse, in the hearts and minds of others. No matter what is going on around me, whether in my life or the lives of others, I have the option of choosing whether I am going to speak life and love into a situation or negativity and unrest. I want to be the person who speaks life, both in my own circumstances and in those of others. 

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Book Review - Moby Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville

One of my favorite things to do at the end of a day is to listen to an audioboook via Librivox while playing Mahjong on my tablet. Recently I decided to try listening to Moby Dick. I tried reading this book once but was soon overwhelmed and never finished it. However, listening was much easier than reading and I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed it. 

Moby Dick is an unusual book and at times can be a little difficult to follow. The simplest explanation is that it is a book about a man's obsession with harpooning a white whale that was responsible for his loss of a leg. And yet there is so much more to this story. There are sermons and poetry, whale anatomy, whaling history, and the sense that this is an allegory of sorts. Human nature is examined and expounded upon. Somehow, even though there seem to be multiple literary styles in this one work it also manages to have a cohesive feel and tell a story with meaning. 

Although there are multiple characters I felt almost a kinship with most of them. From the mishaps and mental breakdown of the little cabin boy, to the philosophizing of the ship carpenter, and even to the consuming need for revenge felt by Captain Ahab, the lives of the characters drew me in and made me care about them as individuals. 

So, while this book will definitely exercise the mind, it is enjoyable and worth the time (lots of time) it takes to read or listen too it.



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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Value of Habits

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
Jim Ryun

Habit - noun

1. an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary

2. customary practice or use

I've been thinking about habits a lot recently. There were a few things I knew I needed to do on a regular basis to reach certain goals I had set for myself. My problem was making the decision every day to do these things. And then each day deciding when to do those things. Shall I work out this morning or this afternoon? Shall I write now or later? Do I want to do laundry today or tomorrow? Sometimes it seemed I was spending more time making decisions about doing things than actually doing them.

Then one day while using my tablet to browse through apps in the play store I came across some habit trackers. They looked pretty cool so I checked them out a little closer. Some of these apps seem to be loosely based on Jerry Seinfeld's "don't break the chain" approach to productivity. Basically it is creating a chain of days in which the same actions are repeated daily. The goal is not to break the chain of days.  

So I decided to create a few chains of my own. Since we were in a time of change much of my routine changed daily but the first few hours of the morning were pretty much the same every day so I started there. Between 7AM and 9AM I began to build several habits - Bible time, a short workout and shower, a healthy breakfast, a load of laundry started and an hour of writing. Having those thimgs accomplished by 9AM each morning goes a long way towards keeping everything else running smoothly. Whatever else happens that day I know some of the most important things have already been accomplished. 

It's been fun to try to keep the chain unbroken and as day follows day the habits become more ingrained and less of an effort. And with an unbroken chain of habitual progress I come closer each day to reaching my goals!!!


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