Magnify

It’s so much easier to look good from a distance.  I mean, from 25 feet away people can look pretty good.  Take me for example – when you stand across the room you can’t quite make out the newly forming fine lines around my eyes, and the scars from my scrappier days. (I ain’t no holla-back-girl – yeah, I said it – lol)  You can’t see the bonded chip in my front tooth when I smile or it’s crooked way.

The same kind of thing is true for our personalities.  And while mystery exists forgiveness abounds – right up until the point where we think we’ve got someone figured out.  Once we think we’ve got ’em pegged, the forgiveness stops and scrutiny begins.  This along with the unloading of suggestions on what we think will make a person, whom we’ve unwillingly placed under a microscope, look or be better.  Do you sometimes find it easier to be nice to strangers than to your family members? I know I’ve been there, as recently as today.  But under that microscope, things only APPEAR bigger – they’re not any bigger or smaller when the lens is taken away.  What are YOU magnifying in your life today?

Perfection is not what the world would have us think it is.  The wrinkles forming on my skin means I made it thru adolescence – something most of the adults who knew me in my teen years would’ve bet big bucks I would never do.  The scars I have are a reminder that God heals wounds, even for the agressors.  My crooked smile is one that reminds me that even when we’re broken gratitude is a powerful thing and a smile can change someone else’s day for the better.  How has someone’s positivity changed your day?

Related verse: Psalm 69:30 

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Your new-wrinkle-havin’-crooked-smilin’ friend –

Rachel

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BTW…

BTW could be an acronym for many things; most popularly and especially in text-speak By The Way, or my closer circles it means Beyond The Walls (the name of the ministry I am blessed to be a part of).  

I first recall thinking about the true meaning of the words we speak when I was assigned to read the book To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee in middle school.  The main character (Scout) used the phrase “…by the way…” in a sentence towards his caregiver who promptly corrected him in his usage of that phrase.  I’m about to paraphrase here – but she revealed that “The Way” Scout referred to when he said “by the way” really refers to The Way of the Lord – and that is not what Scout intended when he used that phrase.

Until that point i used the phrase “By the way” pretty regularly as a segue from one point to another, or even out of thin air to bring a thought to life. Being a pretty literal, black and white kind of person, after reading this passage I could no longer use the phrase “by the way” without thinking that I was indicating I was following the Way of God when, at that point in my life, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that whole matter.

 

Since that time I have learned and believe that Jesus is Way, the Truth, and the Life.  John 14:6 – but I still don’t say “by the way.” What are your thoughts on this phrase?

And how often do we use words that REALLY don’t mean what the true definition of the word is… like “that’s cool” or “awesome” for something really mediocre and not awe inspiring at all.   Hmmm.

Chillin in my awesomeness –

Your friend – Rachel

 

Quarter-Life Crisis

This was written a few years ago, before I gave up cussing – please excuse me in advance, I didn’t edit the swear words out. 

I’ll preface it to say that turning 25 was a scary milestone for me.  (Don’t snicker). The fear started when I had heard once as a pre-teen that  (read this next part in your best naggy voice:) “if you aren’t on a solid path by the time you’re 25 you probably will never get anywhere on purpose”… and I lived the next 15 years with that quote nagging in my mind. I call the period before hitting that milestone my “Quarter-Life Crisis”.

O.K., I’ve successfully passed age 25 and haven’t dropped dead or instantly become a schoolmarmish kind of drab individual with the turn of the midnight hour on this epoch. Nor have I become the eccentric, overdressed woman, wearing gold-lame jogging suits and too much rouge with a bottle of some dark liquor in my pocket flask.

Believe me, my thinking, conscious brain knows that I’m only days older than 24 and that anyone older than 25 is laughing their ass off at my juvenile, ungrateful attitude that I should still be in the 20-something age group and be complaining about aging…

However, the events of my childhood that made me dread this particular year are resounding in my recalled memory.

I remind myself that things are pretty damn good right now. I have a house (by extremely fortunate circumstances), I have a job that I love, my children are fantastic, loving, and growing up with all of the characteristics I am working hard to instill. As I typed, things are pretty damn good.

Am I where I thought I’d be at this age while the idea of college was being shoved down my throat in my homeroom class 11 years ago? Not by 1000 miles. I lost the shot at those dreams when I skipped out during 2nd period and never went back, in trade for a waitressing job in an octogenarian-filled diner where tips were the leftover change from the bill that was paid near exact. But the reality of losing it didn’t materialize until the last quarter of my 24th year.

There I sit – GED, college credits with no degree, and a single mother of twins.  This is definitely not were I dreamed my life was going to be when I was sitting in that classroom more than a decade ago.

But, in turn, my life is better than it ever would have been had I followed the path of my teenage imagination. I am stronger, more aware and more self-sufficient than the girl who walked in those dream shoes.

And, I would have envied the person I am now if I were the person I thought I wanted to be. I don’t envy the girl in the reverie but I do mourn the dream.

Are you a 20-something girl who can relate to this?  Read this book by Christine Hassler.

Love and graceful aging – Rachel

 

Walking in these shoes

“…begin each day as if it were on purpose.”

I really like shoes – specifically stilettos, but any stylish pavement pounder will do.(See my newest shoe find – Only 10 bux and free shipping ya’ll!)  However, you’ll hardly catch me in sneakers or flats unless I’m heading to the gym or out for a run – and then you can’t catch me anyway, ha ha. (Here’s what I use to track my work-out efforts)

This affection for fashionable footwear wasn’t always present.  As a young(er) girl I used to love one pair of sneakers a little more than usual; so much so that even when the canvas fabric started to fray away from the thin rubber sole I still wore them with the same confidence that I had when they were brand spankin’ new.  In fact, I think I liked them a little better this worn-out way.  Even as the frayed edges gave way to expose the lil-bitty toes underneath, I still loved these shoes.

One fall evening when I was ten years old I ran away from home after I heard that if I didn’t like the way things were going on I could go ahead and leave. “Freedom!”, I thought, and off I went.  This escapade only lasted a few hours before I was picked up by our friendly local authorities, but I quickly learned that certain shoes just won’t do in certain situations, especially hole-ridden ones.  I mean, even if you love your winter snow boots as much as my son does, you probably shouldn’t wear them in Ohio mid-July – like my son would if I let him.  Similarly, my favorite new stilettos wouldn’t have done me much service for getting around in the middle of this week’s snow storm, like my fashionable wedge boots didn’t help me out much while trekking on a recent impromptu hike through the woods.  So, as I’ve learned to wear the appropriate shoes for the task or weather at hand I’ve also gained a greater understanding of how a little preparation can add much ease to your day.

In the same way, I’ve learned that I have to prepare my heart for the day as well. when I wake up and get dressed in the morning, I consider my schedule and the weather when choosing what to wear – I am learning now how much more important it is to prepare my heart, clothing it in love and grace, before I go out to meet the world.  I used to just get up and go, go, go.  Whatever thoughts flooded in upon waking for the day were entertained.

I am NOT a morning person.  But, I’ve realized that this is the case because of the negative thoughts that I have allowed myself to entertain upon waking.  Now, when I wake I am practicing the act of expressing immediate gratitude for the day I have been given and thinking positive thoughts intentionally.  In the movie “Hitch” with Will Smith, his character Hitch says “…begin each day as if it were on purpose.”  This is taking some work and it’s still a work in progress, but it’s working for me.  I am gradually seeing less of that cloak of disappointment that used to come over me when the alarm clock would shout me awake.  The greater effect is that this has is my attitude changed towards others for the day, even during my commute to work, because of this one change made at the start of the day.

Sometimes I feel a little like those worn out old sneakers.  I know that I’m a little beat up and frayed around the edges, but I am loved.  Through my relationship with Jesus Christ I am learning how to shod my often high-heeled feet with the preparation of the gospel (good news) of peace.  But first He’s teaching me peace.  The kind of peace that comes from the inside out.  The kind that we get to decide to have no matter what we’re wearing for the day.  Take action –  “… seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14

Present Time Consciousness

Present time consciousness: Athletes call it being in the “zone”, I call it “paying attention.” This is a practice I’d like to get better at.  I often find myself drifting off in a daydream to a far away past or to thoughts of the future.  These thoughts are necessary, in the same way that a melody needs notes played before and after the current notes to really be a song. In the same way we must be in the “now” in order to actively participate in the song of own lives.

I digress, I remember making the determination that I liked to sing when I was three years old.  I was in my grandparents family room and a jingle came on the TV that I wanted to mimic with the goal of hitting the high note.  Apparently, my vocal dexterity had not developed and the Mariah Carey-esque note I was trying to achieve sounded more like the shrill holler of a toddler in need to the adults around me.  Grandma asked “What are you doing??” I proudly answered “Singing!” Like most little girls, I was promptly signed up for dance classes and as a result I can stroll pretty smoothly in just about any high heel shoe.  (How to walk in high heels).  (How NOT to walk in high heels).

*Video disclaimer for karma’s sake… I have tripped in public before, in both flats and heels. So there.

 

Back to the now: Presently, I am a single mom.  I have seven year old twins who love Jesus, and who are brilliant, kind, funny and gorgeous.  I live in a great house in the suburbs that has an amazing story behind it’s acquisition (I’ll tell that story later).  I have a great car because of the great Grandparents (a.k.a. “The Grands”).  I have a job that I (according to the American educational system’s standards) am not qualified for, with awesome employers who have become awesome friends.  I’ve been surrounded by people who really care about me just for the sake of caring.  I don’t appear to the naked eye to be a former junkie-street-runner-rebel, which I am.  My relationships with family have been (almost) fully restored – by the grace of God – after I destroyed them.  I have all of my faculties, minus average  joke telling abilities.  Most importantly – because of God’s grace, I have a relationship with Him.  He did not abandon me, leave me or forsake me, even though I asked Him to.

I am sharing these things with you so that you can know the glory of the Lord in my life as you continue to read my blog in which my not-so-cheery past will be shared.

(Hebrews 11:19) Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

In the beginning…

In the beginning was the Word… (John 1:1) And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence. (Col 1:18)

God has always been with me.  I know that now, anyways, but I didn’t always.  I went thru the stereotypical teenage angst, thinking “What does it all mean… what is the purpose of it all?” finally concluding that there was no meaning and we’re all just haphazardly here, roaming about until we die.  Woe was me, and to all who feel that way.

Recently I was asked to share my testimony with others – to tell the story about how Jesus saved my life, not only on this earth but for eternity and I’m not a very good story teller in person.  And I’m a particularly terrible joke teller – although most people I know think I’m pretty funny.  So I was nervous, because how do you share something as profound (to me) as how I was saved from self-destruction in a listenable manor when you’re not particularly good at this sort of thing?  Trust God.

I read the following recently in this blog and it explains perfectly how I feel about sharing my testimony – and will also explain the name of this blog as well: (Mark 12:41-44)

(In the) story about the widow (who gave) the two copper coins Jesus observed how people were giving in the temple and said “For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

The main point of the text is NOT that Jesus wasn’t condemning the religious folks, he was calling them a bunch of hypocrites, crooks, and cheats. The main point is NOT Jesus being concerned about who you give to, whether it’s a good cause or not.

The main point here is that Jesus is talking about giving as an act of worship, an act of the heart, an act of love. Giving is about God! She out of her poverty, she gave herself.
In this widow’s case it doesn’t even makes sense what she is doing. She’s poor. Out of her poverty ὑστέρησις (hysterēsis) she put in everything she had. The base word, Latin root for here is the same one as hysteria, a reluctance, internal friction in the moving parts.

Isn’t that what like much of our giving is like; I can so relate to this idea. Out of the hysteria in our lives, out of our feeling of poverty, our internal friction, we give or not.

Many contribute out of their abundance, that’s a good thing, that’s worthwhile, God wants us to give, but it’s not why we should give. The act of giving is an act of worship. An act of love, an act of the heart.

This is why I write.  This is why I share my life.  This is my act of worship, act of love, act of the heart.

(Revelation 12:11) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death.