bracing myself

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I’m not sure where you’re coming from, but where I’m at, it’s getting colder. Fall is here and we all know what that means- winter is an oncoming freight train. See the picture? No leaves. So sad.

Around here, you hear a lot about getting through the winter.  It seems like it’s all anyone talks about for awhile.

It gets so cold that it’s a successful day if I manage to step out the door.

The months ahead somehow make me more self-centered. My thoughts turn into an endless circle of “I am so cold.  I don’t want to go to class. I hate winter.”  And if you see me walking outside, I scarcely respond because all I am thinking about is how many steps it’ll take to get to where I’m going.  Anyone with me? No? Maybe I’m unusually grouchy.

Well, I want that to change this year.

I was catching up with an old friend the other day, and when describing her life, she said she was focused on “kingdom work,” doing her best to choose to spend her time intentionally loving on people. That doesn’t sound so bad to me.

In the past couple of years, with all of the books and articles out about changing the way we think, this is being made clear to me.

God works through changed perspectives.


When we spend more energy on getting to know God, our perspective naturally changes, and out of that, life changes.  If you’re into Biblical references, check out Romans 12:2- proof that God changes perspectives.

Rather than throwing it all at us at once, God tends to nudge us, saying hey, maybe you should work on that. Because God knows us and He knows that we can only handle little pieces at once.

So this is the little piece that He’s given me for now.

Stop focusing on yourself and start putting your energy towards “kingdom work” and even winter will be full of life.  

Take that, freezing temperatures.

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I remember feeling lost sometimes in India.

I was wandering around one day, looking for ways I could help, when one of the women in charge came up to me, pointed to a woman in a hospital bed, and handed me a washcloth. She nodded like I had done this a thousand times before.

My face probably looked a little puzzled as if to ask, Uhhh, what? but I think I nodded. Sometimes I find myself doing that- nodding, when really I’m lost. I should probably stop that.

I stood there for a minute, trying to figure out how I thought a bed bath should be done. I was the only volunteer in the room- no one else to ask.

Before I knew it, she had brought me another volunteer and asked me to show her how it was done! I tried to object and let her know that I didn’t know what I was doing either, but she was gone.

So there I was, with this expectant helper looking to me for guidance, and a woman in a hospital bed in front of us with IVs hooked up to her. No idea what to do.

Thankfully, another woman came alongside me.

The first words out of her mouth were have you never given a bed bath before? She saw right through me. I noticed she was much less hurried.

I shook my head and she proceeded to show me how to do it, explaining each step and why it was done the way it was. You clean this first, change the sheets this way, make sure to smile. She was so nurturing, even while giving a bed bath.

I would have totally messed it up.

Not that I would have meant to, but I just hadn’t been taught. I would have been too gentle with the wash rag, not wanting to hurt her fragile body. I would have had no idea what to do with the powder I was given and her body would be hurting by the next day in the hot sun. I would have been embarrassed when it got to the more intimate parts of her body and tried to get them done quickly. I would have never been able to change those sheets.

Isn’t that how we are sometimes? When people get too raw with us or let us into their helplessness, we’re not sure what to do. A part of us wants to help, but a part of us wants to do it quickly and get out because it’s uncomfortable to stay with them in their pain for too long.

Whether it’s your own, or someone else’s, it’s uncomfortable.

In India we talked about doing small things with great love, following Mother Teresa’s example. I believe that the woman showing me how to give a bed bath that day was acting as the hands and feet of Jesus, doing small things with great love as she smiled and washed.

Jesus sticks with us in our mess; he wants to come in with us and stay in it so that someday, we can live in his fresh newness.

To follow Jesus means to stay when we’re uncomfortable, to extend grace, and to smile. By staying, we show our loved ones that it’s okay, that they’re okay. There’s healing to be found in vulnerability.

I hope you are brave enough to stay through the mess, and I hope that you’re brave enough to share yours. Let’s dare to be vulnerable and to embrace each other as we are.


“getting through”

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In this season of my life, busyness happens. Quite a bit, actually.

In the morning I wake up, open my planner app, and scour for time when I have no plans.
A half hour here, an hour there, I’ll have to make it work.

I’m spending my day going from class to chapel to meetings to class again to swim lessons to work to a coffee date to one last meeting. Whew.

The tricky part is, they’re all things I love. Each one of those activities makes my life richer and has a piece of my heart- I’ve chosen to invest my time into each one for a reason.

But when I smush them all together, the way a kid smushes five colors of play-doh together, suddenly I’m drained.

As I get out of bed, I sigh and mentally tell myself that I have to get through that day, then I’ll get a break.

Lately, I’ve been questioning that way of thinking. What am I missing by just getting through my schedule? Free time or not, I want to have the ability to love freely the things that I love.
I have not been doing that. I’m far from it, actually.

So now, instead of telling myself that I just have to get through the day, I’m working to wake up with purpose. I want to find life in my activities, even when they keep me busy.

My encouragement has turned from Audrey, just get through this day to Audrey, enjoy today.

If this is you too, take a breath with me and maybe we’ll both find that the things that have started to drain us will become life-giving again. Let’s remember why we started doing them in the first place.