A Letter To Myself

dear self,

we want to get better. it’s just that…sometimes you’re too tired or weary or…overwhelmed. so let me help with that by writing a nifty letter to you (aka me) that you can read when you’re feeling tired/weary/overwhelmed/something else.

first of all, we are not schizophrenic. it’s difficult to write to myself without getting all confused about who’s who, even though we’re just me. (see??) so to keep things simple, i am you, you are me, and we are we. got it? >_> uh. moving on.

we are going to set some goals. (i.e. Past Me is setting goals for Future Me—and don’t hate, cos Present Me is the one who’s gonna have to do all the work! yes, yes, i see the discrepancy there…but with every word typed, the author changes from Present Me to Past Me so…[those two might actually have a personality disorder…])

where was i? setting some goals. okay, yes. and you have a tendency to get…shall we say, over-zealous? oh uh-uh, it is ALL you, sister! i’m the one who keeps you in check! like i’m doing now! *cough* so anyway, you tend to get over-zealous so i’m going to try to keep this underwhelming. trust me, there will come a day (sooner than you think) when you will feel quite overwhelmed and perhaps even resentful toward me for setting these REASONABLE goals. thus, the letter to accompany it, with lots of encouragement and friendly reminders as to why we’re doing this in the first place.

so, without further ado, here they are:

1. exercise a minimum of 3 times a week.
i know, i know, you want to exercise EVERY DAY! remember what i said about being over-zealous? no? *points* right then, so 3 times a week is quite REASONABLE. go every day if you want to, but only 3 days are required to achieve this goal.
aaand…THE REASON WHY is because
a.) you’ll feel better in your body
b.) it will help fend off depression.
there will be weeks that you won’t want to exercise AT ALL. please, please, pretty-please DO IT ANYWAY. i really promise that it will stink to make yourself do it but i ALSO really promise that you will not regret it. not once. SO DO IT.

2. try to cut out sugar as much as possible.
i know how you do with ambiguous boundaries so let me get more specific. (no, i am not blaming everything on you!!! we’re the same person! stop—would you just let me finish please?? man…)
a.) only eat straight candy twice per week, preferably with a day or two in between. single portions, ONCE per allowed day.
b.) only drink tea with sugar twice per week, preferably with a day or two in between. want more tea than that? use honey. or stevia.
c.) limit the rest of your sugar intake to cereal in the mornings and one sugar-with-fat dessert per DAY—only on weekends (cereal all week but dessert on weekends).

THE REASON WHY: we have discovered that sugar negatively impacts your moods. you will FEEL BETTER if you moderate considerably. note that this goal leaves plenty of room for sweets! so there’s no need to get all mopey and hyper-focused on sugarsugarsugar-i-want-sugar-now-and-all-the-time! no, i know you. i AM you. we totally do that. so don’t.

3. GO TO SLEEP!!!
i shouldn’t even be writing this right now. i should be enforcing this goal. but we’ll start tomorrow, cos if i don’t finish this now, you’ll use that as a reason tomorrow for completely ignoring this whole thing and i know you think you want to do that, but you really don’t. Present Me wants to, no doubt. but Future Me definitely does not. (Past Me could care less.)
so. go to sleep—the goal is specifically this: go to sleep by 10pm. absolutely no later. c’mon, the self-discipline will be good for you. (seriously. we are way too lacking in that. see, i blamed both of us that time so you know it’s bad.) 10pm—phone off, lights out. there is absolutely NO REASON not to meet this goal every night!!! even your Bible study is over by 8:30pm!! in bed at 10pm! period. (no kindle. no phone. no nuthin’. close your eyes. at 10pm.)

THE REASON WHY: this one is the most obvious but i know on your night-owly nights, you’ll need it spelled out for yourself again: you. feel. miserable. if. you. don’t. go. to. sleep. before. midnight.
capice? or is it capiche? capeesh? whatever. you know what i mean.

really truly, self, i am not trying to steer you wrong; i know you can hear the wheedling sincerity in my tone right now. (sorry. i know wheedling annoys you.) you will really feel better if you do *just* these three things! really.
really better, physically and emotionally. and the sense of accomplishment from meeting your goals will be bonus. you’ll start to feel like maybe you’re a teensy bit self-disciplined! it’ll be great! really, it will.

so when you feel like giving up, give yourself some grace. don’t give up for more than a day. read this letter to yourself. make your darling husband read it to you in a funny voice (cos if nothing else, the endorphins from laughing will do some good). grace for a day, push yourself the next. okay?

you won’t regret this. i promise.

i have just as much to lose as you do, if i’m wrong. and you know i’m not. ;)

love,
me, myself, and i.
aka The Royal We

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ENOUGH.

The enemy likes to play this game with me: he chases me with legalism until I rebel and throw myself into the arms of permissiveness; and then he uses guilt to chase me back into legalism. Back and forth, like a poor little ping-pong ball.

Today, God said, “Enough.”

No matter where I am mentally and emotionally, Jesus is Enough.

No matter which side of the Should Fence I’m on, legalism or permissiveness, Jesus is Enough.

No matter how many flaws a sister-in-Christ has lovingly pointed out to me, Jesus is Enough.

No matter how oblivious I am to God’s Kingdom today because I’m too distracted by own agenda, Jesus is Enough.

It’s true that Christ’s death on the cross gives us the power to overcome sin and the flesh. But all too often, we forget that’s not all. That’s not all Jesus accomplished; how could it be? It wouldn’t be enough, since we continue to sin anyway.

No, Jesus’ sacrifice in taking all our sins upon Himself was not just about giving us the power to break away from them; it was also about giving us the freedom to fall.

I can fall down because of Jesus…and I can get up and go forward because of Him, too.

When I am walking upright, I am walking in the power of His death and resurrection—but especially His resurrection.

When I fall, I fall on the power of His death and resurrection—but especially His death.

Jesus is Enough.

The world will surround us with Shoulds when Jesus has poured out Enough. Embrace Him back today; His love is true and will be sweet to your soul.

Happy Valentine’s Day. ♥

An Awful Lot of Scandal: Part Ib

Jesus with meHis footsteps come on the heels of those whose hands are dipped in blood, in lies, in adultery and prostitution. HIS hands are clean, untainted by any kind of evil whatsoever. But does He strut? Does He take this opportunity, handed to Him on the silver platter of centuries, to rub it in the faces of those less righteous than He?

No.

His pace is meek, His dignity unassuming and humble. He is preceded by men with tarnished reputations and He is surrounded by them as well, but He taunts no one. He does not make a noisy celebration of His own exemplary example. He does not say, “See, this is what you should be like and I am better than you for being so.”

No.

Rather, He does the most astounding thing. He does a thing that the most righteous of human beings have never even contemplated. He takes His exemplary example, His righteous reputation, His flawless life and He walks up to me and says…

“Let’s trade.”

…What?

“You are drowning in regret, swathed in a past that is rife with wrong, more so than with right. But I have come, and walked upright and righteous — see? No stains. So come, let us trade.”

You mean to say…You’ve done all that work of righteousness, not to illuminate and chastise my own unrighteousness, but to trade….righteousness for unrighteousness?

Yes.

His footsteps come on the heels of those whose hands are dipped in blood, in lies, in adultery and prostitution. HIS hands are clean, untainted by any kind of evil whatsoever…

Some would say it’s the greatest scandal, that this King would give up His reputation in exchange for one like mine.

I say it is The Most Beautiful Scandal Of All.

craving the storm.

(verse one)
it’s dark and quiet around here
too much time-soil
for sprouting doubt and fear

and i’m wondering where You are
besides all around me
why are You so quiet?
why do You feel so far?

(chorus)
i’m craving the storm
just to see Your power
to feel You in the wind
to be surrounded by the showers
to hear Your mighty hand
in the rolling thunder
to be soothed and comforted
by all-consuming wonder.
craving the storm…

(verse two)
stillness is disconcerting
my faith struggling
to trust that You’re working

and i’m wondering where You are
besides all around me
why are You so quiet?
why do You feel so far?

[repeat chorus]

In No Uncertain Terms: Part I

this is how the world falls over.

first, someone does something bad. then, someone else calls it ‘good’. so other people do it too, because it’s ‘good’. eventually, someone comes along and says, “this is not good. this is bad.” people take sides. there is lots of fighting. then someone says, “fighting is bad. we should stop fighting.” everyone stops fighting but some people are still doing bad. they do bad for a long time. the other people, who said it wasn’t good, start to wonder if maybe it’s not THAT bad…

more people start doing the bad thing. occasionally, someone pipes up that it’s not good, but then someone else says, “fighting is worse. and what do you know anyway? stop judging me.”

over time, there are more people doing bad than there are people doing good. so bad starts to look good and good starts to look bad.

and then the world falls over.

the world is slowly falling over because the people doing good have stopped talking and the people doing bad never listened anyway.

so who’s fault will it be when the world falls over?

everyone’s. including yours and mine. †

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. Romans 3:10

How To Save A Life

I had to re-pot a plant for my mom today. It was very root-bound, producing far more plant than the poor pot could handle. I ended up with two plants, instead of one. It made me think of people, and how often we over-cram our lives full of things that are inherently good and beneficial but end up stifling our growth. How much plant can one pot hold? It can hold a lot, actually, but it shouldn’t, because it’s not good for the plant. How many commitments can one life hold? I certainly know from experience that a life can hold quite a few commitments — but I also know how destructive it can be when there’s too much going on. Too many people, too many hobbies, too many obligations, too many distractions. Too many roots, not enough soil. Something is going to die. What’s dying in your life because you have too much going on? Are there things you can delegate to a new pot?

While I was sifting the dirt for roots and laying aside the ones that could be re-planted, my four-year-old daughter took note of what I was doing. She was horrified. “Mommy! Why are you ruining Gramma’s plant??” I couldn’t help but smile. It really did look like I was ruining Gramma’s plant. How often has it looked like God is ruining my life? But is that in keeping with what I know His character to be? If my daughter had taken the time to reason it out, even at age four, she probably could have figured out that it was out of character for me to ruin something that belonged to someone else. In reality, I was doing the exact opposite; I was bringing freedom to the healthy parts of the plant and sifting the dead parts out. Sometimes it feels like God is ruining my life when really, He’s just freeing me up. Taking out the dead stuff and leaving the healthy stuff behind to grow and spread out a little bit. Fresh air, spacious soil. It’s a painful process but a soul feels so much better — freer — when it’s over.

I was tempted to rush, because I wanted to see the finished product. Not surprisingly, I often try to rush God, too. “Let’s go! I want to be finished already! Process is boring, hard, tedious, painful, TOO LONG.” I’m thankful that God isn’t manipulated by my foolish desires and fleshly impatience. He takes exactly the amount of time that’s needed to properly sift, patiently dig, productively plant.

When I was done, I had a good-sized pile of dirt, roots, and broken stems. My original plan was to put all of it in the trash. But the process of sifting had revealed that there were a lot of root systems still capable of producing sprouts. I couldn’t bear to throw them in the garbage, but there was no room in the pots. So I went outside and found a nice patch of grass out of the way of mowing paths and spread it all out, hopeful that it would sprout in warmer weather. It reminds me of something my aunt told me once, during a particularly rough time in my life: “God wastes nothing.” Not the extra soil, not the myriad roots, not the broken stems. He uses all of it somewhere, often out of my sight and unbeknownst to me, always to His glory and for our good.

Today, I discovered another way that I take after my Father — I like to garden! He’s profoundly better at it, but that’s a good thing. It provides just the motivation that this stubborn and rebellious child needs to ask God to kneel in the dirt with her. Of course He’s delighted to, on one condition — do I trust Him enough to do what He says, even if it doesn’t make sense? Today…I do.

And so the digging begins.

Tell-Tale Signs Your House Contains Tiny People

1. There are moltings of Tiny People Shells everywhere. Especially the pieces that cover the torso, the legs, and the feet. See fig.1 below.

2. The toilet is always pre-filled, saving you the trouble of having to put something in it before you flush.

3. Various surfaces that were formerly smooth are now sticky, so you really CAN re-use those Post-It notes over and over, in specific spots.

4. Miniature versions of everything are taking over your house. It’s like a miniature invasion of miniature armies, whose nefarious schemes are so tiny, they’re happy with just taking over the house, rather than the whole world. See fig.2 below.

5. The following description sounds more glorious than a trip to see the Seven Wonders of the World:

qui·et /kwīt/
adjective: Making little or no noise.
noun: Absence of noise or bustle; silence; calm.
verb: Make or become silent, calm, or still.

6. The carpet has built-in massage capabilities, if you walk over it barefoot, and the windows have ‘privacy facilitators’, also known as ‘smudges and fingerprints’.

7. And last, but most definitely not least—there is never a dull moment; rather, there are moments of tears, moments of temper, moments of craziness, moments of mess, moments of “WHAT did you just flush down the toilet??” and moments of negotiation (i.e. “Eat this half and you can go play”, “Play nice with your brother or you’re not playing at all”, “ALL the toys have to be picked up, not ‘some’—this is not a negotiation!”). However, there are also moments of sweet, moments of precious, moments of hilarious, and moments of “You did not just say that in public!”—that last one fits into the Sweet And Precious category because, years from now, it WILL be a treasured memory and a favorite at family reunions, first dates, and wedding rehearsals.

If you can relate to one or more of the above, your house most likely contains Tiny People. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the day), there is no remedy. It’s a condition that must run its course and, more often than not, it’s a condition one gets so accustomed to, that oddly enough, it is missed when it has finally gone. ♥

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