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cindyjungers

Breathing Expectation

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October 2013

On Taking Risks

Are you a risk taker? Think again. 

When someone you love is threatened, are you willing to step in? If you’ve found yourself in this role, perhaps you have been surprised at the strength and fierceness that have emanated from you.

I still remember my first adult risk taking on behalf of a friend. I was at a summer picnic when we were living in Montana. An bitter old (hmm, that was 24 years ago, she was probably my age at the time) and heavily intoxicated women I didn’t know well was regaling her court of friends with the news that my good (probably only) friend “Elizabeth” was a complete tramp. Elizabeth worked in the same law firm as the husband of the Storyteller. (It’s hard not to use a more colorful word than storyteller because memories of her dissertation still fry me, but I’m trying to keep a family-friendly website here.) 

The Storyteller began to describe in juicy detail how Elizabeth was luring a nice young man (Tom) from the law firm into her web of lustful, evil deceit. She added that there had probably been many others before Tom. The rapt group of listeners moved in closer so as not to miss a word. I was standing there incredulous when suddenly out of nowhere–well, actually my mouth–came the words, “That isn’t true!”

“What?” snapped (slurred) the Storyteller.

“You’re talking about my friend. She’s a good person and she’s in love with Tom, not trapping or tricking him. She’s not here so I guess it’s up to me to point out that you’re gossiping about my good friend and you don’t know what you’re talking about.” The Storyteller’s eyes narrowed. She looked like she wanted to spit on me. But she didn’t. The circle broke up before any of them could hear the hard pounding of my heart.

It was one of the hardest but also easiest things I had ever done. Out of character for me to publicly challenge someone. Maybe when you’ve been away from Minnesota for a couple of years some of the Minnesota nice wears off. The point is, Elizabeth befriended me at a time when I was very lonely. New in town, a husband working lousy shifts, just overall feeling sorry for myself. Until Elizabeth made time for me. She was a few years older than I and had many words of wisdom for a young bride based on mistakes that she herself had made. She was also incredibly smart and fun to be around. I was so happy for her when she and Tom fell in love and started planning their future.

And then the Storyteller tried to make it cheap and dirty. So I took a risk. I spoke. After you do it once, it gets easier. I could elaborate on many times when I’ve taken risks for my friends. Usually verbal in my case, but also at times when I’ve stepped in and taken care of something because a friend couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. Eventually it no longer feels like risk; it just feels right.

Today I find myself on the other end. Nobody is gossiping about me (well probably they are, but what I don’t know won’t hurt me). But there is this little gap in my life where someone could take a small risk on my behalf that would improve this area of my life significantly. And in this case, she happens to be the only one who could do this particular thing. But she isn’t. Honestly I don’t even know if she is aware of what she could do. And if she is, I don’t think she has it in her to do it. At least not today. And while I’m a little saddened by that, I understand. Because it takes time and events that shape us to become a risk taker for others.

If you’re not generally a risk taker, consider being one on behalf of someone else. You can make a world of difference. Yes, a world. And you might just be the only Imageperson who can!

 

PS: Last I heard Elizabeth and Tom were living happily ever after!

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Day 4 a Where Was I?

Experiments only show accurate results if all the data are reported. For my 7-day prayer challenge, let’s just say day 4 didn’t exist.

I didn’t read the material, which is all of four pages so it’s not that I couldn’t have squeezed it in. I didn’t want to read it. I wanted to play on the laptop and watch some TV because it was one if those rare evenings where I actually had control of the remote and the room to myself.

This morning I read up on the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace. It’s good stuff. But you know what? I don’t feel like writing about it.

So here is where I evaluate the challenge, of which I am right smack in the middle.

1. Have I failed? No. I’m learning. I’m taking steps. Later today or tomorrow I might have lots to say about footwear for peace. And I might not. But I’m seeking understanding about it.

2. Will I never be a prayer warrior? I don’t know. It’s always been easy to say, “that’s not my gift.” And that may be the case or it may not. The point is I need to expend the effort to find out.

3. Is the challenge over? No. I have three more days to go (even if it takes me 5 days or 7 or a lifetime to finish).

Have a super Saturday however you spend it and know that peace–not the fleeting, momentary kind but the kind you can wrap your arms around and live in–is possible.

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The Breastplate

The Challenge: Day 3

What part of the body does the breastplate protect? You guessed it (well maybe some if you did). The heart!

Throughout the bible we are told to guard our hearts, that our hearts are the wellspring of life. Sounds like something worth protecting to me!

So what is the breastplate of righteousness? Let’s start with what it isn’t. It is not the breastplate of self-righteousness. In other words, this armor is not designed to protect narrow-minded moralistic values based on how we view ourselves compared to others.

So to whose righteousness does the breastplate speak? God’s of course. Because his righteousness is built on truth and is infallible.

The breastplate is a defensive piece of armor. It guards us. It guards our heart. So Christ doesn’t just say, “Hey, don’t forget to guard your heart.” He gives us the equipment to do the job, but it’s our responsibility to wear it.

We don this

bulletproof vest

by living God’s way, encircling ourselves with His truth (remember the belt?).

I’m working on my armor. Some days it’s on; some days it’s off, but I’m becoming more cognizant that it exists, and I don’t want to leave home without it.

And I did pray today. I can’t say I’m a warrior in that arena (yet?) but I’m practicing.

A Girded Waist

Hmmm, I haven’t had a waist since I was 12. But Day 2 of my Prayer Challenge tells me I am supposed to pay attention to this body part–or at least what I put around it. 

Stand, therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth . . .  (Ephesians 6:14)

In this verse, Paul tells us to stand. How does having a belt help me stand? Back to the Roman soldiers. Their “belts” were similar to those of a modern-day weightlifter. These belts are designed to give strength and support. They protect the body and enable one to “stand stronger.”

This particular belt is made of truth. Truth, deceit, and discernment of any kind form in our mind and take the direction we allow our mind to go. Therefore, we must surround ourselves with and practice truth in order to “wear it” on a regular basis. We have to work at keeping deception out of our heads. I’m pretty adept at having imaginary conversations about what I’m going to say or do or what I should have said or done. I have to mentally tell myself to stop. Being aware of truth and striving to live in truth reminds me that pretend conversations are a waste of time. 

Paul definitely used the word “fastened” or it’s Greek equivalent on purpose. Our modern translation of this word is to secure or bind. Some translations use the word “gird,” defined as to encircle, make fast, and prepare for action. In either case, Paul is letting us know this belt needs to be put on in such a way that it stays on. Truth is a serious and necessary part of our armor.

Did I mention this belt is God’s belt, meaning it is also His truth? That’s the kind of truth we need to live in.  And until we get the hang of securing our belt daily, we need to keep asking Him to direct us toward truth and that we be willing to see it–even when we don’t like what it reveals about ourselves.

As is the case with most of the gifts of our Heavenly Father, there is more to this belt than meets the eye. The belt holds the weapon–the sword–and no solider could have engaged in battle without it. There were also protections built in. Strips of leather were attached, the purpose of their design to protect the lower body of these expert warriors. 

On a personal note, I did spend more time in prayer today than I usual. When I allow my mind to unravel before our Holy God, I find there is so much to pray about and so many to pray for, as well as to worship, praise, and thank Him. And the unexpected blessings? I am gifted with peace, joy, and the ability to see beyond myself. 

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The Challenge, Day One

Day 1 of the 7-Day Prayer Warrior Challenge. Today was mostly homework and research. A good way for me to inch myself into this since I have a short attention span.

First if one is going to be a warrior, there must be a war. And there is. A spiritual war in which our enemy prowls about seeking to devour (maim, harm, kill, destroy, manipulate) us. It’s easy to go through life unaware of the battles in our midst. But if we want to truly live, we must be aware and prepared.

Fortunately, we are not left to our own devices. We’ve been given a list (see Ephesians 6) of necessary battle gear.

One thing I learned today is that this armor must be put on daily. Of course it does! I mean what kind of a soldier doesn’t put on her protective stuff before the heat fires up? No wonder I’m getting beat up. I’m venturing into the battle zone in sneakers and shorts.

Time to change. But first I have to figure out what this armor is and what it does.

In the First Century, Rome was the dominant world power and her soldiers sported the protective gear to show it. The Apostle Paul who authored Ephesians 6, modeled this biblical armor after that of the Roman army.

Paul also says (Ephesians 6:13),

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

When the battle is over, I definitely want to be the one left standing. So whether I’m defending or attacking, I’d better have on my armor–all of it.

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My Mission, Should I Choose to Accept It

So I love Jesus. I assume if you’ve followed my blog at all, you likely picked right up on that.

And I’ve shared some things I’ve learned in growing into deeper relationship with Him on these pages.

But my dirty little secret? I’m not much of a pray-er. I pray. Sometimes deeply, fervently. Sometimes giving much thanks. But I’ve said often and straight out that I can’t be called a prayer warrior. And I’ve been okay with that. After all, I have friends who are truly gifted in that area, so I’ve considered myself covered.

Lately though, I’ve been denying my ability to pray meaningfully quite often. And as so often happens when I’m busy proclaiming an area of ineptness (or is that unwillingness?), it circles right around to face me.

The gauntlet was thrown down, and I am confronted by the Seven Day Prayer Warrior Challenge.

I never run from a fight. So starting tomorrow (have I mentioned I’m a procrastinator too?), I’m taking that challenge. I’ll blog my failures, my successes, and anything of interest that happens along the way.

If you happen to be a Warrior already, keep me in your prayers. I’m going to need them.

On Being Different

Unique. Special. One-of-a-Kind.

We are reminded often (I hope) that each of us is created differently, that we have a special purpose, and that we have a unique way of getting there.

Psalm 139 reminds us that God began our glorious individualization in the womb.

I love the reminders that each of us is different. True confession – I feel less inadequate when I compare my housekeeping and child-rearing skills to others who seem to do it ALL better because I can say I am different.

So I hang out in my individualness pretty often, liking that I have God-given permission to be myself.

My bible fell open today to Ephesians 4:4 – You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction.

Hmmm. A good reminder that though we are different we all sojourn to the same destination.

So while I revel in my own differences, I must take the time to appreciate (not compare) the differences that others bring to the same journey .

So Relaxed I Can’t Focus

Continue reading “So Relaxed I Can’t Focus”

So, About Expectation

Since yesterday’s post, I’ve had a few face-to-face moments with expectation. In varying degrees of satisfaction.

Let’s start with the basics. I have an expectation that my children will do their homework. That it will be done on time. That they will actually (gasp) hand it in. Basic expectation in this area has not turned out as I anticipated. (Except for Son 3 who was rewarded with a solo Dairy Queen treat, but that’s another story. )

Moving on to medium expectation. I have done business with a local company for over 30 years. I called them today for assistance and was told it wasn’t a good day to expect anyone to help me. When I explained the problem and the expected resolution, I was told I would be called back. Since they closed a few hours ago, I guess I’ll quit waiting for their call.

High expectations are reserved for my family and friends, which is really unfair. Who could possibly live up to filling my empty places, foreseeing and acting upon my every need, and reacting in the way I expect them to? Obviously no one. And believe me when I say The Man has tried hard. Ridiculously hard. And the poor guy is often utterly clueless because how can he read my mind?

Our expectations for one another–be they reasonable or not–are exactly why I wrote yesterday’s post. In the midst of family chaos, poor customer service, and The Man who just wants to be there for me but doesn’t always know how, there remains a reason to ultimately expect good things. And in this expecting, I find joy, hope, and peace. May you find yours as well. And be kind to those who were never created to meet what you might be expecting from them.

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