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Breathing Expectation

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January 2014

Resetting My Focus

I am restless. Restlessness, at least for me, equals dangerousness. When I allow myself to become restless, I become impulsive (at best), difficult for everyone else (at worst). I know when I’m prone to restlessness, but I rarely do anything to prevent it and just wait to see what the impending storm looks like once I’m in the midst of it. Not a very smart choice and certainly worth getting ahead of. 

So why don’t I? Because it takes effort. And once I feel the seeds of restlessness starting to sprout, the last thing I feel like doing is making any effort beyond what gives me instant gratification. Ugly but truthful.

I was restless last night, itching to start “something.” Fortunately, I didn’t feel well. Yes, this was fortunate because I didn’t have the energy to create any real chaos. Instead, I went to my “go to” music and read a few chapters of Beth Moore’s A Heart Like His. This helped. Not because Lincoln Brewster was singing and Beth Moore is a brilliant writer (although she is) but because it forced me to change my focus and take my eyes off myself.

I woke up a little less restless today but still wavering on the brink of making myself and others miserable. What to do? Instead of turning completely into myself, which is where my compass was pointing, I decided to set my thoughts aright. This was difficult. Do I love Jesus? Yup, I do. Do I always want to choose him first? Sadly, no. I’m selfish enough to not necessarily gravitate to Him and His ways on Round 1. And, by the way, going the long way around causes me and others a lot of discord along the way, so it’s really a no-brainer that I need to give up my natural path.

Anyway, I planted my feet and faced the restless beast that torments me. And while I wanted to fight, I also wanted to give in, give in to that center that allows me to take whatever direction I want, no matter what. (Yuck, right?) But instead I calculated what’s been missing that put me into this mood, this ride to nowhere good. 

Ready for the answer? It’s pretty simple. I lost my gratitude. I lost living in daily thankfulness no matter what. It’s a bad, bad place to be. There is so much in life for which to give thanks. Not always obvious things. In looking back at my 1,000 Gifts List (okay I only made it to 253 but I didn’t start until August) from 2013, here are a few things for which I found gratefulness:

  • Bare feet
  • Ripening tomatoes
  • Holding hands
  • Cousins
  • Grandma’s quilts
  • Stargazing
  • Tears to wash away poison and pain
  • The smell of ironing (I know, I know, but I like it!)
  • That my husband grocery shops with me
  • Hair appointments (I actually had this one twice!)
  • A black purse I forgot I had tucked away in the closet
  • Fishing

We are surrounded by things, people, and circumstances for which to be grateful. Start counting – You’ll be amazed at the change it brings.

I’m no longer restless today, therefore no longer dangerous. And simple gratitude made the difference. Incredible!

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Empowered ?

Empowered, according to Webster, means to give power or authority. What about those of us who need to receive empowerment? Where do we find it?

Only Daughter and I started an online bible study today called Made to Crave. The point is that relationship with God is what we crave above all, and by accepting and maintaining that “right relationship” (my term), we can transform our not so desirable cravings into desire for Him. (Forgive me Proverbs 31 Ministries for totally botching that synopsis of your wonderful online bible study.)

The study includes a word of the week, and–you guessed it–this week’s word is empoweredI don’t know what to do with that word. Inner strength I understand. I have that, and I use it. A lot. Especially when life gets messy. Brain power I understand. I can think my way around and through just about anything.

But I don’t understand empowered. I examine the word from every angle but I can’t grasp what it means for me. Since it’s given, do I need to wait for somebody to give it to me? That doesn’t feel right. Certainly I should be able to pull myself up by the proverbial boot straps and empower myself, right? Wrong. At least I’m pretty sure that’s wrong.

By lining up priorities, basing them on my relationship with Christ, I will become empowered. Even on days like today when I can’t find my purse or my coffee cup and I’m too tired to use that brain power I was bragging about.

Stay tuned. At the end of 6 weeks, we can all find out if I have a better understanding of what it means to be empowered. Oh, and check out the attached video. It might make you cry, but it will also set off a spark of empowerment.

 

 

You are Loved. I am Loved. We are Loved. Fully. Wholly. Completely.

I watch this video of Ann Voskamp’s every now and again. Because it is too easy to forget. The world is worth staying awake for. I had any icky day today. Yes, icky. It’s the only word that fits the circumstances and the feelings. But I don’t have to settle into the icky-ness because there is so much more. There is something good to see, to receive, to believe if we will just open our eyes, our hearts, our arms. This.

So Long 2013!

My Grandma G never said “goodbye”; only “so long.” She believed that goodbye was final, whereas so long meant until next time.

I never want to relive 2013, so when I say so long it doesn’t mean I want a similar visit in another year. It just means I can’t say goodbye. I want to. In fact, I want to say good riddance. But 2013 changed us profoundly which means that, like it or not, we will always carry parts of this year with us.

2013 was the year of mistreatment, misunderstanding, and seeming hopelessness. Who wants to carry that around? Not me. But 2013 was also the year that shaped us into becoming better people. Why? Because there was nothing to do but cry out. Cry out to the Jesus who loves us, then collapse and watch Him work.

And the work is amazing. We learned that even in what seem to be desolate circumstances, we can trust God for good. ALL THE TIME. We learned to be gracious and thankful recipients. We learned just how many friends we have. Well, actually we don’t have an accurate count because—bless you!—some of you remained anonymous in your giving. So what we really learned is that we have more friends, or at least more people who care about us, than we thought. That blessing alone has been lovingly humbling and incredibly moving.

My personal journey this year has been about “eurcharisteo.” Thanksgiving in all things. Does that mean I say thank you to God for the awfulness of 2013? It does not. But it does mean I thank Him for being, for providing, for allowing us to have joy in the midst of despair, and peace in the midst of chaos. In thanking Him for these things, they become real.

The other big thing that 2013 taught me is that thanks always, always precedes the miracle. In learning to give thanks, even when it’s not a natural reaction, there is a supernatural result.

Does my new spiritual shape mean I enter 2014 a woman of wisdom and a pillar of spirituality? It does not. I am a mess. But I know where to bring my messiness. And guess what? Messiness can turn into beauty.

May your 2014 abound in true peace and joy. It’s possible!

 

 

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