I’m doing laundry today. You know…my favorite thing. Just kidding! While my hands are busy, my mind has been engaged in a gentle spin of a thousand thoughts. Despite a list of challenges I’ve encountered… More
Do you even know? Can you see it? That glow inside of you that the world sees?
You’re doing all the things. You’re doing the best you can, and you’re pouring out your heart and soul into what you think matters.
And you think no one knows, that no one can even begin to know how hard you work…how high you strive…you may think no one knows what you’re up against or what you’ve battled to get to where you are now. What they think doesn’t matter…there’s only one opinion that matters, and that’s of the One who made you…who formed you into the special person that you are.
You plug in each day, you try your best, and you keep showing up. You are amazing. Your grit may not be noticed by the passersby, but something within you still says, “Just keep going. You’ve got this.”
So, you persevere. Because the alternative is giving in to self-pity—and there is no time for that. You’ve got bills to pay and people to feed and laundry to do and lives to inspire.
The world needs you…needs your voice, your love…your joy.
Your light is shining for all to see…can’t you see it? I hope you do.
Sometimes we need a break from being courageous. Just a little one. Just the simple gift of some needed space to breathe and grow. Then, once we’ve had time to get comfortable with our newest stretch marks, we can get back in the saddle again and try out our newest roar of courage.
Who are the courageous?
All of us.
We are all getting up every day, putting on our badge of courage as we leave our homes. We go off in our cars to days unknown, filled up with hope, fueled up with faith, and fired up with courage. You may not even realize it, but it’s there residing inside of you.
Ambition rules our agenda, but courage leads us through it. It’s how you get through the day. Some of us don’t leave the house—some work from home, some keep company with pain from illness…some face the day fighting battles beyond the ordinary. Yet we are all bravely facing the things which propel us forward in this contest of life.
In some way, big or small, we all march on. We do the hard things. We say hello to the stranger at the grocery store. We sweat just a little (or a lot) under the pressure from our jobs. We blunder through social gatherings. We enter the hospital doors for one more treatment. We give our kids the tough love they need to grow into responsible, kind adults. At the cafe, we ask for a table for one. We show up to write. We show up to comfort. We show up to help out.
We. show. up. That takes courage.
But even the brave need respite from the battles we face each day. Runners needs recovery days. Workers need weekends. Mamas need a day out with her friends. Dads need their time in the hammock. Kids need to play.
The warriors that we are need rest to gain strength and perspective. In the reflection of the place where courage rose, wisdom is found. When the hard thing is done, recuperation is needed for the mind, the soul, and the heart.
So breathe today. Deeply.
Forget about the scary thing that lies ahead of you for just a little while. Don’t let it rob you of your sleep. Don’t let it steal your confidence. Don’t let it blind you from the beauty that is within your current view. Seek out the person who is waiting for you to connect with them. Drink in the scene of the rolling hills that may surround you, the trees… and the listen for the sounds of the red-tailed hawks screeching among their feathered families. Shake off your your burdens and give them to the Lord. He is there to take them from you (Matthew 11:28-30).
As you rest, recall how far you’ve come and tally up your triumphs. Remember at the core who you are and tell yourself it’s okay to take a break for however long you need. You’re not perfect, you don’t always have to be the strong one, you’re allowed to stop and breathe.
And then, once you catch your breath…when you’ve reflected, and begin to make new plans (or shore up the ones you’re still feeling called to pursue)…get back into the hard things that make you stronger and wiser and able. The world needs you. Stay strong. Carry your courage all the day long. And remember you are loved just as you are, brave one.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
-Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)
In a harsh world, where everybody is hyper-focused on their hustle, there are those of us who need the gentle space…a cavern of affectionate calmness. The need to be wrapped in rock-solid arms of comfort. The desire to be so still you can hear the heartbeat of the one who holds you.
We, who fear of not being good enough, who work so hard not to be underestimated but still believe we never seem to come up to par, just need to be completely crushed by the gentleness of arms that will hold us up until the tide of self-doubt and fear recede. When the waves rush over us, the busyness, the overwhelm, when we are barely breathing…we need the solace and the sympathy….we need a savior’s rescue.
It could be a vice we turn to, sometimes friends and loved ones answer the call…or it could be Jesus. I want to choose Jesus. The One who rescues every time. The One who is a refuge. He is waiting, and all I have to do is call on Him. He cares not if I am the best or the strongest or the one who has all the answers. He cares not if I am thick or thin, impulsive or cautious, ready or not. He just loves me so…and he loves you, too.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. -Matthew 11:29
So many people are quietly desperate for the behind-the-scenes cheerleaders, the roar at the finish line, the pats on the back, or the thoughtful notes replenishing the soul with uplifting words.
We need our encouragers. They get us through the tough times, and they celebrate with us in the good times.
An encourager helps us to remember our voice when we think we’ve lost it.
An encourager cheers us back to believing in ourselves after we’ve made so many mistakes.
They see our potential when we’ve lost sight of our own strengths.
They give us gentle feedback to help us to improve.
Or, they rev up our soul with words of affirmation.
They challenge us with reminders of hope. They teach us to dare.
They matter. They make a difference. They are catalysts of greatness.
Even the encouragers need to be encouraged.
Where would the world be without the encouragers?
I know hope.
Hope says, “Give me that challenge…I’m not afraid.”
Hope says, “I’ll persevere, and I’m not going to give up.”
Hope says, “I may fail today, but I’ll show up again.”
Hope says, “You can’t catch me…wait—maybe you can.”
Hope says, “Let me take your breath away.”
I know hope, and hope knows me.
A man is shaking his fist at the indigo sky. The horizontal lines gripping his forehead cram together as if it’s stuck in a trash compactor. The tight corners of his mouth dive down deep to meet his jawline. Tears pool and threaten to sprint past his hollow cheeks, dripping onto his shirt…his eyes are hauntingly desperate, his brow defeated with sweat.
But I see his strength in the bottom lip that quivers, like a table about to buckle because it’s been loaded with too much weight. As he struggles to yield to the hope which still exists within him, he breathes deeply and closes his eyes. This torrent too shall pass.
For all those who are frustrated today, hang in there. Breathe. Pray. Choose to shake it off and focus on something that will make you smile. Or even better, something that will maybe make you laugh. Look for it.
The Lord says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9
This old dog can learn new tricks. I know that’s been said before, but it’s very relevant for me right now. And if you’re reading this, you also may be in the pursuit of something big that you really want.
I mention dogs because, well, I have this dog…and she’s been driving me crazy. To the point where I’m embarassed. You see, I’ve been learning that it’s probably MY behavior that has caused her to be so naughty. Well, let me just take that in for a minute. Yikes.
Here I am, a forty-one-almost-forty-two-year-old educator being told by professionals in the dog training industry that I need to learn how to be a leader in order to have a well-behaved dog. A leader. That might not sound like a big deal to you, but to me? I want to go hide! I’m a teacher! I AM a leader….but apparently, I have some work to do.
I remember a year ago saying, “I want to write, but I don’t want to write about my DOG!”. As if writing about dogs wasn’t a respectable topic for authors. But you know, they also say dog is man’s best friend. Having an amazing dog prior to this current one, I can surely declare that is truth. At least for me. And I don’t take best friends lightly. So maybe there is something important about writing about dogs, after all.
I still don’t want to write about ’em.
Well, in any case, the good Lord is certainly
putting me in my place teaching me some perspective when it comes to what I’m learning through this dog that is making me want to scream. And tear my hair out. And giving me permanent scars. Seriously.
That God-sent perspective is this: In order to make this animal mind, I am going to have to be relentless. RE-LENT-LESS. And I LOVE how I am learning this through our 11-month-old fur baby, because let me tell you…I’ve been believing I am relentless, but this whole puppy experience is teaching me that I have just been kidding myself.
This lesson bleeds through so many other areas of my life, and I think that is why I am feeling uneasy about it being called to attention. My bluff has been laid out onto the table. My game is over.
It’s time to play my hand a little differently. A little more…alpha-like. 🙂
If I don’t want my life to be run by this couch-ripping, wrist-gnawing, tornado-fleeing dog, then I’m going to have to be more persistent than I usually am. I’m going to have to be more consistent than I am used to being. I am going to have to raise. the. bar. when it comes to my expectations.
And ohhhhh doesn’t that remind me of my writing habits??? Yup.
And, yikes—in the classroom, doesn’t that make me think of the class line that I let get loosey-goosey or the handwriting that I let slack? Mmm-hmm.
The people who know me very well know that I am very hard on myself. And they may tell me that is the case here.
But I want more.
I want to accomplish things with my writing, to help others through it.
I want my students to learn good habits and make outstanding growth…even more than before.
And I want my wild dog to behave so that we can enjoy her and, in turn, she can enjoy us.
So the task at hand is to be constant and unceasing in this pursuit at dog training, in teaching, and in writing. To not give up so I can hold my head up high and say, truly, I am a leader.
The reward will be so much greater than any kind of regret.