Relax, Reflect, Recharge

There’s a Lady at the Gym Who Hates Me

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

There’s a lady at my gym who hates me.

No, I’m serious. She sees me coming, and I can feel little poofs of disdain chugging out of her ears as her feet churn at 87 mph on the elliptical machine. I honestly don’t know how she goes so fast. I once tried to keep up with her.

It was awful.

And I think that was the day her infuriation with me began.

Let me back up and confess my sins that started this whole thing.

The elliptical machines are very close together and completely awkward with their angular moving parts. Think if a New York high-rise and an elephant had a baby … that would be these elliptical machines.

Now, conjure up a picture in your mind of the most athletic person you know. The one who doesn’t have a drop of fat on her entire body, not even at her belly button, which should be illegal in my cellulite-ridden opinion. OK, do you have your person?

That’s her. She’s honestly stunningly beautiful.

Then picture a marshmallow dressed in a T-shirt and spandex pants. Her ponytail is rather tight, but not much else is. That’s me. Hello, world.

So, I had to sort of get in her space just a tad to mount my machine, and I think I threw off her rhythm. That was sin number one.

Then I decided to try to stay in sync with her because I wanted to teach all the folks at the gym that, though my legs and derrière might not look like it, I’m in shape. That was sin number two.

And then there may have been a little issue with me taking a phone call while working out. In my defense this is not at all my common practice. But a friend called who really needed me.

I tried to chat quietly, but when you feel like a lung might very well pop out of your mouth at any minute, it’s difficult to whisper-talk. Sin number three.

Three strikes, and she deemed me out. Out of my mind. Out-of-line. Out-of-control.

She abandoned her elliptical and huffed over to the treadmill. And I think she’s hated me ever since. But then the other day, something occurred. Something odd that stunned me.

She smiled at me.

It wasn’t an evil, I’m-about-to-whip-your-tail-on-the-gym-floor kind of smile. It was more like an, “Oh hey, I’ve seen you here before, right?” kind of smile.

And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized her hating me has all been a perception thing on my part.

Which got me thinking about all the many times I assign thoughts to others that they never actually think. I hold them accountable to harsh judgments they never make. And I own a rejection from them they never gave me.

I know not every rejection is like this. Some are completely certified and undeniable.

But we have to know there are also perceived rejections, like I had with my fellow gym-goer.

I don’t even think I was really on her radar.

But in my mind, I was absolutely in her crosshairs. And so goes the crazy inside our heads sometimes.

Thankfully, the Lord reminds us in our key verse that He is able to “quiet” our crazy thoughts with His love.

It makes me remember something I saw an author friend of mine do several years ago when she was signing a book. Her approach was simple. Before signing her name she wrote, “Live loved.”

Not only an instruction, but a proclamation. One that arrests my soul and is so applicable to our discussion at hand.

Live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won’t find yourself begging others for scraps of love.

It’s not deciding in your mind, I deserve to be loved. Or manipulating your heart to feel loved.

It’s settling in your soul, I was created by a God who formed me because He so very much loved the very thought of me. When I was nothing, He saw something and declared it good. Very good. And very loved.

This should be the genesis thought of every new day.

I am loved.

Not because of how terrific I am. God doesn’t base His affection on my wilted efforts.

No, God’s love isn’t based on me.

It’s simply placed on me.

And it’s the place from which I should live … loved.

Thank you Lysa TerKeurst for today’s message.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

When My Happy Gets Bumped

Today’s message is from Encouragement for Today and Lysa TerKeurst

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:11-12 (NIV)

Most days, I wake up fairly happy. It’s not like I wake up in the mood for a party, but generally I’m not grumpy when I arise. I wake up and things seem pretty good, level and fresh with possibilities. But then inevitably something — or someone — will bump into my happy.

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An early morning meltdown by one of my people.

Or a difficult email that makes my heart sink.

Or me underestimating my time and suddenly everything is rushed, hurried and stressful.

Or my husband, Art, lowering the thermostat in the house to 68 degrees and I can’t stop shivering until the temperature hovers closer to 72. It’s amazing how much difference four degrees makes.

Things happen. Things that bump into my happy. And suddenly I’m a little off-kilter and a little less nice.

Can you relate?

Well, I’m learning something about a little mental perspective I need to have when things bump into my happy. In that moment, Satan is scheming to have me help him out. If he can just get me jostled to the point where I react out of anger, it’s like lighting a spark near a puddle of gasoline.

Even the smallest spark can ignite quite a fire. A fire that can spread and feel much bigger than what the situation ever should have been.

Take the temperature situation, for example.

It should be just a simple discussion about the thermostat. But, add a little anger and suddenly things in my brain escalate to the point where I’ve just about convinced myself Art is completely insensitive and couldn’t care less about me.

Is that true? Of course not. He just likes to sit in his house without sweating. Surely, we could find a compromise with the temperature or I could go put on some socks and a sweatshirt.

Instead, when he bumps into my happy, a “growth opportunity” ensues that leaves us both feeling a little burned.

In other words, I play right into Satan’s scheme and help him out. Remember, Satan’s plan is to cause separation. Be it a temperature issue, tight finances, a misunderstood statement or one of the millions of little things that can bump into our happy … we have a choice.

We can choose to play into Satan’s schemes and enable his attempts to separate us from God’s best. Or, we can choose to fight for our relationships and against Satan’s divisive attempts. When I think about it in these terms, it helps me identify the real enemy.

My real enemy isn’t any of the people who bump my happy. My real enemy is the one who tries with all his might to get me to jump into a grumpy mood and help him tear down all that I love.

Knowing I need a strategy against these attacks, I turn to the wisdom found in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

You better back up and back off, Satan. I’m onto your schemes. You are the real enemy, not my people. And now I have a totally new game plan for when my happy gets bumped.

Starting with finding just the right pair of socks and a sweatshirt to wear in the ice cave.

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Just Because

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:18 (NLT)

Grace looked up from the old, worn photo album to see Richard the postman making his way through the cold to her door. What a sweet young man, she thought.

Grace loved her walks to the mailbox in late spring and through the summer, but the cold winter air seemed to whip through her thin skin. Though in her heart she still felt like a young, energetic girl, her age was evident to her. Aches and pains made her careful and slow. As the air turned cooler, Richard made it a habit to deliver Grace’s mail to her door.

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Today was an especially lonely day for Grace. It was the seventeenth. No one but her Jim would have known what a special day this was. It wasn’t her birthday or their anniversary. For 42 years the seventeenth of every month was their unique day, as Jim would say, just because.

Though they never were rich with money, they were determined to be rich with love. For this reason, on the seventeenth Jim always found some special way to say it and live out 1 John 3:18, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”

Over the years the gifts had been as simple as a scribbled note or as elaborate as a bouquet of store-bought flowers. But the message was always the same: “Just because.” Once he’d secretly taken Grace’s wedding band from her jewelry box and had it engraved with their special saying.

She found such comfort, confidence and connection in those two simple words. To Grace it was more than a gesture of love; it was an outward symbol of much more.

When she’d gotten sick and couldn’t keep up with the house, it meant I love you for who you are, not what you do. When they had an argument, it meant even when we don’t see eye-to-eye I love you still. When she started aging, it meant yours is a timeless beauty. Though Jim had never been a man of many words, his “just because” was perfect and poetic to Grace.

Jim had passed away three weeks earlier. It wasn’t a sudden death; they both had known his end was near. They’d had a sweet time of reminiscing, hugging, crying and then as quickly as he came into her life all those years ago, he was gone. She missed him terribly but had peace.

They’d had a wonderful life and left nothing unsaid. Now Grace loved flipping through their old photo albums savoring pictures, but even more so she loved touching all the mementos from over the years written in his masculine handwriting.

Though she’d seen the postman coming, the doorbell startled Grace. Carefully, she made her way to the door. She graciously took the few letters he handed her and apologized for not having cookies. Maybe tomorrow. She then walked slowly to the kitchen to open her mail. A bill, another sympathy card and something that made her heart jump and melt all at the same time.

Her eyes filled with tears and her hand trembled as she slid her finger underneath the envelope’s back flap. It was a simple letter as they always were, delivered on the seventeenth as they always had been. Before his death, Jim had arranged for Richard to make one last special delivery. “Not even death shall stop my heart. Just because, Jim.”

~ ~ ~

Sometimes a short story illustrates a point better than pages of instruction on how to be more intentional with relationships.

All relationships take work. And I know firsthand how hard it can be. I imagine some of you have prayed for a more tender relationship with your spouse. I’ve been there. I understand.

So I wrote this story to remind myself to pursue this kind of intentionality with Art during the good days and the really hard ones too. This kind of love — not flashy, but forever; not commercial, but committed — isn’t always easy, but it truly is honoring to the Lord and to your spouse.

I pray this story settles into your heart and encourages you that even the smallest acts of love toward your spouse can bring about the most loving legacies.

Thank you Encouragement for Today and Lysa TerKeurst for today’s blog.

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

If Only We Knew

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

Here is my prayer for you: May you catch even the slightest glimpse of the tender mercy of our Lord Jesus. For one drop of the Lord’s mercy is better than an ocean of the world’s comfort.

The marriage situation that seems impossible.

The finances that never balance.

The hope so deferred it makes your heart sick.

The anxiety over a child bent on a wayward path.

The diet you are sick of.

The broken promises of a friend.

The lack of true friends.

The constant messiness always distracting the peace you want in your home.

The impatience and frustration, anger and disappointment of losing it — again.

If only we knew how deeply Jesus understands and cares for us. If only we could see the wonder of His love. The skies He paints, the flowers He blooms, the world He arranges just for us. The love letters He’s written to us throughout the Bible.

These are all mercies from Him.

The world will offer us comfort in the form of escapes. We escape to romance novels, movies, magazines, malls, chocolate, vacations, affirmations from friends. Not that any of these things are bad. They aren’t. But they are very temporary. They make us feel good in the moment, but that good never stays. We need more and more. Trying to fill our aching hearts with these things is like trying to fill an ocean with a tablespoon. It’s never enough. So we clench our fists and keep trying to find something to comfort us.

If only we knew how to stop clenching our fists so that we could open our hands and catch the drops of His tender mercy. If only we knew how to release the weight of trying to fix it all ourselves. If only we knew to stop in the midst of it all and whisper, “Jesus … help me.” Just a whispered breath formed in the wholeness of His Name carries all the power and mercy and wisdom and grace we need to handle what we face.

If only we knew.

If you find yourself wanting to escape today into one of the world’s comforts, first invest some time in asking Jesus to help you, show you and direct you. Hebrews 4:15-16 reminds us of how approachable He is, how He understands our struggles and graciously offers us help and hope: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Specifically, ask Him to help you see and notice His tender mercies. Then you will see that, indeed, one drop of the Lord’s mercy is better than an ocean of the world’s temporary comforts.

Thank you Lysa TerKeurst and Encouragement for Today for today’s blog.

Hope Wissel, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Loose Ends

Rest, Relax and Recharge…. after a busy and enlightening two day conference that is exactly what I want to do.  It will be short lived because I am off to work my part-time JOB today.

Each morning I receive an email (okay several) with various devotionals.  Encouragement for Today is one that I particularly like because it always manages to hit on something that I need to hear that day.  I love Lysa Terkeurst who writes often for them and this is triggered from one of her blogs…

Picture this… you and hubby are ready to go out for a fun night when just before you head out the door – you have a disagreement (or maybe a full fledge argument).  It really doesn’t matter what it was about but the moment is spoiled and now neither one of you want to go out for a fun night.  Do you push through and go out?  Do you stay home and each stew in the negativity not talking to each other?  Been there, done that and definitely do not want the t-shirt….

We have done both things in my house with different results….

  1. We cancelled our plans and both retreated to our own little world.  Me to my office to do some work. Or, to the bedroom to cry and beat myself with guilt (even if it wasn’t my fault).  He on the couch to watch some mindless TV.  The end result, we didn’t resolve things for days!  That was early on in our marriage – remember we have only been living in the same house for about 7 years.
  2. The last time that this happened, it was before something that was scheduled with family or friends so we really had no choice but to keep going.  It was tough, awkward at times but by the end of the night when we got home, we had talked about it and resolved whatever the disagreement was.  Over and done with the same night.

When things like this happen, I am so tempted to retreat to my old ways  none of which got very positive results.  Then there is a gentle nudge (a God moment) to remind me that “there is a delicate nature to marriage and all relationships.”  I need to push the pause button and invest in the relationship.

“…all our busy rushing ends in nothing.” Psalm 39:6 (NLT)

Conversational threads are what make up the fabric of relationships. We must take time — make time — to talk.  

I am learning that filling my calendar and not leaving time for conversations with my hubby makes for a messy relationship.  I used to say that we got along so well because we only really saw each other 1 day a week.  When I was working a JOB full-time and commuting, the only day that we had together was Monday and an occasional Sunday.  Monday mornings consisted of me being in the office so we really only had the afternoon together.  Sundays was football.  How much trouble could there be when you are playing catch up right?

Now that I have my own business, I am learning to not only schedule office hours but to also allow time when the calendar is empty to just “spend time with hubby”.  Now mind you that could mean we are both sitting in the living room on our computers watching mindless TV but as he says – we are together.  We talk and share tidbits of information with each other that ravel into long conversations.  Quality time for us.  There seems to be more talking even if we agree to disagree.

Are you leaving time to nurture your delicate relationships?  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

#marriage #hopews31