Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.
“Life sucks but God is good.” – Lindsey’s summary of Ecclesiastes
What are your lows and highs this week?
Low: My grandpa has been in the hospital for over a week with what seems to be a COPD flare-up. On Saturday, my grandma felt ill and then passed out in the shower that night, breaking her leg right above the knee. She had a surgical repair on Sunday and the doctor discovered some irregularities with her heartbeat. On Monday, she got a pacemaker and seems to be doing better.
What were your lows and highs from the past week?
The thing is, when our actions and choices are like Mary’s, we often give up having homes like Martha’s. That is what Jesus called choosing the best thing and that is plenty for me.*
What life lessons have you been learning recently?
Edit: I finally got this image and link working to tell you I am linking up with Amy at The Messy Middle.
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! – Philippians 4:4 (NLT)
So be truly glad.There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. – 1 Peter 1:6 (NLT)
I am sure 2013, like years before it, holds times of all sorts: celebration, sadness, hilarity, stress, change, adventure. There will be mundane days and milestones. There will be events I have planned for and ones that may catch me off-guard. In all these circumstances and any others that come along, I will practice purposely experiencing them with joy and enjoying who God is and what He does.
My theme word for 2012 leapt out at me from John 16:33 (Amplified), “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”
My thought process went something like this: ‘Undaunted,’ that’s a good word. Whoa, wait a minute, God. You don’t mean that’s my word for the year do You? I don’t think I like it anymore. Let’s do another one like ‘liberty’ from last year. That was nice. ‘Undaunted’ is a tough word and I get nervous just thinking about what kind of year You may be preparing me for if that is my theme word… which is pretty much the opposite of ‘undaunted,’ huh? Okay, I guess I will be learning what it means to be undaunted this year.
I researched the etymology of undaunted and its root word daunt:
1. undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort.
2. undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear; intrepid.
1. to overcome with fear; intimidate.
2. to lessen the courage of; dishearten.
From the Latin domitare, ‘to tame.’
Undaunted means choosing to be untamed by fear or intimidation. It means not retreating when scared, not letting fear or discouragement rule me.
Many times this year, I returned to Philippians 4:13 (Amplified), “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.]” and 1 John 4:18 (TLB) “We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly; His perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what He might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what He might do to us, and shows that we are not fully convinced that He really loves us.”
I learned that living an undaunted life is more about God’s faithfulness than it is about me. I need to know Him more deeply because He is the reason I can and should be undaunted.
With our students on summer break, we have not been having Monday night Bible study and I have not been thinking or posting much about lows and highs. In no particular order (other than lows have to come first) here are my lows and highs for the past week:
1. Minor but frustrating issues at work with someone who regularly blows off my meetings and ignores my emails but expects me to respond right away to any of their questions.
2. Studying for my summer school midterm and taking it required more time than I planned on Saturday. I scored 99/100, though, so that made it less low.
1. Revisiting a favorite classic movie, The Princess Bride, with someone new. I had not seen it in quite a while and it seems even funnier now because I understand all the words and remember the lines my sister and I quoted most during our childhood. (One of her favorites was “Rest well and dream of large women.” can you imagine a kindergartner saying that?)
2. All the time I spent on my weekend road trip (driving solo for four hours each way) gave me time to review Bible verses I memorized ages ago and to listen to some of my favorite soundtracks. Playlist on the way out: The complete Phantom of the Opera movie soundtrack, The Addams Family Broadway soundtrack. Playlist on the way home: A Walk to Remember soundtrack, selections from the Oklahoma and South Pacific soundtracks, The Sound of Music soundtrack, Beach Boys (okay, not a soundtrack but definitely summery driving music!)
They say people become like their pets or pets become like their people… either way, I hear there are a lot of similarities between the two. My family has Shadow, a seven-year-old puppy-at-heart who is probably a Rottweiler-Lab mix (she is a rescue so we are not exactly sure). She lives with my parents across town from me, so I get to visit her often.
She is always thrilled to see me no matter what kind of day either of us have had. She greets me by prancing in circles and wagging her huge tail. When my hands are full and I am not ready to greet her, she sits and waits (still shuffling her front paws and thumping her tail on the floor, watching my every move) until I set down my possessions and turn to pay attention to her. She rushes over, eagerly licking my hands, letting me rub her ears and then turning so I will scratch her back, her hips, her sides. She rubs her sides agains my legs like some sort of 90-pound housecat. Shadow’s affectionate greeting will go on for a good 30 minutes if I let it.
When we are watching a movie or eating dinner or playing games, Shadow likes to lie on the floor near us. If she thinks she is welcome, she will come over and lie right next to (or even on) our feet, just so she can be as close as possible.
I do not know how much Shadow and I are alike, but I think my relationship with God has some similarities to my relationship with her. On one hand, her enthusiastic, all-encompassing affection reminds me of God’s love for me.
The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior Who saves! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest in silent satisfaction and in His love He will be silent and make no mention of past sins, or even recall them; He will exult over you with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17
In the context of the rest of Zephaniah, this verse comes after God has been wronged by people who refused to listen or follow Him, who wanted little to do with Him. He chooses to forgive and reconcile because He loves them (and us!).
On the other hand, Shadow’s adoring desire to simply be near those she loves is what I want in my attitude toward God.
I’m asking God for one thing,
only one thing:
To live with him in his house
my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty;
I’ll study at his feet.
That’s the only quiet, secure place
in a noisy world,
The perfect getaway,
far from the buzz of traffic. – Psalm 27:4-5
Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do. – 2 Corinthians 5:14
So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. This is what I am working at all the time, with all the strength that God gives me. – Colossians 1:28-29
In college Bible study on Monday, we discussed our motivation for interacting with others and talk eventually turned to “How do we do this in real life?” (a.k.a. practical application).
Someone mentioned that the way the students live now, the habits they form, and the way they choose to apply life lessons are good indicators of how they will act after college. As I considered that, I realized how true it is of my life, particularly the way I approach relationships and community.
In college, I looked for ways to interact with people and get to know their stories and what they were enthusiastic about. As I grew to know them, I tried to include them in whatever I was doing – hanging out in the library between classes, game nights, Bible studies, campus events, lunches in the cafeteria, and so on. I enjoyed introducing people and seeing them form friendships. I offered an invitation for people to connect with me and others, to be part of a community on whatever level they chose. Some of them accepted and some did not, but I still communicated that I cared and liked them as they were and liked having them around.
I have been out of college for years and I do not have opportunities to interact with as many people now, but I still invite people into my life and community. Off the top of my head, I can think of a number of people just from work who have accepted my invitations to float trips, lunches, Bible studies, game nights, church, murder mystery night, coffee, etc. in the past year. This is not about having an active social life or about how many people I know, I want to meet people where they are and share lives with them because they matter to Christ and to me.
I don’t use myself as an example because I have this figured out or because I think I got it right but because I tried. Sometimes this seems to work and sometimes it does not. I still keep watching for opportunities to connect with people on a personal level, to get to know them, to look for opportunities to invite and include them.
I love people, talk to them, invite them into my life (and share theirs). I listen to God and love Him and spend time with Him and obey Him. That is my part. God’s part is the internal, heart-and-soul work I don’t always see.