~ Tangled Motivation

tangled-motivation

I was talking to a writer the other day who said this, “I’ll have to see if I can find some motivation.”

I wanted to scream. I have news for those who are still in the dream world of “finding motivation.”

Motivation can’t be found. Unlike lost keys, or even the coin of great worth, motivation can’t be found. It’s not lost. Motivation is made.

It’s not made from feelings, or emotions, or delivered by a muse, or even from on high. Motivation can only be formed by rational, deliberate, intentional decisions.

God Himself can’t and won’t motivate you. Not that He’s not all-powerful, but because His first priority is to give us the complete freedom of CHOICE. He made a plan before time began. Every nuance of history and the future was woven before the first man was formed. There are no tangled threads in God’s tapestry.

We, however, are overwhelmed with choices and decisions to make. Therein lies the problem. We let the overwhelmingness of our days keep us from being intentional. We take the easy and lazy way out. We deceive ourselves into believing that it’s all too much. But it’s not too much. God doesn’t leave us hopeless and helpless. He put within every believer His Spirit to guide us into all wisdom.

We make thousands of decisions every single day. What percentage of them do we make after asking for His help? “Pray without ceasing” takes on a whole new light, doesn’t it?

Do you want to get things accomplished? Reach your goals? Work on the real priorities, instead of being sabotaged by the subterfuge of instant gratification?

Make some real decisions! Motivation will follow.

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~ Dead Wood

It’s easy to look at the mess we’ve made as dead wood. Every year I have to cut the dead wood out of my Hydrangea. Every year there’s more. It’s a natural part of the life cycle of many woody shrubs and all trees. A certain percentage of the limbs and branches die off, and more grow in their place. Think of them as the equivalent of human hair. It doesn’t mean there is rot or disease, it’s just part of the process.

Now take that thought and apply it to the mess you’ve made of your attempts. Is your life (and possibly your home and office) filled with the clutter and refuse of attempts that went awry or projects that didn’t make it past the planning stage? Don’t beat yourself up! This is a normal part of the process of growth.

Rather than agonize over the failures, look at your mess as proof that you’re alive, trying new things, attempting to be and do more. Then get out the pruning shears and get rid of those things holding you back, reminding you of failure, and taking up valuable space in your life. Learn from God’s natural process. If you don’t cut out the dead wood, then the new can’t grow. There is no space, or light or air.

Breathe in those wonderful life-affirming verses that you love, and then tackle just one pruning job today. Nothing brings hope for the future like new spring green growth. Make room for it in your life.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 HCSB

“The thief comes only to steal, slaughter, and destroy.
I’ve come that (you) may have life, and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10 ISV

~ A Box of Joy

2015-09-02 15.21.58

This is my tiny box of joy, perfection in miniature.

If you were to make your own tiny box of joy, what would you put in it? I’ll show you the inside of mine next week.

Think about what makes you happy, gives you pleasure and delight. If you could carry it around in a box, would you embellish that box to honor the contents?

Think about your own box of joy. What are you thankful for? Give it a special place of honor so that each time you see it, you remember to thank God for the gift of delight.

I hope this inspires some creativity! I’d love to hear from you if you’ve done something similar or if this causes you to start something new.

~ Inside the Box

2015-09-02 15.26.13 Last week I asked what you might have in a box of joy, and told you I’d show you the inside of the little box of joy that I made for myself

This box just happens to be my travel watercolor kit. I searched and researched and am thrilled with my choices of supplies. In fact, this works so well that I seldom use my large watercolor palette or even my expensive Kolinsky brushes. Simply squeezing more water into the tip of a Sakura brush is faster and wastes less paint.

The purchased watercolor kit within my kit isn’t the most expensive, in fact it’s one of the least expensive on the market. The great thing is that the watercolors are standard half-pan size, so when I want to replace a color, I can buy just one of any number of brands. The whole kit is a tiny bit of perfection.

No matter what you do for work or for fun, you understand the joy of having the right tools for the job. No struggling to make do, no wishing you could have the top of the line because what you have is already the best for you, even if it’s not the most expensive or the most popular.

Every single time my eyes land on my little box of joy, I smile. For me, it’s perfect.

What things in your life are you perfectly happy with? This little box of joy reminds me that God perfectly and precisely fits me with the things I need to do his work, even if they don’t always seem like it to someone else (or me, when I’m in ungrateful mode.)

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6

~ Fearing the Spam Journey

spam japaneseI knew it!

This is why I avoid the Sushi line at restaurants.

Seriously, do you avoid food when you’re not sure of the origin–or even its provenance just before it showed up in front of you?

We found this can, along with a lot of others at our local grocery store–on sale–all expired.

Ummm, no thanks.

For me, life is full of spam, and I don’t mean the junk mail kind. Full of uncertainty, unknown futures, unexplored consequences.

I want the good kind of change in my life, but my fear of the results makes me hesitate. Even worse, my fear of that period before the results gives me the shivers. I don’t know what kind of changes my body or my mind will experience to get to the goal. It’s the journey I fear. (And I call myself an adventurer.) Truly, trusting God and living by faith requires stepping–no, leaping–out of our comfort zones. Free falling.

So, why do we fear these changes that we think God is going to ask of us? Why are we convinced that he’s going to make us uncomfortable? (Maybe because we get it that to become more like him we have to let go of sin, and prior to doing that, we’ll have to admit to some of it? Yeah, probably.)

Mostly it’s about priorities. God wants nothing between us. His desire for us is a perfectly sweet and loving relationship. Take the best relationship moments you’ve ever known and multiply them times a zillion. That’s God’s love capacity. Our capacity–not so much. So he asks us to examine our own hearts, to find out where our priorities are:

  • What do I think about most?
  • What do I talk about the most?
  • What do I do with my time?
  • What do I escape to?
  • What do I pray about?

It’s not that the journey is meant to be painful, it’s just that sometimes the unknown is a feast, when we’re used to Spam.

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

~ Worm Tubes and Shark’s Ear Drums

It's a Sperm Whale Inner Ear Drum!
It’s a Sperm Whale Inner Ear Drum!

Yesterday we visited an old friend who has a gem-rated seashell collection – over 8,000 pieces.

We held a worm tube from two miles down in the ocean, a sperm whale eardrum, and the most bizarre shrimp basket made of silica where a certain type of shrimp mate for life and live their entire lives stuck in the lacy basket, while their kids escape when they’re tiny, one “litter” after the other. Needless to say, the variety of the collection was amazing. All these things God made for the sheer joy of creation. Mountain ranges painted on the sides of shells that live on the floor of the ocean.

Why? For the fun of it.

Tell me again why people try to convince Christians that they don’t know what fun is? Hellooooo, with a Daddy as wild as ours? Who can know God? As His children, we actually can. What fun can top that?

“How countless are Your works, LORD!
In wisdom You have made them all;
the earth is full of Your creatures.
Here is the sea, vast and wide,
teeming with creatures beyond number —
living things both large and small.
There the ships move about,
and Leviathan, which You formed to play there.”
Psalms 104:24-26 ( Holman Christian Standard)

 

~ Running Away . . . to Play

DSC_0117 Do you ever want to just run away?

Sometimes a play break sounds sooo tempting! I don’t mean the kind where you enjoy playing a video game or crafting, but really playing. As in, run around in the woods, climb a tree, explore a playhouse. Be a kid. Again.

I understand wanting to escape work. I really do. Especially on days like today when the technology wasn’t working, and going to help sites didn’t help. Running into the woods would have been wonderful. Except it was cold and snowing, and I had a deadline.

Ah, rats.

In the midst of my work, I came across this photo of the playhouse at our campground. Ah, instant peace! Almost as good as actually being there.

Sometimes the playing simply needs to take place in our minds. Just as an aroma can take us straight back through the decades to a favorite memory of a meal, a picture can take us to a place of respite.

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of green woods, memories made sharp with sounds and smells and sensations. Just looking at this photo brings the buzzing of insects, the chirping of birds, the rustle of leaves, the itch of . . . oh, nevermind. Let’s leave the mosquitoes for summer, when it’s not snowing.

Isn’t it awesome how that we can read a verse, a phrase in God’s word, and instantly our minds can go to a future we don’t yet know, a perfection we can’t comprehend, and yet . . . we’re there.

God Glimpses #21 – Why can’t Artists Read?

The-Raising-of-Lazarus-xx-Benjamin-Gerritsz-Cuyp

How many of you hate it when the book cover is all wrong? Two pages into the book and the main character is described as freckled with brown hair. You flip back to the cover and she’s blonde, What’s with that?

The children’s lesson today was on Lazarus. You know, the guy Jesus raised from the dead by shouting–from outside the tomb. And Lazarus came out. He was bound hand and feet, wrapped in grave clothes and had a napkin over his face. Says it right there in the Bible.

Could I find one correct picture out of hundreds that artists have painted over the centuries? Noooooo. Apparently, they all thought that the comedic thought of Lazarus doing the bunny hop out of that tomb was a tad too lighthearted for their serious talent.

I dunno, I suppose the correct cartoon versions were thrown in the trash by overzealous moms.

So, what’s a teacher to do? We played “What’s wrong with this picture” after reading the story. The kids got it right.

Those of us old enough to know better keep wanting to change God’s story, to make it meld with our sensibilities. We don’t want to think about the maggots in the grave clothes. We don’t want to let the Word stand on its own.

God Glimpses #18 – Hope Deferred

snow on flower pots

The Bible says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” All winter long I’ve been ignoring these flower pots on my back porch, pretending the watering can doesn’t exist, pushing down dreams of spring green.

This morning, (after not one flake of predicted snow fell from the so-called snow storm earlier in the week,) I woke to find this not-so-sugar coating still falling from a sky that should have been blue.

(Shoot the weather men and women, please!)

We have no control over the weather. We can justifiably feel sick at the thought of another cold day with even the emerging crocuses looking frozen and miserable.

But do we defer our own hope? What dreams and goals do you have that could be achieved if you would just DO instead of dream . . . or wish . . . or pretend to hope. I don’t know about you, but I’m great at setting goals, not so great at remembering to look at them by mid-week.

DOers get things done. It’s that simple. Spend less time planning, and more time DOing. That’s my God Glimpse for today, folks. He sprinkled frosting on my misery and reminded me to look up (. . . and then go DO.)