staying faithful : imaginary problems

[This is a fake post scheduled pre-trip. Right now I'm probably doing anything and everything in my power to soak up as much warmth as possible over the course of 48 hours. There is likely sweet tea involved. There is definitely Chick-fil-A involved. Full updates next week!]

The kids that I nanny for are a brother and sister, 2 and 4, respectively. They play really well together. But as siblings, it’s in the contract that they get into arguments at least once per hour. It’s relational law.

More often than not, these spats revolve around whatever imaginary game they happen to be playing at the moment. My favorite is when they FREAK OUT over the injustices that have just befallen them at the hands of each other’s imaginary actions. Last week we were playing with their kitchen set. Brother is pretending to make a tray of imaginary cookies, big ones and small ones, as per his description. Sister proceeds to gobble up said invisible baked goods. Brother turns to me and, with a look of horror, wails, “SHE ATE ALL OF THE BIG ONES!!!”

Troubleshooting these situations is always an adventure because you can’t just whip out a tub of imaginary big cookie dough to make another batch, as per my initial attempt. Oh, no! That’s just unacceptable. What needs to happen is an official time reversal in which, as it turns out, Sister did not eat all of the big ones, and there are still some left over for him and me there in the corner of the tray. We just couldn’t see them originally because they were hiding underneath the flower decals on the baking pan.

Duh.

The imaginary crises bring me no end of joy because it’s so funny to see what they come up with and what solution they’ll agree to. But on the other hand, I really love those kids like you would not believe, so I want to fix all of their problems, imaginary or not. And last week while I was desperately seeking a solution that would result in a healing of the Big Cookie Wound, I thought about how much easier it would be to solve an actual, tangible problem – one that was not controlled by the highly subjective entity that is 2 year old logic.

And then…because I can’t turn off the wheels that create odd connections in my brain…I thought about how much easier my life would be if it were not controlled by the highly subjective entity that is my human logic.

Because, really, about 99% of the time I do the same thing the kids do. I work myself into a panic about imaginary problems that only exist in my overactive mind. Problems about what may or may not happen to my parents, my friends, myself. Questions about where I may or may not live or what kind of career I may or may not have. Crises that involve wondering whether or not I’ll ever see a Packers game at Lambeau Field or live within walking distance to Trader Joe’s or Jamba Juice or Chick-fil-A.

These are the things that keep me up at night.

But they are imaginary things of my own creation. There is nothing real about them. It’s just as foolish to get my feathers ruffled over potential future employment opportunities as it is to be outraged at the violation of imaginary personal property. It’s literally no different.

It makes me think of this:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

[Isaiah 55:8-11]

…and this:

What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

[Matthew 6:33-34]

It would be so helpful to remember those verses more often.

And as for the imaginary problems I just can’t quit no matter how hard I try? God wants to take care of those too, even though they’re fake! I wanted to comfort my little baker in his grief over stolen cookies – whether they were real or not didn’t matter. I wasn’t judging him or discounting him on account of the fact that we were trying to solve a problem about air…it felt real to him so it mattered to me. If that’s how I feel about a child I just get to play with on weekdays, imagine how much greater the love of God for his children and their problems – real or imaginary.

So, friends, may all of your big cookies be real ones. Eaten only by you, and not your sister. And may the fake ones either disappear or be given to the Lord, who is ready and willing to take good care of them – and you, too.

beka stays real : march chalkboards

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[ bedroom : RELENTLESS : belief in God (1), gratitude in each moment (2), pursuit of dreams (3). (be transformed by the renewing of your mind - Romans 12:2) ]

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[ living room 1 : "People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now." - Matthew 6 ]
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[ living room 2 : be an exclamation point, not a question mark. ]

and here’s the march magazine line too:

beka stays faithful : staying present

Trust. Worry is a waste. Where does it really get you anyway? Tense. Unfocused. Unproductive. Complaining. Give thanks in ALL circumstances - yes, ALL of them - and you just might forget your worries completely. Don’t you always end up saying to yourself, “why did I ever worry in the first place?!” Yeah. You do. So, give the creator of the universe some credit and give up the reins. Trust. Do not worry about your life. He has this. ‘Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?’ Luke 12:25

pinned here via here

My dad said something to me on the phone the other night that made me moderately to majorly annoyed.

I had called to catch up on a few things that had happened that day. I was in a particularly good mood so our conversation was spirited. And then he lowered the boom.

“You know, sometimes when you call you sound so down in the dumps and I think…why? What more could you want? You work for people who love you, you live in a city you love, you have your health, you have so many opportunities and so much going for you…what else could you ask for?”

I reacted defensively, because, well, that’s how I was feeling at the moment.

“Dad…I do love my life. But I feel like I can’t just settle for what I have right now. I have goals! I have high standards for myself!”

To which he offered another boom.

“That’s fine. But good grief, stop kicking yourself in the meantime. You’ll get there! But you’ve got to cut the present some slack.”

It’s 4 days later and I’m still thinking about what he said. Not because I’m still annoyed. But because he’s so right. Soooooo right.

Darn it.

The truth is, I spend the majority of my life forgetting this verse:

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

[Matthew 6:34]

In fact…let’s rewind and just give the whole passage a once-over:

25-26“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

 27-29“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

 30-33“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

 34“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

You know what really puts me in my place? This verse: “People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.” Oh my word…it makes my stomach do back flips in shameful regret. Because I do know God, I do have a personal testimony of his faithfulness that has been born from experience, I do have faith that he is who he says he is and does what he says he will do. But more often than not I don’t act like it. As per the passage, I’m not necessarily worrying about what I will wear (um, sweatpants, clearly)…although I have stood in front of a mirror and wished to grow just another inch or two. Most of the time, though, my discontent with today and worries about tomorrow aren’t attached to anything in particular. Instead, I decline taking the maximum amount of joy in the good things of today because I fear losing them, not making the most of them, or just completely missing out on something better tomorrow.

This trait – sacrificing the joy of today because of the uncertainty of tomorrow – is built into my DNA. It’s a lethal combination of hating change, fearing the passage of time, and having a pension for overachieving. So the propensity to never be fully invested in the current moment is nothing new, even though it has been on overdrive lately. It is, however, something that needs to change.

This week I’ve tried to catch myself in every negative thought and turn it into something grateful. In every anxious, frustrated postulation about the future and refocus on what is happening right now.

Because I have so much right now.

Thanks for telling me the truth, Dad. I needed to hear it.

the dailies : 10.11.11

daily word: 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? – Matthew 6:25-27

daily sweat: Favorite workout day of the week! Cardio kickboxing/strength circuit/new to yoga class. Love it.

daily dish: Just my favorite dish today…and possibly ever.

1 frozen banana

3 Tbsp protein powder

1 Tbsp oats

1/4 cup milk

Blend in a food processor, top with blueberries, devour. SO GOOD.

*I took 18 pictures of this because I had it for breakfast and dinner…but NONE of them uploaded. Thanks for nothing, Android.

daily mile(s):

Day 32: the view from here

Day 33: you had me at hello

(I still think Denver was my favorite place of all on the trip (other than the obvious favorite, Green Bay. Duh.))

Day 34: in bloom

Day 35: expect the unexpected

(And I still love that sign.)

Day 36: i was ready for some football

(Different year, different time zone, different end result…same Sunday routine.)