Cyber Monday is about to end.
But what if “final hours” meant something other than to race online to get a good deal?
“Wouldn’t you love to have an alarm that said, ‘You’ll never get this time back?” my sister recently asked me. I had been telling her about oversleeping a few mornings. The alarm would buzz, I’d look out the window and see the sky’s blackness, and fall back to sleep, unwilling to strap on my headlamp and go for an early morning run.
But the truth is I’m a runner. It’s my drug (yes, you can hate me if you must, but trust me, you’d hate me more if I gave up that incredible endorphin fix!). When I skip a few runs, my alter-ego kicks in, that girl I try to keep at bay that scares young children and might even hurt the elderly.
I was close to that “scare the kids and my family” point when my sister made the comment about not getting the time back and regretting it later.
So, yes, I went for a run this morning. It was spectacular as I ran across a ridge, watching the remnants of the sunrise to the east and fluffy clouds hovering over snow-capped mountains towards the west. Happy Mama returned to her house.
But so did something else:
the realization that these are the final hours.
The alarm is beeping. Lean in close and listen as it reminds you and me that we’ll never get this time back and we’ll regret it if we don’t use it wisely.
I’m not hitting the snooze button on this one. I hope you won’t, either!
Giving God your time is like giving Him your money. Give Him so much that unless He comes through for you, you can’t manage. Then watch your life become a miracle life.” ~Anne Ortlund
“Look, Mama! Can we do it?” my Bubba asked with glee as we walked into the library this morning and saw a giant paper turkey covered in leaves. A small table had a few extra leaves and some pens, an open invitation to write something we’re grateful for and add it to the tom.
“Okay. What are you grateful for?”
“I know what I’m going to put, and I even know how to spell it,” he proudly boasted. Without a moment’s hesitation, he grabbed a leaf, picked up a pen and wrote it out.
“Put it by it’s mouth, Mama, so everyone can see it”
“Sure, Love,” I said as I taped the leaf to the bird’s beak.
The picture blurry, so this proud mama will let you know which word my kindergartner knew how to spell. Which word represents the thing he just couldn’t resist the chance to express his gratitude for. The word he wanted everyone else to see.
I thought it was just the tears pooling in my eyes that made the picture look fuzzy!
Sheer, unadulterated, child-like faith.
The One behind all of the other reasons to be grateful that filled the board.
God, thank you! Please don’t ever let me stop praising you for who you are.
A vicious cycle has taken over the Voss house. Bella, my sweet black lab, has taken up the role of Goldilocks. Apparently she’s been trying out our beds while we’re gone and deemed Gabe’s the winner. But of course my Bubba isn’t thrilled about this new title and is even less excited about having half the leg room he previously did.
Anywhere between 2-5 am, he shuffles down the hall to my room. During those early, early hours, I walk him back to his room and try to pull the big black beast off his bed. Occasionally I’m successful. Typically her 85 pounds of comfortable, warm, dead weight curled up in a Spiderman blanket win.
So Gabe ends up with me. And then at some point the much-too-early sillies creep in. We make jokes that in retrospect make no sense, yet seem hilarious at the time. We create songs that undoubtedly are the best ones ever penned. We roar with side-splitting laughter.
And then Micayla joins in in her own way: “Be quiet,” she screams from down the hall. Oh, yes. It’s only 5:30. Some prefer sleep at that hour.
I told someone about our dog-induced sleeping ailments. They looked at me for a second and then gave the obvious (to them, not me) answer of “just close the door.”
Insert mental graphic of Stacy’s sheepish face.
“Oh, yeah. Right.”
Just close the door. As if it’s that simple.
Because it is that simple.
Well, almost. My Bubba prefers the light from the hall in addition to his nightlight. I have a suspicion he also wants the door open so he can hear what’s going on. The door closed option quickly got voted down, but my little kindergartner had an ingenious idea: he stood rubber mats along his bed, creating a barrier that kept even the largest of dogs out. Door open. Dog off bed. Brilliant.
So why the story about dogs and beds? Well, in part because I’m too tired to think that perhaps you don’t really want to know about it, but mostly because it’s the story I’ve lived for too much of my life and I’m probably not alone.
The cycle changes, but the result never does. Here are just a few of the cycles I’ve lived:
- the one of shame, that ugly beast that caused me to hide. The same beast that built the guilt inside of me until I needed to release it, typically by doing the very thing that created the shame.
- the one of giving in to temptation, crying to others about how that beast climbed into bed with me. I couldn’t pull it off, for it was much too heavy, just like when I tried pulling my sweet Bella off my Bubba’s bed to no avail.
It is there that I hear those profound words echo in my head: “Just close the door.” Simple, right? Maybe yes. Maybe no, for don’t we prefer to give in than to fight? To wail and lament to others about how hard it is rather than being proactive and taking the steps to make sure that temptation doesn’t end up in our bed in the first place?
So then come the excuses:
- but I need the door open to see the light
- but it doesn’t really hurt anyone.
- just this last time.
- I can stop this whenever I want. I’m in control.
The list goes on and on, as does the vicious cycle.
But it doesn’t have to.
We can shut the door.
Put up a few mats.
Run in the opposite direction.
Remember that we’re more than conquerors, not poor victims.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
How about you? Is there anything you need to shut the door on? You don’t have to spell it out here if you don’t want to, but I’d love to be able to pray for you. Feel free to leave a comment, even if it’s just “I’m shutting a door.”
Linking in with 5 Minute Friday, writing prompt: fly
It is my absolute honor to have my dear friend and author, Robbie Iobst, guest blogging again. Her debut novel (which is amazing!) just came out, and I was thrilled to be able to celebrate with her at her packed book launch. Despite the fanfare, Robbie shares in this post about what is truly important. Thanks, Robbie. I’m humbled and grateful to call you friend!
“…I have called you by name. You are mine…” Isaiah 43:1
I was next in line. My heart beat fast. I was about to meet one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott. I approached. She glanced at me and then looked down to write her name in my book.
“Hi Anne, I love your writing.”
“Thank you.” She completed her signature. The next person swooped in and I walked off.
She didn’t recognize me. How dare she not know me? I knew HER.
Fast forward a few years. I was in line to get the newest cookbook from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. My friend Molly had saved my place in line for 3 hours. We approached the table. My heart beat wildly.
“Hi! I love you and your cooking!!” Uh-oh. I think I yelled.
She looked at me with a tiny flash of fear. Was I a stalker? On drugs possibly?
Molly swooped in and told Ree that she, too, was from Oklahoma. They shared a brief but lovely conversation while I stood to the side.
The Pioneer Woman didn’t recognize me. In fact, I think I scared her. J
Last Friday night I was the author signing copies of my novel, Cecelia Jackson’s Last Chance. The line was long, not like a famous author, but definitely thrilling for me. I knew 99% of everyone there, but those I just met, I made a special effort to greet.
But here is the deal that really surprised me. As much as I absolutely LOVED Friday night, it won’t be my “happy” place. I’m in counseling about food obsession and in one exercise we were asked to envision a place in our minds where we were perfectly happy and at peace. The first thought that came to mind was my swing outside on my balcony. Days I’ve sat there and been still have brought me such inner joy. When I swing there, Jesus is beside me. It’s the perfect place to just be and regroup and hang out with the Lord.
Fulfilling a life-long dream of having a book signing with a long line was fantastic. I thank Jesus for it all. But it’s not my “place.” It’s not where I find the ultimate joy. I thought it might be, but it wasn’t.
Publishing my first novel and all this attention that comes with it is temporary. I get that. And maybe that’s why it took me so long to get here. Maybe God was waiting for me to get the significance of the swing and the insignificance of the book signing. It’s the difference between seeking approval from others and finding approval from the One. He is truly what matters to me more than anything. Don’t get me wrong, I want all of you to buy several copies of my book and tell me you liked it. J But if you don’t, if no one buys this novel and it gets buried in a garage sale table, that is okay.
While someone digs through those books for a quarter each and picks up mine and thinks, “It looks okay for 25 cents,” I will be sitting on the swing with my Lord. And it will be enough because He always recognizes me.
He always recognizes you, too. Find your swing.
(If you want a signed copy of Cecilia Jackson’s Last Chance, order it through my website, www.robbieiobst.com. Otherwise it is available on Amazon. It is a wonderful Christmas present.)
I recently learned the Hebrew word for shame. It fascinates me, yet I’m sure at first glance it won’t have much meaning to you. Ready for it? It’s
Amazing, right? Well, it is to me because it sounds like a southerner saying, “bush.” Isn’t that fitting for shame? I mean, just think back to Adam and Eve after they ate of the forbidden fruit. They heard God walking through the garden and they knew they were naked, so what did they do? They hid, possibly behind a tree or maybe even a buwsh.
We’ve been doing the same ever since.
I hear shame:
- in a man’s testimony about his wife being a shoplifter. “How can I be in ministry and be married to a thief?”
- in a mom’s embarrassment over the things her adult son is doing. “I taught him better than that. What did I do wrong?”
- in a wife’s voice as she tells of the abusive things her husband says to her. “If only I were a better person, he wouldn’t treat me this way.”
- from a friend working in a position she’s overqualified for. “I have so many gifts, yet I’m just a mom and have a piddly job.” (Agh! Two words that never belong in the same sentence are “just” and “mom”)
It rings in my life in more ways than I could express. In fact, the keys go suddenly quiet as I hide behind the buwsh of my computer screen, unwilling to share what most shames me here.
We all have our buwshes, don’t we, that thing that brings too much shame to talk about.
The thing that causes the embarrassment might not change, but the place we hid behind can. Instead of ducking behind a bush, a computer screen, or a facade we can learn to take refuge in the LORD.
Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.” Psalm 25:20, emphasis mine
It might sound trite, but it’s true, at least for me. I’ve been learning to tell God the things that most shame me. In doing so, it seems to diffuse it right there. I mean, how do you tell God Almighty what you’ve been trying to hide without it being exposed, and by bringing it to the light, it’s out there and there’s nothing to cover anymore. But as I’ve been doing so, I feel like God is letting me see that shame through a different lens. A large part of that is realizing that we don’t need to be ashamed of what others are doing (check all of the examples above. I just realized they all demonstrate someone’s shame over what another person is doing. Been there? I sure have!).
So while I might not tell you what’s behind my bush, there is someone I tell all the time about it. You can tell Him, too.
What about you? Does shame make you hide?
Linking in with Five Minute Friday although I must confess the writing prompt “tree” inspired this post that’s been itching to come out, but it took me longer than 5 minutes to write it. Oh well, there’s no shame in that, is there?