What Matters Most: Loving God & Living Simply…part one

It’s getting close to my birthday and there’s nothing like getting a year older to make me stop in my tracks and ponder life. There is no doubt in my mind I want to make changes. How will I go about it? What are my first steps? I ask myself questions:

  1. What matters most?
  2. What have I accomplished?
  3. What do I want to accomplish?
  4. What do I need to eliminate?
  5. What brings me joy?
  6. What needs changed?
  7. What needs to stay the same?
  8. What is God leading me to do?
  9. Are there people I need to distance myself from?
  10. What goals do I need to set right now?

Wow. That seems like a lot of questions. I’ll answer the first one first: What matters most? To love God and live simply. This is what is the most important to me and how I want to move forward with my life.

The next few weeks I will be answering these questions, and I will share my thoughts here. This is my way of taking steps to change my life and to recognize my priorities. I’ve been feeling a bit stuck, like my feet are trying to ice skate in mud. It just doesn’t work. And some things in my life don’t seem to be working, either.

OK, back to my answers of what matters most. This answer has two parts, so today I will address the first part. For me, loving God is where it all starts, where it all leads, and where it all ends. God comes first. Without him, I am nothing. So, how do I plan on loving God?

  • Through daily prayer. My conversations with God can be lengthy or short, complex or simple, tearful or happy. The important thing is to keep the relationship strong and active. I totally believe God understands my frustrations, anxieties, heartaches, sorrows, and joys and wants me to lay them all out to him. Part of the healing is in our communication.
  • With daily devotionals. One book of devotionals I’ve been reading is Jesus Calling. It’s written as though God is talking to me. I am his child, He loves me, and I am important. Most days it touches a part of my heart that needs healed. I will continue with this, and I will add in a variety of other readings from time to time.
  • By studying God’s Word. By not only reading the Bible, but actually studying thoughtfully what it says and gaining understanding, it draws me deeper into a relationship with him. I will read the Bible daily and continue my Wednesday night Bible Study at church.
  • Journaling. My journaling often turns into “Dear God” letters. What I cannot say with my tongue, I can usually write into words. It has been sporadic in the past, but I will strive to make this a daily practice now.
  • Worship. Oh boy…this is where things get really complex and uncomfortable. I haven’t been attending worship services for a multitude of reasons. My agoraphobic issues, for one. The rest I cannot disclose for risk of being fired from my job. Suffice to say things are uncomfortable. This week, I’m going to see if a pastor within another denomination would be willing to talk with me about my concerns and perhaps give me some guidance, or at the very least pray for me.

So there is step one. This step has been relatively easy, thus far, but I know there will be more challenges to come.

If you’d like to follow along with me on this journey toward a new life, subscribe.

Take care of you.

Trish

Friendships


I sat down by the river for about an hour tonight. I watched a family fishing, two barges chugged by, one heading upstream and the other down, and a couple small boats. It was quiet and peaceful. Darkness seemed to come in swiftly and I wasn't able to read my Bible, but there was some good Jesus and me time.

Pondering can sometimes help me solve problems, sometimes it just gets me deeper into confusion. I thought of friendships…what it takes to be a friend, to keep friends. It's always good to have friends. But the more I thought, the more it was clear that having just any kind of friend isn't my goal in life. It's having friendships that add positivity to my life, nourish my soul, and are true and honest. Those are the friends I want to hang on to.

I've never been a social butterfly. Being an introvert, my circle of friends has been small at any given time. But they were usually friends of substance, meaning they were at least mostly trustworthy, and enjoyable to be around. Sometimes, I pretty much knew when certain friends would not withstand the test of time. They were just there for a season of my life, and then the seasons changed, and so did the friendship.

Occasionally, I have been both surprised and disappointed in a friendship. Like when I realize I've been used for a specific purpose, or betrayed. I've been hurt several times over the years by people who have said they were friends, but were really wolves in sheep's clothing, just waiting to attack. The dark side of human nature never ceases to surprise me.

As I've aged, I've come to appreciate good friendships more, especially the ones that have lasted decades. They've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly side of me and still stuck by me. Those friends are God's blessings to me. I can only hope to be as good a friend to them.

Some friendships are fragile and require a lot of work to keep them functioning. I have to wonder if these are truly friendships or just acquaintances in disguise. All friendships require a bit of effort and care, a mutual respect for each other and boundaries. But some are just easier, it doesn't seem like effort because it just flows gently on its own. It's low maintenance. I like low maintenance.

Some friends can be from a distance, some I see often. There is value in both. Distance doesn't make one less valuable than the other; they both nurture a part of me.

By the time I left the river, it was nearly 10:00pm and darkness had settled in. My thoughts were beginning to wander more toward bedtime. But I drove away with an acknowledgement inside me that I no longer want to waste my time on friendships that do more harm than good to my life. Finding friendships that are loving, honest, and open, with no hidden agendas, may be a little harder to find, but they are definitely worth it. They are one of God's greatest gifts.

Take care of you.

Trish

Night Thoughts, Again

I'm lying awake, once again, with sleep no where close to being within my reach. I've tried counting sheep, counting fish, counting lightning bugs, and counting Diet Coke cans and nothing puts me into a slumbering dream state. I have no magic pills that make my mind stop thinking, and no magic wand to take away the hamster that is surely running a treadmill through my brain. So I write.

Sometimes I wonder how people cannot see themselves the same way I see them. Like the kind lady I think is so beautiful, and she only sees the age of life etched deeply on her face. Like the self-absorbed man who is drowning in his own pool of depression, yet says he is perfect in every way. Like the self-righteous church goer, who has forgotten why they were saved. Like the buffoon who makes a mockery of anyone he disagrees with, yet is crying inside from his own pain.

If life were so simple that we could all wear a mask and no one would be the wiser. Along with fake news and fake smiles, we would have fake faces to match our moods of the moment. We could skid through life on the slippery ice of our frozen personalities. We could hide behind our condemnations and judgements and change the world just by pointing our fingers. That would solve everything, wouldn't it? But what about faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these being love? Where would those come in?

It is tiring to listen to the echoes of voices that say nothing. Those echoes are everywhere… on the news, in classrooms, on the streets, at the supermarket, in the church. Sometimes they are difficult to tune out because of the shrill loudness and number of them. But by golly, I'm determined to find the volume control!

Trying to stay positive amongst the deafening roar of naysayers and hissy fitters is certainly a challenge. It has driven me to my knees in desperation on more than one occasion. Tears have been shed in infinite numbers during wee hours of the night, and with embarrassment in the light of day. Some say I am much too sensitive. I say they are much too harsh. Some say I'm a wimp. I say the cruel thrive on bullying the wimps of the world. Regardless, I am who I am and I cannot be who they want me to be. If I weren't sensitive, I would be like them, and I do not want to be them. I am me.

I made the mistake of glancing at the news headlines today. There is so much sadness, anger, blame, hate, fear, rebellion, and cruelty. So I found the OFF switch, and then there was no volume. They no longer existed for me.

Perhaps the trick to living happily is to make the OFF switch a continuous thing. Turn OFF the echoes of negativity swirling around life. I'm finding it easier said than done, though. There's still a part of me that wants to save the world from self-destruction. I want to make kindness a type of virus everyone wants to catch. And I want smiles to become the greatest sport every played in competitions. It's just hard finding that OFF switch sometimes.

I will keep trying to lower the volume of the mindless echoes. Every once in a while, I might give a big ol' yodel and listen for its echo to get back to me. Wouldn't that be fun!

Take care of you.

Trish