Lessons in the Here and Now

A deep breath at the beginning of this week is now being slowly exhaled as the work week draws to a close. Three hours, four minutes, and a handful of seconds remain. A sunny Labor Day weekend awaits.

Two Tuesdays each month, I have the pleasure of sitting across from a courageous friend to discuss Love Does by Bob Goff. We laugh about her little one falling asleep in his yogurt and create a safe place to share what’s stirring in our hearts. Our paths crossed nearly two years ago when our husbands introduced us at a Valentines’ dinner for All ‘Bout Couples. Both her husband and mine are in their third year of Medical School.

The second half of Medical School is a time of discovery – close to two years devoted to exploring the various specialties of Medicine – a time to determine which career to pursue. Beyond the string of Residency program interviews lies Friday, March 16, 2016. Almost four years after our very first date, the Hubs and I will take another deep breath and get ready to jump into the next phase of training. Between now and then, there are so many variables to consider and decisions to make. Prayers for guidance will be ever on our lips.

In the middle of sharing my thoughts about where we might be by the summer of 2016, like a scratched compact disk from 1998, the phrase “we just don’t know” was repeated at various intervals to my patiently listening friend. “What are your thoughts?” I asked, sure that she too was considering what life will look like for them. Reassuringly, she shared that she is choosing to stay focused on the present, not always thinking ahead to the next change. As part of their decision to join the military there is a high probability that they will relocate a number of times in future years.

Driving home, I let her words echo in my heart as I reflected on how my ability to trust can increase during this time. What may appear to be unknown to us, is fully known to the God we serve. My response will indicate whether I am operating out of unfounded fear or operating in unshakeable faith. Holding fast to confidence in the Lord, I want the next nineteen months to be lived out fully: investing in our community, taking pleasure in what might be considered to be small, creating lasting memories with family and friends, savoring each beautiful Colorado season, and falling more in love every day. We may be on the move, but I’m learning daily what it means to be in the here [at least for] now.

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I pray that your weekend holds pockets of stillness – moments to reflect on what it looks like for you to be in the here [at least for] now!

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Lessons in Listening and Grace

Waking on a Sunday morning, I silence the pleasant melody of the alarm that is often unwelcome. How did the minutes and hours pass so quickly to usher in the seven o’clock hour? In the kitchen, the coffee pot received the same wake up call. My thanksgiving would surely be granted to a cup of piping hot coffee once I transformed my tousled hair and sleepy countenance into something more presentable to the public. The next hour seemed to slip through my fingers and my sleepy husband drifted back to Dreamland. I called into the bedroom to see if he wanted to partake in the breakfast I planned. With only fifteen minutes before the start of the early church service and a twenty minute drive ahead of us, he offered a simple suggestion to get dressed and snag a couple granola bars for the commute. Without notice, a wave of frustration came crashing over me as all the time and effort invested to create a relaxing morning seemed to be overlooked by our desperate need to rush out the front door. In two seconds flat, I went from a cool, calm, and collected thirty year-old woman to a moody teen-aged girl, to whom life was far from fair. Tears filling my eyes, I fled to the patio to catch my breath. What was happening? Surely, this isn’t the woman my patient husband signed up to spend the rest of his life with.

As in most dramatic moments, my mind started scanning through all the challenges and choices that lay ahead and they suddenly seemed larger than life. If I was to respond to the stress of a Sunday morning delay the same way I would respond to a more pressing situation, what would be the outcome?

Entering stage right, a monarch butterfly drifted past and its color turned bright in the sunshine. Something about the sight of a butterfly reminds me that God is in control. Maybe it’s the way they float through the air with such grace.

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GRACE. It was absolutely what I needed in that moment. It’s what I need in every moment. Every moment of every day, I need to be fully embraced by grace.

With bowls of oatmeal and warm cups of coffee, we snuggled up on the couch and launched this week’s sermon on our iPad. The words of Pastor Ed’s message cut to my heart. Most of his time was spent in 1 Samuel, where we are introduced to Saul, before he is anointed king over Israel. Nearing the end of his sermon, he took a quick side path to Luke 10, where Mary is seated at Jesus’ feet as Martha is at work in the kitchen. He pointed out something I had not noticed before: while Martha was going about her business to do something good, and very much worthwhile, Mary was close enough to hear even a whisper that Jesus wanted to share with her. Her proximity to her Lord allowed her to listen with great intensity, without distraction. Here I was, feeling alone and lacking a strong sense of direction. Have I been in a position of surrender and humility, or was I charging forward with what I thought was best, all the while working far enough away from His presence that I could be missing what He would have for me each day? With this check in my spirit, I quietly admitted that I desperately needed more time with the One who should be guiding my steps.

Growing up in a Christian home, there have been seasons in my life when “quiet time” seemed so cliché. The older I get, the more I see my desperate need to carve out time to be a student of the Word and to have conversations with a Father who loves me, a Savior who gave his life for me, and a Spirit who counsels me. This unseen God sees me, knows me more intimately than I understand myself, and has plans that far greater than my own. Today, I pray for the grace to be sanctified (set apart as holy) as I surrender my incorrect thinking that I am able to go about this life on my own strength. Profound expectation stirs within me as I look forward to the moments before the dawn – time to listen intently before distraction has a chance to distance me from His throne room. With my need made so plain this weekend, it would be foolish to act otherwise!

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Extraordinary Without Being Part Squirrel

The videos produced by Soul Pancake, starring Kid President, pull at my heart strings every time. I often find myself quoting one of the most memorable episodes, both aloud and to myself: “Not cool, Robert Frost!” This afternoon, I discovered a new gem titled “For the Heroes: A Pep Talk from Kid President.” He has a way of making an inspirational message both charming and hilarious. Who but a nine year-old can make declarations about being extraordinary without being part squirrel? And there, right in the middle of his closing line, “Let’s do this,” is a call to all who are ordinary, to be heroes and to take time to recognize who they consider to be heroes.

Maybe there is something that is riding on every train of thought – an idea that could impact lives and even generations. Maybe becoming a hero means investing time, energy, talent, and resources into a cause that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. While leaving a legacy by boarding a flight to make waves in another country or writing a check for a large contribution may have a lasting result, we should also remember that there are those we come in contact with each day, the most familiar of faces, who might be looking for a hero. As we exude confidence through a genuine smile, engage others in meaningful conversation, develop a solid work ethic, say “good morning,” love with abandon, challenge the status quo, and take advantage of opportunities to serve, we might look over our shoulder and be surprised to find that there are others who are inspired and following in our footsteps as a result. Some call it leading by example; I also propose that we call it being a hero.

Oh, and this guy?  Extraordinary. . . and not part squirrel.

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Want to see the video?  Click here:  For the Heroes: A Pep Talk from Kid President

Walk This Way

The outdoor temperatures are still peaking in the mid-eighties, but the increased traffic, patches of turning leaves, and the thinning school supply sections at Target all announce that the time has come for school bells to ring in Colorado.  Today’s Facebook newsfeed is filled with First Day of School pictures as friends send their little ones off to begin a new year. A strong sense of nostalgia rushes over me as I remember the excitement of selecting an outfit that would coordinate well with my new backpack – a backpack filled to the brim with Lisa Frank folders and a box of freshly sharpened pencils. Today, a part of me would love to travel back to the days when choosing black versus pink saddle shoes seemed to be the weightiest decision of the day. As the years pass by, decisions about shoes fade to decisions about which career to pursue and how to plan for retirement. The day-to-day choices of what to eat and what to wear become routine under the weight of managing finances and rearing children.

I cannot speak for you, but this last month the Jarrett home has been jam-packed. With a few last workouts before this year’s triathlon, scraping to find time to study for last week’s SHELF exam, family birthdays, two weddings, the demise of one of our vehicles, and major decision making as our lease term is coming to an end, it was a month filled with both excitement and stress. Looking ahead to what the next few years may hold for us seem like more than I feel equipped to manage when compared to what we experienced in the last four weeks.

A few weeks ago, my attention was directed to a verse in Proverbs that simply states:

“The prudent understand where they are going,

but fools deceive themselves.” (Proverbs 14:8, NLT)

While the meaning of this bit of wisdom draws no connection to the message of the song, I suddenly imagined Steven Tyler belting out the lyrics “Walk this way!” as I contemplated what it means to be prudent. I want to walk the path of wisdom and not be misled by trusting my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). I may not always choose perfectly, or be armed with enough information to rest in my own knowledge, but I hope that my choices reflect sound judgment, diligent research, a careful handling of the Word, and every ounce of faith I posses.

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In my youth, the importance of wisdom in decision making was woven through the fabric of my parents’ guidance. Today, I want to let that fabric fall between my fingers as I hold it outstretched before the Lord – praying that He would increase my understanding so that one day I would wear a garment of wisdom that would be with me in all things. I want my decisions to move from which outfit would serve me best on the first day of school, to which roads to travel. I want to take each step with drapes of wisdom hanging over my shoulders, outweighing any anxiety that life may bring.