The illustrative text of Isaiah 55 paints a picture of God – a God who satisfies, a God who is present, a God who ways are far greater than our own, a God who fulfills his promises, and a God who transforms the struggles of life into his perfect work. Something about this passage is refreshing. Every time I read it, it satisfies my soul!
Toward the end of the passage, it speaks of the ‘thorn bush’ and the ‘nettle.’ NETTLE? Thanks to Google, I’ve added something new to my knowledge base today.
net•tle (n.) : a tall plant that has leaves with hairs that sting you if you touch them
It can be used as an herb for cooking, but get too close to one of these on a hike and a sharp pain at your ankle will let you know you have crossed one in your path.
The thorn bush piece triggers a more familiar image in my mind. Void of blossoms or leaves, even the sight of it makes you want to take a different course.
Inasmuch as the growth of good things can bring unspeakable joy, the metastasis of cancer, the growing distance between two people in a broken relationship, and even the stress of life can seem to choke out the areas where we would like to flourish. In this world, we are guaranteed to encounter struggles and pain – sometimes more than we think we can bear. Following Christ does not make one exempt from these challenges, but it does set us apart to live eternally with Him.
So, “Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up. . .”
“And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up. . .”
“And it will be a memorial to the LORD, For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Continue to press on, knowing that even the thorn bush and the nettle will be replaced by something everlasting – something that will bring glory to His name!
This afternoon, I had the pleasure of going to lunch with three of my ROCKSTAR coworkers (and Baby Brauni). I asked each of them to send me an original quote that related in some way, shape, or form to Growth. I let Brauni off the hook this time. Here’s what the Peanut Gallery had to say:
“I do not believe that personal growth is necessarily about change. It’s about fully accepting the person you currently are right now including all your quirks and flaws.” – Briahna
“Find the right people, put them in the right positions, and invest in their personal growth. The result is growth of your business.” – Ted
“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t want to be.” – Danielle
Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on Growth with the readers of this page!
Comparison is the thief of joy. The number on the scale never leaves us satisfied. We take leaps of faith and get a few bumps and bruises along the way. Our best effort results in a less-than-desired score.
When the initial outcome of our adventure of growth seems to point to failure, it is easy to become discouraged, lacking the motivation to press on.
We would be terribly disappointed if every seed that was sown in Springtime was expected to blossom in a few short weeks. Plant a Zinnia and an impatient gardener will be pleased to find blossoms in seven short weeks. An Autumn Gold pumpkin, on the other hand, is not ready to harvest until 100 to 120 days! In both plants, cells are dividing and the roots are diving deeper into the soil. The exposed portion of the plant only tells part of the story!
If the Lord is leading you to grow and the blossoms have yet to bloom, take heart and know that He is faithful! Take great care as you measure progress and be patient if what is happening on the surface does not adequately tell the story that is happening inside of you! He was faithful to the children of Israel as He is today. As He commanded them in Joshua 1, these words remain true: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
In the chaos of this weekend, I discovered a new appreciation for the amount of work it requires to publish a daily blog. With two posts on the books for this month, I imagined I could easily find time to type out something new for the remaining twenty nine days.
Twenty six hours of my weekend were devoted to moving our belongings from Point A to Point B. The distance between the two points being 19.3 miles. Thanks to an incredible amount of help from family and friends, I still managed to catch some Z’s, run a 5k with my dear friend, and enjoy a casual date night with the hubs. All the while, I remained cool, calm, and collected. THANK YOU to our community. You guys ROCK.
While there was plenty of time to knock out 90% of our move and still savor the downtime, logging on to publish a blog seemed to be an impossibility. This is what makes Write 31 Days a true challenge. Even today, I find myself longing for an afternoon siesta or another caffeine rich beverage, rather than searching for words that to expound on the idea of Growth. In the middle of my sleepy state, I stumbled upon the following quote from Calvin Coolridge (30th U.S. President):
I find this quote to be particularly inspiring, not because it broadcasts a message that is ground-breaking, but because it boldly declares the obvious. It is a reality that we often want to escape, especially when we are tired. I am not a proponent of pushing to the point of burnout, but I do know that growth happens when we push our limits. Muscular hypertrophy (growth) does not happen unless there are increased demands placed on the muscle. In the most simple terms: Increased Demand = Increased Size. The same principle applies to intellectual growth, or habits we intend to form. If our daily existence requires little effort, we are missing out on opportunities to grow.
When I overlay the words of President Coolridge on this particular challenge to publish a post each day, I am acutely aware of the amount of effort that may be required, especially when the demands placed on my time and energy are high. Each day may not be as easy as the one before, but I know that there is potential to become a stronger writer by placing an increased demand on my “writing muscle.” (I believe the Latin name is Scriptus Maximus.)
What “muscles” could use a little hypertrophy (growth) in your life this week? Write them down. Make them plain. Go do some heavy lifting.
When PBS airs new episodes, every Sunday night is Downton Abbey night at the Jarrett home. Our dear friends introduced us to the series shortly after exchanging vows (we were married within two weeks of each other). We treasured our time together as we shared a meal and took in the drama of Lord Grantham’s household.
Something about the early Twentieth Century is so romantic. From the complex melodies of classical pieces, to the way to the jazz came on the scene in roaring twenties, the music of the day created a timeless soundtrack as people lived out their lives together. Almost as much as I am fascinated by the music of this time period, I have always been drawn to the afternoon tea time. The art of taking tea served as the perfect opportunity to pause the duties of the day and spend quality time with others.
In the hustle of our present day, there are projects to be completed, kids to shuttle, meetings to attend, and time cards to punch. It is no wonder that we so easily lose sight of personal connection. Conversations facilitated by social media and brief text messages barely sustain our relationships. These same connections have the potential to hold so much more weight – to be deeper and more meaningful than we allow them to be. In order to achieve richness in our relationships, we need to make space for growth.
When Jesus walked the earth, he made a very plain statement about our personal testimony – the proof that he has radically transformed our lives: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35, ESV) This is the kind of love that is fostered when we break bread, road trip, pray for divine intervention, climb mountains, drink coffee, sing praises, cry tears, share truth, move boxes, fish rivers, walk city streets, and discuss difficult topics. . . together. We are not called to do life in a vacuum. We absolutely need one another. We need strength in times of weakness, cheers roaring from the front row, comforting words when we have none, and wisdom when seeking direction. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15, ESV) This. This is where relationships are fortified and the fruit becomes evident to all who are present. May the next thirty days be marked by our growing love for one another, that the adventure of life would be shared!
Myquillyn Smith is the genius behind The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful, a blogger who captures the art of what it means to create fabulous living spaces, and she has a pretty rockin’ first name. Each October, she invites women to take place in a 31-day challenge to publish a blog every day on a topic of their choosing.
Last November, I established Unwritten Adventure: Exchanging Asthenes for Dunumai after a year-long break from blogging. Publishing blogs on a regular basis might seem to be an easy feat from the outside looking in. How difficult could it possibly be to pound keys for a few minutes and click a link to give it a permanent place to live in the online world? Allow me this moment to reassure you: it’s not always easy. Writing can be an extremely personal work, especially when one is passionate about the topic. Take that personal work and publish it to an unseen audience and the writer is instantaneously vulnerable. I meet ladies all the time who express their love for writing and I encourage them to start their own blog, but few ever do. Today, I challenge anyone who has ever considered the idea of developing their voice and laying the foundation for their platform, to join 31 Days 2014.
For the entire month of October, I am devoting my personal efforts to publish posts that relate to Growth. There is no roadmap and I choose to forgo an outline or even a list of potential ideas. Instead, this will be a series of posts that will likely range from a simple quote to hundreds of words. Each will be indicative of the time I am able to devote or the level of enthusiasm I posses. With that said, I make no promises with regard to how inspired you might feel after reading through each day. I do hope that as I write with an emphasis on Growth, that both you and I experience new ways to kick down the walls of our comfort zones, dive deeper into who we are created to be, and savor every moment of this gorgeous autumnal month. So here we are, at Day One – a place to start, to turn to a fresh page and chronicle this unwritten adventure of GROWTH!
The last time I put pen to paper, or fingers to keys, to be more precise, Colorado was sitting on the edge of Summer, ready to take the leap into Fall. And leap, it did. I pulled in our sprawling tomato plants and harvested a few of our red ripe strawberries in preparation for last night’s freeze. After settling into my desk this morning, I glanced outside from time to time to watch the snowflakes falling against the green of the tree just beyond the window. Snow, yes snow, fell on our great state in the early days of September!
Something about days like today make moving from the comfort of warm sheets seem downright impossible when there is a chill in the air. Almost as difficult as climbing out of bed this morning, has been my quest to track down the energy and excitement I had in my possession in early June, when I made the commitment to become a LifePlan Facilitator. From listening to Seth Godin’s Start Up School while I trained on a spin bike, to making lunchtime runs to Office Depot for supplies, I was hot when I came out of the gate. My guns were blazin’.
Fast forward eleven weeks and I’m slacking on my Sunday night planning (to gear up for the upcoming week), not a single word has been added to the pages of my journal for far too long, and my workouts have been less than impressive. What I do NOT intend to communicate here, is the idea that productivity is a metric that should be used to define our worth, or that there are times we should devote to rest. Who we are is NOT what we do. What I do believe is that who we are should SHINE through what we do! As far as I could tell, the way my life was being lived out from moment to moment was not a reflection of who I am at my core. It was evident that something was out of place. I managed to misplace my moxie.
Thanks to the Facebook post of a friend, I ran across an article that outlines five quotes from Mark Cuban. One that particularly stood out to me:
“Doesn’t matter if the glass is half-empty or half-full. All that matters is that you are the one pouring the water.”
I can choose to survey today as just another Friday, or I can see today as a clean slate: seventeen hours to add a little flair to my wardrobe, smile while emptying the dishwasher, have a dance party on the commute to work (two words: Bang Bang), learn something new about workplace culture, pick up some Pumpkin Spice Trail Mix at lunch for a mountain drive, send an encouraging email, check in with my parents, savor sushi at our favorite local spot, and get a good night’s rest in anticipation for another great day. THIS is the moxie I’m talking about. Moxie doesn’t require sushi nights or fancy hair pins, but it does spark our desire to do what we do with excellence and have fun along the way.
Think energy drinks are a new-fangled beverage of the 2000’s? Fun fact: 100 years before I took my first breath, an energy drink called Moxie stormed the market. True story.
The seasons are changing. Can you feel it? Take one step into the shade of a tree, colored with bits of bright gold, and the outside temperature instantly feels ten degrees cooler. I may be getting ahead of myself with my eager anticipation of pumpkin lattes (pay no attention to the blasphemous articles regarding how horrendous they are and savor one or two this year!), the crunch of leaves under the soles of my running shoes, hanging our Autumn wreath on the front door, and even the possibility of snowfall around Halloween. My intent is not to prematurely bid the Summer of 2014 farewell. We have strawberries and tomatoes that have yet to grow to their full potential and making it home before the sun sets seems to be more conducive to productivity in the evening. This Colorado girl simply gets excited at the thought of changing seasons – or to be more precise, the opportunity to change.
The monotone drone of the mundane is less than appealing and going through the motions is exhausting. By only living to the standard or expectation, we declare that we are satisfied with white bread. Sure, white bread is fine. It’s enriched to provide the consumer with nutrients that are otherwise lost in the process, but it’s a rather boring form of sustenance.
If we allow ourselves to be lulled by the beat of monotony, we begin to trust that change is either too hard or even impossible. We fail to remember that we, ourselves, were once imaginative enough to dream about the crazy careers we would have when we grow up. By living as less than who we are created to be, we tread enough water each day to stay afloat, to keep breathing, and to maintain the status quo. . . but we are worn out and dissatisfied.
We adventure into unknown territory when we crave more than what white bread has to offer. The boundaries of what is expected are overcome with a single leap when we dare to exercise discipline.
Discipline is too often mislabeled as boring and tossed into the white bread category. Its call to reach new heights is drowned out by the noise of fleeting distractions, but heeding this call fuels our progress. If we desire the richness that comes with change, we must be committed. Change is guaranteed when we carve out time to learn something new, invest in relationships, design something beautiful, increase our understanding of the Word, sharpen a skill, heed the wisdom of the older generation, train our bodies, utilize our talents, and immerse ourselves in other cultures.
I hope that the evidence of the changing seasons reminds us that today can begin a season of change for our lives; as we answer the dare to discipline!