Tuesday, October 14, 2014

ALLOWING ME {Day 14} Giving up struggle...

Oct 14…Already?

I have been reading posts from other 31 Days writers and found a similar story. For those of us who don’t write ahead, some days slip away. For me, there are blocks I can’t seem to get past on certain days.

But, here I am…back to ALLOWING myself to give up.

This morning, as I rush to do nine things before I need to be out the door - and one of them is be creative – I am reminded that it is okay to give up struggling and trying so hard.

It is.

I am not suggesting laziness. Or unwillingness to push through. Or lack of commitment.

I am certainly not suggesting we quit every time something is challenging.

I think you know what I mean, don’t you?

Do you struggle with things…To quit smoking? To get your partner to quit smoking? To lose weight? To find a new job? To do what everyone else identifies as the most important tasks? To make peace in a quarreling family?

To runkidsbakecookiescleanthehousemkesurehomeworkisdonebuygroceriesfeedthedog…then stare at the ceiling and wonder why you can’t sleep and feel bad for not doing your devotional or writing a blog.

Do you struggle with ALLOWING yourself to stop doing and just BE?

I surely do. I am rarely still. Rarely doing less than two things.

If you have been following this blog, you know one of the results is the lack of a daily post.

But the results go much deeper. On days there is no post, it means I never took time to ALLOW thoughts to simply flow. Didn’t take five minutes to relax – because if I had, the thoughts would flow freely. Couldn’t stop doing/trying/pushing long enough to breathe.

Do you ever think about how struggle affects you?

I have been dealing with some big challenges for much longer than I anticipated. Some days I simply want a task that has a beginning and an end. I want to feel like SOMETHING got done.

Do you know what I mean? I think you do.

Here is a song from one of my favorite artists that speaks to this:

And this:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)

I am heading to the sauna to be quiet, maybe read, hopefully listen.

Since I have some catching up to do, we will talk later…


I am participating in a 31 Day blog challenge. My topic is Allowing Me… You can see preceding days below this blog. You can see other bloggers here.

Beth Painter is, among many other things, a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.
Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life! 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

ALLOWING ME {Day 11} Remembering part of who I am...

Today I am ALLOWING myself to take a break from the planned blog and remember a bit of who I am.

This is stuck in my brain…Oct 11, 1972.  In the fifth and deciding game of the NLCS at Riverfront Stadium, George Foster scores the winning run from third base in the bottom of the ninth on a wild pitch thrown by Bob Moose, giving the Reds a dramatic 4-3 walk-off victory over the Pirates. Earlier in the inning, Johnny Bench hit a home run off Dave Giusti to tie the score. (nationalpastime.com)

It was a Wednesday afternoon game. I grabbed my ball glove and tennis ball, ran out the back door, and cried and slammed that ball off a wall behind my house until I couldn’t throw or cry anymore.

My grandmother loved the Pirates. I can see her sitting on the front porch with iced tea, a pack of Kools and a transistor radio, complaining that Bob Prince talked too much. She passed that love on to my mom, who passed it on to me.

This is stuck in my heart…Thursday, Oct 11, 1984. I had been living with my Grandmother for several months, caring for her after a stroke and diagnosis of congestive heart failure.

The day before would have been my grandfather’s 82nd birthday. He had been gone 31 years. We had talked briefly about him.

Thursday was one of my days off. Grandma surprised me with a grocery list. Ingredients for city chicken, mashed potatoes, apple pie – Grandpa’s yearly birthday dinner. While I was shopping, she called a few family members to invite them. Grandma made most of the dinner herself. She seemed to be in better spirits and healthier than she had for months. We had dinner and ate the whole pie. A good day and evening for all of us.

Friday, Oct 12…Grandma smiled and greeted me on my way to the shower. 

As soon as I stepped out of the shower, I heard it. When fluid was building, Grandma made a distinct noise like a hiccup. I threw on a robe and ran for the phone.

She told me not to call the ambulance.

I called my aunt who lived across the street. She called the ambulance then ran to us.

24 hours before, she was planning dinner.

12 hours before we were eating pie.

At that moment, I held Grandma’s hand as she went to be with Jesus…and Grandpa.

Tomorrow it will be 30 years since that day. I learned so much from Grandma while she was here. I still miss being able to sit with her, eat her pie, watch the Pirates with her.

Since she left this earth, she has taught me something else…people don’t go away entirely. I can’t touch her face, but I see it in my mind. I hear her voice. I feel her talking to me. Sometimes I sense her presence so strongly.

Mortal bodies have an expiration date. Souls are for eternity. I know it. I feel it. I feel the love and encouragement of people who have moved on.

It helps make me who I am.

Sometimes it is good to ALLOW myself to stop and acknowledge that.

How about you? Do you need to take a moment to remember?

We will talk again tomorrow,


I am participating in a 31 Day blog challenge. My topic is Allowing Me… You can see preceding days below this blog. You can see other bloggers here.

Beth Painter is, among many other things, a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.
Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life! 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

ALLOWING ME {Day 9 Redux} I GIVE UP...again

It’s still Day 9….long day. But I am still thinking about giving up.

First, I need to clarify something. I am not being flippant when I use the phrase “giving up.” Depression and I have waged many battles, and I know how it feels to want to give up truly and completely. If you are there right now, please know that I can empathize with your feelings.

One of the weapons depression brings is telling me I am responsible for making other people feel better. I’m not talking about being rude or uncaring. I am talking about being a pleaser.

Certainly we all have people to whom we are responsible. Partners, children, parents, friends, family. But that isn’t what I mean either.

Sometimes we attempt to please people for unhealthy reasons. Lack of self-esteem, fear, learned habits, an unnatural feeling of responsibility.

There are a hundred scenarios…but if you allow yourself to be a pleaser, read this truth:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
(Psalm 139)

The Creator of universe also created me. From the beginning of time, there was a plan for my life. A plan that maximizes my gifts, that expands the world, that is meant only for my good and the glory of the Creator.

Same for your life.
Do you have trouble believing that?

How about these words:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you…” (Jer 1)

It is my determined intent to give up trying to make people happy at the expense of knowing and honoring who I am and the purpose God has for me.

I don’t mean to imply my life is bad. But I do this. 
Sometimes I do not ALLOW myself to say NO.
Sometimes I do not ALLOW myself to rest.
Sometimes I do not ALLOW myself to listen to my heart/head.

How about you? Any place in your life you would do well to give up the tendency to be a pleaser in such a way that it stifles who you are?

My determined intent…meaning it won’t happen overnight.
My determined intent…meaning I will still wrestle with guilt at times.
My determined intent to be who God created me to be – loving, kind, caring, helpful all the while.
My determined intent to give up being anything outside of the person the Creator of the universe sees in me.

We will talk about giving up again tomorrow… so much more good stuff!

See you then,


I am participating in a 31 Day blog challenge. My topic is Allowing Me… You can see preceding days below this blog. You can see other bloggers here.

Beth Painter is, among many other things, a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.
Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life! 


It is Day 9. 
I have already missed three days, for which I am beating myself about the head.

This day looked full from the time my feet hit the floor. I couldn't see a way to meet all my requirements. Frustration about being behind in more than one part of my lifemounted. In my quiet time this morning, I said to God, “I GIVE UP!”

He said, “Okay. Good,” but I was busy ranting.

I said, “I can’t do this anymore!”

He said, “Okay. I knew that,” but I was busy ranting.

I said, “What is it You want me to do??”

He said, “Give up,” which stopped my ranting. I sat quietly. I put in a new spiritual teaching CD I have. I listened. I read my devotional and listened.

And I am here to make the declaration that it is my dominant intent to give up.

This will take more than one blog post to dissect. I hope you will stick with me.

A few words sent me over the edge…

Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28)

So I just give up….

I give up attempting to control the uncontrollable. If numerous things don’t rush into your head, you must live in a universe parallel to mine. 
For the most part, that’s everyone and everything who isn’t me. I can’t control any of it. I can’t control any of it. I can’t control any of it…

I give up struggling so much. There is no point in rowing upstream. 
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I come that they might have life and have it in abundance” (John 10.10)
Abundance is downstream. Well-being is downstream. 
At the very least, I could sit sideways…but rowing upstream is futile and steals my energy. Instead, I fuss and fume and worry and get myself all balled up. Then I cry or yell or both.

I give up.
It isn’t a way to live. It isn’t what was intended for any of us.

I give up.

How about you? Either of these a challenge for you? Do you need to give up too?

I have a couple more tasks and am going to focus on these two areas for a couple hours.

Maybe we will disucss more before I sleep.

Talk to you later,


I am participating in a 31 Day blog challenge. My topic is Allowing Me… You can see preceding days below this blog. You can see other bloggers here.

Beth Painter is, among many other things, a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.
Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

ALLOWING me {Day 6} Be Still...AGAIN?

I’ve been struggling with these blogs.
I know, I KNOW – it’s only October 6, so I have 25 days to go.

My challenge is the topic of ALLOWING is huge and important. I want to get it right every day.

Ironic, isn’t it…I want so much to get it RIGHT that I don’t ALLOW the words to simply come out.


I watched Joel Osteen today. Psalm 46:10 was referenced in his sermon as well.
Be still…I can’t seem to escape the concept.

And ALLOW…Joel said it numerous times.

Here’s what jumped at me…
25% don’t like me and never will; 25% don’t like me but could be easily persuaded; 25% like me but could be easily dissuaded; 25% like me and will stand firmly by me.


And then these words:

Don’t waste time trying to win over people who aren’t for you. Be still...

Don’t waste energy trying to get people to understand me. Be still...

Don’t waste time trying to prove yourself to people. Be still...

Run your race, focus on your goals, put up your walls and don’t let the mudslingers bother you. Be still...

Joel has a way of getting better pumped up. 15,000 people in the Compaq Center were nodding, shouting out, clapping, along with one person in Butler.

It sounds like such a relief, doesn’t it? Don’t let the 75% bother me. 
Don’t give away my power. 
Don’t allow anyone who doesn’t like me, doesn’t support me, distract me from my goals.

Some folks seem to do this easily.

Are you one of those folks? I am…sometimes.

But sometimes I ALLOW poison in. I ALLOW myself to be distracted by negative emotions. I ALLOW time to be wasted on “proving” battles.  I waste energy being aggravated by silly life things – a line at the grocery store, a slow driver, a person who wants to tell me a 10 minute story when I really just want to short version.

Sometimes people and their unproductive emotions come against me and Be Still seems a hundred miles away.

How about you?

The subject of ALLOWING cloudbursts to dampen my day is important and worthy of more than one day. So we will come back to it.

Until then, you can laugh with me and/or ponder this crazy question I heard yesterday…Why do bad things happen when I am already in a bad mood???

Oh yes, ALLOWING is a large topic.

We will talk again tomorrow.

Right now, I am off to Be Still...


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Allowing Me {Day 5} Two Challenging Words

Sometimes I am simply handed a message.
Today it came through The Rev. Dr. Eric Park, my dear friend and pastor.

Be still…no matter the present circumstance.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
the amazing things He has done on the earth…
God says, “Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46)

I don’t always ALLOW that.

Especially when I am waiting for God to do the amazing thing I want or need.

Be still.

Can you identify?

Shabbat. The Hebrew derivative of “Sabbath.” Be still.

Let it sink in and roll around…think about where these words might apply. Listen for the nudge.

Be still.

We will talk tomorrow.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Allowing Me {Day 3} The Silly Toad Hunter...

It’s Friday. For this adjunct college English instructor, that means grade day.

And the grading website is timing out erratically.

And I have only slept four hours each of the last two nights.

And, oh yeah…this just happened…

My nine year old Westie got in touch with her ancestral roots this summer and became a hunter. Birds and rabbits amuse her.  But toads are her real joy.

My neighbors are treated to a nightly routine of Tori outside for the final time, and me following her around the yard saying, “Go potty. NO TOADS! Go potty. NO TOADS!” 
It’s delightful.

While I was focusing on grades tonight, she was outside on a mission. The dog who obediently stays out of flower beds all summer has now trampled many of them down as she sniffs and searches.

She was dirty and stinky. I was fighting with a wonky grading website and facing an unwritten blog, which was mapped out in my head but not on paper at all.

Sometimes Allowing means letting myself  BE something.

Sometimes Allowing means letting myself BE FREE of something.

Tonight this had to happen…

..which means my blog is about how it’s okay to not have a planned out, edited, masterpiece of a blog…or a meal…or a clean house…or a snack for work…or an empty dishwasher…or or or…

Sometimes I must Allow myself that freedom. 

How about you?
No? Just me?

We will talk tomorrow. More intentionally, I hope!
For tonight, the grades are done and the dog is clean.


I am participating in a 31 Day blog challenge. My topic is Allowing Me… You can see preceding days below this blog. You can see other bloggers here.

Beth Painter is, among many other things, a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.
Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life! 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Allowing Me {Day 2} Who Am I Anyway?

Part of the music serenading my first two years of college was the soundtrack from “A Chorus Line.” Two of my best friends/neighbors had seen the Broadway show and identified with different characters. The story revolves around auditions for a dance troupe. At one point, the troupe leader asks each dancer to give an introduction, and we see the joys and pains and struggles of these 17 dancers who so much want a spot.

One portion of one song comes immediately to mind for me…from “Paul” as he waits to audition:
Who am I anyway? Am I my resume?
That is a picture of a person I don’t know.
What does he want from me? What should I try to be?

Those words resonate with me, because I spent a great deal of my life asking them. What does he want? What does she want? Who do they expect me to be? What will make him/her happy?
And which voice do I allow to be the dominant one?

Years of trying to answer those questions leads to this one: Who am I anyway?

Then, at the right time, come these words from John 10:17…  My sheep recognize My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

The voice of the One who created universes and created me is the same voice. The Source of my very being is alive and active and willing to speak, wanting to speak to me. The Creator of all things knows the path that brings well-being and success and blessing…and wants me to know it too.

I don’t always allow it.

I choose the path of greatest resistance.

How about you?

Do you need to relax and breathe and allow the voice of the One who knows you and loves you best speak to your heart?

We can work on it together.

I’ll see you tomorrow for Day 3 and we will talk more about this…


I am participating in a 31 Day blog challenge. My topic is Allowing Me… You can see preceding days below this blog. You can see other bloggers here.

Beth Painter is, among many other things, a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.
Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Allowing me. {Day 1} A missing fedora...and the spirit that matched

This child in this picture is missing.

Before you become alarmed, let me rephrase. The spirit of the child in this picture is missing.

If you have followed this blog for any time, you may remember the story of Rocco and his fedora*. I am still looking for a fedora. Just can’t find the right one. And sometimes the voice in my head says the notion is silly.

As I looked through a box of pictures recently, this one made me catch my breath. The fedora, the oxford with white socks, the crooked smile…it is so me. Except, not always, anymore.

Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever look at a picture of the pre-10 year old you and wonder where that spirit and smile have gone?

Maybe it’s just me…

I have no recollection of that hat or those shoes. I’ve always liked hats, but often feel goofy in them. And I am a fan of white sox with a white shirt, even though people make fun of me.

Is that a coincidence? No. There are no coincidences. Ever.

The child in the picture is me.
Is the person in the mirror me? Is it you?

The world infiltrates, doesn’t it? It tells us we look silly in hats and white socks are goofy and girls don’t ___ and boys don’t ____ and “we” can’t/won’t/never have/never will. And we listen, because we are kids and grown-ups know everything.

Then we grow-up and realize that isn’t true…but sometimes it isn’t easy to un-learn.

Have you found that to be true?

Maybe it’s just me…

I am participating in the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge. Pick a topic, write a blog, every day in October.

My topic is me…and you…and who we came to the earth to be.

As a Christian, I have been taught and fully believe that the Creator if the universe has a plan for me. It was in place long before I came to this earth. L-O-N-G before. And while there may be aspects of doing to the plan, I think it has far more to do with being.  

Often, we listen to people tell us who we are, and we stop allowing ourselves to be, well, ourselves. I don’t mean in a crazy, law-breaking, selfish, irresponsible way. But we listen to expectations. We listen to what other people think we are, should be, should do…and it isn’t always authentic for us.

There is a path, a stream for each of us. I don’t think we can ever really get off, but we sure can get tangled up, turned around, headed upstream.

My intention is to look at that in the next 31 Days.

I hope you will join me…and the girl in the fedora and oxfords with white socks.

See you tomorrow…

* http://thinkbigfocussmall.blogspot.com/2014/02/being-like-rocco-and-other-high-goals.html

Beth Painter is, among many other things, a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.
Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

#RobinWilliams and how we talk about the bear...

#RobinWilliams is trending tonight. It will probably be the last time.

It isn’t necessary to recount his genius. Surely any resident of a country with televisions or movie theaters has, in the last 35 years, laughed at Mork or Mrs. Doubtfire, or been moved in other ways by Patch Adams, Sean Maguire, John Keating or Adrian Cronauer.

“Shocked” is a word being used often on social media. Really? I’m shocked that people are shocked. Mr. Williams always seemed very manic and his bouts with depression had been reported in the past.

And I am shocked that in 2014, with all the resources available, people know so little about mental illness or depression or suicide. Shocked that people still say things like, “That is so selfish,” or “Why didn’t he think of his family?”

I respectfully submit that if you asked either of these questions tonight about Robin Williams, you don’t understand depression or mental illness.

This is not an attempt to analyze Mr. Williams or to be morose, but a plea for more understanding of a large and common problem.

Some of the most wonderful, caring, talented people I know suffer bouts of depression. It is frustrating for them. It is challenging for their loved ones.  

It isn’t a Hollywood thing or a selfish thing or a weakness thing. It’s a human thing that takes 40,000 lives in the US every year.

My eighth grade Geography teacher had the same response every time a student complained about a test question or the pop quiz we were about to take...
“Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you”

Each of us has a bear. Your bear might not be named Depression, but you have one.

Ask yourself this – do you feel awkward when a coworker says h/she is going to Weight Watchers or having gastric bypass? How about if a friend discusses AA meetings? Or discloses a gambling problem? No, we support these folks – and rightfully so. Television is filled with them. Hoorah for their victory.

Now think about the last time someone in your office talked about going to a therapist or psychiatrist?  The last time a friend opened dinner conversation by announcing a diagnosis of mental illness in the family? Awkward, right?

We are a society immersed in discussion about obesity, cancer, diabetes, physical disease after physical disease. We act like we just can’t help ourselves, like these conditions are thrust on us.

When James Gandolfini died, did anyone accuse him of being selfish and not considering his family or his vast talent before he ate himself into a heart attack at 51? No, we called it “natural causes.”

But mental illness? It makes us uncomfortable. It’s a weakness or the people are, well, crazy. If you were applying for a job, would you feel free to disclose an illness requiring psychological help? I’m guessing most of us wouldn’t. 

And Robin Williams? His suicide causes us to use phrases such as, “how selfish” and “what a waste” and “why didn’t he get help?”

He did get help. Unfortunately, on this day, the bear was bigger and meaner.

Yes, suicide is a choice. But it isn’t a choice like pie or cake. Or even a choice like exercise or be a slug.

It is a choice made in the bottom of a pit with more pressure weighing down and more darkness than a person can tolerate for one more second. I’m guessing Mr. Williams was not cavalier and uncaring, but so ripped apart that nothing besides giving up seemed possible.

That doesn’t make it right – just real.

I know people tonight who can honestly say they have never given one second of thought to a decision like that. Good for them.

I know people tonight who can honestly say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Really good for them.  

Suicide isn’t a good choice. It is irreversible and painful in a hundred ways.  It doesn’t make sense.

Neither does eating an average of 152 pounds of sugar per American per year.
Think about how different those two dialogues are.

Imagine if there were ways we could help beat back the bear. Imagine if we began talking about mental illness and depression as freely as we discuss overeating and smoking and substance abuse and cancer. Imagine how many people might feel like they are not alone. Imagine if we stop looking at suicide as a selfish act by weak, crazy people who don’t care, thereby alienating anyone who has ever had a suicidal thought.

I am not naïve or foolish. Mental illness is a large and powerful bear, and sometimes it wins.

But our social dialogue doesn’t help. Imagine if we started to change that.

RIP, Robin Williams.


Beth Painter is, among many other things, a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.

Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Oceans, toppled boogie boards, and not driving...

Monday, August 4, 11:30 AM

I should be on Route 19 somewhere in West Virginia right now.

Months ago I decided this day would be spent traveling to Topsail Beach, NC. Some of my favorite people in the world are vacationing there. Sharing a few days with them would have been a great gift.

Being at the beach revives me. Humbles me. Inspires me. Relaxes me. Recharges my batteries. I enjoy walks in the early morning and at sunset. I bask in the sun on my skin, the sound and smell of the water, the sand between my toes. What is better than coming in from an afternoon at the water, taking a shower, then spreading out on the bed while the ceiling fan drops cool air?

I should be en route right now. Life had other plans, as it has for some time now.

Even when I haven’t seen the ocean for years, images of it, emotions surrounding it are easily brought to mind.  Sometimes I think of small waves breaking around my ankles as I stroll the beach. Or splashing with the kids. Or finding the perfect shell.

Other times – today – life feels like the ocean at its fiercest. Loud, choppy, difficult to navigate. I think about a time I was boogie boarding at Hilton Head Island. I respect the power of water. I stay alert to where I am, where the current is going, what is around me. I had just settled on a nice wave and was heading toward shore when another wave suddenly popped up, crossed mine and tossed me and the board.

Sometimes life feels like that, doesn’t it?

I was gauging the waves. Didn’t go out too far. Was aware of my limits. Even still, I was suddenly submerged, unsure of which way “up” was, then finally reaching the surface, grasping for my board and seeing the hat I was wearing going in the opposite direction.

I feel like that today. Nothing has “snuck up” on me. But what I thought for sure would have changed, hasn’t. The effects on that lack of resolution seem to be compounding. My board has been struck by a cross wave. I am confused about which way is “up” and things I treasure seem to be floating in many directions away from me. Resolution has been promised and promised and promised, but nothing has changed. The ocean I envision today could swallow me in an instant.

Accounts of people who have nearly drowned, but been rescued after losing consciousness, indicate that drowning gives the same sensation as a runner’s high. At some point, the body is so oxygen-deprived and full of endorphins that it shifts into a euphoric state.  The desire to fight slips away into what feels like blankets of peace.

I have, thankfully, never been close enough to drowning to confirm or deny those accounts.
But, maybe you are like me…maybe life’s waves are sometimes so overwhelming and you feel like you can’t breathe and “up” seems to be out of sight and precious parts of life are being carried away on the current and peace – in whatever form – would be welcome.

Are you like me? Do you ever feel that way? Maybe today?

Then a song comes to mind. Those who know me well say, “Of course there is a song!”

I will call upon Your name and keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace, for I am Yours and You are mine*

Sometimes I hear a song I love and say UGH.
UGH because calling out and keeping my eyes up require energy I don’t feel is available.
UGH because I am SO WEARY of oceans rising.
UGH because resting in anyone’s embrace, even the Creator’s, requires surrender.

Do you ever feel that way? Maybe it’s just me…

I turn off the song. That will work, right? Wrong. The bridge won’t go away. Over and over and over until I sing it out loud without even realizing.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the water wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior*

If your ocean is sunny and little waves lap at your toes and kids are giggling around you, sing your heart out and be grateful.

Maybe your ocean is like mine today and singing those words makes water pop out of your eyes.

I should be en route to the beach. But I’m not. Maybe you feel the same way.

I don’t have a trite answer for either of us.
I know God is good. I know He has a plan. I know I’d like to see the sun right now. I also know it is still shining.

We will talk again soon.
Until then, I would love to hear your thoughts…

Beth Painter is, among many other things, a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.

Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life!

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ga3DmPRPAQQ

Friday, August 1, 2014

A day on the Ohio River and higher thoughts than mine...

We took the boat on the Ohio River for our most recent outing. No big deal, right? Can’t be much different than the Allegheny or Monongahela, which are the usual paths.

For those unfamiliar with Western Pennsylvania, the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet in Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River. The confluence of these three rivers - The Point- is both an important site for barge traffic and a lovely attraction for water lovers.

Having chosen a launch point directly across from where the Beaver River joins the Ohio, approximately 25 miles from the Point, we packed a great lunch and set off. The weather was lovely, the river looked calm, and there was little traffic. It seemed like a great day for the novice boater - me - to get some driving and docking experience.

We headed toward the city, knowing the pool would end in ten miles at the Sewickley lock, but eager for sights we had not seen from the water. Immediately, I was surprised by the width and depth of the Ohio River. I have driven along and across the Ohio, so it seemed silly to be startled by what is, after all, two rivers combined. But looking at the river and being on the river are very different experiences.

While the weather conditions were ideal, the water was choppy…no, CHOPPY!  I quickly learned two lessons: the bumpiness of going upstream is directly proportional to the breadth and depth and being at the helm makes turbulence more evident.

The journey was fine. We had no trouble, just a bit of discomfort at times, but were happy to reach the lock and turn around. Heading the other way, the river was the same, but seemed much calmer. The scenery was the same, but the driver had much more opportunity to enjoy it.

So a leisurely boat ride becomes a story of life.
At least my life…maybe yours too?

I have been thinking about rounding that bend on the Allegheny when the Ohio comes into view…about how much fun it is to have a passenger for whom this view is new.

I have been thinking about how the perspective changes when traveling a distance on this bigger, swifter river, rather than passing briefly through it on the way to the Monongahela.

I have been thinking about how life expands in the same way – sometimes unexpectedly. A gentle ride becomes deeper, faster, potentially choppier in a flash.
The boat tosses…and sometimes I toss with it.
Maybe that has never happened to you?

I have been thinking about the incredible difference between upstream and downstream.

There are necessary journeys in this life, pools of water we must travel. Sometimes, it seems the path is absolutely upstream with no way around that.
It’s certainly true that if your boat launch is in Cincinnati and you want to go to Pittsburgh, upstream is the only way.
I have been thinking about my proclivity to make journeys upstream when they don’t need to be.
Maybe you don’t do that?

I have been about the nature and character of God, and about my faith. Do I believe that all things work together for good[1]? Do I believe suffering produces patience which produces character which produces hope that never fails[2]? Do I believe it is even possible to count all my troubles as joy[3]?
Do I?
Do you?

It has taken many years and many heartaches and much surrender to learn this: Everything I want, everything good is downstream. By design.

I don’t believe God is a cruel captain who forces us to travel upstream. I believe He is more of a white water guide. The way is not smooth. There are lots of rocks. Big ones. Dangerous ones. And whirlpools and fast currents.  The vessel is a two-person kayak. Me and God. It works best if he leads and I listen for direction. Our path is downstream.

You might argue and say I don’t know your journey. You’re right. But I know mine.

You might say you have made many journeys fighting the current. I know. I have too.

You might not like it when I say it was my choice, and probably yours as well.
You might scream, “How HOW HOW was it my choice??”

Hear these words from Isaiah 55:
The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways.
 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Rain and snow fall from the sky and don’t return without watering the ground.
They cause the plants to sprout and grow, making seeds for the farmer and bread for the people.
The same thing is true of the words I speak. They will not return to me empty.
They make the things happen that I want to happen, and they succeed in doing what I send them to do.

Is there anything about those words that sounds “upstream”?

Everything I want, everything good is downstream. Everything.

But God will let me go upstream. He will let me turn the boat around and paddle in futility. He allow me to furiously paddle in one direction until I am spinning in place.

His ways are downstream. Not always smooth. But always downstream.

His thoughts point downstream. Not without storms and tears. But always downstream.

I can choose for my ways and thoughts to be aligned with His or to be upstream. My choice.

I have been making a new habit of thinking about what I am thinking about and asking myself, “Upstream or downstream?”
It might sound odd, but let it roll round in your head for a bit. 
Picture a river with rapids. Then examine your thoughts. Upstream or downstream?
And know this – everything you want is downstream.

We will talk more about this soon.
In the meantime, I would be honored to hear your thoughts.


[1] Romans 8:28
[2] Romans 5:3-5
[3] James 1:2

Beth Painter is, among many other things, a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.

Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life!