Five Minute Friday: Focus

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com
* I realize the spacing is weird. I don’t know why. *
Gentle Reader,

 

Tears in my eyes today.

 

This life of faith? It’s hard.

 

Kate asks us to: focus.

 

Go.

 

Being medically weird plain sucks.

 

Like being a desert and nobody has a map.

 

Blood tests earlier this week. I’m used to the poking and the prodding now. Wasn’t expecting my doctor to tell me that I was completely healed, but I was hoping for progress in that direction. Instead, I got, “Oh, hey, actually everything is a little worse.”

 

Fantastic.

 

Pretty much no improvement across the last year-and-a-half.

 

I had this tumor, an extremely rare side effect of high-estrogen birth control, which I took to address hormonal imbalances. Got rid of the tumor, but that didn’t get rid of the problems. I have Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver disease, which usually arises as the result of “obesity, high cholesterol or Type 2 Diabetes.” Don’t have any of these, and yet the organ is all jacked up and inflamed. I feel nothing but disdain for my liver. It’s stupid.

 

I don’t eat red meat and the meat I do eat is very lean. I’ve limited dairy (but ice cream is a definitely weakness). I go out and take walks as often as the chronic fatigue will let me. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. Yet Janky McJankerstein is all like, “Nope. Not gonna get better.”

 

I want to punch my liver, except that would just make me fall on the floor and cry. A too-tight hug makes me wince.

 

So, yes. I’ve been discouraged for the last 24 hours. Irritated, too. My first question is, “God, how is this fair?” That’s the question we all jump to, isn’t it? I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I don’t eat greasy fast food anymore. I have a desk job, so I make sure to get up and walk around every so often, though I know I need to do more of that. I’m making an effort. I’m trying. And just…nothing. Other people walk around this earth treating their bodies with contempt and it’s all hunky-dory.

 

Bah.

 

Thankfully, He has given me a curious mind. My prayers of frustration and confusion give Him the space to begin shifting my perspective. I feel the slightest bit different today than I did yesterday. Still mopey, but now with a side of determination. The doctor is trying something experimental with me. I go back in two months to see if its helped. In those eight weeks, I’m going to do my own experiment: eating vegetarian. It can’t hurt. I want to see if the doctor’s experiment and my experiment come together in a positive way. The worst that will happen is that nothing will change.

 

I’m tired. I’m so tired. Sprawled out in the dust, face covered with sweat and tears. Again, I am faced with the choice: Will I trust God or not? If not, I’m doomed. I will succumb to the suckiness of it all. If yes, He will pour iron into my soul, the kind that strengthens me for one more fight, one more day. One more step up that steep mountain.

 

I’m choosing, right now, to trust. He was there when I was practically sawed in half last winter. Every aching breath. Every medication induced wave of nausea. Every tear, every nightmare, every stabbing, searing pain. He was there, crawling next to me, urging me, carrying me, pulling me through the muck and the mire.

 

I call myself weak, a coward. He calls me a warrior. I say I’m not a fighter, He says it’s time to throw a punch. I say I am finished, He says that by His grace I’m not out.

 

It’s not over ’til the bell rings, and it ain’t rung yet.

 

I pick up my scratched sword and my dented shield. I straighten my dirty helmet. The Devil, oh, he wants to knock me out. He wants me to turn away from all I know to be true out of fear and forgetfulness. I look to my King. I take my orders.

 

I battle on.

 

…so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’

 

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

&npsb;

– 2 Corinthians 12:7-12 (MSG)

 

Stop.

 

My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute Friday: Quiet

in quietness and in trust shall be your strength...

Gentle Reader,

I missed my people.

I don’t regret retreating from this space. Obedience is always good, even when it’s hard. It always feels right. But while it’s freeing, in this season, to focus on other words in other places, I miss joining the #FMFParty chat with regularity. (Yes, I know it’s only been two weeks). I miss interacting with them and you. I even miss opening that vein that all writers cut time and time again, spilling it across the page for public consumption.

That’s what happens when you release the good for the better. You miss the good. And that’s okay, because it’s still there. Something to come back to, even if it’s not exactly the same.

Tonight Kate moves us to discuss: quiet.

Go.

Public platforms, no matter how small, require noise.

And so going quiet was a conscious decision to trust in the Lord and His timing.

I thought I’d be further along on this writing path than I am. Fifteen years ago, if I imagined being in my early thirties at all, surely there published books or a respected career as journalist involved in the dreaming. That’s the thing – I could have done it. Oh, not the published book part. But the journalism part, that was realistic. I was on that track. I would have been successful. There’s no boasting involved here. I had wanted to write for a newspaper for years. Pursue the stories. Break the news. I had the talent and the drive.

Then God.

Didn’t recognize Him at the time. Didn’t see the graceful motions of His hands, ushering me onto the road He had designed for me.

A quiet road.

By degrees He has made me smaller. I have worried, wondered, if this means lesser. But what is “lesser” in the Kingdom of God? “Lesser” is meaningless when considered in the light of glory. His fame, His name, is what matters. Mine will blow away like the dust, remembered by few, if any at all. Once, this frightened me. Now…I wonder if there is not untold richness and blessing in obscurity. In the letting go of one’s ego, He becomes bigger. Not that He is ever not larger than everything. I simply get out of my own way and begin to see, just a little, how grand He truly is.

So I turn my energy to this other project, one that may only be seen by Him alone. I trust Him. I have faith that even if the tapping and the researching and the editing and the beginning again are nothing more than an exercise of faith that it will be worth it. Even if my headshot never appears on a glossy cover. Even if I’m never recognized by anyone “important.”

I go quiet here to be louder there and even that may be silence in the end.

But He knows.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

Saying No to the Good

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

I should have written this last Monday.

Didn’t want to.

Still don’t want to.

Enough with the teeth gritting and the foot stomping and the insisting on my own plans. Either I believe God has the best for me or I don’t. Can’t have it both ways.

For around two years now (give or take as I don’t remember exactly) I’ve maintained a posting schedule. Every Monday, every Thursday night/Friday. I’ve taken breaks here and there. Sometimes I’ve written more than the usual two entries. But always, in the back of my mind, was the routine.

This has been a very good thing. Much as I need to write, I’ll let other tasks and priorities push the time at the keyboard to the bottom of the list. Having a self-imposed schedule has helped me to remember, or maybe to learn, that the words matter. What I have to say matters. I have been given this ability for a reason and to let it go unused is like slapping God’s face. I’m not being dramatic here. I firmly believe that each of us was created with passion and purpose. Our talents and drives are no accident.

I love the bloggers with whom I’ve had the privilege of interacting. The internet can be a nasty place, the cloak of anonymity moving some to unleash the venom and the vitriol. Not so with the men and women whose words have encouraged, challenged, entertained and convicted me. Across the miles we form a network of genuine care and support.

I’m honored that you, dear reader, take the time to come here and read these words of mine. I appreciate your comments. I like that we’ve kept it civil all these years, even when we disagree. I like knowing your thoughts.

Now the thing that I don’t want to write.

I have this book I’m working on. I don’t talk about it much, not even with my husband. It may never be published. Nobody else may ever read it. The completion of the project could be nothing more than an exercise in obedience. No, God hasn’t given me some extra-Biblical revelation. (Smack me upside the head and rightly call me a heretic if I ever claim that). He hasn’t appeared in a vision and commanded me to write. Nevertheless, there’s a message in my mind, one that I cannot shake.

And so, my friend, I have to step away from here.

Oh, I’ll still post. I’m not giving up Five Minute Friday anytime soon. Count on that. There will be other times I won’t be able to resist sharing and you’ll see me pop up in your feed. I simply can’t promise any regularity in this particular season and I don’t know how long that will last.

We all know that there are only so many hours in the day. I have a job and a marriage and ministry commitments and family and friends and just the stuff of life, like laundry and bathing the dogs. I’ve got a limited supply of health and energy with which to accomplish those tasks and pour into those relationships. So, for now, I have to say “no” to the good that is this blog. I have to let myself focus on this book.

Lack of new content is the kiss of death in the blogging world. I know that. My stats are going to drop off. I’m going to lose subscribers. Ninety-nine percent of me hates that reality. I’m going on eight years here. I don’t want to have to rebuild, small though my reach may be.

But the one percent, the tiny sliver of me that knows that obedience is better than clicks and sometimes holy pruning hurts, realizes that it’s a price worth paying. I want to be able to say with confidence that I did as the Lord asked of me to the best of my abilities.

So, Gentle Reader, I’ll be seeing you.

Just not as often as I’d like.

My journey to faith. (15)