The Wednesday Writers: Stephanie Thompson

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com (4)

Gentle Reader,

It’s The Wednesday Writers!

No idea what I’m talking about? Read this.

Today we hear from my friend Stephanie Thompson.

Why Scraping Your Life’s Windshield Affects Your View of the Road

Every January, my husband and I ask each other the same question: “Why do we live here?”

The air stings. Grey skies hover without a slight peek at the sun. The trees bare their nakedness. Sometimes snow; despite it’s nuisance as it mounts, adds a texture of beauty to this somewhat drab palette. This is Winter in the midwest; Chicago to be specific.

Several years ago, my husband worked temporarily in San Diego. On a weekend whim, I flew out to visit. You can eat outside in January? Who knew? And the scenery…..hello ocean and hills!

Though we considered the prospect of God perhaps moving us out there (ok wishing), it was apparent that Chicago is our home.

Scraping the ice off the windshield after the night temperatures have plunged below zero is not my favorite activity. It requires early preparation in the midst of a hectic school morning routine. Even with the defroster at work, the ice hardens and resists the effort of my chilled to the bone fingers.

In my rush and frustration, the temptation to simply scrape off enough ice to provide a small “window” of visibility seduces me. Yet despite the increasing windchill whipping my face, I know that taking the shortcut increases my chances of an accident. If the back window is not clear, I cannot see what’s approaching behind me. Despite my kids thinking that I do indeed possess eyes in the back of my head, it’s simply not true. If my rear vision is incomplete, my abilities to prevent certain collisions is impaired. If the side windows are still frosty, I may not see the car next to me as I attempt to change lanes. And even a small circle of transparency in the front windshield does not allow me to gauge the elements of all that lie in front of me.

How similar I find the act of scraping a windshield to approaching sinful areas of my life.

What is blocking your view?

Fear? At times, it floods the senses; resulting in anxiety as we take in the implications of the journey ahead. The heartbeat escalates, eyes grow big, and hands quiver. Is God really big enough to keep us on track despite detours, pot holes?

Pride? The ever seducing voice in our head lulls us into a false reality. Our wisdom, though faulty and biased to self, rules the world. We know better. Especially when time constraints beckon. But as the sun bears it’s light onto the foggy windshield, we are blinded. As navigation continues, we find ourselves suddenly braking to prevent colliding with a car which was hidden by the glare. Why am I afraid to “trust in the Lord with all my heart? (prov. 3:5)”

Discouragement? Perhaps staggering to the car, while feeling the sting of the air seems like the best you can do. Scraping off the windshield? The task seems too daunting. Confronting the dawn of a new day while deceitful voices whisper words devoid of hope keep us from preparing early. The defroster’s warmth cannot melt the iciness of the morning’s frost quickly. What thoughts can I surrender to God so that the warmth of His light thaws the frost surrounding it?

How are you enlarging your “window” of visibility? Little chisels at a time or engaging in the more arduous process of scraping the covering all at once?

Sin, when not scraped off immediately, becomes a harden base upon which more layers mount. The longer it sits, the more overwhelming the task becomes. The temptation, then, becomes avoiding the removal. Little chisels may provide brief glimpses of the road in front but we find ourselves impaired by the lack of visibility.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

– Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

Or, In this case, “scrape off” everything that hinders.

Fear, pride, discouragement. Satan wants nothing more than to block our view of the light going before us as we travel. With nothing impeding the view, we can aim clearly toward the destination.

What is hindering yours?

********

mudphotoStephanie is a graduate of North Park Theological Seminary and an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Covenant Church. She writes about sensing the voice of God and encountering the Holy Spirit in the midst of our everyday routines. Her pieces have appeared at Mudroom, The Mighty, Altarwork, as well as other sites. She is a writer for the Redbud Guild. In addition, her passion for those affected by mental illness finds itself woven into her writing. Stephanie lives in Mokena, Illinois with her husband and three teens.   .

A speaker as well as an author, you can connect with Stephanie at her blog and on social media (Twitter  /  Facebook).

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Technical Difficulties

Issues
Gentle Reader,
Posting this from my smartphone as my laptop is being a real jerk. I may not be able to share anything of substance this week and perhaps for an unspecified period of time beyond that because, without a working computer, blogging is impossible.
I’m hoping to arrive at a solution quickly, but you just never know with these things. Posting regularly from the WordPress app on my phone isn’t an option, because I really don’t want to sit in a hunched position for hours at a time.
So, if you don’t hear from me, you know why. I’m not dead or angry or suddenly switching from writing to Flamenco dancing. I might be bearing my laptop with a hammer, though.
Ta-ta for now.

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Five Minute Friday: Turn

Us

Gentle Reader,

What is that? That glowing, bright thing in the sky?

The seasons don’t change so much as dramatically appear one day. Of course, tomorrow I could wake up to six inches of snow. North Idaho is certainly a “Well, do you feel lucky?” kind of place when it comes to selecting outfits during springtime. Sweaters in the morning, t-shirts in the afternoon, flannel pajamas at night.

Went for a walk with a friend this afternoon. Her almost 8-week old baby is not quite sure how to be a human being yet and definitely didn’t know what to make of the glowing sky-ball. Squinty side-eye in the extreme, yet covering her face resulted in squawks of protest. I think it must be difficult to be a baby and have all these new experiences and stimuli flung at you all the time.

Kate says: turn.

Go.

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

– Matthew 9:35-38 (NKJV)

Weary. Skýllō. “To skin, flay; to rend, mangle; to vex, trouble, annoy; to give one’s self trouble, trouble one’s self” (Thayer’s). The people were raw, like the juicy skin that’s exposed upon popping a blister. They were annoyed and troubled. Some had brought the pain upon themselves.

And Jesus had compassion on them.

Makes you think, doesn’t it? Compassion for someone with cancer, sure. For someone who lost a job, yes. Compassion for the drug addict? The chronically late? The one who is simply different?

Jesus is no doormat, nor does He enable anyone to continue on in bad habits (sometimes sin, sometimes just stupidity). He doesn’t ask anyone to ignore anything. What He does ask of us is far more difficult than our natural desire to distance ourselves from the smelly, the foul-mouthed, the troubled. He asks us to do as He does. And what does He do?

He gets up close. Personal. He never compromises truth but it never flows from His lips in tones of spite or pride. He heals. He listens. He loves.

Not just the people who love Him back.

Even Judas, the one who betrayed Him.

Really, they all betrayed Him.

Make you think, doesn’t it? A whole world of people outside our doors, aching for love and truth, even if they won’t admit it. People God is drawing to Himself.

People just like you and me.

Because our sins might be prettier, easier to hide, or socially acceptable – but they still required His blood.

How can we not have compassion on them, who are us?

So turn, we must, from building walls and toward them from whom, in our pride and fear, we would escape. We are the Jesus-people, the ones who claim to know something. The knowing is not enough. The knowing must move to the doing, to the embracing, to the preaching. We are the sheep who know the Shepherd. We must tell the weary, scattered ones – even the ones who have troubled themselves – where the safe pastures are. This is our duty.

No, it is our delight.

Stop.

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The Wednesday Writers: Tezlyn Reardon

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com (3)

Gentle Reader,

It’s The Wednesday Writers!

No idea what I’m talking about? Read this.

Today we hear from my new blogging buddy, Tezlyn Reardon.

Open Your Eyes and Dream

When you wake up in the morning, what do you see? Do you see the leftover shards of unfinished projects or unsuccessful relationships? Or, maybe you see goals and dreams of years gone by, hopes that you once had but left far behind because, well, “life” happened. Do you fight opening your eyes because you don’t want to face the reality that the movie that has been playing in your mind for the last 8 hours is not real and it probably never will be?

When we were younger we were always asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But why did people stop asking? Is there an age when you are supposed to stop believing that you can be anything you want to be? Over the last fifteen years or so, I stopped dreaming. It wasn’t because I didn’t think I could do anything more than what I had been, it was because I got comfortable with where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing with my life. I replaced my dreams with my son’s dreams, my husband’s dreams. I was comfortable, and I didn’t want to get out of the warm, worn in spot in my proverbial bed and risk turning my world upside down when I already had everything I needed or wanted.

In late 2016, my husband left me. My dream became a nightmare, one that I so desperately wanted to wake up from. I couldn’t sleep for months, much less dream of anything that didn’t involve my husband coming back home and my world miraculously falling back together. I didn’t know if I would ever live again the way I had lived for the duration of my relationship with the only man I had ever fallen in love with. How on earth could I find the strength to dream?

A funny thing happened on the way to my own personal hell. I gave my life back to God and I started over. I learned that my dream wasn’t coming to an end, instead, other dreams that had been hibernating inside of me for many years were coming out of their unending slumber. I have said for almost 20 years that I wanted to write a book. In August of 2017, I sent my completed manuscript to a publisher and that book will be distributed on Amazon in early 2018. I’m not saying that I never would have written the book had I still been married, but it might have taken me much longer while I waited for my perfect life to present the perfect timing.

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

– Jeremiah 29:11

It might not have been easy to understand and believe, but these very words have kept me moving forward, allowing me to dream loudly and boldly despite the circumstances. Hope and faith have become standard words in my conversations with myself and others, but it shouldn’t have taken a self-described catastrophe to have larger expectations for my life. It’s not selfish to want more, as a matter of fact, it’s selfish to be content with living a mediocre life. We were created to help one another to grow and thrive, but all of that has been lost in the new-age religion of competitiveness, where we vie to take all that we can get, leaving nothing behind for others. There is abundance for all of us, God never planned for us to be poor or homeless, downtrodden and hopeless. Although He never promised life would be easy, He did promise that we would all be taken care of, that all of our needs would be fulfilled. All we have to do is dream and then believe.

I hope that after reading this blog entry you won’t wait until you are on your deathbed or at the end of your rope before you start to check items off your bucket list. Whatever you have in your heart this very moment, what will it take to make that happen and why are you waiting? There is a man who wants to hear all your hopes and dreams and he wants to give you your heart’s desire. All He asks is that you give him a little bit of your time so that He can tell you about the dreams and purpose He has for your life. If you show your faith and trust in Him, He will show you more favor and mercy than you could have ever imagined in your wildest of dreams. Go ahead, try Him. Dreams are for 5-year olds, and 25-year olds, and 55-year olds, there is no age limit and there is no expiration date.

Dream. Eyes open or closed, but damn it, dream.

********

TezlynTezlyn Reardon is the author of 40 Years of Practice, her first published work. Working in marketing analytics for over 10 years, she finally took the leap into developing her real passion, sharing her story with others, something she has felt moved to do since college. Everything happens for a reason is the motto for her life and she is living and learning as she moves through this world, helping others along the way. In addition to writing and speaking, Reardon is actively engaged in the Columbus, Ohio community, participating on several non-profit boards and supporting others who have dreams, but don’t know how to plan or execute them. She is also in the process of developing a new coaching program for those who are struggling to find or hone their purpose in life.

Visit her blog to learn more about Tez, her book and stay up to date with other projects she finds herself getting into!

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