It wasn’t until 2pm that I finally removed the plate, fork and empty juice glass from my daughter’s place setting at the table, a residue of scrambled eggs still apparent. A few minutes later, I received a text from her saying she made it safely back to campus and the food I sent in plastic containers fit perfectly into the miniature refrigerator in her dorm room.
The loaf of bread got smashed in her suitcase.
But I didn’t read that text until an hour after she sent it. I was lost in the pages of a book on the living room couch, attempting to soothe my aching heart that is missing her presence.
I’ve been trying to decide which of the one million things floating through my mind I might share with you for this series. But the distance between reality and what God requires of me feels like a vast canyon of swirling thoughts.
God is teaching me about what it means to be sober minded.
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. ~1 Peter 5:8-11, MSG
It would be easy for me to slip into sadness and stay stuck there in the past. But God is reminding me that He is faithful and all He requires is trust.
I need repetition and I won’t apologize for that. There can be no faith without doubt.
During my daughter’s visit home with us, I found myself snapping random photographs – of her curled up on the couch, laughing at quips from favorite sitcoms, walking to the car parked on the driveway, joking with her bestie. I want to remember because I can’t revisit those moments.
That couch and television are going to a consignment shop next week.
The best things in life come with risk and forward movement, of sowing seeds in new soil and trusting God for outcomes.
Staying comfortable results in a life that is stagnate. And I’m not signing up for that. I’m moving to London, remember?
But living in the future is equally detrimental. Waiting for fulfillment at the expense of the moment is a breeding ground for discontent.
Now/here spells nowhere. To be fully present to whoever or whatever is immediately before us is to pitch a tent on the wilderness of Nowhere. It is an act of radical trust – trust that God can be encountered at no other time and in no other place than in the present moment. Being full present in the now is perhaps the premier skill of the spiritual life. ~Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust
While my daughter hangs up the clothes I carefully pressed and eats dinner with her roommate on campus, I’ll curl up on the couch with H and watch the Good Wife during our last moments of Sabbath.
Sometimes you must die to the past and future, take up your cross, and follow Jesus through your kitchen and living room.
What is keeping you from being fully present and sober minded, living now/here?
I won’t be sharing my posts on social networking channels daily because who wants to see that much of me, really? If you want to follow our adventure to London subscribe to the blog in the side bar and posts will slide quietly into you inbox. Start from the beginning of the series here.
Listening to your heart, Shelly, with empathy and prayer.
Not easy at all~!
You hinted at some progress?
I’m praying, but not getting anything at present.
God Bless you with patience and endurance~!
Some baby steps but still waiting Mary. Thank you for interceding for us. Sometimes getting nothing is just as obedient as all the somethings.
“Waiting for fulfillment at the expense of the moment is a breeding ground for discontent.”
Such truth! Thank you.
Peter could write those words with such authority, divinely inspired as they were…the one who napped in the garden while the Savior prayed. His transformation came through many trials. Surely the enemy kept close at heels…the mind is the battlefield but the heart is the place of victory. This post is yet another letter that teaches…today He is present…Today…in the kitchen and the living room.
I don’t want to be a student anymore, I want to graduate. Can you hear me whining? ha!
It seems to me that you are grieving. It is much the same as when someone is dying of cancer, and each day is something new to grieve, each last time is a loss. What helped me deal with this type of grief, is a gratitude journal. I read Ann Voskamp’s book
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
Have you read it? Even the title seems to be exactly what you need. http://www.Christianbook.com has it on sale for only $6.99 My husband and I are doing a gratitude journal together, writing down at least 1 thing each day that we are thankful for. It is a pleasure, each time I write down something, and I also enjoy reading what he wrote. I hope this idea blesses you. Grief is a normal process. You are giving up a lot, in order to take on something new. May God bless you with peace and joy in Him.
I’ve read Ann’s book about three or four times Janet, thank you for your kind, caring words and prayers on my behalf. I am definitely going through the stages of grief, I know at the end joy will be there waiting for me. I’m ready to embrace it.
Grief can be like the waves in the ocean, so we have to catch a breath of thankfulness when we can. You are so brave, Shelly. I know God is walking with you through all of this season. Maybe someone will see the comment and grab the book for that bargain price. I wish i could buy more to give away. I did bless several ladies with a copy. It is a book worth re-reading, and giving away.
Manning is right, it is one of the hardest things to just rest in the present and not drift off or drift back. Lots of peace to you that will always call you back to God who is here RIGHT NOW (and was and will be)!
Thanks for that reminder Katha, l needed it today. It’s amazing what difference a day can make.
Shelly….I’ve just discovered your blog and can so relate to so much that you share here. Here’s the brief version of our past 2 years: husband came home a year ago March and said that his job was gone, so I began to declutter the house we’ve lived in for almost 25 years in anticipation of having to sell, while The Lord continued to keep my dh employed at yes, that same job, even though we knew it was eventually going away. Skip ahead to July…my Jesus-following, faithful God-honoring f-I-l was killed in an accident leaving his completely dependent wheelchair bound wife behind (my husband is the eldest of all their children), my Mama went to be with Jesus three months later and my brother died of lung cancer two months after that. Three months later, The Lord provided a job for my husband in the Dallas area…a traveling job….so ever since April 21, we get on a flight from Denver to Dallas every Sunday night or Monday morning and we head back home every Friday night. This past summer, The Lord provided me with the adventure of a lifetime….six weeks in the UK, five at Oxford and one at Cambridge, attending two conferences on C S Lewis, with plenty of opportunities in between to explore. And now I am back to traveling weekly with my husband, not knowing when or whether we will be moving to the Dallas area or staying put in Colorado. The ONLY way I can survive is by living in the present, not worrying or stressing about the “what ifs” or the “could be’s.” Sometimes I do it well (for 20 minutes). Most of the time I do it poorly. When I do it well, I give thanks. When I do it poorly, I ask for extra grace and pray that my own dissatisfaction with where I’m at doesn’t spill over and infect those around me.
It does. So then asking for forgiveness becomes the active agent. All of it keeps me dependent on the only One who can give us what we need to make it through these waiting/uncertain times. And that is exactly where He wants us to be.
That said, I am tired. I would love to settle….to know where I am going to land. I read something a long while ago (by E Elliot) that continues to minister to me today. She said something like, “Hold everything with an open upturned hand….” This thought more than anything helps me to live in the present. Nothing ever was mine to begin with so if I hold it in an upturned palm, the One who gave and who takes away won’t need to pry it painfully from my clenched fist. And my soul will be at peace.
So I practice. Open. Upturned. Hand. Put in, take out, what you see fit, Shepherd of my soul. And give me the strength to rest.
Jennifer, it’s lovely to meet you. I’m so honored that you shared a bit of your story here. It’s inspiring. And those weeks in Oxford and Cambridge sound divine. You remind me that no matter where we find ourselves, we all share struggles, the key to being an overcomer is not to let circumstances overtake us.