Sometimes when I pray it sounds and feels a bit like a to-do list that I have for God. Sometimes I recite a prayer that I've been taught. (That can be awesome when done with awareness, but can also allow me to go through the motions without the sincere effort.) I know I'm not the only one who does these things. In the last few weeks I've been trying to pray without the limits of my own expectations. Does that make sense? I mean that I absolutely take my worries to the Lord and give thanks for the things & people in my life, but I am making an effort to just listen. This can be difficult for a person like me who might feel more certain if God could just send me an email with his directions and answers. You know? For me, listening takes effort and trust. I can't concentrate too hard or I'm just in my own head. I can't relax too much or my mind wanders and I realize that God is probably not the one reminding me to put laundry detergent on my shopping list. For me, prayerfully listening happens in quite moments of prayerful reflection and it comes at random times of the day or night because my heart is open to His guidance. I've been praying that God would give me a focus. That he would point me in the right direction. Give me a word. I didn't know specifically what I was asking Him to give me, only that He would open my heart that I may hear whatever He had to say.
It didn't come in an email or text, but somehow I feel like I know what God is asking of me. It's not specific and He didn't make me a to-do list, but I feel like God is asking me to be intentional. So I'm making an effort to be more intentional. Intentional with how I spend my time. Intentional with where I spend my energy. Intentional with my Bible study. Intentional with where I invest my heart. Intentional with my thoughts and actions. Merriam Webster defines Intention as "A determination to act in a certain way." I'm giving that a go. I sometimes forget that I have an active roll in my own life. Know what I mean? It doesn't happen all at once and I don't like it, but I sometimes I let circumstances determine my role in my own life. Circumstances affect my life, no doubt, but they are not the sole factor in who I am and what God has planned for me. So this is me, declaring intention in my actions and knowing that I will fail often and have to start over again and again. Thank heavens for God's grace and mercy.
I've started reading a book that Drew purchased on recommendation from his boss. Daring Greatly by Brene' Brown. I've watched one of her TED talks before and think she's pretty great. She is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. That's right up my alley. I could share with you many points that I'm finding inspiring or thought provoking (and I just may share them randomly over the next few days), but I think I'll start with this. The book begins with this passage from a Theodore Roosevelt speech from 1910.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..."
I believe this could be taken to heart by different people in different ways, but I feel it personally right now. I'm growing and learning and I want to dare greatly. God has given me different versions of this realization in my life and I'm grateful for the new reminder right now. What's the saying? "I'll look back on this and smile because it was life and I decided to live it." I'm so grateful for the different roles that I've played in my 36 years. I've been a caregiver in one form or another for 14 years. Grandpa's recent passing has stirred my heart in different ways. I'm grateful to God for where I have been. I'm grateful to God for where I am. I'm standing in the arena with intention.
Also, this kid. She's awesome and I'm loving soaking up each moment and experience with her.
Yum. Chocolate ice cream.