Smelling the roses

Today Atlanta was 73!   A week ago it was 21!  How quickly temperatures can change.  Likewise, how quickly our lives can change!  Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season and for some this is a tender and vulnerable time.  Most of us don’t live a “Hallmark movie”, although behind closed doors many hope for exactly that– happy family get- togethers, decorating the tree, baking, shopping and having fun, rather than counting our dollars, arguing with that teen who cries out desperately to wear that new style you cringe inwardly hoping they will pass this over.

Many of us live the holidays in the same fashion we view life: “running the race”, getting to the finished line in rapid fire pace.  We decorate, bake, cook and become tired before it even begins and are quietly anxious for this season to end.  Our focus is on the New Year being ushered in with hope and renewed vision that this will be our year for those unfulfilled hopes and desires.   I understand this line of thinking all too well.  I love fall and by then I am still hopeful that this could still be the year in which I might see a dream or two come true.  After my birthday in early November, near Thanksgiving, my hope and desire for this year for dreams fulfilled begins to quickly wane. In order to not fall apart by becoming nostalgic, I press “fast forward” to move the season quickly ahead in anticipation for a better next year.   I dash around checking off my list of gifts, baked goods and giving good cheer while making sure that my pearly whites are always smiling even if the truth were, I was crying inside.

The belief that life is about crossing the finish line and not living in the present was so engrained that even as I studied the Bible my eyes only saw verses that spoke , ‘harvest time’, not a process.  Through a series of experiences handcrafted by God He revealed that every day I am in destiny and life is not about arriving at a destination.  My purpose is living life every day, one step at a time.  My personality is not one to naturally meander in a park picking flowers and smelling the roses.  I am more naturally inclined to make progress and move forward like in a HOV lane.

When I was in college, and given the semesters syllabus outlining projects, it was within the first month I hurried to complete them so I could cross it off of “my list.”  I finished all of my assignments, but the result was I did not enjoy my college years and I missed out on living life.  Later in the semester when friends were taking their time and having fun with those projects, I became bored because I had zoomed through.   God does not want us to miss out the abundance of every day. He did not create us to run past the gifts and joys He has carefully and specifically tailored for us each day.  Our lives are not about crossing a task off a list nor about racing to the finish line, rather enjoying relationship with Him along the journey.

For me, God took the process of waiting on those things I was believing for, and taught me the value of slowing down and enjoying the simplicity of every day.  In the beginning, I rebelled, fought His process, but one day without realizing, something shifted inside of me.  I was not concentrating on the end result as much as I had before.  I was looking forward to sitting with Him in silence with a cup of coffee and being ready to listen, rather than push my agenda in those times of prayer. No two-way conversation had existed! In the past I had shared my plans and asked Him to bless them.  But one day I was at peace, real peace.  I was not focused on the outcome, but enjoying where I was each day.  I had come to a place where I simply trusted God with the details of my life.

In the New Testament in the Message Translation,

Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows — he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps — harvest time!

Like the verse above,  I had no idea how it happened, but the result was I realized I was free and actually having fun every moment and the sense of burden I had carried had been replaced with peace, satisfaction and joy. For the first time I had a deep abiding confidence that I was going to reach the finish line on time with the legacy He always intended for me.

Often people ask,  how it happened.  I realize that God did not give me the one – two- threes on how He brought me to the place of peace and serenity on purpose because I would take that “process” and make it a law for everyone else. Galatians 5:1 says: “For freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” New International Version.  Part of receiving that freedom was slowing down to smell the roses rather than flying down an HOV lane. I came to a place of understanding that where I am is exactly where I am supposed to be. I realized that I was no longer under the “ought to’s, the need to’s and should to’s of life.  If there is something for me to do, He will gently put it in my heart in the form of a desire. That is pure freedom and God’s grace!

The hope, encouragement and truth today is that as quickly as weather can change, so our lives can too!  Even though you are still waiting as I for many things to materialize, I am enjoying each moment because I know in any moment it can all change.  Becasue I really believe this, I am baking, hanging out with friends, taking a walk in the park with my dog, snuggling up with all of my animals watching good old movies with a fire roaring and drinking hot chocolate.  There are still  moments I wonder if and there are still times of tears, but overall, I have a deep abiding peace that I am ok because I have given my life to the ONE whom I can trust with every detail.  Today I am smelling the roses because the end of the week, the temperature is dropping a whopping 40 degrees!

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