Archive for July, 2013


(From my lectio journal)

Wednesday 24 July 2013
Luke 5:5


Been awhile. In large part due to wrists, but also simply not taking the time to write…

So even just in recent weeks  we’ve covered King and Leader and Lord… and now Master. And I prayed that as I opened to the verse (and today throughout) I would better know Jesus as Master.

And the verse is at the calling of the disciples and it’s so simple and Peter calls him “Master.”

And maybe it sorta meant ‘sir’ back then but maybe it meant more and… allow me to paraphrase:

Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. It’s no use. What makes you think we’ll catch something now? I don’t think this will work. But I will do as you say.

See there? See how simple that is?

It doesn’t make logical sense. Peter may not have even believed it possible. But because Peter somehow saw fit to use the word “Master” he also saw fit to trust and obey.


May I also trust and obey even when it doesn’t make sense or I don’t think it will work!

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There are several lessons, perspectives and ways of doing that became ingrained in me when I interned with a non-profit discipleship-focused mime and arts ministry during college (and continued working with them on and off in subsequent years).

One of the ideas which has stuck with me and which I continue to do (or work towards) is the idea that you leave a place better than you found it.

When churches would let us rehearse there or use their facilities for workshops or even simply taking meals and doing schoolwork (we took homeschooled young men and women on the road to minister and they brought their work with them), we would not only clean up the areas we were in, but would often clean the rest of the church as well.

When we stayed in host homes we were trained to not let our stuff “spew” up all over these generous people’s homes but keep it neat and orderly, cleaning up after ourselves and always seeking ways to help – cleaning up after meals or such.

Even those rare occasions we stayed in hotel rooms we always left them neat and orderly – not a wreck.

It is a simple mindset to seek small ways in which you can leave a place better than when you found it.

I’ve since applied this to parking lots (taking in carts that others have left) and apartments (leaving it cleaner or in better shape/better value than when I moved in) and public bathrooms (wiping down especially messy sink areas, pushing the paper towels in the trashcan down further to allow more in without spilling onto the floor) and, of course, still when I stay in hotel rooms or host homes (including friends’ homes) or rent or use rooms.

There’s always this little voice at the back of my head saying, “Leave it better than you found it.”

So Saturday night I was in bed attempting to calm my mind before I fell asleep. Which was harder than usual because I had gone to tea with Mom earlier that day and had consumed caffeine and sugar, not to mention how riled up with excitement and hope and ideas I get when talking tea and attending well-done tea events. But I was also exhausted and in pain. The pain was because caffeine and sugar are not blood-sugar friendly and incite pain in my fibromyalgia-ridden body. The exhaustion was mostly because as an introvert, people wear me out. I love people and very much enjoyed the sharing and conversations, but I was simply worn out afterwards.

Which is probably why as I lay there trying to calm my mind down, my thoughts turned to wanting to be awake and chipper on Sunday morning when interacting with my church family. As an introvert (and being a bit socially awkward), this takes focus and energy. But church isn’t about me. I go to worship God and fellowship with and serve others and mutually learn and grow together.

For more than a year now I’ve been trying to get into the habit of being others-centered on Sunday mornings. For me at least, this is a very hard task. Especially when I often find myself weary and sickly and mentally foggy. Such things make it even harder to turn my eyes from my own pressing issues to love on and serve others. Oh yeah, and have I mentioned my social awkwardness? I am terrible at initiating conversations and making small talk!

And I’m honestly not quite sure how it happened. Perhaps it stemmed from the fact that twice earlier that day in the tiny little hot and humid two-seater bathroom, which nearly 200 ladies had to share while drinking lots of tea, I hiked up my skirt and used my Capezio character dance heels to push down the overflowing paper towels in the tiny little wastebasket so more could fit in.

But suddenly it occurred to me, “why not leave people better than you found them?”

Why not apply the principle that I have ingrained in me regarding spaces and things to people?

This could be as simple as a smile or a cheery ‘hello!’ It could be complimenting someone’s outfit or hair or smile or work. It could be listening to a person who simply needs to be heard. It could be praying for or with a person. It could be offering advice or support or encouragement. It could be making someone laugh or giving someone a safe place to cry. It could be investing time and thought and emotions into someone to really come alongside and help them along.

Because sometimes when you borrow the fellowship hall you clean the whole church before you are done. And sometimes you simply take the stray cart nearest you back into the store when you head in.

Big ways. Small ways.

It’s simply a mindset.

And so I’m working towards a new mindset to leave people better than I found them.

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So I mixed metaphors in my title. Let’s just call it a cross between Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons and Great Is Thy Faithfulness and call it a day.

Or 10,000.

Speaking of days… it took me just 495 days to reach 10,000 gifts (ie. graces) on my list. Which is more of a journal than a list. Okay, well, a set of journals. I’m starting number 5 today.

Twice before I have composed posts containing my reflective narrations at the beginning points (or special mid-points) of these journals. (There was 10,000 Reasons and then 10,000 Reasons continued.)

So it only seems right to continue this tradition.

Well, that and it makes a quick and easy blog post to put up after not doing any for awhile… but that’s beside the point.

Saturday 30 March 2013

Gift Journal #4

The one that will see me reach 10,000.

The one during which I will perhaps begin to see the deeper and more subtle changes that God is working in me.

I see grace everywhere.

So here are the stats:

  • I began February 20, 2012
  • I reached 1,000 on May 5, 2012
  • Journal #1 was 48 pages of 2,115 gifts from February 20, 2012 to July 4, 2012
  • Journal #2 was 160 pages of 2,379 gifts from July 5, 2012 to November 22, 2012
  • Journal #3 was 160 pages of 2,769 gifts from November 22, 2012 to March 30, 2013
  • Journal #4 is 160 pages of 2,886 gifts from March 30, 2013 to July 5, 2013*
  • I reached 10,000 on June 28, 2013*

It sort of fascinates me that the ending and beginning of new journals has fallen on or around holidays:

  • July 4th – a birthday of sorts and a day to celebrate freedom
  • Thanksgiving – a day of giving thanks! How appropriate!
  • Easter weekend – a time of seeing so very much grace!

And though I still somewhat lament how my “regular journal” has fallen by the wayside, it is nice that my days are actually well-recounted here. Perhaps even better so – for this is the perspective of grace and of what God is doing in my life!

*Note that the last two in italics were added in reserved spaces when I had finished the journal.

Saturday 6 July 2013

(I wrote this on the 1,000 Gifts Facebook group page this morning and then thought it appropriate as my beginning journal entry.)

Dear Ann,

I’m not sure now who it was to originally challenge you to find 1,000 gifts – or did you ever even mention a name? – but I want to thank that person – and you for writing the book of your experience and the change wrought in your life.

In February 2012 I began my own list, just after hitting chapter 3 as I journeyed through the book with the ladies’ Bible study at church. Just two and a half months later I reached 1,000. But I couldn’t stop there. Last Friday, June 28th, I hit 10,000. 10,000 gifts. 10,000 graces. Or, as Matt Redman sings, “10,000 reasons for my heart to find!”

Today I begin my 5th “gift” journal. I have no intention of stopping. And perhaps it is some obsessive-compulsive tendencies which lead me to average 23 gifts a day, but I think even more so it is that once you begin to see, you keep seeing. And I never want to be blind in that way again.

I do not believe it to be a coincidence that this journey to 10,000 gifts over the past year and a half has coincided with perhaps the most difficult period of my life. And in some ways it even feels funny saying that. But the past year and a half has brought very rough health issues and struggles and shattered dreams and lots of things unsettled and up in the air… and much waiting. Yet as I look over that same period of time from another perspective it has been possibly one of the best 17 months of my life. My relationship with God has blossomed in ways it never has before and in ways of which I probably never would even conceived. God has been proven faithful again and again and I am seeing it now. Better. More clearly. More readily. I am seeing graces all around. I am more thankful. I am more joyful. Bad days and bad attitudes are easier to fight with truth.

You wrote a book on your experience and even so it still spills over into continuing blog posts. To try and describe and define my own journey would likely fill and spill the same. Not to mention how friends have also joined this journey and I am seeing the same fruit in their lives.

So thank you for being vulnerable and open and for sharing your experience and your words and your challenges. Thank you for being a continually committed follower of Jesus Christ and for inviting and encouraging those around you to do the same. And thanks also to whomever it was who sparked that 1,000 gifts challenge in your life!

Mahalo y shalom!

And so I continue on continuing on… 

So at this rate, it’ll only take me 135 more years to reach 1,000,000 gifts!

But hey, as Matt Redman sings,

on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore!

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