Hopeful Expectation

catharsis, noun:  the act or process of releasing a strong emotion especially by expressing it in an art form.” ~ Merriam Webster Dictionary

What does a writer do when they have not been prompted to write?  The desire to do that which one loves is overwhelming yet the muse they rely on for their words has not spoken.  I never really considered myself a writer.  I am not trained at all in the written word, at least not in a formal way.  But over the last few years I have developed such a passion for it.  When I sit at my computer I get lost in the beauty of the experience.  It is both cathartic and creative.  There is a secret place in me that has always wished I was more creative.  I have such an appreciation for the arts yet I have always felt as if I was on the outside looking in.  Not really talented in any medium of art…and that is not being modest, it’s brutal honesty…I have often felt like my appreciation of the arts has been a longing to be a part of something creative.  When God birthed in me this desire to write I was both elated and terrified.  I am not a writer.  A communicator, yes.  A writer, no.  But He was giving me this opportunity to dabble in something creative and that excited me.  When I began my blog in July I never could have imagined how much joy, how much release, and how much intimacy with God writing this blog would give me.  As a one who has written in prayer journals for years, you would think this revelation would not be a shocker but of course, it was.  I often think God must sit back in the throne room of heaven and get a great chuckle out of me.  I tend to be slow at catching on sometimes.  I imagine Him giving a dramatic, “DUH!” with a shake of the head…cause in my mind God is Italian so His gestures must be off the charts.  He probably talks with His hands too.

What makes my writing so unique is that I never just write to write.  In fact, I can’t.  Don’t believe me?  Well I tried it tonight.  I sat at my computer with the full intention of writing about a Group I am currently teaching on Wilfredo De Jesus’ book In The Gap.  I got through the first paragraph and I paused.  What I had written felt empty.  I had the best of intentions but as I reread my words I knew God had stopped me.  Why?  Because He never prompted me to write on this topic.  In that moment He reminded me that my writing has always been about what He lays on my heart.  To share snapshots of my life and my journey, through the events and episodes that He uses to shape me.  The circumstances and struggles of life that He desires for me to share.  Whether funny or serious, my writing at its very core is never about me but always about God.  He is the One who gives me the passion to write and therefore when I try to step ahead or around Him to write…it simply does not work, the words do not come.

Tonight I had such an overwhelming desire to write.  Since going back to work a month ago I have had little time to think about my writing.  The adjustment of schedules and the transition into a new role took precedent over pretty much everything.  Yesterday, I was sitting in my office and I was gripped by fear.  Not an “I’m afraid” fear but rather it was a dread fear.  In a moment this horrific thought crossed my mind…”What if I never write again?”  It was a fleeting thought at a random moment, and it left my mind as fast as it entered it. But my heart sunk at the very suggestion that I may never write again.  Truth be told, tonight I sat at my computer so that I could prove to myself that my fear was unwarranted…I would indeed write again.  Yet, as I sat here, completely unprompted by God, my words were flat.  They didn’t flow forth the way they usually do.  They lacked everything that made them even worth sharing…they lacked God.  Hitting delete never felt so good!!!  Don’t we all feel that way sometimes?  We have all made decisions that we know full well we never consulted God on.  We impose our will on Him and then expect Him to bless it as if it was all His idea in the first place.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we were just a delete button away from a “do over”  when we put our desires before God’s will.  Alas, we do not have that luxury.  However, we do have the beautiful gift of knowing that our God goes before us.  He has prepared in advance all that He has for us.  Where we are going…He’s already there.  Instead of trying to beat God to the destination maybe we should just treasure the gift of knowing He is paving the way.  When we are on the road paved by God delete buttons are not necessary.  When we trust God, He even uses our mess ups for His purpose and His glory…this blog post is proof of that.

This morning during our staff prayer time God laid two words on my heart…”hopeful expectation”  I didn’t know what they meant and I honestly did not have the time to ponder it either.  Those two words, jotted down in my prayer journal, were followed by the line “I have hopeful expectation.  Father, I don’t just hope you will move…I know you will!”  It’s amazing how something you write down at 9:30 in the morning comes back to speak to you at 10:30 at night.  Hopeful expectation..I am full of hope because of who God proves Himself to be over and over gain in my life and in the lives of those around me.  His hand print is everywhere.  Sometimes my vision gets a little blurry and I need to get refocused, but that’s my issue.  God never changes and my hope is firmly rooted in my Creator, Almighty God, the One who reigns over heaven and earth, He who is the same today as He was yesterday as He will be tomorrow.  My hope rests securely in all that God is and one thing I know for sure…God is a mover.  He never slumbers and He never sleeps.  His watchful eye is always upon us…His presence is always among us…His Spirit is longing to ignite a bold movement, a movement of His children; bringing the truth and the grace and the love of Jesus Christ to those who so desperately need His touch and His redemption.  I bask in hopeful expectation not so that I can write again, no this hopeful expectation is my “I’m ready” stance.  Ready for a great movement of God. Ready to be used when God calls upon me.  Hopeful expectation…the anticipation stirs in my heart as I am engulfed with the excitement of being in the middle of something so much bigger than I can even imagine.  Is there any greater place to be than in the center of God’s plan…in the middle of His movement?  I can tell you this, there is no place I would rather be.

As I get ready to hit publish I recognize that this may be one of those blog posts that is simply my journal entry in an open forum.  If the lesson is only for me, I am okay with that.  Sometimes this is exactly what I need for God to walk me through certain thoughts, emotions, or attitudes.  There is so much freedom when we take off all the baggage and just walk in honesty with our Savior.

Carpe Diem

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Is it odd that I often see September as the month of new beginnings rather than January?  September always feels like a fresh start.  While January has a bitter, cold, dreary demeanor, at least here in Michigan, September is the best of all of worlds.  Days are still warm enough to feel like summer and nights start to have just enough nip in the air to stir the excitement of all that autumn has to offer.  It’s the kind of chill that prompts you to envelope yourself in your favorite old sweater.  You know, the one that you long to be reunited with every fall.  You start to itch for trips to the cider mill, pumpkin spiced lattes, the beautiful colors of changing leaves, and fantasy football…LOL…not so much on the last one but that will make my husband happy.  Yes, September is a month full of promise, full of new beginnings.

“You’re off to great places!  Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting so…Get on your way!”  ~ Dr. Seuess

Remember those “night before the first day of school jitters” you used to get as a kid?  It was the same feeling you got the night before you embarked on any new adventure.  The excitement and anticipation would course through your veins and manifest in an all consuming fluttering that left you feeling like a whole colony of butterflies had taken up residence deep in your stomach.  It made you giddy, it made you anxious, you were so ready for the new adventure that it made sleep nearly impossible.  This was my oldest son’s reality last night.  Today was his day, the first day of middle school.  All summer long he has been anxiously awaiting this new adventure.  He has been so ready to tackle the new opportunities that being a big 7th grader will offer him.  Honestly, I am amazed at what a deep thinker he is at times.  He has told me many times that the start of middle school is a fresh start, a time to really come into his own.  Wow…what 12 year old boy thinks like that?  He definitely doesn’t get that from his mama.  When I was starting middle school my biggest concern, I hate to admit this, was whether the cool kids would like me or not.  Today he faced his mountain, Mt. Richards Middle School.  Like a climber getting ready to conquer Everest he made sure he was prepared.  Checked off all his supplies, made sure all forms were signed, practiced his locker combination, and roamed the school to get a feel for this uncharted territory.  He was ready.  At 6:00am the alarm went off and he was up, today was his day.  The bus doesn’t pick him up til 7:40 so we had plenty of time to chat and double-check that he had all he needed.  About 20 minutes before his bus came I saw the first sign of something other than excitement in his face, nervousness was settling in.  He looked at me and said “mom will you pray over me?”  My heart soared.  For the last few minutes I had with him this morning we spent time in God’s word together and then I prayed over him.  Somewhere along the way my little boy turned into a young man who knows that when you face the unknown mountains of life you seek after God’s presence in prayer and then you get going on your way.  “You don’t need to know everything about the mountain ahead to take the next step.”  This morning those words of Pastor Louie Giglio echoed in my head as I witnessed my son preparing to take the next steps on an unknown mountain climb.

“Carpe Diem!  Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have.  It’s later than you think.” ~ Horace

“It’s later than you think.”  How ominously true those words are.  One thing I know for certain is that life is short.  Not one of us is guaranteed a tomorrow yet we live as if we have all the time in the world.  Sunday as I sat in church our pastor spoke about creating margin in our lives.  It was the final week of a sermon series about creating margin.  What is margin?  It is the amount of time, the amount of ourselves, that is available beyond what is necessary.  Most of us have no margin because we live in a culture that celebrates busyness.  One of the single greatest weapons the enemy uses against us is our schedule.   We are so busy doing what is seemingly important that we fail to give time and attention to what is truly important.  I just read a quote the other day that simply said “If you didn’t have time to pray or read Scripture today you are busier than God intended you to be.”  I LOVE THAT!!!  God created us to have margins, some of the best things in life happen in the margins.  It’s in the margin that we are intentional, thoughtful, compassionate, and obedient.  It is in the margin that we become more intimately acquainted with our heavenly Father.  It is in the margin that we exercise the idea of carpe diem.

“The stakes are too high to die with a small vision.” ~ Pastor Louie Giglio

What if we all went to bed every night with the very same anticipation that kids do on the eve of back to school?  Or think about a small child on Christmas Eve, their eyes illuminated with hope, their smiles give away the all-consuming excitement in which they eagerly await all that Christmas morning has in store.  Just conjuring up that image brings a smile to my face and a flood of memories of that euphoric feeling.  But maybe, just maybe, the key to carpe diem is wrapped up in the carefree example that our children set for us.  An emotional connection to an eagerly anticipated event. What if the very way we live out carpe diem is dependent on our attitude, our sense of urgency, and an overwhelming desire to be used by God every day?  What if we adopted the Dr. Seuss attitude that everyday is our day to shine…shine brightly for the One who created us. Embracing that the mountain that lies before us is the very thing that God will use to bring glory to His name if we would only trust that He will give us the tools to climb it.  What if we treated every day like an Everest climbing experience?    Eagerly anticipating the adrenaline rush of conquering something new.  Today is brand new…nobody has been here before and no one will be here ever again.  What you do with today is unique to today but its outcome could have a ripple effect that reaches beyond generations.  But we MUST start every day fully prepared for the climb.  Immersed in God’s presence by spending time with Him and in His word.   Approaching the day with a heart of thanksgiving.  Why?  Because a heart of thanksgiving is a life full of joy.  The joyful climber will not waver if the conditions get rough.  The joyful climber understands that their joy flows from the One guiding them rather than the circumstances of the climb.  Carpe diem, seizing the day, is not only possible but it should be pursued by everyone who has heart for people and a heart to serve Jesus.  Seizing the day starts with recognizing that every day is precious.  Seizing the day means approaching every day with anticipation and excitement.  Seizing the day starts when we realize that everyday God desires to use us.  Seizing the day starts with a heart of gratitude…gratitude for what you have and generous spirit to share it with others.   Seizing the day starts with seizing the One who created the day…everyday!  God doesn’t want us to merely survive this life, He wants us to thrive on the adventure of sharing His love.

“This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” ~ Psalm 118:24

September is the month of new beginnings.  One season changes into the next, a new school year launches, and new mountains are meant to be climbed.  Is there any greater way to start anew than to rejoice in the day the Lord has made?  A day made so that we could be in His presence and experience His love.  A day made so that we would have that the honor and the opportunity to share His love with others.  My new beginning is to live a life of carpe diem…I will seize the day because every day is a gift from the One who ordained me to be a part of it so that I may serve and glorify Him.