Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Butterfly

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     A man found a small coccoon while out on his morning walk. “An interesting trinket,” he thought and he decided to bring it home and observe it. There was a small hole on one side and he saw what was to become a butterfly begin to push its way through. The process took hours but the man was insistent on watching it all. As the sun was getting ready to set, the butterfly became still. It looked as if it was stuck and could not push any further through the hole. The man waited and waited but the butterfly was perfectly still. He could not wait any longer and decided to help the butterfly by snipping a little piece of the coccoon, widening the hole to make it easier to come out. The butterfly looked peculiar, after emerging from the coccoon, he had a swollen body and tiny wings. The man waited for the wings to expand and display their beautiful colors but they never did.

     The butterfly spent its entire life wobbling around, unable to fly. What the man didn’t know was that the struggle to emerge was essential for the butterfly to become what it was supposed to be. The struggle to emerge pushes the fluid from the body and into the wings, creating the capability for flight.

   Our struggles are necessary for us to grow and become who we are supposed to be. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through life with no struggle, it would cripple us and we would never be able to fly. 

Taken from Jaque Shank, The Struggle to Understand, Visionwriter’s International

     I loved this story and it brought up not only my personal struggles when I have been the butterfly but also the times when I have been the kind man, trying to take the struggle away from another to “help” them. I especially thought of it as a parent because we never want to see our kids struggle but some struggles are essential for them to grow. Good food for thought…

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Hoofin’ it!

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     Kurtiss and I are done with these $4.25 per gallon gas prices!!! We have outfitted our bikes and reinforced our tennis shoes for some serious biking and walking. Forget the car, we are revving up some serious foot power!!

     Kurtiss has been biking to work for the last couple weeks which has meant some sore muscles but now he doesn’t have to go to the gym 🙂 I parked the car in the garage last week and tried to run most of my errands on foot or on my bike. My ride is pimped out with a basket and nice cushioned seat. OK, maybe it’s pimped out for a grandma but if I’m going to spend all my time on it, I need comfort for my backside. I’m calling it the European upgrade package instead of the geriatric special :). When I lived in England, I walked and biked everywhere.

     There is a sweetness to slowing things down and being able to stop and smell the flowers if I want to.

Fear

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     If a cobblestone road is our path in life, built stone by stone on wisdom and what we know is true, then fear is the dark, overgrown dirt trail that looks like a shortcut but is always a dead end.

     It’s so easy to be sidetracked by fear. It causes us to abandon what we know is true and for an empty guarantee that it will be easier on its road. Whole lives can be missed while caught in the snare of fear.

My buddies…the Israelites

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   I just finished reading Joshua and was struck by some of the same themes that have struck me in the New Testament: How can the Israelites possibly worship other idols in the presence of God and His miracles. I mean, the Jordan stopped flowing, the walls of Jericho fell in front of them and the sun stood still in the sky. Yet, Joshua warns the Isrealites repeatedly not to associate with the nations that remain among them, invoke their names or serve their gods, like they should need any reminding.

     In the New Testament, these people are walking with Jesus and still question his authenticity. I have never understood how this could possibly be…until this week. 

     The downward spiral began slowly; a cookie here or a cheese stick there. It really does start small. The miniscule breech snowballed and now it’s a week later and I’m sitting in my car, shoving the last bite of a Whopper into my mouth, washing it down with some Diet Coke and emptying the greasy cardboard container of all its french fries. There is an urgency to my shoving, washing down and emptying, as if the healthy food authorities will catch me in the act.  At first I was sampling, tasting, trying but now I’m hoarding, savoring and delighting.

       I am a recovering food addict and this is what it looks like to fall off the wagon. I’m not going to lie, I have worshipped food throughout my life. I always thought it was from being raised with a brother who would eat super fast just to get seconds so I couldn’t have any but no, the problem went deeper. Is it sad when all your vacations are filed in your memory by the delicious food that was eaten, not by the activities paticipated in? Sad? Maybe, but we all have something. At times, it was hard for me to share MY food, my special food that I had bought only for me. I would buy it and claim it was for my new eating program. That’s food addict lingo for HANDS OFF!!! It didn’t have to be sweet though, just good. I never hid anything; well, maybe once – dark chocolate peppermint bark is seasonal so I had to take covert action with that. Completely understandable, right?  My name is Cheryl and I am a recovering food addict.

     Truth be told, I’ve been down this road of gluttony before, as I said, I lived on it for most of my life. Two years ago, after the neighborhood had really gone to shit, God walked up to the door and gave me the keys to a new house on a new road and I left Addiction Lane with no baggage.  I found freedom from food. Thank you, Jesus! My eyes saw anew and food had lost all of its control. I was free. Miracle…hello…hand of God, right? How could I ever eat anything remotely drenched in a savory sauce again? And here I am, sitting in my car with mere crumbs left in my takeout bag and a napkin to wipe the evidence away. I’m guilty, guilty of worshipping something besides my God, even after witnessing a miracle.  Sound like somebody else?

April Challenge

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     After an unsuccessful bid at my dance version of March Madness (I made the Final Four but could not pass the last four songs!!!) I am ready for a guaranteed winner: a challenge that I can’t lose even if I don’t make the final free throw. It’s time to put the focus back on my writing and dig in for the long haul. My goal for this year is to finish my manuscript (about 50,000 words) with hopes of taking it to the writers conference next February or entering it into a few writing contests with hopes of publication. I have been stuck in editing/re-write mode and really need to throw down some more words. Currently, I have 22,000 words and my April challenge is to add 10,000 more. I found a freedom last November in free writing (no editing) and I loved it but have since been bogged down in rewriting. It’s time to get the rest of the story on paper and see where it goes.

Trainer – owner – dog: Spirit – soul – body

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     A dog will do whatever it can get away with. With no training, it will eat what it can pull off the counter or lick up from the floor, blindly chase an animal scent until it is thoroughly lost, bark at everything because everything looks like a threat, and relieve itself whenever the urge arises. It lives by the will of its untrained heart, doing whatever it fancies, regardless of the consequences. 

      Being the new owner of a beautiful Cocker Spaniel puppy, Scarlet, I have been trying to head off her puppy instincts at every turn. I’ve followed her around to make sure she doesn’t go potty on the new carpets, picked up everything that might be remotely chewable or edible for her (which I’ve learned is just about anything), yelled louder than she can bark to get her to stop barking (it doesn’t make sense when I write it either), and ran marathons to catch her when squirrels pop up and she has to give chase. I have been frustrated, angry, tired, dirty, sore and hoarse. I’m the one who’s supposed to be in control but she’s definitely controlling me.  

     With my resentment growing and patience short, I decided to turn to a professional to seek guidance and hopefully gain some kind of peace in my home again (and some sleep, honestly). I love my dog and I expect these behaviors in her until she is trained and I know good training is important to have a healthy, meaningful relationship with her. So, a professional dog trainer it is at whatever the cost. It will be worth it.

      I immediately noticed a parallel between her wanton actions and my spiritual past (and sometimes present). I couldn’t help but think of myself as the foolish young girl that I was, running around the world, doing whatever I wanted, oblivious to the consequences unless they directly affected me, and if they did I would deal with them then. I drifted among different things that caught my attention (some good and some bad), and believed that I was the only one looking out for myself so I had to be strong and defensive. I was important because of what I did, who I knew and how I looked so I was always striving for those things. My untrained heart was controlling my life, focused on all that it wanted but never receiving enough. I was always empty with no idea how to fix it.  

      My soul was the frustrated owner, trying to coerce my strong-willed heart into good behavior. As with a dog, it doesn’t work. A spiritual professional was needed so training could begin. I didn’t have to train myself to be good, I had to train myself to look to the Holy Spirit for everything. All the instruction I needed was available now if I would only ask. My heart, full of its own ideas and agenda, did not want to conform. Why would it? I had much to learn. My training has come in the form of daily journalizing with the Holy Spirit. These lessons became my new hearts desires and by following them, I am following the will of God. There is no coercing or struggling because now, I desire to do it from the inside out. That is a HUGE difference. The freedom that I experience now is from the inside and spreads outward instead of trying to sample freedoms from the outside to heal the inside. That just doesn’t work.  

 It isn’t a done deal and you’re cured, it is an active way of living. If my soul doesn’t keep its eyes turned to God or the puppy doesn’t listen to its trainer for guidance in everything, it will turn back to its old self-seeking ways.  

  Are you listening to the professional or trying to DIY?

Scarlet