Thankful

…for gold and pink sunrises

…for cooler temperatures

…for friends who understand that not everyone comes as a couple

…for good coffee

…for airplanes that take me back “home”

…for a church that has become my family when I’m so far from my own

…for hugs from six nephews, big and small

…for the people in my life who challenge my thinking

…for college students who inspire me

…for holidays

…for laughter

…for family

…for hope

…for the God who knows me, loves me and blessed me beyond measure

Thankful.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him and bless His name.  Psalm 100:4

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.  Psalm 103:2

Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever.  Amen.  Revelation 7:2

 

Document

Is it really a good idea to document your whole life?

Is it good/bad/creepy/entirely too introspective that when I had a memory last night I knew immediately where to go on the journal shelf in my bedroom, pull out the volume from November 2004, open it up, and read all about it?

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Yes, I did say “journal shelf”.  Because in full disclosure…

journal shelf

This is my journal shelf.  And that’s only starting with 1996.  Because the spiral bound notebooks I used prior to that are in a box.  Under my bed.  Suffice it to say, I journal.  A lot.  Random thoughts, prayers, quiet time notes, rants. That’s pretty much my whole adult life documented there. And I’ve thought seriously about making sure they get buried with me when I die.

But back to the question at hand.  Is it a good idea to document your life?

I think it is. And it’s not just because I do it. I think it’s good to remember, to read back through the great times and the not-so great times.  It’s good to see God’s faithfulness when I was on spiritual mountaintops and when I was trudging through dry valleys.

That memory last night that made me go looking for the old journal?  This time of year always makes me think of when I got some bad news about a friend who had wandered away from God.  My heart got hurt in the process and I struggled to make sense of it.  That journal documents the questions, the sadness, the concern. It doesn’t document the restoration.  I’m still praying for that.  But reading through it, and seeing those other 30 journals on the shelf, I realized that God has been faithful to me.  In this situation, and a zillion others.

It would be easy to forget that if I hadn’t written it all down.  Memories fade after awhile.  The details get fuzzy.  Today, this snippet of time, is so easily forgotten. And maybe God’s presence in it is easily forgotten, too.  We move on.  We get engaged in other things.  But if we never take the time to remember how God has gotten us through the past, how will we know to trust Him in the future?

Jeremiah writes, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you”.  (30:2)

And so, I do. I write them in a book. God has spoken to me through His word, through the wise counsel  of the people He’s put into my life, through His kind provision and sometimes even through His merciful withholding.  And because I’ve documented it, I see it.  I know it.  I believe it.

Thirty-plus journals on a shelf in my bedroom may be on the extreme end of things, but I need to keep them there to remind myself of this:

Documenting how He’s been faithful in my past makes it easier to trust Him with my future.

And that is definitely a good thing.

Your faithfulness endures to all generations.  Psalm 119:90

Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth.  Psalm 105:5

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.  Psalm 103:2

I will remember the works of the Lord.  Psalms 77:11

Bind them on the tablet of your heart.  Proverbs 7:3

Steps

Ten thousand.

Ten thousand steps.  That’s how many steps a healthy adult should be taking each day.  At least that’s what my doctor told me.  And when she asked me if I was doing that, my reply was cautiously…um, negative.

Who am I kidding?  I hadn’t been counting, but I was quite sure that 10,000 steps were not a part of my daily routine.  Wouldn’t that be the equivalent of me walking from West Palm Beach to, say, Orlando?  Maybe I’m exaggerating, but still.  That’s a lot of steps.

So I bought myself a pedometer.  And it turns out I’m walking a whole lot more than I thought I was.  Without even trying, I found out that my normal workday includes about 5,000 steps.  Who knew?  Now I’m trying to figure out ways to add to that.  My pedometer actually does a little celebration flash when I hit a goal.  It’s the little things.

But I’m not the only one counting.

“Does He not see my ways, and count all my steps?”  (Job 31:4)

I’ve read verses before about God ordering our steps, God planning our steps, God watching our steps.  But now that I’m counting them for myself, I’m a whole lot more aware of what that means.  When my step-counting pedometer says I’ve taken 5,533 steps, it means God has been watching every one of them.  He saw where I was at step #143, and step #5129.  Every. Single. Step.

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He upheld them.

He directed them.

He kept them from slipping.

Of course God is interested in my health and physical activity, but that’s not the main reason He’s watching my steps.  He knows that I need to be on the right path.  He knows that I’m prone to wander, to let my steps take me places that aren’t part of His plan.  He knows about the things that trip me up.  But He also knows that I really do want to be walking with Him in every step of every day.  And He’s using a pedometer to remind me to keep working on that.

I don’t know how many steps I’ll take today.  I’m already at 517.  But God knows.  And I’m glad He’ll be with me. Each step of the way.

Uphold my steps in Your paths,                                                                                             That my footsteps may not slip.  Psalm 17:5

LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. Jeremiah 10:23

If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up.  Psalm 94:18

Retreat

I know. It’s been a while.  Life just gets wacky and busy and drama-filled sometimes.  And it gets mundane and non-eventful at other times.  Just the normal ebb and flow I suppose.

But I did manage to schedule a personal retreat this past weekend.

Oh, you’ve never been on one? Well they are just about my favorite thing to do.  Not at all like the crazy youth group retreats we used to go on, where there was little retreating and lots of activities, devotions on dating and relationships, games and food.  And a personal retreat is also nothing like those church women’s retreats where we sit around sipping coffee by a fireplace and talking about our emotions, or gathering in an arena to sing praise songs with 10,000 other ladies.

Nope, a personal retreat is just that.  Personal.  Nobody else but me and God.

Once I decide it’s time for one, I’ll find myself a nice hotel.  It doesn’t need to be expensive (Groupons help!), but it does need to have a good view, a desk and a comfy chair.  And it needs to be quiet.  My retreat this weekend was almost derailed by a rowdy wedding going on in the ballroom on the 4th floor.  I was on the 5th.  This did not make me happy.  Thank goodness for Carlos the very helpful desk clerk, who felt my pain and moved me to the 7th floor. I told him I was there to work on something and needed quiet.  He probably thought I was writing a novel or putting together a business deal.  I decided it was better not to tell him I was there to meet God.  He might have given me a room with no window or balcony – or at least one on the first floor.

So there in the delightful quietness of Room 719, I retreated.  Even though I live alone, I still need to retreat – retreat from the distractions, the busyness, the things I need to do.  And from Netflix, which I have recently discovered and wondered how I lived without.

God and I had a good time.  I only had my Bible and my journal.  So I read some, wrote some and talked some.  I didn’t have an agenda, really.  I talked to God about things I needed clarity on, questions I needed (or thought I needed) answered, friends and family with special needs in their lives and other things that were weighing on my mind.  Really, though, I just needed to know I was on the right path.

I woke up the next morning and continued chatting with God.  And because of the time change in this part of the world, I even had an extra hour.  Bonus!  And because it was a Sunday, I didn’t just go home after checking out.  I went to church.  What a great way to end.

I can’t recommend these personal retreats enough.  There may be some who can’t imagine spending that much time alone, or that much time with just God.  It’s something I’ve gotten better at and something I truly look forward to.  I’m not married, but I know that couples need to get away alone every once in a while to re-group, to seek clarity, to be free of the distractions that can pull them apart.  And the same holds true for our relationship with God.  We can walk with Him on a daily basis, have our devotion time, pray and go to church.  But it’s the distraction-free, quiet and alone times that bring us closer.

Can’t afford the time or money to go away?  No problem.  Mini-retreats are great, too.  Have a cup of coffee with God.  Go for a ride in the car with Him.  Hike a trail with Him.  The goal is to be alone without other things vying for your attention.  A hotel is just my way of doing it.  Develop your own way to retreat.

And God will meet you there.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  James 4:8

But it is good for me to draw near to God;                                                                                 I have put my trust in the Lord GOD.  Psalm 73:28

In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.  Isaiah 30:15

Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven.  Psalm 107:30

But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 4:29