Perseverance can be broken down in First Steps

STEP 1: Identify the first obstacle.

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STEP 2: Face the fears that the obstacle brings up. How do you face fears? Well, the best way is biblically. For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps. 27:1)

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STEP 3: Keep climbing over the obstacle, despite the difficulties.

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STEP 4: Do that again.

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See, Perseverance is all about ‘keeping on.’ I get knocked down, but I get up again, you know? Pressing on doesn’t mean victory every time. It means going through the wins and losses and moving ahead. By the way, you can’t keep going if you don’t know where you’re headed. Maybe I’ll write about that one day.

all photos were taken one day we spent up on White Wash in ABQ NM. great day with the family 🙂

Pressing On

This will be two-part, as I want to dive into the tie-in that this can have with my last post, Admitting Defeat. If you didn’t read that one, please do so either before or after you peruse these thoughts.

DSCN0303So the thoughts I’m going to share today might at first seem to be a retraction of what I wrote previously. They are not. This is simply the other side of the coin. But let me first define some words to help us be sure that what I wrote before still holds true in my thinking in light of what I have to say now…

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WORDS QUIT AND DEFEAT:

Quit mean to depart from, leave; to have done with, to forsake. This word is something we choose to do, it’s our reaction to situations.

to [be] Defeated: to [be] beat; victory won over [you]; to [be] prevented success. This word is something that happens to you. But notice with me something interesting: in order to experience defeat, it implies that a person would have to have been trying, fighting, and going for success. And trying against some kind of opposition. You usually aren’t defeated by nothing (that should be defined as quitting). And admitting defeat does not have to follow with quitting. The two can be separated.

So what do we do then after we’ve had to admit an area we’ve been defeated? We try again. We press on. And we do so in better ways: learning from the past lost victory, and moving forward.

Let me go back to that tiny incident that prompted me to write about defeat in the first place: my sprained ankle that is still not better (as I’ve heard is quite normal). What did I do the next day? Did I give up and sit on the couch all day long? No, I learned from it. I learned my limitations, and I tried again inside those limitations. I attempted a very small workout the next day, and it went well. When I had some swelling, I stopped and put my foot up for a few minutes with ice.

When we’ve been physically defeated, we need to admit it, evaluate it, and try again with gained knowledge how not to lose. When we’ve been mentally defeated, we need to take time to reflect, pray, and go at it again with a different mind-set. When we’ve been spiritually defeated – ah, that’s the tricky one! – we need to admit it to God, and try again, in HIS strength, not our own.

Press on, my friend, but not in a stubborn way that doesn’t change from the first time. Let the little defeats be admitted (that’s called humility) and learn how to try again (that’s called pressing on, or perseverance).

Admitting Defeat

I am not good at that at all. I will fight to the bitter end before I admit I am done. Nothing gets me down! I will not stop and say ‘okay, you’ve got me, I’m done in!’

Which can often be my un-doing. It’s probably better just to admit when I’ve been beat. Which is what I fought doing today…

I write tonight as I sit with my foot propped up and throbbing still from a five-week old sprain. I almost admitted the need to sit back and rest. At least, I told the dance teacher at Irish step dancing that I’d have to put my account on hold for a while. But then I came home, still not ready to throw in the towel and mowed the lawn. Yes, now it is throbbing.

Jacob was also a man who didn’t want to admit defeat (read more about that in Genesis 32). He had his fears, he had his moments of admitting many other things. But when he wrestled with the Angel of God, he just wouldn’t give up. “NOT UNTIL…” he said, as he clung to His feet.

What will it take for me to give up? Not until I’m dog-tired, broken, and incapacitated? Not until the argument is won even though the friendship is lost? Not until I break down and cry it out and realize I can’t do it all? Not until I’ve burned every bridge in an attempt to prove that I can do it myself?

It takes more than courage to come to the place where you say, okay I cannot. I’ve given it my best, and I am not adequate. Then, a door opens, and there is room for Someone to step in who is: is what? Is adequate, sufficient, capable, and kind. That moment that we ‘give up’ and let God, that’s a much better moment than any victory won at all costs.

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(took this photo at the Pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg October 2014)

Life’s Bumps and Turns

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The Wrong Place

At the Right Time….And the ways God uses the mishaps, speed bumps, and what not

Okay, so the pictures have nothing to do with the experiences I’m about to tell you. But I think it is an appropriate (and humorous) reminder that not everywhere you go and everyone you meet are just happenstance. Look around for the ways that God intends for you to be an example of His presence and love. He has so many people He’s speaking to every day. And if we take a minute to look up or give someone a chance, we will be part of that communication. And just being a part is so rewarding, as was my experience here:

There are two things that have happened in the past couple weeks that I want to tell you. Both were related in that the misdirection and difficulties were leading to telling two strangers the same message: Jesus cares about you so much, He brought me here at this time just to tell you, He loves you.

The first happened on a normal day: our little family went out to purchase a grill for the summer and a German picnic table. I couldn’t find a large cart to save my life to carry the picnic table to the register. In fact, I was beginning to get frustrated with this – and for the second time that I went outside, I found one!.. just to  see that I didn’t have the right change to get the cart. But God placed this delay there on purpose; because, on my way back to the Jeep, I asked a family for change for my 2 euro coin. We talked a little as they spoke English and the wife is Filippino. Then I went back in with the cart, loaded up with my husband and kids, and headed to the cash register. Well, when we went back to the car, I felt a tugging to write the family a note and give them a cd of my piano music – which I had just ‘happened’ to put in my purse before we left the house earlier. And you know what? God ordains every detail just perfectly – I couldn’t find a pen, wrote the note on the back of an envelope with a crayon, and then (AFTER I was finished) my husband realized I needed a better writing utensil. So he uncovered a pen and real paper 🙂 and I wrote it again. God had this other little speed bump for a reason: as soon as I finished writing the note to tell this family about the Lord, they came to their car. So I spoke with them in person. I asked the man if he has a relationship with Jesus. He said no. Then I told him that the Lord cares for him so much, that God ordered my steps just so in order for me to tell him that – that Jesus loves him and has a plan for him.

The second similar circumstance happened just the other day. We were spending our last day with some dear friends from Italy who had come for a visit. Our last day was spent in Frankfurt, and we were all tired and heading back to the hotel on the tram. As this was our first time in this big city, I wasn’t totally sure of what tram to take, and I’ll admit – I am horrible with directions. As we were discussing and making sure we had taken the right train, a lady overheard us and informed us that we were going in the opposite direction than we wanted. So we file out of the train…just to find out it was the right train after all, and the lady had misunderstood where we were going. Continue reading