Remember Your Why

I recently watched the Today show and they interviewed a running coach, Ryan Walsh. One of the first points he made was that anyone starting something new should always remember your why. Think about the reason you started, why you wanted to make this change, and what were the benefits of doing it. This resonated with me as I have started two large projects in my life.

My first project is eating healthy. My why was primarily for health reasons, but part of it is also vanity. Quite frankly, I am tired of buying plus size clothing and needing to stop a minute to catch my breath when I am walking any distance farther than a block. Some days are better than others when I make my eating choices. But on my recent vacation? All bets were off! I came back four pounds heavier and I really did make good choices, except for, well, maybe the ice cream. (and I have lost two of it in the first week back).

My next big project is finishing my novel, The Porch Swing. I have picked it up and set it back down more times than I can remember. But this year I picked it up and sent my first eight chapters to a friend, whose judgment I trust. Now she is waiting for the rest of it. I am attending the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in September and I want to have my first rough draft finished. So I had to think long and hard about my why for this book.

My why is to address the amount of abuse that happens in a church and how we respond. Do we believe the person who says she was raped by her youth minister? Or do we hide it and pretend nothing happened, because why would we ruin his reputation like that? I have found this process for working through my writing has been cathartic to me. I was abused by a cousin as a child and it did not stop until I was old enough to realize he was not going to tell anyone (a threat he used with me). Even after the abuse stopped I felt dirty and ashamed. My salvation came from the Lord and all of the old me was wiped away because I knew that Christ did a marvelous thing when he made me brand new.

Scripture tells us that Jesus prayed in the garden right before his arrest. He asked if there was any way to avoid what he knew was coming. There wasn’t. His why was for our salvation. He knew his mission in life and stuck to it even when it meant his death on the cross.

So my why? In actuality there are many of them. How about you? What do you think about when you ask yourself why you have started a project or why you want to do a major challenge. Do you get discouraged and want to quit because things are not happening fast enough? Do you find yourself getting easily sidetracked? When that happens take a step back and remember the why.

Gaining a New Perspective

I recently posted about a “dry fire” I had at my house on Mother’s Day. (https://lindadelaywallace.com/2022/05/13/smell-that-smoke/) It was quite an experience and because there was no soot or ash–only a house full of smoke–insurance would not cover anything. That meant that everything in my house had to be cleaned by yours truly, and luckily some faithful friends and family! It was an interesting two weeks following the incident.

Photo by KWON JUNHO on Unsplash

As I washed every cabinet and closet (and everything in them) in my house, I noticed that I had items I never used taking up space. Some of them were beautiful pieces of crystal that just sat in my upper cabinets the entire six years I have lived here. Some of them were clothes that I wondered what was I thinking when I purchased them. I have a fairly neat house, but when you must take every single thing out and clean it and evaluate it, it gives you a new perspective. My daughter cleaned my spice cabinet and ended up with about half the items I had before, because, well, you do not want to know how many expired spices I had!

After I disposed of expired items, gave away some of the crystal, and took bags of clothes and unused household items to the thrift store, I felt like a burden had lifted. I was unhindered by all of the things in my house that had been bogging me down and I look forward to not needing to “spring clean” or sort through clothes or cabinets. For now. Because no matter how careful I am, somehow clutter starts again, spices get expired, and laundry still needs to be done. But for all the hard work, there is a great freedom in the process I went through after the smoke cleared.

With all of this, I was reminded of a scripture in Hebrews 12:1. The writer of Hebrews is talking about all of those who have gone before us and were witnesses of the greatness and goodness of God. He says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (NIV) Hebrews 12:1

I love the way it is paraphrased in The Message, “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (The Message)

It took a house full of smoke for me to do some deep cleaning. In the same way, in my spiritual life, I need to always be evaluating where I have let sin in my life, always letting go of the things that tie me down to this earth, and racing toward the finish line to heaven. I love the part where it says, “When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls.” Maybe it will take some “dry smoke” for me to evaluate my life sometimes, but it will be well worth it in the end!

Five Things to Remember When Life Becomes Overwhelming

One of my friends shared on facebook that she is really struggling with all the things that life is throwing at her right now. Unfortunately, I think we can ALL identify with that feeling of being overwhelmed on occasion! Women, who tend to be fixers, sometimes have difficulty admitting they need help when life becomes overwhelming for them. So how do we learn to swallow our pride and ask for help? How do we let our friends and family know that we have reached a point where we are ready to scream, or cry, or just hide, until we can face life with equanimity again?

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

For those of you who find yourself in this circumstance, here are five things I’ve found helpful.

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They Did Not Know It Was Good

This evening as I was sitting in our Good Friday service, listening to our minister eloquently speak on the significance of Good Friday, I couldn’t help but think that for everyone who was present that day, it was not such a good Friday.

The fact of the matter is that not one individual who was present that day knew with certainty what was really occurring, not even the disciples who had spent the last three year with him. Indeed, even the last week with Jesus did not prepare them for what they experienced, even though Jesus himself spoke of what was coming.

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My View from the Pew

Well, technically my view from the pew is really from the chair. We never had pews at my church. Believe me, chairs are far more comfortable and during the height of Covid-19 they were able to take out a lot of chairs in order to provide safe distancing. But I digress from the real point.

I am short and usually I sit toward the front of the church because I can see better. Invariably I will end up moving because someone tall sits in front of me. Last week, I came into the auditorium just before service started and had to sit toward the back. It was interesting how different the perspective was for me. But the cool thing was, I saw from the back what I normally did not see from the front.

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Chariots of Fire

Do you ever have those days when you think, “I have no clue what God is doing.” I look at the world around me and sometimes I feel so defeated. I see so much hatred and strife, and so many spiritual battles of good vs. evil. I feel like I should be out there doing something and yet, I am not experiencing clear direction from God. Yes, I do have direction to love others, develop fruit of the Spirit and keep on having faith, but sometimes I feel that God has something in store for me that I just have not recognized yet! Have you ever been there? Have you ever questioned God and wonder why he hasn’t shown himself? The response I keep getting back is: Trust me, I have it covered.

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Being Me and the Perfect Life*

Do you ever wish you had someone else’s perfect life? Have you ever thought your life would be better if you could just have their talents and skills, their perfect family, or their awesome job?  Sometimes it’s easy to envy others when we think they have the best personalities, the most talent, and other attributes we admire.  Frequently we get into the comparison game and come up the loser.

The fact of the matter is while we are busy envying someone else’s life, that very same person may be envying another person, too. When I was younger I could sense something wrong in a relationship with a close friend. I couldn’t put my finger on what was going on, but it seemed we were losing our closeness and I was stymied as to what I had done that would make her avoid me. Finally, unable to stand it any longer, I confronted her. I was stunned when I heard her say she was jealous of my ability to make friends easily and I had a boyfriend, while she struggled to build relationships. Feeling badly about her relationships, she had started to avoid me, especially when I was with my boyfriend.

But the REAL fact of the matter was that I envied her for her sense of humor, her close-knit Christian family, and her obvious musical talent. Once we were able to talk about our feelings and recognize that God made us unique individuals, with our own strengths and weaknesses, we abolished the barriers we had let build over time.

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Finding Joy in the Chaos, Part 1

If most of you are like me, the last two years have been frustrating. Covid has changed our world and stress levels are at an all-time high. Our lives are nothing like we envisioned them. I retired when Covid-19 hit such high numbers in 2020.

My expectations for retirement were drastically changed. My bucket list hit the trash can. There would be no road trips to see family and long-time friends, no cruises, and no extra vacations. Suddenly instead of the retirement I envisioned, I was left with the fall-out of Covid and it was hard to find joy in my life.

The fact is that many of the women I talk with are struggling to find joy in their lives amidst the chaos right now. They are tired and worn out. They are juggling their lives, trying to be everything to everyone. You are not alone if you are struggling.

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Fleeting Moments

Recently I was nestled in the Ozark Mountains during a writer’s retreat. It snowed most of the day and I awoke to a beautifully white, frozen world. The snow was pristine in its freshness because no tracks had marred the surface. The lovely white landscape was stunning. And if I had had the foresight to bring snow boots with me, I could have gone outside to play in the snow. But alas, no snow boots. By the afternoon all that lovely snow was fading away, and the moment for playing in the snow was gone.

Photo by Linda DeLay Wallace

But I savored that small moment where I glimpsed a serene beauty during the midst of winter. It gave me a sense of peace and contentment and reminded me that God is the best artist there is. But it took little time for the peace of the moment to flee.

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Justice Can’t Wait

My friend, Patrick Heston, is a crafter of words. I always enjoy his insights and frequently find myself saying, “Yes, that is exactly how I feel!” but he articulates it so much better than I do. This morning as I read his words, I found it echoed in my heart. So I asked him if I could share his thoughts on my blog. He graciously said yes. So I hope this resounds with you as much as it did with me.

“The negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the . . . Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice.” (The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.) I know MLK day is past, but this isn’t a post about MLK. This is not a political post, regardless of what some may think. This is a post about me. Whether it is a post about you . . . only you know. On my Facebook profile, I long ago described myself as “more conservative than most liberals like and more liberal than most conservatives like.” There is a word for that. Moderate. I like moderates. I like being a moderate. I haven’t always been one, but have been one for a long time.

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