Over the last couple of years, I have had moment after moment where my mind and heart returns to the Hymnal of my youth, and with the benefit of life experience I begin to discover the jewels packed inside the words I sang over and over again. As I was reading The Shelter of God’s Promises, by Sheila Walsh (a gift of the BookSneeze program), it was this hymn that kept running through my mind.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock; That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love, And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.
(Hideth my Soul, by Fanny J. Crosby)
In this book, Walsh uses the metaphor of a cleft in a rock to describe the shelter we find when know, and let God’s hand cover us with the promises he has made — and kept — to generation after generation. God’s promises, like a cave in a storm, provide a place of safety and security in the midst of the inevitable insecurity, pain, and hardships of life. For every hurt, every doubt, every sadness, every pain, God has already made a way through with his promises. His promises reveal the depth of his love for us. That is the message of this book.
Each chapter is a focused look at one promise, given to address one specific need. For example, the need of “I Don’t Have Enough” is met with God’s promise of Provision. “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Then Walsh expertly weaves personal stories with Biblical examples of how God has kept that promise over and over and over. By addressing just one need (or one fear, you might say) in each chapter, this book both reads well cover to cover and will serve as a regular “go-to” resource when I need a fresh reminder of God’s word toward a specific aspect of my human struggle at any given time. My copy is already well-marked, dog-eared, and highlighted, and I anticipate finding even more relevant truth on each new reading.
The Shelter of God’s Promises also includes a Bible Study Guide, and I am sure this would be an excellent text for Group or Individual study.
If you read my previous post, you know I have adopted Courage as my focus word for 2011 after being inspired by Ali Edward’s One Little Word challenge. I think Courage fits nicely with my quest to live a wholehearted life. What is more courageous than learning to be yourself?
I, like Ali, believe you don’t really find the right word; the right focus word finds you. I’ve been chewing on the idea of courage for a few weeks now. Inspired by the charge to have more “courageous conversations” in my business; learning that courage is one of the Gifts of Imperfection; even discovering I had already blogged about courage before officially declaring this my 2011 word.
In Gifts of Imperfection, Brene’ Brown quotes theologian Mary Daly, “Courage. You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.”
Here are some other quotes on courage that inspire me.
- Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage. (Maya Angelou)
- Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. (Winston Churchill)
- Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts. (John Wooden)
- If you only do what you know you can do, you never do very much. (Unknown)
- Courage is knowing what not to fear. (Plato)
- Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway. (Dr. Robert Anthony)
- Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” (Mary Anne Radmacher)
I am especially moved by the thoughts of courage as quiet strength. Brene’ Brown calls this Ordinary Courage — not flashy heroics but everyday acts of stretching myself a little more than I did yesterday. The courage to try something new. The courage to speak up (or bite my tongue). The courage to acknowledge I don’t do everything perfectly. The courage to be OK with the imperfection. The courage to open my heart and mind to wherever focusing on Courage may take me this year.
“When the student is ready, the master will appear.” Oh, how this has been true for me over the last weeks as I have desired, then determined to live more intentionally — more wholeheartedly. In fact, I can hardly read fast enough or journal long enough or create enough blog posts to even begin to reach more than just the tip of inspiration that has been flooded my way. Most definitely, when you are ready to be quiet enough, the messages you need will come.
And, in my experience, they come in wave after wave of awe.
Here’s an example. Ali Edwards & I were colleagues back in my publishing days. Ali is one of those people I enjoyed running into during conventions because her energy is contagious and her authenticity is crystal clear. She’s honest about the imperfect, but wonderful life she lives. Plus, she’s almost always smiling. So it was really fun to see her name on the back of my new favorite book (as you know by now, Brene’ Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection.) Turns out Ali & Brene’ are friends, too. Why am I not surprised! Kolette Hall was another of my scrapbook industry friends. We met when Kolette & her brother were starting a scrapbooking company and I, as an editor, was in a position to help them get the word out. But she clearly was never trying to use me as a connection, just a friend. Kolette writes a blog I love: The Art of Choosing Joy — and the title is true to the life she leads. If anyone had the right to choose anything but joy, it would be Kolette. But she doesn’t. I love and admire her more than she will ever know for that!
So when Kolette wrote about Ali’s One Little Word idea, it was the Perfect Storm of Inspiration.
One Little Word works like this. Pick one word that you want to focus on, study, reflect upon, learn about in the New Year. Then watch and see what this word can teach you. I have a pretty good feeling that it, too, will be an experience of finding strength and learning and surprise and delight in places I never expected simply because I started looking.
So my word for 2011 is … Courage. What’s yours?
Have you seen the Special K commercial where women nervously step on a very public, very big scale? Scared of what they will see, they are instead rewarded by a scale reading “pride” and “courage” and “confidence.” LOVE IT! And it reminded me of a segment I heard on the radio earlier this week. I caught it in the middle, so I don’t even know who was speaking or the topic of the show, but I turned it on just in time to hear these words, “The goal is not a number. The goal is peace.”
It’s so easy to let the number on the scale determine my mood. Yes, I need the numbers to go down. Today’s number is not healthy. But I have learned over the years that I run the risk of becoming obsessive about my food, whether I’m eating a lot of it or staying away from it. Counting calories, tracking points, measuring workout minutes … for me, those are just substitutes for stuffing my face. They are both means of keeping my focus on the food. And whether I am worrying about what to eat next or what not to eat, the mental energy spent on food is a waste.
To me, “the goal is peace” means to have grace for myself in this area of my life, too. It means that even as I strive to be healthier – move more and eat less – the worry, the obsession, the measuring has to go. Instead I will measure my progress in pride, courage, confidence, and peace.
I have always loved to think on God’s role as “the Lifter of my Head” — just hearing those words makes me physically hold my head a little higher, my chest a little prouder.
It’s so easy to walk through life with slumped shoulders and a downward gaze. They don’t call it “the weight of the world on your shoulders” for nothing. It’s been that kind of crazy week. Nothing out of the ordinary or particularly painful, just crazy busy getting back into the swing of getting Christian to school on time, juggling multiple buyers and frustrated sellers, Thom transitioning to a new position at Lowes, laundry that piles up, dishes that don’t wash themselves, a dog with a cold, and now the forecast of snow (which in Fayetteville, NC, means an automatic 2 or more Snow Days to throw a kink in the schedule.) And I’m left feeling badly that I didn’t spend as much time as I’d like with my family this weekend (chin down), and that I only got through 2 loads of laundry today (shoulders slump), and that if this Great Storm of 2011 keeps us inside more than 2 days I’ll be the only person in Fayetteville without enough milk (“humph”).
Then along comes Jesus, and he puts his hand gently under my chin and lifts my head to meet his eyes. “Chin up, Kid.” He kisses my forehead, and I know, right now, no matter what, I am enough.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalms 121:1-2
(P.S. This verse was on a small wooden sign in my Grandma & Grandpa Hardison’s house, so whenever I hear it, I am reminded of them. And that makes me feel better, too.)