, , , , , , ,

How Moods Go: By Kicking

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Moods never go by praying, moods go by kicking.” And he’s right. “Gently” isn’t an adjective that can be applied to mood-removal. Moods must be eradicated by force.

Although I’ve read Chambers’ words countless times and heartily agree that what he wrote is undeniably true, I must admit that I’m often reluctant to kick my moods – especially “sick” mood.

When chronic illness gets me down and I become trapped in a dark and gloomy pit I call it “sick” mood. In an emotionally sick state I feel too low to rise and too hopeless to try. I reach the end of my rope and all I want to do – all I can think to do – is sulk. Tears are usually shed as I cry over my physical maladies and question why God has allowed this debilitating illness to plague me for so long.

Self-absorption is key to “sick” mood. Fixation on the self is at the heart of it. While trapped in a “sick” mood I am entirely consumed with my chronic illness, my pain, my suffering and my personal disappointments. My every thought revolves around me, myself and I.

The very last thing I want to do in a “sick” mood is kick myself – even if only metaphorically. I want the exact opposite of a kick. I want a hug. I want to be coddled, indulged, justified and humored. I want to be told that my feelings are understandable; that it is okay to get down in the pit; that I should lay low and feel my pain. I want to vent to God and lament my lot in life.

But “sick” mood always makes me sicker – physically, mentally and emotionally. When I give “sick” mood an inch it takes a mile and, before I know it, I’m completely paralyzed by pain and suffering. By indulging the mood I issue an open invitation to sorrow and sadness. Every negative, depressed, hopeless feeling receives a boost of discouraged energy and I get dragged deeper into the dark pit.

There is only one way out of “sick” mood: a round-house resurrection kick.

Even in the midst of pain and suffering Christ’s light and overcoming life is available to me but I can’t experience it if I’m unwilling to kick my mood. Until I reject the sadness of sickness and take hold of Christ’s resurrection power the mood won’t flee. I cannot capitulate to chronic illness and claim the joy, love, peace and hope of Jesus at the same time. One must go for the other to thrive. “Sick” mood must die for the Risen power of Christ to survive in me.

Jesus stands at the ready, willing and able to provide all the strength I need to kick “sick” mood and it can be mine the moment I surrender my will, ways and self-absorbed wallowing. The second I deny myself at the foot of the cross and claim the truth and life of the Holy Spirit “sick” mood is defeated.

When “sick” mood gets kicked abundant life is ushered in. Overcoming, spirited, energetic joy is revived. Restful, calming, comforting peace is restored. Hope makes a comeback and all is well with my soul.

, , , ,

Crashing into the Cross

Her foot was on the brake with the pedal engaged but the car wouldn’t stop. It just kept moving forward. Mom tried not to panic as she pumped the brakes but her frantic footing was futile. The brakes were completely shot and within seconds the car was face-to-face with the garage.

Thankfully Mom wasn’t hurt. The car traveled the length of the garage and would have crashed through the back wall had it not been for what the accumulation of stored stuff that stopped the out-of-control vehicle and wouldn’t let it go an inch further. Piled high along the far end of the garage was an assortment of garden equipment, kid’s riding toys, garbage cans and bicycles. The stuff saved Mom’s life by stopping the car from breaking through the back of the garage and careening down the hill behind it.

 

Mom’s brake-less car story is a picture of life without Christ, my own life without Christ.

 

Before I surrendered my life to Christ I was like Mom’s out-of-control car. I was driving through life without brakes. I didn’t do what I wanted to do or stop and obey the rules like I knew I should. I was lost in rebellion, completely out-of-control and headed straight for a crash.

Driving without brakes in a car always ends with impact and so it was with my life. After months of picking up speed I came face-to-face with the garage of my life. I didn’t even think to brace for impact, I was too ignorant and blind to foresee the consequences of my disobedience. Before I knew it I was crashing into the reality my sin, guilt and shame. I ran full-force into the disaster I was making of my life.

But thankfully I wasn’t hurt because my life ran into Christ’s cross. Behind all of my transgressions and wrongdoings Jesus was standing in the way of my ultimate destruction ready and willing to save me. When I crashed into His cross my life couldn’t go any further. Christ brought me to my knees and my out-of-control life to a full stop.

 

Apart from Christ we are all doomed for a deadly disaster, speeding down a hell-bound road without brakes and without hope in this world. But, praise be to God, Jesus is standing in victory, waiting to save and redeem us with His Cross. Only by the power of His resurrection and the grace of His salvation can our out-of-control lives be stopped and saved.

The moment you hit the door of rebellion, look to the cross because Christ is there, ready and willing to rescue you.

Surrendered before His throne, redeemed by His resurrection, your life will be saved upon impact so you can travel the rest of life’s road with the brakes of righteousness and the assurance of eternal salvation.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—

and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

 

* Mom’s brake-less car story is circa 1995.

, , ,

Talking to the Birds

In the neighborhood I call home the houses are situated on quarter acre sized lots, only a few hundred feet apart. The homes are so close that, if you look just right, you can see in your neighbor’s window. Not that I’m peeking. It’s just a fact of residential suburban life.

In the summer months when the windows are open and my neighbors are out in full force I often hear their hearty laughter and boisterous conversation. In the comfort of my own home I’ve even listened to their rocking music. When they crank up the volume I can hear every word.

Living in close proximity to neighbors means you quickly become familiar with their habits, routines and preferences. You come to know, for example, what genre of music they enjoy and what time they leave for work. Or, as is the case with my newest next-door neighbor, you come to discover that they have a deep love and appreciation for birds.

To be honest, I haven’t officially met my new next-door neighbor. I’ve seen her car but couldn’t pick out her face in a grocery store line. But, even in spite of her anonymity, I am confident that my new neighbor love birds because she regularly talks and listens to them from her back deck.

Yes, you read that right. My new neighbors talk to birds. From inside my house I’ve heard her lively discussions with the feathered fowl in nearby trees. During their chats, my neighbor makes various bird-calls and practices a plethora of pitches. She even changes the tone and rhythm of her dialogue in response to her feathered friends.

The bird conversation begins with my neighbor making a few bird sounds of her own then pausing to listen as the birds respond. This back-and-forth dialogue goes on for quite some time, easily half an hour or so. Neither bird caller nor bird ever seems to tire of the discussion. From the energy in their voices there is no question that both neighbor and birds thoroughly enjoy their conversations.

When I first heard this chatter between my neighbor and the birds I’ll admit I thought it was a bit odd. Never before had I heard an individual have such a lengthy and enthusiastic conversation with birds. But the more I listened to the exchange the more beautiful it became. The back and forth soon became magical music to my ears.

 

The beautiful conversations taking place between my neighbor and the birds has taught me an important lesson: When you love someone – or some birds – you change your tune to speak their language.

Scripture says that my love for God is made manifest in my life when I speak His language and call out in His pitch of love and grace. When I turn to Him in prayer and seek His presence to not only speak but, more importantly, listen to His voice, Christ indwells my soul. When I surrender my selfish tune and earnestly endeavor to embody God’s calls the very Spirit of Christ transforms the song on my lips.

Every day of my life I am to be practicing God calls and engaging in the most magical, musical conversation man can ever experience: A holy and life changing conversation with God.

 

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Colossians 3:1

 

, ,

Surrender the Toast

The bakery bread on the kitchen counter was white but I preferred sprouted – or at least whole wheat. The offerings before me were fluffy with plain refined flour. There wasn’t a single nutty, seedy grain in sight.

For years I passed by this particular bread and reached for my own personal supply instead but on this particular morning I’d run out. I was craving eggs and toast but had yet to restock my whole wheat bread. At first I thought I’d settle for only an omelet but while beating the eggs it became clear that just an omelet would not do. They needed a side dish. As my morning eggs sizzled they begged me to give up my sprouted resistance and surrender the toast.

Once slice of white bread served as my white flag as I surrendered my toast. Under the heat of the electric element it toasted to a perfect golden brown.

In that moment of freedom my nose was met with the aroma of fresh bakery bread awhile my heart was met with the sweetness of surrender. Feasting in the glory of freedom I enjoyed my piece of simple white toast and didn’t miss sprouted grains one bit.

Even in the simplest of circumstances surrender is sweet. When the will is submitted and preferences are put aside, the spirit of Christ will always provide a bountiful feast. The most satisfying nourishment is experienced in His presence and savored in His love.

At His table, God has prepared a place for me and He has set it with surrendered toast.

, ,

Subject to Change

It’s official.
On March 31st, with a Uhaul truck and returned security deposit, I’m hitting the road again and moving home…again.
Over the past eight years I have played relocation hop-scotch across the eastern United States. Long-time Pippy Love followers will remember that it all began in Sarasota, Florida on a 1,200 mile adventure to regain my health. At least, that was my plan until every detail of my agenda was turned upside down and changed due to declining health. Before I knew it, I was on the road again and headed back home again.
Next stop was a move to the village town of Chagrin Falls, Ohio followed by a journey back down to the Sunshine state. Both moves were made with pure intentions but neither one went according to my plan. After each failed relocation I hit the road and headed home…again.
Then, when I was absolutely sure I could not take one more ping-pong move, my plans changed. Before I knew it I was standing in the North Hills of Pittsburgh with a Lyme Disease diagnosis and a Uhaul truck to unpack. That was a year ago now and once again, my plans have changed. I’m on the road again. I’m moving home again.
To be honest, as much as I love my parents and childhood home, living at home in my twenties was not part of my plan. The broadest sketch of my plan included marriage and home ownership, not ailing health and a fixed up “apartment” in my parent’s basement. But my plans have been utterly destroyed and dramatically, fundamentally changed by the correcting, perfecting hand of God.
With every relocation and return home I have learned that every plan I make is subject to God’s perfecting change. When I plan and plot with a pure, surrendered heart He is faithful to transfigure and transform my moves by the renewing of His cleansing grace. Because He is merciful and loving, God restores my plans and sets them on the right road again. He brings them back home and back to the heart of His Son, Jesus Christ, again.

At every failed move God has furthered loosened my grip on my plans. He has weakened my hold on my will in order that I be free to grasp all the tighter to the Lord, Jesus Christ. In His infinite wisdom, God has used moving here, there and always back home again to soften my rigid heart. He has changed my plans to change my heart and transform it with the fluidity of Christ’s amazing forgiveness and grace.

I’m about to hit the road and move back home again…at least, that’s my plan.
But as you well know everything is completely subject and surrendered to God’s most good and glorious change.