Out Of The Comfort Zone Into Purpose

“There can be no real growth in the comfort zone!” ~dmwilliams

I’ve spent most of my life cowering in the comfort zone. Now that may sound like an oxymoron because why would one cower in their comfort zone? I mean, we hide out in the comfort zone because it’s, well, comfortable and we can function comfortably in that emotional and psychological space (I promise I was not trying to use different iterations of the word comfort; it just happened.)

When I say I cowered in the comfort zone, I mean I would exercise gifts and talents but minimally. I was always too concerned about what people would think about my offerings as well as often being stalked by that dreaded demon, impostor syndrome. My determination to stay within the boundaries of my comfort zone blinded me to purpose, so I never bothered to set goals. After all, I was good at what I could do in the zone because in my mind, I was in the zone.

But, one day I had an epiphany, “Donna, if you don’t breach the borders of your comfort zone, you will be like that pond that has no outlet, stagnant and bitter and unpotable. The longer you stay, the less impact you will have in this life and that meager offering you bring will eventually have no effect at all.

There is a Bible story about a man named Gideon. One day Gideon was threshing grain in a wine press. Now if you know, you know. Grapes are crushed in the wine press. Grain is not threshed in a wine press. Yet, there is Gideon cowering down and threshing away in his unlikely comfort zone, a wine press. Gideon is here because Israel is at war and he is afraid.

The Angel of the Lord comes to the wine press and greets Gideon with, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” then later goes on to give Gideon marching orders to go to war against Israel’s enemies: “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

Gideon probably initially thinks, “Yeah, right, I’m a mighty man of God. Do you see where I am and what I’m doing?”

He responds to the angel’s call to action with, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

The Angel tells Gideon that God is sending him which means God would be with him, but Gideon pushes back with the above statement, ipso facto, “I am weak; my tribe is weak; find someone else.”

He is afraid to break out of his comfort zone because in that space he is safe and he is hidden from the enemy. It was not until Gideon threw down that grain and stepped out of that wine press did he become what the angel declared to him to be, a mighty man of valor.

Okay, so God may not be calling you to a literal war, but what challenge are you avoiding because it’s way out of your comfort zone? It just may be that you will continue to be a poor facsimile of your true self until you step out of that comfort zone.

I’m A Writer

I hear your “Duh” to the title of this post. I mean, after all, I blog so I must be a writer!

True, true, true, but this morning I woke up to an email that read: “We wanted to let you know “A Thousand Words” is live.

I’m all smiles!

I am now officially a published writer! Yes, I have self-published a few books but this is my first piece where my writing has been validated outside of me and family and friends.

What is “A Thousand Words?” It is my first piece of flash fiction, a one hundred word memoir I wrote and submitted simply because I read a post by a former college professor who had just been published. I read her piece and decided to give it a try! She was such an encourager in college and unbeknownst to her, she is still encouraging me. She is so much more prolific and successful in flash fiction than I can every hope to be but her post was the push I needed.

These days, I submit a piece a week and the rejections have returned in a steady flow but I’m okay with the process. One day, a piece will land and stick and on that day, I will be all smile again.

I have two memoirs that are works in progress, a halfway completed novel and a book on grief that is under revision plus other manuscripts that have been languishing in a Google Drive folder.

Here is the lesson to be learned: We do not age out of gifts and talents in spite of society’s side-eye at the elders who move among them. Ageism’s attempt to dull my shine has nothing to do with me or my pursuit of my passion. This old gray mare may not be what I used to be, but I’m still kicking! The kick may not be as high as it once was, but I’m still kicking!

Hey, y’all, I’m a writer!

Click here to read my piece: https://www.fiveminutelit.com/five-minutes/a-thousand-words

THEY THAT WAIT!

I have decided that the Lord is teaching me how to wait. 

A REMINDER FROM YESTERDAY – 2008

(You can tell because i mention flipping the phone open)
My telephone died this past Tuesday; it just up and died in the middle of the day. I was waiting for phone call from a friend and as this friend is usually good about calling me back, I was a little perturbed that I had not received a phone call. Then the thought occurred to me, “Check your phone; it might be dead.” (I hate it when I do things like that.) Sure enough, there it was, blacker than a thousand midnights down in a Cypress swamp (my apologies Mr. Johnson). I hurried to plug it into the charger. Nothing. Well, that charger has always been wonky, so I go to the Sprint store with my story of me and my dead phone. I wait forty five minutes while the tech plugs it into the charger. They give me sympathy (awww) and a new charger. I go home and charge the phone for two hours. Nothing. I return to the Sprint store that afternoon with my saga of woe, my dead phone and my new charger. They decide to charge it in the store. “Heyyy, been there, done that.” I must say that the store people were very understanding (awww), but since I had no insurance and could not qualify for an upgrade at this time (because I just upgraded to a new line and a new phone), they could do. . .Yep. . . Nothing. I go home and cal the number the store manager gave me to call and plead my case (the Retentions department as in we want to keep our customers). I call. They do. . . say it with me. . .Nothing (apparently I am the one customer they do not care about losing). I go home. I plug my phone back into the charger the store gave me that morning because the phone does work on the charger. Finally, something. There is just one teeny, little problem. I am tethered to the phone and when I am away from an electrical outlet, I have no phone because the minute I unplug it from the charger, it dies, again and again and again. Nothing, nada, zilch, naught. My budget is not inclined towards a new telephone and will not be so for a while. I resign myself to having telephone privileges only when I am in the presence of electrical outlets. Didn’t I read something about telephones exploding as individuals talked on phones while the phones were being charged? I decide to take my chances. I am tethered to the phone for two days and when I am in the car or at a place where there is no outlet, I feel like as though some vital part of me is missing but I can’t quite figure out what that something is. Then today, this morning, a.m., I glance over at the phone tethered to the charger and the light is green! What-t-t-t? I stare at it for a minute before I release it from the charger. I hold it in my hands and slowly flip it open. Oh joy and ecstasy, the screen is active. Eureka and Hallelujah, It’s alive. It’s alive. It’s alive. Oh, Thank you Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you. . . . Uh oh. Things that make you go Hmmmmm.

I have decided that the Lord is teaching me how to wait.

Don’t you just love God’s teachable moments?

2021 – Yep, I’m still learning!

Come Grow Old With Me (If You Dare)

I no longer bound out of bed these days. I pray my way out of bed these days. I slowly sit up and throw my legs over the side of the bed. I sit there for a few moments to meditate on whether I should even try to get up. I must daily choose not be defeated by any geriatric state of mind so I slowly rise to stand even as cranky joints grudgingly respond to the call of the brain, “Get up, get up, GET UP!!! Slowly, inch by inch, I will myself up to my full height, whatever that looks like these days because as we age, we shrink, I think. I wobble into the bathroom for my thousandth visit since I lay down to sleep the evening before (I blame the blood pressure meds). I stare in the mirror and note the bedhead state of my hair. I can see clearly now since cataract surgery and I stare into a face that will greet me every morning from this day forward. I really did not understand just how diminished my vision was until the day after the surgery on the first eye and my face came into all its glorious focus. It took me more than a minute to recover. All I could think was a line the character Aunt Bee had in an Andy Griffith Show episode about aging, “You’re no spring chicken any more!” No spring chicken anymore. Nope, not anymore. My snapback has lost all of its snap and refuses to come back. It just limply lies there waiting for someone, or something, to push it back into place. My hair grows in gray and rallies agains any hair dye that tries to encroach on its territory. Crows peck at the outer corner of my eyes and chin whiskers grow at the speed of light as they defy tweezers. People tell me I don’t look my age, whatever they think my age may be, but my hands will not lie to save face. Birthdays insist on adding up and they refuse to stop showing up every year with another reminder that time marches on. My 18 year old mind is confused about my physical state of affairs and keeps sending out orders with which my obstinate body refuses to comply.

Still, grace continues to somewhat ameliorate the effects of growing older. I am still here, present enough to laugh with daughters, love on grandchildren and celebrate small victories. Ice cream is still a treat (always in moderation as is everything these days) and the hint of Autumn in the air wraps me with warm memories of yesterday. I move forward in the assurance of my faith which reminds me God still cares for me and He will take good care of me. I celebrate today because everyone, young or old, knows for sure (especially these days), that tomorrow is not promised to anyone of any generation.

“Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”

~excerpt from “Rabbi Ben Ezra” by Robert Browning

The fact of the matter is that everyone is aging no matter their age. We may not always be able to grow old gracefully every moment of every day but grow old we shall so come grow old with me — it’s all about mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. I’m good with that.

What Shall We Say To These Things?

The world is in chaos. The world is in turmoil. The world is full of Chicken Littles who run here, there and everywhere, crying out to all, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” Conked on the head by an acorn of truth, that moment has been turned into a mountain of distress and each believes it is now their obligation to warn everyone of the coming apocalypse.

So many Chicken Littles today, each with a personal perspective that has morphed into a worldview panic. Unfortunately, even those who proclaim to be followers of Christ now scurry around to praise those that receive their message of woe and to condemn those who refuse to buy in to their rhetoric.

“The sky is falling; the sky is falling!” The truth of a pandemic has become fodder for conspiracy theories and doom day revelations. In light of all that is being said and done, conservative versus liberal, right wing versus left wing, red versus blue, how does one find the energy to sift through all the minutia to discover the acorn of truth that is buried under red herrings by straw men?

Fear can stalk each of us but those of us who are believers can find comfort in the promises of Jesus found in Matthew 11:28-30. When our souls are burdened with the cares of the world, we can find solace in Him.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely

dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Matthew 11

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

I closed my prayer with the silent request, “Speak to me, Father.”

As I waited in stillness, as my selected music video from my favorite YouTube pianist played, I was distracted by an intermittent chirp. I listened closely; was it the smoke detector calling my attention to a dying battery? The chirp was not that distinct so, no, not the smoke detector.

The chirp continued and I could not ignore it. I got up from my chair and followed its call. I walked over to the front window to stand and listen.

“Chirp, chirp, chirp.” Is it a cricket in the house and if so, how did it get in? I’m in California where crickets in this neck of the woods are rare. I shuddered at the thought of having to chase down a cricket.

I pulled back the curtains to look out the window and there it was, a small bird on the walkway that leads to the front steps of the house. It pecked away at kernels of something and in between pecks it chirped. I stood there, watched it and mused that a bird which could fly chose to walk on the ground to forage for food.

My bird thoughts were interrupted by part of a scripture I had not thought of in years, “…if I take care of a two cent bird…” I could not remember all of the scripture but in that moment God reminded me of His care for me. He used a small bird that has no means other than to trust that when it looks for food, food will be found, even if it means taking a walk on concrete rather than soaring in the air.

The bird eventually walked away from the front of the house to cross the street. As I watched it, I realized that once I walked to the window to discover God’s feathered messenger, the chirps stopped though the bird remained in place for a few minutes. God got me to where He wanted me to be, to “hear” his message in the form of that tiny bird.

I returned back to my chair. As I sat, I glanced at the computer and the bible text from Mark 11:24 was on the screen. I had paid no attention to the screen during my prayer time so I was not expecting a scripture. I laughed as I read the text and thanked God for the period on His word to me through a little bird.

Mark 11:24 — “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Luke 12:6, 7 — “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Every Beat Of My Heart

My friend texted me about her mother’s condition as she battles COVID. My heart sank as I read the text but, as life usually does, I was distracted by my plans and I did not respond right away. As I scrolled through my tests, two days later, my friend’s text popped up to remind me I had not responded.

Rather than type out my prayer response, I tapped the microphone icon to pray out loud. I needed to hear my voice as I shared it with my friend. What surprised me, as I prayed, was the tender tone of my voice. It was gentler than usual. This epiphany gave me pause to think about the tone of my voice as I’ve “encouraged” others in the past.

What I heard today was my heartbeat in that prayer, a precious moment of heart connection with my friend as I felt her heartache as she watched her mother struggle to breathe, as she realizes there is nothing she can do but cry out to God for His intervention.

I’ve probably always known this but have not really thought about the heart to heart connection of prayer. I remember the elders of my past who prayed that we would have love that ran from heart to heart, from breast to breast. Prayer links us to the hearts of those for whom we pray.

Also, sometimes we are so focused on the prayer that we miss God’s heartbeat in our prayers. Prayer is not just a vocal expression but it also a moment of a linking of hearts, a moment of sensing God’s heartbeat in our prayers and in hearing His heartbeat, we feel their heartbeat, their heartache, their struggles, their brokenness.

I heard God’s heartbeat this morning. I heard it in my prayer as my heart linked to the heart of my friend.

Psalm 69:13 –

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.

At an acceptable time, O God,

in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.

What Do You Want? What Do You Need?

I have a Clubhouse Room – Reflect and Refresh – It is.a 15 minute room, a short devotional and prayer. For the last two weeks I have been praying through the names of God. One of the names of God is El Shadday/El Shaddai. I thought I knew the meaning of this name of God, The Lord is sufficient. However, when I did the research, I did discover that meaning but I also discovered two other meanings attached to this name.

Though it is not entirely clear the true meaning of El Shaddai, it can be defined as God Almighty with a reference to the time Moses was in the mountain and received the 10 commandments. El Shaddai is God of the Mountain. As I mulled over that meaning, I discovered another meaning for El Shaddai, the Lord the overpowerer. Though I have a hard time pronouncing the word, I understood the implication as in Luke 1:37 and Matthew 19:26, “With God nothing is impossible.” Though God will not violate His word, He will keep His word (Psalm 115:3) and His word is “I Am enough.”

As I put these meanings together, here is what I “hear:” God Almighty, God of the mountain, is enough. I no longer need to be concerned about whether I am enough or if I have enough. God Almighty is more than enough and when I call on His name, El Shaddai,, He can overpower every challenge, every obstacle, every challenge in my life and when I live out that knowledge in my life, when I activate my faith, frustration and fear take a back seat to faith. It is easy enough to mourn over what isn’t but God’s call is to celebrate and trust that He is and He is enough for every concern and need. The next time you face a need, change, challenge, remember this: God Almighty is enough.

What do you want? What do you need? God Almighty is Enough.