Remember a time when someone said that to you? It typically happens when you see family you haven’t seen for a while - like over the holidays. How about “you look so grown up!”
And then you get spun around like a sweater off the rack at Nordstrom’s and feel like you’re on display for everyone in the room to examine your growth or grown-upedness. It used to make me uncomfortable with the sudden attention everyone turned to me, make me roll my eyes or look the down. But at some point I stopped growing, physically. And now, it’s rude for someone to say I look older or bigger.
But I hope I haven’t stopped growing. I hope I never will.
In 2013 I want to grow. I want to grow so much it’s visible. I want to grow in my faith and in my writing. I want to speak French more fluently and learn some new healthy, tasty, not overly complicated recipes. I want to learn how to rock a killer headstand in yoga.
How do I start? Well, I just did. I wrote down some goals, some places in my life I want to grow. Next, I need to be more specific. How am I going to amp up my faith? What writing projects do I want to tackle in 2013? When do I want them to be completed? Who do I want to reach through them? How many recipes do I want to learn how to make each month? How much time a week am I able and willing to spend on my passé parfait? By when should I be able to do that headstand, and for how long should I be able to hold the pose?
Now, the action. What can I do today, this week, before Christmas break is over to launch these plans for growing into reality? How about you?
Growing is an integral part of being. It is our way of getting closer to the best versions of ourselves.
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. Philippians 1:6
God will start this work, but it’s our job to keep at it. How about you? Where would you like to grow in 2013? How are you going to tackle it?
"Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the neon pink Under Armour shirt and the handcrafted earrings designed by a college art student I got for Christmas. Who doesn’t love to look cute when they work out? And don’t get me started about my jewelry fetish. But I have a little secret. My favorite gifts of 2012 weren’t under the tree. God showered me with Christmas blessings big and small that could never be found at any mall:
Did you get any pantookas or jing-jinglers in your stocking? What was your favorite Christmas gift this year?
Where did you go today? What did you wear? What did you take with you?
I started the day with yoga. Wearing my comfy gray yoga pants and stretchy gray and black tank, I grabbed my mat, my rec center ID, my hot pink water bottle and slid on my flip-flops.
After a trip home for a quickie shower and a wardrobe change into a black sundress and a zillion bracelets, my next stop was a writing session at my local coffee shop, Kofenya. I packed my MacBook, extension cord, cell phone, wallet and of course my coffee cup for the excursion.
This afternoon I’ll head to the pool. I’ll need to slip on a bikini, pack my sunscreen (both spray and Neutrogena face formula), a towel, my Kindle, my U2 cap (to prevent sun damage), my straw cup full of H20 and a snack.
We, as a society, carry around so much stuff. And it’s even more fun when we get to carry it around in cute bags!
But Jesus challenges us to do something different. He sent the disciples out on their life’s work with a walking stick and the clothes and shoes they already had on.
These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Mark 6: 8-9 NIV
I’ve changed shoes three times today! IS His call to all of us exactly the same?
Not exactly, but kind of.
He might call you to teach or nurture or share a smile. You might be called to sing or paint or score or hug or listen or lead or follow.
He has a plan for you.
But do we need all this baggage we carry around to live out this plan?
Jesus still calls us to spread His word – every day, everywhere we go – whether that’s shopping or hanging out with friends or going to class or working out with our team or working or spending time with family. He calls us to be His light. So what do we need to bring?
That’s the easy one.
If I forget my sunscreen, I can sit under the shelter when I’m not in the pool. If I wear a normal t-shirt to yoga I’ll still be able to do my best downward dog. If I forget my travel cup at the coffee shop, they have mugs.
So where are you going today? Where has Jesus called you to go?
I’d love to hear about it. And don’t forget to pack the most important thing – Jesus.
I’ve danced, run, played softball (abysmal disaster), and taken my share of aerobics, spinning and Pilates classes, but last week was the first time I’ve ever tried yoga.
I sat on a thin mat with my legs criss-crossed. The teacher began, “Go into prayer position with your hands folded in front of you and your eyes closed.” The room full of strangers wearing spandex pants and tank tops were posed to pray? Maybe I should have tried yoga a long time ago.
She continued, her voice a peaceful, deliberate cadence, “If you’re spiritual, say a prayer of thanksgiving, maybe for the lovely breeze coming through the windows or for some reflective time today, or you can dedicate this workout to someone or something special on your mind.”
I inhaled and exhaled and prayed. Not the kind of prayer I so often say – a ‘to do’ list of wants and needs and demands on God. No, a different kind of prayer -- the kind of prayer when I don’t talk at God, but with Him, and actually give Him a chance to be heard over the noise in my head.
Class continued with an hour’s worth of poses and movements stretching muscles I didn’t realize needed to be stretched. The instructor peppered the class with comments like, “If you’re feeling particularly stretchy, lift your left leg over and behind your right leg.” She didn’t demand we do the move, but gave us the chance to do something even better for our bodies, if only we’d give it a try. Much like God doesn’t force us to go outside our comfort zone, but He gives us amazing prospects, if we’re willing to strike a new pose.
“If you’d like to get a deeper challenge, pull both arms behind you and turn your gaze upward.”
Did she really suggest I look upward, if I’d like a deeper challenge?
God’s just waiting up there with an incredible opportunity, if only I’ll look up to Him. God wants me to stretch! God wants to stretch me!
And God wants to stretch you!
What is it that God has been challenging you to do, but either you let your agenda drown Him out, or you haven’t felt particularly stretchy, or you’ve felt challenged to the hilt already?
I know. Just like you, I’m ready to pull out my iPhone, tap the Notes App and show God the list of reasons I’m not equipped for His plan. I don’t have enough time, experience, strength, contacts, expertise, resources, money, Twitter followers etc. to execute His plan.
Moses was weak and nervous and stuttered. But God said “What’s that in your hand?” Moses answered, “A staff”. And all Moses needed to take on the powerful pharaoh of Egypt and free an entire nation was that stick. David was young, inexperienced and ridiculed by his own brothers. But, David didn’t need King Saul’s armor or sword or army to take down the biggest terrorist this side of the Jordan River. He only needed five small, smooth stones. And Peter? Jesus asked him to leap out of a boat in the middle of the sea and “Come ahead.” Jesus didn’t throw Peter a raft or scuba gear or water skis. Peter just needed his own feet to walk on water! Well, they needed a stick, some stones, two feet and … faith. Maybe all we need to be stretched is our faith and something as simple as a yoga mat.
We all have constraints. But God doesn’t care. Like my yoga instructor, He doesn’t demand we accept His challenge. But He knows if we step up, the blind will see, mountains will move, seas will part and justice will be done. His Kingdom will be a better place. We will feel invigorated, empowered, energized, peaceful and comfortable in our own skins, because we’ll be living out His plan for us.
How is God asking you to stretch today? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment on where your legs and arms and gaze need to go to get a deeper stretch. And when you’re done grab your mat and strike prayer pose.
Laura L. Smith