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a-shoe-gets-stuck-in-deep-mud

Are you feeling a little stuck? Maybe your situation hasn’t shifted for so long you fear there’s a chance it never will. Well then, this might be just what you need to hear today…

You are not stuck. Though you may feel that way just now, don’t let feelings dictate truth. The truth is, God is on your side. You were made in his image and are full of passion, zeal, and creativity. You have this day ahead of you—a chance to change one thing. And one thing altered day after day adds up to a multitude. Start with your attitude.

You are not stuck. No need to waste your time wishing for what isn’t, or encumbered with the past. Instead—as the true fighter and go-getter that you are—take that fiery passion, refuse to be extinguished, and fan it into flame. Keep moving toward those big, audacious dreams. It’s not too late. As long as you have breath, it’s never too late.

You are not stuck. There is still time to try. If the door closes, that is some type of answer, but need not diminish your desire or take away from how God put you together. You may need to make course corrections, but those curves move you closer to where you are meant to be. Besides, you aren’t one to accept mediocrity or settle for just okay. You have lofty goals and prefer to keep moving toward them.

You are not stuck. There will be periods of waiting, times where you may need to learn something or have to try again. There will be hardship and heartache, but even then, you are not stuck. People get stuck in their own mind. They get stuck when they forget to be thankful, or when they pile self-made mountains before them, believe lies, maintain perpetual pity-parties, grow cynical, or forget to be hopeful. But that’s not you.

You are not stuck. It’s true that life will never turn out how you expect. You need to overcome that disappointment right now. How you live is a choice. The pauses, the waiting, the pain, the no’s all build character and prepare you for the yes’s. They make you a rich, compassionate person able to understand and grow and help others in need. Take this seemingly stuck time and use it as a springboard to launch you toward what is ahead. Live in hope instead.

You are not stuck. Things may not have worked out the way you expected, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t turning out. Disappointments and hurts are hard, sad, and sometimes brutal, and it’s natural to feel stuck—for a time. Be kind to yourself. Remember that nothing stays the same forever. You will heal, grow and overcome this hurdle. And you will become even stronger as a result.

You are not stuck. Even if your boots are several inches in the mud and won’t budge, there are always options. Pull your feet out, leave the boots behind and trudge barefoot. You may get dirty, you may need a hand, and it may take a pile of extra effort, but you’re only stuck if you choose to remain in the same place without moving forward. You can take the next step. And another after that.

You are not stuck. Refuse to get stuck in your head with small thinking. Because what you think, what you believe, dictates how you behave. You are braver than you think. You have something to offer this world no one else has. You are a dynamic force to be reckoned with and were not meant to sit back and let things happen. With that boldness, that uniqueness, you can influence change. Keep going. Keep moving forward.

You are not stuck, unless you chose to believe you are. There are things for you to do, that only you can do, in the way you do them. Keep going!

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

~ Isaiah 41:10

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

~ Romans 8:37

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

~2 Corinthians 10:5

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  1. In what ways do you feel stuck?
  2. Pray first. Then, as much as depends on you, and with God’s help, make necessary changes.

 

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painting

A couple of weeks ago, I nearly finished a painting. I had challenged myself to begin an abstract piece without a sketch. I’ve never done that before, and it took giving up control and allowing it to go where it would. The only structure I put in place was a straight line drawn horizontally across the oversized canvas.

Like most art, it’s nearly impossible to say when it’s complete. The incomplete canvas leaned lonely against our kitchen table for several days while I reviewed the edits for my novel. Then we left for a week away. Upon returning, my husband promptly hung my almost finished piece on the living room wall to await its final touches. He and the kids said it looked complete already. All I could see stretched out before me were the other areas and hours I planned on tweaking it.

Aren’t we a bit like that painting?

We exist as unfinished masterpieces.

When others look at us, we look pretty good, maybe even complete. But our creator knows there’s more to be done. He’s the only one who can truly see when the work is finished. Because he loves us, he won’t lean us against a table, forget about us, or let go, until we are fully a masterpiece.

During the painting process, we look for a sketch to follow, but must instead keep striking out in faith. This takes trust and courage, especially when we feel unsure of our direction, completely lost, lonely, or are hurting. In such times, we think if we only had a sketch—some step-by-step plan—to guide us, then the canvas of our lives would turn out just right. But we aren’t the artist.

As I painted, I experimented with solid body paint, applying it thick to create texture. I waited for it to begin to dry and harden, then smeared it when it was just the right consistency creating a flattened texture. I loved the result and began to do likewise with the bottom half of the painting. Before it reached the perfect stage, I had to rush out. No worries, I told myself, it will give the paint time to dry, and when I return I’ll do the technique. Alas, I came home later than expected, and it was too dry to manipulate. Though I pressed and scraped, the paint would barely move. The rough texture looked completely different.

Interestingly enough, without my saying a word, everyone who looks at the painting likes those parts the best—the mistake. They think it’s bold and has the most character.

The same is true with our lives; beauty is forged from accidents and mistakes. Character is hewn out of hardship. When it seems circumstances can’t be budged or smoothed, and there’s no sketch to follow, the creator is fashioning our lives—and us—into a work of great beauty despite our mistakes and meddling.

Sometimes, we think our lives might be impossibly messed up, but God’s grace and love creates beauty from ashes. Our blunders and flaws, and various rough patches inflicted upon us, aren’t a surprise to him. If we let him, God even fashions them to form within us strength, boldness, and remarkable beauty. When he looks at us, he can already picture the finished piece.

Until then, we are unfinished works in progress awaiting the day we become masterpieces.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

~ Isaiah 61:1-3

 

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I’m thankful for my hubby.

Confession: Fall isn’t my favourite time of year. I much prefer hot, hazy mid-summer days. I adore my garden at peak performance showing off its full glory. I relish a few lazy minutes of reading on the porch with the birds’ chorus adding to the unfolding beauty. There’s the endless, sunspun blue skies, and the warm evenings begging us to linger outside and squeeze the most out of the long days of light. Even as I write this, I’m still mourning summer’s end. 

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I’m thankful for my garden.

But its fall and, in Canada, that means a few changes. And with the changing season come a few things I could stand to be grateful for. Things like: apple cider, the smell of smoke sauntering out of hundred-year-old chimneys, the blazing leaves letting go, comical gourds, pumpkin pies, fall Mums, and cosy sweaters. Maybe you could add a few of your own.

My daughter adores this time of year and makes a fall list – traditions that she keeps each year. Among other activities, she decorates her room, visits the pumpkin patch with a friend, then painstakingly carves the perfect pumpkin once home. She makes procuring a pumpkin spice latte a must, makes a fall play list, and even dresses up for Halloween to hand out candy at our door. Through her, I’m trying to increase my affection for fall.

But no matter where we find ourselves this autumn, no matter how much you cherish the changing seasons, how amazing, or not-quite-so-amazing, your circumstances may be, the truth is we can always find something to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is an ideal reminder that we really should be living each day thankful, not just one weekend.

Here are some things I’m thankful for: a simple breath of outside air, the late-day sun on my face, a flock of migrating birds crossing overhead, a sip of warm coffee, the bite of food in my mouth before thinking of the next, and a moment of stillness in my home (like this one when no one is making a sound). I’m thankful for my dear friends who love and cheer me on, my children who encourage me to do big things, and my husband who still loves me after 26 years of intimately knowing my every fault. And I’m thankful that God, who knows me even better than that, gave His Son because He thinks I matter.

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I’m thankful for my kids.

This act of being thankful has a way of brushing the cobwebs of ingratitude away. Like the way we gripe in our childish entitlement, or the way we have mini-fits when the world doesn’t give us all we asked for. Thankfulness acts as an automatic attitude-shifter, and the everyday, moment-by-moment practice of it helps us approach our minutes with a healthier, life-giving focus.

There are times so bewilderingly dark, so emotionally or physically painful, that it seems virtually impossible to find a single thing to be thankful for. But even when the light is scant, look hard. There is always a small ray of hope shining in that darkness and lighting something of which to be thankful for – even if it is that next breath.

And, like anything, the more we practice thankfulness, the easier it becomes. What if this weekend we start, and then just keep going – this month and this year – and develop a solid habit of finding something to be thankful for each day, and especially in times of difficulty? I have an inkling we might experience an increased dose of contentment, peace, and joy.

     “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”                      1 Thessalonians 5:18

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  1. Have you made a “Thankful List”?
  2. Develop the practice of finding things to be thankful for each day and even each moment.

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