Emerging from the Pool After a Long Swim

It was like leaping into a pool that was just a little bit too deep. I couldn’t find the bottom of the pool to launch myself back up to the surface.

It was. Hard. To keep. My breath.

Arms flailing, I pull myself up through the water and back to the world of oxygen.

Gasp!

Air again.

That’s is the feeling of being done with this year and this semester, in particular. For four months, I took 18 college credit hours, taught Sunday school, and worked with the college newspaper. This semester has been full of challenges and stress. It has been a season where I have experienced the most anxiety and depression. I have never had so many rough days.

But the season is over. Well, it has been for a week.

As I wind down and catch my breath, I am catching a glimpse of all of the lessons that can be learned from this past semester.

A few of those lessons:

Joy. Prayer. Mornings. Scripture. Friends. Quiet.

God has taught me that it is important to count my blessings and the moments of joy in the midst of pain. In the little things, God is teaching and calling and loving me.

Prayer is a beautiful spiritual discipline, and processing with the Lord helps me respond with more grace. The Lord has shown me so much grace in my failings and my mistakes, and I will continually need more grace. I will also need to learn, every day, how to give more grace. Prayer is a place to do that.

This semester, I learned the wonder of mornings. Without 8 am classes, I could get up, enjoy the morning, and sit in the sweet morning sunshine on my couch.

Scripture speaks. All of it speaks, and it is the Word of God. This semester, there has been a great desire in my heart to read and know the Bible, reading through the entire thing in one year. The Lord has provided for me His Word so that I may know more about His glory and His character. (I’ve never made it through the whole thing in a period of a year, and I really want to!)

With such a busy schedule and a stressful year, I have recognized the importance of friends. I have done a pretty lame job of loving and encouraging my friends well. I want to and need to be more consistent and more in tune to the people around me. Friends rebuke and encourage. Friends defend. I have seen the gift of friendship, and I endeavor to be a better friend, to love better, to cherish the moments. These people are a gift from the Lord that I have often taken for granted. He has been so gracious to me. I don’t want to be too busy with academics and outside commitments that I miss out on fun times and quiet moments with my friends.

So here we are. The beginning of a new season, having learned new lessons. I know God will use this season to teach me so much more.

Here’s to a summer of floating on the surface of the pool before I get out and jump in again. I guess I will take the time to put on a little sunscreen before I go out in the sun for too long.

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November: Thanksgiving, Bonfires, and Leaves

Thanksgiving.

It’s a holiday. But it’s also an attitude.

One day of giving thanks to God isn’t enough. A lifetime of giving thanks to the Lord isn’t enough. God deserves to be glorified by all people, in all things.

I have found that giving thanks for the small things, helps me give things for the big things, whether they are good or bad. It is when I focus on the good that I can endure the bad.

When I face daily struggles and frustrating situations, I write in my notebook things for which I am thankful. Here are a few from my little notepad:

124. The crackle of a fire

125. Sparks that disappear into the night sky

126. Crunchy leaves

This idea comes from “One Thousand GIfts” by Ann Voskamp. Ann writes with a very poetic style, and she tells a tale of loss and grief. But it is when she begins to give thanks that she begins to heal. When a friend challenges her to keep a journal with 1,000 things that she is thankful for, she takes the challenge, and begins her journey towards joy.

“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.”

Psalm 95:1-4

Joy and thanksgiving go hand in hand. They are complementary to each other.

In our joy, we give thanks, and when we give thanks, we find joy.

Will you take the challenge to write 1,000 things that you are thankful for? Will you seek joy through thankfulness?