nancy williams

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Archive for July, 2009

Dancin’ in the Rain

I’m trying to keep my eyes on the computer screen as I write this column; however, the view outside keeps tugging me away. The clear morning sky has faded into an afternoon of dismal gray clouds that are beginning to shower some needed rain onto our parched landscape. After what seemed like a never-ending drought, we’ve finally had a few days of relief. Not enough water to fill the creeks, but sufficient enough to encourage the grass and shrubs to hang onto life a bit longer. The rumble of thunder just chased my husband and his lawnmower indoors. We had the afternoon scheduled with several outdoor projects that were long overdue, but now we’ll have to set all those plans aside.

A few days ago we had a similar experience. We began the day with a long to-do list of outdoor projects, focused on rolling up our sleeves and taking care of business. That was, until the rain began to fall. Not just a soft summer sprinkle, but the kind of downpour that sends you scrambling indoors for a towel. My first response, I must admit, was one of frustration, “Oh, no. There goes our day. We had everything ready to go and now all we can do is watch it pour.” Waiting is not my forte, so I wasn’t a happy camper as I envisioned my plans for the day being washed away. My attitude was growing as dark as the sky outside.

My husband, on the other hand, quickly tapped into his spirit of determination and flexibility as he moved his tools out of the rain. “OK, so maybe we can’t do all we wanted to do. We’ll just do whatever we can, even in the rain. Besides, we won’t have to water the lawn.”

Watching the showers today and reflecting back on last week’s lesson in adaptability reminds me of a quote similar to one attributed to Roger Miller: “Some people dance in the rain, while others just get wet.” I’m afraid last week I was standing still and getting wet while my husband was dancing. I came across that quote just the day before we had the rainstorm. Isn’t that just like God? Weaving together experiences to teach us how he wants us to embrace life. Even our Bible study focus in James emphasized the truth God was bringing to my mind and beckoning me to apply as I deal with the rainy days in my life.

We can begin the day with the best plans and positive attitudes, desiring to accomplish all we can. Sometimes the sunshine brightens the day and things flow easily. Then there are other times when the sky darkens, the thunder rolls and the rain pours down, leaving us with a choice. What attitude will we embrace when the trials come? How will we respond to the challenges of life? It’s easy to dance when the sky is blue and the birds are singing, or when the moon and stars glisten in the clear night sky, but, what about those rainy days? Can we make those times count in our lives as well? Or do we let our disappointments and frustrations rob us of joy and leave us wet.

Perhaps we can take our cue from the writings of James in the Bible. In the first chapter of his letter he says, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help” (taken from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson).

It’s raining in many of our lives right now and we really don’t know when it will stop. Perhaps there’s some truth to another familiar quote that says, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” So, my friends, let’s ask God to teach us how to dance – even in the rain.

Time for a Mid-Year Check-Up

Are the pages on your calendar turning as quickly as mine? Here we are in mid-July and 2009 is halfway over. I’m afraid the date on my driver’s license, a chat with my doctor, conversation with family and friends, and a look in the mirror all remind me that the years of my life are moving along more quickly than I care to admit. I know I can’t slow down the process and I certainly don’t want to end it (until God says so). There are things I want to accomplish as I make the most of the coming days-relationships to cultivate and experiences to share with those I love. Yet, I don’t want to find myself so caught up in activities that I miss simple pleasures and the joy life offers. When I come to the end of my days, I want to know that I did my best to use my time well and fully live the life God designed for me. Unfortunately, while my time management intentions are well meaning, the results have not always been the best. Perhaps you can relate.

The scenario looks something like this: we step into a new year, determined to make it our best year yet. With a blend of enthusiasm and hope, we set goals. Then, armed with ‘to do’ lists, off we go. We buy memberships to fitness centers and purchase the latest diet books and personal organizers. We declare war on clutter and vow to be more diligent in our time of worship. Instead of grabbing whatever we find in the fridge, we turn off the television and gather around the dining table for a healthy dinner and family connection. We develop a budget to get our financial house in order, and we read about living a balanced life.

We’re off to a great start. Then the demands of life come creeping in to take over our schedules and good intentions. Our focus shifts as distractions draw us off course. We grab more fast food in between the activities we’re trying to fit into the already-busy schedule as we find less time for exercise and spiritual nourishment. Family members pass each other, all going in different directions. Our financial house is not quite so orderly and we’ve forgotten what that concept of “balance” means. The “want to’s” are getting lost as the “have to’s” take over.

Life gets busy, indeed. If we’re not careful, we find ourselves moving through our days either running as fast as we can to get everything done, going in circles without a clear sense of direction, going through the motions yet finding little pleasure, or overloaded, overworked, overwhelmed, and burned out-not moving at all. Whew!

So, here it is, midway through 2009. Time for a personal inventory. Carefully consider these questions as you take note of how you are moving along your life journey. See if there’s a need for any adjustments.

(1) What do you envision overall for your life? What do you want to “be?” Now, is what you’re doing bringing that vision to light or hiding it in the dark?

(2) Have you set realistic goals to reflect that sense of purpose? Are they attainable for you at this point in the year, if you stretch yourself reasonably? Are they consistent with your personal values and priorities? Do you believe you can reach them?

(3) Are you on course to accomplish your goals? If not, what adjustments will you make?

(4) Are there obstacles impeding your progress? What will you do to clear the path?

(5) What support resources will you turn to for encouragement and accountability as you move forward through this year, committed to building the life you envision?

Years from now, when we look back on 2009, will we be pleased with how we approached life and how we managed our time, energy and the opportunities before us? That’s my personal renewed commitment and I offer it as a challenge to you. What do you envision for your life? Now, what will you do to let that light shine as you step into the days ahead?

Be encouraged.