At the beginning of the year the pastor at my church challenged the congregation to come up with a word for the year 2013. This word would be something to hold onto throughout the year as a source of encouragement and to challenge personal growth.
I thought that sounded like a great idea so, as Mike and I drove home from church that afternoon, I asked God the quick question of :
“ Lord, what is my word for 2013?”
Nothing came to my mind or heart immediately so I left it at that. As the days went on and I thought about it more and more, I found the word that was constantly popping up in my mind was “ Purposeful”
That sounded like a good word to me and even though I knew I had a fairly good idea of what the definition was, I figured I should look it up in the dictionary just in case there was something I was missing.
having a purpose.
full of meaning; significant.
When I first read “having a purpose” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and think:
“Thank you CAPTAIN OBVIOUS!”.
I was slightly irritated by the fact that having a purpose was exactly what I have been trying to do and thought “How can you be purposeful if you don’t know what your purpose is!!!?”
Like, you know those people you meet or see who are EXACTLY where they need to be, and doing EXACTLY what they should be doing, because they are SO incredible at it? I have this desire to be like such a person, and yet realize that maybe not everyone can or is supposed to have that. Maybe some people are called to be good at a whole bunch of little things.
So as I mulled this over, I concluded that even if I didn’t have or know my exact “PURPOSE” that I would just try to be purposeful in all that I do.
I would be determined, and try to have things be significant… I also threw in my own little definitions of “moving forward”, “putting in a conscience effort”, and “living with intention.”
So, with my new word in my heart and mind: I tried to put it into action for the simple every day things in my life.
When driving home late at night I notice that my gas tank is almost empty. I hate the thought of taking any longer to get home because I just want to get into bed, but I know that we have an appointment early in the morning and it would be best to get gas now. ( See, I said simple)
In the past there were many times when I would think about Mike and how much I appreciated him but never really let it be more than a passing thought. Or sometimes I would plan on telling him when I saw him next, but then he would do something to tick me off, so then I wouldn’t feel like saying anything at all.
(oh, I’m the only one who does that?)…
Well, now if Mike is doing something simple that can easily be interrupted I like to get his attention, look him in the eye, and tell him “ I love you, appreciate you, and respect you” or whatever loving/ positive feelings I have for him are at the time. I even try to make an effort to say them after a little fight- Those words shouldn’t just be left for special occasions or cards!
Taking time to get down and play with the boys: getting messy with play-doh, reading as many books as they want, painting, going outside….rather than just putting Treehouse on.
( oh…. I’m the only one who does that too?- this is starting to get embarrassing)
For me, the word “ purposeful” has been a good reminder to do the things that I would usually just shrug off, or be lazy about.
However sometimes I find that just applying it to the everyday doesn’t seem to satisfy me. Anyone who really knows me, knows that I am a DREAMER! So when I was initially given the word purposeful I instantly thought ”CHANGE THE WORLD!” which was quickly followed by the thought of “ …but how??”
And thus, I decided to apply it to the everyday, until I could apply to my life in a greater way.
And then on Friday February 15th while I was waiting for my tea at the Starbucks in West Edmonton Mall, this caught my eye:
This is a picture of the Hair Massacure.
As I watched all of these kids and adults come together for this incredible cause, I couldn’t help but think of the fact that the whole event had flourished from probably 1 or 2 individuals. Just an idea, an ember if you will.
I found it very profound and as I watched I felt it bring a little bit of life to my ( at the time) very downcast feeling heart.
You see, I had been going through a … “ Lull” if you will. Nothing crazy, but just the feeling that I am SO TIRED of this journey. Even though physically I have a lot of energy, and have been getting stronger and stronger…even gaining weight- yay!!( ok now I’m sure I really am the only one saying that)
I could still smile throughout the day…but I constantly felt like the cancer “ball and chain” was getting heavier, I just want to get rid of it!! Some new lumps appear, while others go away, it’s like I’m stuck on a never ending roller coaster.
I would read my bible, but the words would just be mush. I would pray, but it seemed as if those prayers didn’t get higher than the ceiling. I even had my moments of telling God that I was gonna give it all up…but I realized, I couldn’t.
My Faith in Christ, is my Hope. My ember.
A few weeks ago I was expressing my frustrations and feelings to a friend over text message, and during our conversation she asked me: ”How is your spirit feeling??”
My response: “Hopeful. Somehow, always hopeful.”
And just earlier this week I explained it to another friend like this:
“The hope I feel reminds me of the wood burning fireplace Mike and I have in our home. At night, before we go to bed, Mike will load that thing up and it will burn all night long, and in the morning the fire is out. You look inside and all you see is a heap of ashes, and spiritually I felt like that heap of ashes. Frustration, Anger, Fear, Worry, the hardships of the journey, had burnt me out.
Then one morning, after the fire had gone out, I decided I wanted another fire so I began to stir those ashes and dig a little bit, and there in the very middle, was a tiny ember. Hope. I quickly recalled that conversation: “…somehow, always hopeful.”
That morning I started a whole new fire with that little ember and was reminded – it only takes a tiny ember to start a blazing fire.
This theme seemed to pop again this past Wednesday (Feb 20th) when I found myself sitting amongst 26 (myself included making the total 27) recipients to receive the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal. As I listened to each of the bio’s being read, I couldn’t help but be moved by the people who surrounded me and the INCREDIBLE things they had done for their communities, and how they represent Canadians.
Mike Love was honored for the work he does with youth all over the world and the hundreds of thousands of youth and young adults he brings together in Edmonton alone to discover their God given dreams. One Lady had served the girl scouts for 30+ years, and another man was recognized for his breakthrough research in autism.
All of these people, had an ember within them that grew into a fire to change the lives of many.
I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t help but think “man, I feel kind of puny around these people- I haven’t served for 30 years, and never done breakthrough research…”
And yet the very next day, in the simplest way, the Lord showed me it isn’t about how big or small.
The morning after the Diamond Jubilee presentation Mike and I decided to drive into Leduc to visit my sister Kennedy and her class at the school she works in. I thought it would be fun to bring her a coffee, and some flowers, and Kennedy knew her kids would just love visiting with the boys.
Just as Kennedy expected, her grade 3’s loved the boys, and being the amazing teacher she is Kennedy quickly incorporated the boys into the lesson, with story time.
When the story was finished Kennedy asked the kids to guess what Mike did for a living – and after a few guesses of “Teacher, Dad, Farmer…someone finally guessed Firefighter.”
This opened the opportunity for the kids to ask Mike all kinds of questions regarding his job.
As I sat at Kennedy’s desk in the corner of the room just watching and listening to these kids excitedly ask Mike questions, I was overwhelmed by the thought of:
“ Mike sharing his love for his Job, and the excitement and dangers that are involved with firefighting COULD be shaping one of these kids lives”
Of course we may never know for sure, but as we drove home I shared my thoughts with Mike. I said:
“ What seemed to be like a fun little visit to Kennedy’s class room to bring her coffee and flowers, could have turned into YOU shaping the future of one of those kids…without even knowing it”
I could just imagine a grown up girl or boy from that class years down the road saying:
“ In Grade 3 this man came into my class, and his job as a firefighter sounded exciting, from then on I knew that’s what I wanted to be.”
Mike didn’t have his uniform on, or any of his gear. He looked like an ordinary guy wearing his jeans and a t-shirt, drinking a coffee…but to one of those kids, Mike could have been the ember (no pun intended) needed to inspire them to become a firefighter. All because in his ordinary day he took the TIME to answer their questions.
For me and my journey, and for the rest of my life…my ember (whether big or small), will be my Faith in Christ. It is only by his grace that I am here, and just as Isaiah 26:12 says “… all I have accomplished really is from Him”
And in an ordinary day, by words of kindness & gentleness, or acts of love, graciousness and compassion, the encounters YOU with have with people (friends, loved ones, or the cashier at the grocery store ) could be the ember of hope THEY need to flame into their future or… they may be, an ember of hope, for you.