Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Purging the Dead: Hoarding the Right Things

Purging the Dead

Recently, a couple of friends have mentioned that they are in a "season of purging".  I silently agreed with them.  

They talked about how they had unloaded toys, clothes, jewelry and what not.  Bags and bags and bags.  I silently couldn't even figure out where to start.

I have too much and I am clueless of how to start the process of getting rid of-- no --

It feels like a process of saying goodbye.

I am attached to my stuff because of the memories the stuff triggers.  I am afraid that if I don't have the stuff to look upon, then I'll never remember that moment of where I was, what I was doing, who I was with, and how special that event was.

On and on with every receipt, price tag, souvenir, ok, let's be honest-- old ice cream cup, piece of wood, coffee cup; items that everyone else in the world seems to chunk into the trash without a problem.  It seems I am the one with the problem.  

So, I admit.  I'm a classic hoarder.  I hoard the wrong things: items that are typically trash, I find valuable.  The items mutate and multiply.  Before you know it, my life is in a deep state of clutter and crap.  And before we start analyzing the physiology of it, let's just press pause and look at the other angle: the spiritual side.

The spiritual side reveals a freedom of attachment from material things because when we are attached to Christ, we have everything.  It is in heaven we are to lay our treasures. 

So, I try to do better, but being better is kind of hogwash.  Better doesn't motivate me to do better.  So, what if I tried to be more like Christ?  Actually do what I am called to do?  Being honest - that is quite a challenge. 

Being better is BS.  

Now what?  

I just don't know.  So, I watched the rain.

I watched the big fat rain we get here in the south pour down, then quickly shift to the sun shining.  Then back to rain, back to sun.  Doesn't that just feel like my humanity?  Completely without control and unable to be consistent.

Yet, isn't it in my inconsistency that I am imperfectly consistent?

I think God understands this about our humanity because He gave us the One who was perfectly consistent in the fact that He was never inconsistent.  He can help make changes consistent... and within me.  

Ah.  The figurative feeling of grace flowing down on me is soothing.

I laid on my bed watching this big fat rain and prayed:  Oh God help me purge the dead.  These dead parts in me that I am clueless as to how to get rid of; and how to make better.

The Spirit reminded me.  "It is not about being better.  It is about renewal."

The Spirit must think: "being better" is also BS.  Granted, probably in different terms. 

Romans 12:2 says:  "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

When we renew our mind by reading the word, worshiping God, praying, or the like, we are conjuring up new life.  We are bringing to life a restoration of soul.  We are altering the way we think by allowing the Spirit to do His work in healing the hurt parts of my life that are still wounded.  Literally cleaning out the old and bringing in the new.  

Yet, we will never truly get there if we are without meeting with God.  We must pursue Him if we are to prevail because it is only through His life giving ways that we will be equipped to prevail. 

In this prevailing, His Spirit will shine the light we so desperately need to see the dead in our lives.  To shift our perspective of cluelessness to being mindful.  To finally equip us with the tools -and the motivation- to gain ground in turning from our ways and embarking on the freedom He has so dearly paid for us to have.  

That's right.  Our freedom has been paid for.  And while we are busy hoarding the wrong things, collectively adding a destruction to our life, we are simultaneously discarding the blood that has been shed for you and for me.

You read that right.  While we choose not to throw out the real trash, we throw out the life that sets us free.  The wrong thing to trash.  

Oh, aren't we all the dogs that return to their vomit?  

Thus, what will break this cycle of humanity?  What is deep within our souls that compels us to clutch onto the thing instead of the Creator?  

Ok.  Now, I'll add in the psychology.

Consider what is causing you to cling so dearly to your item?  Is it the memory?  For me it is.  My memory has gotten really bad and I hate forgetting.  A solution (which takes time, but sure saves space).  Write down the memory.  Write down your feelings.  "But, I like looking at the item and getting that feeling," you reply.  I do too.  Yet, I consider how many items I have.  And the sheer amount of items seems to squeeze out the memories I really do want to put on a pedestal.  

Amount overload.  I find myself carrying too much with me - always.  I do this because I HATE feeling unprepared.  I am a very resourceful person and if I think I'm going to need that paper napkin at some point, I'll probably carry it around with me for 40 + years until that 4 seconds I actually need that napkin.  Time and again, this has happened to me.  Until one day, I looked back at my past and all the hardship it was to carry that napkin and asked myself:  was it worth it?  No, not at all. So, I tried a different way.  I went without and experienced GREAT frustration when I needed the napkin.  But, guess what?  I found something else that solved the problem in about the same 4 seconds.  I looked back at my past and asked myself again, "was it worth it?" This time, it was.  It was because I didn't have the hardship of carrying the napkin for 40 dang years and I was able to praise myself for figuring out another solution which also diversified my options for the next time I had an issue that needed said napkin.  Now, albeit- I am still working on decreasing the amount I daily carry.  But, this recognition has sure helped me.

Attachment disorder.  Why do I attach myself to things?  I tell myself that it is for the sake of remembering or being resourceful.  I don't want to forget or I want to be prepared.  On the surface with some items, this is a correct solution.  However, on a general platform, this is not the overall solution because then, I have a million different items on my hands and trying to manage a million different items takes your life away.  Literally.  One day I realized just how much time, STRESS, and energy it was taking just to keep up with the management of my stuff.  Absolutely debilitating.  Thus, I have to go deeper and figure out why I attach myself to the wrong things to be able to attach myself to the right ones.

I truly believe it is from a time where I was mad about being unprepared and chastised myself over it or even more-- from hurt that I have faced in my past that is not healed.  Be it from an abandonment, a rejection, a neglect or something I did that I am still upset about, I believe that I attach myself to items to conjure up a positive feeling to overwhelm the negative feeling of hurt that is left oozing open.  I'm, thus, attaching myself to what seems to be positive but those items actually lead to the negative as my life clutters up and I can no longer function.

Not only can I not function, but nor can my husband, my relationships or my house.  As stuff fills my home, we lose the ability to live simply.  Never can we simply pull something off the shelf without having to move something else out of the way or something falling on top of us.  It is maddening.  In one room, we hardly have a straight path to the washer/dryer because things are always in the way blocking a machine we use frequently.  We frequently are enraged because of all the crud everywhere.  This is no way to live.

No way to live at all. 

Internally, this maddening continues.  I just can't let go.  I can't break the cycle until I force myself to pitch something in the trash.  Of late, I have been looking at the item, remembering all the places I have traveled with it and all the events that item has been with me through and have tried saying goodbye to the item.  I thank the item and put it where it belongs: in the trash.  

But, let's stop and asses.  I am saying goodbye to an ITEM: a thing that has no soul, no blood, and is NOT living.  My problem is that I watched too much animated cartoons growing up and think that the toothbrush sprouts to life and sings songs and dances.  I have to realize plastic is not life.  I have to choose the wellbeing of the lives around me versus the wellbeing of the plastic - or material- in my hands.  

A final thought.  I have to realize that things don't love me.  I have to realize that when I hoard the wrong things, that there is little to no more room to hoard the right things.  The wrong items can't return the love that my God has, my husband has, my loved ones have.  Things function for a purpose and then they take up space.  My attic is filled with things that have finished their purpose and are taking up space... Dead an dormant, weighing down my house which may actually collapse and kill me.  

They just might.  Scratch that.  They are.  My things are killing me.  Killing my relationships.  And I can't seem to choose the things that bring life over that which kills.


So, help me God to seek you and open the door to my heart to allow the Spirit to conjure up renewal.  Press upon me the goal of getting rid of the right things, not discarding the blood Christ shed for me to be free.  Shine the light on what lays dead and dormant in the attics of my heart so that I can be healed by your touch.  Restore my life where I am not going insane every time I open up my pantries of my life and my heart. Bring people into my life to help me and help me swallow my shame to get the help I need. I pray all of this in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Morning Light

Morning Light

There is something about the morning light that is unlike the rest of the day’s illumination.  

It is still.  
It is quiet.
It beckons you to sit.
And admire.

This morning, I was awake while my house slept.  Today, my front porch swing called for me to sit.  Though still in my pjs, I couldn’t resist.

In the cool of the morning, there I sat. Swinging.  No task demanding to be done.  No laundry machine fussing at me.  No dogs whining to bust out of the crate.  No family member needing something.  No internal thoughts pounding down the walls of my heart.  Just me. 

The door to the house was shut.  All that was inside.  And here I was outside.  Ahhh.  

The brisk air blew its breeze.  The sun shined brightly.  The windmill twisted.  The plants stood tall.  It was morning and this was their light to bask in.  

And so was I.

There is something to be said about the morning light.  How it is warm against the cool.  How it shines amidst the darkness.  How it shimmers upon the grounds.  The waters.  The lands.  It was meant to be reveled in.

Light also provides nourishment for our bodies.  The needed vitamin D.  The warmth to our souls.  The brightness.

And today, I could feel the whisper of God just saying “be still”.  Stay in this light.  Here I am.

I realized maybe that is why He called Moses to the burning bush.  Away.  

Away from the sheep.  Away from the tent life.  Away from the massive family below.  Just Himself and Moses.  Still.

As I pondered these things, it was like my soul took a breath of fresh air.  The stillness, the quiet, the light was soothing.

The windmill spun and breeze blew again.  It was God there passing over in that moment. My cup overflowed.

Ps 46:10 says for us to: "Be still and know He is God."  

Seldom do we get out and do this.  Seldom to we do stillness.  Our culture wars against the solitude, the stillness, the quiet. Unless, that is, we are on our phones or Facebook.  The time sucks of our day.  

We pour out our time to a digital app, which doesn’t feed.  A connection that gives a false love back and an ego boost up.  But just as a hot air ballon is up and away then back down again, is the same amount of time that we are fed by Facebook and then grave more.  Facebook or anything else, really, just doesn’t feed.  It only sucks our time, hearts and minds away.  It is only our God that fills our time, our hearts, our minds.  And that is why He wants, He calls us… away.  Let us pour into Him.

He calls us to come outside, to shut the doors of our lives and just be with Him in the cool of the morning.  To bask with Him in the  morning light.  To allow ourselves to be nourished by His presence.  Nothing less comes even close to filling our hearts and our core is only a place satisfied by Him and His presence.

I exhaled and felt so internally full.  The church bells rang.  I felt the freedom of having everything else behind and inside and me away.  I felt released. 

And in those few moments, it felt so good.  I realized I needed more.  More of a commitment to bask in the morning light.

As I turned to go back inside, I felt restored.  Refreshed. 

The door shut on the inside and I walked back through the dark house with the morning light in my soul beaming brightly and setting my course for this day.

It’s how each day should be.  The light basked in, absorbed in, and then taken into the dark world and disseminated for all; to those who hear the call and those who don’t.  The light is reflected and then given away.  

Away.  If we will just get away to give away.

It is what He did for us.

If only we would Be still and Know.

The Morning Light.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Savior Politics: Be Wary of the Great “I Will”…

This election season, I watch the television in alarm… and it isn’t at the candidates.

It’s at the followers.

I continue to be baffled at the way the masses have latched onto one candidate and are blinded by promises that can never be fully kept.  They follow like sheep headed to the slaughter.  And why would anyone in their right mind flock to the slaughter? 

They rapidly lap up the promises of wealth, security and growth applauding at every edict of “I will do this” and “I will do that”.  It is one thing to promise to veto a bill, it is another to say “I will make America rich again… You are going to be so rich.”  Who can do that?!  Or to follow a candidate who continually makes promises that, by their track record, are clearly only promising what needs to be said to get the vote.  Confounding!

It is like followers have exchanged the truth for a delusion.  

Voters have fallen for a mirage.

Incidentally, many of these voters are also believers… believers who are warned about following false teachers and gods of their time.  Scripture also warns that many will be deceived and that even believers will fall away.

So what are the false gods that are being so easily followed, it is like they worshiped?  The promises of wealth.  The promises of power.  The promises of security.  

It almost feels like the masses are searching for a political savior of sorts.  It is to no surprise really, because that is how our current president won his two terms.

Remember all of the marketing, the portraits, the “Audacity of Hope” type books that were slewn at the public not to long ago?  Remember the illustrations with the glint in his eye and that hopeful stare?  Remember how many, many, salivated at his every word as though he would be the one to overturn their long term heartache?

I fear that just as then, it is occurring again now.  People are looking to these candidates as a vessel of saving… but there is only one Savior.  

We live in an age where people vote for the candidate who will rescue them… who will give them entitlements, advantages they did not work a minute to receive.  We live in an age where people vote for the candidate that promises to rescue them from being on the loosing end, offering the ability to win.

But that would also require the rest of the world participating and cooperating in America winning again.  Or, that would require America becoming a bully with unrelenting demands and punches.  Neither one is America.  

What’s sadder is that America’s identity is really in turmoil.  The past eight years have demolished traditional American principles, values and beliefs that have been stood on since its inception.  And I’m not just talking about all the things our recent leaders have done.  I’m talking about what we have done.

Simply put… the heart of America (as a whole) has turned its back on God.

This is clearly represented in the symbolic removal of many monuments, like the Ten Commandments.   What does that say about America’s value of God’s Holy instruction for our lives?

How about in the funding of institutions that allow the death of innocent babies or the laws made in the name of the constitution but really go against it?  Truly, there are countless other atrocities that I could point to, but our media is quick and persistent to stay on the constant battles. 

The bottom line issue for me is that America has lost its identity because Americans have lost their identity in God.  

(Granted, I'm speaking as a collective whole here. While there are many believers who seek God in their lives and aim to find their identity in Him, it is still every man who has fallen short of His glory (Rom. 3:23) and wrestle with sin.)

And it is our continual sinfulness that effects everything... even our government.  

As much as we rally and cry out that our government system is corrupt, is not vastly started by the corruption of our own hearts?  The hearts that yearn for self centered promotion, prestige and power?  The hearts that seek to get what they want, or what a powerful someone else wants in exchange for something else? Those issues don’t start in the Senate or the House.  They start in the very soul of man, affecting us every minute of every day.   

Let’s take a quick snapshot of the everyday world in which we live.
—We are perfectly fine being Biblically illiterate but crave knowing how many likes our recent status has on FB. 
—We can’t give someone who needs some grace to get ahead of us in the grocery store line because we were there first, have our own agendas, etc. 
—We are completely rude and disregard common courtesies. 
—Scroll to any comments section and see venomously hateful statements to those who oppose our sides.  It’s like an open gladiator ring full of blood and death.  Why is this behavior allowable?  Can’t we disagree respectfully?
—Many people are more gratified by their work than their own children.  The masses applaud the parents who spend 90% of their time away from their families when their incomes turn a high profit saying they have it all.  This is the modern role model and it is lusted after. 

I could go on, but you get the point.  American values and priorities are out wack leading to America becoming a highly dysfunctional nation.  Then add that to poverty, capitalistic oppression for small business owners, high output with little return and a growing resistance of how it should be and is not... and you get.... modern day America.  (How is it again that we consider ourselves so advanced?)

Then, add an election year.  All of these issues together gives any candidate the perfect fodder to take advantage of the situation and generate a mirage as themselves as the political savior. 

What a harvest for a candidate who promises they will make us rich…. how you might ask?  Well, honestly, it probably doesn’t matter.  Just the salivation for wealth is enough to hook a voter.

A candidate promises they can make our nation secure.  How?  To make another country pay for a wall?  Has this country agreed to it?  Otherwise, the way to enforce this is costly.  But whatever.  The voter is already hooked at the idea for our ability to lord power. 

A candidate promises they will make America great again…. that Americans will win again with the example of the fact that they are a billionaire and lives in a peach and gold marble skyscraper.  Definitely not a hard sell to the voter who, for the most part, is not rich, does not live in peach and gold marble and by the way, who, for the most part, also happens to desire to be rich, powerful and live with prominence.   Selling celebrity is relatively easy.  

And in the world of social media, everyone wants a selfie of themselves as a celebrity.

It just seems like the main line of capitalism isn’t America’s growing wallets but instead a reverse capitalism… what is being taken from the American's wallet.  

It is the voter that is being capitalized on.  Not the other way around.

The mirage is this:  The political savior is feeding your ego to feed their own.  They offer a delusion to get from you what they want.  It definitely happened in 2008, 2012 and by the way things look, it is happening again in 2016.  By business standards this is called “strip mining”; where a company gets your land and strips it of all its natural valuables to build a man-made money maker.  

The massive political movement is no different.  Certain candidates get your vote, then do what they want for their own gain, regardless of you.  But, because it is you who fell for their mirage, due to the false gods you sought after, you gave them your vote and you allowed it to happen!  

So, I beg you fellow Americans.  Wake up!  Do your own research.  Don’t buy into who will give you what.  Find out what these candidates stand upon, how they have lived their lives, what their record shows, how they conduct themselves and what they consistently believe upon.

Don’t fall for the mirage and vote for false promises.  Don’t vote for a political savior.  Recognize you already have a Savior who has given you hope, who has provided for your every need and who has already secured your eternal future.  Realize no man -- or woman-- no matter how powerful, wealthy, or prominant can give you anything more fulfilling.  Don't fall for their polished, strategically marketed words.  Vote upon their actions.

Vote for a candidate who can operate as President.  Vote for the person who doesn’t pose as a savior but points us to the one true Savior of the world.

Most importantly, follow the Savior in your own lives.  This nation became the greatest and won not by its characteristics, but from where the characteristics were founded... in Christ.  

If every American had this same foundation that America was founded in, then our nation's identity would resurrect and united, we would be able to stand again.  

©Candice Irion, 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

Friday, September 11, 2015

One Foot In Front of The Other

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed," (2 Corinthians 4:8).

The life of a creative can be very complex.  As a basis to the spectrum, creatives continually deal with being visionaries; seeing something that isn’t and engineering ways to bring it to fruition.  They are much like inventors.  

Probably also like inventors, they are continually having their work judged, criticized, rejected.   And bonus, sometimes their work gets through only to have the new owner say “See you later” and reject them.

There are many voices internal and external that creatives, especially, deal with.  Course, you may be the furthest from a creative and struggle in the same ways, days in and out.   It happens to everyone.   It even happens to my dogs.

Without fail, whenever we go on a walk, there are bigger, meaner dogs, barking their heads off at my pups.   I watch my dogs shrink up and stiffen, wanting to freeze and return home NOW.  

However, I gently say: “Just keep walking.  Come on, you can do it.”  As little as they are, I see their bodies buck up, grit their teeth, and they walk on.  But if they look over at the mean madness while passing, they’ll shrink up again until I instruct them once more to just keep walking.  They get past the loudness time over time.  

But even still, I gotta say that one of these dogs has a bark that is, in particular, LOUD.   I almost can’t even hear myself think.  And it occurred to me yet again today that this is the world in which we all live. 

A world where a loud bark can rip away at our souls, paralyzing us from where we should be going.  Do you have a loud bark in your life?  

Keep in mind, that these barks could be your very own thoughts.  Sometimes the criticism that hurts the worst is our own.   Then, we tend to project that feeling, whatever it may be, onto someone else (likely those we love) manifesting it in one way or another.  Catch yourself one time and you’ll see.

The Bible instructs us in "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ," (2 Cor. 10:5).  There are many reasons for this.  But, for today, capture the very thought you are thinking right now and ask yourself:  Does it line up to what Christ says about you?  If not, chuck it out.  

Ask again.  Does this thought line up with any of the promises of God?  If not, you know where it goes.  

Ask again and again.  If the thought is anything counter to Christ you know it’s outcome.  It’s gotta go.  

Then, it is almost like you are released, to go where you need to go.  At least, one thought at a time.

Here's one reason why:

“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body,” (2 Cor. 4:9).

Just as we crucify the thoughts that are not of Him, what wells up in us is all that He promised us:  new life.  

Part of that new life is generating new growth in your life -- like finding an activity that is safe, your own, where you can feel good.

Richard Bass known as "Dick Bass", chose hiking as a means to get away from the loud barks.  At age 52, he was the first ever to summit the seven highest mountains throughout the world.  He was also the founder of Snowbird, a ski resort in Utah.  Interestingly enough, in his book, “Seven Summits,” it is chronicled how even he was constantly battling potential failures and an overwhelming amount of naysayers.  Ironic that he climbs the tallest peaks of planet specifically to get away from it all.  

When asked in an article in Forbes magazine, if he hiked professionally, his answer is enlightening.  

“All I did was put one foot in front of the other until I got there with a big pack on my back, reciting poems,” he said.


This summer, I lived out these very words before ever reading them on these sites or in his book.  My husband and I traveled to Montana and climbed to the top of Grinnell Glacier, six miles high.  It’s no Everest, but it’s the highest peak I’ve ever climbed (and, we still had to travel 6 miles back down the mountain.)
Good grief, a 12 mile hike was nothing short of tough.  We walked through different terrains, climates, in and out of rain, through waterfalls, up the rocks, back down the rocks and around plenty of switchbacks (which I’ve decided I don’t really like.  Kind of like those zig zag lines at a place you really want to go.  UGH!  Just get me there, please.)

©Candice Irion.  All Rights Reserved. 

Trekking up, I quoted Scripture to myself, I counted numbers, I huffed and puffed and sometimes my exhaustion would puff out a poor attitude to my sweet husband.   No bueno.   But, aside from those couple of missteps, I did everything I could.  It seemingly took forever!  At some points, I just closed my eyes and put one foot in front of the other.  And it was in this action when I realized…

that’s all it took. 

The force to just place one exhausted leg in front of the other combined with the determination not to give up was what got me up that mountain.  Granted, my strength was not my own, but the Lord’s for sure, because little ol’ Candice could never get herself up that mountain.
©Candice Irion.  All Rights Reserved. 
The best cold water ever!  My summit on Grinnell Glacier. 

I believe the same is true for what you want to accomplish and for what you battle every single day.  With God’s strength, you too, can make it.   Just keep walking.  

Not to say that whoosh! all fear and timidity in doing so will evaporate.  No, not at all.  In fact, if you hop over to one of my previous blogs, you’ll see, sometimes, you just have to do it afraid.  You can also check out 1 Corinthians 2 where Paul attests to the same.

Like Dick Bass, I truly admire people who just go forth and do it, despite their fear, despite the loud barks and accomplish such enormous heights in their life.  People like him set out to do the impossible… 

Just like all the creatives who see the vision and table all the “don’t quit your day job” remarks, rejection and self loathing to get the piece made, the film produced, the painting drawn.  

So, as a fellow creative, here’s what I deduce: 

Art demands to be born.  It shouts for freedom and won’t release you until you give it wings, then let it go.  

So just keep walking, drawing, painting, producing, day in and day out.  Ignore the big mean dogs and capture each thought and hold it up to Christ. See if it is even truth.  

Then base your beginning on what is truth and just keep walking, placing one foot in front of the other, with the strength from on High.

And you too, might just summit your Everest.

Summiting his mountain.
©Candice Irion.  All Rights Reserved. 
Me summiting mine.
On top of his beloved Snowbird.
Bass said he felt blessed to have developed Snowbird "in a fantastic piece of God's creation".

Godspeed to you friend!
All the best,

This blog is written in part as a tribute to Dick Bass, a dear family member who just passed away.  As accomplished as he was, Dick was always humble, kind and loved to share relative stories, if not, his poems.  But, maybe it was his outlook that is his greatest accomplishment.  For he continued day in and out in stride, always trying harder, envisioning the greater, and never giving up in life.  Not even when he died.  He is a man who lived fully, loved hard and one who could always put a smile on your face.  I know he did mine.  Every. Single. Time.  And if there is no greater gift an interaction could hold, it is the exchange of good cheer, a reflection of our Creator and a smile with which to face the day.  Thanks Dick!  I'll miss you always.
Just how I remember him.  Always happy, kind and smiling.  

Another note... if you want to see a story about another person who was inspired by Dick Bass, check out the upcoming movie, Everest, about a man (Beck Weathers) who climbed insurmountable odds and achieved his dream.  He and Dick knew each other and Beck credits Dick as his inspiration.  For more on the life of Dick Bass, click here. Here is a photo tribute from Snowbird.  

Forbes Online Magazine, July 27, 2015, Jim Clash

#dickbass, #dickbassisawesome, #onefootinfrontoftheother, #everest, #everestmovie, #sevensummitts, #facebookeverestmovie