DAY 17: INCHWORM INCREMENTS

INCHWORM - inching toward bump in branch

I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…

INCHWORM |ˈinCHˌwərm| noun
a caterpillar of a geometrid moth, which moves forward by arching and straightening its body.

Anyone who’s tackled a long-term project – household repair, creative project, or even just balancing your checkbook – soon discovers that a seemingly “doable” task can turn unmanageable pretty quickly.

Like when:

  • A 6-month remodeling project drags into endless months of “pardon our dust”
  • Writing a short e-book turns into a thousand-page extravaganza
  • Balancing your checkbook even once feels like climbing Mt. Everest

That’s when we need the power of INCHING

INCHING helps us break down the work into manageable bite-sized steps, so the whole project doesn’t overwhelm us to the point that of quitting.

It’s interesting how the inchworm propels himself forward…

He alternately arches and straightens his body by expanding and contracting his muscles.  He’s not always straining forward, and he’s not always at rest. The inchworm’s amazing progress comes from a herky-jerky combo of both motions (expand-contract, expand-contract, expand-contract) til before long he finds himself INCHING forward in apparently seamless fashion.

Not only that, an inchworm never ever takes a step that’s more than, you guessed it, an INCH long:

  • He’s not remodeling the whole house in a dayhe’s picking out the paint for the guest bedroom.
  • He’s not writing War and Peace in a weekhe’s putting the final touches on Chapter 7.
  • He’s not balancing his checkbook for life…he’s recording his latest purchase and subtracting it from the total. 

 In the picture above, the inchworm appears to be working his way toward the next knothole. I’m sure he’s got a bigger goal in mind – say, eating the leaves at the end of the branch – but for now, that knothole is the object of his focus. And inching his way toward it will eventually lead to a leafy breakfast!

I don’t know about you, but I have a growing affection for the inchworm.

He may be tiny and funny to watch…yet his quirky progress brings a smile to my face.

Maybe I can scale this mountain after all.

ONE. INCH. AT. A. TIME.

And soon like The Little Engine That Could, I find myself repeating…

“I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…”

 

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November 17, 2014 at 11:35 AM 2 comments

DAY 16: SUCCESS? “Fuhgeddaboudit!”

SUCCESS compass

KEY TO SUCCESS road sign - clouds

 

 

MAKE A DIFFERENCE man building sign (red-white)

 

I ran across this Victor Frankl quote and thought I’d share it today. I know I can certainly use the reminder. 

Sometimes it’s easy to measure ourselves by our most recent success…

 

Or our most resent failure…

 

And forget that “success” isn’t nearly as important…

 

As doing something that truly makes a DIFFERENCE…

 

Don’t get me wrong: I’m still aiming for excellence. I work at it every day. 

I have an incredible drive to be the very best I can be – and when I don’t hit the mark, believe me, it hurts. The truth is, we’re all wired to learn and grow and achieve great things – probably bigger than we even realize much of the time, and that’s one of the exhilarating things about being alive.

Yes, success does matter…

Yet as it turns out, success alone is a really terrible ULTIMATE goal. It can corrupt, harden, and brutalize our hearts,  and ultimately the very satisfaction we think it will bring can mysteriously disappear.

I’ll let Mr. Frankl take it from here…

“Don’t aim at success–the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run–in the long run, I say!–success will follow you precisely because you had FORGOTTEN to think of it.”

-Victor Frankl

November 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM Leave a comment

DAY 15: LIFE IN THE GAP

 

GAP in freeway (with skyline)

Life in the gap…

 

I started this poem in 2009 and finished it in 2014. Funny how some things never change: Like our utter dependence on the Author of the story…to help us live out our particular chapter.

 

IGNORANT I’m not

Though in truth wish I were

Cuz then I’d have an alibi

For why my life’s a blur

 

A waterloo of follow-through that never quite completes

A host of good intentions never ever quite set free

 

INSIGHTFUL yet unable

To apprehend the how

Of letting things I understand

Inhabit here and now

 

An undertow of “I don’t know” that dulls my aching mind

Til in the end I comprehend my clever sight’s gone blind

 

My ERRATIC GPS

has left me broken-hearted

From jumping off high cliffs

And landing where I started

 

It’s time that I surrendered and found a source of strength

Beyond myself and my own will to get me past the brink

 

IGNORANT He’s not

Of how the pieces fit

He knows just when to start

And when it’s time to quit

 

He knows which tangents slow me up and which ones spur me on

And patiently He whispers until on me it dawns

 

INSIGHTFUL of the plan

The one that’s in His heart

He focuses my flailing

So I can play my part

 

So unafraid of twists and turns is my intrepid Guide

That He can work it all for good while I enjoy the ride

 

EMPOWERED by the freedom

To pick and choose within

The path that I have chosen

In partnership with Him

 

woman leaping across cliff (blue background)

“Suddenly God, your light floods my path . . . I vault the high fences.
 What a God!” 2 Samuel 22:29

November 15, 2014 at 1:32 PM 2 comments

DAY 14: CONNECTION – THE KEY TO GROWTH

two trees growing together - into an up arrow (landscape)

 

Ever find yourself growing spiritually stale?

Maybe even stagnant?

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there at one time or another. You know, those days when you’re not exactly sure what’s wrong—but it’s clearer than clear that something’s not right.

When I feel like that, it eventually dawns on me: “Hey, I think I’m feeling disconnected…”

Maybe from myself. Or my true desires.

Or more often than I’d like to admit…

Disconnected from God.

Which honestly kinda catches me by surprise, because with all my heart I try to stay connected to Him. Though I often fail, I rarely remember making a conscious choice to move away from Him. Yet slowly but surely, I’ve drifted.

Does that ever happen to you?

My guess is, it happens to all of us.

Yet in a way, it’s not all that surprising. In John 15 Jesus uses a variety of words—remain, abide, obey—to repeatedly remind us to stay connected to Him. I’m guessing He mentions it so many times because He knows what a huge challenge staying connected is—with the world, the flesh, and the devil constantly trying to distract us.

He knows we will have to choose—day by day, hour by hour, and sometimes even minute by minute—to make a conscious choice to renew our connection with Him, or without realizing it we will slowly but surely drift backward and just “go with the flow.”

Yet thankfully that’s not the whole story: God has give us mighty tools to combat “drift.”

For one thing, His blessed Holy Spirit is always there to draw us, strengthen us, and work through us. Like life-giving sap in the branches of a tree, the Spirit of God is constantly filling us with life each day that we choose to walk with Him.

Not only that, but He’s given us each other. Many times we trudge through the Christian life like long-suffering Lone Rangers, as if we were intended to gut it out on our own. Yet we were never meant to live in isolation. We are relational beings by nature, and we grow best when connected to other people. Scriptural commands like “love one another” and “go and make disciples” weren’t given to make our burdens heavier; they’re actually gifts from God to lighten our load and stimulate growth.

“Doing life together” with other believers – whether older, younger, or peers – is one of the best ways ever to stay more connected with God and the practical truths of Scripture. When you see your friends growing, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, and learning to serve others in Jesus’ name—it’s quite contagious. It’s also an excellent reminder that both vertically and horizontally, connection and growth do in fact go together!

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Proverbs 27:17

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend…”

If you’re feeling disconnected today, why not get together with a friend this next week to talk, listen, and maybe even pray together. You might be surprised at how much lighter your load feels – and how growth inducing it can be!

November 14, 2014 at 8:47 PM Leave a comment

DAY 13: CUT FLOWERS

ROOTS LIVE: cut flowers don’t

This is a post from a couple years back…

Thought maybe I could a reminder…how about you?

 The other day as I sat in my kitchen, one of my pastor’s recent sermons came to mind. I found myself chuckling, remembering the kids reading “expiration dates” on various food items he’d brought in from home, including the Twinkie, which was so full of preservatives it would apparently last forever! Then I sobered up as I remembered the serious analogy the pastor had drawn from this lighthearted game of show and tell: that we all have an expiration date because of sin – and unless we deal with that terminal condition, nothing we value, including our very lives, will truly “keep.”

As I sat there thinking, my mind began to wander to the beautiful flowers on the dining room table in front of me. A Valentine gift from my husband, they were really starting to come into their own now. Over the past few days the arrangement had almost doubled in size because some of the buds that had originally been closed were now opening up in full splendor. A bouquet that had started out with only small red and purple flowers now boasted extravagant lavender and ivory blossoms as well. It was truly breathtaking!

But in an instant, a new realization changed my whole perspective. These are cut flowers, I thought. They’re going to die. Even though the new buds had blossomed and were behaving for all the world like a “live” plant, every single one of these flowers was, in fact, already dead. The truth then struck with double force as I suddenly pictured a pruned rose bush standing next to the cut flowers. The rose bush looked ugly, and quite honestly, dead as a doornail, while the bouquet looked fresh and alive and full of promise. But the reverse was actually true! At most, the cut flowers would last only a few days, while the rose bush would, all things being equal, probably live for years and years to come, possibly even producing fuller and more beautiful roses as a result of its barren season of pruning. I felt a strange mixture of sadness and excitement.

My mind then wandered back to my beautiful Valentine bouquet sitting in front of me. No woman, when her husband or boyfriend brings her flowers, thinks to herself, “Hey buddy, what’s the idea of bringing me a bunch of dead plants?” But unromantic as it sounds, that’s the reality! And no one who looks at a worldly person who seems “to have it all” thinks, “Oh, that poor person is dead in their sins.” But they are. They may blossom and grow intellectually, creatively, financially, even relationally; but spiritually speaking, unless they’ve been made alive in Christ, according to the Bible they’re already dead. And when they reach their “expiration date” this side of heaven, they will suffer loss – regardless of the lush foliage or breathtaking blooms they may seem to have sprouted. They’re rootless, and cannot sustain life.

Depressing as this sounds, especially just after Valentine’s Day, there is still good news. VERY good news. Because the exact opposite of this scenario is also true. Those whose lives are truly grounded in God, who have had their sins forgiven and been made “alive in Christ,” really, truly will live forever. Even if, during times of pruning, their branches happen to look barren and dead. Because what’s most important is their roots. ROOTS LIVE: cut flowers don’t. It’s as simple as that.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” JOHN 15:5-6 

 In all honesty, I will probably still be delighted the next time my husband brings me flowers. After all, it’s a beautiful gesture, and very romantic. But from now on, cut flowers will also be a “fresh” reminder to cry out with all my heart, “Oh Lord, plant my roots DEEP in You!”

November 13, 2014 at 9:59 PM Leave a comment

DAY 12: WHAT ARE YOU IN THE MIDDLE OF?

in the middle maze - with red question mark

 

Are you in the middle of a…

 

difficult project

 

troubled relationship

 

painful emotional struggle?

 

 

Do you find yourself …

 

out of solutions

 

hanging on by a thread

 

wondering how it’s all gonna turn out?

 

 

Believe me, I’ve been there more times than I care to count.

 

Let’s face it, we all have.

 

Yet when it’s happening to you, the fact that it happens to “everyone” doesn’t help much, does it?

 

What helps is knowing God has a way of meeting us IN THE MIDST of our challenging circumstances. It also helps to know that others can truly empathize with what we’re going through.

 

Today I find myself wondering…

 

What kind of challenges are YOU in the middle of?

 

If you’re feeling brave today, I invite you to leave a comment…

 

Feel free to be as general or specific as you like. Whatever it is you’re going through, there’s probably someone else who’s been there. And God is there with you even now.

 

Yet sometimes the first step toward moving through a challenging season is simply admitting you’re there.

 

And reaching out to someone else who’s been there…

 

IN THE MIDDLE

 

November 12, 2014 at 12:12 PM Leave a comment

DAY 11: ATROPHY

 

I’m knee-deep in projects this week so this is yet another poem from the archives, slightly revised. The original version appeared in a literary journal, my first in fact, which tickled me no end – especially given the content of the poem! 

 

Nothing quite right.

Nothing quite wrong.

Just endless thoughts of me and my endless thoughts.  Exhausting.

 

Anxiety wells up with each passing moment…

 

Why haven’t these “raw materials” added up to more by now?

Why haven’t you accomplished more with your life?
 

Quick, what can I accomplish before lunch that will ease

this crushing underachievement?

 

This failure to launch.

 

This atrophy that seizes the half-opened rose and freezes it in place.
 

Then slowly it dawns…
 

Could atrophy nipping at my heels actually be a gift?

 

A nagging-yet-necessary reminder that time is short and those little daily choices oh-so-precious.

 

Do I beat atrophy at its own game by making it my friend?

 

Or better still, befriending its Giver…

 

…who limited our time in this fallen world

as a gift of mercy in the first place?

 

November 11, 2014 at 3:32 PM 2 comments

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KIM ALDRICH

Writer... speaker..."growing edge" seeker

ABOUT ME

Each new day offers a fresh opportunity to learn or languish, stagnate or grow. Like all sincere Christians, I face the ongoing challenge of finding THE GROWING EDGE.

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WORDS TO GROW BY

TEN WAYS TO LOVE

1. LISTEN without interrupting
(Proverbs 1:8)

2. SPEAK without accusing
(James 1:19)

3. GIVE without sparing
(Proverbs 21:26)

4. PRAY without ceasing
(Colossians 1:9)

5. ANSWER without arguing
(Proverbs 17:1)

6. SHARE without pretending
(Ephesians 4:15)

7. ENJOY without complaint
(Philippians 2:14)

8. TRUST without wavering
(I Corinthians 13:7)

9. FORGIVE without punishing
(Colossians 3:13)

10. PROMISE without forgetting
(Proverbs 13:12)

2014 NaBloPoMo!

NaBloPoMo November 2014