No, I did not fall off the planet.  No, I did not abandon my blog.  Yes, I did stay away from it fro the longest stretch of time since I started writing it two years ago.  And, just like everything other discipline, the longer you stay away, the harder it is to get back on track.

When I was in high school, my band director said that we should practice every single day, even if only for 10-15 minutes.  He impressed on me the idea that every day I did NOT practice would take two days to get back to my current level of skill.  I think he wanted to scare me into consistent practice, and his method worked for a while.  However, it had an unintended consequence.  After I left the high school band, and didn’t play my flute for several months, I considered his math and decided that I didn’t have enough time in my life to get back to the level of skill I had currently enjoyed.  I mean, if I hadn’t played for 180 days, it would take me 36o days of consecutive practice just to get back on track!  I was exhausted just thinking about it!  I haven’t played my flute in years.

Exercise is similar, isn’t it?  I used to be a distance runner.  I completed two half-marathons and several 5K and 10K races.  It was typical for me to run 3-5 miles 5-6 days each week with occasional longer runs.  In fact, at one point, three miles felt like an “off” day — like I hadn’t really run at all.  I was in excellent physical condition.  At that point, I could not run for several days in a row (although that rarely happened) and still have the capacity to easily run five miles.  In fact, sometimes a break of three or four days would make me crave that run. When I finally had the time and opportunity to put on my running shoes, I would burst out the door with a ridiculous grin on my face, thrilled to be back at it.  However, now that illness has limited my ability to run, and I haven’t run three miles in  over three years, the idea of getting back to that level of fitness is a bit daunting.

I have a mixture of feelings as I sit here today.  I am thrilled to be back at my blog after a long absence, but I don’t really know how to get back to where I was.  What thread should I start with? health? work? teaching? writing? I’ve been wanting to post all week, but I keep finding other things to do — cook, clean, meet a friend for coffee, see a student, work on a puzzle, weed the garden.  This morning, I determined that I would finally sit down and write, but I wandered around the house a bit first.  What am I going to write about?  Where do I begin?

It took me a moment to remember my practice — my routine.  Drink smoothie. Check. Drink green tea. Check. Brew black tea. Check. Sit down, Kristin, sit down. Open your Bible study. That’s right.  Read it.  Turn to the Word. Psalm 107:20: “He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.”

Yes, yes He did.  He sent forth his Word and rescued me from the grave. Let’s start there today.  It’s not difficult to go back to God’s Word, even after a long absence.  You don’t have to build stamina.  You don’t have to get back to a former level of performance.  “Behold, He makes all things new.”  He breathes His breath of life into us each moment that we turn to Him.

We give ourselves all kinds of laws and expectations, don’t we? I’m going to eat healthfully, exercise five times a week, blog every day, etc. Our intentions are good, but often, when we don’t meet our expectations, we beat ourselves up with the shoulda coulda woulda messages.  These messages have unintended consequences.  Instead of propelling us back to positive disciplines, they bury us in shame and prevent us from doing what we want to do most.

So, today I turn.  I turn back to His Word.   I turn away from self-blame and self-shame and embrace the God who healed me and rescued me from the grave.  “His mercies are new every morning,” and my mercies can be, too.

Lamentations 3:23

Great is your faithfulness.

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