Monday, October 20, 2014

20 | Be Flexible

It's 1:19 a.m.  I don't typically wake up in the middle of the night and write.  But here I am.  Being flexible.

Funny how God nudges us into being sometimes.

My Mr. is in a state of stress at work.  For him, as for a lot of us, stress equals insomnia.  It doesn't take much to rouse him.  And once he's up, he's up for a good long stretch.  I'm sending up a prayer for him and his sleepless stress, and for all the insomniacs awake right now.  Peace and stillness, Lord, shower them with peace and stillness.  Gently drift them back into luxurious, rejuvenating sleep.

So here's what woke him tonight: our dog.  The third child.  The one with tons of shedding fur and the sweetest face.  For some reason, he's decided tonight is the perfect night to sleep outside.

Since I don't have to work tomorrow, er, make that today, I took over the challenge of getting the pooch back in the house.  Flexibility.  It's one of the gifts of my cobbled-together part-time professions.

And though I don't like being stirred from sleep by a restless dog or an anxious husband, tonight it has been a gift.

It's October.  Two-thirds into October.  Where I live that means frosty nights and forceful winds, a threat of snow, pulling out winter layers and piling them on over summer-thinned skin.

Not tonight.  Tonight we're enjoying the last flirtations with Indian Summer.  When I say "Indian," I say it with complete reverence for the indigenous peoples who love the land and its cycles and its surprises.  Who celebrate the last sighs of warmth before the earth goes to sleep for a long winter's nap.

So I sat on the front stoop, watching our pooch settle in the crisp oak leaves, a safe distance from my ploys to bring him inside.  I sat wondering at this nocturnal gift of warm winds, whispers from falling autumn foliage, a silent night overlooked by a sleeping world.  Sighing prayers of gratitude for the surprising gift of watching one contented dog nestle in to sleep among the scattered leaves.

Flexibility.  It takes life's surprises and stretches them into satisfaction.

Now that I've been nudged awake to celebrate this gift, now that the family pet has been persuaded to sleep indoors, lest he wake everyone again with the 5:00 a.m. arrival of the newspaper (hmmm, a digital subscription makes more and more sense), my own slumber plays hard to get.  And with a 31 Day blog challenge nipping at my heels, I write.

Flexibility.  It embraces life's opportunities and makes the most of them, with peace and gratitude, not begrudging groans.

I write this, and the irony does not escape me.  This feels out-of-body foreign.  For I have historically been the insomniac, recovered now with better diet and exercise, with gentler ways of being.  Traditionally I would be grudging and groaning against this early morning alertness.  Where does this flexibility come from?  What has forged this relaxed embrace of the uninvited nighttime interruption?

Only one answer makes sense.  This is a gift from God.  This is the Holy Spirit, getting comfortable and snuggling into my soul.  This is the moments of being still, of being me and humble before God, slowly and certainly coming to fruition.

When we rest in the Lord, the rest of life loses it's hard edges.  Grace embraces us and imbues us with resilience.  Flexibility.  It should be listed as a fruit of the Spirit.

free printable from

I can see it fitting in, right between peace and patience.  When God grants those two gifts, we have the flexibility to take life's surprises and stretch them into satisfaction.
When we store up on stillness, God gives us the grace to wait on him with patience, to find peace in our places of limbo.  He brings us to a place in our faith that trusts completely, that leans in despite the limbo or the lack of immediate answers.  God grants us a flexible faith, like that of Ruth.

UnravelledDesign via
Remember Ruth?  She was one of the young, widowed daughters-in-law of Naomi. When there was no logical reason to stay with her mother-in-law, no hope for a the provisions of a future marriage, since Naomi had no other living sons, she pledged to stay with this woman of God.  There was no logical reason for Ruth, a member of the Moabites who were distrusted and disliked by the Israelites, to follow her mother-in-law back to her homeland.  But follow she did, with this pledge:
Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Ruth 1:16b  
Faith led Ruth into flexibility.  Her flexibility led her into a new marriage that produced a son, then a grandson, then a great-grandson named David.  And you know where the story goes from there, all the way to Christ.

Today let's settle into stillness.  Let's follow Ruth's lead and create space for our faith to make us more flexible.


You and I both know I like to make my own plans, to lull myself into a false sense of control.  And we both know how well that turns out: one step forward, three step backwards, and a stumble off to the side.
Help me to stay on track, to settle down and be still in this moment with you.  I want to trust in you completely; I want to embrace your better plans with flexibility and faith.  Show me your way, Lord.  Use me in all my imperfection to make your power known.  Stretch me in new directions and novel ways so that I can live your good news out loud and glorify your grace.

Lord, in this moment help me to be still and listen to you.  Open my mind, my heart, my ears and my eyes, so that I may understand where you want me to be more flexible.  
Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.  Proverbs 8:34
As I watch and wait for your plans to unfold, show me where I can bend a little more in my habits, in my relationships, and in my work.  In the gospels I see Christ's example of being interruptible, accessible, and approachable, even when he most desired rest and seclusion.  Help me to adopt that kind of flexibility as a means of showing your loving kindness, as a way of being your hands and feet in this world.

via Pinterest
Lord, thank you for your twofold gift of flexibility.  Thank you for showing me that when I am willing to bend low or reach out to help others, they benefit from your love and I am blessed by serving you.  And in that bending, reaching, stretching to serve, you give me the gift of resilience.  I get better at bouncing back.  I am less apt to get bent out of shape.  I am shaped by your amazing grace.  

I am grateful that I can be still with you now, Lord.  I am grateful that in this stillness, you sustain me so that I can stretch and handle life's strains later in my day.  Be my faith and my flexibility, so that I may glorify you.



  1. Liz, thank you for sharing this. Reading your writing is like sitting on the couch with a friend and mug of tea. I love this: "Flexibility. It takes life's surprises and stretches them into satisfaction." That might be my theme for Day 20 - thank you for the beautiful reminder.

    1. Hey new friend and fellow tea lover! Thanks for stopping by and connecting. I hope you find some flexibility and satisfaction in your day.

  2. Love this. Like Camille, I love the 'flexibility takes life's surprises and stretches them into satisfaction'. It's so true. When I'm not open to being flexible, that's when life gets crazy stressful!!! I'm pinning your blog to come back to read as I have time :)

    1. I'm doing lots of that pinning blogs and perusing them when I can make the time. Is it bad that I'm wishing for more time spent waiting for appointments, meetings, and grocery clerks? In the meantime, I'm practicing looking Crazy Stressful in the eye and responding with, "Hello, I'm Flexible."

  3. Oh Amen! I love this whole post and the truth in it... I don't struggle with insomnia, but I often hear or feel the nudge to get up and pray or spend time with God in the middle of the night... I loved this line: "When we rest in the Lord, the rest of life loses it's hard edges." (I am writing on Entering in to His Rest for 31Days and this... yes this!) Beautiful!

    1. Thanks, Karrilee. I'm going to stop on by and visit you as you Enter His Rest. Wishing you peace and hard edges fading into flexibility.

  4. Good reminder. I'm impressed you can sit alone on your porch in the middle of the night. I'd be afraid of who knows what: raccoon, possums, bad guys, skunks...

    1. Jenny, if you had a good-sized Siberian Husky (who is frequently mistaken for a wolf) guarding your yard and barking when anyone crosses the property line, you'd be good with sitting outside in the wee hours, too. If you are looking to borrow said dog, and don't mind the perpetual fur, we're looking for a dog sitter for a December weekend. Did I mention he's furry? Hee hee!

  5. I have had moments like this where I need to FORCE myself to sit by myself...away from my hubby, away from my kids and away from the noise! I wake-up at 5:30 to do this...and like you, it makes all the difference!

    1. Bethany, I have those forced moments of stillness, too. It's the introvert underneath. And the need to breathe my own air and get centered on God first and foremost. To beat the rest of my family to the quiet time, I'd have to get up at 5:00 and nap at 2:00. You've got me thinking I could make that a regular habit.

  6. I love this printable of the fruits of the Spirit! So far, I've found gentleness has a lot to do being flexible – at least being gentle with myself.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    1. You are right -- gentleness and flexibility are so intertwined. Sometimes I get the impression God likes braiding things together, weaving strands into strong faith.

  7. This is so beautifully written. I consider myself a fairly flexible person, but I was challenged by this "Flexibility. It embraces life's opportunities and makes the most of them, with peace and gratitude, not begrudging groans."

    It makes me think about how flexibility is a gift from God, and how I can reshape my thinking when life happens and challenges my flexibility. I'm so glad I found you today, and thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday!

  8. This was so beautifully written. I was especially touched by this "Flexibility. It embraces life's opportunities and makes the most of them, with peace and gratitude, not begrudging groans."

    It really challenges me as I consider myself a fairly flexible person, but don't always make the most of opportunities when life happens and it changes my plans.

    I'm so grateful I found your blog! Thank you for stopping by mine yesterday!

  9. I love Ruth's story. A story of determination, passion and dedication. I'm glad you obeyed God's nudging and woke up in the wee hours of the morning to write this. :D


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