When Your Quiet Time isn’t a Priority

Oh, the dreaded quiet time. Wait.. did I say dreaded? I meant WONDERFUL! That’s what I’m supposed to say as a Christian, right? Although, if we are absolutely honest with ourselves, there are times where we do not look forward to digging into the Word.

Personally, one of my biggest frustrations is attempting to find a time to sit down and actually read the Bible. It seems like, when I begin to get into a routine, something changes; classes, work, new events. How in the sam-hill am I supposed to find a time to study the Bible??

I, and I’m sure you have too, have heard many people talk about when they do their quiet time and it seems like every single one of them says something along the lines of, “I have found that doing my quiet time in the morning is the absolute best because it just starts my day off right.”

*Cue my rolling eyes*

If you are one of those people who can wake up early to do your quiet time with a hot cup of coffee, you are amazing. I am in no way, shape, or form a morning person. Ask my best friends, my family, my husband, and the people who I’ve gone on mission trips with. I have ‘angry eyes’ until about 10am. My alarm is already set for 5:40am so that I can get to school on time and I do not want to set it for any earlier.

I’m sure there are many of you who feel the same as I do. So now what? When are we supposed to do our quiet time?

A few weekends ago, I watched this amazing TED Talk on the priorities in our life. I encourage you to watch it as well because it will really help put into perspective your everyday activities.

After watching the video, I decided that I was going to make two lists of priorities. The first would be my ‘head priorities.’ These are the ones that, if someone were to ask me, I would give. This is what I preach to others about who I am as a person and what I value. My second list, was my ‘life priorities.’ This list would be the things I prioritize if someone were to simply watch my day-to-day life. What do I spend my free time doing?

Here’s the list:

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Yikes. That’s not what I wanted to see. And I can bet that, if you were to do the same, you’d be bummed too.

The priority I wanted to work on the most was ‘God’, meaning that I needed to figure out when I was going to do my quiet time. In the TED Talk, Laura states that listing out your priorities each week helps to keep you on track. I realized that, unless I designated specific segments of my day to each activity, I would never consistently do my quiet time. If I’m going to be serious about any of the priorities on my ‘head list,’ I  have to plan.

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As I placed my quiet time in each of my days, I realized that I don’t have to read my Bible at the exact same time every day! My Monday, Wednesday, and Friday quiet time look different than Tuesday and Thursday because that is what works best for me! I don’t have to do it at 6am every morning, I just need to read the Bible. When my life changes after this school semester ends, I will have to update my schedule. Life is constantly changing.

Our schedules all look different. Some people like mornings, others like evenings. It’s okay to have a chaotic day as long as we know when we are going to quiet ourselves before God. I encourage you to focus on your priorities. Look at your day-to-day life and decide how you’ll schedule what’s important.

A Call to Live Healed

 

Two years ago, I was walking the long battle of fighting cancer. For a year, I was constantly getting treatment, seeing doctors, having blood taken, being poked and prodded. Every little cough or sniffle was cause to go see the doctor – to get put on some other medicine. I couldn’t escape.

 

Now my life is relatively normal; I’m married, I go to school, I have a job, I don’t see a doctor as often, and I can get sick without sending people into a frenzy. My hair is now long enough that people assume this is just my natural hairstyle. In fact, friends that I have made since cancer don’t realize that my brown, curly hair used to be blonde and wavy. People passing me think that I am a totally normal human being.

 

Yet, cancer is still there, pressing on my mind, suffocating my heart.

I have convinced myself that cancer still lives in me.

 

Today, February 10, 2017, is my two-year stem cell birthday! And two years holds great significance in the cancer world because the longer I go without having the cancer coming back mean the chances of it reoccurring go way down! Anytime I see a doctor they nod their head, smile, and pat me on the back, congratulating my accomplishment. However, I am still constantly terrified. I am scared of the flashback I have from the journey. I worry about the cancer coming back. I panic whenever I go to any kind of doctor. I am afraid of what people will think when they find out I’ve had cancer but I also fear them not knowing. I don’t know how to live with cancer being a part of my journey rather than it being who I am.

 

I’ve let cancer define me instead of allowing God to define me.

 

In the middle of an emotional breakdown a few weeks ago, my husband hugged and consoled me as I wept. Then he told me to repeat, “I am healed.” I don’t know how many times he had me say it out loud. Even now, he still asks me, “What are you?” “I am healed.”

 

Since then, I’ve been processing the concept of being healed and what it means for me in this season of life. My heart clings to the word asking me to believe it so that I do not continue to suffocate it with fears of cancer.

 

I have realized that I don’t know how to live healed. I am still convinced that I am sick, that I am not healed, and that I will never be healed. Cancer continues to control my thoughts, blacken my heart, and quench my passion.

 

I thought that after two years I would be my pre-cancer self. Now I see that the pre-cancer Addi is no longer there anymore. I am a new person. I am healed and that is how God wants me to live. He taught me many lessons in the journey that I did not understand before. He wants me to live those out. The healed Addi is taking His promises, His lessons, and His love, and running the race on a path I wasn’t expecting. And this path is exactly where God wants me to be because I am healed.

Inspiration from Philippians

Recently, I began reading the book of Philippians during my quiet time. I’ve really enjoyed studying Paul’s encouragement to the Church and the joy that radiates in his words. Philippians displays Paul sharing the gospel without fear, even while in chains. However, while Paul displays genuine motives, he describes a group of individuals who have corrupt intentions. In Philippians 1, he states that there are some who are preaching Christ “out of envy and rivalry” (vs. 15). In other words, some people preach the gospel with love while others try to cause trouble.

 While reading Paul’s description, my mind races with memories of the present, and I realize how little times have changed. I’ve met many people who say Christ is Lord of their life while deliberately disobeying his commands. Many people bask in their supposed “righteousness” or “knowledge of the gospel.” I grow frustrated with people preaching for their personal gain rather than preaching to reveal the Lord.

 Suddenly, I’m reminded of a more startling truth: I preach the gospel out of selfish ambition as well. There are moments when I become prideful, believing I have done something worthy of others’ praise. I brag about my accomplishments all while using the name of God as my platform.

 There’s a miraculous truth, however, even within distorted motives. Paul then states, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” (vs. 18)

 Even when my motives are wrong, God can change lives. Even when I selfishly preach the gospel, God finds a way to be glorified through it all. Our God is a mighty God. I sing songs of praise knowing that God cannot be stopped by my selfish ambitions.

 

I Pray for You

With love I pray for you.

I want you to look to God

before you look to me

because I cannot give peace.

So I pray for your mind

to discern the deceitful.

I pray for you eyes

to look upon the eternal.

I pray for your lips

to sing the praises of the Lord.

I pray for your heart

to be clay in the hands of the Master.

I pray for your hands to hold the broken.

I pray for your feet

to be willing to go.

And I pray for your soul

to wait silently for the Lord.

 

Photo by: Holly Gannett

My Struggle is My Strength

The loss did not happen in a single day. It was a slow process that continued to overcome me every time I went to the doctor or looked into a mirror. My life had been conversations of college, future careers, and social life. These conversations became words of treatment, prescriptions, and medical terms. Although the dominant conversation of this season of life had been “College,” suddenly a new term became the point of topic, “Cancer.” From that point on, I was steadily stripped of myself. My frame became bony due to my inability to eat. Dark circles of exhaustion were etched under my eyes because I couldn’t bring myself to fall asleep for fear of treatment. I rememberwashing my hair in the shower only to pull my hands away, clumps of hair covering my skin. Surgeries left scars on my body that mirrored the scars in my heart.

Because of these crippling losses, I began to lose who I was. I doubted my humanity because the only thing I could see in myself was cancer. I believed that to be a woman I must look feminine: long hair, curved figure, glowing skin, and fertility, but cancer left me bald, skinny, and pale. I was told that I can never have kids. I allowed this disease to steal my womanhood.

One day, while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, a sentence came to mind: “Cancer destroys the body and, if you let it, it destroys the heart.” A disease steals a lot from a person: hair, energy, freedom, dreams. However, you have the decision to allow it to steal your identity. Beauty is much deeper than the skin. True beauty is the ability to be thankful in all circumstances. Physical energy may evade you. However, the energy to keep fighting is what matters. Even though you can’t enjoy some of the things you once did, you can find new activities to appreciate. Some dreams will feel like they are slipping away, but this means you have the opportunity to create something new for yourself.

Even in the dark times, there is still purpose in life. Use your struggle to help others and your life will be filled with meaning. Everyone has to hold onto something that will not change to remind them of these truths. This hope may be relationships, children, past memories, or future goals. For me, my hope was found in Christ rather than the girl that I saw in the mirror. I went to the Bible to drink in the words of assurance that told me cancer was not what defined me. Whatever this may be for you, remember that your disease does not make you less of a person. Let the struggle be the strength of your story because it can teach you true thankfulness in the midst of loss, deep purpose in a season of interruption, and steadfastness in a time of chaos.

 

Also published at: https://makeitultrapsychology.wordpress.com/2016/03/05/movember-forward-contribution-by-addi-shamburg-my-struggle-is-my-strength/

The Words I Will Use

The stillness of the

morning will prompt my writing

heart to whisper words.

 

The other night I spent a few hours editing a paper with my cousin (in-law), Kaley. While I worked on my essay, I helped her edit a blog post she was getting ready to send in. We laughed at some of our unnecessary phrases and endlessly searched for a “perfect” word to make our writing better.

I had not done this in a long time.

As a college student, I write a lot of papers. In one class, I must write a short paper once a week and, in many others, I’m writing one once a month. Drowning in the amount of scholarly papers I must write, I forgot how much I love creating a well-written paper. I have been trapped in the mundane habit of writing a paper that was just “good enough” to get the grade I wanted.

I lost sight of my passion for words.

I have been reminded that one word can have a tremendous impact on the rest of your poem, essay, or even your speech. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” I love that this verse uses the words “sweet to the soul” and “healing to the bones.” Gracious words bring our soul some delicious flavor like our favorite treat pleases our taste buds. And these same words can heal our broken bones. That is some deep healing!

The idea that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a sham. Words can also cut deep. The book of James states that the tongue is able to destroy the whole body and “is itself set on fire by HELL (vs. 8).” Those are some pretty strong words.

The time we spent editing our work reminded me that there are thousands of words out in the world, floating around, waiting to be used. This late night realization prompted me to write one thing every single day (the above haiku is an example of this). That one thing can be a poem, an essay, an edit of another poem, or even just one sentence that I feel like I can use later in writing. Doing this every day can spark ideas for the future. It can develop my speech to be something that is powerful instead of subpar. Words are a beautiful thing and should be treated as such. I would rather bring healing to people’s bones than set their soul on fire.

 

Kaley is also a blogger and has some incredible writing. Definitely check her out at tuckerandkaley.wordpress.com

Oh, Foolish One!

 

This morning I was reading Galatians 3 and I was struck by Paul’s strong language towards the Galatians.  Verse 2 says, “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?” Then in verse 3, “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” Skip down to verse 14, “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

I can just see Paul beating his head on the desk as he writes this letter: “Come on guys! We’ve gone over this!” My first thought while reading these verses was, “Yes, they should already known that they have been saved by faith in Christ!”  But I took a step back to observe my own life, my own thought process, my own walk with the Lord. As I looked long and hard in the mirror of my life, the Galatians were the reflection. How often have I stumbled, trying to keep the law. How often have I thought that my own effort would be enough to accomplish the work that needed to be done? That is where this Haiku comes from. God looks down at me with love and says,

“Oh, foolish daughter,

you strive with human effort.

I have covered you.”

Update

Well, it’s been awhile. I’ve had a lot going on the last couple of months and, to be completely honest, I have not sat down to write a poem in a long time. There was always a voice in the back of my head telling me it was time to start again. However, I ignored it. I got caught up in work, school, and quite frankly Netflix. So many new things have come up in my life and I knew I needed to write about them but I refused because I knew this would mean being really open with myself and with others.

I thank God that, this last week, He has placed a couple of different things in my life to remind me of what He has called me to do and how much I love writing. Sometimes, we just get caught up in the day to day life and forget to do the things we are truly passionate about. Pray for me as I begin to write again – that I would listen to what God is revealing in my heart and submit to Him. I hope to be sending out some poetry in the next couple of weeks.

Thank you for following,

Addi

An Unworthy Love

View More: http://hollygannett.pass.us/addimerritt-engagedShe sat in the plush chair facing the mirror. She stared at her reflection, tears pricking the corners of her eyes, threatening to fall and ruin her fresh makeup. Just a few minutes ago she had been laughing and talking excitedly with her mother and closest friends while they got ready. Now, she was left by herself to wait for her groom so they could have a few moments alone before the ceremony.

This solitary time allowed for the fear that was constantly in the back of her mind to creep to the forefront. She isn’t worthy of her soon-to-be husband. She has been through too much and has too many scars.

At that thought, she reached up to her collarbone to touch the scars that surgeries left her with. A tear falls. The flashbacks come in full force; hospitals, PET scans, shots, chemo, doctors. She put her hand over her stomach and let out a soft sob, remembering the moment when the doctors said she wouldn’t be able to have children.

How could she marry such a wonderful man and not be able to give him a family? It isn’t fair. Cancer had taken too much away from her to allow her to feel worthy.

She felt the simple lace gown beneath her fingertips and gently traced it, watching tears splatter on the material. The dress was the color white, symbolizing purity, but nothing really felt pure. The experiences of being in the hospital, signing medical papers, and talking to doctors have given her an “old soul.” Most twenty year olds didn’t fight cancer for a year. That season of her life had stripped away some of her youth; her purity.

A soft knock came from behind her and the door opened. She quickly swept her tears away and turned to face her groom. He stood tall, his thin frame highlighted perfectly under the white-collared shirt. The soft teal tie brought out his beautiful eyes which were creased into a smile. He was happy to see her. Why?

Seeing her face, he immediately knew something was wrong. He slowly walked to her, searching her eyes for what could possibly be bothering her.

“Hi,” she whispered. But no smile touched her lips.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?”

What was she supposed to say? I don’t want to marry you? That was the farthest thing from the truth but she had to say something.

As she stared at her feet another tear slipped and hit the floor. His hand reached out and softly – lovingly – cupped her cheek. He lifted up her head and looked at her with concern.

“Talk to me,” he said.

“You should find someone else to marry. I’m not good enough.”

A look of sadness touched his face. He had heard this many times while they were dating. Through the year long battle of cancer he had stuck with her and he was now ready to marry her but she was always so insecure about this topic. He remembered the many times she called him in the middle of the night, crying because she was terrified of going into chemo the next day. His stomach lurched at the memory of visiting her in the hospital. At the time, she had already been there for three weeks and had ten days of chemo. She had always been small for her age, but the treatment had dropped her weight even more, making her look frail. For him, that memory was special to him. Seeing her like that had completely broken his heart however, he knew that was something special others would never understand.

He kissed her forehead and drew her into his chest. The smell of her favorite cologne on his shirt brought a bit of peace.

“You can’t let cancer stop you from anything else. It held you back from so many experiences for a year and you can’t let it do that to you anymore. I love you and I want you as my wife and I want to spend our lives together. I love you because of your love for God not because your life is perfect. That’s not real. I want you; the real you.”

 

Photo by Holly Gannett Photography