today

Today

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Posted: November 8, 2018 by Ashley Ogle

I promise I have not fallen off the face of the earth! I know it’s been two months since I posted, but after our second loss I really felt like I needed to spend time being intentionally quiet. I didn’t write. I didn’t post much on social media. I focused a lot on my husband and the people around me, and I prayerfully sought God. It’s pretty amazing what can happen just when we allow ourselves to be still.

 C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pain. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Through this season of pain, I can honestly say I’ve never seen God clearer. His megaphone has certainly reached my deaf ears! He is transforming the ugly and making things beautiful. He’s teaching me how to depend fully on Him. He’s been so faithful and patient, holding my hand day after day.

During my two months of stillness, one word has continued to minister to me. That word is “today.” One thing I have learned through this journey is that we truly aren’t promised tomorrow. We have no idea what tomorrow will bring. One day we could be announcing the due date of our first child. The next, we could have that stripped away. We are not promised tomorrow, but we are gifted today. And what an amazing gift that is!

Confession: The importance of reflecting on “today” and “today” alone did not come to me from a place of wanting to be uber-spiritual. It came to me because I got way too overwhelmed when thinking too far into the future. The thought of upcoming holidays, new birth announcements, the anniversary of our first loss… when I would think of those things, I would become very overwhelmed and sadden. So focusing on today wasn’t just something cool I found in scripture (although it is there!), it was the only way I could stop focusing on myself and fix my eyes upon Him.

Today
My Prayer Journal

When you become determined to focus on today, things change. When you realize that your purpose on earth is not to get everything you want, when you want it, and the way you want it, the world becomes a whole lot bigger and brighter. When you see that your true purpose on earth is to love God, love others, and follow Him earnestly, you find life and boy is it freeing! When I began to focus on the day and what was so kindly given, my problems started to become smaller and smaller.

Focusing on today means:

  • Being grateful for what you’ve been given
  • Intentionally serving others and paying attention to their needs, not just your own
  • Taking time for what really matters, and silencing the other noise
  • Living life with purpose

Confession: I can be a really selfish person. If I’m being really honest, my first instinct is to look out for myself.  That’s me being real. Thinking of “today” means stepping out of myself and noticing others around me. It means laying down my wants and my desires, and running towards the Lord’s wants and His desires. It means that my first instinct of selfishness has to be thrown out of the window, and serving others must take a front seat. Y’all! That does not come naturally for me. I really have to work to make this happen.

 Here is the game plan I’ve come up with to help me focus more on “today”:

A year into this wild journey, I bought a simple journal and I made it my prayer journal. It’s become a tool that has forced me to be intentional each and every day. In the mornings, I’ll spend time reading and talking with God. When I’m finished reading, I’ll get my journal out, draw a giant plus sign, and map out the day ahead. I’ll choose a “Verse of the Day” from my quiet time, write it down, pray it back, and mediate on it. Then, I’ll make a list of things that I am thankful for. This is always right after I meditate on scripture. I’ve found that having an “attitude of gratitude” is life changing when you’re walking through something hard. Also, when you start your prayers out with thanksgiving, the tone of your needs and requests aren’t as loud or overwhelming. When we first thank God for the gifts He’s given us, it reminds us of HIs extreme grace and faithfulness. Then, I’ll write my prayers and praises. At the end, I make a section for a “Random Act of Kindness.” When I’m planning my RAK, it forces me to think of the plans for the day. Who will I be seeing today? Who do I know that is hurting? Who do I know that needs encouragement? Are there any significant things I should remember about today? Any dates, birthdays, appointments? In other words, who will I be seeing today and how can I serve them? This has never come naturally for me, so taking time to plan this out in the morning has helped me to make serving others a habit.

today
Layout of my prayer journal for “today”

Confession: I don’t do this every day. Some days get really busy, and I run out of time for my prayer journal. However, right after losing our first and second babies, this was an anchor for me. If I’m having a really tough day or tough week, taking the time to think of others has become the most freeing thing I can do. When the going gets hard, I lean on this with hopes that if I plan things out enough, then one day this will become a habit that won’t require planning.

 When I focus on today, I notice the older gentleman in Kroger who has no idea where the distilled white vinegar is. Helping him leads me to listening to him share that his wife is sick and He is in charge of the grocery shopping. It blesses me when I see him smile and when we both laugh and learn that all white vinegar is distilled- at least at this Kroger. It also reminds me that I’m not alone in suffering, and God is sovereign even in aisle 12.

When I focus on today, I am able to really listen to my next-door neighbor when she stops her car to tell me she just turned 80 years old last week. Knowing that’s a significant birthday, I can run to the store, buy her some chocolates, and leave it on her doorstep. It then blesses me by opening the door to a sweet friendship, a glass of wine, and an abundance of wisdom from someone right across the street. It reminds me that God never gets an address wrong.

When I focus on today, I pay attention to the bags under my friend’s eyes (love you, sister!). I pick up on the fact that she’s exhausted from her newborn keeping her up at night. Seeing that, I’m able to serve her by offering to babysit or bring her Starbucks the next time I see her. It then blesses me, because serving others silences the temptations to be envious or jealous. Instead, it opens my heart to learn from her and help her, because I know one day I will need a friend (and community) who will do the same for me. It reminds me that God has gifted me a season of quiet so that I can gift my friend in her season of busy, and vice versa.

When I focus on today, I’m more attuned to the needs of my husband. I’m able to encourage Him and notice all the wonderful ways He is growing. When he asks me to do something, I’m more willing to help and even go beyond what he’s asked. This blesses me by bringing us closer and creates an even stronger bond between us. It blesses our marriage, because he does the same in return. It reminds me of the years I prayed for a husband like this, and that God was so very faithful.

When I focus on today, I actively look for opportunities to help others. This blesses me, because when I do this, I stop seeing all the things I don’t have, and I praise God for all the wonderful things He’s given me. This shows me more of a glimpse of my Father’s heart and it is so freeing. My mindset shifts from scarcity to abundance.

When I focus on today, I start my morning off by trying to help others, but then notice all the small things that everyone does for me day after day. I notice the kind words my sister in law says to me, and the sincere heart she has to walk alongside me. I tear up when a friend stops by with a meal, because she remembered  the significance of the date on the calendar. I see God work in ways I would have never noticed before. I see Him in the face of my mentor from church. I see His hand in the friendships that surround me. I see Him everywhere. I see the hands and feet of Jesus all around me, and it completely surrounds me with love and honestly…. it overwhelms me. It reminds me that He is so close and He’s never left.

If I want to follow Christ, I’ve learned that I have to lay down my plans. I have to give up control that I so desperately want to hold on to. I have to make a choice each and every day to follow Him. Following Him begins with serving others. Life begins when we stop focusing on ourselves.

Today
Prayer Journal for Today

Today, I am not a Momma. I am not pregnant.

However, today I am a wife. I’m a daughter. I’m a sister.  I’m a neighbor. I’m a friend. I’m an aunt. I’m one heck of a dog mom, and I’m a follower of Jesus.

Today, I’m going to thank God for those incredible roles, and I’m going to strive to bring Him glory……because that is the gift of today.

 

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

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