Now that July is here I've decided to remove the Christmas cards we received last December from the wall in the den where they are currently adhered with yellowing, curling tape.
Do not be alarmed: I'm not a scattered, hot mess of a homeowner who still has Halloween candy in the pantry; only last year's holiday cards are still kicking around. The Thanksgiving placemats, Christmas lights and nutcracker soldiers are all safely packed away in boxes in the basement.
The reason there are dozens of greeting cards still taped to the wall seven months post-Christmas is simply because, after a certain amount of time, we stop noticing things around us. Even though I'm in that room daily, I stopped seeing the cards.
I remember my first visit to my in-laws' house before my husband and I were married. I walked around their compact stone colonial and noticed crucifixes on the plastered walls of most rooms. I wasn't raised Catholic so seeing this was new to me, and I remember telling a friend, “His mom hung crosses in pretty much every room of the house!”
Are those crucifixes still there? I suppose they are, but I can't say for sure because I stopped noticing them. And I've been in my in-laws' house countless times over the past twenty years.
Six months ago I spiffed up my home office by hanging some framed prints of the beautiful Walking with Purpose free scripture printables. I don't notice them very often anymore.
It goes without saying that the way to keep a strong relationship with God is through daily prayer and Mass -- not by hanging things on the walls. Yet, while a day can begin perfectly with prayer, as it progresses, we often travel away from that perfect place and find we are no longer immersed in His presence.
I am happy to report that there is something I encounter throughout the day now that immediately brings Christ to mind. It inserted itself into my life quite unexpectedly last month when a very popular New York Metro Area radio station went off the air. It was one of those stations that played the same pop hits repeatedly, and it was the #1 station in the area for decades. (I can remember the summer before college listening to the station on a silver boombox as I begrudgingly helped my father paint the kitchen of my childhood home with Bobby McFerrin telling me Don't Worry, Be Happy in his sing-song voice.)
That pop radio station is gone now, and the Christian station K-Love took over its spot on the dial. And because I am constantly in my car, Ubering my kids around (and because I have no idea how to play music from my phone through the car sound system), K-Love is constantly on as well.
In case you were wondering, the lyrics that are currently stuck in my head are, I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody...
I will admit that my kids are less than enthusiastic about this alteration to our drive-time soundtrack. I tell them their complaints hurt Jesus's feelings.
When I surround myself with music or the words from a good book, the messages I take in stay near the forefront of my brain, steering clear of the back with its unfulfilled spring cleaning tasks and new year's resolutions. Those K-Love tunes -- just like my WWP Bible study books -- offer a wealth of reminders, and a consistency of message that strengthens my connection with Christ.
The Walking with Purpose Bible study Opening Your Heart transformed me when I experienced it with a parish small group earlier in the year. When my group finished that study, my heart was opened, but as I admitted in this blog post, it might not have been opened all the way. My relationship with God was stronger, but not absolute. Love for Christ was not taking up all the spaces in my heart.
So now I'm reading Opening Your Heart again, this time on my own. And I am less concerned with completing the homework assignments and more concerned with absorbing the information; letting Lisa Brenninkmeyer's words stick around as long as they can in the forefront of my brain like the lyrics to a song. I'm allowing myself to really let it sink in when Lisa tells me that, “More than anything, He is utterly consumed with love for you, and it's the real kind of love that truly wants you to thrive.”¹
Knowing that truth, how could I not want to work on loving Him back?
Do you have any WWP Bible studies on hand that you may have read in the past? If you were to pick one up again, I assure you, the truths would grab hold of you a second time, and warm your heart with love for Him.
¹ Opening Your Heart, p. 34
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