26 December 2006
Gerald Ford was a good man who was asked to do an impossible job. He was asked to lead our nation in it's most divisive time since the civil war. He tried to bring healing from the scandal of the Watergate conspiracy, and peace to a nation trying to end a war we were losing.
He was never elected to the post he worked so hard to serve so well. He did the right things although not easy. He came under fire for the pardon he gave to President Nixon, at the time a very unpopular move. But now, even those who criticized him then realize he did what was necessary to heal the pain our nation was in.
For taking on such a task and giving it his best, he deserves to be honored.
24 December 2006
Anyone who spent time in church while growing up can relate at least one hymn they used to mangle when they were young. I still have trouble singing "bringing in the sheaves". When I was a child we sang this song often at my grandfather's church. Since he was a shepherd and sheep are often mentioned in the Bible, I always sang that line as "bringing in the sheep". I was a teenager before I could sing that song correctly.
Last night Grant was caroling himself with his favorite Christmas tunes and was doing a good rendition of "Joy to the World". The last line was truly a work of his heart as he sang "and Heaven makes her sing, and Heaven makes her sing."
While he didn't get the lyrics quite right, he was profoundly truthful. Thoughts of Heaven make me sing. Amazement that Jesus left heaven for me, makes me sing. Joy at the thought of one day joining Him in Heaven, makes me sing. The comfort of knowing many of those I have loved are already in Heaven, makes me sing. The hope that one day everyone I know will be in heaven, makes me sing.
From this moment on I don't think I will ever be able to sing that carol without thinking of Grant. He has caused me to love an old favorite even more for a new reason.
Singing of Heaven,
19 December 2006
We have a brand new dishwasher!
Just one more example of why waiting on the Lord to find a place to live was a grand idea.
13 December 2006
So all the pieces have come together but in a most unusual fashion. As I am most unusual myself it seems like a good fit. Just have to hope my brain can remember where we put everything.
Pray for good memory as I will be making cobbler for 45 on Saturday, and 35 on Sunday.
11 December 2006
The Christmas tree is up and decorated. There are a few lights out, but I won't be fixing that until we take the tree down. I tried to fix them this morning but it was more trouble than it was worth.
As I lay on the floor under the tree and looked up through the lights my mind wandered through all the Christmases I have celebrated. I have spent the holidays in several different states and even abroad in both Europe and Asia. The one constant is the realization each year of just what Christmas means to me.
Gathering with family is always grand. There have been many times when circumstances kept us apart. Wherever we are we are each celebrating the birth of our Lord. This unites us in a way that mileage can never separate.
To me the thing that continues to amaze me is the fact that Jesus came to earth. Every time I think of it I can't seem to wrap my brain around it. He must love me so very much to leave the splendor of heaven to come to earth for me. I can't even imagine leaving that perfection to face the imperfection of this world.
I think as long as I live this will be one of the things I will never understand. I'll just be grateful for the outcome.
Celebrating the Reason for the season,
05 December 2006
I am moved into the new place but more boxes are packed than not. I have met several of the neighbors and twice I have had the chance to share the blessings God extended during the move. Two ladies in the laundry asked me how I was settling in while I was loading and folding clothes from the dryer. I laughed and said that God was good as things went fairly well considering I was profoundly ill on the day of the move. They asked me what I meant and I was able to share how even when things were going wrong in life I could count on God to see me through.
One lady named Gloria was intrigued and kept asking question after question. We spent about half an hour in the laundry room long after all our clothes were dry. She wanted to know how I could laugh about what must have been an awful day. I explained that knowing Jesus means knowing that all will work out for my good even when I can't see how it will. After we had chatted a while longer I told her I would love to tell her more of God's goodness to me. When we parted she said she might like to hear more another time.
To understand why this is really a big cause for rejoicing I'll have to share a bit of the back story with you.
Back in the summer I started looking for a new place to live as both my roommate and myself were unhappy will the level of service or rather the lack of service we were receiving at our old home. The management had put on all new staff and promised us that things would be better. We had decided to give them a second chance and made arrangements to move into another property they owned down the street. Just over a month before we were to move, a rainstorm caused massive flooding in our kitchen. They maintenance people kept saying they were coming but never showed up. This we took as a sign that is was time to look for another location. Thankfully we had not yet signed a new lease.
I found our current home on-line. I was checking it out because a friend had lived her several years ago and had enjoyed it. We both liked the floorplan and all the extra space. The rates were good and the staff seemed helpful and personable. The only drawback was the dryer would need to be gas and mine was electric. We decided to move and use alternative methods to dry the laundry until we could afford a dryer.
Because I wanted to do several loads, I washed them in the apartment and then walked the wet clothes to the dryer in one of the four laundry rooms on-site. If I had not been willing to let go of the dryer I would have never met Gloria and Marie.
While you may not think this is a big deal to me it is. We can never know when we will be the one to reflect the light of Jesus to others. When it happens you may be the only chance that person has to "see Jesus".
Hoping others see Jesus in me,
04 December 2006
Thankfully God is good, it didn't kill me, and eventually I will find all the things currently hiding in boxes.
02 December 2006
Missing someone I love,
28 September 2006
To be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon, you'd find me in a minute-
you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
The Message Psalm 139 7-11
The Practice of the Presence of God is a book by Brother Lawrence. Of all the things I have read it has been the second biggest influence on my life. I have been meeting with a friend each week for the last 3 months while she has been working her way through the book. She asked me what was keeping me sane on this journey I have been on this year. I shared with her that I had long ago read the above and continue to find it an inspiring.
When I was very young I went to a school in Washington D.C. We were close to a Catholic school and whenever one of us would have a bomb threat both schools would turn out and head to a field to play softball. Sister Luke would usually umpire. One time while at bat I made the comment that I really didn't want to play ball. She told me to "offer it up to God". At the time I had no idea what she meant. To tell the truth Sister Luke had always seemed a little bit scary to me. It wasn't until years later that I understood what she meant.
While I was in a Sunday School class in England, a teacher brought her copy of Brother lawrence's book. She let me borrow it. Things have never been the same since. This was the first time I had thought about how God could and should impact my daily life. Brother Andrew did everything for the Lord. When he was working in the kitchens, it was for God. If he was scrubbing the floor, it was for his Lord. In every situation he found himself he saw each as an opportunity to work for his Savior. I tried then to adopt his plan. I will confess it was much later when I realized how often I fell short of practicing the presence of God.
Earlier this week I spent quite a bit of time in an airport. After having traversed all the terminals more than once I found a comfy spot to sit and have a snack. While resting I met another woman who had been waiting several hours too. She asked me how I could be so cheerful in such a uncomfortable situation. I explained I had once spent much more time in the same predicament. Once upon a time I and my family spent 21 days in an airport waiting for a military space available flight. She was dumbfounded and said "that's a story I have to hear." So... I shared with her how we were home from the mission field and needed to get back to Okinawa. This led to her sharing how she used to go to church as a girl but hadn't gone once she left her mother's home. We talked for a couple of hours. I am grateful I was open to the Lord's presence and in turn able to share the same with another.
Thankful for the chance to see difficulties become opportunities,
06 September 2006
Several ideas were put forth at the meeting. One ideas was described in visual terms which I initially found appealing. It likened church today as trying to get a message through using a rotary dial phone in a cellular phone world.
To some the answer to building church numbers has been to tell people what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. Some have gotten Disney engineers to design their children's areas to lure kids in knowing that a good deal of American families are driven by the children's wants rather than the parent's desires. Some are reaching out to people through advertising. One church here in town has placed ads in men's room above the urinals. They are even so committed to the importance of advertising they are developing a brand to foster brand recognition for their church.
This caused me to think about why there are churches in other parts of the world where they are seeing great growth. In Asia and Africa churches are flourishing. They haven't had money to remodel, advertising is out for the same reason. They certainly haven't seemed to water down the message they are preaching. So why are they growing when they are not doing the things being tried here?
I think part of it is because they have had to work hard to keep their churches alive through famine and hostile governments. They have stripped away all the hoopla and kept the message of the comfort and hope that God offers. In a country where hope is a rare commodity and comfort cannot be found, it is treasured all the more.
I had lunch today with a couple of friends who are back in the USA for a month to settle some family business. In October they will return to a clinic they have operated in east Africa for fourteen years. Their Sunday services have had to move outside because they can no longer house all who come to worship.
This afternoon I came to a realization of why I really don't like the phone illustration. It's the members of the church who are to be the message delivery system. It's the members who are to be the billboards for their church. Brand recognition should be realizing the presence of God in us.
Churches need to deal with the business of church, not fifth avenue.
Trying to be a great billboard,
05 September 2006
Evidently my warranty has run out because things are falling apart in me faster than I can repair. I've got two great Doctors who are helping to keep me together. One lives in town with me and one I reach through daily consultation.
He is the Great Physician who can tend me like no other. He has a whole approach to healing me. He reminds me that though my body will last for a short while, my soul lives forever.
In a rather splendid twist I have noticed as my body suffers my soul has learned to fly.
On Monday I could barely move. A friend called and we talked for over an hour sharing all the wonderful things we have been able to learn from and about our Lord this year. Her struggles with a difficult job and an inappreciative staff have caused her to rely more fully on the Grace of God. After I hung up I thought of how ironic it would seem to those who don't know Christ, that what others would see as crisis has become a haven for us.
I have another friend facing possible blindness. She and I talk several times each week and pray with and for each other often. She has been through several life threatening illnesses and now is facing what she considers to be the hardest thing yet. Still, she thanks God for the faith He has gifted her with to face this latest trial. We have both stated we don't know how anyone who does not have this faith can make it through their life.
Both of these women have been such an encouragement and a positive life lesson for me. So thoughtful is my Lord that He not only gives of His comfort, but put these two great women here to comfort me as well.
Thank you God,
and thank you gals,
14 July 2006
Last night was spent playing with my favorite gals. We made pretzels, played the piano and watched old Goofy cartoons.
As usual prayer time is always a learning experience; mostly for me. I told Meredith that prayer was talking to God, just like we would talk to any other friend. She gave it a try and thanked God for the day and all the fun she had.
As I was kneeling with Sara I told her I had been talking with her sisters about prayer and how much it can help us. She said " I know, I pray at lunch and dinner and even before I go to bed." I told her that was great. I explained that I start each day with prayer to help get my day off to a good start. She thought it over for a while and said " I might do that too, it would make my days so much better."
The most difficult part of my time with the girls is not bursting into laughter as Julia prays. She is a straight from the heart kind of gal. Last night was no exception. After thanking God for pretzels and people she loves she asked for God's help. She said "Please help me to be a good girl tomorrow, you didn't help me much today." I explained that God does help us but he expects us to do our part as well.
Glad God gives me little girls to learn from,
04 July 2006
I copy this alphabet guide into each new journal I start. For me it is the best way to find happiness. It began as a list that I and a very dear friend modified to suit our needs when we were both teenagers.
Count your blessings.
Harm no one.
Love truly and deeply.
Master your tongue.
Open your mind.
Pray every day, all day.
Quiet your soul.
Use your creativity.
Work for peace.
eXcite others. (try finding a verb that begins with "x")
Yearn for understanding.
Zealously support your family and friends.
Please feel free to make use of it for yourself.
21 June 2006
Today summer began.
Today anything that could go wrong, did.
I went to work early to cover for a friend who is having surgery. Doing her job meant getting all the cash registers counted and ready to face the new day. Because we had flooding on Monday, we didn't get our regular delivery from the bank. So this morning instead of one change order to count there were two. The procedure has also changed since I last did the accounting and as I was unable to find the things I needed to do it the old way, I gave the new way a shot. While I was still trying to make my way through morning duties and find missing paperwork, a colleague was injured. As I am also a nurse my help was sought to deal with his bleeding thumb and was it ever! I asked someone else to watch over the cash while I rendered what aid I could to the "patient" before he was taken to the doctor. Between my error in counting, a clerical error with a check, and missing validation papers I found myself way behind schedule. By the time I got almost everything complete it was time to go to lunch.
Normally I go to lunch somewhere in the noon to two o'clock neighborhood. Scheduling constraints being what they were I found myself the recipient of a ten a.m. lunch hour. Deciding to make the best of it, I had breakfast.
When I finally found my way to the sales floor I came in contact with several rather unique people. It also seemed that each time I answered the phone I was destined to get the same sort of person. At this point I accepted the fact that this was to be a most unusual day. It really became quite funny to see how the day progressed and just what would happen next. Someone asked if I was under a birthday curse.
The remainder of the day included a very low tire, very slow traffic, and dropping a very, very heavy object on my foot.
You may be asking yourself if I consider this to be my worst birthday ever. The answer is no. Last year would have the title. Last year my Dad began a battle with cancer by having surgery on my birthday. This year no matter what else happens to me in the last few hours of my birthday, nothing can be as horrible as last year's. This year my dad is alive to see me have this birthday. For that reason alone, this is my best birthday ever!
Thank you God for letting me keep my daddy with me. I still need him lots.
19 June 2006
Evil (or shame) be unto him who thinks evil.
This is the motto of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. Today there was a service in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle to honour them.
The service is held every year but this remembrance holds a special place in the celebration of Queen Elizabeth's eightieth birthday. For the first time her two youngest sons will take part as the newest Royal Knight Companions.
It may seem out of place in this age we live in to have such an antiquated group still in existence. I find it comforting that there are still places where honour is important and duty is treasured.
As our leaders have abandoned honour so goes the rest of the country. That's why I think it is imperative to teach our children the importance of their personal honour. We do that by demonstrating to them it is paramount to us by how we live our lives.
We can show them that " it is our choices which make us who we are."* We can teach them to choose "what is right over what is easy."* Both of these are taught by our living them.
Wanting to be a living lesson,
*J.K. Rowling via Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter Series. Many good life lessons can be found in great literature.
18 June 2006
Just as my mum has been the inspiration for who I want to be, my dad has been the same for my standards to look for in men I want to spend time with.
The way he loves the Lord,
the way he cherishes my mum,
the way he steadfastly supports all of his children,
and the way he plays with his grandchildren
make him a truly wonderful man.
Happy Father's Day.
I love you,
13 June 2006
Today is my Aunt Frances' birthday. It's not really important how old she is, what is important is what she has done with her years.
I am very blessed to have her and many like her in my life. The generations of my family that came before me left me with a legacy of faith that is impossible to ignore. That is the greatest gift they could give me. Things are nice, but they break and fade. Faith is alive and grows as it is passed from one generation to the next.
Still, you can't just take the faith of your ancestors as your own. You must claim it for yourself and bring your offering to it for the generation to follow you.
I probably won't have much to leave my nieces and nephews in the way of monetary rewards. What I do hope they will get from me is a blueprint for how to build a life in Christ. This can be a daunting thing. It can be quite humbling to remember that everything you do is a lesson for those who look to you for guidance.
I hope I do as good a job as my Aunt Frances has done.
Thankful for my family,
07 June 2006
Vacation Bible School at Grace Presbyterian Church.
I volunteered to work VBS on Monday and will do so again tomorrow. I can honestly say a good time was had by all. It was great to see the church filled with young and old.
I spent quite a bit of time chatting with several children and each were so candid in their comments. " I liked the story but it won't be a good movie" " The food was o.k." "Aren't you too old to be in vacation Bible School ?" When I replied I was just helping out he asked me how old I was. When I told him his eyes got big and said " Wow, what's it like to be that old ?"
For the most part children default to the truth. I find it totally refreshing and it's why I love to spend time with kids.
Last week Julia and I were once again at her bedside while she prayed. She thanked God for the nice day. Thanked Him for His help with her being a better girl today than yesterday. ( I didn't ask what prompted that comment) She then came out with what was quite possibly the truest thing I have ever heard. She said " Thank you for my sisters cause I love them so much......most of the time."
I'm sure there are many siblings who have felt the exact same way.
02 June 2006
I made my first long car trip home since my arthritis has been intense. I drive a Nissan Sentra. It is a little car and the roads we crossed were very bumpy. Even with my roommate doing most of the driving I was in pretty bad shape. I was glad we had left early in the morning as I needed the rest of the day to try to recuperate.
I took many drugs, some of them narcotic in nature, and made it to my nephew's Graduation party. I also made it to the ceremony in time to see him receive his diploma. For this I am eternally grateful and think it was worth every bit of pain. I would have hated to miss out on his big moment.
The weekend did have some fun moments with nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers and parents. We got to catch up on each others lives, play games with the little ones, and have generally silly times which happen often when my family gathers together.
We came back a day early so I could have a day to rest before returning to work. I think I'll be back to my usual levels of pain soon. I told my mom the next time I come home it would be in a bigger car or an airplane.
Sore but still here,
26 May 2006
We turned the lights down low and put on some Celtic music. We discussed many important and unimportant issues. Why lotion should be warm before you slap it on your sister's back. The need (or not) for matching knickers for twins. Why God likes it when you help someone even if they don't ask for it. Why you sometimes shouldn't help your sister especially if she doesn't ask for it. How it makes Jesus happy when you listen to your daddy. I was told Jesus is the most important thing ever so making Him happy is a big deal.
It was fun to sit and listen to them chatting. At one point Meredith told Sara she was the best big sister in the whole world. She said " I hope we can be together forever." Those moments are golden, you can't arrange them they just happen.
After finishing off the "spa" time we gathered in the little girls room for story time and prayers. Meredith says the same prayer every night. She says God is expecting it and she doesn't want to let Him down.
Julia treats each prayer time as a chance to bring anything and everything to the Lord. What happened to her that day, help to be a good girl and why she loves God are usually present in her prayers. It is awesome that a four year old child has figured out what prayer is supposed to be.
I love that God uses children to teach me so much.
14 May 2006
11 May 2006
I will instead list a few things I discovered about baptism as I was reading some of my favorite blogs today.
If you are a child and want the latest and greatest baptism you can do so at a fire engine which shoots confetti. Check out the children's ministry at this church in Springdale, Arkansas. The video message from one of the kids even states coming to "Toon Town" at church is like visiting a theme park. (It should, it's designed by a former Disney guy)
There is also a church that answers the question "Will this church baptize a person who is unmarried and lives with another person?" The answer is yes. The question immediately following the baptism one asks what the Bible says about homosexuality. Doesn't say if you can be baptized as a homosexual but since the previous question allows you to be baptized while you continue to live in sin, it shouldn't be a problem. Well, I guess it might make a difference since many churches separate the sin of homosexuality from others and consider it the most evil of all.
I'm only going to address this issue one time. So here it is:
We are all born in sin and in need of a Savior. God does not keep a scorecard with points awarded for different sins. Sin is sin and that is all there is to it! Get over whatever phobias and irrationality you may be clinging to and realize the gay community needs God as much as we all do.
Coming down off the soapbox,
10 May 2006
I used to belong to a group of people who called themselves believers who participated in an e-mail Bible study. I'll grant that they were all church members, but I don't think I'd endorse anything further. The leader would address a scripture and his views on the same. We would all pass comments back and forth. As the only non-Baptist in the group, I would often be the recipient of many comments stating how wrong my views were. Rarely was this pointed out to me in a kind or considerate manner. The nature of the mail sent my way was hateful and cruel. I would usually find my inbox full of mail stating how I must "be listening to the devil", "not really saved", "an agent of Satan", and words I'll not repeat here for they are too vile. These would all be addressed to me personally, unlike most of the mail that was exchanged freely between us all.
It was during this time I adopted a ban on dating Baptist men. I will admit to remaining part of the group out of morbid curiosity. After all, I have two sisters, two brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews and cousins too many to count who are all Baptist. We don't have any trouble getting along. Is it because they are family? Or is it because they are secure in their faith and don't need to defend it by attacking others?
This motto works well within my family. Maybe you can help me convince all the followers of Jesus it's the way to go.
P.S. The ban on dating Baptists is now reviewed on a case by case basis.
08 May 2006
Realistically, I know this will happen in the future. I work with terminally ill children. Attending more funerals is a foregone conclusion. Today's was made bearable in a small way because of the family's unwavering relationship with Jesus. The parents trusted Him to take their child home to heaven. They made a covenant with God when their babe was tiny, sealing him into the family of God with his baptism. That fact made today a tiny bit easier for them. There is nothing worse than losing a child and I believe the only way to survive is with a sure trust that God is with you.
Believing God keeps His promises,
04 May 2006
She threw a party and had six of her friends come over for good food, Narnia and clock watching. Only in Britain.
Could be why I loved my time there.
03 May 2006
Still, there have been some benefits to this happening the last few months. I spend more time in prayer than I ever thought possible. There's not a whole lot to do in the middle of the night when you aren't able to sleep. Spending the time with your best friend is a great way to make the passage of the same better.
Many years ago I learned a type of meditation called centering prayer. It's something I do each morning to anchor my day. All this extra time to put it to use is definitely a major part in how I have been able to cope lately.
So, while sleep would be great, I'll find another way to make good use of the night.
23 April 2006
Two women who sat behind me spent the entire service whispering to each other about everything from where to hit a good sale on shoes to why one of their acquaintances was unable to get a good man. I noticed from time to time others would turn and look pointedly at them but they never noticed.
As the service progressed I wanted to weep. They were in the presence of many people of faith, heard beautiful music and a sermon from the Word of God full of encouragement and comfort. Sanctuary was there all around them and they failed to see it. How monumentally dismal it is that they got up, got dressed and made the trip to the sanctuary only to never find it. It is overwhelming to think of all the people in the world who need to find God. I do not know words enough to express how disheartening it is to realize many are in the pew next to you.
22 April 2006
I went to help a colleague move a trolley today. He had place some acrylic bins on the top and hadn't gotten them securely situated. I didn't know this until they tumbled down upon me with quite a good conk on my noggin. I teased him saying he would have to try harder if he wanted to kill me. I did not realize that the edge of one of the bins had made a small cut in my scalp. A customer was kind enough to point that out for me. It was very shallow and didn't bleed much. I did however have a headache for the morning.
I worked a little late to help out with a rush and then headed home for a quick dinner before going to another job tonight. A fun job of playing with my favorite Houston gals. I had noodles with cheese. Believe it or not I broke my tooth while eating. Now don't put too much stock in that as I have bad teeth to begin with. What is troubling me now is that if I give a big smile you can now see a gap. It's official, I have crossed the line to hillbilly. I'm doing my best to take a light hearted approach to the problem. After all, it is just vanity that has been dealt a blow, nothing life threatening.
Having vented my frustration I'll complain no more about it. I know things are rough now but I don't want to be one of those people everyone runs from so they don't have to listen to the whining.
Smiling with my mouth closed,
13 April 2006
As I was sitting in the chapel tonight for Maundy Thursday service a myriad of thoughts wandered through my mind as I was meditating. I felt the memories of the past year come forward for review. I want to share them with you now.
On Wednesday we had the last session of Lent in the Living room. There were many great moments in the sessions and much support from the class members. The thing that made the biggest impact on me was when I was reading through one of the scripture passages. The difficulty of a rich person getting into heaven is in Matthew 19, and verse 26 hit me hard.
23 As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God's kingdom? 24 Let me tell you, it's easier to gallop a camel through a needless eye than for the rich to enter God's kingdom."
25 The disciples were staggered. "Then who has any chance at all?"
26 Jesus looked hard at them and said, "No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it."
The moment I read that it was if I had never read that passage before. These past few months have been agony and I have relied on asking for God's grace every morning to get through the day. It occurred to me that God had answered my prayers in ways I hadn't even realized.
I've learned to ask for help. And no, it's not important if help comes in ways you think you need it. It's the asking that is the key. Things may not work out how I think they need to but they will work out the way God needs them to work for me. Both my father and Heavenly Father have taught me that the results are not in my control, my obedience is.
I've been learning new ways to express my creativity. I am unable to hold a pencil for long periods to sketch. The lack of stability in my fine motor skills make it awkward to hold a brush. So, I've been learning to paint digitally. At least there when my hands don't work as they should I can just delete a brushstroke. Tonight it dawned on me that every effort I have made in this new art form have dealt with darkness and light.
The second Sunday of Lent I was blessed to hear the testimony of a wonderful man from Africa named Steven Lungu. Listening to his testimony and seeing the joy on his face was a testament to God's marvelous Grace. He shared that God used many disciplines in his life and that one was the discipline of darkness.
I had known God goes with us into the darkness to bring us light. God created both the darkness and the light when He created the world. Now I know God has used the darkness to bring me closer to Him. All the things I was focusing on this past year are not visible in the darkness. Looking for work, trying to figure out how I'm to spend this portion of my life, and every other concern is indistinguishable in the darkness. Even the pain which plunges me there can't be clearly seen. All you can do is look for the light. At times it seems so bright that it is almost blinding. Other times you can't tell where it is coming from. There have been days when I felt I was holding out my hand to see if it could catch any light so I could tell where it originated.
As I was sitting in the pew tonight I had a real awareness of how much of a blessing this time has been. When you have nothing but the Grace of God to cling to you know just how precious it is. So I'm thankful for my time here in the shadows, and grateful for the lessons I have learned. I still think of myself as clay God is molding to His design, but now think I need to be a glow in the dark variety to reflect His light.
27 March 2006
Last week I missed Lent in the Living Room. I came home and crashed and not even the roomie banging around the kitchen woke me up. I got a call after class from the Denisons. Davy had made me a meatloaf and wanted to drop it by. She is a sweetheart and a real gift from God. Actually both Davy and Jim are fantastic.
A friend of Sharon's had a monitor she gifted me with so now I can get back to some of my work. Having to change a little as I can no longer take the laptop to the clients, but very grateful to be using the computer at all.
We start a new schedule at work this week and my hours are fairly sparse. Even though this seems to be a detriment I have decided it's God's way of giving me more time to look for a full time job.
Now to the hard stuff. Today I asked for help. This was the task I took on for Lent so I asked God for strength and reached out to seek help from others. I don't know why this is so hard for me. I know beyond doubt the only way I make it through the day is by asking for God's help each morning. Why then is it so hard for me to accept or even ask help from others? I realize that even their help is due to God's mercy. I seem to be fine when it's just God and me, but seem to balk when it involves allowing God to use others to help me.
On that note I am headed out. Time for some serious prayer walking. History has shown it is the best way for me to clear my head and settle my heart. Fortunately I have learned to walk in a big circle. I once found myself about five miles from home and decided never to do that again.
16 March 2006
As is readily apparent I haven't updated here in a very long time. I'm remedying that situation today and will explain my long and conspicuous absence from cyberspace. When I fell silent in November, I kept thinking the cause would go away and then I could get back to business as usual.
First you need a little background information. I have arthritis, have had it since I was a teenager. Every few years it likes to flare up and put me through agony for a few weeks before returning to it's regularly annoying spot in my life. This is what happened when I began my retreat from both cyber and real space.
When this side trip through agony began, I kept thinking if I just hung on it would be over soon and I could return to "normal" life, at least as normal as my life ever gets. I knew things were bad when my roommate did all the cooking for Thanksgiving dinner. Her cooking was great, the bad part was I wasn't able to help. I did provide guidance and instruction but that was the extent of my contribution to the dinner. I enjoy all the holiday fixings and really missed not being able to participate.
Work was going fast and furious, the holidays are really busy at our store. The holiday shopping season is pretty much a madhouse when you are working retail and at our store especially so. I was on the go all the time. In my job I am on my feet for my entire workday.
The next road sign I should have paid more attention to was my parents visit for Christmas. I was excited they were coming. We haven't been able to spend many holidays together of late. This was the first time they were coming to my house for Christmas in years. It was great having them with me as we went to services on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I hadn't done that with them since I was a child. Unfortunately I wasn't able to enjoy the time like I should. I was overcome with the desire to crawl into my mum's lap and stay there for the rest of my life. At that point I was hoping it would be a short time.
After Christmas we begin the busiest time of the year at work. It's our annual elfa sale. For those who don't know, elfa is a system used to organize and store anything and everything. We design closets, study space, laundry rooms, kitchens, garages and anywhere else you need space to store things. For this period I worked either as a designer or the elfa sales manager. Again this involves many hours of standing.
I lost track of time. I would go to work, come home and crash. I began going to bed early to be able to lay there long enough for sleep to finally find me. I was shutting my door so my roommate couldn't hear me weeping. When I eventually did find sleep it was fleeting and I would wake up crying in agony. It never registered with me that this had been going on for months instead of weeks. All I knew was I didn't know how much longer I would be able to bear it. It was worse than any of my previous experiences I had nerve problems and was losing some of my fine motor skills. Things got bad enough that I was forbidden to empty the dishwasher after I had dropped and broken several items.
I had gotten to the point where I came to an understanding of why people in chronic pain contemplate suicide. I could never end my life however I was asking God if He could.
It may have taken forever but I finally reached a breaking point the first week in February. I was at work and found myself designing a closet for a customer and inwardly chanting "don't cry, don't cry". I took a break and called a friend who is a great doctor. I had seen him in his home in January and knew I would need more than a kitchen consultation this time. He very graciously agreed to fit me into his busy schedule that afternoon. I got someone to cover for me at work and headed to the medical center.
Besides being a great doctor, John knows me well and knows how hard I struggle with asking for help. He has chided me on it in the past. His nurse came and took my vital signs while I was waiting in the exam room. She gave me a long hard look and I knew things might be worse than I had thought. 170/110 is not what you want to hear when someone is checking your blood pressure. Trying to wait for the madness to go away had caused real problems. Now I am having to deal with them.
I ended up taking 10 days away from work. I had already curtailed all of my other jobs. While this was not good for my already shaky financial life, it was needed for my physical and emotional life. As we were experimenting to find the right medicines needed, I was glad I had taken the time off when I found myself on the floor one afternoon.
I used the enforced stillness to contemplate where I needed to make changes in my life. I already had a couple of my steadfast prayer partners praying I would heed God's leading. I don't think He could have made it any clearer that I needed to be more willing to ask for help. Each year I seek God's help in finding what I should take on for Lent. I have found that to be more beneficial than finding something to give up. I decided I would spend the 40 days in Lent practicing asking for help when I needed it. I enlisted the help of my sisters and Mom by letting them know this was what I was going to do. They and a few close prayer partners have been my support system for many years. I most often put forth needs of a spiritual or emotional nature. I haven't often brought my physical needs to others in prayer. This is changing
Toward that end, God has given me ample opportunities to do so. I have some relief from the arthritis, but migraines are more prevalent than usual. I still need to find some sort of work I enjoy that isn't such a hardship on my health. The latest opportunity involves something more practical. The screen has gone out on my laptop. This is the most important tool in my freelance work. I have been asking around to find a spare monitor until a more permanent solution can be found. I am currently using my roommates monitor on my days off while she is at work.
God has been showing His phenomenal sense of timing and humor. To drive His point home further the pastor made it from the pulpit on Sunday. The Scripture we were studying was the passage in Matthew 14 where Jesus walks on the water. This passage has meant much to me in the past. There are several miracles in these verses. The Lord walking on water, Peter climbing out of the boat to do the same and the calming of the storm are usually the ones seen.
I feel that I live my life out of the boat in varying states of buoyancy upon the water. I learned about climbing out of the boat from my parents. When my dad retired from the Air Force he and mom told us we would be going to Okinawa Japan to serve on the mission field. This is surprising news at any time. It is even more so when the news comes while you are living in England. Picking up a family with four daughters and moving them around the world is not a task to be taken lightly. Add in the fact you must also raise financial support, don't speak the language and need to find a place to live and the task become gargantuan. It is one thing to study the Scripture and read of others walks of faith and obedience. It is quite another to see it happen before your very own eyes. I probably wouldn't venture anywhere near the water if it hadn't been for the wonderful example of my parents.
Doug brought one other item for consideration as a miracle that I had never thought of. He believes that Peter asking for help when he began to sink, was a miracle. He stated most of us find ourselves reluctant to ask for help. At this point in his sermon I was trying not to burst into laughter. It was no reflection upon him, but rather how God views His need to make His point with me. I must definitely be His most stubborn child because all of Grace Presbyterian church had to hear this sermon for me to get the message. It appears God will go to any lengths to make sure I get what I need. Never doubt that God cares for the individual.
I am also participating in the Lent in the Living Room classes at church. I have done so for several years and always find them to be a blessing. In my group is a couple I have been fortunate to find in previous study classes. Jim and Davy epitomize caring. I have yet to encounter them without them failing to ask how I am doing. Unlike most people who routinely ask and rarely listen, they genuinely care and truly listen. You know their concern is real and it touches you in a lovely way. I knew it would not be possible to spend the Lenten season seeing them on a regular basis and not find many chances to ask for help. Even last night when we were sharing prayer concerns I received a gentle nudge from Davy to ask for prayer for my health. I know if I had not spoken up she would have. There is no way to escape her compassion so it is just better to acquiesce.
Now you know the entire saga to my absence from this spot. I'll let you know how my progress at this latest lesson goes. Thanks to earlier lessons I know the key to change is not within myself but to submit myself to God. Only He can fashion a change in me, all I have to be is willing to let Him do so.
Thanks for your time in reading this. To those of you who have filled my inbox, thanks for your concern and prayers.