27 March 2006

Doing the hard stuff

I know today will be a good day. I trust God to see me through it.

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

Out of the Boat

If you plan on reading this entry find a comfy chair and get something to drink you are going to be here for quite a while.

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.