Monday, January 31, 2011

Escape


I really don’t know what to ramble on about today.  There are a couple of things jotted down in my notebook that I thought would spark something, but so far not much has really ‘caught’ with either one.  A Google image search for another idea or two didn’t stir anything up either.


Maybe I think too much or maybe not enough.  Or maybe this cold weather has me wanting to give in to the urge to curl up with some hot chocolate and a good book, to shut out the rest of the world for a little while.  Not that I have anything against the ‘outside’ world.  It has just been rather bumpy as of late.  Good thing I’m not alone in it all, and for that I’m grateful.

So encourage each other and build each other up,
just as you are already doing.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Somewhere Between Here and There


In reading over my previous two blog entries and doing my best to make an honest evaluation of what I truly have the faith to believe for in that regards, I have got to thinking that I, spiritually, look like this:


 Now I don’t want to be so narcissistic (or become a megalomaniac-in-training) that I would even dare to suggest that I alone can tip the scale away from ‘miraculous healing’ to ‘divine provision even through surgery and recovery’ for my mom.  But I do feel like I’m waffling between the faith I presently do have and the faith I would like to have.  Then I wonder if this means I am lacking in faith and double-minded in my ways (James 1:6-8). Am I praying with a lack of confidence in God and His promises? And when Jesus said ‘according to your faith, be it unto you’, was that strictly in reference to the faith of the person being prayed for or the people doing the praying for/with the person asking for healing? Or do I need to simply acknowledge this is the measure of faith I have at present (Romans 12:3)?  But then I need to remind myself to not stop there, but to allow that faith to be built up by praying in the Spirit (Jude 1:20).  Maybe I’m not waffling as much as trying to flex and strengthen some spiritual muscles, as it were. 

So many questions . . . and I need to start digging for some answers.

My husband and I were talking last night about faith in regards to healing and God’s will and His promises and the fact we heard explained at Bible study how God is, literally, outside of time.  What we measure in centuries and seconds, He is not constrained by.  It doesn’t worry Him or limit Him.  And it’s hard to wrap our finite minds around an infinite being. 

All of the above ramblings, I suppose, are to say where I stand in regards to Mom’s surgery has not really shifted from Monday’s position.  I most certainly do want to grow in my faith. But I’m not going to beat myself up for where I am presently, either.  After all, if I’m not honest about that then how can I really move forward and grow?

(And on a side note, all this talk of waffling has me craving waffles.  With syrup. )

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stirred



 It’s not that I have some sort of insight into the future regarding exactly what the days ahead hold for my mom, but I do have a hope and expectancy I have not had in a while.  And for anyone who was at the same prayer meeting I was tonight, how could you not have been stirred up?  Pretty powerful stuff! 

God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever
Imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!
-        Ephesians 3:20 (Message)

It can be far too easy to forget in impossible situations that I serve a God who specializes in impossibilities.  He parts seas, heals the blind, causes previously crippled legs to jump and dance, raises the dead . . . He has and does and will do so much.  Big.  Small.  Whatever it is, for Him it’s never impossible.  And because of this we really can give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Calm & Carrying On

“We would never learn to be brave and patient
if there were only joy in the world.”
-- Helen Keller

 I’ll just come right out and say it:  My mom is having open-heart surgery to replace her aortic valve this coming Friday.  Long-ish story short, she had been having chest pains off-and-on for a while, and hasn’t left the hospital since Dad took her to emergency three weeks ago to find out what was going on.  A narrowed aortic valve is the ‘what’ and its replacement is what the medical professionals have deemed necessary.  And while it is a relief, especially for Mom, to know she will have her energy and stamina back once all is said and done, it’s the part in-between there and now that are, I think, helping us all cultivate some bravery, patience, and stronger faith. 

I would love to say with certainty my mom won’t need surgery, that God will yet miraculously heal her.  But the words Jesus spoke to two blind men – “According to your faith, be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29) – are as applicable now as they were then.  So we pray and trust the surgery will go off without a hitch and the recovery process will be a complete and speedy one.  That is what my parents have faith for, and that doesn’t make them weak Christians or any such thing.  It is what it is, and while that sounds simplistic, there is no point in fretting over any ‘what ifs’ .

Plus, none of what is happening or what is to come has thrown God for a loop.  Something a friend posted on Facebook last week expresses it well: 

He knows the beginning from the end.
He is not worried. He is not anxious. He does not wonder. He is not panicking.
He is not dealing with today's uncertainty. He is not guessing what will happen.
He knows how it will all turn out. He has a plan. He made a way.
 
 God has made a way.  Our every need is provided for (Philippians 4:19).  And that is more than enough as we traverse this particular path. 


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Someday

“To me, old age is always fifteen years older than I am.”
-- Bernard M. Baruch

I’ve never quite felt my age.  With each birthday, I think at least once ‘I don’t feel mature enough to be this old’.  Granted, I’ve never quizzed anyone else who has been ‘x’ years old to see how they felt as they moved through their ‘x’th year but somehow, I don’t feel like I’m mature enough to be ‘this’ old (recently 39 years old, in case anyone is wondering).  And I do realize I’m not the only person to feel this way. 

It is interesting though, isn’t it, how we will look at other people and see where they’re at in various stages in their lives and use it to measure our own progress?  We’re all so differently wired with different plans and purposes, goals and dreams, yet we’ll still say “Well both my sisters are married with kids fast approaching graduation and I don’t even have one kid yet” or some other variation that fits our particular situations to basically say we don’t measure up, we’ve missed the mark, missed our chance.  Throw into the mix far too many reminders our parents are getting older (or that they are gone) and changing work environments and myriads of ‘new normals’ popping up faster than a souped-up ‘Whack-a-Mole’ game and it can make one feel uncertain and too small and too ‘not ready’ to yet be considered a ‘proper’ adult.  Whatever that means. 

Not that goals and markers and signposts are bad things to have or to keep in sight as we make our ways through life.  Not that people and situations shouldn’t change, or that life has to be all ‘sunshine and rainbows’ or that anyone should not acknowledge mucking things up in this journey called life.  Yet it’s important to remember we can’t get so tied up in all the directions our lives could have taken up to this point that we miss where we ought to be going from this point.  Yes, it may very well be that you and I are not where God’s perfect plan would have had us be right now.  Yet Romans 8:28 promises God can use all things to work together for good for those of us who love Him and are called according to His purpose for us. 

(Oh, I realized now I don’t really understand what it means to be ‘called according to His purpose for us’.  But that may be a rabbit trail to be explored more at another time.)

So yes – Romans 8:28 and God using all things to work together for good.  The key point is we need to remember to allow God to use ‘all things’ and to remember this does not give us carte blanche to do dumb things so God can turn them around.  He is as glorified by a life lived fully for Him from a very early age as He is by a dramatic ‘gutter to the altar’ story of redemption and restoration. 

It’s not too late to get on the right track.  Not for me and not for you.  And sometimes that means taking a leap of faith even when we don’t feel quite ready or ‘whatever’ to do it. 

*Yes, I realize this entry is a day earlier than normal.  But I know for certain I will not be home tomorrow morning to do my weekly Monday post, and the evening could be spent somewhere other than at home in front of my computer.  In case you were wondering.  ;-)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Taking a Moment

Ten days into a new year and I have done something I cannot recall doing for a good long while now (if at all): I took a look at the goals I set for 2011 to see how I was progressing.  A rudimentary thing to do, as many people may very well say, but sometimes I'm a bit slow on the uptake.

Part of the reason for the change, I think, is I'm starting to grasp the fact little changes made over a long period of time start to add up to new habits, a cleaner house, and a life where there is necessary change and growth.  Like I said, rudimentary to perhaps many people out there.  (Hey, maybe some wisdom is finally starting to come with age!  Whoot!)

Another contributing factor is the realization I really cannot change my past.  Oh, I've tried.   Or at least I've spent a lot of time dwelling on my past sins and failures and missed opportunities.  Yet all the "What ifs" and "If onlys" have not produced any positive, lasting changes.  Nor has it led to my suddenly being 'caught up' to where I think I should be or where I wanted to be, or maybe even where I really should have been after 39 years of life, 16 years of marriage and the like. 

In the Bible -- Jeremiah 29: 11-14a specifically -- God talks about thinking good thoughts toward us to give us a future and  hope.  And He doesn't say such thoughts of goodness and hope run out once we've become Christians.  See, that is a misconception I've had -- that somehow I can 'overtax' God's grace once I became His kid.  That once I say "Yes" to Jesus, my margin for error in the things I do and say (and don't do and say) becomes much, much smaller.  It's easy to read verses like James 1:4 and think "Oh crap!  I must be doing something wrong because I'm no closer to perfection than I was before becoming a Christian."

Then I read this:
"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,  as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue . . ."  ~2 Peter 1:2-3 (NKJ)

And this:
"For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body." ~James 3:2 (NKJ)

And also this:
"I say to the Lord, You are my Lord; I have no good beside or beyond You." ~Psalm 16:2 (Amplified)

God isn't asking me to change the things that need changing in this life all on my own.  I have a part I need to play, but it's not the only part involved in bringing change about.

(Because ending it any other way felt clich├ęd.)

Monday, January 3, 2011

First Things First

The first time of doing anything new, unfamiliar, and flat-out unknown is scary.  It can be scary a good number of times after the initial step, too. This point in particular was driven home for me when I started a new job five years ago.  For the first three months I spent my morning commute praying like crazy that I wouldn’t mess up.  I did mess up, mind you, but I didn’t quit my job over those mistakes.  I wasn’t fired for them (whew!).  I was learning new things, in a new environment.  Figuring everything out and adopting new habits, acquiring new skills was going to take some time.  I realized that and my boss knew that before I even started my job.

It’s funny how I keep forgetting that with other things, though. 

Take last year’s goals – actually, my goal-setting history in general.  Granted, I do realize a good chunk of my problem is a lack of self-discipline.  But I am not helped by the fact I can all-too readily throw in the towel as soon as I miss a Bible reading for the day or a workout or some writing time.  Then there is the annoying “Remember” loop that kicks in far too often.  It would be fine for this loop to kick in if it were a “Remember your past successes” loop, but the one I have allowed to play the longest and loudest is “Remember your past failures”.  It’s a doozy, to be sure. 

Now I can’t pinpoint when my thinking finally started to shift in regards to setting goals for this year, but a shifting is in progress.  I’m thinking I will be hearing the “Mantra of My Failures” less often this year as I’m finally grasping a couple of things:

1.     I do not need to let my past failures determine my ability to move forward.
2.     A setback or failure on the course to reaching a goal does not mean the goal cannot be reached.  It simply takes time to change a habit.

Nothing deep or profound, to be sure, but it was a pretty cool ‘light bulb’ moment to have.