Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Unpack the Bags

There's a saying in my house. Since it's really just me and Nelson most of the time, I am the one who uses the phrase. (I actually fear the day Nelson, or one of my "dormant" plants actually starts speaking.)

It can happen at any point, any room, or any time.
"Ohhhhh, Nelson." Typically followed up with a sigh (on my part again).

Nelson, my nine month old cat is very adept at finding himself in precarious situations.
"He'll learn, Stephanie," some might say.  Sometimes, though, I sit back and watch and I wonder if he truly will learn. On top of that, sometimes his actions result in consequences for others- not just himself. Unfortunately, my plant loves know that all too well. (Still holding out hope for some springtime growth. Don't give up on me Blanche!)

How can I truly blame him, my nine month old cat, when I, the grown up, the responsible adult, manages to find myself in dangerous situations. Situations that are treacherous to my mind and body. I could list them here, and most who would be honest would probably find at least one of them to be applicable to his or her own life. Or maybe you have your own list, with your own precarious cliffs.

Over the last eleven months I have come face to face with my own perilous condition.
There is one major shortcoming that I cannot seem to discard and leave it where it belongs- in the trash. Instead, I pack up this particular foible in one of my bags, between my Kindle and HGTV magazine, and I set off into the day.

This weekend left me tired. More exhausted in mind, but it translated into bodily exhaustion (new word find one). This afternoon as I contemplated what life over the next three months would look like, I realized once again I was beginning to worry. Not actually just begin, but set up a dwelling; and actually, it is more of a city.

When this reality struck me,  I was about knocked over with another realization immediately after that.

What is it that causes me to stop in my tracks?
My old frenemy- Worry.
Whenever I do get caught up in worry, I imagine God responding much like I do to Nelson.
"Ohhh, Stephanie."

God looks for us to have enjoyment in life. He gifts us with different talents and abilities. Even more so He rewards hard work. We know practice makes perfect. Unfotunately, I wouldn't even be able to claim a gold medal under worry, (despite the hours of time I spend "practicing"), basically because I'm no good at it.

If God had wanted me to be a worrier, he would have equipped me to be able to use it for some good. With my worry I would remove creases and wrinkles. Sickness? Gone would be gone because of the power of my worry. If God had wanted us to worry, I truly believe it would be because it would bring us to a desired ending. Instead, worry brings pain, creases in foreheads, frowns, restless sleep.

What should I do instead? Aside from painting, cleaning, laundry-ing, playing, (sleeping), there are a gamut of fun activities, and ultimately more productive. The worry that I pack in my bag each morning, I need to toss out, and leave behind.

This week God has reminded me of a couple of things.
Instead of worrying:

Look Up- Pray. Of course, I pray. But what about pray. What about pouring out my heart, saying what God already knows, but saying it anyways? Not enough. I suffer when I forget to look up and spend time really praying. Maybe the desired outcome was not reached? I've seen that. I've been disappointed and heartbroken more than I can explain at times. But, sleep in peace? Yes, when life made no sense, and my heart was aching, God breathed a calmness and surrounded me.  Who has seen someone recover? I have. Was it due to the doctors? Sure. But I believe that God gives wisdom to doctors. Who has known someone in need of true healing, die, and leave us? I have. I have grieved. I still grieve many losses. But who provides the hope that I can see them again? God. When we pray, we are looking to God, and He does always answer. Sometimes with a no, or a later. Sometimes with a yes. However, when we truly pray, he does provide us with peace that is transcendent beyond what we can imagine or hope for....

Look In- Sometimes what I see is UGLY. I'm not just talking about bed head. (Believe me, I can really sport crazy hair, even without having gone to sleep.) What do my insides (my guts) really show? When I worry, what I am displaying, if not pride.  Pride says that only I can take care of this situation, no one else. I do that a lot. I have to rid myself of that destructive behavior; it can only take me down.

Look Around- I become self-centered. Without meaning too, I do. I shut down and close people out. While things feel difficult I forget that others are out there with arms needing to keep busy, and who want to help. Folks who want to pray as well. When I stop focusing on me me me me me, and I look around and then move into action, I am making a difference. I am doing.

I heard something, and behind it was a message that I find resonating everywhere with as of late.  Why do I accept conditions of (unhappiness) instead of accepting that God has better for me. Better than worry.  He does not have a cure-all pill. We do live in a world of heartache and pain, and sin. I do not have to accept that as my own story. I have  a different ending already written for me.

Just a little somethin' to think about,

Friday, February 21, 2014

All We Want

All we want is time
Time to move ahead quickly
To jump to our favorite moments
and days
To speed forward
To bring us to what we've been waiting for
To give us love
and Flowers tossing in air

All we want is
Time to circle in repeat
to give us do-overs
to pass over moments of sorrow
Time for second chances
To erase regrets
To find our courage
For extra moments in bravery

All we want is
Time to slow down
Time to be close
to not require goodbyes
To bring us backwards
To not race ahead
All we want is time
to stop and hold still

All we want is
You to be brought back to us
To not have to let go
Time for healing
Time for one more
and Kiss
and conversation
Time to laugh together
To walk together
Time to not be cruel
and not say there is no more time

All we want is
More time

Monday, February 17, 2014

La Vie en Rose

This week my heart is heavy. A wonderful lady, who happens to be a wife and a mother and a friend, is at home with hospice. Her family is surrounding her, and friends are visiting and many are praying.  Cancer.

I do not know her well, but I have friends who do and I have spent time with her family - her girls.  Her Facebook wall is filled with messages of love and encouraging words. They have been busy over the years loving people and serving Jesus. Her husband, Ray, writes on Facebook, providing updates and in the updates he writes little snippets of their story:

My wife of 28 years (this year) was informed today that there is nothing that can be done for her and the fight with cancer is over. The best thing we could do is get her comfortable and the only time we got the doctor to state was, "it will be soon". Hospice not only came by but already has a hospital bed in place with oxygen and other items needed. Barb wanted her bed in the front living room so she could see people. We love people and plan on closing another chapter in our life doing what we always have done. Being a relationship building family and loving on others...
I have always loved to watch my wife do just about anything as she always had a smile on her face and she made me happy all the time for all these years. I keep praying and pressing for a miracle no matter what the doctor says We have spoke about all of our years together and broke out the pictures of the past We had an adventure in the last 28 years...

I found a letter she wrote in 1986 about us and it ends like this: "We have many new days ahead to make what we want of them. We are the sculptors, the days are the clay. What a wonderful piece of art we will make! ...

She would fill me in on the world events at dinner every night so I could skip the news. We had started walking together to train for a 5K before she fell sick... I rub her feet and think of all the good miles we have walked together in our 28 years and all the good news she spread with her love.

We look for romance, and we are jealous of those who's lives seem more exciting, forgetting that real true romance, the real mystery of love is moving forward together, through the future unknown. It's holding hands and taking out the trash. Kissing your crying babies and washing dishes. It is hard work and paying bills, and being together.  It is not knowing what is yet to come, but knowing that you are together and that you will make it.  Ray, who is longing for another day, another week, month, year wrote: 

Do not take for granted your loved ones, do something about it, dont dare close your eyes if you are upset with one another, tell them everyday you love them ( We did and even twenty times more right now) well at least I'm telling her but I know how she feels about me, still her eyes tell me. Married couples can get caught up in the world, kids, needs and forget how it all started. Start to remember and get to loving again... 

La Vie en Rose, a life in pink happiness. It is not hard to find. It is a choice and every day we that we awake and we choose to accept the joy that God has for us,  despite our circumstances we will live a life of love.  

Take time to hug those you love,  make phone calls, and send letters. Laugh together and offer forgiveness. While time is all ever want, we are not promised tomorrow.  

We love you Randolph family. We are praying for you.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

An Eclipsing

Oh Beautiful February.

By the time we get to February, I am already celebrating spring. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's (and my birthday) are the main winter holidays in my world, and as a result, winter is no longer necessary once those holidays have passed. I'm tucking away the decorations, I'm closing the door, locking the deadbolt, and fastening the chain.

I know I can look out the window, and see that winter is still here. The Winter Storm season is not over, and apparently "Winter Storm Pax" is heading across the country next. I'm in desperate need of sunlight (So much so that I bought a "sun lamp" out of desperation, but have not used it yet) mainly because I've been looking particularly paste-y lately, more so than normal. While the sun is setting later and later (woot!) and the days are getting longer, we are not quite to the ten pm-ish sunsets that I love.

However, I'm moving on.
This does not mean that I'm begrudging you winter/snowman/sledding/snow-icecream lovers. Quite the contrary. I'm not. Secretly, I love the snow fall as long as I'm not obliged to drive in it. Given the opportunity, I'd slide down a hill or two.  I'll scoop up some snow ice cream (that I always believed was my Mama's invention... keep in mind it snowed ONCE during all the time we lived in Texas, and when it did, we had had snow ice cream. I still remember that!) and shovel my driveway. But. Winter is over. I would like for it to be that way for a long, long time.

It is one thing to have winter on the streets, and in the air. Winter on the rooftops and chimneys, and winter in the yard. It is entirely different when you have winter in your heart. There is a winter sun, and although it may be dim, or rare to appear, it does show up. However, when winter is in your heart, everything becomes grey.

Life will do that. Life brings winter in summer and spring. When new life is growing, and taking shape, winter of life will rob us of the green blessings. That is what I allowed to happen to me. I have been wondering around (not literally because last week I realized I didn't leave my house once I got there Sunday night, and didn't leave really until Saturday) desperate and uncertain. Holding onto,
"What do I do?" and "What should I be?" instead of living in  the "Here I am now."

This morning I went to church full of anxiety. It could be about anything. Anxiety makes a big deal out of something that is really a "no" deal.

In the music service, there was a song that was sung. It is a song I have sung hundreds of times over several years. I know the words. I have sung the words (sorry to those in front of me) loudly. I believed them. But today one phrase jumped out to me. "Afflictions eclipsed by glory." The meaning of those four words announced itself and while the song was going on and on I was caught up and I stopped still.

Afflictions eclipsed by glory. See, in my winter, glory was eclipsed by affliction. I allowed all of the every day, the weariness, the tiredness, the anxiousness over shadow everything that God has for me. God has peace for me. Peace, that quiet calm feeling, inside when nothing is actually quiet. I know God has been trying to speak to me. Trying to get me to stop listening to the winter and focus on Him. (In fact I won a magnet this past week that had the word peace on it and with a definition.) God had been talking to me all week. He was saying be still. But above my noise and my shouting I couldn't hear Him.  God has a purpose for me. God has a plan for me. My world I know is very small. Regardless of that God has the desire to use me for a purpose and to take care of me along the way.

Have you been in winter? Are you ready to lock the door and celebrate spring? 
Talk to me. I can help you move in the right direction. Then, we can go sledding and build that snowman.

Living in the light, trying not to get a sunburn,