Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It beats the alternative

It beats the alternative, I remarked to a colleague recently as I wrapped up a summary of my pains and nuisances of aging. 

But later, I caught myself. Does aging really beat the alternative  for a person of faith who believes in a heavenly hereafter with God the Father?

What I realized is that, for a person of such faith, it's a win-win. Both alternatives are good when my focus is on loving and serving and trusting God.  

Where he leads me I will go ... 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Checking in

This is just a quick check-in. Without really even trying, I made great progress in following through on some of my intentions in the past week. Gifts for children; visits and calls to people I've been thinking of; and saying "yes" to requests for service or assistance from friends led the way. I became aware of another opportunity today. I don't want to let it pass by. Even amid some pesky little health concerns, God has paved my way for service, compassion and gratitude.  I just need to be willing to step out in faith. Seek God. Trust God. Honor God. Love God. Obey God. Thank God. Praise God. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Birthday blessings -- and a vow

I wish I could respond to everyone who wished me a happy birthday. I feel so blessed. 

Even though my husband is out of town (and sick, on top of that), I had a very good day. Most people go out for dinner for their birthday to fill up, but I went to the dentist to get fillings. (I would not have done that had my husband not been out of town.) Since I left work early, I wasn't there when the beautiful yellow roses my husband sent arrived. But a co-worker took a picture so I could see them and share on Facebook. I look forward to going to work tomorrow to enjoy their fragrance. 

The dentist visit went quickly, smoothly and with amazingly little discomfort, and then I went shopping, followed by a walk around the neighborhood pond.
I especially enjoyed God's gift of gorgeous weather -- sunny, warm and calm -- perfect for that walk and top-down drives. 

I was hoping the deadening would wear off in time for choir practice, and it did. I ended up being serenaded 3 times, including over the phone  by my brother and his family (OK, make that his family!!) and face to face by the Goodrich church choir. Since I'm attending a different church much of the time now, I don't go to the Goodrich rehearsal regularly. Going tonight was a gift to myself. Plus, I did think they would probably sing to me, and I love to hear them sing. I love to sing with them even more -- even when we are just rehearsing. Ending with The Hallelujah Chorus was a nice cap to the night. 

 But enough about me. Starting tomorrow, I MUST start focusing less on self and more on others. Please help me, God!!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Amazing gifts

The first week of March began and ended well. Even the dangerous, snow-slick roads on Wednesday don't seem that bad looking back, although the drive was no fun at the time. Well, now that I think about it, I know hindsight really is marvelous. Did last Sunday seem all that great at the time when snow canceled church? But my outlook was good then despite less than desirable conditions, and it apparently carried over. 

Meanwhile, this weekend just ending was one of those amazing gifts, when prayers were answered in a most gratifying way as family was able to gather for a bridal shower. We trust that God is with us and in control whether the mother of the bride would have been able to attend or not. But after some recent trips didn't work out so well due to her complications from cancer and treatment, the success of this one was all the more precious. It required 
her acting on faith that God would see her through. We prayed she would know, and apparently she did. I feel the family really treasures the presence of each person who is there and sincerely is aware and misses each one who is not able to be. It's interesting that when the 25 gathered for lunch at a restaurant we didn't pray (unless I missed it; I was late) -- but we had all just come from church, and I know I felt the awareness of God's grace as we dined. 

Besides the absence of the ones unable to attend, the hardest part of these times together for me is when we all go our separate ways. That takes faith, too. 

The weekend also included the change to daylight saving time, aka the time when we "spring forward" an hour, which for many of us translates into a lost hour of sleep that won't be recouped until late fall. I feel the disconnect already -- it seems like it's about 9, but I just looked at my watch, and sure enough, it's almost 10. So, it will be another few days of transition. 

And again I say: bring it on. 

God is in control. I am grateful. Great is His faithfulness.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Just like that!! (I blinked, and it was over)

I blinked, and February -- with all its work transitions, weather and some last-minute health concerns -- was over. It's amazing the difference two fewer days in a month can make in allowing the next month sneak up on a person. 

I'm not sad to see February end. Much was good, especially the transition at work from our suburban tower to a downtown box. All of the things that are less than wonderful to me -- the coldness of the office; air that often smells like a bar (even though it's a no-smoking venue); and parking that still tosses surprises at me every day or two -- are far outweighed by the improvements, such as the furnishings and layout of my desk,  the shorter drive and the overall vibrancy of the new building  and its venue in the heart of downtown. The outside temperature has also been cold most of these days, so I've yet to go out and enjoy the big park across the street or just reacquaint myself with downtown. But there will be plenty of days ahead for that (God and bosses willing!).

The health concerns involved my mom in the final week of February, and all is well now. But in the midst of the work changes and daily weather watching that kept any day from feeling normal, her time in the hospital was more unsettling to me than usual. The good news is that I prayed and asked others to pray -- and that helped me rely on my faith. And ultimately the prayers were answered with her return to health and home. I know that won't always be the case -- but I thank God that once again it was. 

And now it's March. Both churches I attend canceled services today due to expected snowy/icy conditions, but I worshipped online, led by a co-worker who is a bi-vocational minister. For many reasons, that was a good experience for which I am grateful. Lent continues through March, leading up to an early Easter on April 5. My Lenten disciplines have presented some challenges, especially the partial fast last Friday. But on the snowy, mostly stay-at-home days of this weekend, the readings helped keep me grounded. 

March is the month of spring's official start, but first comes the time change -- springing forward an hour next weekend. It's also a time for bridal showers and birthdays and hopefully more warm and sunshiny days. 

I'm ready!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Selective discipline

The only reason I am posting anything tonight is because it is my self-imposed deadline. I have a lot on my mind, but I don't have time to sort it out. 

Why oh why didn't I write what I had planned on Friday or Saturday -- a review of highlights of the first week at the new office site. It was fresh on my mind then, and it would have meant I didn't have a deadline tonight. I still hope to write about it soon. 

Meanwhile, much has happened since then and a lot of it is confusing to me. I hope to write about some of those things, too. But not tonight. 

I am grateful for Lenten disciplines that pull me back to a spiritual, grateful focus when life's twists and turns -- even the ones that seem very favorable  -- threaten to distract, confuse or wear me down. Maybe it's that same sense of discipline that compels me to post a fairly meaningless compilation just because it's deadline. I just wish that compulsion would start to spill over to things like housekeeping and some financial details  that need to be dealt with. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday 2015

My pre-Lent prep on Tuesday had me thinking I ought to try a partial fast for Ash Wednesday. But even the very relaxed guidelines -- just one full meal, two additional small meals if needed, and no solid food between meals -- seemed like more than I was willing to try on a work day. 

Then I read something on Wednesday morning -- a list of 40 things to give up for Lent -- and  No. 1 was fear of failure. Just for today. So I decided to go ahead and try.

Not eating between meals is about the hardest thing for me. It required me to think often of what Ash Wednesday and Lent are all about. Of course, when I think of all that -- ultimately that Jesus Christ suffered and died on a cross to save me from the eternity in hell I deserve for my sins -- then a little fast doesn't seem that hard at all. 

I made it through the fast. It was a good experience. I want to be willing to truly sacrifice for my faith and for God's glory. So far, I never really have. And I'm still not optimistic I will. 

For today -- this Ash Wednesday and first day of Lent 2015 -- it seems the best I can do is not quit trying. 

 I am grateful for God's unconditional, immeasurable love. 

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes  in Him would not perish but have everlasting life." 
-- John 3:16