Sunday, May 1, 2016

God is at work (Resistance is futile), Part 2

may need to wait a week before I share most of what is on my mind. But I am grateful for continued evidence that God is at work and truly wants me to join him. The lesson this week has been that I don't get to know in advance what we are doing or what the result will be. I just get to pray, listen, obey and trust. 

This past week, it led to today's amazing worship opportunity as two people trusted God's nudge and stepped outside their comfort zones. 

But in another instance, it led to what seemed like rejection of an idea I thought was planted by God. Oh yes, another reminder that I don't need to worry about the results. I just need to do my part. 

And along the way, something that usually keeps me up half the night -- sometimes into the wee hours of morning -- is completed before 10 pm. And it's looking like a blog post will be done as well. 

So, sometimes, as I mentioned last week, responding to that nudge seems overwhelming, as one thing leads to another. But maybe I'm seeing that if I can continue responding -- prayerfully seeking, obeying and trusting -- I will truly find in God the peace and purpose I desperately long for. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

God is at work (Resistance is futile)

God is at work. 

He's inviting me to co-labor with Him. I feel myself trying to resist. 

I'm praying to respond in faith.

Little steps of progress/faith bring good feelings and inner satisfaction but also reminders of what holds me back. One thing always leads to another, and pretty quickly I feel overwhelmed. Then the doubt kicks in. Doubt that I can do -- even with His help -- what God seems to be calling me to do. And then I get caught up in trying to figure out how to do it all instead of just doing what's in front of me. Rather than trust God to equip me for what He calls me to do, I fret about whether I will be able to. Often, fear grips me, and I decide I can't do some of the things that seemed so right and divinely inspired to do.

As I responded to a friend who said "Resistance is futile. LOL!": Ultimately I know this is true, but it's amazing how stubbornly I keep trying to resist. If I could just channel that effort into faithful response. Haven't given up hope of that.

And that's where I will leave it for now. 

 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Circles of life

The weekend was rich. A highlight was celebrating two lives (great-niece Lissy Cheyanne and aunt Amma Belle)  who began their flesh-on-earth journeys April 11 -- but 94 years apart! And despite my surgical procedure, also on April 11, I was able to make the two-hour trip to Texas without physical distress. 

April long has been a month of emotional highs and lows. April 15 was precious sister-in-law Elaine's first birthday in heaven; she would be 55. The family celebrated -- but I also cried. 

The way this month goes, though, April 15 was also great-niece Ami's 11th birthday, and it was nice to be able to celebrate with her. 

Today, April 17, is the anniversary of what to me is still the saddest and most unfathomable thing for our family ever to experience: the sudden death of 5-month-old Ryan Michael. I think it was 18 years ago.  That will never, ever seem ok or make sense to me this side of heaven. But I know God knows the whole story and sees the big picture, and we don't have to understand things to know that God continues to be in control and loves and blesses us and works all things for good when we seek Him. 

Next weekend brings niece Jennifer's 28th birthday and 17-year-old niece Angela's prom -- celebratory reminders of how life goes on. 

Before that, Tuesday, April 19, is the 21st anniversary of the Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City, which I cannot deny had life-changing effects on me. Each anniversary brings renewed commitment to live fully. 

I'm not sure how to wrap this up. It's kinda like what someone I know says about saying grace. He said when he realizes he's gone as long as he wants to go, he quickly transitions to his concluding thought, some variation of asking God to "bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies, we beg Christ's sake. Amen."

I guess my blog version of that is just to ask God to bless these people, these moments, these memories and observations, and to help us all live to His glory.  


Monday, April 11, 2016

Finding the good about a tiny red bug, noisy alerts and a TV that doesn't work

Seemingly moments after responding to some negative comments on Facebook by writing "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" -- and not long after my husband left to spend the night at home instead of with me in the hospital -- a couple of things happened that I really wanted to tell someone about, along with something that had happened earlier. 

My blog philosophy is I prefer not to post about an experience unless I can find something nice or uplifting to share. 

Does two out of three count? Or maybe I'll just post about the one that qualifies. 

After eating lunch, I noticed a tiny red bug crawling on the side of my tray/bed stand. Not sure what it was (and having already had Gene squash it), I typed into my iPhone search bar "tiny red bug in a hospital." And it came up with text about and pictures of bed bugs. 

Now, I don't have much experience with bed bugs, but that was not what I expected to see in response to my search. But I thought the picture looked pretty much like what I had seen -- and according to the Internet, immature ones can be that tiny and red. Alarmed, I started searching for others and was surprised but not really comforted not to find any.

While I was still puzzling over this and thinking I was itching more than ever (I had already taken Benadryl for itching I attributed to stress), Gene shared with me the result of HIS Internet search. The picture looked pretty much like what my Web search came up with. But the description was much different. And much more acceptable. 

Red spider mites!!  

I asked him what he searched for to find that, and he said "red mites." And one of the first things he noticed in the description was that they like roses. And guess who had gotten a fresh bouquet with roses a little earlier in the day? And guess where they had been sitting until just a short while before that tiny bug was observed and eradicated??  

What a relief!!

Another positive about that experience was to realize that I am being pretty vigilant about anything that could jeopardize my recovery. Before surgery, they asked if I have any history with any of those nasty infectious situations I'm not even going to name, that sometimes occur at hospitals.  I said no -- and I want to keep it that way!!

As for the TV and remote, I don't need to be watching tonight anyway. (I thought I would already be asleep at 9:30, but then I started writing.) Rangers baseball didn't come on until late, and I certainly don't need to get caught up in that tonight. And the IV bell has been silenced. Except for those two incidents, the nurses and aides have been very prompt, in addition to being gracious and good at their work. (And even in these cases, they were gracious. They've just taken longer to resolve than anyone would have liked.)

So, it's been a good day, in ways much more significant that what I've written about here (but these were more fun to write about).  I've prayed a lot along the way, and so have many others regarding the surgery and recovery. As usual, God has blessed me beyond anything I deserve. I am grateful beyond my ability to express for His mercy, love and grace. May I live to His glory. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Here we go again

If all goes as planned, my three-month journey as a colostomate ends tomorrow

It's been quite the adventure since the emergency surgery Jan. 8 in which a portion of my colon was removed. I remember that on Jan. 6, I was feeling healthy and hopeful, and my husband and I had quite a lot of plans and goals emerging for 2016. But that pretty much changed the next evening. 

Overall, my surgery and recovery -- including the colostomy that allowed parts of my body to heal and rest -- have gone very well. The surgeons and other specialists say I was healthy going in and am still healthy. I have no cancer or other chronic impairment. I have so much to be grateful for and truly am. 

It's probably a good thing I don't have a chronic condition, because one thing I learned is that processes health professionals seem to think should be simple or at least become routine sure did not for me in three months. On the other hand, three months is just getting started for someone in a situation in which the colostomy would be permanent. I knew the plan was for mine to be temporary, so I was always aware I did not want to get too comfortable with it. 

My main regret is that I let it interfere with my life more than I would have preferred. About the only thing I did consistently was work -- and that ended up mostly being from home, which I am grateful was possible.  A conversation at church today reminded me that many people in much worse health situations find ways to keep doing the things that matter most to them. Of course, even before my health setback, I let all kinds of things distract me from my good intentions. So why would I expect this not to just add to that problem? But it sure helped me see again that I want to quit letting that happen. When will I actually put into practice my desire for NO MORE EXCUSES?!?!?!?

And I have to confess: I still feel unworthy of how easy my path keeps being.  During these three months, my heart and prayers have gone out to people facing aggressive treatment for cancer; a baby's cystic fibrosis diagnosis and related surgeries; and heartbreaking deaths, including the suicide of friends' 16-year-old daughter; among other major prayer concerns. How dare I even ask for prayers for my minor malady? But God wants me to ask, too.  And friends and family are gracious to support me with their prayers. 

My biggest obstacle to a sane, efficient, productive, caring, compassionate and holy lifestyle is my own mind. It requires a one-day-at-a-time approach for me to overcome that obstacle. One day at a time: Pray. Trust. Obey. Love. Praise. Give thanks. 

And so I will continue to. 

(I had hoped by attempting to write about this, I would find some wisdom and insights and sure signs of learning and purpose and meaning. But I guess it's not time. It makes it hard to keep posting to the blog when I am unable to wrap up my thoughts in a pretty package. But I never know until I try. And if I wait until I find that wisdom and those insights and sure signs of learning and purpose and meaning, I likely never will. So here I go again.)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

No fooling!

I just saw that I didn't post on Easter Day.  I knew I didn't post anything on April fools' day, but I sure thought I had put something on Easter Sunday. There have been things I want to write. But now I can't think of them. Maybe tomorrow. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lent -- or ReLentless?

On February 18, I noted that "there's no time like Lent to be exploring the Bible and Christian discipleship from United Methodist, Roman Catholic and Southern Baptist perspectives. Oh, I think I also have a Presbyterian viewpoint in my daily reading. I am grateful for those who share their faith and experience and knowledge. And I am grateful to God for helping me hear and respond."

Well, here it is the day before Easter, and I have to admit that long before Holy Week began, I had dropped daily reading of any of those devotionals. All I remained consistent on was my year-round daily readings from Jesus Calling, the Upper Room and Craig Denison's First 15. 

I didn't give up anything for Lent nor did I add a spiritual discipline. 

So perhaps I should feel as if I've failed. 

But I do not.  

This has been a Lent like no other for me.

My "discipline" was of a forced nature, resulting from temporary changes in my life following emergency abdominal surgery on Jan. 8.

Although it was not part of the post-op plan, I've mostly worked from home since the surgery. I took a break from many of the daily and weekly commitments and responsibilities I've been trying to fulfill for most of my adult life. I've often felt guilty or ashamed, as if I'm not doing enough. 

But as the spiritual journey of Lent comes to a close and I also am anticipating the next step of my physical recovery, I see how this has evolved into a time of not only physical but spiritual healing. 

Since August, I've been working toward restoration to wholeness after coming to terms with some sin-sickness of my soul. There has been progress and healing. And I had a plan for how it would continue. 

But my plans aren't always God's plans. 

Maybe God allowed this physical interruption to help bring about a different focus as spiritual and emotional healing were needed. Seems a lot of important things Gene and I were trying to do got sidelined, but maybe the lesson or takeaway is to remind us to plan and do what we can, but to always put our faith and trust in God, loving him and trusting him and thanking him and serving/obeying him. 

As happens at least half of the time for me when the contemplation of Lent gives way to the celebration of Easter, this is a year when I know I still have a lot of work to do. 

I don't recall Lamentations 3 as being a key part of the Holy Week liturgy in the past, but it has come up several times this year. And how grateful I am for it. 
 "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23). 

So, as I prepare to again celebrate the gift of God who gave His only Son to die on a cross  to pay the debt for my sins -- and did not let Him stay in the grave -- my heart is filled with gratitude but also, I pray, humility. Now if I can just take the next step, to obedience. Not my will, but Yours, Lord, I pray.