Monday, February 19, 2018

Nothing to sneeze at

I'm recovering from my first-time flu diagnosis. As is often true with my medical experiences, I'm grateful my case likely was milder than a lot of what was going around, and the worst of my symptoms only lasted a day or two. But as is also often true with me and my health, that didn't make it any easier for me to deal with being sick and now making the transition back into wellness.

I had plenty of plans for the week, highlighted by Wednesday with Valentine's and Ash Wednesday and a church meeting on Thursday where I had volunteered to present the program.

A great weekend that included time with extended family in Stillwater on Saturday, then special time with my husband on Sunday, gave way to a busy and productive Monday and Tuesday.

Sometime Tuesday, I was aware of a bit of a dry cough, which I attributed to a lingering effect of a cold from the previous weekend. But between 4 and 6 p.m., something changed in how I felt. My throat tightened and my head ached. My nose wasn't running, but my eyes were watering. And looking back, I realize I felt tired. I went into attack mode, preparing to win if faced with a battle against another cold.

By bedtime, though, I was less optimistic. I posted on Facebook: I seem to be losing the battle against a new round of cold symptoms, just in time for Valentine’s and Ash Wednesday. I hope and pray I’m wrong. Took all the meds and precautions I could think of. Maybe I’ll wake feeling great again!

I didn't, and this was my next post:  I was feeling pretty miserable, waking up on Valentine’s and Ash Wednesday morning after an unsuccessful night battling cold symptoms. Then I saw this! How can I not smile and share! My sweetie knows me well. Fruit, veggies, figgy pops and no-sugar angel food cake. Perfect for me!!

Meanwhile, I updated the previous night's post, in light of so many expressed concerns, with this positive outlook: My symptoms are more cold than flu. No fever or aches other than head and throat. I think my flu risk right now would be greater at a clinic than staying home. But I am staying aware of my temperature, aches and any other symptoms.

Unfortunately, my temperature eventually started to rise. By suppertime, I told my husband I should probably go to the minor emergency clinic. But then my temp went down a bit, so I decided to wait until morning.

It ended up being after lunch before I made it to the clinic, but the diagnosis was fairly quick.

There’s a first time for everything. Today’s first for me: Flu diagnosis. I know some people who are really glad I stayed home from church services and other meetings yesterday and today. Decided to get it checked out when my temperature started rising, which hardly ever happens. Hoping I will feel much better soon. And praying Gene’s flu shot and other precautions protect him.

Finally, at 5:12 a.m. Sunday: I feel immensely better. Yes, I tire easily, but the only reason I won’t be at church is the risk that I might still be contagious after Thursday’s flu diagnosis. (My symptoms started Tuesday, with possibly a little dry cough/throat clearing Monday.) I’m grateful for the prayers, well-wishes and helpful advice from friends and family members. And I’m extremely grateful for Gene’s patient, loving care, and I pray God will continue to protect him from the flu. And now, selfish as it seems to me, I feel tired again so I guess I’ll go back to sleep.

Turns out the transition back hasn't been easy, but I continue to make progress. I am grateful.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Another deadline and still no words. Life goes on.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The words still aren't coming together for blog posts.

What I'm posting instead is just excerpts from Facebook posts from last night and this morning, the latter of which they came in an onslaught!

From last night: It seems like ages since I’ve sung a solo in public, and especially without standing behind a lectern or pulpit with the lyrics in easy view. I practiced several times and got all the words right — or at least close enough to make sense. But there’s no time like showtime to let the memory lapse. Fortunately, my friends at the Goodrich Memorial United Methodist Church chili cook-off and talent show are the most gracious audience in the world!! Also fortunately (at least I hope), I probably won’t let my far from polished style (or lack thereof!) keep me from looking for places where I can sing to inspire, encourage or offer praise and worship to God!

Singing continues to be humbling and mystifying and fulfilling and so  much more for me. It bares my soul and exposes my flaws. I don't expect to be perfect, but I sure would like to come closer than I do! But am I willing to put in the effort to be better? Here we go again ....

Why can't I accept that God might like me just the way I am? He wants me to trust Him. He's not leading me to take lessons or invest more time and energy into singing, at least not right now. He wants to use me right where I am. It is my own perfectionism and expectations that stand in the way.

From this morning, after reading the daily devotional from Proverbs 31 ministries about waiting with God: I’m grateful God doesn’t give up on me or toss me aside — whether I’m slow to act, too quick to interfere or just stuck in the mire of trying to figure things out for myself rather than pray, trust, obey and praise!

Just a few minutes after that, my Facebook memories brought up a link to last year's blog post on this date, which reminded me that God puts me in the right place at the right time.

And the next memory brought tears, with an album of 17 pictures of the beloved kitty, Bridget, who I had to let go due to kidney failure five years ago:  I’ve been five years without cat now. Bridget is still the cover photo on my Facebook page. God is still at work here, I feel Him assure me through unexpected tears.

Fortunately, I was able to go from there to spend time with a prayer group at church. After that, I was able to visit a friend in the nursing home and sing words of encouragement and faith. There were other things, too, and many were good. But I struggle not to shift my thoughts to all the things I didn't get done, or questions about whether I did the right things.

So, again: I’m grateful God doesn’t give up on me or toss me aside — whether I’m slow to act, too quick to interfere or just stuck in the mire of trying to figure things out for myself rather than pray, trust, obey and praise!




Monday, January 22, 2018

???????

I've let another week go by that I didn't post original pictures and commentary on Facebook. It wasn't all that long ago that I routinely posted observations from my day. At some point I took a break, or got behind, and now it's hard to get back into the habit of doing it.

I realize the same thing has happened regarding me singing occasional solos at church. I think the last time I did special music was actually a duet in June. Travel and other schedule uncertainties have kept me from making a commitment to sing at church (other than with the choir) since then. The one time I knew I would be available, there wasn't an opportunity.

Now, I have an opportunity to sing next Sunday, at the church's annual chili cook-off and talent show. I've signed up, but I haven't decided on a song or started practicing. And just thinking about it makes me feel self-conscious and a bit apprehensive.

I think some of the same factors are involved with the singing as with the Facebook posts and even this blog. People always respond favorably when I share my words, pictures and-or songs. But I find myself increasingly self-editing or analyzing to the point of not thinking I have anything worth sharing. Not surprisingly, each time I hold back makes it easier to refrain from sharing the next time.

Back when I was sharing and singing a lot, I wrestled with concepts of ego/pride and humility. I enjoy the positive feedback and affirmations, but I truly don't think that's the main reason I write, sing or share. It's more just something I either enjoy or feel called to do, and the response is a bonus. Sadly, I think part of why I'm holding back is because I have doubts about whether I deserve that bonus. (Just as sadly, I think that may link to some unresolved feelings about how I'm spending my time now that I no longer work outside the home.)


Just for fun, here are some of the things I thought about sharing last week:

-- Gene and I enjoyed a cheap date on Thursday, attending Norman's annual chili supper ($10 for two to dine in, and $10 for two full bowls to go!) that is a fundraiser for The Christmas Store. The chili was great and we enjoyed listening to the music of John the Franklin, an ensemble that includes friends Marvin Hudson and Frank Barry.  (I didn't think about taking a picture until we were gone!)

--  Friday, I thought it was finally warm enough to put the top down on the ole Mustang while cruising around Norman. By time I got home, I realized I was mistaken; it was still pretty chilly. But it inspired me to drive on down to the neighborhood lake, where I was surprised to see so much ice remaining. And yes, I took pictures!

 

  

  



 -- Since the top was down on the car, I kept it down for the drive to a meeting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Yes, it was still pretty chilly. But there's something about sunshine on January days that makes it seem worth the chill. By afternoon, the drive was much more pleasant. Now, if we could just get rid of that wind!



 -- Sunday, I finally rolled up my sleeve and donated blood during a drive at the church. In the past 10 or 15 years when I tried to give blood, my iron was too low. But after my surgery two years ago, I changed my diet to increase my meat consumption and also to eat more spinach and other iron-rich foods. Until Sunday, the blood drives had not worked into my schedule, and I preferred to donate at church rather than elsewhere. Plenty of excuses emerged that could have kept me from donating yesterday, but I was grateful to finally be accepted as a donor again and to follow through. My only regret is that I didn't get a selfie!!!!

This brings to mind one other big reason I have trended away from posting on Facebook. All of these things that I would have posted seem frivolous, and there is much more consequential stuff going on that I can't find words for.  So here I go again. Will I even post this? If I post it, will I link it to Facebook?

????????

Monday, January 15, 2018

Wishful thinking

Once again, I'm trying to commit myself to completing what looks like an impossible chore.

I tried to come up with a plan. But I'm not really a planner. So I just started working.

I'm hoping that as I work, inefficiently as it seems to be, a better way will come to mind.

I see signs of that happening.

As I told someone today: I know at some point I'm going to realize I can keep doing it this inefficient way and be at it for three or five years, or I can realize I don't have to know every detail as I decide whether to discard or keep things. (Yes, it's that neverending chore: Clearing the clutter of papers, magazines, cards, keepsakes and music.)

I also keep thinking of that old saying:  How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This seems more like a herd of elephants, and still the answer is the same: One bite at a time.

That's when I realized I wished there was a quicker way. I wish it could just be taken care of already!

Wishful thinking.

And that's a waste of time.

So, I worked some more tonight, tossing another stack of various papers into the trash, and placing some music CDs in a box to be donated.

To look at the space I'm trying to clear, there's no evidence cleaning is going on.

But I know. And I am determined to keep at it this time. No more wasting my time on wishful thinking.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Day 8 or day 1?

When I sat down to write, I was feeling a bit discouraged about how things have gone these first 8 days of 2018. But then I reread what I wrote on Jan. 1, and I see that I'm probably exactly where I'm supposed to be.

The two biggest steps toward improvement are that I've gotten to bed earlier several nights and I've started the next day with a clearer focus on God.

I'm making intentional efforts in both of those areas. My target is to be in bed by 10:30, with a goal of 11 p.m. This is because I really want to be able to be able to get up by 7 a.m. . with eight hours of sleep. I had doubts that I would be able to sleep if I was in bed by 11, but that hasn't been too much of a problem. The main problem is getting to bed, turning off the light and turning off the phone!

Upon waking, I want my first thoughts to be of God. Typically that is coming with a silent recitation of the Lord's Prayer. One morning, I read one of my devotionals under the covers while my husband still slept. Another day I read the devotion when I got up to use the bathroom an hour before my alarm. But most days, I've stayed with the Lord's prayer and prayers for people on my mental list while in bed, and then turning to Bible reading and devotionals after I get up.

Another positive change has been adjusting my water consumption so that I drink more of my minimum 64 ounces (and more often 72-plus ounces) before 6 or 7 p.m. And immediately I've seen the effect of not waking up needing to use the bathroom after just three or four hours of sleep. I thought maybe the reason I was waking up at night was because of body aches, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

So these are three very positive things I hope I can continue to build on, one day at a time.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Thoughts on the first day of 2018

Why won't I commit to getting up early to spend time in prayer, Bible reading and reflection? It just seems impossible.

It's one of many things in my life that still just seems impossible.

Lord, I lift that up to You. It's an area where I hope to improve each year, but I always come up short.

On the first day of a new year, Craig Denison's First 15 devotional guide suggests that I won't miss that time. But that doesn't seem possible, either.

From First 15:  "The best way to consistently encounter the transformative love of God is to set aside time early each morning that you’ll never miss." (Emphasis added by me.)

He acknowledges that creating a habit can be difficult but notes that there is "no greater pursuit than a deeper relationship with God." He suggests: "Pick a time you can consistently meet with him. Before you go to sleep ask God to give you grace and desire to wake up and encounter him. The more you do it the easier it will become. And as you grow in the knowledge of God and his goodness, time spent with him will become your favorite time of the day."

Can He help me get to bed earlier and then to work out the logistics with Gene? That's part of what I don't understand how is supposed to work.

I have been aware recently that there are too many distractions at the gym for me to read my devotionals, pray and reflect. It worked in the past, but for some reason it does not anymore, although I still can do it when I'm on the treadmill at home.

As I looked for new spiritual guidance at the start of this year, I also signed up to get Proverbs 31 devotions delivered to my primary inbox. Today's first one, by Katy McCown, was good. But it linked me to her blog, at http://katymccown.com/, with words that may be even more vital for me:

"My plan for the future is to be faithful with today."

 

McCown writes: "Today, I find myself in an uncertain place. This new year brings a lot of change and more questions than answers. But one thing I know I can do is engage in today. I can choose to be faithful today. And as I do, I can be sure I’m participating in God’s dreams for me.

"How can you be faithful today? Maybe it’s a simple trip to the grocery store or a story before bedtime, but it matters. Resist the urge to let your mind wander to tomorrow or next week or this summer or five years from now. Let God use today to form you for your tomorrow."

True to the way God often works in my life, just before I sat down to finish writing this, I ran across one more concept shared by a friend that seems to reinforce the approach that was shaping up within me.

Mary Lou Moad posted on Facebook: "All you really have is Today. Today, do the next right thing. Let tomorrow worry about itself when it comes."

I think God's message to me on the first day of 2018 is to not think I have to finally have the plan for my whole life, and not even the whole year or month or week. How about just be faithful today? Do the next right thing.

And it's scriptural, from Matthew 6:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? ...  28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
I think this passage from James 2 also applies, because God's not telling me to sit back and do nothing. He's telling me to do what I can today and not worry about the rest. But, what's the scriptural phrase? Faith without works is dead.
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Back to Katy McCown's post that was shared by the Proverbs 31 ministry. She said she wasn't a morning person, but now she is. "Now, when I wake up I choose not to catalog the day’s events and decide if I want to get up or go back to sleep. Instead, I start by talking with my Lord. My time with Him sets the pace for the day, and that alone makes getting up worth it!"

So, I don't know where this will lead me. Even though I pretty much failed at planning in the past year, I kept trying. Not trying feels like failure.  But it also feels like faith. I believe God is continuing to shape me. And I believe the result will be good.


Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (NKJV)
Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (NKJV)