Friday, August 26, 2011

Choices for such a time as this

In the face of a beloved one's dire prognosis:
I choose hope.
I choose gratitude.
I choose to walk by faith.
I choose to see the good.
I choose to let God lead me.
I choose to believe God has prepared me.
I choose Jesus.
I choose love.
I choose life.
I choose joy.

None of these choices will automatically make things easier. I believe they will make things better.

Despite all those positive choices, I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit to some fear and anxiety. I think of Job in the Bible. He seemed to choose the better way -- faith and trust in God -- and God still let Satan wreak all kinds of havoc in his life. There are other examples in the Bible in which it seems as if those who profess their faith are tested almost beyond their ability to stand. And the key word is: almost. I believe the Bible makes it clear that God will not allow more to come our way than we can face successfully if we stay true to Him, although I also believe sometimes how that all works out remains a mystery in this life on earth. Some of those holy mysteries remain in my life and those of loved ones.

What this is about is that my 85-year-old Dad recently received a new cancer diagnosis. Last year, he had a spot on his lung and had successful lung surgery. That was a long and sometimes difficult journey for Mom and Dad and the family, but I see much evidence that God was with us through it all, and that He worked it for good.

Now, Daddy has liver cancer. While last year's prognosis was good, this year's is much less so. The doctors say things such as "three to six months" -- the first part of that range is before Christmas! -- and that the end could be bad. Information is still being gathered. I'm hoping and praying for the best. And I'm grateful for continued opportunities to spend quality time with my parents and family, expressing and showing love and support.

Psalm 23 comes to mind: The Lord is my shepherd ... He leads us. He prepares us. He guards us. He goes with us. He sustains us.

I think that's been my overriding affirmation since first learning a week ago, Aug. 19, of what was causing Daddy's pain and what may lie ahead, which doctors seemed to confirm on Tuesday. In various communications with family and friends, including at church, God has given me a sense of hope and peace for which I can't even begin to adequately express thanks.

-- I think in my family's situation, God continues to bless us with opportunities to grow in love and faithfulness and grace and gratitude. Many people/families don't get that chance while the loved one is still with them. I pray to always be grateful.

-- Please join me in praying that God just uphold and sustain Daddy and Mom and all of us no matter what lies ahead, and that we appreciate each day He gives us and helps us to live to his glory and honor and service. Thank you so much for your love and prayers.

I think a lot of people know and live these things without having to write and share them. But for me, writing and sharing helps me know, remember and be accountable. As with singing, I write and share in what feels like faithful service to God and as an offering of praise.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Readings that have helped me keep going this week

From Beth Moore's Praying God's Word Day by Day Aug. 16 (my Mom's birthday)
Beth's quote: "Allow your circumstances and weaknesses to do the job God has sent them to do -- provoke humility."
Praying from the Word:
Do not be far from me, Lord, for trouble is near and there is no one to help ... They feel like roaring lions tearing their prey open, their mouths wide against me (Psalm 22:11,13).
But to You, O Lord, I left up my soul; in You I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me (Psalm 25:1-2).
Guard my life and rescue me, O Lord. Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in You. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in You (Psalm 25:20-21).

And today, Aug. 19, praying from the Word:
Mighty God, help me to understand that I've been called by You to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Strengthen my spiritual vision, Lord!

And this is from the Overeaters Anonymous "For Today" devotional booklet for Aug. 18:
"Life offers me treasures beyond imagining, here and now. They are there for me to take and use with the God-given talents and skills and energy I possess today. My enthusiasm is the digging tool. I dig into the actual for the sheer love of digging; therefore, the fact that there may be something better tomorrow is irrelevant. I will be here, digging into life and getting something out of it today. ... The right way to live is to live as fully as I can today; to take what possbilities there are and make of them what I can."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Another attitude adjustment

"Good morning," he said.
"Not the best," replied I.
I mean, here I was back at the car care center first thing Monday morning, trying to figure out why my brand-new tires that had been mounted Friday gave me such a miserable ride from Norman to Fort Worth and back on the weekend. I was full of frustration and resentment, so I dared not say more, since the service manager already knew the situation from my call on Saturday. I just left the car and the keys, saying let me know when it's fixed, and I hope it's before noon so I can drive it to work. I did suggest that if they couldn't find the problem, they should just put on new tires.

But as soon as I headed on the pleasant two-mile walk home about 8:30 a.m., before it had a chance to be too hot, I regretted my less-than-cheerful response. It was a beautiful morning. The tires made it safely if not smoothly through the weekend trip. I had alternate transportation to get to work if my car wasn't ready in time. I was alive and healthy and residing in the arms of God. How dare me respond as if a little inconvenience made the morning less than good.

I didn't make amends for my negative attitude at the car care center that morning, but I did take the lesson with me through the day at work and later in the week as I picked up my car and still had some problems. I don't want to let inconveniences and setbacks keep me from having a cheerful and grateful attitude. Staying positive and cheerful is often easier to intend than to do, but I was able to see several times during the week that turning it over to God in prayer and praise (in all things give thanks!) really made a difference.

And I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to keep applying that lesson one day at a time in the coming week, as I already see challenges shaping up. Pray. Trust. Obey. Praise. Help me, God! Thank you, Lord!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Striving to keep it positive

Another week of vacation is almost over. I have quite a mix of feelings. It's a bit of a struggle again to focus on the positive and not get pulled down by some frustration and disappointment. But that is what I need to do and will do.

What triggered it this time (again) is finally tackling something I'd been putting off -- getting new tires and getting the dealership where I bought the car to keep a promise to pay for them. I took the needed action Thursday to confirm the payment, then took the car to Firestone Friday to get the tires. I knew I was headed to a Rangers game in Texas on Saturday and looked forward to a smoother ride. I picked the car up Friday evening and took it for a spin on city streets. All seemed fine.

But when I headed out on Interstate 35 late Saturday morning, I could tell I had a problem. When I accelerated above about 60, the car shook like it was going to fall apart. Now, I was on my way to Texas for the ballgame and didn't really have time to head back to Firestone to get this figured out. I called to make sure it was safe to drive. They seemed to think it would be. So I bounced to Gainesville and then Muenster and then to Arlington and back to Muenster after the game, and back to Norman today. I'll take it back to Firestone tomorrow and insist they make this right.

The thing that is so frustrating to me is that it seems like what should be routine maintenance steps -- whether it be for my car or my health -- so often ends up not being very routine. This mess started when I took my car to the dealership in April 2010 for maintenance work that was somewhat botched. That led to the promise that my next set of tires would be paid for. But figuring out when to get those tires, which tires to get and following through to get them paid for are things I'm not good at. But I finally did it. It was a good feeling, and I was so eager for that smooth ride to Texas. Instead, it was one of the most nerve-wracking ever.

What follows has nothing to do with any of that -- I'm sure the timing was purely coincidental -- but the very next thing I did Thursday after feeling so good about getting the tire arrangements and payment worked out was to brush my teeth. And before I was finished, a big filling near the front had fallen out. Have I mentioned that I may dislike dealing with dentists and doctors even more than dealing with car maintenance, based on the same track record of things never seeming to go smoothly? But what choice do I have? I made an appointment to get it fixed -- even though it will probably mean having to miss some work. (That's a whole other subject I'm striving to feel positive about as vacation nears an end and I go back to working afternoons and nights.)

Some of the thoughts that go through my head with these things include why bother and no wonder I get so frustrated. But all of the negative thoughts just sound like self-pity, I used to spend a lot of time stuck there. Now I work through it more quickly and move on to the next right action and a more positive outlook. Daily Bible reading continues to help guide me and strengthen me. I still don't know why these moments that are just part of life can be so perplexing to me. But I am extremely grateful to God that He somehow manages to keep me moving forward.