Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Endings, Part 1

Watching Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, in which the Texas Rangers could have won the championship with a victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, I found myself realizing how natural it is to be drawn to a happy ending, whether in sports or life in general.

After so many chances to win last night, the Rangers came up short, with the Cardinals scoring a home run in the bottom of the 11th to win 10-9. So, there will be a Game 7 tonight. I'm worn out and I'm not even playing the game!

Isn't life like that, though? So many times it seems like I'm finally through the tough time and have achieved some accomplishment, and then there's another challenge. On to extra innings. This time, at least there's another chance for victory. (And, too, there was a happy ending for a lot of folks last night, just not the ones I wanted to see celebrating. Maybe that was their moment, and the one for Rangers fans will come tonight!)

In sports, as in life, and where I am today, is the realization that sometimes I have to redefine a happy ending. I need to be prepared to find the joy in what might seem to be an unhappy ending. Even so, in the case of the Texas Rangers in the World Series, now at game 7, I'm holding out hope for a championship!

There's a lot more to write on the broader subject -- the game of life -- whether the Rangers win or lose tonight. I'm aware of so many great moments with family and friends. It will be more fun though, if they win. Victory is energizing. Defeat is challenging. I'm up for whatever comes. Let's GO, RANGERS!

(P.S. I need to wrap this up, but I also want to add a spiritual component, which is very much a part of my journey. I will write it out later, but the Upper Room devotional had a timely message, and "Hymn of Promise," a song with which many of my Methodist friends are familiar, also is playing in my mind: "... unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.")

Monday, October 24, 2011

Let's go, Rangers!

Tonight is blog deadline, and nothing is coming together. I have many ideas but none are ready to go without some focused thought -- and that's not happening when game 5 of the 2-2 World Series has the Rangers and the Cardinals tied 2-2 with the Rangers batting in the bottom of the eighth. Let's go, Rangers! More to come later in the week. So many wonderful moments of life, only slightly mirrored by exciting ball games!  

Monday, October 17, 2011

No "Passages," but another good weekend

Recently some of my best times have been on weekends, especially involving moments with my parents and family in Texas. But this past weekend in Norman was surprisingly good.

--Some long-needed quality time with my husband.
--12-step meeting: I had to persevere through a 45-minute traffic delay due to road construction, and since I was already running late, I just got there for about 10 minutes of the one-hour meeting. But many people stayed afterward to talk and catch up. I miss these meetings when I'm on the road so many weekends. It was uplifting and strengthening to be there.
--Some needed clothes shopping!
--Aggies win over Baylor (a higher-ranked team; that doesn't happen often anymore, it seems).
--Beautiful weather for a walk around the neigbhorhood pond on Saturday and Sunday. I tried to get Gene to join me, but our ideas of the best conditions for a walk just don't coordinate.
--A nice supper from the grill and microwave with Gene.
--Watching the Rangers win the American League Championship Series and earn their spot in the World Series for the second year in a row.
--Attending my home church and singing in the choir. As I've written before, I have two churches that I love attending and hate to miss either one -- Goodrich, where I'm a member in Norman, and Whaley in Gainesville, where I grew up and my parents are still members. An extra-special and inspiring thing at worship was to see my good friend Paul, who had a stroke late last year, and his wife make it to church together for the first time since then.

Part of what that reminds me is how, had things gone as I'd planned, I would have been in Texas this past weekend and in Norman the weekend before, and I would have missed seeing Paul's delightful smile. My plan was to avoid OU/Texas football traffic Oct. 8, and to use time during the weekend to go see the "Passages" exhibit of ancient Bibles and other pieces at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art before it ended Oct. 16. But after the Rangers made it to the championship series and I knew they'd be playing that Saturday night, I decided I wanted to go watch the game on TV with my Dad. I just don't know how many more opportunities I'll have for that -- between my Dad's health and not knowing for sure the Rangers would make it to the World Series. Even though rain delayed the game in Arlington, and Daddy and I only watched an hour together, it was nice to be there and keep him updated as the storms came to the Davidson hill. The Rangers pulled out the win right around midnight, right after Mom disconnected the TV because of lightning. The next morning, the parched farm was still enjoying a refreshing rain, so I stayed with Daddy while Mom when to church and to buy groceries. A few hours later, I entered the slow-moving mass of cars on Interstate 35 headed back to Norman/OKC after their big football game. Traffic was every bit the headache I feared -- and it was so worth it to have spent the time in Texas.

During this past week, I realized that "Passages," as wonderful an exhibit as it seemed to be from all I had read and heard, just wouldn't fit into my plans and priorities at this time, especially since I didn't have anyone to go with. I realized that doing things that connect me with friends and family is what I need right now. Looking back, I saw that, perhaps, my decision to attend a friend's sparsely attended book signing Oct. 8 was an example of that. And since I'd decided not to try to carve out time this past Saturday (Oct. 15) for "Passages," I had time to spend with Gene that morning. I can't do everything I want to, and sometimes it's hard to decide what to do, but it's amazing how, for now, things do seem to be unfolding in a divine way.

There are still some troublesome areas. Even with the stresses of work and my Dad's illness, about the only thing that has brought me to tears over the past few weeks is my beloved kitty who keeps peeing on the carpet. I think she's acting out over us being gone more and maybe just picking up on my stress. How do you reason with a cat? I love her so much, but nothing is seeming to work to solve this problem. Does God have answers even for this in my life? As I wrote on Facebook: I'm trusting Him for answers in the issue I just can't figure out. Grateful and blessed. The good far outweighs the seeming less-than, thanks to continued prayer to know and do God's will, including to feel the joy.

"Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees." Victor Hugo (as quoted in OA For Today). Part of the commentary: Often in the course of a day, I may think or act with a certain spontaneity, accepting virtually everything about life. That, to me, is a form of prayer ... Prayer allows me to like and enjoy life and to live without suffocating in guilt over past mistakes.

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." James 1:2-6

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another sneaky deadline

Deadline snuck up on me again. With my current work shift, I miss my morning walks around the neighborhood pond/lake, which had become a good time to let thoughts shape into insights, perspectives, inspiration, etc.

I am still struggling a bit not to feel and exhibit frustration, exhaustion, overwhelmedness (I don't think that's really a word), lethargy, depression or any number of other forms of negativity.

I've been meditating on Wednesday's passage from my John MacArthur "Truth for Today: A Daily Touch of God's Grace" devotional, and I have faith that it will help me get to where I need to be.

Here are some excerpts.

No chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness in those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

Evaluating a trial as a joyful occurrence is something a Christian must discipline himself to do because joy is not the natural human response to troubles. He must make a conscious commitment to face each trial with a joyous attitude. ... When you see a trial coming, take on an attitude of joy that comes from anticipating the perfecting work the Lord will do through it. ... It is the joy of one who counts it a privilege to have his faith tested because he knows the testing will draw him closer to the Savior. ...

Among my present "trials" are work, my dad's health, my cat's behavior and many of my troublesome habits that I just haven't been able to change or get rid of. It seems like I'd been trying to face them with joy even before I read this, but I don't know that I've made much progress. But I have faith and hope that it will occur. That is my prayer and what I will continue to focus on and make a conscious commitment to.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Blessings from expressing faith through love

This is one of those times when I have to ask myself: Is there really any value in honoring the self-imposed deadline to post something on my blog at least once every seven days? I have nothing compelling to express, and the only reason I am sitting here typing is because of the commitment I made to myself. I've made plenty of commitments to myself that I haven't kept, so why do I bother trying to keep this one, when I could be in bed instead? But here I am, trying to find something to write.

I thought something might develop around some of the things I've posted or read on Facebook or in devotionals this past week. And maybe it has ....

When it was time to return home after another very good weekend trip to see my parents and other family members, I found myself in new territory. I didn't want to leave. That's not the first time that's happened, but I really had trouble dealing with it. I just wanted to stay and be. And the thought of leaving made me want to cry. So I just sat there and stared out the window. And finally I did cry. But I was quickly reminded or given reason to wonder whether there was any value in crying. I tend to think there is value in letting the tears flow. But if everyone cried, nothing would get done, I suppose.

The dilemma I faced then and also after I returned home was trying to express positive thoughts and say positive things when I was really feeling very sad, tired, overwhelmed and confused. My husband has even more trouble dealing with my emotional outbursts than my mom does. After several attempts, I came up with this for my social and supportive network of Facebook: Let go and let God is so much easier for me to say than do! I've been trying to keep it positive -- about ready to give up. But what good would giving in to negativity do? None at all. It would do no good at all. And I think the response to expressing even that little bit of negativity -- but striving to find the hope -- helped. I slept better than I would have expected, and awoke much more hopeful than I expected.

One of my realizations was that for a person like me who has depressive tendencies, I must find ways to express the sadness, fear and other feelings that seem negative. It doesn't seem to work for me to just acknowledge them to myself and God and then put on a happy face. I'm a talker; I need someone to hear me, the happy as well as the sad. I need to identify and stay in close touch with those unconditional, supportive listeners. Not people who will let me sink into self-pity, but who will listen and offer bits of encouragement, affirmation or guidance that help so much.

One of today's Scripture references from my Upper Room devotional sums up where I want to be as I go forward: "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:6, NIV)