Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Just a few words

I would like to write just a few words, but it seems as if even when I don't know where to start, one word always leads to another, and the result is far from few.

I made a plan for Monday and lifted it up to God in prayer, and He laughed. I wasn't able to get the cat into the carrier for a trip to the vet, and news that my uncle died put the rest of the week's schedule in flux. I guess I did accomplish one thing on the list, taking some steps toward finding a new dentist and cancelling an appointment with the old.

Now I feel like I'm getting a cold or something. It's that sensation where I feel really, really tired and have tightness and some itchiness in my throat. But here goes my mind again: I think it could just be effects of tension and stress and lack of sleep, although it seems I'm getting adequate pillow time. I'm trying to relax, rest and drimk more water. So far I've been able to withstand most of what goes around physically, and I'm working toward that result again even as I pray!

Above all, I feel God's peace and presence and love, and for that I am so grateful. Words of Scripture referenced in daily devotionals and by friends and family members keep me focused. "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want ... He restores my soul ... He leads me on paths of righteousness ... He comforts me..."   I had a day or two in which I sensed I had started just going through the motions with prayer, but I think I've moved beyond that.  Readings on successive days in A Praying Heart helped me focus on why I pray and why I don't think it is in vain; and then to see where prayer fits into my "calling." I guess it helped renew my sense of purpose in prayer, where I'd fallen into just recitations of gratitude and praise and daily concerns. Such recitations are important but are so much more meaningful and powerful when focused in faith.

And, yes, this started as -- and really still is -- what I call a placeholder blog post. Just a few words to meet a deadline. With that mission prayerfully accomplished, I can go on to the next thing and the next and the next and the next -- and maybe along the way it will bring me to the more insightful kinds of essays I prefer to write but that are few and far between! I thank God for the hope He gives in this and all areas.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lessons from sweating and fretting

Miracles. Choices. Decisions. Sweating the small stuff. You mean I could just flip a coin? These were some of the themes of my prayer,  meditation and journaling since Sunday. They are rich in meaning. But I'm having trouble with application.
I'm still stuck on reminders from the days before Sunday: "Do not fear ..."  "I will not be afraid ..."  "Be strong, do not fear ..." I still feel as if I'm running away from God, resisting His guidance, letting fear rule. And I don't even know what the scary thing is. Maybe I'm just afraid of the uncertain and unknown. 
I continue to pray for willingness and ability to know and do God's will, but the answers remain elusive. And so I wait: "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope" (Psalm 130:5).
But as I wait, I also have general guidance, even if it doesn't seem to answer my specific concerns: "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). And I have hope: " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future' " (Jeremiah 29:11).
I"m still having trouble with these, but I won't give up:
-- "Learn to laugh at yourself more freely. ... Relax and know that I am God with you. ... Just as parents delight in the laughter of their children, so I delight in hearing my children laugh." From Jesus Calling on June 17,  with scriptural reminders from Proverbs 17:22 (a cheerful heart is good medicine ...) and Proverbs 21:25 (she can laugh at the days to come).
--  "But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You" (Psalm 5:11). 
How I long for my joy and peace and confidence and faith in the Lord to outshine my fears and doubts, not just occasionally but on a consistent basis? And yet, even today, I was guided to the Scriptures in 1 Kings 18 and 19 about Elijah, who one moment was confidently proclaiming that God would send fire from heaven, which He did, and the very next week, Elijah was running for his life, exhausted, depressed and praying that he might die. And how did God respond to that prayer? With a still, small voice -- a whisper -- and then clear directions. 
And so, yes, thank You, God, for being with me, even when I sweat and fret needlessly. I know You continue to work with me and mold me into what You would have me be. And I continue to pray to be willing to let You have Your way, to Your glory.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Status updates

A big part of why I started the blog was because after I joined Facebook, I realized I often had more to say than worked as status updates. To some extent, That's the Spirit is my expanded Facebook page.

And so, here are some updates on previous posts:

-- I'm really wanting to forget about my commitment to chew less gum. You might think after more than five months of staying within a boundary, the urge for more would go away. But it hasn't. And with high stress/hecticness going on at work for another week (Go, Thunder!), it would be easy to rationalize that reaching for more gum is much less harmful for me than any number of other options. But the bottom line is that none of those options work for me. Fortunately (I guess), when I fail to remind myself, reminders come in other ways, such as recent physical repercussions. And so I continue to make the effort to follow the discipline I've learned works. It doesn't mean it's easy. It is worth it.

-- To me, it's even more amazing that on any given weekday, it would seem more natural than not to turn on the TV to watch "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful." But that's another path I've been down too many times. I know where it leads: wasting precious time. (I think I gave these up the week before Easter. Truly nothing lost from my life, and still sometimes I yearn to catch up; to see how those folks are doing. But part of the stupidity is I never like where they are, so I keep watching to see if it will get better. I think that's a definition of insanity!) Now, the new "Dallas" series in prime time is tempting, and some friends have posted on Facebook about it. But I just don't think I dare even take a peek. And another sign of progress in the TV area: I turned off the Rangers when the game was over tonight, without watching the postgame show. And that was after a win!

-- Briefly on the cat: Good far outweighs bad. But even as I write that, I'm too aware that, unfortunately, any bit of bad has strong and lingering effects. It's hard to say whether we're making progress. I tell myself we are. I think we might not have these issues if I'd switched to the new vet long ago. The hardest thing still for me is not letting Bridget sleep in the bedroom with us. I find myself making sure she has lap time before I go to bed, as this seems to keep her from scratching at the door as much. It would be so much easier if I could just go to bed and let her jump on the bed and snuggle in. But the risk of her peeing on the carpet in there just is not worth it. I'm continue to explore options. Also, the pill ordeal is over for now, as we were able to take her for a shot to cover the final two weeks. That's a relief all around.

-- Faith journey: I'm going through a phase of feeling insecure, incompetent and irrelevant. This despite assurances from Scripture and those who write about Scripture that God created me, and I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and He delights in me and that is more than enough. Cast your cares ... Do not fear ... Do not be anxious ... Trust the Lord ... I'm grateful that He loves me and delights in me even when I feel fearful, incompetent, irrelevant, fearful, doubtful and anxious and bound by my plans and attempts to structure life. He's shown me that these feelings will pass, especially if I keep my focus on Him and continue to seek to know and do His will. This gives me hope to do just that.

-- From Jesus Calling, June 7: Who is in charge of your life? If it is you, then you have good reason to worry. But if it is I, then worry is both unnecessary and counterproductive. When you start to feel anxious about something, relinquish the situation to Me. ... I will either take care of the problem Myself or show you how to handle it. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV) -- This was Monday's Scripture in A Praying Heart, which was very, very timely.

"Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, do not fear.'" (Isaiah 35:3-4) -- This is tomorrow's. Very timely, again, I would say.

Lord, please help me know and do Your will, one moment at a time, in all things, to your glory. I thank You for Your presence. I love You, I praise You. Help me continue to grow in faith and trust in You, also to Your glory.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fill My Cup, Lord

It is blog deadline night, and I haven't a clue what to write. It's not from a lack of worthy topics -- lots of good as well as challenging with the ongoing cat saga, work, texas rangers baseball, oklahoma city thunder basketball, the weather, bad hair days or keeping on keeping on along the spiritual journey -- but I just don't want to write about any of them. 

I hoped I could come up with something short and sweet. But no inspiration has come, nor have any timely quotes or clearly pertinent Scriptures. 

So I guess I'll have to go looking for them.  

This is a quote in Cat-titudes to Live By: "For the rest of my life, I'm going to trust that God is always at work in all things, and give Him thanks long before my simplest prayers are answered." (Nancy Parker Brummett) I practiced that in two ways this week. First was continuing with even the simplest prayers, and second was thanking God even before they were answered. That second part is new for me. 

Also, the day after I sang "Fill My Cup, Lord" at church, which I chose because of a spiritual longing, this was the Scripture from A Praying Heart: "Let them give thanks to the Lord ... For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things." (Psalm 107:8-9) 

That's all I can come up with tonight. Hope springs eternal that the discipline of posting this will clear a channel for more insightful musings in the future.