Thursday, August 30, 2012

Simple Things, Part 2

Yes, it is possible to compromise and lower my expectations and still go through a period of feeling disappointed, frustrated and really having to struggle to not be resentful. Talk about a test of faith and trust in God. This is it, big time!

I don't understand why certain things in my life are the way they are. I pray in faith for wisdom and understanding, to know and to have strength and courage and willingness and ability to do God's will, to His glory. My attempts to run ahead of God and try to resolve things my own way never end up working. Waiting on and trusting God has always ended up being the right choice.

I want to blame or lash out at another person, but Scripture and prayer remind me that reflects a lack of faith and trust in God. My other tendency is to drift into self-pity or self-loathing -- Woe is me. ... What is wrong with me?... Somehow this must be my fault! -- with the same realization: that faith and trust leave no room for despair.

I feel sad that a time I thought would include excitement and eager anticipation has turned into another ordeal. Something I thought would be simple now is seeming impossible.

But I believe nothing is impossible with God.

So, I will continue to pray, to seek to know what God would have me do and communicate (and how). I will trust Him to be with me and guide me and love me. I will praise Him as I wait or as I act. I trust that He is at work. I pray that He will find me faithful in my part, whatever it turns out to be.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The journey continues

As the final weekend of August arrives, with a busy schedule of events that includes family and friends and church in Texas, my mind is very aware of where I and the family were one year ago.

I reread my blog post from Friday, August 26, 2011, "Choices for Such a Time as This." My eyes moistened as I read, but I also realized I've never had a flood of tears in the year since my Dad's terminal cancer diagnosis and subsequent death. I am aware that flood still could come. But it also seems possible that instead of a flood, I will continue to have prisms, a combination of teary eyes, smiles, gratitude and the light of God's love and presence through family, friends, faith and precious memories. I cannot thank God enough for how He prepared and accompanied Mom and Dad as they led the family through that time and has continued to guide us in the days since.

Among the things I wrote at the time:
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.

I am humbled and blessed to realize that not only did I state those choices, I have followed them and continue to build upon them in my life, prayerfully, one day at a time. I thank God for that and pray to continue to do so.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine ... Perfect submission, all is at rest. I in my Savior am happy and blessed! ... This is my story. This is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Appreciation for simple things

A renewed appreciation for my appreciation for simple things unexpectedly blossomed within me following a conversation with a loved one.

The truth is, my appreciation for simple things grew out of repeated disappointment over the years about not being able to have or do or accomplish what I thought were the greater things. And for a long time, this seemed like a shortcoming, a failing, a weakness and was a source of frustration. Why can't I have, do or accomplish what I want? I mostly bashed myself with the question, but I did also raise it to God and to people closest to me.

People who know me won't be surprised that I feel certain God answered that question for me as I turned to him in desperation but also faith, and slowly began to read and hear and really absorb His word and try to put it into action in my life.

The recent conversation helped me see anew a part of a transformation that I'm not always even aware of anymore.

What a joy it is to realize that, for the most part, the feelings of frustration and disappointment seldom hang around very long any more.

It might seem like all this means that I've lowered my expectations, and I have thought that along the way. But for today, I don't think that is the case. I think God calls each of us in a personal way, and part of His call to me has been this journey that includes longing for greater things and learning to be content with simpler things. That includes what I discern to be my calling or purpose: to prayerfully encourage others and to express what's on my heart, through words and music and actions, as God leads me, which often involves the acknowledgement of my shortcomings and weaknesses. I thank God for the continuing lessons and blessings.

This timely reminder from Scripture was included with a reading from Jesus Calling this week: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things."  (Philippians 4:8)

How interesting! I just saw what comes before that Scripture, which is so totally what I feel this moment: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your  hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (Psalm 119:105)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Grateful, blessed -- and yes, apparently, obsessed!

-- Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.
-- Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea .....
-- Grateful and blessed.
-- Praying in faith.
-- Oh what a wonderful morning for a summer walk, with it still in the 80s and a nice breeze at 10 a.m.

These are some of the thoughts that floated through my head during my walk Friday.
For reasons I don't understand, this week has been amazingly free and easy, and I am so grateful to God for that.

There are so many joys and blessings I want to share, that I don't even know where to begin. And one of the joys and blessings is that even in the many areas that aren't as smooth as I would like them to be, I can, for today, still experience the joy and light of  God's love and presence.

I know a big accomplishment for me was getting the front bedroom straightened up just enough that Mom could spend two nights with us last weekend. The room is by no means organized, and I had to move some boxes to the living room to clear enough space for Mom in the bedroom, but it is a great start for work I am determined to continue so that others also can come to visit.

As much as I wanted Mom to stay the second night, I feared she might get bored Sunday afternoon. We don't have company much, and it was too hot to do any of the things I would have liked to do such as walking on the neighborhood trail around the lake. But we went shopping and eating and had a great time. And then I took her to  the train station Monday morning. Even beyond words and activities, Mom's visit, including attending church with me, infused my soul and spirit with something rich. I thank God for the blessing of my Mom and her faith and that she took the step of faith to extend her trip one more day to stay with me, even though she'd been in Oklahoma almost a whole week.

God has shown me many times in preparation, during and after Mom's visit how He is faithful to guide me and make good things possible in my life. The weekend and the time since has been an affirmation of a  discipline I continue to develop: Seeking the Master instead of seeking to master circumstances of my life. (That concept was expressed so well this week in Sarah Young's daily devotional, "Jesus Calling," with the Scripture from Proverbs 3:4-6.)

(That was before 2 p.m.; now it's after 2 a.m. And now I must post this, even thought it's not really finished. I didn't have time before I went to work, and now it's well past midnight -- but I was lying in bed and thinking about this, and could tell I wouldn't be able to sleep  until I finished, saved, posted and shared. I'm not sure whether the fact that I got up, turned on the computer, let it get revved up and now I'm trying to finish this -- I'm not sure whether that's a positive or negative step for me. I'm having flashbacks to when I was a reporter and sometimes had to give up on a story. My blog deadline is arbitrary, set by me. But I have this inner feeling that I either need or just really want to honor the deadline, and that by doing so, it will make it easier to move forward. Waiting until tomorrow to finish this would set me back. There is a sense that it's better for me to do something and move on -- rather than wait until I can do something better.

I strongly believe God is very much a part of this and look forward to seeing how it will continue to unfold.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Confessions of a spiritual chikin, Part 2

I didn't go out of my way to go to Chick-fil-A to "eat mor chikin" on Wednesday, but I did disrupt my Wednesday routine to skip going to Target. I actually thought I would go to Target anyway, because they have at least one thing I get each week that I can only find there. But I couldn't shake the thought it would make me not only a spiritual chikin but a hypocritical spiritual chikin. (See CSC, P1.) Because I really do believe God's ideal for marriage is one man and one woman for life. I know lots of other situations occur for any number of reasons, and some seem so very understandable and justified. But I can't get myself to think that means God has changed His mind. I do believe He looks upon each of us with compassion, even when we stray from His ideal, which He knows I often have and do, including as I have crossed what I consider moral lines I never, ever thought I would cross. And even though I could totally rationalize my choices and behaviors and felt free and entitled at the period of what I consider my worst transgression, I could never convince myself it was right, nor did God lead me to see how it could be right, as I never stopped praying, even when it seemed so hypocritical to do so. (What this has to do with Target is that the company is openly supportive of gay rights. And I do realize that support for gay RIGHTS and support for a traditional biblical concept of marriage need not be mutually exclusive. I also know that issues related to how that support is expressed are very complex and can be divisive.)

Meanwhile, I DID go to Walmart on Wednesday, which I figure people on both sides of this marriage debate could tell me a number of reasons why it's a bad place to spend my money and not a very good Christian witness at all. Which just confirms what I already know: I'm still much more self-focused than spiritually guided on many aspects of my life.

So, I continue to seek God's guidance as I try to live purposefully as a part of His creation. It hasn't gotten easier, and in fact this is being a very difficult time. But I believe God is leading me and teaching me and preparing me, and I pray to stay focused on Him. I thank God for His presence in my life and in this world, and I trust Him to work all things to His good, to His glory.