Sunday, November 30, 2008

Just Because I Can....

I was thinking today at work of all the times I've wanted to tell my patients - or my children - "Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD"... I mean, just because you CAN be pulled behind a pickup truck in an office chair during a snowstorm, doesn't mean you SHOULD... Just because I CAN max out my credit card doesn't mean I SHOULD... The examples of such irresponsibility are endless.

Well... the flip side never occurred to me, until tonight... I was at the grocery store, doing one of the tasks on the never-ending to-do list. I was walking through Wal*mart, with my ipod in my ears - music to interpret for church playing. I still hadn't really prepared for it - though most of the songs I know. My mentor had said that I could hand a song or two to her if I needed to. I thought to myself, "Oh, I can do it...." as I mentally tried to calculate the time I'd need to set my alarm clock in the morning to allow time to do the things I'd need to do to do it.

And then, clear as day, I hear the words I'd spoken earlier in the day: "Just because you CAN, doesn't mean you SHOULD". I thought about that for a while. Hmmm... Guilty as charged.

Just because I CAN do something by myself doesn't mean I SHOULD. Just because I CAN care for two infants by myself doesn't mean I SHOULD. Just because I CAN stay up and tick off the items on the to do list one by one, doesn't mean I SHOULD...

Lord, help me to know when I SHOULD... and perhaps, more importantly, help me to know when I should allow others to help me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Deep Cleaning

It was an evening of "deep cleaning". The kids were away, and I was steam cleaning my carpets. I had borrowed the steam cleaner from a friend of mine, in hopes of being able to get the house in top shape for the holidays. I had intended for it to be a day long project, but an unexpected (and now rare!) opportunity to work some overtime at the hospital turned it into an evening project. The first of several, I'm sure!

I moved the little bookcase in the hall and started there, turning briefly into the entry of my son's room, in hopes that this would be effective on the cherry-colored Kool-aid stain just inside his doorway.

I then headed to the living room. This room is well-loved. Kids - mine and others' - the dog and I spend a lot of time there. It's the major thoroughfare between the front door and the back deck, and it abuts the island where we eat. It's also original to the house, which makes it long past it's expected lifespan.

I moved the small furniture and miscellaneous 'stuff' out of the way, an turned to look at the dog laying in his kennel. He had tried to protect me from the loud creature that had invaded the hall and was moving into the great room.

I became aware of the life-parallel as I was moving back and forth over the cream colored carpet below my feet. Sometimes my life needs a "deep clean". Sometimes, when I do, I must over and over the same area - from all different angles - untangling the fibers of habit and routine, trying to get the stains out.

Sometimes, the help of friends - like the one who lent me the steam cleaner - facilitate the process, but mostly, it's something I must do on my own.

It's amazing to me, too - to see the waste-water. I am amazed - and appalled - at how dirty it looks. It's not like I don't vacuum routinely. There is general care and maintenance in my home and in my life. But, in "deep clean" mode, the day to day "dirt" gets highlighted - and hopefully removed.

As I finish for the evening - I'll repeat the process tomorrow or the next day! I am amazed at how pleased I am with the results. I am amazed how the work I put into it shows.

And then I free the dog from his cage. I witness another parallel. He seems less than pleased with what has happened in his life, as a result of what has happened in mine. Some of the changes are temporary - the furniture will be returned to it's rightful place once the floor is dry. But, it is noticeably different. I assume, by the way he sniffed around continuously, it smells differently.

He finishes sniffing around and goes straight for the cleaner. He bangs it with his nose, pushing it backwards toward the wall. When it refuses to be pushed further, he barks his disdain. He continues until I call to him, and beckon him to me, rubbing his back and his belly. "It's OK, Jake. It's a Good thing", I reassure him. He needs to settle down - the process has only yet begun!

It's a good thing... May the process continued unhindered!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Come Ye Thankful People Come...

Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Tables have been set, gathered
around and cleared. Leftovers have been packed away,
and we rest... briefly.

All too soon, the hustle of the Christmas Season will be upon us.
Already, I see signs ofwhat is to come. Just turning the page of
my calendar to December, and I feel the intensity of the upcoming
holiday season. The malls are decorated, trees are decorated in my
neighborhood. The greatest shopping adventure is about to begin.
(Pardon me as I roll my eyes!)

Yes, I am sure in the next day or so, my Christmas tree will be up
as well, but before I turn that corner into the blur that is December,
I want to take a moment to reflect on what gifts I already have.

The songs of Thanksgiving that stir within me, are those of my youth.
The New England hymns of my childhood. "Come, ye thankful people
come". We sang. "All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms

I thank You for the abundance in my life - the Joy, the Grace,
the Laughter, the Hope. I also thank You for the winter - the time of
rest - and for thestorms - where I search out Your shelter.

My needs have always been provided. You have always been faithful.
Today, I see that.

I am thankful.... hear my song.

"Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God's own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Counting My Blessings...

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! It's not all about the food, either, I assure you! Sure, I love the feast - the turkey, mashed potatoes (hold the gravy!) and my father-in-law's oyster dressing. The sweet potatoes (hold the marshmallows) and pumpkin (now pecan!) pie.

It's more than that. Partly, I love the history of it. I grew up in New England, not TOO far from Plymouth itself - in the years when we measured snow in feet - and often had several at one time! Towns and roads had Indian names, and old New England homes were plentiful.

I loved imagining the Pilgrims and the Indians. I can just see the harvest. Feel the gratitude of having survived a New England winter. I would have thrived in those days - if I hadn't died of smallpox, that is!

But, most of all... I love the gratitude. Thanksgiving, for me, has always been a day to focus on the blessings in my life. Not the "stuff" I have in my life - though much of it, I am grateful for (and much of it I could do without!) - but, the real, true, honest-to-God blessings I have been given. My God. My family. My friends. My health. My daily bread.

Thank you Lord for Your presence in my life, and the blessings You have showered upon me. I truly am blessed beyond my wildest imaginings!!

I wish you all a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Psa 107:1 NKJV

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blessing in Disguise

So.... my boy wanted to play basketball. We talked with him long and hard about it and he agreed that he would stick with it despite the fact that it is a contact sport. I watched his practice Monday night. First time I'd seen him in action. I sort of laughed to myself as he'd "duck and cover" after releasing the ball. "Wise move, considering his shot", one of the dad said. And he is so right - as an athlete, my son has to hone his skills....

Then he got one in. (Yes, I was the freaky basketball mom who clapped wildly from the stands!). One of the next shots, apparently he forgot his defensive moves. I looked over and he's upset, refusing to play. Coach says he got hit in the head. He wanted him to just hold the ball at least - he refused. If it got near him, he'd push it away.

I walked over and worked some of my Mom Magic. "Looks like you're pretty angry at that ball" He looked at me. "You could punch it, you know.... and if you REALLY wanted to let it know you're mad, you could throw it REALLY hard at the rim". The sparkle returned to his eye, and he returned to the game. All's well... so I think...

Practice ends, coach is talking with the team. I look up again after gathering my things. "Oh, God... no." Sure enough, no denying it. My son is vomiting...repeatedly. (EWWWW....) We've been tagged with the "24 hour bug" (I can only hope - but start the clock if it is!)

Solo shopping trip after practice - canceled. School tomorrow - canceled (oh yeah - we're bringing cupcakes for his birthday AND it's pictures with Santa). Meeting tomorrow - uhm, we'll see. Teaching tomorrow night - not likely. My plans change on a dime. (Trust me, it could have been SOOO much worse - if we're to have bug, the timing is PERFECT - thank You, God!)

The night is long, between standing with my son as he pukes and letting the dog out and then in again. A series of one-hour naps does not a restful night make.

But... I had a wonderful day with my son (Bejeweled Twist rocks!) We also had a quiet watch-a-movie-with-my-kids night, that otherwise wouldn't have happened. It turned out to be a wonderful, wonderful gift. (And, generally - he seemed to feel pretty good - well, when he wasn't puking, of course!)

Thank you God for our health, and my wonderful circle of friends.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Story. Your Plan.

I heard a song today - I'm sure I've heard it before, but today it captured me. Well, at least a line of it did... so much so that I felt the need to write it down:

"Somehow my story is part of Your plan...."

That line has haunted me all afternoon. Tapping itself out in the back of my mind.... My story. Your plan. Your plan. My story. My story PART OF Your plan. Hmmm... YOUR plan. My story...

When I think of my story - past, present, future - as part of His plan... Wow. Gives it some perspective. Once again, it's so not about me. Humility. Being teachable. (Teach me...)

Then I think of how the events of my life thus far relate to what is going on NOW - the confirmations I am presented with again and again. Hearing the same thing being "said" to me in various ways from different sources, my attention focuses there. I try to figure out what it all means...try to find the lesson hidden in the themes and messages. The song continues, and I am assured that I don't have to have all the answers.

"I'm just one of the pieces. I can't put this together, but You can"

(Help me to simply listen, surrender, and obey.)

I think of the struggles I've had through the years, and the ones that pop up here and there. Some are harder than others. Some seem unbearable at times. The next line speaks the truth of my life experience, and brings hope and reassurance:

"Are You not the closest when it is hardest to stand?"

Those most difficult times are the times when I've seen Him most intimately involved in my life - not always IN THE MOMENT, but absolutely, retrospectively. (And, just so you know, those times where I've seen only retrospectively, I was focused elsewhere in the moment - usually on "poor pitiful me")

Listening to it again (and again) - I have it playing over and over as I write this - the phrase "Lord send me" is resonating now. That's it, isn't it.... "Lord send me".

I shudder as I think of the possibility of "having" to stand before God and my congregation and sign it one day. That is one powerful phrase. A powerful, powerful request. A complete act of surrender to His will. Add to it the signs of "All-of-me here", and it's life-changing. To actually live that out. To actually stand in that anointed spot and sing/sign "Here I am. Lord send me". I want that!

I am not standing in "that spot", nor am I standing before many. But before You, I stand and say: "Here I am. Lord send me"

Use my story as part of Your plan.

(The song is "Here I am" by Downhere, if you want to search them further.)

Oh heck... here are the lyrics (you can hear it - full length - on their website though! DO!!):

Here I am

Sometimes your calling, comes in dream
Sometimes in comes in the Spirit's breeze,

You reach for the deepest hope in me,

And call out for the things of eternity.

But I'm a man, of dust and stains,
You move in me, so I can say,

Here I am, Lord send me,

All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me,
Somehow my story, Is part of your plan,

Here I am

When setbacks and failures, and upset plans,

Test my faith and leave me with empty hands,

Are you not the closest when it's hardest to stand?
I know that you will finish what you began.
These broken parts you redeem,
Become the song, that I can sing

Here I am, Lord send me,

All of my life, I make an offering,

Here I am, Lord send me,

Somehow my story, Is part of your plan,
Here I am

Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness,
And the fear that I'll fail you in the end,
In this mess, I'm just one of the pieces,

I can't put this together but you can.

Here I am, Lord send me,

I wanna live my life as an offering

Here I am, Lord send me,

Somehow my story, Is part of your plan,
Here I am
Here I am,
my life an offering to you, to you

Somehow my story, Is part of your plan,

Here I am

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's Not Fair!

I remember saying that as a child. I remember distinctly the year that it snowed on my sister's birthday - January 10. She was exempt from shoveling the foot of snow we'd received overnight. "It's NOT FAIR!" I said. "If it snows on YOUR birthday, you won't have to shovel! Now, get to work!!!" my father said. Begrudgingly, I did, muttering under my breath - "Yeah, right, snow on MY birthday - in April... not likely". But, sure enough, April 7th that year was covered in a blanket of white. I reminded my father of what he said. He told me (in language needing to be cleaned up to be suitable for the blog) "Go shovel!" "It's NOT FAIR!!" I said. "Life is not fair", he replied.

They were words I hated to hear as a child - and words I tried to avoid hearing, by not declaring "It's NOT FAIR!"

I hear it now from time to time, but my perspective on it, is completely different. With my kids, I reply "Life's not fair" - and am now grateful for the lesson my father taught me. (though, whenever possible, I do try to level the playing field!). But more importantly, I am reminded of how grateful I am that life isn't fair!

If life were fair, I'd weigh significantly more than I do, for one thing. For another thing, if life were fair, I'd never have experienced Grace - and never have been able to extend Grace. If life were fair, I'd never experience the presence of God - He would have long abandoned me after my years of neglect.

Thank you God for Grace - and the Mercy you extend my way!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

We Are Not Alone...

It's funny where the reminders come from. This week, it was Grey's Anatomy that sent the reminder: "We are not alone".

That truth has been a constant for me... no matter what is going on. No matter how dark the night seems, or how alone I feel - I've never been alone. Ever.

I've found comfort in that these past few weeks. The days when I'm not quite sure what is "going on", I find myself singing the words "Be near, oh God..." I know, as I continue to walk, as long as I listen and wait for His direction, I will be led.

"Be near, oh God"....

May I feel your presence, as I wait for You to make clear the path ahead.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Girl Party

The "girl party"... started out shopping on Webkinz (with brother's Kinzcash). Then, moved into the dress up and chasing each other. Saved by pizza, cake and presents, we had a brief reprieve from the shrieking and girlie chatter.

Things settled into "High School Musical", and generalized girl-talk.

It's interesting- the difference between boys and girls. Both have their assets, and their challenges.

I continue to be amazed at how quickly they grow. Seems like just yesterday, they were so young. Now, they're so grown.

Thank you God for my children, their health, their growth, and their friends.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"It's all good"

There is a woman in my life whom I really admire. Her motto "It's all good". More often than not, that is her response to any situation. Her optimism and enthusiasm for life and learning is contagious, and I am encouraged and restored when I have spent some time in her presence.

But, I struggled with that for a while ... sometimes I thought, "uhm... no, this kinda SUCKS". And then I thought back to the other times in my life that have "kinda sucked". With enough time and perspective, all the things that "sucked" turned out to be wonderful gifts. The event themselves, may not seem like a gift - especially not at the time - but some truly were, and others were indirectly. Others caused me enough pain to get off my duff and DO something different.

More often than not my moments of being "stalked" appear this way - difficult - though often with enough grace and support to keep me focused on walking through.

"It's all good". In every situation there is good. If it's not clearly evident, I need to keep walking on faith until I have enough distance and perspective to see it.

Thank you God for the good in my life... even that which is disguised as struggle.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Wisdom of Children

"I love you, Mommy.... SOOOOOOO much" they say. "I love you SOOOOOOO much, too!!" I reply. It has become our special greeting - a hello, a good bye, final words at bedtime. It doesn't matter, when, it just matters that we do.

And oh, how I love them! They have taught me so much. They have great wisdom that I must not take for granted.

They have modeled honesty - even when it wasn't in their "best interests", though, truth be known, honesty is always in their best interests.... and mine.

They see the world through innocent eyes. Their perceptions have not been skewed by the world. They hope and they "act as if", just knowing that what they most desire will magically incarnate, if not in this moment, than in the next.

They live out love. With friends, with family, with strangers. They extend love and joy in more directions that I can keep track of. And, they do so without strings or expectations. They love for the sake of loving.

They have modeled forgiveness - often returning to play only moments following a disagreement with a playmate. (Now, a disagreement with a sibling - that may take a little longer!)

They have modeled living with a passion for life itself. Living in this moment, and enjoying it to the fullest. The joy in just BE-ing, in laughing whole-heartedly, in running with the wind in their hair, and spinning until they are fall-down dizzy.

They have helped me to understanding the meaning of the word "cherish". That truth hit me shortly after they were born. I was brought to tears when the love I felt for them overwhelmed my heart. Each day I love them more, despite the fact that, each day, I'm sure I could never love them more than I do right now!

They have taught me much through the years.... and I doubt they are done with their lessons.

Thank You, God for my children. May I hear and learn the wisdom they so willingly share.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Anger - my friend

For a long, long time, I avoided anger. I didn't "get" angry... I'd sometimes get "annoyed", but never "angry". Angry people were scary to me - and I didn't want to be scary.

Then, I learned that there is a difference between "anger"and "rage". And, I learned that anger is my friend. Anger tells me when a boundary has been crossed, and gives me the gumption to stand up for myself, my children, or the truth.

It took me a long time, practicing with anger - to show it. I always feared I'd go straight to rage, and that thought terrified me. I remember being angry at a friend of mine years ago. She said, "You look angry". I glared at her. "Tell me", she said, "tell me you are angry at me!" I waited.... and waited... She looked at me and shrugged her shoulders like "well...?" I told her I was angry. "Tell me like you mean it!" she said. And I did. "YES!!!" she said. I shook my head in disbelief.

With practice, I became more skilled at expressing my anger. I learned that not only would anger not destroy me, it wouldn't destroy other people either - if I expressed it appropriately.

Appropriately expressed, I speak my truth. I stand my ground. I defend my boundaries. I protect my self and my children. I can be angry and stay in relationship with the person I am angry at. And, I can still love them.

I also learned that I could be angry with God.... He's big enough to handle it. I just need to stay in relationship with Him as I work through my anger. Allowing Him to 'contain' me, I am safe.

Thank you God, for Your love.... and my anger.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Comparing My Insides to Someone Else's Outsides

I have been thinking lately of the great wisdom that has been shared with me over the years. One of the ones I have most appreciated is "Don't compare your insides to someone else's outsides". It took me a while to fully understand that one - and honestly didn't TRULY understand it, until I experienced it in reverse. Someone was comparing THEIR insides to MY outsides.

I don't even remember what the first situation was, I just remembered my complete and total surprise when someone came up to me and asked "How can you be so calm? I'm scared to death!" I looked her, amazed. "Calm? I'm freaking out here!"

Periodically, I hear it - "You're so together!" (I'm not), "You're so organized" (to a fault, but I rarely feel like I am, and yes, I DO forget things), "You're so strong" (I'm not, He is), "You're always happy" (I'm not), "I've never seen you angry" (you've just never seen it - I do get angry), "You're so patient" (with others moreso than myself, and only to a degree), "You're so brave" (not very often - when I feel brave, it's usually anger fueling that - if I'm acting courageously, I'm more likely "doing it afraid").

When I find myself comparing myself to someone else, it's usually comparing how I feel to how they look... and they ALWAYS look better than I feel! As I become aware of it, I hear myself saying "Don't compare your insides to someone else's insides!". I remind myself that we are all created with our individual set of gifts and talents - and our own struggles and weaknesses. There will always be people who will be more skilled at this or that than I am. The only thing that I can do better than anyone else is be uniquely ME.... the woman God intended me to be.

May live as the woman You have created me to be.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Life Abundantly....

Life abundantly. What a wonderful, wonderful gift. And what a gift to be able to recognize it!

When my friend Karen was alive, she always reminded me of gratitude. I've been blessed with a natural tendency toward it, but she definitely groomed it! If I were having a issue with work or school or at home, she would remind me of the fact that I had a job, a home, and was able to attend school. She encouraged me in those moments, to focus my gratitude lists in the areas where I was struggling. An exercise for sure at times!

She also reminded me to focus on what I had, rather than what I lacked. I could focus on the fact that I would love to have hardwood floors in my home, or a new computer, or this, that and the other thing...OR... I could focus on the fact that I have this wonderful home, that perfectly suits our needs, in a wonderful neighborhood, in a good school district.

I can look into my life and realize what I have, or I can focus on what I feel I lack. My needs or my wants. When I focus on my needs, I see that my cup runneth over - that I truly do have "life abundantly" - that I am "blessed beyond my wildest imaginings". Focusing on my wants, is an unending cascade of disappointment. For as soon as I get that which I am focused on - that which I lack - something else will captivate me. My needs are met - and then some. My wants will never be satisfied.

Help me to focus on the gifts I have been given - the greatest of all is Your presence in my life.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Moments of Gratitude - Strangers

Today, I am grateful for strangers. I am grateful for the three strangers who, all within an 18 hour period of time, found my blog by searching for the same song: By Your Side. Seeing these three brought it back to the forefront of my mind. Wasn't it only a week or so ago that I blogged about it? How quickly I forget sometimes!

But, seeing these three reminders of the song, I listened to it again (and again!). What a gift.

Frequently, I pass strangers that brighten my day. They may share a smile, a simple curtesy, or merely remind me of the blessings in my life. Often, I'm sure they don't even know how positively they have influenced my life.

I hope that in some small way I have done the same for people that I pass during the day. I'll never know for sure... but I can hope as I smile and extend curtesies to the strangers I meet in the day.

Thank you God for the strangers in my life....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Moments of Gratitude: My friends

I just have to acknowledge how grateful I am for my friends - online, face to face. Doesn't matter. I am blessed to have you in my life!

I've been a little angry lately - to the point where I've got a "don't mess with me" attitude. (OK, truth be know, I usually think a little "stronger" verb, and sometimes speak it...) It's not all bad, actually - the attitude, not the language choices... It's really helping me meet my goal of being sugar free - I can just turn to the sweet thing and say "don't mess with me!" Talk about empowering! One thing I like about anger - it IS empowering!

But, I digress - I was talking about gratitude and my friends.

I was invited to go with 2 friends to dinner and then a spa-ish party. Friends sounded great - dinner sounded great. But, I'm not a big party girl. I don't particularly like groups of people I don't know... and this would be one. The only two people I would know are my two friends. But, I went. (even wore my "don't mess with me" shoes!!)

By the end of the evening, I'd forgotten my anger, I'd mingled with the other guests, AND.... I had fun! (perhaps, I am getting OK with groups of people I don't know)

I will be ever grateful for the many friends I have in my life. If you are one of them reading, know that you are well-loved.

Thank you God for the wonderful friends you have brought into my life.

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Not Working"

There are so many things swirling through my head – so many things that ‘aren’t working’, so it seems. Interesting. My perspective. “Not working”. Perhaps they are working just as they should and I just don’t understand it.

Perhaps the change that I feel swirling around me is working just exactly as it needs to. Perhaps the “not working” is a way of showing me that this door is closing. I don't know. The thing that I do know is whenever one door is closed, another one is opened.

Doesn't matter that God opened the door years ago exactly when I needed it! "For everything, there is a season...". Yeah - seems I just said that (oh yeah, I did).

Sometimes I find myself at closed doors wanting to scratch and claw and scream "But you don't understand how important this is to me!!" Ah, but He does. And then I remember all the other things that were "important" to me. The things that I held onto with every bit of strength within me. The things that I can't imagine still being in my life.

So, I try to knock gently against the doors, rather than force my way through. If they open, fabulous, if not, I must wait, be still and watch and wait for the new doors to open. I know they will. Maybe not instantaneously. Maybe they're already open, but I'm so focused on the apparently closing one to notice.

Trusting. Walking in faith. Knowing that if the door is truly closing, another one will open. Either way - open or closed - I will be cared for and loved. It will work for good. Of this I am certain.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Time for Everything

There truly is a time for everything. Knowing that part, to me, is easy (though sometimes there doesn't seem to be time for anything!). It is knowing what it is time for NOW that is a little more tricky. As is the practice of doing the assigned task at the appointed time.

In our world of multi-tasking and cramming in more obligations than a day can hold, staying on the task at hand is often difficult. How often do I find my mind wandering to the "to do" list, while I should be enjoying my children? Or finishing up the days chores when it is clearly bedtime?

And then there is the concept of change. Of moving from one task to the next. The transition. The letting go of the past, and embracing the future. Those can most effectively be accomplished by living well in the NOW.

Don't hear me wrong, I'm not suggesting I "live well" NOW by living outside of my financial means - that is not "living well". I am reminding myself that the choices I make today affect the consequences that come along tomorrow.

So, I ask, "What is the next right thing for me to do?" Sometimes, it is "breathe". Sometimes it is "pray". Sometimes it is "listen". Sometimes it is "speak". Sometimes it is "run". Sometimes it is "dig your heels in". Whatever it is, I want it to be in His will.

When I take time to be in the now - not pining over the past, or worrying about the future - the answers are clearer. God meets me NOW. In all the seasons of my life. In the Joy, in the Sorrow, the care-free days and in the struggles. "I AM"

May I live well NOW, choose well NOW, experience God NOW.

A Time for Everything
1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2a time to be born, and a time to die;a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3a time to kill, and a time to heal;a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4a time to weep, and a time to laugh;a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5a time to cast away stones, and a time to refrain from embracing; gather stones together;a time to embrace, and a time to6a time to seek, and a time to lose;a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7a time to tear, and a time to sew;a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8a time to love, and a time to hate;a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Holding on to Faith and Gratitude

"Change is in the air" indeed. oh boy. Little did I know, I'd feel some of it so soon in MY life as well. (I should have known....but that's neither here nor there.) Two things have come up recently - well, really, it's the *same* thing, in two different places. And, when that happens, it really gets my attention...

So, I have spent a lot of time, as these things have unfolded, holding onto faith. I know - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that I will be cared for, loved and my needs met. But I have a love-hate relationship with change.

I love it in the fact that it means new growth and life in a new - and always better - way. But, I hate it because it means, well," change". That which I have known is passing. The rules change, and so do the outcomes.

I have been through "change" enough to know that it will all turn out well in the end, but that doesn't keep me from saying "I hate it!" in the process. So I hold onto faith as I await the unfolding of the events.

And as I hold tightly to faith, I am reminded of how much I have for which I am grateful. My family, our home, the fact that all of our needs have always been met. I have truly wonderful friends with whom I can share, and who love and support me. Blessing upon blessing have been poured over me. Love exists. Hope exists. Joy exists. And they all live here with me. What have I to fear? Nothing.

So, walk forth, I will.... strengthened in faith and overflowing with gratitude.

Colossians 2:5-8 (New International Version)

5For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Change is in the Air

Change is definitely in the air. I noticed it a couple of nights ago, when I was taking the dog out. There was the still quiet and the brisk coolness (dare I say "cold"?) that accompanies the coming of winter. I thought back through the day, as the dog ran through the yard. Driving to school - my turn in the carpool - the trees were shedding their leaves with the assistance of the wind. I felt like a kid running under the petals that fall off of the douglas pears in the spring. The leaves created a brilliant, sparkling sort of curtain as they fell - and I drove right through... laughing.

It was a beautiful day - blue blue sky, and the trees ablaze with the peak of their color. "What color tree is your favorite, Mommy?" my son asked. "I like the trees that are 'all colorful' ", I replied. He asked what I meant by that. "All colorful" is one of our family phrases - which basically means "multicolored". I told him I liked the trees that had red, orange, yellow AND green in them, and we set out on a search for one just like that on the ride home. There were several!

Now, a few days later, the sky is still blue, but many of the leaves have fallen, so the color is now on the ground. The air is cooler, and frost greets us in the mornings. This morning, I elected to wear "shoes" rather than flip-flops.

More often than not, when we are home, there is a fire in the fireplace. Candles are burning again, so the house smells like cinnamon and pumpkin. Another few weeks, and I'll trade the pumpkin for true winter scents like mistletoe and cedar.

The calendar says we have another 6 weeks before winter arrives - and I'm OK with that. I'm just aware that change is in the air. And that is good for me. Being aware of transitions helps me to not feel ambushed by the sudden arrival of what's next. It means I'm paying attention.

It is a truly spectacular time of year. The gathering of the abundant harvest, preparing for the quiet time of rest.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Another Hallelujah!

So... for all of you who are wondering how things went at church - conveniently enough, I feel I need to share with you exactly what happened. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, read yesterday's post)

I woke up fairly rested - only two middle of the night interruptions. We got to the church for the band rehearsal. ipod in my ears, I stepped onto the stage to practice while the musicians were getting their cords and wires straightened out.

My son was needing frequent attention - and paper airplanes - but I pressed forth. Rehearsal with the band went OK. I still didn't *know* the songs to my level of comfort, but I continued. "Please, help me", I signed. "complete(ly) trust(ing) You today". Every chance I got "complete(ly) trust(ing) You today".

After the rehearsal, I went to the cross and offered my prayer - asking that God would open my heart, take my self out, and Him enter in. That He would help me to hear the words and understand the meanings, and that the right signs would come off my hands.

Just before the service, the worship team gathers to pray. The worship leader turn to his left and asked the man standing next to him to pray. Then, he turn to his right, and asked that I would pray along as well...a first. He's never asked that of me before. I nodded, knowing that all the practice and preparation would be beneficial - and that God would be with me.

I have got to say that the "low end" of the base reverberating in the floor of the stage, helps bring it home. The first song was full of energy - certainly more than I felt this morning. Announcements following the song, somehow came off my hands mostly right. More songs, prayers... Finally, the last song before the sermon.... the one that I had struggled with most - not that it was "hard", though it did have a line that made no sense in English, not to mention ASL. It just never seemed to come together at home.

As the intro began, I closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. Now was the time - My Self out, God in. "I love you, Lord with all my heart..." I didn't even let myself take a moment to celebrate that that first line came out right... press on... "... My heart and soul are praising, Hallelujah".

That's when the tears came. Lots and lots of tears. Ignore the tears... press on. The words of the worship leader through the instrumental portion of the song fly off my hands. The song continues. Second verse. "...All that I can say is Hallelujah". I'm aware that I have signed "must cry out hallelujah". Powerfully. So true for me at that moment. There is nothing else to say.

The tears have made their way down my cheeks, over my jawline, down my neck reaching the center of my chest. Briefly, I wonder how many people in the congregation can see the light reflecting off the streams of wetness on my face. Doesn't matter.

I have been met. I have surrendered and trusted. He has been faithful. Again, and again.

(... and the song was awesome...He SOOO had my hands.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

In God We Trust.....Hallelujah!

It's Saturday night, following a busy week. I am acutely aware that I will be interpreting the music at church Sunday morning. I am also very aware that I have not 'connected' with the music this week. It has been difficult to focus on the task at hand. Over and over, I play the music, hoping it will move into my body - take residence on my hands. Nothing yet... I don't even find myself singing along... uh-oh! That's NEVER good...

And as I begin writing, the music changes.... "I'll be by your side, where ever you fall, in the dead of night, whenever you call.... please don't fight these hands that are holding you".... (funny - THAT song, I connect with!)

It's a timely reminder of what I've been thinking all evening. "I'm really going to have to trust God in this..." (Seems to be a theme lately, so why not in my interpreting as well, right? Exactly.) I will definitely have to practice complete and total trust in God tomorrow as I stand before the congregation. It is only by depending on Him that these signs will flow of my hands. My willingness, His grace.

The other thing that I am acutely aware of: There are a plethora of "Hallelujah"s in the music this week... I will sign the word "Hallelujah" no less than 28 times. Twenty-eight times... (maybe it's important and I should pay attention!)

And now, with a little different perspective (as I write, listen to the music, and count the "halleljuah"s), I focus more on the lyrics. I am made aware of some of other phrases I will be signing:

"I don't care what the world throws at me now, I'm gonna be alright" Ain't THAT the truth!! Whatever happens, I'm gonna be alright. Stuff is just stuff. He has always been faithful. His hands have always held me - even when I've been fighting.

"The only things that satisfy come from You". True sweetness in those lines. And a good reminder these days. If it doesn't come from Him, it's not worth chasing... it won't truly satisfy.

And, the very last musical line that I will sign is "He will respond"

Shaking my head, I am in awe. I sat down to blog with no idea where this would go - nothing but "oh boy, tomorrow's signing is really going to suck" going through my head. (THAT didn't seem like such a good topic) But, as I listen to the chosen music (again!), and read the words on the page, He speaks to me... "He will respond"... He DID respond....

"Now all that I can say is Hallelujah!" and Amen.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Boy Party

It's amazing how fast they grow...

Today my son is having his 7th birthday party. He won't be 7 for a few more weeks, but with a birthday so close to Thanksgiving, we needed to spread things out. This year, we've opted for "sleep over" parties. Yes, parties.... So.... all the joy (and preparation) that has gone into this evening, I get to repeat again in 2 weeks for the girl.

It's interesting to see how things change over time. For example, the gifts - toys with a million metal ties holding them in place have been replaced by books and video games (and gift cards and money!) And the activities.... It's all boy-energy here tonight (the girl-child has sought refuge at a friend's house!). The group is pretty evenly split between computer-nerd/video game types and athletes. It's an interesting mix... but it works in first grade.

As I was cutting the cake, I glanced over at the computer - pictures of previous birthday parties flashed up on the screen saver. The 6 year old party, the 2 year old party, the 4 year old party. All different locations, different themes. But still, my two glorious children and their friends. Cake and smiles and celebrations!

I have been greatly blessed by these two kids who have been put into my care.

Thank you God for the gift of my children!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Strength, Wisdom, Courage

I was playing around with my camera last night. The ladybug on my bathroom sink caught my attention, and I began taking some pictures. Ladybug here, ladybug there...

Then, I remembered the rings. I knew from the moment I put them in my pocket the morning I returned to my "shack", that I would photograph them one day. Three rings, labeled: "Strength", "Wisdom" and "Courage".

Three simple words. Three things that I pray for... again and again... It wasn't until I stacked them on top of each other that I realized how well they compliment each other.

And it wasn't until right now that I realized how differently I define them these days....through the lens of my God-connection, and not the world's view.

Strength,to me, is more than being physically strong. The strength that I refer to, and pray for, is the inner fortitude to stand steadfast in the midst of a storm. To stay focused on the Truth while lies and deception swirl around, distract, and block the path.

With wisdom I know that I can not muster up sustained - or sustaining - strength on my own accord. I may be able to "white knuckle" it for a while, but if it is going to be true staying power - that kind of strength comes to me from God. Wisdom also shows me that sometimes, it takes much more strength to let go, than to hold on tightly for all I'm worth.

Ah, the glorious paradox of wisdom! Encompassing more than mere intelligence, wisdom has an element of experience, and God-given discernment. It is more than knowing that 1+1+1 = 3. Sometimes - depending on what you are adding - it is a big mess. Since life is so much more than the sum of it's parts, it involves a deeper "knowing" than the quick assessment of the obvious.

The thing about wisdom... it often requires courage and strength to be heard... especially if it presents itself in the midst of a crisis, or the truth runs contrary to the prevailing cultural norms (or what I want to hear!).

Finally, courage. I've said before that courage is "fear that has said it's prayers". I used to wonder how people could do these amazingly brave things without fear. One day, I asked someone that very question. "Without fear?" she said, "I was scared to death!"

Courage is asking the question - even though I know I don't want to hear the answer. It is facing the difficult times, searching through the dark corners. It is speaking the unpopular truth, and holding up mirrors. And, sometimes, courage needs strength and wisdom to "Do it afraid".

And, while I know that I have not been given" a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind", it is the combination of Wisdom and Strength that remind me of my Courage..

Thursday, November 6, 2008

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

Today, I simply want to say how grateful I am for my "village". I do believe it takes a village to raise a child... or two, in my case!

My "village" is made up of my friends, neighbors, teachers, church family... to name a few. Women in my carpool, women in my supper club, women I pray with, women I talk with, women I laugh with, women I cry with.

I am especially grateful for my "village" after a long day of running here and there. A morning of teaching and running errands before heading to scouts with my daughter. Meanwhile another mom in the carpool drops my son of at his piano lesson - where he will stay for a play date til I can round him up again. Arriving home, supper is waiting. We eat and head to church for the evening. The kids work on their Christmas program, I work on my interpreting. For a while, it's a typical Wednesday routine. On Wednesdays, I receive.

On Tuesdays, I cook. Thursday, I drive the carpool, and volunteer at school. This weekend, it's my turn to help care for another child, while his mother is out of town. It comes full circle.

We give.... we receive.... both are a blessing...

Thank you God for my "Village", and Your hand in establishing it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Through the Looking Glass

This picture was taken on a beautiful cool, October morning. We had spent the night in a cabin of one of the states park in Western Tennessee. Walking to the bathhouse, I saw this beautiful scene.

The sun was rising and shining it's light over the misty lake. The leaves were radiant - shining in yellows, reds and orange. Grateful I had remembered my camera, I took several shots. I knew I'd never capture the full beauty of the scene, but I'd sure try.

It wasn't until I returned to the cabin, that I understood the full truth of that statement. When I put in my contact lenses, I was able to see that the pictures were out of focus. Blurry. Drat!! Though, here, it may just illustrate my point! Perfectly!! :)

Fast forward to November: One of my students recently asked me, after struggling to hear heart sounds on her obese patient, if she should buy one of the (expensive) specialty cardiology stethoscopes. I told her it depended on what she was going to do once she graduated. "Cardiology". Hmmm.... "Yeah, you might want to upgrade". Now, for me, working in Trauma, a middle-of-the-road stethoscope is adequate (I don't get to bring it into most of my patients' rooms anyhow - they have their own assigned!) In my world the mere PRESENCE of a heart beat increases your chances of returning home... significantly! But, her question was about now - would it improve her learning? Good question.

And then, that evening, waiting for our yoga class to begin - I had a discussion with another yogini. We were talking about situations people find themselves in... chronically. Generation after generation of living in ways that we couldn't imagine. To some it's "normal". Unbelievably, incredibly, "normal".

But...there are things in today's society that are becoming all too "normal" - the incidence of diabetes, and childhood obesity to name a few. Add a lack of personal responsibility and a sense of entitlement and you're getting close one of my 'soapboxes'.

But, I digress.... sort of. I remember back to when I first got glasses - I could see the leaves on the trees, and I was amazed. When I got contacts and added clarity to my peripheral vision - WOW! It was a whole new world. There were things I never saw before that were so clear before my eyes. Things that I never imagined existed!

Would it improve her learning to hear things clearly? - probably. Would it make that much of a difference in listening to heart sounds in that particular obese woman? I don't know.

Does it make a difference in my daily life whether I am wearing my contacts or not? - OH YEA!

Does it matter if I am looking through the lens of the world, or the lens of God? - OH YEA!

It makes all the difference in the world - it affects my perceptions, my choices, my actions. It changes my life in a very real way. It helps me see things that I never knew existed. I see hope and joy and miracles... sometimes in the most unlikely of places. Looking through the lens of God helps me to see some of the fallacy of "normal". It helps me be IN the world, but not OF it. Like Alice through the looking glass...

May I see clearly.... May I see through Your eyes...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

....Just don't turn away...

There is a new song these days that is piercing my heart. It's by a group who call themselves Tenth Avenue North. One of the things I love about it is that the song is sung from God's perspective. He is singing to me.

In it He asks some very good questions: "Why are you trying to earn grace?" "Why are you searching as if I'm not enough?", and He begs me not to turn away - not to run - not to fight His hands. He begs me to surrender and accept the gift that is already here.

It's a wonderful, haunting song with a great message... He's by my side - where ever I fall, whenever I call, in the darkest of night... His hands are holding me...."Just don't turn away"...

May I feel Your hands in action and Your presence in my life
May I not fight
May I not turn away.

Lord, Lift up my face...

By Your Side - Tenth Avenue North

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands and my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life
I want to give you life

Cause I, I love you
I want you to know
That I, I love you
I'll never let you go

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Matter of Trust

Funny, how that verse is still rattling around in my brain... "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding"... Also interesting, I continue to run into situations where I need to apply it.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding", as I witness a woman crying out to God as she is told that her husband is likely not going to survive. This will be husband number three (and two young children) that she has buried. Each time she cries out in anguish, I add my prayer for comfort for her and her family, and protection for mine.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding", as I witness people using - or abusing - positions of power or authority... or better yet, mere perceived power/authority. I add my prayers for discernment for them - and for me - and peace, and strength for those in their path. I also pray for strength and courage for those who may witness it to speak truth into the deception.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding", as I witness Christians - especially those who pride themselves in their Christianity - acting anything but... I pray for opportunities to witness and hold mirrors, and for steadfastness of my feet along His path.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding", as the stirring in my belly makes me aware of my mistrust for the person, or situation in front of me. I pray for clarity, and for understanding of the truth.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding", as I witness the events surrounding the upcoming election. I pray for our country, and the people that make it up. May we choose well, and may we realize that we truly are 'one nation under God', whether we like to admit it or not.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

We were driving in the car. The previous night, my son had been given a golden coin by the tooth fairy - "apparently" she was fresh out of dollar bills. Not having seen a Thomas Jefferson $1 coin before, he was studying it carefully. "In God we trust", he read.

I asked him if he knew what that meant - he did. I asked him if he knew that some people thought we should take those words off of our money. "Why would they do THAT, Mom?" he asked. Talk about opening the door to theological, philosophical, historical discussion.... But... that's the kind of boy I have... (Thank you God!)

When we'd finished the conversation, he asked, "Mom, is "In God we trust" a bible verse?" "No," I said, "not those exact words, but there are lots of bible verses that talk about trusting God".

Right on cue, my daughter called out. "I know a bible verse! 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart' Proverbs 3:5", she said. "That sure is one!" I said, as I parked the car infront of the gymnastics gym. I reached over to my 'front seat mobile office' and pulled out her bible. I turned to Proverbs. Chapter 3. Verse 5. There it was "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding".

" ... And lean not on your own understanding" There it was. The phrase that had been rattling around my brain and coming up in conversation again and again. Out of my mouth, out of other's mouths. And now out of the mouth of my daughter (thank you God!) The phrase that I'd been meaning to search so I could appropriately place it. Proverbs 3:5.

Out of my daughter's mouth, through my ears (and eyes), and now in my heart and memory.

"Trust in the Lord with All your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Parallels of Decluttering

I was cleaning the playroom. Not a typical simply-put-things-away kind of cleaning, but the kind of true inventorying, and sorting through that must happen from time to time. I went through the bins, and sorted miscellaneous pieces into their appropriate groups. The puzzles that were scattered on the floor were completed to assess for missing pieces. Broken items were tossed, and long outgrown or forgotten trinkets were packed in a box to give to others to enjoy.

Partway through the process, I stopped and looked around. "Oh wow!" I thought "This place is a disaster!". Piles here and there, bags of trash being filled and waiting to be carted off.

It took time, and effort - and quite honestly a few kleenex, as I had managed to stir up a little dust, which got my eyes watering and my nose running. Other typical daily tasks got put aside for the day. But, when it was complete, it was worth it. Well worth it. It looked like a new room!

After I'd finished, I passed by the open front door. I peered out the glass storm door at the beautiful autumn day, and I stopped. Just stopped. I turned back toward the playroom as the realization hit me.

SOOOOOO....THAT is what is happening. The playroom became symbolic of the recent events in my life. I have been decluttering. I have been sorting through, and getting rid of the things in my life that are broken, outgrown or forgotten.

No wonder I'm exhausted. No wonder I feel behind in the tasks of daily life. No wonder I feel like I am living surrounded by piles and boxes.... I AM!! As I have done with the playroom, I am doing with my life. Cleaning it out...

The insight helped me to feel renewed. It also restored hope. I am on the right path. I am doing as I should. There will be order and peace again.

I smiled, grateful for the realization, and for the assurance that I hadn't completely lost my mind. It is as it should be. It is a time of sorting, decluttering and renewal!


Now... to tackle my closet!