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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Taking Control of Christmas



So, what does Christmas look like to you? 

As I sit here at the beginning of the Advent season, dogs snuggled on either side of me and a newly placed naked Christmas tree in front of me, I wonder how this will end. 

Like you, I’ve experienced a crazy last couple years and everything seems sideways. I don’t remember what normal was two years ago but I’m convinced that there has to be a better way now. 

I’ve been scrolling through Google looking at minimalist Christmases. This all started last night in the wee hours of the morning while I lay there and thought of all I needed to do to get the house decorated for an upcoming family get-together. Not to mention friends and others who will be stopping in over the next week or so.  God forbid that my house should be in a state of chaos, boxes everywhere, half-finished projects on every surface. As I lay there in bed, tears rolling down my face, I realized something had to give. This isn’t how I want to celebrate Christmas, nor is it the reason I celebrate Christmas. Christ is my reason and my heart longs to draw closer to Him and not be so exhausted physically that I don’t care about anything more than survival. 

I read a couple of things that made me stop and think…

One of them was being Intentional…intentional about what brings joy and peace into our home. You mean that is an option? 

The second was that we could do things Differently. Just because we’ve done something year after year doesn’t mean we need to keep on doing it. That was a freeing idea to me as I am a diehard traditionalist.  

The third was just Decorating One Central Room. Now I like that idea! I tend to decorate living room, dining room, bathroom, kitchen, guest bedrooms, etc. As I think about all the work that will take, I want to crawl into a corner and die. 

So this year I am determined to take control of Christmas. I’m tired of being under the influence of our culture, my past, and especially my expectations of what should be. Ever since I was a child in New England, I have clung to this notion that it’s the most wonderful time of the year and it should look that way. But I don’t live in New England anymore and I’m not the same person I was. And things do change, don’t they?

My biggest struggle? This crazy notion that I will disappoint people because God knows I live to make people happy, especially the grandchildren who have always known Grammy's house as a sparkly, colorful, winter wonderland. But something tells me that they would rather have a Grammy who is joyful and who has time to spend with them, making memories with crafts or games or baking rather than running on empty.

So now I’m daring to think, decorating wise, What makes me happy? A Christmas tree makes me happy. And after looking at scores of trees online and how they could look, I realize I have freedom to decorate the tree anyway I like! This year I think it would be really cool to actually see the tree! Considering we cut her down and gave her a place of honor in our home, I think she’s beautiful just as she is. And yes, I do call all my trees 'she' (smile).

Another thing that brings me joy are twinkling white lights and candles, poinsettias and greenery, even if it’s just a vase of cut branches and berries. All these things restore my spirit instead of drain it and help me to be reflective, especially towards the real meaning of Christmas. It will be incredibly hard not to open all those boxes of decorations that represent years of memories. Really, what kind of person doesn’t use their traditional Christmas ornaments? And would leave them to languish unseen? Seriously, are they going to cry in disappointment? (eye-roll) Change is hard for me but I think this is worth the struggle. Not just for me, but for my dear husband who would love to have an unstressed wife for the next six weeks!

I’m thinking the world won’t end if I do Christmas differently this year (shocking!). And if I enjoy this new freedom, I may choose to let go and ask my children and grandchildren if they would like any of the decorations that have brought me joy in the past but now no longer fit into my life. I love the idea of passing on things, but only if they want them and will find joy in them. Do unto others as you would have others do onto you!

Please know that this is a personal journey. It reflects probably, in a bigger way than I realize, my desire to take control of many areas of my life that I have let go. If you love doing Christmas in a super big way and it looks totally different to you, I say go for it! And just as none of us likes the same foods or decorating the same way or wearing the same clothes, Christmas, which is a super intimate time of the year, should reflect who you are and what is important to you. I’m just a little late in getting around to that!

Thank you, dear one, for allowing me to ramble. I wish you a blessed Advent season, filled with the mysteries of Christ and His coming. I wish you, more than anything, Joy. You are dearly loved! ❤️






Thursday, September 30, 2021

Suppose you could live the life you were called to live?




It is blessedly quiet here this morning. All the puppies are sleeping, including the one who sneaks into our bedroom when I get up and hides herself in Prissy’s bed, making what I call a Puppy Burrito of herself. Whatever. If it makes her happy, it makes me happy.


I decide to take advantage of this gift of peace and quiet and see if I can turn some thoughts rolling around in my mind into a blog. Assessing the situation and the probability of success, I tiptoe to the couch and slowly pull my iPad to myself. I turn and very s-l-o-w-l-y sit back down on Ted’s Lazyboy, where any sleeping dogs can awaken to see me and know that I have NOT abandoned them, nor do I need them to secure the area and protect me. Lord, have mercy.


Success! 


So my question for the day is, How are you at trusting in God? 


If you’re like me you’ll quickly reply, Doing great thank you! 


Perfect! Now show me what that looks like!


And this, friends, is where the rubber hits the road...visible actions that show what we really believe, whether it’s an honest, complete, trust and reliance in God, or a well-held-onto sense of self-reliance that ebbs and flows with our emotional state. 


As the Good Book says, As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. For all the world to see...


I heard a sermon last week, the gist of it being, ‘What one thing do you need to change in order to live the life you were called to live?’


At the end of it, my husband and I looked at each other and he said, Stop working! which I completely understand as who doesn’t want to be free of all burdens to live a carefree and flexible lifestyle?  Well, unfortunately that’s not going to happen, I replied, doing everything I could not to roll my eyes. He had a point but I’m thinking that’s not what the Priest was asking...he was looking for something obtainable. Sure my husband could stop working, but I don’t think it would end well for us...


So when my husband turned and asked me what my one thing was, I was hard pressed to identify it. I told him I need to think about it. 


So I did. For all of one day.


You see, I had a decision to make...a time sensitive decision, meaning I couldn’t ignore it or put it off indefinitely: Should I or should I not go with my sister to Nevada/Utah for a week in October? My nephew, Zachary, who with his dance partner does this amazing thing on ice skates, would be competing in Las Vegas. This trip would be an opportunity for me to see him, and then from there to head to Zion and Bryce National Parks for a week with my sister. Knowing how much I love her and him and the Southwest, it really shouldn’t have been that hard of a decision, right? 


Well, it was. As I looked at all the pros and cons of this opportunity, the What-Ifs began their endless chanting...clamoring for my attention...reminding me of all the things that could go wrong while I was away. And not only to me, but to my husband, my dogs, my home, and on and on until I had pretty much established plane crashes, traffic accidents, sickness, starvation, and everything short of a nuclear Holocaust or Yellowstone erupting occuring while I was away.


I became tense and snappish, with depression trying to squeeze its way in to join the party.


It was then that I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the one thing I need to get rid of is Fear. If I ever want to live a life of peace and trust and joy, it had to go.


Well, it just so happens (read: Divine Providence) that I am leading a Zoom study now on the book Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen and the current chapter is...ready? Unafraid. I do believe that there are no coincidences that are not Divinely inspired. This one chapter had a destiny to be read by me for such a time as this. 


The premise of the chapter was simple. When you feel the weight of Fear settling on you…and your mind begins to spiral… Stop. Look. And Listen. 


Stop.  Whatever you’re doing, take the time to acknowledge the Fear. Don’t let it skulk around the edges of your mind, shredding your peace.


Look.  What lie is Fear telling you? It’s so important to identify the lie so that you can…


Listen.  And ask the Holy Spirit what God has to say about that lie. And then go to battle against the one who only comes to seek and kill and destroy...your life, your peace, your hope. 


It’s that easy! The enemy knows it but sure doesn’t want us to know it also. 


For me, it was believing the lie that I was in control of my life, and only by being in control was I safe...and not only me, but everyone and everything I loved. It was up to me to keep it all together.


The truth?


That God is Lord over all and that all things...everything...are in His control. All He asks of me is to trust and rest in Him and His faithfulness and love for me, no matter what comes my way. 


Wow. 


With tears running down my face, I humbly confessed this revelation to my husband, emphasizing how sick and tired I was of being held captive to Fear...afraid to try new things...to take chances. I desperately wanted to come out of hiding and live again. 


Being the godly man he is, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Now you have to go. Just to show you are no longer fearful!”


You gotta love this man!


So yes, I did decide to go on the trip with my sister. All my fears and insecurities melted away before the trust I placed in God. I chose to rest in the truth that even if the worst happens, God will still be in the midst of it. And if the best happens? We’ll be 2 crazy almost-old ladies singing off key as we drive, stopping at every unique coffee cafe, eating Southwest food for every meal, and standing side by side in awe of the incredible, heart-gripping beauty around us.


And to think I almost said, No.


Sitting here today, encouraged that the puppies slept the whole time I wrote, this was what I opened to in my Bible. It was like a hug from God. A hug saying, Welcome Home, my Beloved. I’m so glad you’re here...


You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; do not stray, 

or else you may fall. 

You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not be lost. 

You who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy.  

Consider the generations of old and see: has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed? 

Or has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord and been forsaken? 

Or has anyone called upon him and been neglected? 

For the Lord is compassionate and merciful; he forgives sins and saves in time of distress.


Ben Sira 2:7-11

In a chapter entitled Trust in God.





Friday, September 17, 2021

Help! I'm being held captive.



Help. I’m being held captive.

I’m on my couch and I’m being watched. Every move I make, every breath I take is noticed.


It’s been hours since I’ve eaten. My coffee is almost gone and what there is, is cold.


I’ve been deprived the use of my Bible…it’s too far away for me to reach. I’ve heard about tactics like this. Ditto for my study books. And if I get up to get them, I will be seen. And then it will not end well.


Like the movie Monsters Inc says, “I’m always watching you Wyzowski, always watching.” I will never watch that movie again.


Note to self: never sit down again without food and sustenance nearby. Like they tell elderly people…put bags of food on the floor around the house so if you fall, you won’t starve. All I have are jars of dog biscuits next to me. If I’m forced to eat them, I will. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.


I decide that they can control my body but they cannot control my mind. 


Wait. My captors are sleeping. Snoring even. Now’s my chance! Slowly moving forward so the seat doesn’t creak, I push myself up. Yes! They are unaware of my escape! Keeping an eye on them, I move stealthily towards the kitchen…it is the promised land and I must go. 


Slowly I go, step by step, inch by inch…


Casting one more glance behind me, I round the corner…I am out of their range of sight…in view of the coffee pot and the pantry. Angels are singing and the Hallelujah Chorus is playing! Glory!


Almost there…the smell of the coffee makes me want to run, but I know that would be my final mistake. Slow and steady wins the race…I mean, escape…


Oh no! A rodent from outside has fallen onto our window feeder! Thump! I watch in horror as my captors jump up, screaming what I’m sure are threats to the invader. 


They look at me as if to say, This thing could kill you! Never leave our sight again or we will be forced to cause you anguish.


Oh no! Not anguish!


I’ve heard rumors from those who have lived to tell about similar experiences… that my captors intentions are for good, not evil. They want to protect me…keep me safe. For this reason they will never abandon their post. 


I question this.


With head hung low, I scuffle back to my seat. My escape has failed. 


With imploring eyes I beg them, Before I sit down again, please, please may I be allowed to use the potty?


Only if we accompany you. Which they do, surrounding me...pressing against me…watching me. Is nothing sacred? 


How much longer, Lord?


Not willing that I should escape again, they nudge me back to my chair. They sit down beside me. I am surrounded.


Wait, I think one of them is trying to suffocate me! She’s on my chest…she’s burying herself in my neck. The other one looks on in envy. If only she had thought of that first!


This is the end. I know it. With one last glance around my beautiful home, filled with a lifetime of memories, I whisper a quiet goodbye to this blessed world I had once known.


I have no regrets. 


Not even losing my freedom to two, tyrannical, ever-devoted, Chihuahuas. 


❤️ I die a happy woman. ❤️


The End. ☺️









Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Looking for bread in all the wrong places

 


There are days that I have meltdowns...when I find it more comforting to sit and bewail my circumstances, weeping and moaning and becoming as useful as a dishwasher with no water.

Sunday was one of those days.

I woke up feeling edgy, which is never a promising thing. Well, it is promising, but not for smooth sailing, but more for high winds and choppy seas. My little boat was rocking and I knew a storm was coming.

Why would you have a meltdown, you ask?

Food. It was all about food.

You see, I have this thing about weekend breakfasts...that they should be special and a time of sitting down together and sharing not only good food, but companionship. It's an expectation I wake up with every Saturday and Sunday morning. In the past it was an expectation that I could easily fulfill, no problem.

This past Sunday morning, however, I felt overwhelmed even before I dragged my tired body out of bed, I knew it wasn't going to end well. Plunking myself down on the couch with a steaming cup of coffee, I thought, Not again. I just can't do it. I can't think of anything I want to eat. I'm sick of cooking. I hate having diabetes and on and on and on. By then the meltdown was secured.

All I wanted was the good ol' days...when brunches looked like pancakes and bagels and muffins. For that matter, anything that had carbs and sugar in it. I was sick and tired of veggies and eggs and meats. Let me tell you, people who say they are not addicted to food are delusional. Eating is not only physical but emotional, and it does not like to be changed. I am a living testimony to that.

So I sat on that couch for an hour, sobbing my heart out. When Ted had the courage to sit down with me, I told him, I would rather be able to eat what I want and die early, than to have to do this for the rest of my life. Yeah, pretty pathetic. Ted went on to remind me of people we know who have not listened and obeyed what they needed to do, and the consequences of those choices. Like kidney failure, amputation, losing their eyesight, and death. You would have thought that that 2x4 being whacked against my head would wake me up, but no, I kept on wailing.

I don't know, maybe sometimes we just need a pity party. God gives us that grace. But only for so long. Lord, if it was my kid doing this, I would have sent him to his room and let him know that he could come out when he calmed down, and then he would still have to eat what I told him.  

Anyway, we had thought we would actually go to church that morning but I was no mood whatsoever. So we stayed home and turned on our favorite service who has our most favorite Priest, Father Mike. Week after week after week his messages have been spot-on. As the service began, somewhere in my weary spirit I whispered, Lord, I can't do this anymore. I need your help. I desperately need to hear from you today. Please. I beg you. Don't abandon the work of your hands.

I don't know if Ted heard what I heard during the message. For all I know, he could have heard something completely different...something he needed to hear...something like, how not to murder your wife when she's driving you crazy. Lord have mercy.

With great humility I say that God was faithful to my heart cry...just the Gospel reading told me that. 

"My Father gives you the true Bread from Heaven. I am the Bread of Life- he who comes to Me will never hunger, he who believes in Me will never thirst."

Father Mike went on to talk about the Israelites in the desert...how they grumbled and complained over the food they were given and how they stomped their feet and held up their fists because they wanted to go back to Egypt. They moaned and groaned and drove Moses crazy because they missed the food there.

They forgot the slavery part of the deal.

So God sent them to their room for 40 years and told them for 40 years you will learn to trust Me. I will train you to live in freedom. 

Ouch. Ouch.

Freedom. How much do I really want it is the question. It sounds so enticing. But it comes with a cost. Freedom to do the right thing means saying No to the wrong thing. It means letting go of feelings and emotions and centering on what God has shown me is the right thing for me...not looking around me and wishing I could be like others...not looking backwards, but up to Him.

It involves trust.

Trusting that what God asks me to do is the best thing for me. Trusting that His love and joy over me and my obedience is of greater value than food. Trusting that He knows my deepest desire is to not die from diabetes, but have a life-long testimony of God's goodness and faithfulness to me...one day at a time. Sometimes even one meal at a time.

The flesh is powerful. But never has the flesh been known to want what is good for us. It wants what it wants no matter the cost to us. Even death.

I see now that Jesus needs to be the Bread I desire. When I hunger and thirst for that which would only kill me, I need to see that as a sign of remembrance that I need Him...that I can't do this without Him...that I can trust Him, especially when I can't trust myself.

How about you, my friend? Is there an area in your life that enslaves you? It may not be food, there are hundreds of other options to choose from.

Christ came to set us free. Because He desperately, passionately loves us and desires good for us.

And anything He deems good is worth fighting for. 

May each of us taste and see that the Lord is good. 

Amen. And Amen.

***************

And now for your listening pleasure...one of my favorite artists singing about my blog! 😅






 


 



 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Broken doesn't mean Useless


We live in a disposable society. If it's broken our first thought isn't to fix it, but throw it away and get a new whatever. Being married to a handyman has prevented my doing this many a time, but I can sympathize with those who have no idea how to fix something and in frustration move on to a new product.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I don't have the mentality of someone who survived the Great Depression, but it still bothers me to throw away things that can be reused or repurposed. 

Like myself.

Several weeks ago, after a year of self-medicating with food, I knew my body was sending up gasps for help. I was losing weight at a great pace, which should not have been so as my eating habits definitely did not promote weight loss. I had been at this point 5 years ago and I knew what was happening...my body was no longer allowing glucose into my cells and my insulin was doing everything it could to try and make that happen. I was literally starving myself to death without the energy and life-giving support that glucose gives. 

I knew I had to pay attention. When my blood sugar level came back at over 400 it shocked me (normal is 80-100). I had had no symptoms except weight loss and had hoped (read: deceived myself) to not have to face this again. I had worked so hard to get healthy over the previous years, but COVID and depression and a sense of apathy threw it all to the wind, and now I was right back where I started 5 years ago.

My first thought was to eat something to numb the pain. My second thought was, I desperately need help. I can't do this alone.

I felt like a failure. 

So upon a friend's reference, I met with a Wholistic/Naturopath, who was also a "regular doctor". We spent 2 hours together, her going over my bloodwork and explaining things I already knew but evidently had not learned. A lot of things had to change, both physically and mentally, if I was going to overcome this deadly disease and live a longer and healthier life. She and a Life Coach were committed to coming along side me and giving me the tools and knowledge and encouragement I needed to succeed and beat this.

I still felt like a failure.

I began to beat myself up. I knew better. I could have, should have, would have. And facing the financial cost of the treatment was humbling. Ted had been so willing to support me in the past. Was this over the line? But what was my option? 

As soon as I got home from the appointment I joined a couple of FB websites on overcoming and reversing Diabetes. What I read blew my mind. But the one thing that stuck with me that first day was the post that said, "Yes, it is hard. But losing a leg, or your eyesight, or dying of a heart attack or stroke is much harder. I'm not just doing this for myself, but for my husband and my kids and grandkids. That's what motivates me. It is possible to reverse Diabetes and I'm going for it."

Wow. Talk about an eye-opener! In the past I had centered on what I had to give up, not what I had to gain. I wept on the couch...both from fear and hope...and resolved at that moment to take Diabetes seriously.

One of the biggest changes for me is changing my eating habits: no sugar, giving up carbohydrates in the form of breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc. Each one of those yummy things converts to sugar in my body and raises my blood sugar level. I had to start seeing foods like this as poison to me, not comfort. Instead, there are a wealth of foods I can eat that would strengthen me...meats and veggies, eggs and cheese, and some fruits. There is a plethora of recipe sites online to draw from, and the ones I have tried have been so yummy!

I am thankful that God has allowed me another wake-up call. I could have ended up in a diabetic coma, in the hospital. I am not going to stretch His mercy a third time.

I see now that I have literally been throwing my life away. I had always believed that I needed to get it right or I wasn't acceptable or good enough...to God and others. But no matter how hard I tried, I never could get it right...I was always falling short. And so I felt unworthy and defeated time after time after time. It was an endless cycle of defeat. That stops now.

At this point I'm feeling hopeful, albeit fragile, and cracked, and weak. Which isn't a bad place to be. I've had to confess that I can't do this by myself. I have tried before but I did it begrudgingly, there were always excuses and compromises. The temporary satisfaction overcame the eternal good and the battle was exhausting. It is time to talk truth and sense to myself and God. Not that He was surprised by any of this. His patience and long-suffering know no end. Thankfully.

The other day I saw a picture of Kintsugi, the art of filling in the cracks of broken pottery with powdered gold or some other precious metal. The pottery, in all its uselessness and brokenness was not thrown away, but redeemed for further use. And it was made even more beautiful than before. It was breathtaking! It was then I realized that God doesn't have to take away the broken to make beauty...the beauty was IN the cracks! 

My strength is made perfect (beautiful) in your weakness. What a glorious verse!

None of us is perfect. Life has broken and cracked all of us in some way or another. But walking around trying to deny or cover up the cracks doesn't allow God the ability to redeem them...to make something beautiful out of them. Without Him and His work in us, we end up occupying a shelf at the Goodwill rather than in the King's palace.

The world needs hope, now more than ever. Definitely eternal hope, which comes through Christ, but also daily hope...hope that we can go on even in our brokenness. That our life still has great value and usefulness because God, as our Redeemer, wants to pour His love and grace into the cracks in our lives, making us more beautiful than before. We are not failures, but glorious works in progress!

Today my blood sugar was 170 points less than 2 weeks ago, which is a great encouragement to me. But I have a long way to go, not just in dropping that number, but in understanding how to take care of myself, physically and emotionally. It must be God and me working together for as long as I breathe. 

Knowing that God wants to use my weakness for His glory empowers me to share all of this with you...to allow you to see my cracks. You are fearfully and wonderfully made my friend, and you have great value. Not because of how well you are doing or how you are managing to keep it all together. No, it's because you have a story to tell others, a story of redemption from brokenness...a story of hope. 

There's no nobler calling for any of us.

You are dearly loved...by God and me! Shine on!




 

 



Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Want to know what Everyday Courage looks like?



So it's Tuesday, the day I have assigned to be 'Write a Blog Day'. 

Last week I came up with this crazy, and probably totally impossible, idea of assigning a task to each day of the week- partly because I need to be more disciplined in accomplishing things, but mostly because I need things to do every day to keep me from drifting into the shadows... 

Monday is 'For Heaven's Sake, Clean the House Day'

Tuesday is 'Sit down and Write a Blog Whether or Not You Feel Like It Day'

Wednesday is 'Take the Puppy to the Greenway and Then Out to Lunch Day' (my favorite day!)

Thursday is 'Gardening and Weeding and Picking Up Sticks Day'

And on Friday I try to find a willing friend to do something with...my 'Be Blessed By a Friend Day'

Of course 'Making Paper and Doing Collage' falls in any open spot of the week!

And finally there's the weekend, which Ted manages to fill up quite well. So far, it's a plan that's working!

Let it be known that I had completely forgotten about it being Blog Day until this morning when I inquired of the Lord, What shalt Thou hast me to do today? And because He has mercy on all those whose brains are mashed potatoes, He reminded me what day it is...Tuesday...and what I had pledged to do on said day...Blog. 

I heard someone say the other day that we are defined by what we do...if you are a painter, you paint, if you are a writer, you write...you get the idea. And though my identity is not totally based on being a writer, writing brings me joy and it is a gift that God has given to me. Someday I will have to answer to God for the use and/or misuse of this gift, so Tuesdays are the day I hope to work this answer out. 

So let me ask you, after reading last week's blog on Everyday Courage, how is that going for you? Has it spurred you on to take an extra step of courage? Boldness? Faith? Have you felt more empowered knowing that you are not alone? I hope so. I know I am!

Just to encourage you, I'm going to share an episode of what Everyday Courage looked like in my life this week. I walked into it, not expecting it at all...

It began with an online post from a local group that popped up on my email, sharing a link to a company to write to if we were concerned about their support of an issue. Nothing more, nothing less. Anyway, I briefly responded that I had recently noticed that another local institution had advertised the same stand. Shortly after, when one of the members responded with some statistics, I asked from where he had obtained that information. And that was it...what I thought was a civil discourse with a group of people that I live and move and have my being amongst.

Until I got a private email in response to my statement/inquiry. I didn't expect the sarcasm and the accusation that I was being judgmental and hate-filled and hey, that's what Jesus called us to, right? I read it. And re-read it, trying to make sense of it. I wrote back and said that posting information and asking questions is not judgmental nor hate-filled...it's a right we have and I'm sorry this person felt that way.

A response came back immediately, basically condemning me to the innermost circle of Hell and accusing me of attitudes and actions that have never, ever entered my thoughts. To say I was taken aback would be an understatement. I've had heard of things like this going on, but up until then I had never experienced it. I had assumed that this exchange was amongst fellow Believers...but really, who can know? Maybe my assumption was wrong...

And that's when my blood pressure began creeping up. What the? I knew I was upset when an unloving thought flit through my mind: So I studied Truth for a year with Chuck Colson, what's your claim to being allowed to speak? Thankfully I did not say that. By then it was time to leave for a Doctor's appointment and I knew that this was not going to fare well...which it didn't. No matter how I tried to explain it, my Doctor was not impressed with why my blood pressure was 20 points higher this time than the last time.

Anyway, it was at a long stoplight on the way to the Doctors that her next email came in. It was volatile and full of vitriol and at that moment I decided that no matter what I said, I would not get anywhere with her. So I wrote a quick message back saying, 'I am sorry but I do not agree with you and I will not respond to any future communication from you in that spirit. And I will pray for you.' 

It took Everyday Courage to let go and back away and not say something I would regret. There was a time I would have rushed in where fools fear to tread...having to be right, having to make a point, having to win the battle. 

It's taken me years to realize that the battle is God's not mine...that there are spirits out there that can only be defeated through prayer. And fasting, but thankfully I haven't met any of those yet! Sometimes the wisest thing I can do is to close my mouth, back away, and pray. Yes, I probably will be misunderstood for doing this. And sure enough, when another message came in later in the day and I saw the first few words....You are a coward...I knew that I had made the right choice.

Yes, I'm human enough to wish that everyone loved me...and agreed with me...and were impressed by me. Conflict is not my forte. Just the opposite...my empathy and desire to see others happy often overrides my need to say/make a healthy choice. The fact that I even responded to her first message was a baby step of courage for me. Like the spiritual song says, 'You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run.'  When my blood pressure finally came down, I uttered a sigh of relief that I, by the grace of God, had done just this.

Am I concerned for her? I am. I don't know what is going on her life that would cause such anger to fester. But I had to make the choice to turn from her and run to God Who is a shield around me, my glory, and the lifter of my head...Who has all wisdom and understanding and insight...the One I can trust to lead me in the way I should...or should not...go.

I'm not sure if I will ever be in contact with this person again. Since she's part of the group, I very well may. I can't say what will happen then...God could write an entirely different outcome. I would welcome the opportunity to communicate in a healthy way. But no matter what, I have to trust that throughout every day, no matter what comes my way, Everyday Courage will always be available. And for this I am very, very thankful.

And that, friends, is my story.

How about you? Do you have an example of how God empowered you with Everyday Courage this week? I would love to hear it! It's in these small battle that the wars are won, dear friends. Know that I continue to cheer you on and pray for you!

You are dearly loved!







Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Everyday Courage...or the ability to keep-on-keeping-on



What does courage look like to you?

I think most of us have this idea that it's this BIG BRAVE THING that only a few attain...like diving into a frozen river to save someone...pulling someone out of a burning car...climbing that mile-high mountain...any good thing we normally don't do on a regular basis. Something bigger than ourselves.

Now I agree, all  those things do take a superhuman effort to accomplish. I like to think I could do a BIG BRAVE THING if necessary. So far I haven't been called to one, unless it was giving birth. I loved the end result but I sure hated the process. But hey, I wasn't given a choice to NOT do it, so I'm not sure that counts.

You see, the hard part for me isn't the big things...true confession...it's the courage to keep-on-keeping-on...one day at a time...sometimes one hour at a time...in the little things...when life seems so hard and I want to quit. 

I shall call that an act of Everyday Courage.

And to me, that's a much bigger challenge. 

You see, I struggle with depression. I come from a long line of people with anxiety disorders who found it easier to live life through self-medicating in one form or another. The thing about self-medicating? It may appear to make life more bearable for the person doing it, but it's definitely not beneficial to the others around them. They don't get the benefit of numbing or dulling the pain...all they get is fear and the need to somehow try and make it all better. 

I cannot remember living without fear...my elementary school teachers called me a 'worry wart". I have no idea how this spirit entered my life...perhaps it is genetic or hereditary or learned. All I knew was that there was so much wrong and so much evil to worry about...hiding under a desk during the Cuban Missile Crisis...Kennedy's assassination...the Vietnam War...Silent Spring. Or how to keep a cat from being run over or a dog from being hit on the highway. Could I have done anything about any of those things as a child? No. But neither did anyone tell me HOW to deal with all those fears. So, I taught myself to be in control of all I could to keep myself safe. 

So here I am, 50 years later, still struggling to feel safe. God knows that now there are infinitely more things to be afraid of, courtesy of the world-wide-web and social media. The world has not become safer or less scary. 

This past week I really had to fight to keep on going. Picture a rolling, roiling dark storm cloud coming towards you...surrounding you, smothering you, enveloping you. That's what depression is like to me. My senses are alert to its coming and all I want to do is hide. I have begged and pleaded with God for years to take this away...to show me the way through it and out of it. And maybe He will or maybe He won't. Depression may be the thorn in my flesh that He may never deliver me from. There may only be grace. And that will have to be enough.

Do I think about checking out? Sometimes...when I am ever so tired and the journey seems too long. Until I remember the suicide of someone I dearly loved and the crushing pain it brought on. And the hardest part was never knowing why she couldn't go on. But I realize now that she may have saved my life...for she taught me that though the pain would end for me, it would never end for those I love. So no, checking out is not an option.

The question is, what does it take to keep-on-keeping-on during times of darkness? When something bigger than you makes it hard to breathe and you've lost your direction and the light forward is dimming? 

Everyday Courage. Plain old Everyday Courage. To me it looks like...

   * The grace to just wake up and get out of bed. Maybe open the curtains. Or not.

   * Being willing to be fragile, real, and honest...open to someone safe, someone who will enter your brokenness and not ask nor expect anything from you. 

   *  Doing the next thing. Brush your teeth? Feed the dog? Put dishes in the sink? Baby steps. Don't let fear paralyze you. 

    * Asking for help. Wearing a mask only makes the journey lonelier and longer.  

    * Knowing what you need. And doing it. Self-care is not selfish.  

How are you living out Everyday Courage? What does it look like to you? 

We all have fears. We all struggle with something. We all need help. You may not struggle with depression like me. Perhaps you've been afraid or hurt or living life on the edges because it's safer that way. Perhaps Everyday Courage looks to you like...

    * Speaking the truth in love. Yes, you may be rejected but that's not the point. Stepping in to something difficult takes courage and though the outcome can't be controlled, you will have taken the first step to freedom.

    * Writing a letter, making a phone call, reaching out...finally...doing something long overdue because it's the right thing to do. And God always honors the right thing.

    * Making a good choice...letting go of something harmful...embracing a new beginning. Walking in a new, healthy direction is an amazingly good and brave thing!

Everyday we are given opportunities over and over again to be courageous...to choose the right thing...do the right thing. Trumpets may not sound and banners may not wave, but our souls need it. And they are of greater value than any trumpet or banner.

I love that life is a journey...that there are so many truths to learn, and ways to apply them along the way. Have you ever gone on a perfect journey? I haven't! With every trip I have taken there are necessary stops and what seem like unnecessary breakdowns, detours and changes of plans, conflict and times of bliss. To expect it to go perfectly is to be delusional. The same with life...day after day after day, for however long God gives us, there are of thousands of opportunities to grow in Everyday Courage.

I pray this post is an encouragement to you. Being this open and transparent is scary to me. I could be fearful and expect rejection, mockery, or dismissal. Or, I can believe that  I will be accepted, loved, and understood. I choose to believe the second option. I choose Everyday Courage. 

'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.' Joshua 1:9

We can do it!