Thursday, May 10, 2012
I'm not sure what I've been doing, but I was supposed to have something done by now. A book, a Bible study, a brochure, even a handful of blog posts. But I've done nothing.
Even as I write this, I feel something holding me back, something crowding my thoughts and stealing my words. It's hard to get out even a few sentences. But I have to fight through this. I have to put aside the junk that fills my time and attention. I need to focus, to surrender, to move on.
Because I'm supposed to be writing.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
I'd like to share with you a few things I have learned this week.
Number One: I don't care. No, I'm not having a nervous breakdown. I'm not in a serious clinical depression that needs immediate intervention. But I have discovered that there are a few specific things that I just really don't care much about. This came to me as I was driving down our road yesterday after a long day at the doctor's office with Abby. My 12 year old SUV is in need of new tires and work on the exhaust and it makes a lot of noise...rattling both under the hood and on the inside. I guess I was grumbling to myself that I really need a new car. I pulled up in the driveway and let out a huge sigh knowing through the door on my beautiful front porch awaited a sink full of dishes, piles of laundry and more dust than Oklahoma in the 1930's. I sat for a moment, and that is when it hit me: I don't care. I honestly could care less about the things of this world.
Jesus told us not to store up treasures here, but in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21), because our heart is where our treasure is. I didn't set out to make the things of earth not matter. But over the past few years, my heart has transitioned (or better yet, been transformed) to longing for heaven. This has come from the many trials God has put in my path. I'm tired, but plodding onward knowing that the goal is so very worth it. Because I know that in the end, I have a glorious eternity in the presence of our Lord. As I become more homesick for heaven , my attitude toward "things" slowly follows. So even though I most likely need a newer car, I don't worry about it. And while I do want to take care of my home and make it a peaceful, inviting place to be, I don't worry so much about my furniture being hand-me-down or my curtains not matching my comforter.
I do care very much about people. And dogs. And brownies and fudge (no nuts, please). And I care a lot about other things that God cares about. But I don't care that my car is rattley and that dust bunnies have found safe haven under my couch. Because, truly, my heart is not even here.
Number Two: There is a reason Jesus told us to have faith like a child. Jesus actually tells us to "change and become like little children" (Matt 18:3) and to receive the Kingdom of God like a child (see passages in Mark and Luke in the previous link). If you really listen to a child, their faith is so pure, so complete. They do think about what they are taught and they ask hard questions (then wait expectantly while we fumble around for answers). But they also pray with a boldness and an intimacy with the Lord that many of us have lost.
Our youngest, Abby, has been battling leukemia for almost five years. This has been a roller coaster....certainly the hardest thing our family has faced. Abby's bloodwork was not what the doctor expected to see last week, so he scheduled a bone marrow aspiratation to gain a sample of her marrow to send off for testing. When I told our son about this, he held his hands high in the air, lifted his face toward heaven and said in exasperation, "When will we be done with this?" A sweet friend of Abby's also heard the news of this test and the need to pray for the results. She said, "Mom, can God just give Abby a break?"
Bold. Honest. No fluff, no ritual, no holding back. Jesus tells me I need to change to be like this as I approach Him. These two precious kids prayed what I have been yelling in my brain for years. Not "Why?" Not "What are you thinking, God?" Just "Peace, please Lord."
Number Three: "Baby Jesus lost and found, please bring _____ back around." I needed to find a lost thing for Bible study. My friend and co-leader recited that little poem over the phone to me as I was searching my house. She said it always worked for her daughter, you just fill in the blank with the lost item, such as "my keys" or "Teddy bear." I thought it sounded like a line from a very old child's poetry book crossed with Ricky Bobby's prayers in "Talladega Nights". But guess what. It worked! Before I even hung up the phone I had knew I needed to go look out in our barn. And there it was...not in plain sight necessarily, but my eyes went right to it.
My lost thing. Seriously. It was right there. Maybe Ricky Bobby was on to something.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
I have burdened myself with so much regret over the years that I don't even realize the weight I carry. I ask for forgiveness, I repent, but for some reason, I still load myself down with unfulfilled dreams, unmet goals, and unrealistic expectations. Instead of learning from my mistakes, I continue to haul them around with me. I become defined in my family (and with close friends) by what I haven't done and what I didn't finish.
So this year, I am starting fresh. My past will be left behind. I will move forward with new goals for myself. No regret for what I didn't accomplish in 2010. No regret for all that was wrong, that didn't work out. I have a lifetime ahead of me, and if I spend it looking back, I know things will never change.
One of my goals this year is to write more. I have been asked to lead a Bible study at church, and I am in the middle of studying Isaiah in BSF. I hope to have much to share as God speaks to me through His Word in these studies. I have also committed to memorizing scripture as part of the Siesta Scripture Memory Team. Spending more time in God's Word is my most important goal this year, and I hope to share the impact this has in my life.
Welcome 2011. I'm ready!!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
“In the wilderness clear a way for the Lord;
construct in the desert a road for our God.
Every valley must be elevated,
and every mountain and hill leveled.
The rough terrain will become a level plain,
the rugged landscape a wide valley.
The splendor of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it at the same time.
For the Lord has decreed it.”
Who am I that you are mindful of me
That you hear me, when I call
Is it true that you are thinking of me
How you love me, it's amazing.
I Am a Friend of God (performed by Phillips, Craig and Dean)
I am realizing that, every day, I am falling more and more in love with God. I am constantly seeing His hand in my life. Sometimes it is small things, like the close parking space at the store when I'm in a hurry. Sometimes I feel His comfort when I am having a rough day. Then there are days like yesterday, when He just blows me away with His power and mercy.
My youngest daughter was diagnosed with a very aggressive and hard to treat form of leukemia over four years ago. She was 3. Her oncologist did not think she would make it. But she did. In the last year, we have had some troubling test results and realized some of her medication wasn't working 100%, and there is not another med available. Earlier this year, her doctors finally made the recommendation for a bone marrow transplant, itself and very high risk procedure in a child like Abby. It all hinged on one more test...and God showed up. Big. Huge!! Abby's bone marrow was clear of a protein that feeds abnormal cells and makes them grow out of control. Totally clear. The transplant wasn't needed. I knew God's hand was all over that. But what amazed me, floored me really, was yesterday when her doctor called. She had another test last Friday, and again, her marrow is completely clear of this protein. Same kid, now almost 8 years old. Same not-really-working medicine. Huge, powerful, merciful God.
Who am I that this God, who created all, would even pay a second of attention to me? Me...rebellious, wretched, broken. Who am I?
I am His. His daughter, His beloved.
And I am so in love with Him.
Monday, August 9, 2010
But it took a tragic turn. On June 16, my daddy was killed when he went out for a quick ride on his new motorcycle. My dad wasn't exactly a novice rider. He had a bike when I was a kid. I can remember going for rides with him around our neighborhood. He set that hobby aside until earlier this spring. He took a motorcycle rider safety course and began looking for a bike. This wasn't his dream bike...just one he got a good deal that would be his "practice bike." My dad had retired and needed something to keep him busy, something that he could use to relax and de-stress. He loved adventure. He liked to go fast, go high, go far. He researched hobby possibilities for months. He enjoyed sailing, so he took a sailing class and started looking for a boat. But while a sailboat is certainly relaxing, it is also kind of boring. He thought about renewing his private pilot's license and flying again. He also considered having horses. In the end, the call of the open road won. My mom was not happy about this choice. And while the motorcycle was my least favorite option, I supported his need to get away. I realized my desire for him to choose a sailboat or the horses was a bit selfish. That also benefitted my family, as the kids could ride the horses or we could all use the sailboat. I just wanted my dad to be happy and find a bit of freedom from the burdens of our life.
In the almost two months since my father's death, I have really tried to figure out what it the world God was thinking! I still have three grandparents that are alive, and many great aunts and uncles. I have not lost anyone close to me since my Pawpaw Little died of a stroke when I was 4. I do not know how to deal with death. I also wondered why God chose now. My mother is battling cancer, as is my daughter. My dad's mother lives in an assisted living home here in our town. My dad helped with all of the doctor trips and hospital visits and even helped get all my kids where they needed to be. My dad was not only loved and adored, he was needed.
But maybe that is some of it. My dad is now in the arms of his Savior, free from the burdens of this life. That is the ultimate retirement...worshipping the Lord all day! I am also learning that, as much as I loved my daddy, I only NEED God. I was putting too much reliance in my earthly father and not enough in my Heavenly Father. That only added to my dad's burden. I am so thankful for a merciful Father. I know my dad is free.
As for those of us left behind, progress has been slow, but is coming. As with any sudden loss, we have spent much of the time since dad's death in a fog of shock and bewilderment. Both my mom and I have had a lot of trouble concentrating on life. My house is a disaster. I can barely make a meal, much less figure out how to organize and clean a room. Mom is exhausted both emotionally and physically. But we have made some great progress in the last few weeks, taking care of all the paperwork for dad's estate and also finding some peace and healing as we cope with our loss. The kids miss their grandpa terribly, but are also doing well. They now have the back to school rush to distract them.
I spent many of the past weeks just plain mad at God. I seriously believed that we already had such a burden that we were "safe" from any more pain. God certainly has more faith in me than I do. So through all this, I have had to ask myself if I really do have faith in God. Do I really and truly believe that He is Sovereign? Do I really get that His ways, although beyond my human understanding, are meant for my growth and righteousness. Can I still think of my Savior as a loving God and not as a big bully who is picking on me?
The short answer to these questions is yes. I think following God is worth it. In his writings, Paul talks a lot about perseverence and pressing on to the goal. I am understanding that more and more as I get older. And I have come to a point in my life where I can see true progress in my life. I can see very clearly how God has been at work, using even my most horrible decisions to bring glory and honor to Him. I want to press on. I want to serve my Savior in all I do and say. My life may be hard. It may not seem fair. But that no longer matters. My life is not my own, but is Christ's, and whatever I must endure here to stand with Him for eternity is worth it.
As for my lost summer, that is worth it too. My house isn't decorated and organized. It's not even clean! I have made no progress on the books I planned to read and the Bible studies I planned to finish. I wanted to write more, create more, and teach my children more. But I did learn a few things about myself and about God. God's power makes me strong. He will provide for me. And He really, really does love me.
Friday, February 19, 2010
When our youngest daughter, Abby, was diagnosed with leukemia a few years ago, Earl and I had just finished building a new home. Don't confuse this....we did not have a new home built -- we built the house ourselves. My hubby is a carpenter, and he was the general contractor and did a majority of the labor. The kids, our friends, and I pitched in where we could. My parents were here to help with everything too. A true family affair. Our friends laughed that since our marriage had survived homebuilding, it could survive anything! I believed that. There was so much give and take, so many times we had to rely on God and each other. So many unknowns when we just had to have faith.
Less than two months later, we were sitting in an oncologist's office as he explained what the rest of our foreseeable future would be like. Not enjoying the huge front porch of our brand new home, but instead, months and months of hospital stays and sleepless nights. Our marriage became second. And what I have found is once you but something on the back burner too long, it is very hard to get it right again.
I once told our pastor that I felt like Earl and I were just two people on Abby's medical team. Our life revolved around her care. It had to. She was fighting for her life! I'm not saying that Earl and I could have done anthing differently during this time. When he wasn't at the hospital with Abby, he was trying to fit some work in to support our family (and keep himself from going stir crazy!). When I was home, I would try to spend time with our three older kids. We were just surviving. Barely. As time went on and Abby was spending less time in the hospital and more time at home, we were still on this separate path. I tried to make up for lost time with my big kids while running back and forth to doctors' appointments with Abby. Earl was trying to rebuild his business to provide for our family. Again, everything we were doing was good. But our marriage was still in the background.
So here we are in 2010. Two people who love each other very much, who have built a beautiful family and an amazing home. Two people who love the Lord and put full faith and trust in Him. If you are having trouble in your marriage, I do not want this post to discourage you....instead, I want you to see that we all fall prey to Satan's lie. God wants us to work on our marriage. Satan will tell us that if we are serving God, those things will take care of themselves. God wants us to be purposeful about serving, honoring, and just plain being there for our spouse. Satan will say it is ok that we put our work, our children, or other pursuits first just for a "season."
So this year, I'm not buying Satan's garbage that my marriage will be here waiting for me when Abby is healed, when the kids are in college, when....whatever. My marriage has to be second only to the Lord. If I have put my full trust in Him, then I will obey His commmand to honor my husband. Ephesians 5:22-32
We already got a great start on this by spending the weekend of Valentine's Day at a marriage retreat. It was an amazing time. No TV, no phone calls or emails to answer. Just time to focus on each other. Our speaker gave us some great tools to use, and even used some role play with her own husband to demonstrate how to use them. Earl and I both were really impressed with how much useful information we were given. And it came in God's good timing. Last fall, we took a class at church where we when through the book, Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs together. That book really taught us where differences in our communication patterns cause misunderstandings. Purposefully combining all of this information doesn't even seem overwhelming. I'm excited to have a new understanding of my husband, how he thinks and communicates, and how to handle conficts so that he doesn't run away and I don't get off track and into crazyland.
So when a challenge came through on Twitter from Lisa B, I jumped at the chance to continue to be purposeful in honoring my husband and my marriage. We will be reading through The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. Lisa will be blogging, and I (hopefully) will too! Consider grabbing this book off your bookshelf or at the bookstore this weekend and join us. We'll be reading a chapter a day (weekdays only) starting Monday, February 22.
My marriage does not have to wait anymore. I'm putting it at the top of my list, just under Christ. I'm ready to come in off the bench, ready to play, to fight, to give this my all.
Monday, January 25, 2010
I was sitting in the doctors office with my youngest daughter, Abby, the weariness weighing heavy on me. She has been battling cancer for almost four years. As the doctor examines her and tells me to bring her back in tomorrow, I feel the frustration rising in me. The 80 mile round trip drive wears me out and I'm realizing we'll be making the trip every day this week. I don't say it, but my spirit is thinking "Why? Why now?"
The doctor leaves to order Abby's antibiotic and I plop back in my chair. My phone dings, signaling an email. I don't usually take email, calls, or texts during doctor visits, but I know we have a bit of wait. I figure I'll read my emails, which are certainly junk, then play a game or check Facebook. I open the email, which is from my Wednesday evening Bible study leader, and I see exactly what I need at that moment...what God knows I need to hear. The body of the email contains Paul's words in Hebrews reminding us that sometimes, life is exhausting, frustrating, confusing.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12: 1-3
Finding joy in my struggles is not always easy, but realizing my God loves me enough to send me an email to remind me to persevere sure does help!!