Personal Trials

I have a friend who I hold in high esteem although we have not had the privilege of meeting in person yet.  We became phone and then online friends a few years ago when we were both in the midst of transitions and associated with the same ministry.  Now I keep up with her on social media and through her excellent blog, Everyday Derring Do.
Allie said this recently on her blogpost: “It has been a shadowy season. So many mornings the sun felt obscured and the earth surreal. I wished for an unbroken heart. And I worked for healing when breathing seemed too much to ask.”  This quote really resonated with me as we went through the ordeal of the last few months.  When trials seem to much to bear, when daily life is a struggle just to focus and keep putting one foot in front of the other, we must hang on to the One who offers hope and healing.  Even in the midst of pain and heartache, He will meet you.
I often find it easier to process my thoughts by writing.  Love your writing, Allie!  Keep it up – you have a beautiful way with words.  Like you, I find I can express myself better with pen and paper or virtual pen and paper.  Like you, I’m seeking God in the shadowy season.  I’m finding Him nearby even in the midst of one of the most difficult seasons of my life.

Best Year Ever? Worst Year Ever?

2017 started out like many years – with me desiring to make the most of my time and energy. So I signed up for Michael Hyatt‘s course Best Year Ever.  I began the year with great goals and high productivity. I was excited about using time blocking to manage my time and increase my results. My personal and professional lives were going along swimmingly.

On April 3rd everything came to a screeching halt. Our daughter and my parents were in a horrific car accident. Thus began a four month ordeal that I will share more about in a future post. I spent weeks at a time in Florida with my family.

Is it?
Aqua Notes Inspiration

In my shower there hangs an Aqua Notes waterproof pad for jotting down great ideas that often come to me first thing in the morning. At the beginning of the year, I wrote on the top sheet “2017 BEST YEAR EVER.” Every time I came home from Florida, that paper would be staring me in the face each morning. I began to wonder if this was the Worst Year Ever.

Although I was tempted to cross out the word “Best” several times with a big X, I did not. I came to see that even in the midst of the worst ordeal of my life, there were still things to be thankful for. I tried to add to my 1000Gifts thankfulness journal. I held on to my faith and searched for moments of serenity amid the stress and exhaustion. I prayed like never before. I sought God and tried to continue to praise Him despite my circumstances.

Sailing to My Destination

I recently took an inventory of my spiritual gifts.  My number two and three gifts were Nurturing Leadership and Faith.  My faith is central to my life and I seek to love and serve God in all I do.  My primary spiritual gift of Visionary and Managing Leadership can best be described with an analogy from my love of sailing. The owner of the yacht decides where it will go, the navigator determines how to get there, and the helmsman actually gets the boat to its destination. I am a skilled navigator and helmsman both on the water and in life.

In Narragansett Bay
In Narragansett Bay

Seasons of Life

In the last three months, I’ve had surgery, been on an international trip (the trip of a lifetime with my parents who are in their eighties),  traveled 1000 miles to attend the funeral of an 18 year old, celebrated a birthday, learned that my 85 year old dad was told by his doctor that he should give up driving, said goodbye to our beloved dog of 14 years after a traumatic accident, traveled for a long weekend, attended a backyard concert, volunteered at my church fair, and had numerous physical therapy appointments – all while working full time and being a student in a doctoral program.  It’s been a bit of a roller coaster.  I realized that the sleepless nights lately have been mostly because my subconscious is worrying the problem about my parents as they are still very active but starting to need more help.  When I awoke the other night at 2 a.m. – not the first time – and thought I would not get back to sleep, I prayed and let go of my worry and fell immediately back to sleep.  The power of prayer is amazing.  We need only ask God for His grace and mercy; He loves us so incredibly much and wants to grant us peace.  I’m thankful that when I remember to turn to Him, He is always at the ready.  He longs to give me serenity.

Dealing with Pain

Dark Storm Clouds
Stormy Sky

Dark storm clouds gathered in the west as we went for a drive to enjoy the spring flowering trees and bushes.  It’s been two weeks since my elbow surgery and I’m in considerable pain every day.  The doctor warned me ahead of time that there would be pain for a few months after the surgery.  But I didn’t really hear that part; I was just desperate for a resolution to the pain from the torn tendon and inflamed nerve.

So I’ve been recuperating at home for two weeks with Advil, Tylenol, ice and stronger pain meds at night to help me sleep.  I usually consider myself to have a high tolerance for pain and in fact this injury has had me in pain on and off for two years (I tried cortisone shots and therapy a few times).  But finally it got so bad that I could not sleep and it was pain 24 hours a day.  So the doctor cleaned up the tendon – it was too damaged to reattach – and moved the nerve so that it would not constantly be aggravated.  I’m typing and writing a bit finally, but not doing much – tomorrow I go back to work.  I’m not feeling ready for work, but hoping it will be a distraction from the pain.  I had thought that I could use this time at home to get caught up on school.  But the thing about pain is that it saps your energy.  I’m normally a pretty energetic person; hence the full time job/full time student thing.  I get up early, study a bit, exercise, and work, come home and study some more.  Well, I’m lucky if I can concentrate long enough to read a chapter or an article these days.

I’m thankful that there is a future ahead where my elbow will be fully healed and I’ll be pain-free.  Meanwhile, I must just accept this stage, trying to live with serenity and grace.  Conserving my energy and not fretting about all the things that are not getting done.  Such are the storms of life.  We weather them as best we can, always hopeful for another day, a sunny day.  Early spring is like that, 8o degrees one day, 40 degrees two days later, stormy and windy one day, sunny and balmy the next.

I’m holding on to my serenity.

Eucharisteo

 Photo: A wonderful day outdoors

The question was raised in my book study of One Thousand Gifts last week … of what is the point of listing small things that we are thankful for like the green leaves of spring.  I don’t remember who asked it, but I think she and others were wrestling with the larger question of how to be thankful in the midst of life’s larger trials and what relevance these small things had.  Why should we fill a list of 1000 things we are thankful for with seemingly insignificant things?  How can we be thankful for the hard things?

Eucharisteo – grace, joy, thanksgiving

As I pondered this, several things came to mind.
Thankfulness is a discipline.  Being thankful in the small things teaches us how to be thankful in all things.
Thankfulness is a habit – and habits take practice.
Noticing these seemingly small things, puts God in perspective and teaches us to reverence our Creator.
Noticing helps us to “be here now” to live fully.  It allows us to experience life in new ways.

I think that as we develop this discipline, we grow closer to being able to trust and thank God in all circumstances.

Being thankful brings us deeper into relationship with God.

I think God is delighted when we give thanks in big and small things.

As Maria sings in The Sound of Music:
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles with warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings

These are a few of my favorite things


The picture is the view I enjoyed yesterday as I worked at our annual golf tournament.  

  • Thankful for a day outdoors
  • Thankful for good weather
  • Thankful for time to enjoy God’s beautiful creation
  • Thankful for the hawk overhead
  • Thankful for the sunshine and the breeze
  • Thankful for the people I met
  • Thankful for the team of people I work with
  • Thankful for filet mignon for dinner
  • Thankful for my health
  • Thankful for women on the journey studying together


#1000Gifts 

Feed My Soul

Thursday mornings I get up extra early.  I’m at the Deli by 7 a.m.  One by one, they straggle in, these friends of mine, church ladies.  I am one of the youngest.  We catch up, pray, study together and do life, sharing each other’s burdens and joys.  All within the space of one hour, once a week.  Charlene tried to express what this time meant to her this morning as we were getting ready to leave.  This group is a place to process life, to work out our faith, to talk about deep theological issues as well as how we deal with family situations. We try to make it practical and applicable.

It’s a lifeline really.  This thing called fellowship.  We are a small tribe, sometimes just two of us show up, other times as many as eight.  But we are deeply connected.  We ask about that grand-baby, or that situation at work, or the difficult pregnancy of our youngest, or the trip we are planning or just returned from.  We remember and are connected.  This connection feeds the soul.  We share pictures, text or email each other.  We see each other at church and sometimes at other gatherings.  Yet it is this sacred time and space on Thursday mornings at the deli that bonds us.  The waiter remembers what we like to drink and brings it when we arrive.  We order crispy bacon or oatmeal or a full breakfast, but it is not the food that nourishes us.

Parenting: The Adventure

If I may share a bit of parenting wisdom.  If you are a new parent, or not yet a parent, file this away for the future …

Everyone says that when your children are old enough, they will choose their own faith and the prevailing thought is that you have no control over whether they will choose your faith.  I disagree.  I think if you teach them the faith in their formative years, and disciple them in the 18+ years that you have with them, the choice will be obvious.  The faith is compelling and the “world” does not have to win.  Your children can have a relationship with God from the time that they are small.  Don’t leave it to the church! 

Our pastor, Mark Browne, shared this with me when my first was small and we were diligent to read the Bible as a family, to pray together and to incorporate faith into every aspect of life.  Mine are now 19 and 22 and each has a vibrant faith.  No rebellion to speak of.  Don’t buy into the lie that every child will rebel!

Husbands

–>

I read a good article recently from a woman named Kitti Murray, a self described voracious reader, slow runner, decent writer, and killer cappucino maker. In it she talks about how spouses grow, change and mature over time.  The article resonates with many, and the author encourages us to celebrate what is good, what God is doing, in the lives of our spouses.
“The growth journey is more arduous and the destination more glorious than we can imagine at the outset. It is long enough to include some pretty discouraging lulls and even a pit or two. But if God is a God who sits on his throne and says, ‘Behold I am making all things new,’ (Revelation 21:3, ESV), then growth is more like a continual birth than the result of a seminar. That it happens at all is that kind of miracle.”
 
Thankful to be married to a wonderful man all these years.  Encouraged to stand back and see what God is doing in and through him.  

The growth journey is more arduous and the destination more glorious than we can imagine at the outset. It is long enough to include some pretty discouraging lulls and even a pit or two. But if God is a God who sits on his throne and says, “Behold I am making all things new,” (Revelation 21:3, ESV), then growth is more like a continual birth than the result of a seminar. That it happens at all is that kind of miracle. – See more at: http://www.startmarriageright.com/2013/10/you-probably-didnt-marry-a-grown-up-husband/#sthash.1rZfcYlT.dpuf
The growth journey is more arduous and the destination more glorious than we can imagine at the outset. It is long enough to include some pretty discouraging lulls and even a pit or two. But if God is a God who sits on his throne and says, “Behold I am making all things new,” (Revelation 21:3, ESV), then growth is more like a continual birth than the result of a seminar. That it happens at all is that kind of miracle. – See more at: http://www.startmarriageright.com/2013/10/you-probably-didnt-marry-a-grown-up-husband/#sthash.1rZfcYlT.dpuf
The growth journey is more arduous and the destination more glorious than we can imagine at the outset. It is long enough to include some pretty discouraging lulls and even a pit or two. But if God is a God who sits on his throne and says, “Behold I am making all things new,” (Revelation 21:3, ESV), then growth is more like a continual birth than the result of a seminar. That it happens at all is that kind of miracle. – See more at: http://www.startmarriageright.com/2013/10/you-probably-didnt-marry-a-grown-up-husband/#sthash.1rZfcYlT.dpuf

The growth journey is more arduous and the destination more glorious than we can imagine at the outset. It is long enough to include some pretty discouraging lulls and even a pit or two. But if God is a God who sits on his throne and says, “Behold I am making all things new,” (Revelation 21:3, ESV), then growth is more like a continual birth than the result of a seminar. That it happens at all is that kind of miracle. – See more at: http://www.startmarriageright.com/2013/10/you-probably-didnt-marry-a-grown-up-husband/#sthash.1rZfcYlT.dpuf

The growth journey is more arduous and the destination more glorious than we can imagine at the outset. It is long enough to include some pretty discouraging lulls and even a pit or two. But if God is a God who sits on his throne and says, “Behold I am making all things new,” (Revelation 21:3, ESV), then growth is more like a continual birth than the result of a seminar. That it happens at all is that kind of miracle. – See more at: http://www.startmarriageright.com/2013/10/you-probably-didnt-marry-a-grown-up-husband/#sthash.1rZfcYlT.dpuf