I am at Valley Medical today while Greg has a procedure. Nothing is wrong – it is called “getting older” and having the doctor recommend routine tests are normal as precautions against anything really bad. These “procedures” are not for the faint hearted. I should know – last week one of “those” gave me a wicked migraine. It was Greg’s turn today. After seeing how I weathered it last week – he was not too thrilled to have it done. But such is life and we are both thankful and grateful to be healthy in spite of these interruptions to our routine.
I am situated in the cafeteria with a venti-size Starbucks latte on my table. It is called “sugar mama” and has white chocolate, hazelnut and vanilla. Very good. I only got lost down the endless “rat’s maze” corridors in the bowels (no pun intended) of the hospital. After finding myself heading straight for the “sleep study” area I knew I had taken a wrong turn somewhere. But some very nice people in little blue scrubs showed me the way. I found the cafeteria on the first try and had a nice breakfast sandwich from a corner table, able to observe life here in the hospital.
The first thing I noticed – everyone on break is STARVING! They head straight to the breakfast bar where biscuits, gravy, sausage and bacon is the standard fare. Others were ordering french toast – but I ordered a breakfast sandwich and they made it just the way I like it – bacon, pepper jack cheese and mushrooms. Everyone in blue is very helpful and unusually chatty and happy. It is nice to be in this atmosphere. I sit in the coffee bar section and am surrounded by pleasant chatter from the barista’s and other “blue” people, enjoying their break.
This is everything you hope a medical facility will be – when you have to be here. And though we would have chosen to do something entirely different with our time – if the doctor says, “do it!” we do – and the staff both here and at the medical building are wonderful.
The sun is shining – the world looks bright and inviting as I sip my coffee and write. I am extremely grateful for the blessing of health, and am aware of the many around me who are not so fortunate. It has been a tough year for many of my friends and my thoughts and prayers continue to be with them all the time. We are praying for a better year – many good reports of healing, health and God’s faithfulness as we stand on the thresh-hold of another New Year.
I have been enjoying my devotional time with Joyce Meyer Ministries. The other day Joyce was teaching on “Asking God” – as taken from these scriptures:
Matthew 7:7-11 (NKJV)
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Matthew 21:22 (NKJV)
22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.
If you are like me you have heard these scriptures many times. I had heard them but must admit that I was not really asking. Somehow it did not seem polite to keep asking for things – like a spoiled child who never thinks about anybody else but themselves. Me, me, ME!!!! Mine, mine, MINE!!! Whah, whah, WHAH!!!! It just felt WRONG.
So my prayer and communication had taken on a different tone over the years. Always respectful and thankful, bringing out confessions, my weaknesses and concerns for others, my family and friends. Walking and talking with God. But I believe I was missing one important aspect to prayer. I wasn’t asking.
Not only does God say to ask – but we are told to do so boldly.
New King James Version (NKJV)
16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
So the other night in my prayer time – I took a bold step and just asked. And because God already knows what I am thinking about I have to believe that the asking is partly for me. A step of faith. It helps me get things out and really deal with them. Rather than shoving them aside – or pushing them down deep where I don’t have to think about them.
Another thing Joyce said was this: Even if we don’t see the answer to prayer after asking – we need to tell ourselves that God is still working. That clear statement of faith with drive doubt and negativity from our minds and hearts when the waiting for answers seems long and hard. To think that when I boldly ask – and then leave it with Him to work it out in His timing behind the scenes – leaves me feeling peaceful and reassured.
For some circumstances it is easy to believe and have faith in the process of God’s timing. It is maybe even easy to ask. But there are situations where it is very difficult to ask. I have one right now – that has actually made me feel guilty about even asking. But the other night I asked anyway. I gave it away, and though I’m sure it won’t automatically just go away from my mind and heart – I took the steps to begin that great ‘behind the scenes’ work that only God can provide.
Have you an issue right now that you’re afraid to even ask about? You can be reassured that God wants you to ask. He will work out the details. He is trustworthy to bring only good for your life, peace for your soul and health for your mind and body.
Ask Him today. And know that He is still working.
Image by nicole.pierce.photography ♥ via Flickr
I looked for someone
like searching in a fog
an endless mist
that unattainable someone
thinking that it would satisfy
what’s deep within
heart-sick and weary
all my efforts
came up empty
and my searching
brought no relief
for I found
that in the searching
it was me that I found instead
alone and empty
sad and confused
“Is what I seek
my dream only?
I continue to pursue?
Are my “dreams” just those I make up
and endless struggle
instead of fulfillment
And yet I searched for you
my unobtainable someone
that threatened to destroy
and devour me
The one I craved
the things I craved
could be my undoing
and the searching
and dreaming for them
like a slow death
And at the end of the road
I was still there
running on empty
defeated and broken…
It was when I was at my weakest
and tired of running after
and insisting on my own way
that He came
and I heard
a still small voice
and in my confusion
which caused me to slow down
that I heard Him
that voice changed me
as He reached in
and held the broken
and confused me
and finally I don’t need to know
all the reasons for before
I reluctantly surrender
all the running
for something unknown
instead of something
that does not satisfy
and begin a new path
with His dreams
and plans for me
and at the end of the road
there is no disappointment
and I have almost
vanished from view
my selfishness and pride
are still there
but they are covered
and kept in check
and it is He that is waiting
a new dream
all the things
and thought I needed
He is giving me
than I could ever dream
as He replaces my will
with new people
and a new dream
What is your dream today? Have you surrendered yours for His?
Image by Gabriela Camerotti via Flickr
The other day while teaching a piano lesson – I fell out of my chair in my office. I’m not kidding. I have a new office chair with a really high center of gravity – and I was innocently leaning over to my right to pick something up off the floor – when all of a sudden – my chair slipped on the hardwood slippery floor – right from underneath me. My natural instinct was to put out my hand to stop my fall – unfortunately it was my THUMB that took all the impact. I heard a nasty ‘popping’ sound like a knuckle cracking – and thought to myself, “That can’t be good” – but I was really in no pain so I kept on teaching the rest of the afternoon – even playing the piano for a few more voice students.
My 19-year-old son LAUGHED AND LAUGHED when he heard about it later that day. And it would’ve been really funny to me too – if I did not have to use my thumb to play the piano. But like any injury – it creates great drama – and a wonderful story for later. My daughter Ashlee used to love the saying, “It’s not funny until someone gets hurt – and then it’s HILARIOUS!”
Because there was no real pain – but was quite swollen – even turning black and blue yesterday – I kept icing it and then Greg fashioned a bandage to keep it immobile while I was teaching. Last night it looked worse – so we called our 24 hour nurse hot line and explained the injury to a nurse. She was very thorough and asked me a lot of questions about my thumb – the type of swelling – where it was sore – if any place. By the time I was off the phone with her – I was confident that I had just sprained it. I slept with a bandage on it last night – and this morning there is hardly any swelling at all! So relieved! The things we do to ourselves, right? Nothing like self-induced injuries!
I also tried Acupuncture on my back for the first time yesterday and really liked it! I’m going to go again – as well as keep my regular chiropractic and massage appointments. Getting older is not very fun. And tomorrow I enter into a new decade.
Injured but NOT broken. Kind of like – life.
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Every journey has them. Every life encounters them. They are speed bumps.
I’m keenly aware of the ones in my life. Even long after they have happened. It’s interesting that the speed bump appears just as I’ve hit my stride and I’m feeling great – when sailing along at top speed – doing what I always do.
I don’t like speed bumps. I never have. I don’t like slowing down. Sometimes I have not slowed down and made proper allowances for the speed bump – only to hear a very loud noise as my car plows over it – and it makes me cringe. Speed bumps are put there for one purpose: to MAKE us slow down. Slow down – or ELSE.
There are events in my life that have also made me slow down. Just when I thought I had it all together. All the people important to me and my world in their proper place. Something happens. Causing my world to not only slow down – but come to a complete stop. Oh I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t even want to slow down and call it a ‘speed bump’ – but in retrospect – that’s exactly what it was. Something that shook me down to my foundation – made me take inventory and readjust. I didn’t want to. It hurt.
Ever feel like this? Things happen that make you slow down and sometimes come to a complete stop? Dead in your tracks? You’re not alone.
I believe that God knows and understands this. If I didn’t believe this – there would be no hope for me. He listens and understands without judgment – without condemnation. He knows I am guilty – of so many things – of not slowing down and showing more caution and much more. But He is in the restoring business – and He pursues me with a love like no other. Lavish and full. Complete in forgiveness and grace. And I weep. For no one understands my heart like He does. No one loves me like this. I weep for the loss. I weep because I cannot fix things. I weep because I am sad. And He knows and whispers to me that it’s only temporary – only a speed bump along my journey.
Those speed bumps have taught me something valuable that I can hang onto. I am still me – and they don’t keep me from being who I am – but instead teach me an important lesson about slowing down – and recognizing danger – before I get there and plow recklessly into it. And I have His promise that He will journey with me – no matter how bad the speed bump is in the future.
He is much more concerned with my heart than any external circumstances and I believe He will allow anything – even those speed bumps along the way in order for me to be more sensitive and bring me closer to understanding His heart.
I am praying for you
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My heart is stirred today in much emotion – a heavy heart over events and situations that have lately affected my life and made it difficult to press on. A difficult season of life – with many things out of my control – leaving deep sadness, remorse – and resignation.
Our pastor, Stephen Collins, spoke on the subject of ‘Mercy’ today. And although it is a subject that is not new to me – or any people of faith – I believe I heard newness in this simple message today – things that I will continue to ponder in the coming weeks. I found myself very emotional. This is a subject that is close to my heart and life. And so with tears streaming down my face – I sat there and took it all in – and allowed the Lord to minister sweet words of comfort and blessing. I was touched and moved beyond words.
I’ve noticed something about people who are merciful. – they are the first ones to forgive, love, embrace and welcome back, those who are lost or fallen away. They have no trouble accepting forgiveness or giving it. They do not accuse and blame. They have tender hearts – and they understand the value of mercy – because God has shown mercy to them. They are also the happiest and most positive people in the world – with many friends. Their friends trust them – and turn to them when they are in trouble – with no fear of judgment of alienation. These are people who have been forgiven.
We’ve been watching ‘A Christmas Carol’ – I was noting how Scrooge shows no mercy at the beginning of the story – and then after being shown his life by the ‘spirits’ – he begins to see others and himself in a new light. The Scrooge story is a story of mercy. A story of second chances and a new lease on life – a valuable reminder to all of us to remember that when you show mercy to others – others will be merciful. And it is interesting to note – that the nephew and employee of Scrooge have merciful hearts and embrace him without question – at the beginning of the story – when he is NOT merciful – and later as he is transformed at the end of the story. No questions – no judgment – no criteria. Just open arms of love and mercy.
I want to be one that shows mercy – even when I feel as though others have judged me and not understood me – or shown mercy to me. I want to be the first to say, ‘I understand, I forgive, I love’. And leave it at that. No questions asked. No hesitation. No disbelief. Just love and mercy.
Help me Lord to be that kind of person. Help me to get over myself, my pride, my hurt and pain. Help me to let go of others that have wronged me – those who have no understanding that their words and actions have wounded me more than they will ever know – and help me to forgive them and show mercy. For I am very aware that if I do not show mercy to others who have failed – or not done what I think they should, then you will not show mercy to me. Help me to walk with a pure clean heart – free of agenda – free of revenge. Help me to see others through your eyes. Amen.
Image by Medusa's Lover via Flickr
There’s an elephant in the room. No one talks about it. No one dares.
We run and hide
We tell stories
We change the subject
There’s an elephant in the room
This poor ignored elephant – one that used to be rather small – but because everybody refuses to acknowledge her presence – she has become rather LARGE! You see – she has an inferiority complex. A Big one. And she drowns her sorrow and disappointment in eating anything she can get her hands on. And because people would rather walk around her – even tiptoe lightly – she has to try to stay invisible in the center of the room – and not trip anybody up. Oh she has tried to get everyone’s attention at times. She even tries different colors to wear so she’ll stick out more and be noticed. I’ve even seen her painting her toe nails red – and then waving her hands and feet wildly in the air – but to no avail. She even waved and winked at me one time too – I’m sure of it. I just shook my head and smiled. I mean – really – what else could I do? She’s an elephant.
Poor, poor elephant.
I’m waiting for the day – when someone can’t take it anymore and jumps up and says, “Hey!!! There’s a LARGE elephant in here! Do you see her?” But until that day….
We run and hide
We tell jokes
We tell stories
We change the subject.
No one likes an elephant – especially a LARGE one with brightly colored clothes and painted red toenails, Right? This elephant could change everything forever. And no one will speak up. No one will take the risk. Better to ignore and pretend….
There’s an elephant in the room
Heard a great ‘message/personal story’ by new pastor Stephen Collins at LifePoint Church yesterday. His main illustration and emphasis was about baseball. He talked about how his Dad taught him at a young age to ‘keep his eye on the ball’.
If you play ball – or know anything about it from others who do – then you know that this advice from coaches is not just a suggestion – but a tried and true method in which you connect with the ball. You take your eyes off – and you not only lose the possibility of connection – but you can miss altogether. This is a great ‘life lesson’ as well.
There are many distractions in life – those things that can take our focus off what is really important. Oh – sometimes they are really little things – hardly detectable by anyone else – but for you – they can mean the difference between having a ‘win’ – or ‘striking out’.
I believe that things happen for a reason. Emotions and situations are neutral. It is how I process them – and choose to react to them that makes the difference between a ‘win’ for me – or a ‘loss’. When I understand this – I am able to find my focus and not let others distract me – or try to pull me to one side or another. If God is truly the central focus of my life – and He is – then the ‘other things’ become neutral. My responsibility is to do what He asks me to do – nothing else. That – for me – is ‘keeping my eye on the ball’.
In every heart – in our deepest part of our soul – we have a ‘God space’ – that no one else can go. It is our ‘secret place’ with Him alone. Others can not fill us up – it is for Him alone. When we try to fill it with other things in life – or other people – thinking these things will be enough and satisfy – we are easily distracted and disappointed – become discouraged and can be depressed. Especially when our self-worth depends on what others think and say about us or to us directly. When we keep our eyes on Him alone – the rest does not matter – we don’t need man’s approval – or advice to make us feel better. We can simply rest in Him.
I plan to ‘keep my eye on the ball’ – I will fail because I’m flawed and capable of really messing it up – but after I blow it – I will again pick myself back up and find my focus once again. I know I will be distracted by ‘well meaning’ people who try to sway me in one direction or another – but my goal is to be secure in spite of these obstacles – and be confident enough in myself – even when others don’t agree – even when things are slipping out of my hands and my world is shaken – even when I don’t handle it right with people. I want to be solid and unswayed in my belief that I only need to answer to God alone – and NOT take my focus off what I know He is calling me to do.
What is God calling you to do? Do you stand alone? Are there many distractions and troubles? Is your heart heavy from the weight of it? Welcome to the club! Welcome to life. Hold on weary traveler – don’t lose your focus – or be weary in well-doing. Keep your eye on the ball.