Thursday, September 30, 2010

Calm, ease, quiet, serenity. These are all words that describe peace. They also describe where I am at the moment.

"It is well with my soul..." The hymn writer wrote these words in the face terrible of loss. I, too, can echo his words.

A friend commented on how peaceful I seem. Yes! I am.

I am confident that my God, who is my Redeemer and Friend, my Papa, has everything in hand. As I hang out with Him and pay attention to what He is saying I find rest and peace.
I have been reminded how essential prayer is in all situations. What is prayer? For me it is being aware of His Presence and fixing my attention of Him. It is a conversation with the Living God. At times He does the talking and I listen, then He becomes quiet and I speak. Often we are both still, simply enjoying being together.
I do not feel compelled to instruct Him as to how to handle my concerns. I simply talk to Him about them and entrust each one to His care. Sometimes He puts a prayer in my heart and I find myself praying in a way that would have never occurred to me. That's the Spirit.

He has a purpose for every single thing that He allows to come into our lives. Of this I am sure. Papa takes all the threads that represent all our lives and weaves them together into a beautiful tapestry. He is the Master Artist!

Yesterday He brought a passage of scripture to my attention. I want to share it and my thoughts here before I close this post out.

"For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." The address for this passage is in the second epistle to the Corinthians, verses fifteen through eighteen in the fourth chapter.

What did the Spirit speak to me as I read this scripture? Everything is for my sake, but not just mine. He has something for each one who comes in contact with me and my family, if they care to receive it. My heart shouts for joy that our life will cause more and more people to give glory to God! He is so worthy!!
This time and place is momentary; it will all pass away - eternity awaits!

What He is doing in the willing soul is so glorious. The outward condition is no indication! Our bodies will age and wear out, but He intends the real me and you to shine!
Oh, Papa, give me eyes to "see" beyond the temporary stuff and to see in faith all that which awaits and that will never get worn out!
Herein lies the secret to true Peace.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The phone rang this morning and it was a wrong number, kind of...It was a precious lady whom I have not had the opportunity to speak with in a number of years. She mis-dialed and got me. What a gift! We both love Papa and so our conversation was so very sweet.

Part of what we spoke about had to do with the heaviness that seems to be filling our world. So much sadness, so much pain; all too much.

My husband, whose progress is harder to measure these days; of course, my beloved niece, along with so many others were mentioned. My friend shared the heartache of a mutual friend who sees her four young adult children making disasterous choices.

I didn't say anything about the man who died yesterday morning. I didn't know him and barely know his sister, yet as soon as she called Sunday night with the prayer request my heart became heavy. He had an accident with his motorcycle. A good man, well respected and loved. It makes no difference. Life and death happen as it will.

So, you ask, "I thought you said your conversation was sweet! It doesn't sound too sweet!"

Oh, but it was! Simply because we did not stay focused on all the sadness and pain, but turned our thoughts to Him.

As we get to know Him, we learn that He is good and we can trust Him no matter what!

One of my favorite books in the Bible is second Peter. First Peter is right up there too! Recently Peter's second epistle keeps being brought to my attention.
I remember teaching my sons from the first chapter of this book when they were young children.

The first four verses remind us of all that our God has done for us and what He has in store for us in the future. Grace and peace are ours in abundance by knowing Him. By "His divine power He has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness," again through knowing Him.
"He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises."
"In order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature(!)"
Isn't that amazing!! He wants us to know Him that well!

The following verses speak of a number of qualities of character that we are to be developing as a response to all He has and is doing for us. As my sons and I studied these qualities we drew a picture of a strong man. Each part of him was made up of one of the qualities.
The qualities are diligence, faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. His foundation was knowing God.
The foundation is always the critical piece. Solid foundation and the building will stand. Our lives will stand no matter what assails them, if our foundation is the One who wields the Divine Power!

What can be sweeter than knowing Him and partaking of all He offers. Nothing!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saturday morning found me, once again, boarding the Bridgeport ferry bound for Port Jefferson, New York. I wasn't alone! Many others were heading to Long Island too. The day promised to be a beautiful one and the island offers much to do on a beautiful day. Some, I'm sure were not venturing any further than Port Jeff itself, as it offers many shops and restaurants in which to while one's time away. Many others had rides awaiting them to take them to their destinations. I was one of those.

I like to watch people and imagine what they and their lives are like. I used my time on the ferry to do a bit of that imagining. It is easy to think others are all on some lovely adventure with no troubles to weigh them down. Certainly they are more lighthearted than we. If we really watch them though we will see that most are carrying one burden or another in their heart.
I am sure that I am not alone in my people watching, so I wonder what others are imagining my life is like? Hey, there are times that I'd like to know what twists and turns await me!

Heading to visit my sisters I wasn't sure how the weekend would go. I did have a peace, but that didn't mean it would be an easy weekend!

It was a good weekend!

After an afternoon of lunch, manicures (Ladies, mine cost seven dollars and included a brief neck and shoulder massage!!), and errands, which included gathering items to use in baskets for the raffle during the walk for cancer we got ready for our other sisters' arrivals.

We three sisters gathered with our sister Chrissy at the cemetary in the early evening. Standing there looking at this lump of dirt with a plaque bearing Sara's name seemed surreal. The question of how this could be real came again to my heart and mind.
We presented Chrissy with a beautiful silver heart necklace. The heart bore the imprint of Sara's thumb. Our dear sister was very moved. The heart hangs over her heart. So appropriate.

Afterward we had a lovely time together at our sister Patti's. I had intended to stay at Patti's, as I wasn't sure whether Chrissy wanted company or not. During the evening she asked if I would like to go home with her. I did!

My son, Jon, lives on the Long Island Sound. He was having a small party with a very large bonfire. We were invited. He wanted us to camp overnight too. We had all said it would be too late to even stop by and as far as overnight - all our bones protested at the very thought of sleeping on the ground!

Yet, after starting the drive home last night, my sister Chrissy and I, who are known in some circles as Thelma and Louise, decided that we were not tired at all even though it was eleven-thirty or so and thought it would be fun to surprise Jon and his friends. Jon's friends are also Sara's friends and very dear to us.

Jon has not lived in his apartment that long and I have relied upon my GPS to get me there in the past. My sister had never been there, as she had been so occupied with Sara since he moved there. We had no GPS and no address, but hey why let that stop us!
My sister knew how to get to the proper town and then we followed my nose. As I explained to Jon today, it was sort of like a pinball in one of those games. We went here, we went there and simply stumbled upon the small beach where he lives. (Thank You, Papa!)
We parked and walked the half mile or so to the bonfire.
What a reception we received! They were so surprised!

It was so lovely sitting on the beach, listening to the waves crash on the shore and the crackling of the fire, and visiting with such precious ones. The best part of the whole time was to hear my sister laugh and joke. It was worth the fatique that I am feeling right now.

I brought the book I am reading with me and used part of my travel time to continue my way through it. The author's focus is on the love of God. He loves to love us.
His love brings comfort and healing.
This weekend I felt and saw His love woven through every aspect of it. Of course, it was lovely!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's one of those days where I have so much to say that I do not know exactly where to start. So many thoughts have come to me this day and they refuse to leave me.

Actually, I do know where to start....

Papa, You know precisely what should be recorded here, so I am looking to You to direct my thoughts.

Monday through Friday I receive a commentary in my inbox. It is from "A Slice of Infinity". There are a handful of writers that contribute at different times. I have a favorite. Her name is Jill Carattini. Often what she says resonates with me. Today's commentary was one of them.

Ms. Carattini spoke of something a friend had shared with her. When the woman was a child she was disappointed by a realization. What was it? The thought that God loved everyone equally. He has no favorites. What was the problem?

Jill addressed her disappointment. She said that we all love to be seen as the best, superior to others by someone. No one wants to be equal to everyone else, but desires to be extra-ordinary. She then went on to speak of God's extravagant love for us and all that He offers us through Christ. She closes with the thought that this indeed is favoritism.

I concur, yet, I also come from a slightly different angle. I am a mother and I truly love all four of my children equally. However, to an outside observer it may not have always seemed so. You see, it depends upon who needs more attention at any given time. There are times when one or the other needs to feel extra special and favored above others. Yes, even as adults, which they all are now.
The attention may come in the form of an extra call or text or, as often is the case, extra prayer.

If you asked my sons individually who they thought was my favorite, I wouldn't be surprised if each claimed that spot. actually, I hope that truly would be the case!
That is how it is with Papa. Most likely somewhere along this blog I mentioned the story that Brennan Manning related in His book "Abba's Child." It bears repeating.
He was on the beach one morning with his elderly uncle when he noticed that the older man was particularly happy. Brennan commented on the fact and his uncle admitted that he indeed was very happy. What was the source of this happiness? That his Abba was "especially fond of him"!
That is how I feel. My Papa is especially fond of me. He is also especially fond of you! He has a way of loving His children so that we each feel singled out by Him; singled out for extra love and care.

These are the thoughts that took up residence this morning. Others joined them and built upon them as the day progressed....

A blog that I follow also arrives in my inbox on a daily basis. I do not always stop to read all my mail right away, so sometimes it might be a day or two until I open it. I was a few days behind in this one, but the timing was right. "Heart to Heart with Holley" spoke of God's promise to set eveything right one day. No matter the pain, the struggle, the tears, the longing; all of it will be set right by His Hand.
Those are encouraging words because they are not just some woman's words, but they are drawn from the Words of God. And His Words are promises. He does not lie and since I know that He loves me extravagantly, I can rest in them.

Fast forward to later in my day and find me seated at the acupuncturist's with a book spread out before me and my hands gingerly holding the pages open. Gingerly because they had the look of a porcupine - with many needles sticking out of them! It does not feel very good to move them when they look like that!
The book was given to me a while ago by a good man that I know. As he gave me the book he informed me that he doesn't usually do this, but thought of me as he read it and felt I should have a copy.
The title is "He Loves Me!" and the author is Wayne Jacobsen.

I am finally getting around to reading it, as there is always a pile of books I am intending to read and I try to be fair and read them in the order that they arrived on the pile. Well, mostly, unless one just won't leave me alone until I pick it up!
To be honest I wasn't sure that the book would offer me anything fresh, as I am totally convinced that I am loved.
Well, I thought I was totally convinced.

A line in the book got my attention.
The author made this statement. "Most of our lives are spent living less loved."
He is saying not that God loves us less, but we cheat ourselves out of experiencing all the love that He is offering.
What robs us of receiving all of His love?
"Worry that God will ask us for some horrible sacrifice."
"Indulgence in sin."
"Giving in to anxiety in the crush of our circumstances."
"When we try to earn God's favor by our own efforts."
"Even when we get caught up in religious obligations to make ourselves acceptable to Him."

The truth is He does not want to hurt or punish us and all He allows into our lives is for our good. All we need to do is trust Him! Revel in His love.

I, like Brennan's uncle can be of good cheer because "I am loved by God as I am, not as I should be!"

Later today Papa underlined in my heart all He had been speaking to me. He amplified all these wonderful thoughts that were alive in my mind.
I truly detest paperwork and phone calls. Right now there is much of both. There has been this big omenous job that I have been pecking at half-heartedly. It is important so I have felt a bit guilty that I am not going full steam ahead with it. It is dealing with Social Security Disability.

My husband may not be able to go back to work this coming April. Should that be the case, he will need to be on the aforementioned. They want so much detailed information. It is overwhelming. Then there is setting up appointments, etc.
On top of this has been the concern of living on whatever they offer and all that goes witht that headache.
Added to the mix has been a company offer for Ray to retire early.

What is the right thing? How do we proceed?

Today many answers came. It is definitely not to our advantage to take that offer. Ray has been paying into long-term disability at work. It begins when the current one ends in April and will supplement Social Security. The topper was when I learned that the company who handles this will walk me through and also participate in the process with Social Security! It is to their advantage to do so!

Once more our needs and concerns are being addressed. Papa has it all in Hand. Maybe one day I will learn to stay still in His Hands and not rob myself of one moment of all He has for me. I do not want to live less loved!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This morning Brennan Manning reminded me that a radical imitation of the Trinity (the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit) will have three aspects.
The first is dialogue. Communication is critical for all relationships and it is all about relationships! The Living God calls us into relationship with Him. He communicates His desire for us to draw nearer to Him. He uses His Word and His Spirit to do this.
Secondly, there is spontaneous love. God is love. He doesn't have to think about how to respond to us, he just does and it is always out of love.
Third is community, which finishes the list. We are called into His body. We need each other; we need fellowship. Our God enjoys fellowship within Himself and it is glorious! He desires His own to enjoy one another also. The amazing thing is that He says that where two or three are gathered together in His Name, there He is in the midst of them. He joins in!

Brennan could have simply mentioned love because that is what motivates us to communicate and draws us together. Real, genuine love is pure, unselfish and reflects God, who motivates such love. It is this love that carries me into and through all that comes into my life.

I've been reading in Nahum this week and what I saw today in the third chapter was that we choose our fate, not God. We are not puppets, we have choices. As life takes its twists and turns I choose how I am going to deal with it.
Am I willing to learn and grow or do I choose to stubbornly plant my feet and dig in my heels? That becomes very tiring. I know, I've tried it!

When I put my trust firmly in Him amazing things happen! Papa loves when His child looks to Him. He never disappoints. Well, we are never disappointed as long as we remember and hold on to the truth that He loves us.
I am learning to just present concerns, longings, needs to Him without trying to tell Him how to handle it. He always surprises me and delightfully so.

Blessings have been coming left and right. To be honest there are always blessings, but I do not always choose to focus on them. He has not deserted me at any time, even when I have been blind to Him and what He is doing!

A dear friend took my honey to Gaylord today for all his therapies. He helped Ray before and after the pool therapy. It would have been interesting when it came time to go into the men's locker room, if I had taken him!
Our friend has volunteered to handle all the Wednesdays for the time being!
An extra bonus was that I was able to have breakfast with a close friend this morning!

Yesterday first one friend came from New York and took Ray to an early lunch and then another friend came to spend time with Ray and took him to see his horses. During this time I was treated to a massage. I think I am very spoiled!!
Yesterday evening, for the first time since his accident, my love's response was "Good!" when he was asked how his day had been. Before the best we had gotten was "Fair."
So Papa was right when He told me that what He had for Ray right now was people. Imagine that!! He always knows what is best!

Matt and Mindy are settling in and it is such a pleasure to have their company and help! I have joined a book club and tomorrow evening is my first meeting!
It is such a relief to be able to take a break and know that my honey is in good hands.

On Saturday I am heading to New York to spend some time with my sisters. We have something special to give our sister, Chris. If it weren't for loving family and friends I would not be able to do this.

So do you see the theme of love here? Love that motivates communication and community. It is such a safe place to be! Praise be to God!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Let's talk about endurance. That's what Papa and I were discussing this morning.
Endurance, perseverance, steadfastness. All the same thing.
I understand what it means.
Do I understand the why of it all? No, not the question of why things happen, but of why we should endure.

It is human nature to want to run away. I remember one time when I wanted to run away. It was many years ago, between twenty-five and thirty years ago.
I don't remember the specifics of what was going on in my life, but I remember the desire to flee that came on me very suddenly.
I was coming out of a store and a guy was getting into his pickup truck. He reminded me of the Marlboro man. (Hey, what can I say?)
I had this really strong urge to run up to him, jump into his truck and ask him to take me away.
I didn't, but man I wanted to!

In face of trials it is so easy to feel like escaping from it all. Yet, the best and safest place to be is right where God has you. That is where He will help you persevere in victory.
That's the reason why we should stick it out. He has something good in store. I believe He calls us to not just endure, but to use it to "step up"! Step up to something higher and greater.

In the tenth chapter of Hebrews we read that we have "need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised."
What has been promised? More than I can list here, but at the top of the list is Himself, His Presence. Oh, there is so much that comes with Him. Peace, joy, hope, strength, on and on goes the list.
Actually, He is what is promised! Whether here or in eternity. He is here and wants to reveal Himself more fully. One day we will see Him face to face and that will be glorious! However, He wants us to enjoy our relationship with Him now.
He makes it worth hanging in and on.

"And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking in nothing." (Chapter one of James). When we have Him (Jesus) we have everything.

There is another aspect to endurance. We get to bless others, reach into their lives and bring hope. Brennan Manning comments on this. "If your life or mine were an untarnished success story, an unbroken upward spiral toward holiness, we might never come to understand the human heart."
If we didn't understand the human heart, we would not be able to relate and consequently we couldn't touch lives, not deeply. Others would not be able to relate to us either.

At ACTS 4 I participated in home visits. We would visit clients and potential clients where they lived. This way we could assess their real need and also connect in a more personal way. I did not want these women (predominately) to see me as some nice lady from the suburbs who was lowering myself to do a good deed. No, as we spoke, I would share how I had been a single mom who had been struggling too or how I have four sons who have given me a run for my money. I would see them relax. That would lead into a discussion about being moms and our concerns for our children. Often they would share some of their deepest worries. Why? Because we could relate with each other.

You see, we are all in this together. I thank Papa all the time that He is with me and my family. Then I thank Him for all the dear people He has surrounded us with.
So when I feel like escaping, running away, I have His arms waiting and when I need someone with skin on, I have a choice of many who stand with me and my loved ones.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The past week or so I have been out of sorts and definitely not very good company. My heart has been heavy and my thoughts not very cheering.
It is not my usual state and I don't like it. As a matter of fact there are a whole lot of things I don't like lately.
Why haven't I been able to simply count my blessings and rejoice in what is good and leave it at that? Why haven't I been able to throw myself into worship? Why were my worship flags gathering dust in the corner of the room?

Yes, worship flags. For my last birthday my honey's gift to me was these flags. I had wanted them for quite a while. One is yellow and represents joy, another is baby blue and stands for grace, the last is a royal purple! It is a joyful way for me to worship my God. Yet, they lay untouched.

During my devotions this morning I wrote a few lines in my journal in response to today's entry in Brennan Manning's "Reflections for Ragamuffins". I had been reminded that Papa is intimately acquainted and concerned about my life. He knows all the ups and downs; ins and outs of it. I wrote out a comparison of when I rest in this knowledge and when I don't.
Resting results in "clarity, peace, harmony and consonance" resonating in my heart. All from being attuned to the Father's will.
Not resting brings "agitation, conflict, dissonance and contretemps", to quote Brennan.

Unfortunately, it was the later, not the former that was an apt description of my heart.

As I thought about this I felt worse. A gloomy cloud stuck close to me for quite a few hours. I had the opportunity to go out alone for a bit and as I attempted to do a few errands I felt ill at ease.

Later, after hanging up from a phone conversation all I could think of was how negative I must have sounded to my friend on the other end of the call.
What a wretch!

I threw myself into cookie baking, but my thoughts kept me company.
Then I started to wonder if I should see someone. I am meeting a friend for lunch this week and she is a counselor, so I thought maybe I'd ask her opinion.
My thoughts took a different turn, a good one, because Someone interrupted.

"Of course, you are feeling gloomy and not so cheerful. You are in mourning; many things. And cut out that thinking that you are a wretch or a disappointment to your Papa! Yes, under the surface you have been thinking that too! It is alright and truly healthy to grieve. Have at it!
God's children are not always happy and light hearted. The key is that they do not go through any of it alone!"

I slipped a tray of cookies into the oven, set the timer and walked into the living room. Music was playing quietly. I turned up the volume and picked up two flags. Grace and joy seemed appropriate.
My heart is heavy but with glimpses of light, because my Papa never withholds His grace and loves to share His joy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

After finishing my post last night and shutting down my computer, Ray and I read our nightly devotional together. As I read the scripture outloud it was speaking loudly and lovingly to my heart. Papa is so loving.
I want to share it here. We were reading from the "Life Recovery Bible". The passage is found in the first chapter of First Peter. It is one of my favorite books of the Bible!

"All praise to God, the Father of our LORD Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance-an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see."
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world."

His Word is a love letter to those who love Him. You can count me in that group!
Such precious promises! See - the story does end well!
And the result of persevering? Praise, glory and honor! Gifts that I can bring to my King.
All praise, honor and glory to my precious Savior!
Salvation ushered me into His Kingdom immediately and is being revealed more fully every day. The culmination will be when I see Him face-to-face.
That is worth waiting for and makes all of it worthwhile!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Remember those sneaky emotions I have spoken of in the past? They are still lurking around!

On the way to our first day of therapy at Gaylord we stopped by the ACTS4 building. This is where you see the church as it is intended to be. Papa's children loving Him and each other and intent on allowing that love to overflow to all who cross their paths.

I had not been to this building for exactly five months. Today it is five months since Ray's accident.
As I entered the place my emotions suddenly started to rise up. After a few minutes they spilled over in the form of tears. It was difficult to bring them in check.

Why the tears? Judging by the thoughts that I was having I would have to say that I was being reminded of what my life had been like before Ray's accident.
It is very strange to realize that you can go through your day with no idea that your life is about to change so radically.
I loved all the things I was able to do. My days were open to whatever I felt led to do. Such a full and free feeling! My greatest joy was being able to use my gifts to serve my God and bring Him glory. Teaching is a joy for me and I love an audience. Opportunities from Papa were abounding!

And here I am.

Oh, I am busy to be sure. Busy doing so many things in which I feel inept. I don't like it!

Tonight my codependency group met. We discussed the importance of reconciling what we know is true about God and what we feel about God. Life has a way of skewing our perspective.
What difference will it make once the two are in agreement? Will life be less painful? Will grief and pain cease? Will everything measure up to our expectations?
What do you think?
Of course not. However, as we face the disappointments and sorrow we will face it from a very secure position - the arms of our gracious God.

I am not comfortable and would love to have everything back to the way they were, but it isn't going to happen.
My husband will continue to recover, but we have to walk the path that is before us. We cannot go back to that night and have him drive his truck instead of his bike. We have no guarantees as to how fully he will recover.
My niece is in such a place that if she was given the choice to return would refuse. She is in glory, after all! But those of us still here have to walk this path of grief.
Life is not easy. He knows that, He experienced that when He walked this earth.
He alone can see us through in such a way that we come out better for it instead of bitter because of it.
My Papa is the God of all comfort. I am comforted as I go through the challenges of every day. The physical and emotional challenges will continue to come. It is a comfort to know that nothing comes my way that He has not allowed; allowed for my good.
A day is coming when He will wipe away every tear for the last time. That is the greatest comfort to me!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Matt and Mindy arrived last night! Thank You, Papa!
I am so very grateful to have them here. Though we will have to feel our way through this new arrangement for a while, it is going to be good.

There have been so many changes in our lives. I know life is about change, but I would like to settle down for a while! Just too much going on for this weary soul! You see, with change there needs to be adjustment, acceptance and learning to live fully no matter what. That takes energy and lots of effort. Sigh.
However, whether the path gets smoother or not I know He will take us through it.

Today I have been thinking about friendship. It is a very precious gift.

Scripture speaks about and has examples of real friends. I love the story of David and Jonathan. If you are not familiar with it, check out the first book of Samuel in the Old Testament!

In the twenty-seventh chapter of Proverbs we are told that counsel from a friend is sweet. That is because a friend speaks truth into your life. They are concerned for you and envision a good future for you. They want the best for you. A true friend loves and accepts the real you.

My God is my friend. He has been revealing to me the truth that I am accepted in the Beloved, I am His beloved! As this becomes my experience I am learning to be comfortable being me. Masks are no longer needed. If God is for me, who can be against me?!
I am learning that it is good to be me. What a joy! What freedom!

He and I share a number of friends. Such fun!
This journey we are on is a group effort.
In the tenth chapter of Hebrews, starting at the twenty-third verse we read:
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near."

Let us - see a group effort! We can encourage each other, remind each other and hold each other up! Though I haven't been in a church building in a while, it doesn't mean I haven't experienced church! Every day I am reminded that I am part of His body, the church.
Now that is true friendship!

Monday, September 13, 2010

There is nothing like a backache to color your perspective for the day.
The ache greeted me this morning and has refused to leave. It and I sit here vying with one another over what should be written in this posting.

Mr. Ache made it easy for me to feel overwhelmed today. The paperwork and phone calls that needed doing seemed to be too much to face. Every movement made me weary.
Going through the therapeutic exercises with my honey was a challenge. A challenge until the thought came to me that maybe I should join Ray in doing them.
Ah, a measure of relief!

My God is watching out for me and when I am listening, helps me through the challenges. In my journal this morning I had written that Papa looks out of me, so I can look out for others. He has my back, so to speak and I needn't look over my shoulder. I can look forward, beyond myself, to the needs of others.
I don't have to look very far.

The needs that I am to tend to should not be viewed as burdens. I am free in and through Jesus; free to be His vessel, to minister. Ministry is such a privilege. It is simply my God working through me. It is His Spirit that leads, motivates, and empowers. Such freedom! Freedom to live as one who belongs to Him. Freedom to be all He intends me to be!

Yes, I am weary this night. So is my husband. He is struggling a little with depression and frustration. Everything is an effort. His left arm is of great concern to him. If it does not recover, he will have to retire. He wanted to do that in his own time on his own terms. The dear man is trying to focus on "letting go". Good goal; one that can only be realized as we look to the One whose Hands willing receive what we release to Him.

This weariness will pass. It will because we are overcomers and not because we are strong or tough, far from it! We will overcome because of who we look to in faith. We will not be disappointed.
I read the end of the story and it has a happy ending!!

"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"A mental health day" was written on the calendar for this day and it happened!

My dear friend, Joan and I headed to Milford for the day, thanks to coverage by son Timothy and our friend James!
I had asked Papa for a perfect day. The weather forecast had called for mid 70's, but with the clouds, cool temperatures and strong breeze yesterday, along with a prediction of rain for Sunday, I was concerned that the weather would not be that good. You see, I have wanted to go to the beach all summer and somehow it never happened. It seemed that when an opportunity presented itself the weather didn't cooperate or the opportunity became swallowed up by all the challenges of these past few months.

I got my perfect day! A blue sky, warm weather (probably low 80's!), and a gentle breeze greeted us as we stepped out of the car.
Joan and I walked the boardwalk down to the beach. It was surrounded by tall, golden and green beach grasses that were waving leisurely in response to the breeze. Little riverlets of water wove their way among the grass with some of them opening up to small ponds. During one of our walks we came across a young boy with a large net who was concentrating on catching crabs in one of the ponds. Did you know that crabs swim? We didn't, or at least we had never thought about it before. But we saw some swimming today!
As we traveled down those boards yet another time we had the privilege to hear and then observe an interesting darkly colored bird with a long, sharp beak, who was obviously flustered. Joan surmised that a nest must be close by.
What a joy to walk aimlessly along taking in the peaceful beauty of Papa's handiwork; wading in the water's edge and marveling over how unique the shells and seaweed were that we encountered along the way. Having my friend with me made it extra special. She has a way of looking at nature that stirs up my imagination. What a gift!

Our stomachs began to signal that lunch was in order and the heat of the sun encouraged us to gather our belongings and head off to a delicious meal at a unique restaurant located on the green in Milford.
We hated to turn our backs on the sand and water, but in reality the beach is best enjoyed at the beginning and end of a day. As afternoon takes hold, the sun is at its strongest and we did not want to have a sunburn to remember this day by.

My Papa is so gracious to all He loves and He loves us all! What a privilege to be able to come to Him with all my needs and longings and be able to entrust all of it to Him. I and all I entrust to Him is safe.
I am constantly amazed that the Creator God is so intimately involved in my life. You would think securing salvation for me would suffice, but no, He is love and must continue to demonstrate that love at every opportunity. So He delighted to gift me with this lovely day.

This day did not begin that smoothly, nor was it a smooth transition once I arrived back at home. Yet, He had given me a gift to start my day. It was something He wanted me to keep close through the joys and the sorrows of not only the day, but all of life.

"but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ."

There will be joys and there will be sorrows, to be certain, but in Christ the victory is sure. This is not all there is.
This life is challenging. Yes, there are the moments of walking quietly along the water's edge and then there comes the monsoons! The secret is to keep close to Him and to remember what awaits those who trust Him!

My day was woven with many threads today. Among the quiet, beauty and fellowship was frustration and sorrow.
While I was away my husband did not want anything to eat and stayed in bed a good part of the day. He did not want to do any of his therapy either, so when I arrived home we needed to attend to it. It was a little frustrating. Then I realized I used the wrong bank account for a transaction, which meant I needed to tend to that pronto. Some more frustration!

Okay honey, let's go for a ride and get you out of the house...We can rent a movie...Once home - the movie would not play! Gr.r.r.r.

Small stuff in the grand scheme of things.

For then I remembered the sorrow...the conversation today during which I learned that a dear man had been diagnosed with cancer.
I have come to hate that word.

The news stirred up all my grief. So much loss!

I stop now and thank Papa for all His blessings and especially for the Good News that is greater than all the grief and sorrow. May my precious friend and her husband hold His precious promise close to their hearts as they traverse the path laid before them.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gaylord Hospital is back on the radar. Today held the concluding evaluations at this wonderful facility. Ray officially begins his outpatient therapy there this coming week!
Every Wednesday and Friday morning he will be receiving one-on-one speech, occupational and physical therapy, with aquatics on Wednesdays also. I am so glad!
Recently Ray seemed to be losing some of his progress. He even expressed a concern over this to me. It feels like we are back on track again. Thank You, Papa!

Matt and Mindy arrive this Monday. I am so looking forward to having my precious daughter-in-law here. Among many other attributes, such as being a detail person, who loves to clean :), she has a great sense of humor!

I am eager to get a routine going and I will be accepting all offers to drive Ray to Gaylord or spend time with him at home. The other morning I was asking our gracious LORD what He has for my honey right now. The thought came to me that he needs people. He has a lot to offer and much he can gain from being with others. A couple of his friends are full-of-life types, who happen to have time to spare; I am recruiting them! The man's vision is not good, his concentration is short and his physical strength is greatly limited, which means the things that interested him pre-accident do not even make the list at this time. However, people still make the list, actually they are the list!

Recently I have been missing more and more the people at the drug/alcohol rehab where I had been volunteering. I would love to get back there. Papa will work it out, as I believe it is He who has put them so strongly on my heart.

My God has the plan.
He is the One Who makes the difference in my life.

A comment in David Jeremiah's devotional "Sanctuary" caught my attention this morning. He was reflecting on the seventeenth verse in the second epistle to the Corinthians. "and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort." His thoughts were that without Him (The LORD God) any trial "will just be a bump in the road that bounces you all over the highway. When it is over you will just be sore and you won't be any better."
Good analogy.
Trials faced with Jesus serve to deepen and strengthen our relationship and teach us valuable lessons for life; lessons that need to be shared!
We all will and do face trials. It would be a shame to not make them count!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Every evening before we settle down to sleep I read to Ray from the little devotional, "Our Daily Bread." I have been using these booklets for over thirty years. They were instrumental in drawing me into a relationship with Jesus all those years ago.
Ray appreciates them also, so before we pray together, we read.

Last night's scripture reading was in the seventh chapter of Matthew where Jesus speaks about the difference between heeding His words or ignoring them. Heed them and your life is build on a rock (Jesus Himself) and the foundation will stand so that you will withstand all that life brings your way.
Ignore His words, rejecting them for your own way and you find yourself on shifting sand that will give way in the storms of life.
It struck me that our life is demonstrating the value of being on that Rock! We may get tired and even a little discouraged at times, but it's temporary. He holds onto to us!
Sadly some that are near and dear to me are on that shifting sand and their lives are falling apart. It breaks my heart.
Now when I say falling apart I am not referring to circumstances. If I was, then we would have to say that the Reynolds' lives are in that catagory too.
No, it is particularly a spiritual thing. The joy and peace that we have is because of our foundation. The LORD Jesus Christ never leaves or forsakes His own and we know it. We are experiencing it! Such a gift! Such a privilege!

Yes, the emotions are all over the place, but He holds us through all of it.
This morning I opened my Bible and two small cards fell onto my lap. One held a picture of my niece, Sara, with a poem below the photo.
My first thought reflected what one of my sisters had told me just yesterday. "It is odd to see her face there. It does not feel right!"
The poem was no comfort. It spoke of her being in the wind, snow, ripening grain, etc.
And even if she was, she is still beyond our reach.
The second card that still lay on my lap brought the comfort back to me.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..." Peter wrote that in the first chapter of his first epistle.

Through Jesus we have a living hope! Now that it a rock I can stand on and hang onto no matter what storm comes my way!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My sisters and I grew up with a variety of music playing in our home. Show tunes were pretty popular. Today one has been going through my head.

It begins this way:
"Let me entertain you, let me make you smile...."

Yes, let me entertain you with a glimpse into the Reynolds' Grand Adventure and some of its current twists and turns.

First let me say that many people have warned me over the years that I should never pray for patience, as it brings many opportunities to learn more of it! I have heeded their warnings, to no avail....

A very minor challenge presented itself yesterday. I went to retrieve the day's newspaper from our mailbox and discovered that the flag was up. Whatever. However, it would not go down. There were a few marks on the box and I suspected that some bored young people had passed by.
Note to self: Get the rubber mallet later.

Later came this morning - Armed with the rubber mallet I went to get our latest newspaper and tend to the flag problem.
It would not budge. A careful examination gave me no clue to what was hindering its movement, so I let it be. I had to because today was one of those days when we had a few appointments to keep and they began shortly.

My love is not eager to rise in the morning and once he does it is a very slow process. So I was very grateful that we actually were in the car on time and headed to our first stop, which was the lab for his weekly blood test. We had plenty of time to arrive at Gaylord for the ten thirty speech evaluation. The eval was really at eleven, but they ask you to come half an hour earlier to deal with paperwork, etc.
No problem!!

Our insurance no longer deals with the lab we are accustomed to. The meager staff at the currently accepted one reminded me of the phrase "one-armed paperhanger." It appeared that there were two phlebotomists, but one had to handle all the paperwork, etc., so she wasn't able to do any of the tests. They might switch off during the day, who knows?
Upon entering we were greeted with a small child bellowing at the top of her lungs. This she did for a good ten minutes.
Every few minutes the lab tech would come into the waiting room, call another name and discuss the reason for their visit in a very loud voice. No privacy here. What about HIPPA?
One young guy was there for a drug test and had been waiting for quite a while. He needed to get back to work, but if he left she would turn his test in as a positive. In the end he left. Not good.
Another girl had to drink mucho water before coming and was doing a little jig in the corner of the room. Every time someone got a drink of water out of the water cooler, her dance escalated! The cooler made the sound of rushing water. Between the sound and her dance her friend that was with her was in stitches and many of us couldn't help but smile. This did nothing to help the poor girl.
Then there was the elderly man whose veins were not cooperating.
Everything was in slow, slow motion. Did I say slow? Oh yeah!

By the time we left the lab I knew we would not make the thirty minutes early time. I thought I had figured in a good sized cushion. Wrong!
I hate to be late and felt the tension rising for a few minutes, but then let it go. Just one of those things that I cannot change..
Yes, I let it go for a minute or two...

Did you know that many of the people operating motor vehicles should not be?! Take it from a former driving instructor. A few times I was ready to make a citizen's arrest or at least hand out a few tickets! All drivers should have to retest periodically. It would be a great money maker for the State and we know how they need the money.

We made it to Gaylord nearly fifteen minutes late. We had to get in line to pull up to the front door. Once we had a place to stop I ran in to grab a wheelchair, got Ray into it, left him there and parked the car.
We rushed in and were put at easy very quickly. I really believe that you have to be a pleasant, kind person to work at Gaylord. The paperwork went quickly and Ray was ready for the speech therapist with a couple of minutes to spare!

I had one whole hour to...make a couple of calls. One was to find out where Ray's prescriptions were. They were supposedly called in last Thursday. Didn't happen. I got that straightened out with a reminder as to which pharmacy was I thought ...and then attempted to speak to someone from Social Security. One can only stay "on hold" for so long.

Once we left Gaylord we had a list of stops to make, including Social Security.
It was lunch time and I could not entice my husband to eat anything. He hasn't been very interested in food. This is a big change for Ray.

Terrible drivers still filled the streets!

Then we arrived at the Social Security Administration. The parking lot is closed to us common folk, so we had to proceed to the parking garage. It wasn't very far away... for someone who is not handicapped. Ray stayed in the car while I went in to the building. I figured I could come back for him if he was needed.
Good thing, as the elevator I parked next to was out of order! The stairs were blocked off, which meant I had to walk through the garage. Some of those endearing drivers were in there too!

I entered the building and what met my eyes looked like a scene that we might find Dickens describing in one of his novels. The wait would have been long, so I left. I have a strong adversion to bureauocracy. It is too impersonal to me.

Okay just a few stops to go. Most of which I will not bore you with, so we will move right along to where I attempt to pick up Ray's prescriptions. We pulled up to the window. I was tired and had pulled into the wrong lane and, of course, they couldn't serve me from there! Fine!
We got in the correct lane. The girl could not find any prescriptions anywhere, but would check a bit more. I watched her bagging more prescriptions and thought maybe they were ours, so we continued to wait. She disappeared.
I decided to park and go into the store so the girl could tell me that there was nothing called in for Ray.
Another phone call to make!

As we were getting close to home I reminded myself to check the mail, which made me remember the flag problem. It seemed more annoying now....GRRR.
The mailbox came into view - low and behold - the flag was down! The thing works perfectly now! Maybe the mailperson has a magic touch?

There were a number of messages waiting for us on the answering machine. Our doctor's office called the prescriptions into a different RiteAid pharmacy and the store had called to alert us of this fact. Sigh.
I sent my son, Tim, to pick the orders up for me. He just returned with the only two prescriptions they had received. There were suppose to be five!!

Well, I think that Papa is of the opinion that a few more lessons in patience are needed for this girl of His. Judging by today I regrettably must agree!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Know what I got out of Jonah today?
Even when, at times, I seem to forget my God, He never forgets me! His eyes are on me and He waits to hear my voice calling out to Him. Such a comfort and gift!

Over the past week or two I have been working on a Bible study for one of the groups I am part of; it meets in my home on Tuesday evenings and joy of joys except for me there is no one over the age of twenty-six! I love young people!
Yes, I am still involved with some of my groups, contrary to any impression I have given as of late! We have had to cancel a number of times because of the grand adventure I and my family are on, but it looks like we are on for tomorrow evening!

Erwin Raphael McManus wrote a book entitled "Wide Awake" and we are using this, along with an accompanying DVD, as a springboard for our discussions.
As I prepare for any group that I might be facilitating, there are always lessons for me. Really how can anyone teach or share what they haven't learned themselves. To simply parrot the material we have read would come across as hollow.

The lesson for me was very obvious in this week's material. The chapter speaks about being flexible!. Imagine that!!
Evidence of flexiblity is seen when we are open to change, willing to adapt and when necessary be redefined.

Papa had my attention!

Grace changes people. First we need to receive it for ourselves and then we are able to extend it to others.
Grace; unmerited favor. It surprises us or at least it should. Favor that we did not earn, could not earn. Often what we should receive is just the opposite.
If we choose not to accept this gift of grace, we risk becoming bitter.
In the twelfth chapter of Hebrews, the fifteenth verse, we read, "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled...."
So the choice is grace or bittterness...hmmm, such a difficult choice!

Today it seems that everything that has come my way has fed into this message. Brennan Manning put in his two cents, as well as a commentator from "A Slice of Infinity". Papa wanted to underscore His message to me to be sure that I got it!

It really comes down to making room for God to work as He sees fit. This life is not a route to a destination, but rather a growing discovery of the One who is the Way. In Him we come to see more clearly God and His Kingdom right here and now. The discovery is not a one time thing, but one that grows and deepens if we keep seeking. In that sense it truly is an adventure.

I am so very grateful to my God, who by His grace, constantly leads me along this adventure of discovery and when I am too weary to go on carries me for awhile!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

During a conversation with a couple of dear friends today my own words spoke afresh to my heart.
Sometimes what we know in our head needs to be revisited and reflected upon so it is reabsorbed by our heart.
So many emotions are churning away at any given time in this heart of mine. It isn't difficult for them to cloud my vision. It is too easy to allow them to jump ahead from their proper position, as the caboose, and pretend to be the engine for awhile.
If they maintain that lead position for very long there is sure to be a train wreck!

What has set things right again?
Well, Papa, of course.
He has been helping me to notice the blessings that fill my life.

The blessing of friends to share a meal and thoughts.

A few meals have been arriving for us again. Such a blessing! Some days are so full of appointments and phone calls that I have little energy left to think about what to prepare.

My brother-in-law, Jeff, and his wife, Audrey, came down from N.H. yesterday. Audrey and I did a few errands while Jeff visited with his brother. I enjoyed the girl time!
Then they stayed with Ray while I drove Matt to the airport. I returned to find our lawn nicely mowed and trimmed! Matt had run out of time, as there are always many things on his list. The lawn was still on the list when we drove away from the house. Not anymore!

As Jeff and Audrey were leaving I was struck by their freedom to go where they wanted and that was the moment I looked away from my blessings.
Why did I give into negative thoughts? I do think in part it is boredom. My schedule always was full and I loved it! I enjoy people and miss seeing many faces!!

The words that served as a reminder to me today were that "I can do nothing apart from Him." I cannot focus on blessings on my own. I cannot find the energy to do what needs doing right now on my own. As I face this week mostly on my own with Ray I need to remember that I am not really alone.

Papa loves to respond to my every need, I simply need to ask. He loves to set things right, I just have to admit things are not right.
Selfish, pouty, stubborn Jonah cried out to Him and He answered. He has done the same for me, over and over again.
That is the greatest blessing of all!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gathering my thoughts as I sit here in front of my laptop there are a few to choose from.
None are very pretty.
You see, I think I am pouting. It seems fitting since I am studying Jonah at the moment. He was a great pouter.
I, of course, am nothing like him! Or so I would like to think...

Jonah was a selfish man. There he was asleep on this boat that was literally under attack. The attack came in the form of a storm, a God-sent storm. A storm to get Jonah's attention.
It got everyone else's attention on board that boat, just not Jonah's. He was trying to ignore the whole thing. He was running from his God.
Did he care if everyone else suffered and maybe even lost their lives? It certainly didn't seem so. Once the fact that Jonah was the reason for this storm was revealed and he admitted it he did nothing to help them. If they wanted to they could toss him overboard, but if they couldn't bring themselves to do so he wasn't going to do it for them.
They agonized and prayed and finally realized that there was no other choice, so over the side went Jonah!

How am I like Jonah?
Am I running from my God? Oh no! I am clinging to Him, leaning on Him, walking as closely as possible with Him and at times dancing with Him. As a matter of fact, this morning we indulged in one of those dances.

Yet, on the turn of a one little moment I went from feeling light-hearted to something very other.
I would have to say that I am feeling sorry for myself right now. That has tinges of selfishness to it.

I am bored and lonely.
It is just Ray and I home alone with no where to go and nothing to do.
My poor honey cannot see well enough to do much of anything. It is very tiring for him to concentrate on anything visually. So he isn't interested in playing any games.
Where could we go that he would not find too draining? No where.

The realization that it is indeed Labor Day weekend hit me. One of the weekends where most people are getting together with family or friends.
During our summers we have always held a number of picnics. Not this summer.
Labor Day marks the end of the season for such celebrations.

Stopping to think beyond myself I know that Ray too is feeling this dramatic change in our lives. I, at least, am unhindered physically and mentally. He is so dependent, which is very contrary to his nature!

So what is the solution to this place I and my dear husband find ourselves in?
Just like Jonah - surrender. Surrender to the LORD. To do so sets us free.

Each night we pray together and each night we surrender it all, once more, to our Gracious God. I think I will go do just that right now.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, "And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Yes, Papa does supply everything I need. One of the things I need is to know what I need. I learned to be self-sufficient at an early age and continue to be pretty independent. It is much easier to offer help than receive it! Do I hear any amens?

Under the topic of needs it seems to me that the most difficult to realize has to do with emotional needs. How am I doing is a question I get quite often. I think I am doing fine. Well, in many ways.
I don't think I'm "stuffing" anything and do feel free to express what I am feeling at any given time. The fear of crying in front of others is gone. During my childhood I had been told repetitively that I was unattractive and when I cried I became downright ugly! Who wants to look ugly?
Well, Papa says I am beautiful and I feel it! So if God is for me, who can be against me?!

There is a need that isn't being met. The need to be held by someone with skin on.
When I first went into see my niece this past weekend, I was overwhelmed with emotion. My wonderful brother-in-law, Steven, held me. I was so very grateful. It was really something as we have never been very huggy with one another!

Well, Steven isn't here now and I do think it would be a little odd if he continued to hold me through all of this. My sister, Patti, would definitely think so too!
My beloved sons are good huggers, but then again, there is a limit.
The one who I would normally turn to isn't mentally or physically in a position to meet this need of mine.
So it's Papa and me. He is my Comforter, the Lover of my soul and I can rest in His arms.
My heart echoes verse one from Psalm thirty-four; I will praise Him at all times!
Something I read this morning by David Jeremiah was in connection with this verse. Worship is to be the pattern of our lives. I do pray that it is evident in mine!

I have begun a study of Jonah and had to stop at the first verse. "The Word of the LORD came to Jonah.." What a privilege! God speaking to us, to me! What implications!! What opportunity!!
He calls to us to join Him; join Him in working out His will. Often what He is about is doing something in us, as He does something through us. I ask often for help to stay and be teachable. We never arrive. I think Jonah thought he had. He looked down on those who were to receive his message, as if they were more unworthy than he. HA!
"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

So, Papa, another need has surfaced. A need to remember my need for a Savior. As the hymn writer penned, "I need Thee every hour!"

My honey has needs too, of course. This week the doctor at Gaylord was thrilled by his progress. She was very kind and gentle with him. Typical of that hospital!
He is anxious over his left arm. There is a bit of movement in the fingers and a whole lot of pain from the elbow to through those fingers. Will it recover? If so, how much? Will he regain his independence? Will he be able to go back to work or be forced to retire next April?
These are some of the questions Ray needs answers to, unfortunately, it is a wait and see game for the most part.
Next week he has appointments with PT, OT and speech for evaluation. They will then set up a schedule for therapy, including aquatics!
We checked rehabs that were nearer our home for the out-patient therapy, but none offer as good a care as Gaylord. We are willing to drive the extra distance.

Isn't always about being willing to go the extra distance? It is always worth it!