Storms of Contentment


 

Thunder boomed and lightning flashed overhead as I experience the first t-storm in my trailer…though normally I am scared of storms, this one seems peaceful.  Though normally I want to hide under the bed, this time I just typed away to the pitter patter of rain drops on my roof…Perhaps its because I’m finally content in my own little home.  Or simply knowing that God is in control…

 Even my cat has been content…during the last couple of moves, she seemed stress to the point of not eating and/or getting sick; however, since we moved to the trailer, her appetite has been normal and she seems more playful like a little kitten…

 Though I’ve had a few incidents with the trailer like draining the tanks during a downpour (Yeah, that’s my life now…), thinking my fridge was about to go out (just a matter of adjusting the temperature), and dealing with bugs…yeah, I’ll have to find a way to keep really gigantic ants and flies out of my trailer

 Yet, I often worry about these little things…in some ways, I get impatient with them yet I’m working on being patient…because little things happening is a part of life.  I stress and worry about things like getting ready to go back to work…or making a good impression in my new community and church.

 Therefore, I need to let to let worry go as heard on the radio the other day when the DJ quoted the following by CS Lewis (The Collected Letters, vol 3):

Remember one is given strength to bear what happens to one, but not the 100 and 1 different things that might happen…and I’m sure God never teaches us to fear of anything…

Yeah, that’s me…I worry about 101 plus different things and constantly fearful like worried about what could happen as I prepare to start my new job…

 Or most recently…I had an interaction with someone and my analytical mind thought I had done something wrong because I didn’t hear from the person for a few days.  So I became almost physically sick from worry…yet, that was not the case.

 Yeah, I could say I have a right to fear because things have happened in my life…yet, I continue to pass through those valleys and come out stronger each time with the strength God has given me.

 Anyway, what are you worried about?  What can you do to lessen stress and worry in your life? 

According to Luke 12;25 (NIV) “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” 

As someone who needs to keep stress down due to a health concern, I’m not helping by worrying so I need to let go and turn it all over to God…and not be so fearful about what could happen.  Or just be like my cat as she cuddles with me during the storm…knowing Mama will take care of her like God, the Father, takes care of us…

 Or, like I do, take a moment, sit on the front step, and just enjoy His Creation and the wonders of the earth…meditating on his word with scripture reading and prayer.

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New Journey


Hello, my friends…I’m back…

Since I last wrote this blog, quite a bit has changed, most of it for the good like having major surgery and discovering no cancer but still healing…praise the Lord.  This taught me that God is in control no matter how scary life gets…

Then, in the midst of recovering, I learned that I would be finishing school earlier than planned.  Yep, I’m done…my last two classes were on care ministries where I learned to counsel, shepherd, and care for people; then, Small Groups, where I learned how to set up and maintain small groups.  Both classes were amazing and I learned a lot but then as quickly as they started, they ended and now no more classes for me…except eventually to take a few for credentials.  My last class wasn’t done up to the standards I was used; however, I did pass and learned that I do not always need to be perfect and life still goes on…

Then in the midst of finishing my classes, I also had to complete paperwork and a portfolio required to graduate…that was a major project itself since it took me back through looking through three years’ worth of final papers as well as collecting information and figuring out where to find this information.  The exercise taught me to be a bit more organized in the future…

So, now I’m done…my portfolio was approved and one of the next steps is to walk in December so now I need to make travel plans to California, which should be fun as I decide to drive, fly or train?  While making the trip fun…

So, now that I’m done, I need to find a ministry Care that comes with many questions since I don’t know what’s around the next river bend…but I am learning to seek God and His desire for me and my husband.

After all, according to Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Questions:

  1. Are you struggling with your own future or next journey in life?
  2. What fears do you need to overcome?
  3. If you’re not sure of which direction to go, have you prayed and read scripture?

So, what’s next? Well, I hope to continue writing a blog about the journey including following God’s lead on deciding our future so that I am able to use the degree that I’ve worked so hard for, with God’s and my husband’s strength, while fulfilling His purpose for our lives…

 

New School, New Class…and Old Experiences


Well, I started back to school today at a new school and a new class, which is about the essentials needed for ministry.

The essentials include hearing your call and discovering your gifts, values, past experiences while seeking God’s purpose and vision for your life.  Then, we will move onto learning how to perform weddings, funerals, worship services, and other duties of a minister along with administrative stuff and issues within a ministry.  Sounds like an exciting class and I can’t wait to learn more about the essentials of ministry.  After all, I do want to eventually marry people, perform weddings, and other events.

Yet, what has been my most exciting part of this is learning about my past experiences – both the good and the pad.  Using a tool on http://www.chazown.com , I created a timeline of my life from the moment of birth to present time.  The timeline has included good people who have encouraged me like friends, family, colleagues, and even mentors.  Even the bad people are listed like the neighbor who took advantage of me or the ex husband who left me wounded and scarred.  There are the good stuff about my life like being actively involved with school, church, work, and friends while also listing bad stuff like divorce, losing my son, and even abuse.  Yet, as I did this, I wondered, what did I learn from this timeline?

Well, I learned that I can endure quite a bit and that God has given me the strength to get through the rough patches of life.  The good stuff shows that I’ve had supported people along the way like my husband, my in-laws, great friends and church people, and even pets that have cheered me along.  Above all, I have had God there with me as I endured the bad and celebrated the good.  How did this happen?  Through a desire to know and praise Him as He gives me the strength to endure.

After all, Colossians 1:9-14 (NIV) reads:

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,  so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

In conclusion, what does your past experiences tell you about you?  What have you endured and do you see a theme throughout your life’s journeys?

Things I have learned recently…


I’m back to blogging….tonight I am writing about a few things that I have learned throughout this latest journey…

First, the latest journey has ended…my husband is home after almost 3 weeks in the hospital.  He is slowly recovering and we do have help to assist with his care because he will need long term care from now on.  Just keep praying that he continues to heal.

Second, I’m done with my final on forgiveness…perhaps in a few days I will pull out the key points and post them here.  This class on the Gospel of Matthew taught me quite a bit about Jesus, the Gospels, and even teachings like forgiveness.  Even fully understanding why Jesus made the sacrifice on the Cross especially for us Gentiles when He cleansed the temple, which was one of the final straws that led to His death and then the hope of His resurrection.  And, remember, sometimes compassion is more important than the Laws….

Third, above all, I learned that even when life is stressful as it has been throughout this class, God gives us the strength to accomplish something.  Even though I asked and received an extension for my final paper, I was able to complete it by the original due date of last night!  I passed with flying colors on that paper and earned another A to keep my GPA of 4.0.  Amazing!  Praise the Lord!

Fourth, the class on Matthew was my last class at Hope as I prepare to transfer to Northwest University.  It’s been an amazing journey now I must transition to NU and finish a dream to earn a degree at the college while having the chance to be surrounded by family when I finally graduate.  Otherwise I would not be able to have family if I graduated from a school so far away.  My new class will be on learning how to perform weddings, funerals, and other church type events.  I can’t wait as I eagerly peruse the stack of new books at my desk.

Fifth, when you’re scared and feel along, worship with your heart.  At times, while my husband was away, I would get scared at night.  I prayed and sang songs of praise so I would be able to sleep well.

Sixth, balance hospital visits and your life.  I was able to keep my wits by visiting my husband every other day.  You may feel like you are abandoning your loved one; however, unless they are gravely ill, it’s a good thing.  You are able to get needed household stuff done (plus other stuff like schoolwork) without stressing or wearing yourself out.  This is especially important to take care of yourself so you can be prepared to take care of loved one once they come out of the hospital.

Seventh, release pride.  We have help with my husband – caregivers – and it’s strange releasing some of the work to them.  Yet, this will free you up to take care of more important things around the home while spending more quality time with your loved one.  I thank those who are caregivers such as nurses, home health aides, therapists, etc. who works these jobs without complaint and are gentle to a person’s loved one.

Eighth, the hospital time may be somewhat of a blessing.  We discovered a group of people who share the same dream to open up a community style coffee shop someday.  As soon as my hubby is stronger, we hope to meet with these people and learn more about their dream.  So stay tuned.

Finally, I am grateful that God is continuing to heal my husband and HE helped us through these tough times.  Praying that my husband regains the strength he needs as he continues to heal.  I am also grateful for all of you and I hope you have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.

What are your thoughts as you go through a journey that may seem tough?  Please feel free to comment…

An Unconventional Marriage


Well, my husband and I celebrated our 6th year anniversary today with just the two of us hanging out together over pizza, sandwiches, and bbq wings with our living room graced with a bouquet of roses.  It may not seem like an unconventional anniversary date but we made it work with plans to go out this weekend to a dinner and a movie.

Our marriage has not been the normal wedding yet it works especially shortly after our first anniversary, my husband started to lose his legs due to the diabetes.  I was told I should leave him and start a new life, and I almost took the bait.  Yet, as I started to drive away, I realized I made those vows so many years ago and I need to honor them.  Since then, the marriage has had its struggles as we adjusted to a new partner – second marriage for both of us – and learning to live with someone after more than five years on our own.

Then, came the affects of the diabetes yet through it all we still manage to hang onto each other as I worry and wonder if we will have more years together.  Yet I know his life and our marriage is in God’s hands even after another mad dash this last week to urgent care for an infection in his hand.

Statistics show that terminally ill and/or a disabled partner will put a strain on a marriage and it does yet as the saying goes, what does not kill us, only makes us stronger.  This unconventional marriage has made me stronger and helped me understand why my own mother has stayed with my father.  As I think of my mom’s own strength, I believe, like me, she keeps God in the marriage and we let Him walk beside us during the ups and downs of a marriage that has its struggles – rather it be through physical and/or emotional illness.

After all, according to Matthew 19:6 (NIV) “therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 

Yes, I do believe God has joined my husband and I together.  I may not ever know why since we met online through a dating site but in the meantime, I will enjoy this marriage along with the sickness and health, good times and bad times, for richer and poorer…letting no one or anything like an illness separate us.

As I write this, I am reminded of the the following poem that was read to me by Dene’s uncle, on behalf of my husband.

The Apache Wedding Blessing 

 Now you will feel no storms, for each of you will be shelter to the other. 

Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now there is no loneliness, for each of you is companion to the other, You are two persons, but there is one life before you, and one home.

Turn together to look at the road you traveled, to reach this—the hour of your happiness. It stretches behind you into the past.

Look to the future that lies ahead. A long and winding, adventure-filled road, whose every turn means discovery, new hopes, new joys, new laughter, and a few shared tears.

May happiness be your companion, May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead; And through all the years to come. Go this day to your dwelling place and enter into your days together.

May your days be good and long upon the earth. Your adventure has just begun!

In conclusion, I am praying for each of your marriages and if you’re still single, I am praying that God sends you the one that you have been longing for.

So, what has kept your marriage strong during both the good and the bad?

Storms and Strokes


Well, after I wrote about trials on Friday, I faced a trial of a different sort over the weekend…well, my husband and I did.

On Friday evening, as noted in my blog, I think he had a TIA – which, according to the National Stroke Organization, is a “transient ischemic attack (TIA) is an event, sometimes called a mini-stroke, with stroke symptoms that last less than 24 hours before disappearing. While TIAs generally do not cause permanent brain damage, they are a serious warning sign of stroke and should not be ignored!”

The symptoms on my husband disappeared within 10 minutes and we thought all was fine with a warning from me that if he had anymore episodes – where he lost his ability to speak intelligently – I would call 9-1-1 even though he does not like going to the hospital.

On Saturday, we woke and he felt fine so we went out and about by stocking up on groceries and other household chores like paying bills.

About an hour after we got home and had lunch, my husband started to feel funny so we sat down to relax and watch television.  Soon, he was relaxed and falling asleep.  Tired myself and no longer wanting to watch television, I handed him the remote but then he made a grunting noise.  Thinking he was just grumbling in his sleep, I walked away; however, he continued to grunt.  In the meantime, our cat was trying to get my attention as well so I turned back to him and noticed he was awake and making funny noises.

I went to him and could get him to sit up right or talk and after a bit, he finally managed to say 9-1-1 so I made the call.  They arrived and soon he was whisked away to the hospital.

Later that night, we discovered that he had two small strokes that affected his balance and speech.  By then, he was talking again but not with his full strength as they told us he would be staying for a few days.

The next couple days were a series of tests after they also discovered a couple of aneurysms as he continued to recover.  They did not find any lasting damage yet he will be monitored especially with the aneurysms for a  while.

In a way I am grateful for the little storms that I experienced because I was able to remain calm and somewhat focused on God even as fear struck me while waiting for the EMTS and then following the ambulance to the hospital.  If I had not gone through these little storms, I would probably have been weak and not able to withstand such a powerful storm.

After all, according to Psalms 18:1-3 (KJV):

“I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.   I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised…”

So, remember to stand strong even in the face of storms and let God hold your hand as you walk through the storms of life and guide you.

Finally, do you know how to recognize if someone is having a stroke?  Do you know what to do?  For more information, please learn the signs and check out the information found at www.stroke.org.  Above all, pray with boldness as you face a storm like a stroke or any other storms in life because He is your strength and He will give you refuge during a storm.

When I am weak, I am strong…


So, over the weekend, we went to a family reunion and had a blast with food, family, and fun.

Even as we gathered to have fun, the fun turned into something not so fun.  Jokes, drinking, and other behaviors were laughed at as we seemed to have fun.  Yet the nature of the jokes were very were serious.  Unfortunately, in an effort to fit in, I joined in with the joking that was not befitting a Christian who is studying to be a pastor

Yes, I am not a perfect Christian and I did sin.  I spent the last few days trying to apologize and figure out how to approach the people who were in on the fun to apologize for not portraying myself as a better Christian.  I even caught the attitude that I was better than they were since I did not get as wild nor did I drink.

Then, in this week’s class, I realized that even so-called perfect Christians struggle with weaknesses at times.  Sort of like the thorn that was in Paul’s side in 2 Cor 12:8-10 (NIV) as it reads:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Though I am weak at times, I know that Jesus will use that weakness to make me stronger.  After all, there is that saying “What doesn’t kill you, will only make you stronger.”

Therefore, in conclusion, put on the whole armor of God so that next time you struggle against a weakness, you can stand strong and not give in.  More darts will be aimed at us as we prepare for this upcoming journey and with the armor of God, I can fight whatever comes my way with Jesus at my side.

What weaknesses do you have in your life that come up and catch you off guard?  Do you try to fit in even with family and fail?

Please feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Perfection…To be or not to be perfect…


Well, my class Casting Vision wrapped up this weekend as I frantically worked on the final paper. Final papers are never my forte; however, for some unknown reason, I end up with great grades. Even with these grades, I spend time worried about the papers because I want that perfect grade since I strive to be perfect.

As I strive to be perfect, I ask – what is the use of being perfect? I mean, why do we strive to be perfect? It only stresses me and I become cranky when I try to be too perfect. My need to be perfect may have come from growing up in a family that never really praises me. Where no matter what I did, I never pleased them. Yet, now I focus on putting my effort to be get decent grades into pleasing and honoring God for giving me the chance to go to college. So, where does your strive to be perfect come from?

Several years ago, I learned a lesson about striving to be perfect when I was frustrated about a statistics class. After being stressed and talking to hubby, I realized that I do not need perfect grades to be happy. Even if I did get a lower grade, the skies are still blue and the sun still shone! After all this stress, in the end after a much more relaxed effort, I did pass this class with a B.

As for casting vision, even if we have weaknesses, God will still use these “imperfections” for His will as described in 2 Cor 13:9 (MSG), “We don’t just put up with our limitations; we celebrate them, and then go on to celebrate every strength, every triumph of the truth in you. We pray hard that it will all come together in your lives.”

Therefore, even if I do not get a perfect grade, I can still celebrate and be grateful that I can go to school and earn my master degree. Furthermore, even as I create “perfect” plans for our journey, if something comes up, I can celebrate that God has given us this vision and if the plans go astray, like not getting our cat into a harness or something gets broken on the move, I can still rejoice that God will protect us on this journey.

So, do you strive to be perfect? What happens to your physical body when you strive to be perfect?  If you’re like me, it wears you down.

Therefore, rest and know that God uses our weakness and according to Rom 12:2 (MSG) “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it…God [will bring] the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”  

Therefore, consider taking your “perfect” life and turning it over to God so He can use you for His perfect will.