Thursday, January 27, 2011

He's Got It Covered

I. am. tired. I don't know about you, but it seems like everyone around me has someone sick in their family right now. For us, my husband was sick last week and missed two days of work (and still isn't really 100%), and this week my daughter is sick and has missed two days of school. And though their illnesses have been fairly minor, it still seems to change so much of our daily routine--and it wears me out. I am not a good caretaker of the sick--I admit it. I am not overly sympathetic of sickness, and I'm not very good at babying the person who is ill. So, when it goes on for more than a day or two, it starts to irritate me. (So sad, I know.) But, I think it also scares me a little. On top of not being a good caretaker, I find that I get a little worried. I like to be in control (yes, I know God probably laughs at my control freak tendencies), so when I don't know exactly what is wrong or how to fix it,--particularly in regards to my family--I get a little panicky (and overwhelmed)--which is where I was this afternoon.

My daughter slept thirteen hours last night and took two naps today which added up to another hour and a half or so. She is seven, so that is a lot of sleep. By the time she was on her second nap, I was in my worried state. So, I prayed. I laid her before the Lord. And I will keep laying her at His feet. After all, He loves her more than me. He knows what is wrong and when she'll feel better. He knows.

And He knows how I feel in the midst of it all. He knows how overwhelmed I am, how I want to cry and scream all at once. And even though it's such a minor thing for me to be burdened by, He cares. God is in the details.

This past week I have been studying Isaiah 40:1-11 which starts out, "Comfort, comfort my people." (v1) God is my comfort. He is also "...the Sovereign Lord" (v10). He's got this covered. "He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (v11) He is my gentle shepherd, leading and guiding me--and carrying me close. Though I may feel weary, He is able to sustain me. He is my refuge and strength. And I am thankful.

As I said in the beginning, I don't know where you are right now. You may be on top of the world--or you may be burdened by something. Sickness. Job loss. Divorce. Death. Cancer. Unfamiliar surroundings. Wilderness. Whatever it is, wherever you are, God's got it covered. Jesus paid the price to set us free through His death on the cross, and He will lead us through whatever we face, big and small, if only we'll let Him.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thoughts on Surviving Grief

Our church family experienced a sudden, tragic loss over the weekend--every spouse's and parent's nightmare. A young father of 6 suffered a debilitating series of strokes, never to recover. Many of us initially heard through the Facebook grapevine, moving our community to prayer on his behalf. As we gathered for worship on Sunday morning, the announcement was made that he was to be taken off life support sometime during the day. 
It all happened so fast! We had no time to process the sheer unbelievability of it. Even those who didn't know the family were moved to tears at the very thought of what the family will now endure. We are left to trust in God: 
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
In light of this, I wanted to share a few practical thoughts on how to deal with grief (whether this specific event or any other). My MOPS group recently heard a speaker discuss this topic, and I borrow some from her material.
If you are the one grieving, allow yourself grace. Be kind to yourself;  allow yourself to be sad. Pay attention to your energy and fatigue. When options present themselves, postpone major decisions. Generally speaking, they should be avoided for at least a year if possible.
Accept your limitations. You won't have the emotional or physical energy to be involved in social, sporting, business, church, or other activities to the same degree you previously did. And that's OK. Cut back. On everything.
For those who have a grieving loved one:
Pray, daily or as often as the thought occurs to you. Intercede on behalf of the grieving survivors. Honor their requests for privacy, yet be available to help. Don't ask, "How can I help?" Rather, offer something specific and practical, such as a meal or a gift card. If you are very close, you may serve as a liaison between the family and the larger group of friends or church, setting up a care calendar for meals, childcare, house/yard help, etc. 
Lower expectations--extend grace to the hurting. You might not get a thank you card, or a phone conversation. Emotions may flare, words may lash out, tears may overflow.
Your loved one will not be the same as before. But he/she will need you nonetheless. Be prepared to give of yourself--not just your stuff or your time, but you.
Don't necessarily hug. Ask first. I remember with my mom, when she lost her husband a few years ago, any sympathetic touch would set off another round of tears. Sometimes she needed it but often it overwhelmed her. Many others react similarly. Be sensitive.
On a positive note, there are thing we CAN do to keep the memory of the deceased person alive. Donate in the person's name--perhaps a favorite charity, ministry, or benevolence fund.
Plant a tree--every year it will spring forth into new growth and renewed life.
Develop new traditions--especially around the holidays.
Hug your loved ones tight each day. Say "I love you." Treasure them for the gifts they are to you, knowing that we are not guaranteed tomorrow.
Write notes--the real, snail-mail, handwritten variety--to surviving family, perhaps several months and years later. Just so they know their loved one isn't forgotten.
Talk about the deceased. Celebrate his/her life, even after the funeral when your life goes back to mostly normal.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:29
(Thanks to Sandra Glahn for much of this material.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's Worth Every Minute

I am sitting at my computer typing out an email and it hits me today is FRIDAY!!!  I am suppose to post on this blog on THURSDAY!!!  I have been thinking about it all week so how did I forget to post late Wednesday night or Thursday morning?  So, I rush over to the blog as I started thinking what am I going to post about.

It hits me, something I was just thinking about this morning.  Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom.  Now, if you are not a SAHM please do not quit reading.  For a very long time I worked.  I worked very, very long hours some weeks, especially before a deadline. Before I was a SAHM I use to think if I ever get to stay home all the things I would do during the day.  I would work out regularly, I would meet my friends for lunch, we would have play dates, I would cook wonderful meals all the time and the list goes on.

Even now, I read other blogs and wonder how in the world do they get all they get done in a day sometime.  How do they get up, work out, get dressed and have breakfast on the table and it is not even 8 AM yet??  How do they have these little ones always taking the most perfect pictures all the time?  How do they.........

I have to stop myself and realize they do not do this everyday or at least that is what I tell myself.  They just do not post the pictures where the baby is not looking at the camera or they have not had time to get dressed that day because they were up half the night with a sick baby.  They do not post the days where they are lucky just to get a bowl of cereal on the table so everyone can get out the door on time.

I had work friends tell me that being a SAHM was hard work.  Well, I have found out they are right.  I told my husband recently that I have no idea how I use to do all that I did when I worked 60 hour weeks and then still found time to clean my house, have parties at our house and be involved in all I was involved in.

I do have to say  I LOVE BEING A SAHM though!  I love the time I spend with my little girl and I have finally realized that if she wants to play then I can clean the house after she goes to bed at night.  I can wash that load of clothes in a little while rather than right this second.  She is my "employer" I guess you could say.  She is why I am a SAHM.  As with any job there is a training period where you are adapting to the way things are done and I believe that to be true when you go from being employed in the work force to becoming a SAHM.  As a SAHM you do not get vacation time, sick time or personal time.  You work 24/7.  But you have a WONDERFUL benefit package.  To see that smiling face or to have those little arms reaching up to you to be held - it is worth every moment of no sleep, a messy house sometime, piled up laundry and the list goes on......

I know not everyone can be a SAHM and I do not want to offend anyone.  I admire all of you moms out there that work and can get done all the things you do in a day!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Show Off

Recently, I received an email that made me giggle. It said, "You must have the gifts of perseverance and patience." When I read those well-meaning, though grossly inaccurate words, I heartily laughed out loud. And, I am pretty sure that Jesus laughed along with me. For few people who know me well would use either of those words to describe my personality.

To the contrary, I have never been very good at waiting. In this fast-paced world of instant gratification, waiting sometimes feels like such a waste of time. It seems I am always in a hurry to get where I am going, and my time-table doesn't always match up with God's. However, as I reflect, I must acknowledge that waiting has always served me well. In my experience, God tends to "show off" most significantly during seasons of waiting.

In Hebrews, we are instructed and assured, "do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised." (Hebrews 10:35-36) As we wait for God's promises to unfold, we are called to trust, remember, and endure. It's a lesson many of us seem to be continually learning. Often, it seems that as one season of waiting ends, a new one begins. At times, it feels as though the waiting will never be over.

And so, we must choose to actively trust as we wait on God to act on our behalf. Since God is good all the time, we need not doubt His beautiful intentions towards His people. Indeed, the Heavenly Father is always at work, sometimes behind the scenes, to bring about His purpose in your life and mine. As we fix our eyes on God's sovereign power, God's plans will surely unfold in His perfect timing. But, we must place our trust in Him alone.

Further, we are advised to remember God's faithfulness. Truly. the LORD likes to "show off" in the lives of His children. Recalling His great victories is a good way to ease the angst in our seasons of waiting. Look to the past and remember all that God has done. Be assured that the God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow will surely meet you where you are. Even in our toughest circumstances,it is a certainty that God will accomplish His purpose. Still, He will do so in His perfect timing. And His time-table is not negotiable.

Yet, we are not to be passive as we wait. Rather, we are called to endure. Perhaps this is the most difficult challenge of all. The dictionary definition of endure is "to suffer without yielding; to hold out." One could argue that a better definition in God's kingdom could be "to hold on".

Hold onto God's promises.
Hold onto God's faithfulness.
Hold onto God's power.
Hold onto God's hand.

A new year is upon us and with it come many new beginnings. Some of us are waiting for a new job. A new opportunity. A new start. Our Heavenly Father is in the business of making all things new. Whatever you are waiting for, accept His plan and trust that He will be glorified in your life. Thank God in advance for the blessings to come. Remain in His presence. Cling to His promises. And endure.

Just hold on... and watch God "show off".

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year - New Beginnings

The start of a new year has so many people taking the time to re-evaluate their priorities, organize & clean out their homes & lives & declutter everything they can, set goals & dream of what what the new year will bring.  My family is no different.

In our business my husband & I spent time in December evaluating our year & looking in amazement at the blessings God brought our way despite a "down" economy and making plans for this year's blessings. In our family we talked about where we would like to go & what we would like to do this next year. In our home we took action & pretty much gutted every drawer, cabinet & closet. We re-arranged furniture & made piles for the trash & piles for Goodwill. Planning & reviewing were necessary but when we actually took action & made a difference in our home I really felt like we were starting a new chapter. It was very refreshing & freeing to let go of some of the "stuff" that was cluttering our house.

As we go thru life there is a lot of "stuff" that  clutters up what we should be doing. Things that get in the way, such as a phone ringing to interrupt relationships or stacks of dishes in the way to start dinner or piles of paperwork that screams for your attention & all you want to do is sit & listen to your child's day. Well this year is a year of New Beginnings for me. My goal is to put away the phone when someone needs my attention, have the chores (like dishes) that prevent me from starting something else done as they happen verses waiting till they are in the way, & making time everyday (even if it's just 5 minutes) to listen, really listen to my kids & my husband.

God desires us to give him our time as well. He desires to be number 1 in our lives & to walk thru life by our side. He desires for us to live a "clutter" free life. The best way for that is daily give him our clutter. Let God carry your burdens for you. Walking daily with God will help you discern what is important in your day & what is the "clutter" you need to put aside. James 1:5 says "if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."

So I am continuing my quest for simplicity by setting my priorities everyday. I will spend a few minutes each day evaluating what I need to be doing & working to keep my life "de-cluttered!"