#write31days – Day 21

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A couple days ago I talked about when craziness collides… and that’s where I found myself at the end of the year.  Thankfully, my daughter was doing so much better.  Unfortunately, the stress and demands of work combined with my dad’s health had taken such a toll that even a few weeks away was pretty much too little too late and the collision of life felt like a total loss.

But it wasn’t a total loss….not even close.  Sure, it might have felt that way…but in times like these, this is when and where God’s Word assures us of our future – even when it seems like everything’s falling apart…

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

1 Peter 1:6-7 “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

The great thing is that during this time, the troops rallied around me through prayer like you wouldn’t…. like I couldn’t believe!  Such an outpouring of love and support to encourage me forward…

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#write31days – Day 19

imageOne of my primary goals in writing for 31 consecutive days is transparency… so here I am… being transparent.  I REALLY did not want to write this evening… I did exactly what I wrote about in my last post… thinking too far ahead (or perhaps behind…) of the posts to come… and I didn’t want to go there.

Well, of course I wrote…reminding myself of baby steps…two sheets of paper at a time… the great thing is that I was able to recall some really hard decisions and have peace over them vs my usual “could I have done more” mental interrogations.

And yes, that’s where God and His gracious healing power comes into full view… because of those hard days and seemingly impossible decisions, I was learning to receive God’s glorious embrace and willingly take refuge in Him… if only for a short while… make no mistake though, He was teaching me how to lean into Him for the days too difficult to imagine.

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#write31days – Day 14

IMG_6413-0I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised how easily my eyelids start to get heavy after writing, but I do! Perhaps a little sugar will give me the boost I need…I have this thing for powdered donuts – I always have – tasty little messy morsels that should have a slogan similar to Lays potato chips – you can’t eat just one!

OK… Back to the task at hand…writing…once my dad started getting into a routine, things seemed to start smoothing out – while every visit was still a learning experience, the days of him begging me to take him home soon faded and he actually seemed to start enjoying himself! For a fairly small guy, I have no idea where he put all the food…as difficult as it was to get him to eat before the move, he actually started looking forward to meals and always had an appetite for dessert.

I have to tell ya, I quickly developed a deep appreciation for caregivers – I was so thankful my dad had the foresight to purchase a long-term care policy.  Assisted living facilities are costly and would otherwise drain savings in no time.  Even if I didn’t have a full-time job, I still can’t imagine taking on the responsibility of daily care.  It was far more than general oversight – it was very much like having an adult sized toddler that was regressing on a daily basis.

it was truly a blessing to have my dad nearby so that I could zip over to visit on my way to work or on my way home.  Some days…especially rough days, I could peek in on him – that little bit of reassurance he was ok did wonders for my spirits! Ever so slowly, the overwhelming emotions began to even out…just in time for the tide to turn…

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Practice – Practice – Practice

IMG_1063I started following along with Stepahnie Ackerman’s Documented Faith in late June.  I love the concept!  I know I’ve shared I for before, but here’s my take: it’s an effort to focus on God’s Word in manageable, bite-sized chunks…one word each month accompanied by weekly scripture relating to that word.  Simple, manageable, memorable.

So I’ve been practicing… practicing by writing consistently… something I haven’t been successful with in the past.  And writing in bite-size pieces versus the entire buffet of my life.  When I committed to #write31days, something I wasn’t aware of was that I limited myself to two handwritten pages per day…bite-sized pieces…manageable vulnerability.  Usually I make things more complicated, but it seems this decision is actually turning out well!

My focus is on God and how He is consistently working in my life, through me…to reveal Himself to me.  When I slow down to take one step at a time, the mountain isn’t so big, the task at hand isn’t so overwhelming and Matthew 6:32-34 takes on a deeper meaning.

32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

#write31days – Day 10

imageGolly…even though I have a pretty decent idea of what I will be covering in my next post, sometimes I’m still amazed at the direction God decides to take and tonight is a great example!

When I left off yesterday, I briefly mentioned my dad making comments that he would “just kill himself” and didn’t elaborate on the reasons why that statement sent me into panic mode.

I mean, sure…anyone threatening to harm themselves is cause for serious concern, right? So it was easy to sort of gloss over my reaction – then tonite it was as if God was saying, “not so fast little lady…”

So I pulled back the covers of my life to share a little deeper…believing God will use it to reach someone somewhere and give them hope.

Suicide…dealing with thoughts of, or an actual attempt, are completely out of my league… what I do know though, is that there are folks waiting & willing to help – you only need to reach out – that may seem like a monumental task, but call out to God – He will meet you right where you are – no matter how deep the mess – and He will see you through – lean into Him for courage and strength to ask for help…call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-SUICIDE

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#write31days – Day 8

Let’s see if I can get this posted without falling asleep first! 

I’m trying not to spend too much time reading back over previous posts…I glimpse just long enough to see where I left off the day before…otherwise, my mind would gallop into edit/analysis mode and defeat the purpose of simply writing as a recollection of events. Of course, when God ah-ha moments jump out at me, I try to point them out with proper glory credit to God!

In so many ways, I still often feel like my relationship with God is still at the infancy stage, so when I have one of those standout moments with Him, I try to dig a bit deeper than normal.  The hours leading to meeting with my dad at his house, and then during our conversation about why the doctor didn’t believe he was safe to stay at home by himself…that precise moment when God pressed on my heart the one word… GO…and I immediately knew that’s exactly what had to happen…no mental debate as to whether that’s really what should happen… I’d asked God to make a way, and indeed he did!

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#write31days – Day 7

After visiting pages (and significant dozing in between)….

Well apparently more than dozing…I woke up this morning with my iPad in my lap and one line of text!  I don’t even recall where my thought process was going! I remember I wasn’t going to add much because I was obviously tired, but that’s about it…and some of what I wrote last night was included in the typed text from the night before….

I started this writing challenge with authenticity in mind….I suppose that includes my repetitive nature as well…or perhaps reiterating things of value – quite possibly things I haven’t recognized in myself as I discover a new norm…yeah…quite possible the “prideful, independent” commentary below is addressed to me.

The great thing about this exercise is that I as open myself, it affords God the opportunity to reveal underlying thoughts and patterns through my writing…things I most likely wouldn’t receive too well from others! For instance, I wrote about how my dad wouldn’t let people in his house…close friends…his “house” – his “safety zone” – if you were to take a poll, I wonder how many would say I do the same thing? Thankfully, God has been growing me by leaps and bounds on that front, my “safety zone” today has no resemblance to say…5 years ago….the point is, there’s always room for growth and as we face things that scare us, the safety zone can easily turn unto a “hands off” zone.

All in all, this process is exciting… Exciting to share all the wonderful things God is doing in my life and exciting to think about where He’s taking me next!

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#write31days – Day 5

Another day filled with unexpected moments…and God met us in every single one! My response is what Beth Moore describes as a “holy habit” – here’s an excerpt from her Daniel study to explain:

Imagine of being guilty of prayer. This was Daniel’s ‘holy habit.’

There are 3 ways you can respond to an emergency. Each of us knows what it’s like to receive a phone call, an email. Life changes and we are thrown in a completely urgent situation. One hour before everything was okay. How do you react in a middle of an emergency? You must be ready in advance.

1. We can panic. 2. We can become paralyzed. 3. We can pray.

What happens when we panic? When we panic we do the wrong thing. It the nature of panic.

What happens when we get paralyzed? We do nothing.

What happens when we pray? We do the power thing! In a crisis you can do one of three things. Heaven moves when we hit our knees and we pray. God is all about relationship and thru prayer he forces the issue of relationship and we cry out to Him for help.

Holy habits vs. old patterns. God can change our patterns. What if we began to react in the spirit vs. the old patterns? Daniel reacted in the Spirit, making petitions to God.

I’ll be honest, my holy habits still require LOTS of practice, but that’s point – habits take work!

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#write31days – Day 4

It’s funny (odd) that almost three years later and the events of 2013 are still so clear – the great thing is that the memories don’t sting like they did before…another blessing and benefit of faith-based counseling!

Hopefully it won’t take 12 days to write through 2013, but January/February certainly set the tone…even if I didn’t have a clue at the time!  I remember a member of senior management asking me if I really needed to be at the hospital with my daughter (she was there two weeks) – yes she was an adult, but honestly it didn’t matter what the age – I’m a firm believer every patient deserves to have their advocate present…and what better advocate than mama?

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#write31days – Day 2

One thing is for certain…handwriting 2 pages isn’t enough room to fill in all the blanks! But that’s okay… something tells me I should avoid the Reader’s Digest version anyway.  I need to share the uglies of life… ’cause  I’m pretty sure God showing up in my messy life isn’t really all that different from how He’s eager to show up & show off in yours. I like focusing on today – today isn’t all that painful – today I’ve let go of a lot of things – today the idea of the unknown isn’t oh so scary – today it’s easy to praise Him.

The challenge in this journey of faith is praising God when we’re knee deep in the muck of life – and that’s only possible if we’re willing to stand firm on His promises – when we’re willing to call on Him – cry out to Him to see us through – when we set pride aside and allow others to walk beside us in the dark hours of unknowns…

And that folks is what I call relationship – that degree of intimacy only achieved by spending one-on-one time with Him. The great thing is that God is so….so God that He gives us ALL of Him….ALL the time: 100% of His love – 100% of the time – how grand is that?!

So tomorrow and in the coming days, I will focus more on the so-called uglies (you can also check out a couple of recent posts shown below) so you can see more clearly how He loves to show up for us.

It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN Situation  Part 1 / Part 2 (click on part 1 or 2)

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P.S. If there’s anything in particular you’d like me to clarify, just ask – I’m pretty much an open book!