Friday, February 24, 2017

Keep on the Sunny Side

It's the middle of February and we're having a heat wave.  Trees budding, plants blooming, and birds chirping to announce spring is here.  Maybe... By this evening our temperature will drop from a near record 80 to mid 30s.  With a change that drastic, storms are inevitable.

From sunny to dreary in a matter of a day.  High to low, no in between.

I know a few people like this. They're either really happy or they're deeply depressed and there doesn't seem to be a middle.  There is no contentedness in the every day.

What I see is that their happiness depends on their circumstances, which can change as quickly and unpredictably as the weather.  As the storms of life appear, their emotions waver.

We have a local radio station that airs for one hour each day during lunch.  At least once in the week, they ask callers to share a complaint, or as they call it, "What's their beef?"  There is no shortage in phone calls.

Turn on the news.  Scan social media.  Spend more than a few minutes with most people and you are sure to hear complaining, whining, or griping.  Negativity is everywhere.

I'm not without blame.  In my house, I probably complain more than anyone else.  Of course, when compared to my two guys - that is a hard act to follow.  It is rare, and normally takes intense physical pain, to see either of them slightly protest or grumble.

But in the big picture and every day, I am more likely to see and announce the silver linings.  There's something deep within that drives me to search for the good of the situation.  Despite the storm clouds looming, I am looking for the rainbow that may appear.

It is what fills me with hope and brings me joy.

Some days it comes easy, others you have to make an effort.  What I've found is that surrounding yourself with more light than dark ensures the difference.

Turn off the news.  Block the negative Nancies online.  Steer clear of sandpaper paper, or kill em' with kindness.  Focus on the good in every day.  Practice self-care.  And remember, positive always defeat negative.

Happiness is fleeting...JOY is everlasting!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Love is...

Valentine's Day.
The ultimate opportunity for comparisons and gauging the level of love in one's relationship.

Was the gift big enough?  Did it surprise?  Better than a friend's online or the next desk over?
Did they remember at all?   I'm sure many ended their night either on a high or low from whatever their loved one did or didn't do.

But that isn't love.

Love isn't symbolized by something you buy in a store.  Love isn't meant to only be expressed one day of the year.  Love is everything that the commercialized version of Valentine's Day is not.

Love is buying chocolates the day after because they taste better when half price.  And being frugal is sexy.

Love is flowers, just because, picked from the side of the road on a day you don't expect them.

Love is being content with a simple dinner at home and snuggling in pjs on the couch.

Love is coming home to an empty sink and freshly vacuumed floor after a long day at work.

Love is also hard.

Love is not giving up when things get tough.  Loving them even when they aren't lovable.  Love is forgiveness.

Love is a note tucked under a pillow or written in the fog on the mirror.

Love is letting you warm your feet on them under the covers on a cold night.

Love is lifting the other when they are weak.  Caring for them not only when they are sick but often when they're sad.  Love is being their safe place to fall.

Love is knowing all their flaws or failures and seeing the best parts above them all.  But love is pushing, encouraging and helping them be better too.

Love is saying "I do" every single day.

Love is rare.  Love is a gift.  Love is enough.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Temporary Home

Catching the last few lines of a popular song by Carrie Underwood the other day brought me back to saying goodbye to my Grandpa in the hospital, many years ago.

While it was difficult to let him go, and I still miss him to this day, we'd watched him suffer from kidney failure and other complications for years.  He needed the peace that comes with leaving this earth.  At a certain point we even prayed it for him and gave him permission to leave, our family circling his bed in unison and love.

And I will never forget the serenity in the room when, after weeks of holding on but in a lifeless state, he raised his arm, smiled that unforgettable grin of his, and said, "Jesus."  There was no doubt Who was in the room with us -or where he was about to go.

I've had similar experiences with elderly loved ones.

I sat with my Grandmother the night before she passed.  Her children had been taking turns for weeks at the hospital and I offered to give them a break.  My goal wasn't just to let them have rest but to be there specifically to pray for her to have peace.  I knew the only way that would come for her, is if she left us.

Hers was the first I actively prayed for her passing.  Suffering from COPD, she struggled for every single breath.  And with each new shift, she was adamant the nurses rewrite in bold red letters "DNR" on her erase board.  When I left her that morning, I knew it would be the last time I hugged and kissed her goodbye.  My phone rang telling me of the news within minutes of making it home to bed.

And I had the priviledge to sit at mother-in-law's side, hours before she transitioned from this world.  Stage 4 cancer wrecked havoc on her small frame and I pained along with her as she tossed and moaned from her hospital bed.  Pulling out my Bible app, I began to read scripture aloud.  Instantly peace fell upon the room.  Again, where before there was only mutterings, the name of "Jesus" was clear upon her lips.  Her body was at ease and restful as her sons arrived to visit.

In all of those situations, though I grieved the loss of their presence in my life, I was at ease in knowing they'd moved to a better place.  To their Home.  And it is perhaps why I often don't feel sadness at funerals of those who have lived a long and good life.  I knew that for them, there was no more sickness, no more pain, only peace.

Though I knew the same for my son, the grieving process is so very different when losing a child.  A child's death is sudden, unexpected, even if they were ill.  In our case, it was a total shock.  And that made the timing even more difficult to let go and move forward.

He was so young....

There was so much life ahead for him...

Wonder what he would have become...

As a momma, you want your babies HOME with you, even long after they've grown.  A struggle I'm feeling in a new transition, as my baby is counting the days to be college bound.  His plans include being home less, which is a difficult adjustment for this mom.

It's an internal, magnetic pull to want family together in your home.

My favorite time of the day is the end, when we're all back and settled from our outside lives and gathered together under one roof.

Even back then, I desired this.  My last words to Austin were, "Be home...before midnight."
I just didn't expect he would arrive in his Heavenly home instead of ours.

With another birthday under my belt, I'm aware of a shifting.  I find myself studying older people, pondering on the life they've lived.  When visiting with people decades older, I'm now gauging their health against mine.  I know with each year, it is more important to have quality over quantity.  I feel a responsibility to be the best me I can be for as long as I'm here.

Yet I also realize a change in the pull to be home.  The older I get, the more I appreciate the gift that is each day but the more I'm focused on my someday permanent home.

It's not that I am ungrateful to be here but rather the opposite.  I realize how precious life is.  I'm filled with wonder at the beauty of another sunrise and the blessing it is to spend time with those you love.  I'm driven to fulfill my purpose for as long as God deems fit but drawn more often to things not of this world.  My soul is expectant for that day I will forever be Home.

In the waiting, my prayer is that I make the most of every moment and honor God in all I do.  Though this home is temporary, it is given to me with a heavenly expectation of purposeful service.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Joy in Pain?

When pain is present it tries to take over everything.  Priorities shift without your consent.  Focus is lost. Panic spreads. Fear invades.  Pain is controlling, isolating, debilitating.

My poor hubby is still battling lots of pain and little answers.  He's been strapped onto a health roller coaster the past six months and all of us are ready for departure.

Watching someone you love hurting and being unable to fix it is the absolute worst feeling.  This past weekend was spent in a cloud of chaos and emotions, as we witnessed him suffering with nothing to do to ease his pain.  At times, the pain was so great that there was no position to find comfort and sleep wasn't even possible.

He had every reason to be grumpy or irritable but wasn't, even when we made a wasted trip out for help or when two giant needles were shoved into his knee.  Through it all, he joked around, shared kindness and left people with a smile.  He continually amazes me.

I'd like to say his wife modeled the same but instead I stewed...and worried...and showed frustration.  Sunday I snapped at Noah to get out of bed and ready for church, then slumped onto a footstool in tears, pouring out my prayers at His feet.

I was saddened for Tim, scared for our future and angry this was happening.

When you've faced great suffering in life, there comes a point when you feel the quota has been met.  At times I just wanted to scream, haven't we been through enough?  Bitterness can easily creep in and fill the spaces, pushing out any chance for hope, if we let it.  I could feel emotions bubbling, as I battered back and forth with God.  From irritation to desperation.

Yet every time the enemy would hiss and bring up flashes of all we've endured, I would find myself countering with all God's blessings and promises.  And my heart would lift up scripture from deep within that would bring me peace.

In this life you will have trouble...
but do not worry about tomorrow...
for our present troubles are small...
not worth comparing to the glory that awaits

In the midst of Tim's struggles, our family has been in constant prayer for the new pastor God is calling to our church.  I know it isn't a coincidence that as I have served in this role, we've been under ongoing attacks.  I also know the enemy wants nothing more but to distract me from the task at hand. This could easily discourage me, yet the fact that Satan has been so busy fills me with excitement for what is to come.  Big spiritual attacks mean bigger plans for salvation.  

This I know above all....My God is greater.  My God provides.  My God's promises never fail.

Good - beyond my imagination - is on the horizon and I'm sustained in resting in this knowledge.  Joy fills me, despite the pain we are presently enduring, because I know who holds our future.

Even when we feel weak, we can be strong in God's power.  Even in suffering and pain, we can rejoice.

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