Monthly Archives: November 2012

Refreshment

I love this little gem from J.S. Bach.

The aim and final reason for all music should be nothing else but the glory of God and the refreshment of the spirit.

Are you taking to time to give God glory? Are you taking the time to refresh your spirit? It’s the busy holiday season. More obligations than you can fit in your calendar. More shopping and cooking than you do any other time of the year. Perhaps it is time to take a moment, be intentional about refreshing your spirit and thanking God for the gift of music.

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difficult

Had to have a difficult conversation today. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it still wasn’t easy.

Just because a conversation is already expected to be touchy, doesn’t mean we have to make it into a mess. There are nice ways to handle these necessary, but difficult conversations. A plus in your favor, if you are staying connected with the people you have the conversation with. It’s kind of hard to discuss difficult topics, if you have no clue where the person is at and haven’t been around lately to notice. This applies whether you live in the same town as well as perhaps on a different continent.

I remember once visiting the home of a lady who was selling her lovely house to move closer to her kids – in the next town, an entire 8 miles away! Her reasoning: I’m too far away and I won’t see them otherwise. Eight miles is too far away?

We function in relationships and sometimes those very relationships demand we bring up things like dad may need to move in to an assisted living center, Junior needs tough love or he won’t amount to anything, Little brother’s emotional issues are wearing on mom and causing her problems, Spouse wants you to sign a Living Will, grandparents refuse to get hearing aids and blame the kids for not speaking up. But in these family units, you must still be courageous and say, lovingly, what needs to be said. Sometimes it is the best way to show someone how much you care.

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Sitting down together

Working with kids – where do we start?

I wrote a little play for the kids in our church to do this weekend. Yes! We let the kids do the whole church service!! But part of working with kids is just plain wrangling. I find it much easier on me and especially the Crohn’s, to have as little stress as possible. I do the program. Someone else do the crowd control. Please!!

But tonight, before we started practice, I sat down on the floor and invited the kids to sit down with me and we just talked about how awesome it is that they get to do the program and how much God loves them. I shared the secret too. You know, the one about why adults love kids’ programs so much: because they are simple.

Sometimes the best conversations, lessons and presentations are the simplest ones. Like sitting down on the floor with eager kids.

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History

My husband knows how much I love music, so he got me a special gift – a devotional book that has hymns and the stories behind them. I’m loving it.

I have these old journals, I wasn’t very good at writing consistently, but when I was frustrated enough or excited enough, I would write. I’ve got the usual ups and downs of the teen years in there, as well as some poems and songs I wrote. Those poems and songs make more sense, when you read the stories around them.

So it is with these beautiful hymns. They mean so much more when we understand the stories around them. “Now Thank We All Our God,” is a classic hymn to use during the Thanksgiving season, but the history behind it is thanking God for freedom from oppression, namely the Spanish invasion of the Netherlands. The phrase, “The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,” makes a lot more sense now. These people were grateful that Spanish oppression and exile were over and they sang their praises to God.

Take the time to dig a little. Learn some history. See what compelled people to do what they did. See why they couldn’t help but praising God for His goodness.

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Hassle

Our church has adopted a couple of names/contacts from http://www.anysoldier.com. We are working on sending out some care packages and have asked what the troops need and gotten a response. So far, so good.

The difficult part is shipping and filling out that customs form. You can ship this. You can’t ship that. You can’t ship food items and non-food items in the same box. If you ship liquids, pack them in sealed bags so they won’t leak; because if there is a leak, the box will become suspect and won’t be delivered. This is just the beginnings of information I’ve found out from various websites and my local post office expert on shipping to the military. There are special military shipping boxes and the post office will give you a small discount on the regular rate when shipping to military, which is appreciated.

But at some point, one might begin to wonder, is it worth all of that hassle?

It doesn’t take long to answer, it’s worth it! I remember the soldiers that came and folded my dad’s flag and presented it to my mom. I think of my friend in the Navy that sent a camel from Kuwait when my daughter was very ill and in the children’s hospital. I remember walking down to the nearby national guard armory when I lived in Arkansas to wish well our local reservists as they got deployed. I saw mothers and fathers hugging their kids and telling them they would miss them very much.

I’ll write firm enough so it goes through all the copies on that customs form and I’ll make sure the boxes are packed perfectly to meet all criteria and yes, it is worth it!

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Something Great

My youngest son was looking forward to joining “Pathfinders,” a fantastic youth group at our church. They have strict rules about when they take in new pathfinders – once a year and you have to be a particular age and in a particular grade in school. Matthew just missed out. His birthday was a couple months after the deadline date.

That’s so unfair! I’m sure many would cry out for the leaders to have some compassion. But don’t miss this: when Matthew was the right age (and also the right grade), it meant something to him to finally be a pathfinder. He had to wait for it. It wasn’t just anything. He anticipated it.

What has the world of instant gratification done to us that we can’t encourage young people to wait for something great? Better yet, why can’t we encourage young people (folks of all ages actually) to strive for something even thought it might be difficult or challenging to reach the goal?

I saw a movie recently that had one quote in it that I can’t get out of my mind. It’s from the movie, “Listen to Your Heart.”

I’m not going to miss out on something that could be great just cause it might also be hard.

Matthew waited to be a pathfinder, and this youth group asks a lot of him, but it means something to be a pathfinder and he is willing to push himself because he sees that it is something great!

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Tuned for Miracles

I was recently riding in the car with my husband, after a marriage seminar we presented in Crowley, Texas, when he searched through the radio settings to find a station carrying “the game.” It was the Cowboys and they were sure to lose, but he wanted to listen anyway.

The reception started going bad, so I was going to take over and try to find a new station for him, mostly so he could keep his hands on the wheel and drive! But Karl was fast. He had traveled this route before and once he got closer to Tyler, Texas, he knew right where the station was that carried “the game.”

Christmas is like that. There is this expectancy in the air that something amazing is going to happen. People are more in tune for miracles at Christmas than any other time of the year. I suppose God is extra busy lavishing attention and instruction on people finally willing to listen.

Look around, you’ll see it. People usually too busy to care will actually slow down a little at Christmas time. They take the time to tune in to where God has been speaking and trying to get their attention for some time.

What should you do? Pray for miracles to happen! It’s amazing to see it happen all around you. Christmas is a time of amazing miracles.

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You

Though it may sound like a well worn cliche, the goal of everything I write on this blog is ‘to make a difference.’ If it doesn’t have a purpose, then why bother (even if that purpose is to bring a smile through humor or appreciation of simple beauty).

So today, on this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for all of you. I am thankful to each and every one of you who take the time to read this little blog of mine. I hope you are blessed and encouraged throughout your day.

Though we do it daily and even moment by moment, enjoy giving thanks today in that special way that makes Thanksgiving so blessed!

 

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Removed

Today is a family day since the kids are off for thanksgiving. Day in Nature is our goal.

It took us almost two hours to get five of us out the door. Makes me wonder, are we so far removed from nature and the way God placed us in a garden that it is difficult to prepare for simplicity and refreshment again?

Wilderness Man will be happy today. Perhaps he will someday raise his own children to be closer to nature.

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Reconciling

Each time my husband and I put on a marriage seminar, there is a bit of wrap up afterward. Registrations, resource sales and expense reports all have to be reconciled. One mistake can keep you number crunching for hours.

The event cannot be “closed out” until all is reconciled. Wouldn’t it be nice if we couldn’t move on from a painful event until all had been reconciled? Even if it meant “number crunching” for hours and having to admit when you finally realize your mistake?

Holidays are coming. They are much more memorable if you have done your reconciling before. Ready to get to work?

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Hand to Hand

I recently read some thoughts on the Armor of God by Vanessa Estime. She mentioned the fact that the Sword of the Spirit should make us think of our daily battles against self and temptation to be a personal battle.

Think about it for a minute. A sword is for hand to¬† hand combat, compared to say a button you push that launches a missile that fires and hits a target 3,000 miles away. Our daily battles are very real and very personal. Yes, there is a devil and yes, he knows exactly how to trip you up. But the good news is that God is bigger and more powerful. So, um, just make sure you stay on God’s side. Total victory!

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Wearing a Tambourine

I was doing a Bible study this week, and in the process of looking up lots of verses and seeing what this amazing Book has to say on various topics, I came across Jeremiah 31:4. I think it is going to fast become one of my favorite verses.

Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, and shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.

I so love this verse. Just think about it, God wants to adorn us with tambourines so we can go out and rejoice! Seems to me, we are supposed to be happy and have a lot to be joyful about. Oh yes, I really love this verse!

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Where you put it

“It’s my fault. Again.” “It’s always me, I’m the one that always messes everything up.” “I’m so worthless and not good for anything.”

Do you know someone who talks like this? Have you said similar things yourself? Yes, we all make mistakes and sometimes we even repeat them. Unfortunately, beating ourselves up doesn’t rectify any of it.

I like this quote from St. Augustine:

Beware of despairing about yourself. You are commanded to put your trust in God, and not in yourself.

When I think I’m doing things in my own strength (as if I had any), I’m liable to get less than the desired results. The fact of the matter is that every breath I take is a gift from God. Every talent I have is on loan from Him. Every skill I’ve improved is because of the attitude and character He is growing in me. When we do things in God’s strength, our trust is in Him, not in ourselves. We can stop beating ourselves up. God has a pretty good track record.

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Coaching or Shaming?

When looking back on my first experience of having to deal with someone’s nocturnal enuresis, I realize I came from the shaming camp. Please cut me some slack. I was a teenage counselor for the first time at a Christian summer camp. I thought the best way to make sure one of my girls (whose bunk just happened to be above mine) didn’t wet her bed again was to make her carry her bedding up to the camp lodge and laundering facility. She cried the entire walk.

Did it work? Well, if you look at it strictly from the clinical view, yes. That girl never wet the bed again the rest of that week. The rest of her life, well who is to say? She probably thinks of me as that evil camp counselor that didn’t know how to show compassion.

Since those days at summer camp, I’ve learned that someone who sees you at your worst and tries to help you overcome it without broadcasting it to the world, is someone you want to win for. Someone shaming you so you will never repeat your crime again will never get your vote for inspirational person that changed my life award. If I had it to do all over again, I would have taken the time to tell all the other girls, hey, Gracie over here is going to help me with a project, you guys go line up at the flag pole without us, we’ll catch up with you later.

I’m glad my children are growing up in a society where coaching is being taught and actively practiced. I hope that the many people they encounter during their lives will take the time to coach them, instead of the easy to get it over with shaming method. By the way, it’s not new. It’s the method Jesus chose. He didn’t shame us, but chose to come down to our level, walked beside us and helped us see a better way. He definitely gets my vote for inspirational person who changed my life!

 

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Same

Today I am counting my blessings.

Three children, all from the same father.

A son who turned 17 and has always known a two parent family and will take this with him into his future.

An opportunity to share with others that an incredible marriage is possible and it is fun!

I am truly blessed. Thanks, many thanks, God.

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Carried

Kind of funny, but I said I was going to work on getting through my anger at the doctors/surgeons of 25 years ago. Perhaps I should have stated it more realistically, I’m going to pray that God gives me victory over this struggle with all that has happened in the past and how it could have been different.

As my husband was reviewing a video clip he was going to use in his sermon yesterday, God revealed to me what had happened over the last 25 years. The video clip is about Team Hoyt. A father and his disabled (cerebral palsy) son who are triathletes. The father swims, pulling the son in a boat. He bikes, pushing his son in a special wheel chair attached to the front of the bike. He runs, pushing his son in a special wheel chair designed for running. Dick Hoyt (father) says Rick (son) is the winner, with all of the spirit. He just loans him his arms and legs.

Dick and his wife didn’t ask for a child with cerebral palsy, but that’s what they got. I didn’t ask for Crohn’s Disease, and I didn’t ask for doctors to fail me and not follow through. But just as I watched that video, seeing this retired military man sweat and fatigue through intense athleticism and then watching his son’s exuberant face as they reach the finish line, I realized what God had done for me. Those 25 years, God pulled me in a boat. He pushed me on the bicycle and he pushed me in the racing wheelchair. He knew I was at a disadvantage, so He carried me.

There are going to be more bumps in the road, so I’m going to trust that God again will carry me. He is able.

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The Teacup Principle

I get to spend more time with my mom lately, which I am greatly enjoying. The surgery on her shoulder, not so fun, but driving her to her physical therapy appointments and long talks, priceless. Yesterday we had the chance to reminisce about the Teacup Principle.

In the “It’s all about Me” society that we live in today, it is very easy to take any perceived slight – personally. I remember how I felt when my mom visited me in my first home after I got married and she took a glass out of the cabinet and rinsed it before she would use it. Excuse me mom, but you did teach me to wash dishes and if it is in the cabinet, it is clean. I didn’t say a lot, sometimes hinting, asking why she rinsed the glasses before using them. It hurt. New wife, setting up her first home and even her mom has to rinse the dishes before using them.

At one point, I had the courage to tell my mom, this isn’t just an annoying habit, but it really hurts my feelings when you do that. She was shocked. That was not her intent at all. She was used to living by the Teacup Principle. Her grandmother, my great grandmother had an interesting way of washing dishes. She would suds everything up and get it all nice and clean, then load it into the dish drainer. After all the sudsy dishes were loaded in the drainer, she would take a teacup full of rinse water and pour it over the dishes in the drainer. That was how great grandmother washed dishes.

A Teacup full of rinse water for an entire drainer full of dishes (glasses up side down mind you), meant that most of great grandmother’s dishes were full of soap. One glassful of soapy water, milk or juice, and you quickly learned to rinse out a glass before using it. What my mom didn’t realize was that she had carried the Teacup Principle over when visiting other peoples’ homes, including mine.

We laughed about it again yesterday. Mom knows she doesn’t have to rinse the dishes when she comes to my house. I know she wasn’t personally attacking my ability to keep house as a new wife. It was just the Teacup Principle.

There is a story behind just about everything we do. Instead of getting miffed at what you may perceive as a personal slight, take the time to see if the other party may have a Teacup Principle in their life. And take a look at your own dishes, relationships, obligations and commitments. Is there a chance you are giving out only a teacup full of water, when to get the job done well, you need to immerse yourself?

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Victory

Romans 8:37 is my memory verse this week. Yes, because of Jesus, I am more than a conqueror!

So the battle with forgiving those who failed to properly diagnose me years ago, I can win, because Jesus made me more than a conqueror! Forgiving myself for past mistakes that have had lasting consequences (I know I’m not the only one) is possible, because Jesus made me more than a conqueror!

There are some who put up walls of defenses to keep people out. I don’t want to go that route. I’m going to go forward – and conquer!

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Release

What were you thinking? To any physicians and surgeons out there, I’m sorry, but please don’t take this personal. If I could go back 25+ years I would yell, scream, throw things around or do anything else I could to get the attention of those people, grab them by the ear if I had to. “What were you thinking?” What kind of a doctor takes 18 inches of colon out of a 14 year old girl then just leaves her to fend for herself? Did you not even think to check for Crohn’s Disease, Colitis or anything? Is it just a favorite past time of yours to yank out parts of a person’s body, leaving a lovely exploratory scar as a parting gift?

I’m working through the grief. After living with gastro issues for more than 25 years, I’m dealing with learning it was Crohn’s Disease all along and I’m grieving what could have been. If the doctors and surgeons had followed through, my life would be completely different. Then again, maybe they did me a favor. What did I accomplish (college degree, three kids, Who’s Who award, program director for a television network, published poet) that I might not have – had I seen myself with limitations? I had my whole life in front of me. You took out 18 inches of my colon and left me with no diagnosis, just to figure it out on my own. Was I better off that way?

Even if I could find those doctors and surgeons and was able to give them a piece of my mind, it wouldn’t give me peace of mind. In reality, there is nothing that can be done now to change anything. “I’m sorry, we didn’t know that much about bowel diseases at the time,” doesn’t work for me. They diagnosed my sister. Was I a bad girl that I didn’t deserve a fair shot at knowing what I would be struggling against the rest of my life?

I’m coming up on one year of getting my diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease. I’ve had to learn a lot the past year. I’ve been through a lot with medications, lab tests (some cost $400 a shot), weekly blood draws to ensure proper medication dosage and learning about things to do and not do for Crohn’s Disease (sure would have been helpful 25 years ago). I’m grieving a part of my life that could have been lived differently, had I known. This week, I’m working on accepting what has happened, because obviously there is nothing that can change it, forgiving the people who failed me all of those years ago and moving on from where I am at now.

This is a journey of acceptance, forgiveness and release. God give me strength and thank You for walking with me.

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Praise

Struggles tried to move into our house. Dishwasher broke (more work for the worn out Crohn’s patient), transmission went out on the car, Greta needed more treatments due to allergies and her rare ADEM. Multiple school functions and fundraisers all happening at the same time. This worn out mom, stretched in a hundred directions, cried out for help.

God heard.

Landlord is getting new dishwasher in this week. Car is fixed, Greta improving step by step and day by day. God heard me. I called out and He answered. Nothing compares with knowing the Creator of all took time out to hear this frazzled mom’s cry for help.

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Prepare for Impact

If you’ve flown on a commercial airliner, you’ve seen those wonderful little cards that explain what to do in case of an emergency. All the little characters look perfectly calm as they pull down oxygen masks and easily remove their seat cushion for use as the best ever flotation device.

I’ve been through the flight attendant safety presentation numerous times, but I still get a small chill when I think about preparing for impact or bracing for impact. It truly isn’t a pleasant thought.

I’ve discovered recently (been in scientific research for years) that you can’t always prepare for impact: especially the impact others have on you. Case in point – my husband’s migraines. They are wicked little devils. Karl knows a few of his main triggers and does his best to avoid them. If he is outside, he is wearing sunglasses. Too much sun in his eyes and a full blown migraine is a done deal. The trigger he has the most difficult time controlling – sleep habits. Oh the irony that a man who others look to for always being available day or night has to maintain consistent sleep patterns. Such is the life of a pastor. But the rest of the story…is that sometimes the inconsistent sleep patterns are his own choosing.

So after years of this scientific research, I’m able to inform my husband that when he chooses to purposefully mess with his sleep patterns, the family will get out their little migraine emergency cards and prepare for impact. The whole family suffers.

What is going on in your life? Are you, by your choices, forcing others to prepare for impact? Are the choices of others close to you causing you to look for a flotation device? No man is an island. As you practice intentionality in your life and in your relationships, look for how your choices could have an impact on others.

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Where God is

Whether we want to admit it or not, most of us don’t really care where God is at the present moment until something happens. Disaster strikes, families fall apart, a chain reaction of “bad luck” lands on your doorstep or a health crisis appears. Now, suddenly, it really matters where God is. In fact we even look up into the sky and ask in a variety of ways with a variety of promises of what we will do if He answers: “If You are real God, I need some help down here.”

The answer to where God is – well, it just might not be in the place you expected to see it. In the book of Psalms, number 22, you find what religious scholars call a Messianic Psalm. It is a Psalm, or song, about Jesus as the Messiah, written centuries before His birth. It is a prophecy in song. But this particular song starts out with the Messiah calling out like we do. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” It talks about how He knows they will pierce His hands and feet and many other cruel things about the crucifixion.

This is where God is? How depressing. Not really, because if you read the entire song (why not try to make a melody of it yourself), you will discover that it ends in triumph. Oh yeah, and right after that where are You when I need You cry of desperation, is the answer. Psalm 22:3 tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people.

Could this possibly be true? Yes. Show me. Read the Bible stories about Solomon dedicating the temple. The praises of God’s people brought His presence to such an extent, the temple was filled with the glory of God and there wasn’t room for the priests in there to do their jobs. After doing a 5K around Jericho for the cause of God’s people, they give a shout of praise to their God and the walls fall down. God told one of the kings of Israel the battle was already won. This king set forth in faith and put the singers in front of the army. The SINGERS in front of the army! They advanced with praises and indeed found the battle already won and they merely had to collect the spoils. Let’s not forget our New Testament friends of Paul and Silas who sang praises to God in a Philippian jail cell. Earthquakes, shackles breaking off and doors bursting open. Evidently when God inhabits the praises of His people, it is a big deal.

It doesn’t happen like that in my life. It doesn’t? Test God. Praise Him. Really spend time praising Him and be specific. I’m not talking about going down the list of things God does for you like those Father’s Day cards we buy once a year, but Praise Him for Who He is! Praise Him with all your heart and then see where God is.

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