Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Life's Glove

Lifeless. Just lying on the dresser--

Waiting to be used.

Colorful, functionally designed.

Waiting for a purpose.

Naturally it fills with self--

Pridefully seeking gratification

Self-deception building up ego.

Pridefully doing as I desire.

Deceptively it fills with Satan

Deviously sneaky manipulation

Evil destruction reigns everywhere

Deviously creating havoc for all.

Lovingly filled by God’s grace

Bringing internal contentment

Serving others as God commands

Bringing meaning to life.

What is filling my life’s glove today?




Monday, June 27, 2011

Hurry Up

Those who know me best think I am hyper. Although I do have many of the characteristics of an ADHD person, I detest that label for me. I prefer to think of myself as high energy and efficient. I get a lot done. Never mind that I have two or three projects going at once as I juggle caring for my mother-in-law and run errands for my mother. Never mind that I seldom sit down to relax, and I never sit down to do nothing. Watching TV is a way too passive an activity for me to enjoy except on rare occasions when I am really tuckered out.

Some people are intimidated, or maybe irritated is a better word, by my need to be doing things. I am task oriented and like to mark things off my list. Lists--that is another issue. I make endless lists to keep myself focused on what has to be done today. Otherwise I get sidetracked doing the things I want to do versus the things that must get done. Of course I now have two items which are being repeatedly written on my daily list. I just do not seem to get around to doing them. Procrastination reigns if it is something I do not like to do or do not feel confident in my ability to do well.

Since May 20 this spring, I have been extremely frustrated. About the only thing I have been able to do is sit around. My left hip and leg just will not function correctly. Even though this part of my body is gradually becoming more functional, it is at an agonizingly slow pace. To do almost anything, I have to ask my beleaguered husband to help me. He is currently chief cook, dishwasher, launderer, house cleaner, and caregiver to his mother. He does not need to add meeting all my whims and needs to that list.

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 NIV

Some people are so good at following this biblical advice. A wonderful, sweet older lady at church this Sunday inquired about how I was healing. I gave her the brief update of “I am doing better but am not nearly back to normal activity.” She asked how she could pray for me. I responded, “Pray that I can do God’s will—be right with him—throughout this ordeal.”

It is so easy to feel sorry for myself. My pain and extremely slow pace are so difficult. Yet I know that God will richly reward me if I stay focused on him.

“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NIV

So I have to slow down and pay attention to what God is doing. He has made sure my “hurry up” mode of operation is virtually impossible.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;” Psalm 37:7a NIV

Lord, thank you for slowing me down. Show me how to stay focused on you instead of the busyness of the day’s activities. Keep me close to you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Too Old

Today is my birthday, and I do not like it. Well, I take that back. I like having another birthday—cards, Facebook birthday greetings, and a gift or two are special. Another birthday means I am still living and enjoying family and friends. However, I am having a hard time with this birthday. Turning forty was fun. Turning fifty was a big joke in my mind. Over the hill at fifty—me?—not really. But this is my sixty-second birthday. Bummer! I do not have very many years left, and I am officially old enough to collect Social Security.

Now I have to face the reality that my life is more than half over. Yes, I know I can die at any moment. But if I do not contract a serious disease or have a major accident, my expected life span is about thirty more years. That is a sobering thought. What do I want to accomplish or experience before I die? The sobering part is that I will not have thirty productive years. Health and mobility issues for the eighty-year-olds usually limit what the older person can accomplish. So more than likely I have twenty “good” years. How do I want to live them? What is important to me? Scripture makes it clear that the things we humans tend to value are not the things God values. If the next twenty to thirty years are to be pleasing to God, I must intensify my focus on Him.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” Romans 14:17 NIV

I’m now old enough to collect Social Security payments although at a reduced rate. I guess I should be glad that money is available to me. It signals that I do not have to work anymore. Never mind that I have not worked for pay for four years now. I’ve been developing housewife skills and skills in caring for our elderly parents. I have learned so much about health care that I almost think studying to become a nurse would only be a review of my current knowledge. (That is an exaggeration, but I think you get the point.)

At some level, being old enough to collect Social Security makes me feel out-of-date, useless. I do not feel too old to be a productive citizen. I do not feel like I am ready to be "put out to pasture." However, the American society values youth and youthful leisure activities. What are we oldies supposed to do when we are too old to work? If we are too old to work are we too old to play? The entertainment industry seems to think the only way elders play is sitting back and sipping a drink. Even then, older people are often portrayed as useless and cantankerous.

I do not want to have the lifestyle of retired luxury. I do not want to sit on a cruise ship and sip iced tea. I want to be a productive, vital part of society. I want to be valued by the people around me—not looked on with pity because I cannot work or be productive.

I feel like I am thirty. Wait a minute. I have spent the better part of the past month in physical therapy because of an injury which has caused standing upright to be very painful. Maybe it would be more accurate to say I feel like I am forty-five. No matter, I know I still have something to offer those I love, my church, my neighbors, and society.

“The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12 NIV

My Savior taught that we are to be servants. He did NOT say anything about retiring from servanthood at the age of sixty-two. Many of the Bible stories imply that older women are important and have specific tasks. At one point God even gives the older women specific responsibilities.

“Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:4-5 NIV

So, it seems clear to me that I am to stop focusing on the age and start focusing more on God and his commands. Age is irrelevant. Worshipping God is paramount.

Lord, take my eyes off worldly concerns. Draw me close to you each moment of each and every day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Remain in Me

I love being outdoors. I love growing flowers and vegetables. It is such a miracle to watch the plants grow and produce flowers for my visual enjoyment or veggies for my table. The modern grocery store has a wonderful variety of fresh healthy foods to choose from in the produce section. We are very blessed with an abundance of good fairly inexpensive healthy food; however, I still prefer the produce from my small garden plot. Veggies freshly picked from the garden are so much tastier than those bought in a grocery store.

Reflecting about the flowers and vegetables brought John 15 to mind. The fifth verse is one of my favorites.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NIV

In my front yard are a couple of crabapple trees. As I watched them flower this spring, it struck me that the beautiful blooms and small fruit are located on the branches—not on the trunk or root system of the tree. Isn’t that like our spiritual walk? We must be rooted in God and his love. He is the vine or trunk that supports us and gives us nourishment. I am a branch that is firmly attached to him. As I follow his commands and witness about him, I bloom in beautiful flowers of love and service to others. That love and service matures into nutritious fruit which God uses to sustain and encourage others--just as this winter I watched the birds feasting on the crabapples.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.” John 15:9-10 NIV

So God is my support, strength, and nourishment. If I want to flourish I must obey God’s commands and draw sustenance from his love.

Lord, create in me an unquenchable desire to remain in your love at all times.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Let's Make a Deal

I am unhappy because I cannot do what I want to do when I want to do it how I want to do it. God, let's make a deal. You fix this problem and I will...

That is one way the scenario goes. The other common way I make deals with God plays out something like this. The problem, embarrassing situation, danger, or illness is really bad in my eyes. Only God can fix it, so I will make a deal with him.

God, if you _____ then I will…
…read my Bible every day.
…be nice to ____ who drives me insane with her selfish behaviors
…teach a Sunday School class
…never say a word in anger to my husband
…go on a missionary trip
…so on and so forth

How self-centered I am? My recent inability to use my legs as I normally do has slowed me down enough to cause me to reflect on my daily activities and attitudes. I have examined my priorities—my faithfulness to God’s commands and leading.

How arrogant can I get! I wanted to make a deal when the injury happened. Why would God stoop to making such deals with me? Why would God who has given me everything, including the air I breathe, need or want to bargain with me to get me to do what I should be gladly doing voluntarily?

How shallow can my faith be? When the deal making thoughts are written down, the shallowness of my faith in and love for God is evident. If God is calling me to behave in a certain manner, I ought to willingly do it. I should not have to experience a crisis in my life to remind me God is in control and I must obey him.

“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.” 1 John 3:7 NIV

So I should do what is right always--not waiting until I am in a problem situation. Not getting into the "let's make a deal" bargaining with God.

Lord, thank you for the pain in my hip and knee. Direct my activities and words. Mold me into the woman you want me to be, no deals necessary.