Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The patient's patience

Ps. 23:1- 3  "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.  He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his names sake."

It's his "go-to" verses every time he takes a walk down that broken road.

We walked into the surgeon's exam room, again, to get some surgery staples removed.  My gut tightened.  I knew from previous post-op appointments that this was tender time for my husband, the patient patient.

From the way he describes it, the feeling of removing tiny staples from your incision doesn't tickle.

Tension mounts.  We wait for the attending nurse to come in as we sit in silence together.  He's such a patient patient.  Where does he get that peace?  He lays back on the exam table in the face up position.  I watched, perched from my supportive chair, with my finger bookmarking my faith in my journal.

We both close our eyes, resolved to our own private thoughts and silent words.  There are days of marriage, when saying "I do" surprise you with the "worse" parts of your vows.  Those days are when the silence just falls hard.  I know all to well the depression that runs deep from a life of pain. My lids were a welcome dam to the pent up the emotions.  It was safe to say we walked in worn and emotionally exhausted.

"God, here we are again." I prayed.  I wondered if my patient was uttering my same tired words.  This was not the first time around for either of us, him the patient and me the patient wife.  Years of testing have left us both a little spiritually exhausted.  Cancer and it's after effects have gnawed at our faith.   It can rear it's ugly head like a pre-teen pimple, ready to bust open, spewing worry.

What I needed in that exam room was a reminder that God's got his recovery too.

We both believe the Good Shepherd healed this disease from our lives forever.  But the reality is that cancer is pernicious, presumptuous, and unpredictable.  When you are handed a pink-slip of fears, God's comfort is your only anchor.  Without it, a patient's peace slips to the depths of an unknown abyss, fear wisps in and out of a burdened soul like a vapor.

My patient reminded me of his Healer as he silently breathed his prayer of Psalm 23.  He knew it by memory and had been schooled in the still waters of patient Peace.  "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want."  He quietly mouthed the words.

His calm face was prostrate and God spoke to my concerned heart and asked if He could be my peace that day.  "Will you let me lead you by my healing waters that flow deep?"  I couldn't stop the waterworks.  My busting heart leaked a little and I realized that my patient had showed me his Physician, the only One who could heal me of my "what ifs and what's next" questions.

"Be still my little lamb and be stilled by My silent and peaceful waters that flow deep."  Yes, God you do have this.  I quietly spoke the words.

The Lord watches over us in the better and the worse, and the many vows in-between.  He is never far like a good Shepherd, He constantly looks after those in His care.  I know today that when the next wave roars, God will faithfully and patiently anchor my peace.  Waves of anxiety will come and go, ebb and flow like the days tide, but in the stillness, in the silence, I will hear His comforting voice.

"This is the way, walk in it.  I am the Lord, your Shepherd.  I will not leave you in want."  My response to His way of peace was to make His patient peace my priority.  That can only be done in my silence, as I wade through the wedded worry headed to His green pastures, dabbling my toes in the comfort that only He can give.

Yes, Lord you patiently lead me, to your still waters, the waters of Life that calm my fears and still my storms, anchoring deep in what I know about you.   You are my keeper and caretaker, my peace and patience, my love and may I linger in your green pasture.  You are found on the mountains and in the valleys.  I am never alone. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Midge personality

When I was a child I played with dolls.  At the mature age of seven, I wanted a Barbie for my birthday.  I got a Midge doll instead.  I was very disappointed that year.  My sister had a Barbie doll and I wanted one just like hers.  So I pretended my Midge was a Barbie.  Every time I played dolls, I measured my wild imagination against something that didn't exist.  

My Midge doll never measured up to my sister's Barbie doll.

I never told my mom how I really felt about my Midge doll.   I packed it away in my personal paraphernalia, neatly folded in my heart and became skilled in comparisons.  I didn't unpack that cluttered thought  until years later when it hit me that I would never measure up to be "Barbie" perfect.  

As a child, I was compared to my siblings in everything.  In school, I was lacking in any sport skill.  I was always the last to be picked for a team.  I was the first out in kickball.  The last to grab a swing on the playground, the slowest, the weakest, the least, and the heaviest.  I compared my worth to the abilities I saw in others.

I grew in wide stature, thinking everyone was my competition.  My efforts in everything centered around pleasing people with what I could do.  I could make people laugh, I could be a good friend who tolerated just about every kind of treatment, and I was loud.  

On the inside though, I just wanted you to like me.  Days upon days I used to wrestle with just seeking approval.   Gratefully, I have moved from that insecure place, those feelings of failure in the life department.  My past comparisons don't  hold a fearful grip on my thinking anymore.

How did I kick this bad habit of self-comparison thinking?  I signed up for God's Triple A Team.  I am approved, accepted and anointed because I am His.  You are too.

What teaches us to measure ourselves as unacceptable, unworthy and longing the discovery for our place in this world?   We pin our hearts on what the world says about us instead of believing what God says about us.  We look to Pinterest.com to find our best look instead of seeing God's reflection of His deep love for us as recorded in Psalm 139.  We train by imperfect sources.  God longs to perfect us, for His creation to know and live from His approval.  

Our worth is from Jesus who has already compensated for our imperfections.  Your worth was worth dying for.    This changes everything.  

Comparisons are deadly. Comparison breeds discontentment. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says, "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise."  It's not a good practice to measure yourself to the standards of man. The danger of comparison is no matter who you compare yourself to, there is always someone whose prettier, skinnier, smarter, faster, more connected, reads faster, blogs better or is in a more prominent position than you.

Comparisons create pride. "We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or clever, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking, there would be nothing to be proud about." ~ C.S. Lewis.  Comparing only makes me think I have to measure up to man's imperfect standards of success.   It leaves me wanting more of what man has accomplished.

Comparison leave us resentful.  We become resentful of God's blessings when we compare His goodness at work in our lives.  We ignore God's mercy with the idol of entitlement.  We receive God's grace and mercy by faith in the proven worth of Jesus.  Knowing that should drop all the competitions for the the blue ribbon comparisons that we seek.   "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. " Philippians 4:11-12.

Know who you are. Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." God loves you, and has chosen you to be His child before the foundations of the world were created. Accept that He loves you uniquely just like He has gifted you individually and with a specific purpose.  We are to use what He's planted inside of us to bring Him glory.  

Stuff or people will never fill a need that only God can fill.  God doesn't compare His children.  In fact, God hates comparisons.  We are created and gifted individually by God who loves us the same.  Knowing who are in Christ is also knowing who you don't have to be. 

The danger of comparison is that we find ourselves looking to other people for our value and determining our worth by how we compare with other people. It's fine for bargains, cars, apples and shoes but not for people. When we compare, we become the focus.  We pinpoint ourselves, we hang ourselves in the noose of man's judgement, above God's proven love for us.  Our long lists of who gets the "what"...the car we wanted, the job we needed, the spouse we desired, the most gifted children, the bigger ministry, the greener grass on the other side of the prettier fence, this dwelling in the land of shiny things  is meaningless.  Searching for our dreams at the mercy of man's measurements will never satisfy. 

Man's measurements can't compete with God's measure of us.  Live from God's approval and don't look for man to feel approved, accepted and loved.  Knowing the deep love my Heavenly Father brings all the acceptance I need.  I am His daughter accepted, approved, and anointed.

What sorts of comparisons seem to have the most negative impact on your life?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The science behind building rockets!

Did you know that I am a rocket scientist?  It's true, did you know that every domestic engineer knows how?  It's a strategy that I have recently uncovered.

Everyday, well...almost, I am faced with this problem.

Every day I have the choice to build a rocket.  Every day I get to practice how build a rocket.   Everyday I practice building.  Every day I practice what I know about building my rocket.

I practice rocket building.  I practice dreaming.

Dreaming is not rocket science.  Neither is replacing an empty toilet paper roll.  Dreaming takes practice.  Every day you get to practice your dreams.

So just dream.  Practice building.  Practice your start, building your why.

Then, when God says it's time, let Him push launch.  Let Him start your "go" button.

Watch your dreams soar.

Do the next thing.  Build your dreams, practice what you know.  Believe in what you know about God over what you can do on your own.  He will make your dreams soar.

Just ask your Dream-Weaver how to build.  Then do the next thing.  Start building and practicing every chance you get.

You will be come a rocket scientist too.  I've always wanted to build rockets.  It's a brilliant strategy!

How about you?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My surprise when I read this book

Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker
It's rare that I take time to read a book for pleasure.  Most titles satiate my need to learn more about God.  But there was a title that was calling "rest" and I decided to pack into my stack for my week away in the mountains.  I was off to see my daughter and her budding young family who live in Colorado.  My escape always brings rest in more ways than one, trips away brings much needed relaxation.

The book, "Surprised by Motherhood" by Lisa-JoBaker was neatly packed with my clean clothes.  A few pages in, I was hooked.  It’s a beautiful telling of how God has grown her into the mother that she is today from the absence of her own mother’s influence.  Her mother died when she was a young teen growing up in South Africa in a missionary pastor’s family.  God’s beauty surprised from her personal pain, to become the mom she'd always dreamed of having.

Due to her mom’s death, she had to mother herself through those hard, awkward teen years.  She graduated with no desire to ever mother.  Her father encouraged her and did what he could, but as all loving dads dot on their daughters, they can only do so much.  There was a deep pain that never healed until she had her own children. 

According to the culture God had called her parents to, her family lived with abandonment and broken family units around her.  In South Africa, it's common for a dad to leave a family to take up a new wife.  It's common for kids to be abandoned in the pursuit of a new marriage.  The string of orphaned children is endless due to divorce, disease and is heart breaking.  Abject poverty abounds in Africa with children raising children to live on the streets.  They grow up to be become the least, the lost and the last.  It's the harsh real picture of some families in Africa.

Lisa’s surprised me with some memories of my own mother.  She surprised me with how God can make our own needs a teacher.  When she didn't have an example of a mother to learn from, she learned to nurture from the best teacher…in being a mother. 

Life taught her how to mother when she couldn't remember what it looked like. 

It was in her very transparent vignettes of nurturing her own that I connected.  My heart linked with her honest telling of her cares, worries, concerns and angst over the years that strung her heart-rendering memories together with mine.  Many times I have felt disconnected from my own mom specifically when my mind drifts back to my first day of kindergarten. 

I was standing outside the door of my classroom and she left me in a puddle of tears.  I was such a momma's girl.  She walked away down the long hallway, which seemed like miles long, never looking back.  At five my heart broke with the pain of being separated from her.  My little palms were washed by my tears as the teacher pulled me into the room.  I was a bundle of emotions and still to this day tears well up thinking of that lost and alone feeling. 

Those same tears welled up again as I read how Lisa's mom walked out of her life and into the halls of Heaven due to the illness that had struck her life.  Abandonment is a lonely feeling.  Today I know that my mom's heart was also breaking as she walked away that first day.  "I was so heart-broken too.  It was all I could do was to walk away, I knew it was the best for you.”  In that long walk, my mom gave me the chance to grow. 

I sense that what we all feel that pain in many ways when we mother.  The pains of childbirth are soon forgotten once we hold our own in our arms.  We forget the years of doing the best for them out of love for them.  We forget the pains to deliver them into life being the best teacher.  Don’t we all secretly pray to be like our mom’s when we grow up? 

We forget.  But love memories can surprise us.

God further reminded me of the gift I received this past mother's day in some heartfelt words from my own daughter, now mother of two little beauties herself.  She wrote..."Thank you mom for giving me room to grow as a mom."  She thanked me for giving her space to become the mother she needed to be and who God is becoming her to be.

We moms simply love, mother, and nurture those in our care close and from a distance.  Each day brings new surprises along with the sunrise.  It’s mothering at its best and God’s best way to nurture us as moms. 

I highly recommend a look back into Lisa-Jo's story to find the love you need to give to the most.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It's what I prayed for

Colossians 3:12  "Therefore, as God's chosen people holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

I admitted to my friend that I prayed for more patience.  Her response was "Why did you do that?" and then laughed.  She knew already knew my answer.  I am uncovering what godly patience looks like.

It looks like the belly of an undone kitchen, being renovated into something new.  My heart is in the middle of God's patient renovation, He is constructing new patience within me.

The picture above is not my home, but a stripped-down view of what is happening in my life right now.  I am smack dab in the middle of a mess.  A 24-hour, continual mess of a kitchen renovation.  Most days it seems there is no end in sight.  Other days there is a slight glimmer of hope.

One thing is for sure.  I feel displaced.  Like most women, even if you don't like to cook, your kitchen is your space.  Your domain, your place of wellness and where you are at home.  When you are taken out of it, you feel disoriented like there is no clean space in any inch of your house.

Ask anyone of us, she will tell you.

It's kind of a dismal picture actually.  And here I am admitting to you, this little momma in her corner of the country, that I am learning some godly patience.  I don't like God's lessons in this messy middle of His patience.

I am leaning into His everlasting patience with me though.

Living life outside our comfort zones never is comfortable.  It's never convenient and certainly isn't easy.  When you pray for more of God, He doesn't just hand it to you on a clean lacy laden silver platter.  No, He gives it abundantly to you in ways where you can learn more of Him in the circumstances that are around you.

I prayed to learn godly patience as God gives it.  God has given me a extreme lesson in exhibiting godly patience in the life opportunities around me.  One slow stroke of the paint brush, one slow turn of a new screw, one slow plank of a new floor.  One slow patient process.

I have to trust His patient process.

The lessons in this are a slow progression towards Him.  And if my "dreamy-redesign-on-a-dime" kitchen never gets done, may I always know the extent of His true patience with me, so that, I may exhibit His patience in the most loving way.

Appreciate your comfortable places, you never know when God will bring a new lesson to construct or renovate in you.