Brief Word of Thanks

In my twenty-odd years of life, I had never seen my mom in the hospital. Sick, yes, that’s inevitable when you live with your parents, but never in the hospital. When my mom came down with flu symptoms, that what we assumed it to be, just the flu. She was lethargic, warm, tired…but when she began not making sense, or not answering the phone, it was time to get her to the hospital.

 

For the past month and a half now, my mother has been in a hospital, a nursing home, back to the hospital and then transferred to a new facility. She spent her birthday surrounded by family, friends and nurses. Believe me, when this is all over, we’re having a better party.

 

Through it all, I have had so much love felt by family and friends; the support provided has been amazing. I have felt the presence of God, and known the power of prayer. There have been tears, and there has been laughter. I appreciate the laughter most of all.

 

So this post is a thank you, to all those who have been with us physically, mentally and spiritually. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

Wanting to Quote the Word, But Getting Shakespeare Instead

Do you like to read? I do; I’ve always been a voracious reader. Any book or magazine I could get my hands onto, and I would gobble up each word, living vicariously through the characters on the page. No matter the topic, I wanted to know more. Early on I figured out that I didn’t like to read the modern writers – no Faulkner or Hemingway thank you very much. I would scare myself with psychological thrillers like Hannibal and fall in love with Jane Eyre. While I never felt a connection with Romeo and Juliet, I was giddy when Beatrice and Benedick declared their love for one another.

Having loved reading (and writing), I had my majors picked out freshman year of high school. English and History all the way! Talk about going to school to get a degree in reading and writing! From theories to discussion to sentence structure, I loved every minute of it.

When I began to go to church regularly, and delved more into my faith, I bought a Bible. Made sure it was the correct translation. I also bought special highlighters and made sure I would mark it up with pencils, not pens. And then I stopped. I was stuck. Whereas with the books I read in the past, I would open the first page and read until the end. Not with the Bible; I had no idea where to start. Should I begin at the beginning, delve into the Word that way? Do I start with the Book of John? Stumped, I put the Bible down, and picked up a different book.

Then I downloaded a Bible app on my phone. Not exactly the same thing as turning a page, but I figured, I have an e-reader, I can read it that way! So, I picked Genesis and began to read a chapter a night on my phone.

Well, that lasted a month.

I would forget to read a chapter and then get annoyed with myself. Why was I forgetting to read the Bible?! Does this make me a bad Christian? So I tried different tactics; I would choose different books to read, trying to put the same zeal into physically reading that I felt mentally. And then I would forget to read a chapter again, or I would put it off and then rush through the words.

Now I felt like a horrible Christian.

How could I go into a talk with my friends at Church, unable to know passages? I can quote Shakespeare but not Jesus? Or John or Paul or Mark…? I could remember where I read something, and give examples, but I didn’t feel up to par with being in a group with other Christians.

Then I stopped; I just stopped reading the Bible. I became discouraged; it became easy to allow my doubts to override my confidence. I stepped away from reading all together. With the excuse of not enough time tumbling around in my thoughts, I just stopped.

And then one day, I was no longer numb. The urge to read again was overwhelming and I delved back in, my eyes reopened. I enjoyed reading again, and I didn’t feel like I was rushing through reading the Bible.

Am I able to say a passage off the top of my head yet? No, but I’m enjoying my time reading again, and getting to know the Word.

His Plans Are Perfect Plans

The last few days I have been reminded just how imperfect I am. Now, I don’t mean this in a beat-myself-up kind of way, but more in a should-have-opened-my-eyes-earlier sort of way. As I mentioned in my last post, I know God has a plan for me, it’s just difficult to not want to know what it is right now. Same goes with the plans I make; I think they will be perfect and well thought out, but nope. Instead, the plans are imperfect, and have a tendency to either fail awkwardly, or just don’t go through at all.

 

But not God’s plans. God’s plans do not fail, and this I have to remember. My plan didn’t fail because God is angry at me and wants to see me hurt; my plan failed because as an imperfect being my plan too will be imperfect. As God works through the plan that He has created for me, and I walk along His perfect path, I forget. I forget and then I decide to forge my own path because hey! I know what I want to do, and where I want to go.

 

Then, when it becomes clear that the path I chose is not so perfect, I turn around. Well, sometimes I turn around; sometimes I forge on even more, thinking that there will be light at the end and I will get to the place that is wonderful, and beautiful, and perfect. Except, then I don’t, and then I turn around, back through the path that I created to where He is still waiting, patient, as I step back onto that perfect path he paved.

 

Sometimes, it feels like a never ending cycle. Or, I feel like I am going along on the paved path only to find myself wading through the weeds. It’s not fun, but it reminds me that I also need to be patient. With myself and with God. Which is not easy; living in world where there are alerts everywhere it’s easy for me to fall into the idea that if I don’t know what’s going on right now, well, what’s the point?

 

Slow down? But why?! I love going fast, why would I want to slow down?! Except, when I don’t slow down, I forget to listen to and for Him. I’m too engaged in the wants that I’ve created, that I miss out on the needs that He is providing.

 

My plans will be imperfect because I am imperfect. God’s plans are perfect because He is perfect. I just need to remember this mantra, no matter how long it is!

Living a Life Unsure

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ­­Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

I absolutely love this passage; God knows where we are going. He has already planned out a future for us, long before we knew we had one. And yet, my thoughts, words and even my actions will say differently. Each day I hope for something new to come along. I put my resume out there and hope (mind you, I didn’t say pray) that something will come of it.

And then it doesn’t, and I feel defeated. Why me? Why am I having all this bad luck? And I go to God, and I bemoan a loss that may actually be beneficial. In all of this, I have not gone to God beforehand, prayed on anything with Him and to Him. No, I’m basing this all on luck and wishing. Fly away little resume, and hopefully you’ll come back with good news.

All because I don’t want to live a life unsure. We look both ways before we cross the street, so why wouldn’t I want to know what my future may hold for me? I feel the compelling need to know what will be coming around the corner so I may brace myself for impact. But that’s not what God tells us to do. Or Paul. As he writes in 2 Corinthians 5:7 “….we walk by faith not by sight.” I have been relying solely on the physical and not enough on God until after the fact.

It’s time for me to live a life unsure. I will continue to post my resumes to positions, but now I will also be praying on it beforehand. God is next to me, He is there for me and with me. He has placed family and friends in my life to help me through and recognize this and not to keep fighting this on my own. The future is in the dark, and that is scary but His light shines the way, and I just need to follow.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV)

 

Life Needs Action

A few days ago I was listening to one of the talk radio shows I enjoy. The commentator had mentioned that he had gone to the doctor earlier that day and had seen a poster with the word “Hope” on it, and spoke about the meaning of the poster for his listeners. And then a young man called in regarding the poster. He made mention that hope is the opposite of action, and this struck a chord with me.

By definition, hope is a verb meaning: to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true. In order for a word to be a verb, it needs to have action; in this case, it’s not physical but mental. I cannot hope something to happen, as that’s too close to wishing. It reminds me of the old saying, “If wishes were fishes we’d all be casting nets.” It’s good to hope, but in order for it to happen, there needs to be a physical exertion.

I can hope to lose weight, but unless I to do so I need to eat better and exercise.

I can hope to find a new job, but in order to do that I need to work at it, sending out my resume and making sure I’m visible to future employers.

I can hope to visit Europe again, but I best save money and make sure I pay off my bills first.

There are so many things I hope for; there are so many things I can tell you that I hope to happen. Hope begins as a seed; we plant it in our minds and from there we can cultivate our thoughts. Instead of burrowing it too far down, let the seed grow roots. Water it, feed it, and allow your hopes to become action.

It’s always easier said than done, but with determination and elbow grease and the help of God, anything can happen.

I’m Not Setting Resolutions, Just Goals

At the beginning of the new year, or even in the month leading up to it, the idea of resolutions is heavy. Will you use the new year to lose weight? Get out of debt? Get a new job?

But what happens when you break away from your resolution? January is all hot and heavy; getting out there and busting open any doors that may have been put in your way. Then, February comes along and the motivation starts to dwindle. No longer is there time to get in the morning jog; or an unexpected bill comes along that needs your monetary attention; or you received another auto-reject letter in your inbox, and well, what’s the point?

Except there’s always a point. There’s a reason you went out of your way to resolve to do something different. And while I didn’t make any resolutions this year, I have made goals. Goals that I am making sure I stick to because I promised myself I would do so. In order to stay on track, and in my case for the beginning of the year it is to find a new (and satisfying) job, I signed up for the blogger Jon Acuff’s 30 Day Hustle challenge and I love it! Every day there is a new “challenge”, a new post on Facebook for people to write to others: either, in my case, strangers or even friends, on what they are doing, how they are doing, and why they are completing the Hustle challenge.

Now, I’m going to be a realist; after the 30 days are up I will need to continue on my own. And it’s scary. I can be a defeatist; my anxiety will kick in and that one auto-reject email may send me over the edge. I know because I’ve been here before. In this instance, I can’t let my old habits rear up. I’m out of a job in April (my position is being outsourced) so I can’t let my defeatist attitude get in my way.

I’m thankful that I found this group right now; I am thankful that I am able to put my insecurities aside and open up to complete strangers on Facebook. There is a reason for it all; God has brought me to and through different parts of my life and I am so ever thankful to Him. He knows where I need to go, I just need to get on the path!