Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Worry Isn't Prayer...

                    I want to fix things, but Jesus says...
                 "Fix your eyes on me."
                                          -Jennifer Duke, The Happiness Dare

There has been a long standing joke in our family that some of
us were born with a "worry gene." From time to time we have even nicknamed folks a "worrywart." 

My dear Mom used to worry about what was right in front of her and often worried about what might happen down the road. Some relatives would gently say, "Dolores, don't borrow worry that isn't even here yet." She often replied that she became a first class worrier when my Dad went off for three years to Italy to fight in WWII.

The worry and "what ifs" can rob us of today's joy, of that I am sure.

It isn't always easy to live in the present and to stay focused on what is right in front of us. It isn't easy to let go of the desire to "fix things" so everything will turn out the way we think it should.

It isn't easy, but my life changes when I give things to God.

Yet I am amazed that I can in one minute pray and ask God to take this burden and then in the next second yank it back again
and try to fix it myself.

I've come to believe that I rob myself of my own happiness
when I keep trying to "fix" the whole world. This morning in my prayer time I asked God to help me change my thinking.

Old thoughts can circle and circle and unless they are replaced by a new way to look at things, I can become anxious and scared.

There has been a lot of anxious and scared this past week.

Some of my greatest life-lessons have come from my daughter, Amy. This week her endless prayer to God was "Thy will be done." Your will, Lord, not my will. She is often saying to me,
"Mom, worry isn't prayer."

I know that in my heart-of-hearts, but old habits are hard to 
break.

So how does worrying impact me? On a physical level when I worry I invite stress into my mind and heart. So worry is bad for my physical and emotional health.

Worrying also impacts my joy because I can let it rob my focus on all that I have to be grateful for. I can worry about Bert's health issues or I can just be so grateful he is here with me right now.

This past week so much has happened that has left me exhausted and worried. Today, I am working to ....
                         "Fix my eyes on Jesus."

I can't fix things, but He can. I am working to move worry from the front seat of the car to visually locking worry in the trunk.
It may not be completely gone, but it will only be in the driver's seat if I let it.

As fall comes to Spokane, instead of "worrying" that winter is almost here and what about all that upcoming snow, I'm going to relish the gorgeous fall leaves and hear the crunch of them as I take a walk today with my beloved husband.

I am going to take a break from worrying and stop myself and substitute new thoughts when worry tries to take over.
As my darling granddaughter said to me, "Nana, just give it to God."

Out of the mouth of babes....

God Bless!
Love, Linda






Sunday, September 11, 2016

Trying to Clean It All Away...

               "I'm cleaning. It's the thing I always turn to
                 when I try to restore order to my world...
                 Somehow I'll clean it all away."
                                                             -Vicky Westra, my dear friend

Most of the summer was quite care-free. There were moments of being at the lake, relishing God's handiwork, and watching my dear grandchildren frolic in the water. I could never, ever have imagined back then, where we would be now.

Summer is over, school has started for my grands and our world has been turned upside down.

In a heart-beat.

I have held on for dear life as I have seen chaos and fear take over and our sense of all is right with the world turn into "how could this ever happen. This is unthinkable, unbelievable, intolerable."

While I am usually not a great sleeper, in the hazy days of summer I amazed myself by sleeping in. Not sleeping in by most people's standards, but by mine. Usually I am up at 3:00 or 3:30. This summer, several times I "slept in" until almost 6:00.

I was as proud of this accomplishment as I was when I learned to tie my own shoes.

It helped so much to not be worrying and not have my sleep disrupted by...
"What ifs?"
"What thens?"
"How could this happens?"

Yet in the past week,  I am back up at 1:00 or 2:00 or 3:00, and I don't wake up rested. Rest has been replaced by a deep fear that goes from my heart to my toes. These days I am praying from the moment I open my eyes to the moment I shut them again.

It doesn't matter what the turmoil is or the heart-break is, or the deep sadness and deep rage is...because I can't really talk about all of it here.

What matters is that I need to live the words I write and remember that God is here. God has not left in these unthinkable moments. In fact, God knows about every feeling I am feeling and every feeling my family is feeling.

This reminds me of the time when Bert was diagnosed with cancer. Every emotion surfaced from fear to anger to confusion to..."Why him, God?" "Help, God."
"Please hold us close, God."

When the unthinkable happens, I turn to Him.

Yesterday, as I was cleaning the sink for the tenth time this week, I realized that I was not coping well with all that has happened. I was reminded of the blog post by my dear friend, Vicky Westra, when she started talking about cleaning as a way to try to restore order in her life. 

Vicky has stage four breast cancer, and when she wrote that post she had gotten back her latest scans and test results. They weren't what she wanted or needed. They weren't what we had all been praying for.

Vicky is my role model for choosing JOY in the midst of heart ache. Yet she allows herself to really feel the hard and very hard. Then she surrenders, after a bit, and focuses on gratitude. She doesn't want to waste a precious moment of this life she has been given. Fear and rage can be life-stealers

However, she doesn't skate right over the awful or pretend it isn't there. 

In Vicky's latest blog post, she is honest about cleaning her house, it's a coping mechanism, something to do so the fear doesn't grab hold and take over.

I'm like that, too.

My home is usually tidied up and pretty darn clean.
When it is in order, my mind works better. If it is in disarray, it feels like I am too. 

Yet I have never focused on the sink until this week. Almost every chance I get, I try to shine it up. 

I scrub and scrub, hoping to scrub away the sorrow.
I pray for shiny, clean lives, just as they were a few weeks ago.
I miss the summer calm and sense of well being.

I haven't quite figured out what to do with my rage, a deep anger that wells up when I think about what happened.
It's not surprising that intense anger can leave me unfocused and off balance.

Several days ago I was in an accident where I hit the left side of my face on the cement, pulled muscles in my back, and smashed my left knee, the one I have had knee surgery on. Both of my elbows and arms are scarred and ripped up. Slowly the bruises are reminders of the fall and my body is bruised from head-to-toe.

I suppose, if this was seen on a video, it might have been amusing. Girl gets hit. The sound turned off. America's Funniest  Video moments.

Yet that fall, and my inability to catch myself, was symbolic of what has happened. My body is bruised, but so is my heart.

I can't fix this. Only God can.

Some hurts, like that fall, you just don't see coming. 

As I start back to school this next week, I find that the air has been knocked out of me. How will I teach when my heart is so heavy?

What I know for sure, and it is a saving grace in all of the physical and emotional pain, is that God is here. He is here when things are great and He draws close when our hearts are broken.

He will be our strength as we walk this new road day-by-day.
He will dry our tears. He will hold us close. He will never leave us or forsake us. He whispers to me, "This is too much to bare. Give it over to Me."

And I will.

Please pray for me and my family. Your prayers mean the world to us.

God Bless!
Love Linda


Thursday, September 01, 2016

Amazed and So Grateful...



 Not often am I left speechless...
                    
However, this morning I am. I got up early as always, went to get my coffee and said my morning prayer from my beloved Pastor Rev. Himes, "Let Jesus be my first cup of coffee." Then I
went through my prayer list and thanked God for so many blessings, even if the "now" has some hard spots to it. 
Then, I went to my blog as I  intended to do a post. I saw that there was a "draft" there. Immediately I laughed thinking, "Oh my goodness, I must be slipping. I don't remember doing that."

I opened it up.

There were the amazing pictures of my loved ones, the ones recently taken by a photographer. The ones we have waited for in anticipation. My daughter, Amy, put them on my blog, knowing these photographs would make my day...even my week or my month.

These photos are of my precious family!

There was my daughter Amy, who is not only my daughter, but my precious friend.
Amy is the most giving, loving and courageous person I know. Amy is my role model for saying "Yes!" when God calls. She reminds me daily
of God's love and promise and to repeat, even in hard times, "Thy will be done."

There was Glory Sihin, my precious granddaughter adopted 51/2 years ago from Ethiopia.
 We recently took her to Whitworth and helped her set her dorm room up. There are no words to express how much we love her. Her "off to college time"...well, that's for another post.

There was Jacob, oh Jacob, who just started high school. He holds our hearts,
Bert's and mine. We were there when he was born and have loved him
with our whole hearts all of these almost 15 years.

There was amazing, love-filled Jenna, a new 4th grader. How life-giving, truth-telling, and love- giving she is. She is the best, best, best big sissie to Annora Grace. 

There was our newest miracle, Annora Grace, God's answer to so many prayers,
This sweet baby whose smile lights up all of our lives.

There is so much love in this family who has also suffered such loss, but that is my daughter's story to tell some day. As she says, "We are like a puzzle, each of us with our own story, each of us blessed by God, a reminder of God's love and promise, and because of God's grace...we fit together perfectly."

I am so amazed and grateful for my family! They fill my heart with such joy and love!!!

Bert and I love them all to the moon and back!

God Bless!
Love, Linda

A Reminder of What Matters...

                   "We are all just walking                       each other home."                                             ...