Monday, November 20, 2017

Multitude Monday

Martyn Lloyd-Jones ~

"We tend to take all the gifts and pleasures and happiness and the joy without saying much to God. We take our health and strength, our food and clothing and our loved ones, all for granted; but the moment anything goes wrong we start grumbling and complaining and we say 'Why should God do this to me, why should this happen to me?' How slow we are to thank and swift to grumble."

Guilty! I so often do this and am ashamed.  Even here on Multitude Monday, I give thanks for all the wonderful things, but rarely for the hard things.  That's where my faith waivers; when things are difficult.  

Can I thank Him for the troubled times?  For the stale times?  For the times when things are crashing down around me and I truly wish I could run away?  Can I praise Him when things are stark and bleak and it seems as if the sun will never shine again?

Why is my faith so weak and my flesh so frail that I can't even trust for one second when things aren't going my way?  I take and take from the Lord and throw a first-class temper tantrum when faced with difficulty.

I long to be able to say as Job did, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."  This man who endured suffering that you and I may never see could say those words.  He faced the loss of his entire family, fortune and reputation and yet, even the smallest inconvenience causes me to whine.

Forgive me, Lord.

Psalm 51:10 (ESV) ~
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Crazy Week

It's been a crazy week and I'm glad it'll be over in a couple of days.

On Monday afternoon I received a phone call as I was in the midst of sewing to get ready for a craft show this weekend.  It was a pastor in our district who is on the licensing, consecration and ordination committee.  He was calling to schedule my accreditation interview for Thursday (yesterday).  YIKES!

Then Monday night we received a phone call from one of our elders.  He and his wife had been in a terrible car accident and were in route to the hospital via ambulance.  So Dan and I jumped in the car and headed the 45 minutes there to be with them. I'm thankful they are going to be okay as a dump truck t-boned their car and was totaled.  They have multiple broken bones and cuts, but will be okay.

I spent Tuesday and part of Wednesday, sewing and trying to study at the same time.  However, the more days that passed, the more I realized that there was no way I could do both without feeling tremendous stress. I also was going to need to help stuff Thanksgiving baskets on Saturday and I had signed up to make a turkey for a potluck on Sunday.  I can usually juggle multiple thing but this time it was overload!

I ended up deciding to cancel my participation in the craft fair, and the stress calmed down immediately.  I've been busy shooting out emails to people in our church to help organize meals for the couple, as well as reminder emails about the Thanksgiving baskets and potluck.  

I had my interview yesterday morning and passed! So I'm on to the next step in the process which is writing 5 positional papers, reading through the Bible twice in two different versions, and a bunch of other things before I meet before the entire committee for my final interview which will be much harder.  They would like me to do this within 24 months so I want to make sure I stay on top of my time management.

It was just as well that I canceled the craft fair anyway, as I came down with a touch of the stomach bug yesterday afternoon and still don't feel great.  Today is going to be spent doing some writing, working on my district ministry work, working on my 3D Kid's program, and depending on how I feel, straightening up around here.

Stephen got home yesterday afternoon and will be here through Thanksgiving weekend.  Dan is going to get Emily on Tuesday and then I'll have all of my chicks home which will be good.

It's been a very strange week.  I'm kind of looking forward to the weekend being over because it'll be busy too.  We are stuffing baskets tomorrow, I have to lead worship on Sunday and we have a potluck after church.  Next week all I have to do is focus on Thanksgiving which will be easy for me this year. We are going to Dan's parents and I'm doing the pies and couple of side dishes.  It's kind of nice not to have to do the whole meal, which is the first time in 9 years.

Have a wonderful weekend, and I hope your week wasn't as crazy as mine was. :-)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Multitude Monday

We are entering the time of the year that I love.  I wasn't feeling it until this past Saturday when we had the craft fair at our church and I put on Christmas music.  After a few songs, I began to sing and felt joy flooding my heart.  It's the most wonderful time of the year, for sure!

It has been a wonderful week and weekend and I have a lot of thankful things to list this morning.  

This week I'm thankful for blessings, 3147 - 3160.

3147.  Stephen came home on Thursday and it's been nice to have him home for a few days.  He leaves today and will be back again this coming Thursday through Thanksgiving weekend.

3148.  Our worship team is tightly knit together and I love the comradery we feel.  We laugh together, have fun making music together, pray together and support each other.  There are times when my phone sounds like an alarm going off with multiple texts and when that happens, I know it's members of the team texting.    

3149.  Being able to create delicious meals with just a few ingredients.  I love a challenge and sometimes when I can't get to the grocery store, it's like solving a puzzle as I try to come up with a dinner plan.

3150.  Making beautiful items with fabric.

3151.  A terrific craft sale on Saturday.  I sold lots of items and had a productive time there.  I'm not a fan of the craft fairs because I hate sitting for that long, but this one was worth it.

3152.  Our church also offered a free craft for children on Saturday and we had lots of little ones come through.

3153.  I'm thankful for the teens that helped on Saturday.  They worked hard and did a good job.

3154.  Some of you may remember the girl's club I ran in our last church, called 3D Girls.  Well, I am starting this up here but extending it to boys too so it's called 3D Kids.  They will be able to come and have a short object lesson and then do crafting, cooking, drama, music, dance and other things.  I'm so thankful for a number of children signed up already.

3155.  I am also thankful for the adults and teens who will be helping me with the program.  

3156.  The energy and excitement in our church has risen over the past few months and it's wonderful to see different ones getting involved and growing spiritually.  The church body is a wonderful thing when it works properly!

3157.  I'm thankful for friends who had us over for football and food yesterday afternoon.  It was a nice time of fellowship.

3158.  I'm thankful that my husband has the day off from tutoring today since the schools are closed.  We are going to go out to lunch and do a bit of shopping.

3159.  I'm thankful to wake up to two Etsy sales.  My Etsy shop is picking up and that makes me happy.

and finally...

3160.  The first snow of the season is always exciting.  I may not feel that way by February but I love it in the beginning! lol

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Philippians 4:4-9 (NLT) ~ 

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

I started writing these weekly "Words of Encouragement" almost nine years ago.  They generally are things that I'm learning from the Lord through my own struggles and I've always tried to be fairly transparent.  Just because I'm in full-time ministry doesn't mean I always have it together.  I struggle just like everyone else with different issues.  One of my biggest issues I constantly work through is anxiety.

When I am struggling with being anxious about a situation, I have a tendency to feel totally overwhelmed.  Instead of turning the situation over to the Lord and then LEAVING it there, I keep mulling over everything in my brain again and again and again.

As I was reading this passage this morning, I was struck once again that the only way we can have peace in the middle of stress and problems is to pray.  But prayer is qualified here because we are supposed to pray with thanksgiving.  Thank God for all the things He has done.  As we list the ways He has helped us in the past, our fears for the present and anxiety over the future dissipates.  His peace will envelope us.

But then we have to take it a step further.  We have to get our mind off the worry and keep thinking about the good things.  We have to remember what is true and honorable in our lives.  We have to focus on the pure things; not the impure.  The lovely and not those ugly thoughts or attitudes.  We need to keep our thoughts fixed on the excellent things and those things that bring God praise.  

The reason we need to do that is those anxieties and worries don't just go away.  They hover around like flies, waiting to land back in your thoughts.  So as we continually pray, give thanks and then focus on the good, we will feel God's peace. 

And that is a peace that is unfathomable.  It is a peace that spreads over us like a warm blanket.  It is a peace that will help us be calm in the midst of a raging storm.  

As we enter this holiday season, my prayer is that you will experience that peace that passes all understanding.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Leaky Faucet

I am a crier.; I admit it.  Always have been and probably always will be. 

I cry at sappy commercials.  I cry during love songs.  I cry at weddings.  I cry during movies.  Emotion wells up and out of me at unexpected times.  My feelings irritate me at times because the emotion comes out of nowhere and when I least want to show it.  But it's just the way it is.

But lately, it feels like tears are constantly at the surface and they well up and spill out and down my cheeks at truly the most inconvenient places.  I'm like a leaking faucet. Little things will set them off.  

😢Such as when I'm reading a passage of scripture to our congregation during Sunday morning worship.

😢Standing in the aisle of a Toys R Us store, trying to select just the right gift for two little girls.  The memories of picking out toys for my own children cause them to drip down my cheeks.

😢Having a conversation with a friend.

😢As thoughts and prayers crowd my head while sewing.  The tears cause my eyes to blur and I have to stop temporarily to wipe them away.

We went to dinner at a friend's house last night and she reminded me of something that is perhaps the cause of such frequent tears. 
  • In the past four years we moved to a brand new area that is very culturally different from where we were.
  • My whole ministry has changed.
  • My middle son left home for the first time to finish college.
  • My eldest and youngest have struggled here.
  • My youngest has now left home to go to college.
  • I have entered into the beginning of menopause.
  • I have dealt with multiple injuries over the past three years which has made it difficult to move or exercise.
Lots of changes.  Lots of adjustment.  And it stands to reason, lots of emotion. I'm not depressed or anything like that, but just feel more emotional than normal. 

But at the same time, while there have been tears, there have been smiles.  Good things are happening here.  It's taken longer, but I've made good friends. People are very reserved here and they don't give their emotions away easily, but when people say they love you, they really love you.

I enjoy my ministry, and I enjoy the fact that I've been able to have a viable craft business. I'm entering into a different, but exciting stage in my life.

It's change.  It's different.  But God is with us and with our children, and I know if I'm following Him, it's all good!

Psalm 56:8 (NLT) ~

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Multitude Monday

I woke up this morning with the song, Give Me Jesus, running through my head.  It really was a sweet way to wake up and a wonderful start to the week.

This week I'm thankful for blessings, 3130 - 3146.

3130. Times of sweet prayer this week, crying out to the Lord for different things.

3131. I'm thankful for God's provision.  Dan is tutoring three students which is very helpful to our finances.

3132. A contractor came on Friday and checked our roof, which is leaking.  There are three holes up there which he will be coming to fix.  I'm thankful for proactive church members who got this done.

3133. Fall scents.

3134. The beauty of the woods in November.

3135. The fact that my husband still can make me laugh out loud after 29 years of marriage.

3136. Answered prayer.  I had a major flare-up of diverticulitis on Saturday.  On top of that the plantar fasciitis in my left heel was so bad I couldn't put any weight on my foot at all. I was using crutches to get around on Saturday night.  I finally asked for prayer from the ladies in my church, and by yesterday morning I was able to get to church with minimal pain.  
3137. Two people who made the decision to become new members of our church.

3138. People who are willing to use their talents for the Lord.  A gentleman in church yesterday stretched himself and filled in on the drums and did a wonderful job.

3139. Our church hosted a baby shower for a couple in our church who are having a difficult time.  They were beaming yesterday and I'm so thankful that we were able to bless them in this way.

3140. Fermentation! ;-)

3141. Relaxing Sunday afternoons.  I watched a couple of shows, I sewed, and I rested.  

3142. Little ones at church that make me smile with their antics.

3143. Hearing how the guys in our church are getting together throughout the week for fellowship and encouragement.

3144. Texts back and forth from our worship team that make me laugh.

3145. A friend who invited us to dinner tonight.

and finally...

3146.  An early start on my day.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Plan Changed, but Not the Goal

Having a young man with multiple disabilities means that our lives are different. Everything I planned and dreamed for my child as a baby had to be put aside. And because Nathan is so high functioning in many ways I often forget the severity of what we are dealing with.  And I often think people assume I'm exaggerating because they can't see the things we deal with here in the privacy of our home.  Or because they haven't ever had to deal with it themselves, they kind of feel like he should just "snap out of it."

Tasks that you and I take for granted don't come easily for him.  When he was tested a number of years ago, his processing speed and working memory dipped way down below the average range.  His reading, writing and math skills are very low.  All this means that learning new things does not come easily or quickly.  

I forget how much energy it takes him to just manage a job and having to do multiple tasks.  I often think he's being lazy when on his day off he wants to do nothing but vegetate in his room, playing video games ,but the sheer effort it takes for him to manage his job expends much of his energy.

Then when you take into consideration that he works very hard to keep his tics under control from Tourette's Syndrome, that social settings and crowds are hard for him, and the fact that he almost never can breathe through his nose because of allergies, it's no wonder that he is wiped out.

He's been withdrawn lately and Dan and I sat down to see if we could draw him out.  He said, "I'm just struggling trying to figure out where I fit in this world."

Our conversation was a good reminder to me that our future will not look like our friends. Nathan is with us wherever we go.  We do have to think about him when we make future plans.  Right now he is in a job he really likes.  They are good to him and he is making friends there. His coworkers ask him to come out with them. But he longs to be full-time and I'm not sure that will ever happen.  I know that his managers realize he has disabilities because the agency for adults with disabilities helped him get the job.  Nathan often wonders if that's what holds him back.  He never knows.

I felt sad the other night as Nathan was sharing with us. His life is hard and it's not what I wanted for him.  I tend to get sidetracked with my own life and because he is older and independent in many ways, I forget how much he struggles.  I don't always understand how God can allow one person to struggle so much, but I know He has a purpose for all things.  Nathan has a good attitude, is kind, works hard and wants to live a productive life.  

Life didn't work out the way I expected and my plans changed, but the goal I had when I had children remains the same.  I have a wonderful son who is an inspiration to me.  What more could I ask for?