Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Path Forward

Yesterday was such a good day. It started out extremely early at 4 a.m. but the humidity had dropped and it was a beautiful, sunny day. My knee is doing fantastically well, despite what I thought a couple of days post-surgery. 

I can bend it and the pain I did have is lessening each day. I can go up stairs starting with the bad knee and it doesn't hurt or give out. There is still a bit of tightness and stiffness within the knee, but that is lessening each day. It's almost too good to be true! I am being careful and making sure I sit and put it up every so often, but it is so nice to have a knee that is actually working.

For the first time in months I was able to carry the basket of wet clothes outside to hang them up (it's been too heavy to carry with the bad knee). I baked and had a couple of friends over for lunch. I stripped the beds and remade them. I decluttered an area in my sunroom where all the things from my last retreat had been dumped and never put away. It was wonderful! 

I walked around my yard last night and took some pictures and it was wonderful to see what's going on in the yard and flower beds. One thing is a whole lot of weeds, but I'm not up to tackling those yet.

As I look at my path going forward I know that I need to work on trying to get this house back into some order. There is a layer of dust over furniture. My kitchen should get deep cleaned and a few other rooms straightened. I still haven't painted Emily's room which I've wanted to do.

I mentioned the other day that I need to fight down the urge to plunge into "things" and what I meant by that is unnecessary activity. I need to concentrate on writing my papers, praying, and figuring out a ministry plan for the fall.  All ministry programs have stopped for the summer and I'm looking and evaluating them to see how I can better streamline them and get others involved. 

Someone told me the other night that the teens should get together this summer because they miss each other and I immediately felt guilty that I took a break. However, I fought down that feeling because I need to break that cycle. I cannot be everything to everyone. 

When I try and do everything I end up enabling people to expect all types of programs but not participate in any of them. I am at the point in my life and ministry where I need to focus on mentoring, leading, and teaching and be less about running a program. I need to work smarter and that means stop doing it all myself and train others to grow in their spiritual gifts and own ministry. 

That means if I don't have someone to run a program and lead, then it does not happen! It doesn't mean that I have to be the one to lead it. I have to fight down the feeling that if I don't run a program that somehow I am responsible if the church fails. And really, why am I putting that type of pressure on myself? Crazy! As I look back at my own life and also at the biggest growth in both myself and others, it has come through relationships and not programs. 

I would like to get to the point where I can be comfortable with that and be able to lead the things I truly am passionate about. For me, that is developing relationships and through my ministry of hospitality and encouragement. This means I'm have to self-adjust my path going forward. 

One thing that being laid up with knee issues has done for me is bring me to the point where God can start hammering some of these things home to me. It's not easy and it makes me uncomfortable a lot of the time, but it's necessary.

Onward and upward!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Summer of Being Still

After tossing and turning a bit, I gave up trying to get back to sleep and got out of bed at 5 a.m. I sat on my back deck and had my coffee and quiet time and decided that I'd like to try a stroll around my yard. 

I actually made it to the back field, taking pictures along the way, before common sense kicked in. The thought occurred to me, "Nobody is up and if I fall and hurt myself I'm going to be laying here for a very long time!" lol

But I'm happy to report that the swelling in my knee has gone down and I can bend it further. It's not back to normal by any means and I have to really think about bending it and do it very slowly or else I let out a yelp of pain, but I'm on the mend. I have my post-op appointment this morning and we shall see what the doctor says, but I've been working hard at the exercises the past 4 days.

During my fidgeting in bed this morning I was thinking about how much time I've wasted the past few months, plunked in a chair with my leg up. I was going over all these plans of things I'd like to do in my head when I felt God saying, "Can you just be still?" "Can you not jump into another 'busy' activity this summer and just take this time to sit and learn from me?" "Stop immediately racing to the next 'thing'!"

Maybe my only goal this summer should be to work on consecration papers, sit and listen to the Lord, and realize that it is okay to do that. Perhaps prayer should be the only activity I concentrate on for the next 6-7 weeks. I have spent the past 25+ years of ministry going at a crazy pace. It could be that I need to just say, "Enough!" And just because I have a high productivity pace, does that necessarily mean I need to do that? Just because I can do something, it doesn't mean I should do it.

My spirit longs to be still, but I know my tendency to jump into activity. I know that I often feel like I'm being lazy if I'm not always on the move. But I want to be obedient to that prompting of the Holy Spirit so I'm fighting down many of those urges I have. I am working at ignoring the feeling that I'm letting other's down, or not living up to their expectations or my own expectations.

So my summer of being still is continuing. This time it's a self-inflicted stillness as I try to hear from God and know more of Him. 

Psalm 46:10 (NIV) ~

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

Monday, July 16, 2018

Multitude Monday

There are days that are just plain hard. Days when I want to do nothing but hide under my covers and wish the day wouldn't start. I have to be honest and say that I went through a couple of those days this weekend. I struggled with a deep depression. I struggled with fears and anxieties about my children, my future and my ministry. It was a lonely few days and some days when I felt like a failure in just about every area of my life.

And it continued into the wee hours of the morning. Every time I woke up last night, I had those same anxieties and fear attack me like swarming flies. I had to keep swatting them away one by one until I fell back into a fitful sleep.

But this morning, I felt like enough was enough. I need to take those thoughts captive, remember that God is bigger than all my fears and renew my joy. I need to offer up a sacrifice of praise to Him today because it's in the choosing to be grateful and the choice of praise that my joy is restored.

Today I'm thankful for blessings #3,311 - 3,321.

3,311. Healing that is taking place in my leg. Each day it bends a bit more and is less swollen. Each day it's a bit stronger.

3,312. Healthy breakfast.

3,313. Progress on my second position paper. It's hard work on my poor brain, but I'm getting there.

3,314. Our car died yesterday morning. I'm thankful that it started this morning and puffed it's way to the local garage and didn't stop on the side of the road.

3,315. I'm thankful that Emily came home for the weekend.

3,316. I'm thankful for reminders that God is in control even when it feels like my world spins out of control.

3,317. It's going to be a scorcher today and I'm so thankful for the blessings of air-conditioning.

3,318. The taste of fresh herbs in the summer. My leg was feeling well enough to actually make some dinner last night. I made Dijon and dill oven roasted potatoes.

3,319. A neighbor who grows their own berries and brought over 4 quarts on Saturday.

3,320. A quiet few hours at home by myself to concentrate this morning.

and finally...

3,321. The restoration of my peace and joy.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Simple Things

I'm thankful today for simple things:

Friends who showed up at the hospital and prayed for my healing.

❤A husband who is there morning, noon and night for his family.

❤A friend who brought a meal last night and another bringing one tonight.

❤Children who end every conversation with "I love you."

❤A good night's sleep

❤Minimal pain today

❤Ice packs

❤People who took the time to send texts, emails and left Facebook comments to tell me they were praying.


❤Warm blankets

❤Coffee (after not being able to have any yesterday it sure tasted good today!

❤Nathan who is waiting on me today as his dad is in a meeting and then off to pick up Emily for the weekend.

❤A good sense of humor. I made the entire operating room staff laugh as I told them to hold up on doing anything until those drugs took affect. Then I promptly went out cold. lol

These are all such simple little things but put altogether make up for a pretty sweet life.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Thankful for These Kind of Days

Today we had no plans and I'm still under the weather a bit. On top of that, my lower back decided to act up yesterday and I was really in some pain with that. When it rains, it pours! However, Dan and I decided to get in the car and just head towards the Adirondacks. I found a small lake on the map on my phone and we decided to go check it out.

It was so much fun! We love going on these little adventures together and had a great time. As we headed east we came across acres and acres of these wind turbines. Very cool!

We drove by small lakes and reservoirs on our way and every now and then I would yell, "Stop!" lol  This way I got to get out and take pictures.

We followed this road on my map into the Adirondack Park and were about 3 miles into it when the road ended onto a private drive that said, "No Trespassing." The unfortunate thing about my I-phone map app was that it didn't tell me that! There were really no other roads without going way out of the way so at that point we turned around. We had gone past a few hiking trails on the way so just decided to go back to that point and walk a bit.

We stopped for lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall place and had a tasty meal, gassed up and started back.

We came to a spot where there was a pull-off and a hiking trail. It was one of the most peaceful places and not a sound in the woods except birds. I actually was able to walk about 1/2 mile though on the way back it was getting quite painful.

The cool thing is on the way home I moved my neck and it made a popping sound twice and my lower back immediately felt about 75% better! Whoo-hoo!!!! Apparently, walking was good for it.

I'm all set for my surgery tomorrow morning. It's at 11 a.m. and I would sure appreciate your prayers for a smooth surgery and quick recovery. He's going to remove the pieces of jagged cartilage in the meniscus, remove the plica fold, if needed and remove a cyst that showed up in the MRI. Hopefully, I'll spring back quickly!

Thank you for being interested in my adventures the past couple of weeks. I saw a quote tonight and loved it. My husband is great company on my trips, but my blog readers are also good company and I love sharing bits of my life with you.

"The roads are long; make them short with good company!" ~ Mehmet Murat ildan 

Wednesday Words of Encouragement: The Unseen

A few years ago, in the space of a month, three people I know passed away.  All had inspirational faith.  All had a strong relationship with the Lord.  And all were examples of what a faith-filled life looks like when faced with suffering.

II Corinthians 4:16-18 ~ 

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

The thirty-four year old daughter of friends ended her long struggle with esophageal cancer that month.  A few months before she died, she wrote the following:

Lord, thank you for the suffering that You have given me. Your Word says that blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that You have promised to those who love You(James 1:12). Thank you for keeping me away from the enemies' trap. I choose to listen to the truth because I want to live Your way. Hide me under Your wings from the plots of evil men. My enemies will never bring me down as I stand firm in You.
That brought tears to my eyes, as this young lady, was able to thank God for her suffering.  Her eyes were fixed on what was unseen.

A sixty-five year old pastor of the church next door to us at the time passed away of a sudden heart-attack.  Dan & I met with his wife and she said that just a few weeks prior, as he was preaching, he suddenly exclaimed to his congregation, "I can't wait to get to heaven!"  Little did anyone there know that just a couple of weeks later, he would be gone.  He was a wonderful, Godly man, who had served in this community for 37 years.  I can hear the Lord telling him, "Well done, good and faithful servant."   He was focused on the unseen.

Then during the same week, we received word that a friend who was a bit older than us, passed away after a long struggle with brain cancer.  We had received an email from him not long before that talked about how he was trusting God in the midst of his suffering and how he was looking forward to seeing the Lord.  He too, was looking ahead at the unseen.

They were shining examples of faith.  They were examples of people who persevered in the midst of struggles.   And they didn't just limp through it; they soared and they did it joyfully.  

Our friend who died of a heart attack wasn't suffering before-hand physically, but he certainly struggled to bring Christ's message to a community who wasn't very interested.  He worked long and hard to serve the Lord.

Yet, instead of complaining and whining, they chose to take their eyes off their troubles and look ahead.  My prayer is that I will be like that too.  That I can take my eyes off the things that weigh me down, and keep them firmly on the Lord.  That I can focus on the unseen as I go through my days.  Because it is the unseen that gives me hope in the midst of hard times.

My encouragement to you today is to lift up your eyes and look full in the face of the One who will get you through.   Keep your eyes ahead on the things that are not seen.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Sometimes You Need to Stop and Smell the Roses

We are on vacation this week and had made plans for yesterday, but I told Dan the night before that a lot depended upon how I felt. I really thought it wasn't going to happen yesterday morning, but I doctored up on Tylenol, took a nap during the hour and a half car ride and drank some hot tea and actually had a very nice day.

We drove down to one of the Finger Lakes and went to the Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion. This was the summer home of a wealthy banker and his wife. She loved to travel and recreated famous places from all over the world. So we sauntered through Japanese gardens, Roman bathhouses, a statue of Diana, and other Greek gods. 

There were greenhouses with plants from all over the world, as well as numerous flower gardens. The layout of the entire estate was such that you had to take your time and weave in and out of gardens. It was beautiful!

We had a light lunch in the café on the grounds and then ended up spending 3 hours just wandering around. My knee held up well and I actually walked at almost a normal pace. The only thing I couldn't do was the upstairs section of the mansion because there was no way I was getting up two steep flights of stairs.

We took the tram ride back to the parking lot which was quite a way from where we ended and the gentleman driving it gave us an unexpected guided tour of many of the places.

When we left there, we drove along Canandaigua Lake and stopped at a park to take some pictures and ate frozen custard. 

On the way home, we drove by these eagle's nests along the top of these electric poles. I've seen them there before but it's hard to stop because it's a highway and doesn't have a large shoulder. But I rolled down my window and even with a huge dump truck barreling along behind us at 60 miles an hour, was able to get a shot of the eaglets who look like they are getting ready to fly.

I'm so glad I rallied and we went because it ended up being such a fun day. There really wasn't anything frugal about it because it cost a bit to get into the place and the lunch wasn't cheap but it was worth the money.

I think that's it for our so-called vacation this week.  I have an appointment with the surgeon this afternoon and I'm hoping he doesn't cancel the surgery.  We might be able to do something tomorrow but it really depends how I feel. Surgery is Thursday and then obviously, recouping the rest of the week. Fun times!