Sunday, October 25, 2015

Joy in Waiting

"And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised."  (NIV)  Hebrews 6:15

I waited, and waited, and waited.  The activities of our family seemed to be taking over time that I felt I desperately needed with my husband.  Just time for us.  As we lived through our busy days, I just longed to spend some time with Juan.  We didn't necessarily have to go on a vacation, I just wanted some precious time - time without distraction.  This just seemed to be scarce in our worlds.  Like many of you, our days are filled with work, chores, activities, more chores, more work, etc.  Yes, we might sit on the couch together for a few minutes, but that was what it was - a few minutes.  I couldn't remember the last time we relaxed with each other and laughed like we used to.  I kept waiting for that moment.  The more I waited, the more discouraged I became that our time would never arrive.

I am sure that many, if not all, have felt that desperate waiting.  Maybe we are waiting for news in our lives; maybe we are waiting for a family member to reach out; maybe we are waiting for a new job; maybe we are waiting for our children's events to take place.  The waiting game, as I've written in previous blogs, can be a difficult place for us to hang our hats.  

To fill the gap of waiting, many times we try and put our OWN agenda in there.  Been there - done THAT!  Usually, that is never very successful.  Sometimes as we wait, we fall into despair, that what we are waiting for will NEVER happen.  That can be a very ugly place.  Sometimes as we wait, we lament heavily, and bring those around us down with us.  Can't imagine I'm very fun to be around during THOSE times.  As we wait, though, we don't typically focus on the joy that may be right in our sight.

I'm sure you are all saying - JOY?  Really Susan, can there be actual JOY when we are waiting.  I think there can be, and I think we often overlook that opportunity to see the joy in the midst of the wait.  Where can the joy be hiding?  Many times, it's not really hiding - it can be staring us right in the face.  As you wait for news, we could be pouring into prayer and understanding that our God is always with us as we wait.  As we wait for family members, we can do our own reaching out to others who may need US versus US needing someone else.  As we wait for the new job, maybe we can search other passions and hobbies that can help us in our search.  As we wait for our children to move through life itself, maybe we can take time to remember the joy of memories passed and look to new memories we can make ahead.  Yes, there can be joy in the waiting.

Where the wonder of it all comes into play is that God has the plan.  There is a reason why what we want NOW is not coming.  He has that wonderful master plan that only HE knows.  Yes, don't we all long to know what that plan is?  How much fun would THAT be?  We wouldn't take the time during the wait to grow closer to our Lord - and isn't that what He wants the most - to be close to Him?  We have opportunities during the next wait to focus not on the despair, but the joy.  All the learnings and growth that happen during those times.  We will never understand God's plan - but we do have the hope in His perfect love.  Now that's a gift worth waiting for.

So, what happened on that long wait with my husband?  Last weekend, Juan suggested we take a drive to Cape Cod - about 2 hours away.  What, time for us?  I jumped at the request and before I knew it, we were off for a day of US.  I can't even begin to share the joy I felt that day.  Some moments were filled with wonderful discussions.  Other moments were silent.  The best part was that we were just "us".   The dust may have been a little higher on the coffee table.  The laundry may not have gotten done until Sunday versus Saturday.  It didn't matter.  The time was right!  During our time together, we talked about our waiting period - and realized that there was joy during that time.  Joy in seeing our family make decisions.  Joy in knowing we might have helped out someone who needed it.  Joy in doing God's will at that time so we could enjoy His will for our time.  What did that take?  Just a little simple faith!  May you have the faith to have joy during your waiting time. 

"Heavenly Lord, so often we wait for things, situations, or people in our lives.  The wait can put us into a very desperate place.  The wait can make us so impatient that we put OUR agenda into the wait versus taking the time to wait for YOUR agenda.  Please help us to be patient in the wait, and during that time, find the joy that you want us to!  Bless us to have the simple faith you provided to us.  In your name, AMEN!" 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Detour to Beauty

"He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set the eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."  (NIV) 
 Esslesiastes 3:11

Those of you who have read my blog for the past two years must be saying, "When is she going to talk about her favorite season, AUTUMN?"  I'm sure you were patiently waiting :)  Here it is, but with an important lesson I learned along the way.

I rush to get to work in the morning.  I'm an early riser and I have no real NEED to rush, other than I believe I will never have enough time to finish all I need to get done at work.  Come on, we have all been there - never thinking that we have enough time to get something done - regardless of our occupation.  Then I rush to get home - to get the things done that need to be done at home, dinner for my family, errands and chores, etc.  In that case, nobody is making me rush but me!  I have a very understanding family.  Yet, I put this pressure on me to keep moving, moving, moving.

The other morning there was a traffici jam on the main highway I take to work.  So I needed to detour.  Once I came to grips that I wouldn't be at work at the time I had set in my mind (an hour earlier than I needed to be), I relaxed.  Then I started looking.  I looked at the houses and yards I was passing.  I looked at the trees.  Yes, fall is truly one of those times when I just can't get enough of the outdoors.  On this particular day, God reminded me of why I enjoy this season so much.  The beauty.  The incredible beauty that surrounds us, especially in New England in Autumn.  I then realized I was rushing through autumn, my most favorite season.  

I couldn't help but think of the other many seasons of my life I had rushed through without stopping to look at the beauty.   When I look back, there were times when my children were growing up that I rushed so much - instead of stopping and relishing in their beauty.  There were times with family and friends that I rushed instead of stopping and spending time - the beauty of their friendship and love.  There were times that I didn't see the beauty of a situation that God provided to me because I rushed right through it.  There were times. . . . 

The beauty of autumn has that reflective time for me, when I look back at things I can improve upon.  With God's help, I will start taking the time.  No more excuses of having to clean the house or getting three weeks ahead on a project.  It all gets done.  I will try to put aside the "rushing" and replace it with"reflection".  No, it won't be easy.  Our old habits die hard, don't they?  But I will, because I don't want to miss the beauty God provides to me - not just in the beautiful trees, but in the beautiful people!

All of you take time to read my blog, of which I am eternally grateful.  Please, I ask you to take a few more moments.  Look out your window.  Whether you live in a city, suburb, or the country, there is beauty everywhere.  Look inside your windows.  Whether it is your family, your friends, your pets, or your home, there is beauty everywhere.  Detour and find the beauty God has so graciously provided to you.  Reflect on His majesty.  We can never explain the beauty that we will find - for only God can do that.  But we can enjoy the beautiful gifts that He has given us.

"Dearest Lord, help your children.  Help us to take a detour from our busy and rushed lives to breathe and appreciate the beautiful gifts you have given to us.  They are all around us in so many things - beauty that can only be explained as a gift from you.  Thank you for those gifts, God, especially the beauty of your most precious gift, Jesus."

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Strength to Weary

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." (NIV) Isaiah 40:29

Sixteen years ago yesterday, when I was 36 years old, I heard those words, "You have cancer."  It's an odd thing when you hear those words.  In my case, the doctors and nurses had "prepped" me for hearing those words - they shared that there was a high probability, that I should be prepared, that someone should come with me for that appointment with the surgeon.  Yes, I was well prepared, until I heard those words.  Then everything that I thought I was prepared for went out the window.  Lots of other thoughts entered in.  The greatest of them all was, "what will happen to my girls if I die?"  And that was the last thought I had like that - after that - the battle began.

I would love to tell all of you that I was the vision of strength during this battle.  I would love to tell all of you that I was strong and ever relying on God.  That, my dear friends, would be a lie.  There were times when I felt strong.  There were times I gave my illness to God.  And then there were other times when I didn't.  I would get tired; I would get sick; I would wonder why.  Before my diagnosis, I was a woman on the move - work, children, wife, daughter - all those roles had me hoofing it!  I was always on the go and very rarely did I stop for anything.  There are many times I wonder if that was part of God's message to me during that time in my life.  Yet, you can imagine how frustrating it was to be moving on all cylinders to come to a complete stop.

Maybe that was the greatest difficulty.  Being tired - and not just tired - weary.  Completely drained of any energy whatsoever - having no energy to get out of bed, to take a shower, to only have energy to lie on a couch.  That was horrible for me.  I looked back into a journal I kept during this point in my life and found the following:  
                     I was nauseous, I constantly find myself tired - 1.5 weeks after my third chemo treatment.  It's such a horrible feeling of "unusefulness" (I know, not a word).  I really don't want to go through round four.   I am just plain tired.  I'm tired of trying to help everyone else feel comfortable with this.  I'm tired of trying to get up for work.  Yet, if I don't do this, I am afraid that people will find me weak.  That for me is unacceptable.
It was unacceptable for me, and that is a problem.  My Savior knew me better than I knew myself.  He knew what I needed.  That was when something made me move.  Something made me get up, take a shower, hug my children, and smile.  It wasn't 'something', it was 'someone'.  It was my Dear Lord.  Reflecting back, He was truly the only one who could give such strength to my being weary.  He was there despite me not always praying. He was there despite my questions of why.  He was there when I felt so lonely.  HE WAS THERE.  HE GAVE ME STRENGTH.  I look back on that time in my life and wish I was stronger in my faith.  I wish I had prayed more, read the Bible more, latched onto God more.  I didn't.  I was tired.  Yet, when God gave me the strength that I needed - He also gave me the faith I needed, the hope I needed, the love I needed - from HIM!

The good news is that when I couldn't, God could.  He didn't leave me, he supported me.  He gave to me even though I didn't give to Him.  Praise the Lord for His goodness.  I am one blessed lady!!  Unfortunately, I know many others over the last 16 years up to today that have heard the same words I heard.  They are God's children fighting the good fight.  They are moving forward and not looking back.  The Lord provides the strength for them each and every day.  Blessed are all of you who are strong, albeit weary.  Know that I am praying for you that our Dear Lord will continue to walk with you as He walked with me.

We all have times in our lives when we grow weary - when we don't know how we can take another step, we don't know how we will go on.  Rest in God's grace, for He knows you are tired, He knows you are weary, and He will give you the strength that you need.  Let Him hold you.  Let Him comfort you.  Let Him love you.

"Dearest Lord, thank you for giving me the strength to move closer to you.  When I am tired, Lord, you come alongside of me and lift me up.  When I'm not sure if I can go on, you make sure I know I can.  Please continue to walk beside me Jesus, for without you, I will fall.  With you, I know I can make it through all my earthly days."

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Storm Coming

"He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?"  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm."  (NIV)  Mark 8:26

"The storm is coming," I remember my dad saying when we knew a big rain storm was coming.  He liked the big storms.  He used to stand in the garage and watch the lightening light up the sky.  He always wanted me to join him.  Nope, not me.  That wasn't my idea of a good time.  To watch that truly scared everything in me - and still does today.

Recently, the east coast had some severe weather.   It seems like that is happening a lot these days all across our country.  Difficult weather through rain, flooding, heat, fires, etc.  Yet, the storm that has always had an impact on me when I read about it is the storm that Jesus calmed on the lake with the disciples.  It  has always amazed me how Jesus just stands up, tells the waters to calm, and that's exactly what happened.  It is a beautiful picture of Jesus calming the fears of the disciples - those closest to him - with a few words from his mouth.

I think of that story and know that I often act as one of those disciples.  I am the one to get into the boat with Jesus, to try and live my life the way he wants me to, to believe everything he has ever taught us in the Bible.  Yet, as the disciples did that evening, I fail to have the faith that he wants me to have.  I try to live with the boldness and courage that we as Christians can live by.  Yet,  there are times when my faith is not strong, when I become afraid.

Yes, I have to admit, many of those times are when there are storms in my life.  When the winds and the waves become tumultuous, when the problems seem too great to bear, I seem to fold under the pressure.  Just as the disciples said to Jesus, "We're going to drown," I also feel that I might drown - drown in all the things that are going on in my life.  Maybe I have so much to do I don't believe it will ever get done.  Maybe I want harmony and peace that just doesn't seem to be around me.  Maybe there are financial struggles.  Whatever the storm is, I tend to wait until I am right in the middle of it before I pray, before I "wake up Jesus" to my problems.

As we know, he is there all along.  He is there long before the problems started building.  He is there far before the storms.  He is with us each and every waking moment.  It is up to me to cry out to my Lord.  It is up to me to ask for the help.  It is up to me to trust my Lord - truly trust him with all that I know.  Then it is up to me to wait for his love to surround me.  I need to have the faith that he wants me to have.  I need to not be afraid of any part of the storm - the lightening, the thunder, the wind and the waves.  He is with me - and will always take care of me.

Are you facing a storm in your life right now?  Do the days seem to bring stormy weather?  Remember, we have one on OUR side that watches over us, takes care of us, and calms the storm.  Settle into the boat with Jesus.  Give him your storms and have faith that he will calm the waters you are in.  Picture your boat mate - picture Jesus holding your hand as he calms the raging waters.  He is there for you - trust in him.

"Heavenly Father, thank you for being the one to calm our storms.  We know you are there for us to rely upon and to bring us to calmer waters.  May we always reach out to you and have faith that our lives will be more wonderful with the hope in our future with you.  Grant us the peace that comes with calmer waters, and the faith to know you are in control, Jesus.  In your gracious name we pray, Amen." 

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.