Somedays it seems that the world is full of more darkness than Light. Recently, I read that if I focus on the Light in the world and the good things people do, I will be less influenced by the darkness. I equate this to the “junk in, junk out” philosophy. When I continually, focus on the dark it becomes overwhelming. My attitude deteriorates. My mood becomes cloudy. When I notice the kindness of others, the beauty of nature, the smile of my grandson, the many blessings God has given, my attitude becomes lighter. My outlook reflects this with gratitude.
One recent afternoon, my attitude was flushed down the toilet (so to speak). Initially, I was unaware of the change. But, God gently nudged my inner being. Thankfully, not with the iron skillet I deserve! He was waiting for me to reach out to Him. To readjust my focus to the Light, the Word. We were created for union with Him. Each human is searching for Him. When we do not commune with Him, we seek other ways of satisfaction and are disappointed when it doesn’t work. We must look to God first. I know I fail at this more than I’d like to admit.
My prayer for each of us: Father, thank You for Your Manual of Life! Help us not to give in to distraction. Gently, guide us back to Your Word, Your Truth. May we begin each day with praise for the many blessings You provide.
Matthew 6:33-34 (TPT) “So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly.Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”
I have been an impatient person (probably) my whole life. Many are the times God uses situations to teach me patience. Just when I think I’m mellowing-at least some-I find a new circumstance stirring my impatience pot. I put on blinders, pretending I’m not frustrated or angered, but the reality is I get stressed. God wants me to learn (and relearn) patience and understanding. As were the Israelites, I, too, am quite stubborn, pig-headed, hyper-focused, wanting things my way and in my time frame.
This is a new life season for me. Waiting for the birth of the first grandchild. Waiting. Waiting. WAITING!!!!! Past the due date, one day, two days, three days, four days…every day and every night asking for God to set the systems to go. This precious miracle of life I am longing to hold in my arms. It’s so very exciting and exhilarating! Can you understand why I am impatient? However, the expectations I have for the timing of this event have been overruled by Abba (Father). It’s a good thing He doesn’t ask my permission on these matters!
One year ago, I wasn’t sure whether my eyes would heal from hemorrhages or if I would ever drive again. (Look back to 8/24/15 entry for hiking blog beginning.) I think I had more patience then. But others may disagree. I knew regardless of the outcome, I would still live a full life albeit with some minor inconveniences. With an otherwise miraculous recovery, my God story was forming, getting ready for the telling. I was content to walk through the season of healing, sharing my miracle, drawing nearer to God.
Fast forward to celebrating life and the blessings a child brings to a family. Unable to drive, my daughter needed someone to be with her during the day. I am blessed to have the flexibility to drop my schedule to help her. That’s what moms do. It’s been two weeks. She has shown many signals that labor is not far away. Still, no birth.
God’s message is to enjoy every moment. Live in the now. Not the then or the yet to be. Don’t wish away life. Sometimes I am so focused on the next phase, I lose sight of the current phase. I need to embrace these days with my daughter. This time with her will never be back. Our dynamic will change as she takes on the role of mother and leaves daughter on the back burner. My prayer is that this will be a firm foundation for the changing relationship.
God’s plans are bigger and better than I can imagine. He only gives me enough vision for my current stage. I would want to jump ahead if I had the whole trip mapped out for me! He knows that too! He loves my daughter and grandson more than I do. He has perfect timing every time.
So, here I sit at her table, 500+ miles away from home. Thunderstorms rumbling the apartment. Lights flickering and lightning flashes. Waiting for labor to begin. Listening to raindrops on the roof and downspout.
Thank You, Father, for this step, for reminding me to not rush through life; for time to reflect and pray. Make me a blessing to someone everyday!
Now it has been 7 months since my “reboot”. God has been amazing! I’m sure you’re thinking, “she writes that every time!” It seems to me that I know God is omnipotent and omnipresent. My human brain cannot fathom some of the miracles I have seen! It could be a cultural concept – keeping God in a box. I am as normal as I ever have been, whatever that means! I am determined not to forget what miracle God has done for my family. This weekend, we celebrated community and life with our wonderful friends who happen to be neighbors, about 35 of them! One of the neighborhood contact points for September’s traumatic event told us how he wanted news, but knew that was NOT our priority. He was patient, but had to respond every few hours to emails and texts from others inquiring if there was any update. This was my first time to hear his side. He was talking about how amazing my healing has been. I went from critical with not much chance, to I will live but what brain function will be lost, to walking, to leaving the hospital and flying home the next day. A rare outcome for someone with all the medical issues I had. God is faithful and I know He has more planned. I heard song lyrics: “the best is not done, the best is yet to come.” That is how life is with Abba, Jehovah Rapha, Elohim, our Heavenly Father. When it seems you are in a dry place, remember God has a “waiting room” for you while He is getting things prepared for His plan.
Scripture: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit” John 12:24
So, back to Yosemite. I’m sitting on a rock resting, contemplating what my next step will be. It felt good to sit down. I decided to change my socks for the hike down trail. After about 30 minutes, I was feeling a little better. I text K to tell him that I would start down trail. That is the last thing I remember: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 around noon (California time). I woke up with a white-coated doctor asking me “Do you know where you are?” I knew I was in a hospital, but not the city or state. That was sometime on Saturday, September 19, 2015. My room was full of familiar faces: B and my kids; K and J, and my sister R just outside the door. I was quite confused and couldn’t remember everyone’s name. My hands were restrained to keep me from pulling out the various IV’s in my arms (and the intubation tubing when it was in). Apparently, I had been combative while in my medically induced coma. As I became more lucid, the doctor asked more questions: Doctor: “Do you remember what happened?” Me: “No.” Doctor: “what year is it?” Me: “2001”. Doctor: “Do you know who this is?” Me: “I know I should know the name, but I can’t remember it.” B had to fill in some of the gaps for me. Since he was right there with me, I thought we had been vacationing together. He explained that I was vacationing without him, and I began to remember seeing my sister R and BFF J before going to Yosemite. I asked him, “Am I really this sick?” He said, “Yes.” I could tell he was thanking God I was alive, awake and speaking. I looked down at my bound arms. I think there were 5 IV’s in my arms at that point. (I was told there were 7 IV’s with 9 bags of drugs when I arrived at the ER.) Both my arms were bruised from shoulder to wrist. Not little bump bruises, but deep “that’s gotta hurt” colorful bruises. No wonder I wanted to yank out the IV’s! I promised not to pull out the tubes, and my daughter told the nurse that the family would keep me calm. The nurse removed the restraints. I was still unsure of how I got to the hospital, why I needed to be in the Neuro Critical Care Unit, or why I couldn’t have anything to drink. I had many questions swarming my brain, but my body wanted to sleep.
We interrupt this story to bring you a little perspective from the man who loves me.
B is my constant support in life. Even when he thinks the idea is a little “out there”, he stands with me. It is only fitting to include him in my story – which really is OUR story.
When we first discussed the possibility of me hiking Half Dome, B was clear he wasn’t into that kind of adventure. He enjoys the outdoors and the mountains, especially sitting out with a mocha along a creek. (I think he’d rather jump out of an airplane than hike up a mountain!) He supported my desire to hike in Yosemite. Decision made. I’m going!
B encouraged me to research and get “whatever I need” for the trip. After researching equipment options, he strongly urged me to get the hiking boots first to break-in before the trip. Hiking pants, hydration type backpack, socks, rain jacket, hiking poles, hat and gloves filled the list. Considering neither one of us likes to shop, we hoped to get it done in one trip. We went to an outdoorsy type store to hit the list head-on. We found most items on the list in one store. The other items could be borrowed or purchased on the Internet.
B tells me “you turned into a training animal”! He wouldn’t even try to keep up with me. He saw I was preparing physically, nutritionally, and mentally. He had absolute confidence in my ability. He told me that this was a great trip to do with my brother K. As the date grew near, he was excited with me.
Saturday he took me to the airport and we said our “good-byes”. He didn’t know that I had hidden sticky notes and cards for him in various places and with a couple of neighbors. He would get a hand-written message from me nearly everyday while I was gone. With the last one to be delivered Thursday, September 17th. It said “see you soon”. Thankfully, he didn’t get that one until later.
We spoke each day leading up to that fateful Wednesday. We used FaceTime Monday evening; on Tuesday, we spoke briefly. I was already in Yosemite. I told him about the short hike I took, about the handful of deer that crossed the trail about 4′ in front of me, and about the rain catching me without my jacket.
Wednesday morning, he was on the way to his vanpool when we spoke briefly. He says that I sounded excited and happy.
During the morning, I sent texts and photos. When I called him, he told me I looked really happy in the photos. Since Texas is 2 hours ahead of California, his lunchtime came while it was mid-morning for the hike. He showed the photos to his coworkers, happy about my progress.
He told me “Right after lunch, things started going south.” That’s when he got my call, “I won’t make it to the top.” I was crying and greatly disappointed. I told him that I was dizzy and nauseous. Thinking it was only altitude sickness, he felt I had made a good decision and I agreed. It was better to stop than to continue and have an injury result from continuing. Neither of us knew what would happen next…
Sometimes life provides insight in unexpected ways. Currently, we are working on evicting the “upstairs neighbors”, code for rodents living in the attic. This began a couple of years ago when we first discovered there were squatters in the attic. We hired a company to help. They put out poison and that’s about it. (Ideally, the rodents – this case rats – eat the poison, get thirsty, leave in search of water, and die outside somewhere.) Because the access points weren’t sealed, we have the same issue again. Now the treatment is to bait/catch the perpetrators and seal the openings. Anyone see where I’m going?
God wants my heart – ALL of it; NO SQUATTERS! When I let God into my heart, the current inhabitants must leave. Things like fear, doubt, bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, etc. BUT, if I am not diligent in keeping God’s promises, His words and His fellowship in my life, the old inhabitants can easily creep back into my heart. I strive to seal the access points with prayer, fellowship, scripture, and worship. Matthew 12:43-45 comes to mind:
43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
Have you ever thought “God won’t use me because I’m nothing special?” I have, and I think most humans with a faith in God have thought and felt that! I’ll come back to this…
This season can bring me blues, but I love Christmas time! My parents and one of my siblings are no longer on earth. Those siblings who are on earth live far away from me in opposite directions! Being the last of eight children, I was accustomed to large holiday gatherings (not just at Christmas). At Christmas, Mom would make tons of treats: divinity, fudge, frosted cookies, gingerbread men. You get the idea. Then, on Christmas Eve around 9 p.m., we would gather in the living room. Dad would read about the birth of Christ from one of the Gospels. We would sing songs like “Away in a Manager” and “Silent Night”. After this devotional time, we would munch on goodies and open our gifts. That was our family tradition.
As my family changes, tradition changes too. As I struggle with conflicted emotion over adult children and lost family, I desire God’s peace and joy daily. And, I wonder how God can use me in this season? I am an average person. Does God use the average?
Let’s look at the history of the song: “O Holy Night”.
Placide Cappeau was born in France 1808. Around age 8, he had a hand amputated. I am sure the other kids called him names and ostracized him. He grew up in spite of that hardship. He became a merchant of wine and spirits. He was known for his poetry, not his church attendance, although he did attend church irregularly. In 1847, the parish priest asked Placide to write a poem for Christmas mass. He agreed and using Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth he wrote “Cantique de Noel”. Placide felt it would make a wonderful song. So, he approached his friend (and well-known composer) Adolphe Charles Adams to compose the music. Adolphe didn’t celebrate Christmas or Jesus as Messiah. But he accepted and three weeks later, at Christmas Eve mass, the song was performed. Knowing how popular the song is now, it is easy to imagine how well-received it was by the church. It became a staple of Catholic Christmas masses.
Then, two things happen: Placide left the church to become part of the socialist movement; and church leaders found out that Adophe was Jewish! Although the song was still popular, the Catholic Church decided not to sing it anymore.
Fast forward ten years: American Abolitionist John Sullivan Dwight made a personal connection with the lyrics. He translated it into English: “truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall break free for the slave is our brother and in His Name all oppression shall cease”. The song was embraced by Americans, especially The North during the Civil War.
You might think that’s three ordinary people that God used to bring a beautiful song into so many lives; THE END. Wrong! A violin-playing chemist and professor, Reginald Fessenden, designed a more efficient way to broadcast using radio waves. On December 24, 1906, he played “O Holy Night” on his violin during a radio broadcast for many to hear.
Now to recap: a purveyor of wine and spirits, a Jewish man, and a chemist-professor (no this isn’t a poorly written joke) were used by God to bring the story of Jesus’ birth to millions of people! Sometimes I need the iron skillet to the head for something to sink into my brain. God will use anyone who is obedient! I want to be obedient! Do you?
As you ponder that this Christmas season, ask God to reveal how He is using you – an ordinary person!