Friday, November 21, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

There is purpose in our pain.

I had been talking with J - whose parents used to live at Edgewood - and was saying Good-bye, so I could go visit my grandmother. When I told J where I was going, he said, "Oh! I want to come, too." (He'd visited with my grandmother before, and wanted to see her again.)
When we entered her apartment, Grandma was in bed - still in her pjs. She was not feeling well and didn't have the energy to get dressed that day. So we sat down by her bed and began our visit.
Grandma was discouraged because she can't seem to shake this cough and congestion thing she's got going on. It's wearing her out, and she just wants to be done. She shared with J (I've heard it many times, already...) that most days she wonders, What's next?
She overcame the troublesome tingling in her arms and hands by using an oxygen tank. Then she got a weird infection in her elbow. When that was gone troubles with sleeping began. Then she discovered she was so tired she can't stay awake to read much - and she really loves reading. And it just seems to her like a new problem awaits at each turn.

Discouragement understood.

Fortunately, J was quick to chime in with encouragement.
He has been going through his own set of medical trials and shared with Grandma the ways he has seen God at work in the midst of them. He has had opportunities to share his faith and speak life to nurses and doctors and technicians. J shared stories about interactions he's had with other patients. He gave God praise for his pain, because he could see how God was using it for His glory. All these people have been reached - and they wouldn't have if J didn't face these troubles.

I sat there by my grandmother's bed, listening to J's stories, completely delighted to hear about God's faithfulness. And then a very beautiful thing happened.
My grandmother began sharing a story about one of the nurses who comes to help her a few times a week. She was beginning to recognize how her own pain was being used for a good thing.
A young nurse is being impacted by my grandmother's life. And if Grandma didn't have these needs - if it wasn't necessary for this nurse to assist her - this young woman would be missing out.
At that realization, J began to pray. Among other things, he prayed for my grandmother's healing, of course. He also prayed for the people who are being reached because of the trials she faces each day. And when we said, "Amen," and I looked at my grandmother I'm pretty sure I saw a glimpse of a sparkle back in her eyes. I think she was finally feeling some encouragement because of the words of Truth which had been drifting into her ears.

There is purpose in our pain.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Josh and the Jeep: An Update

He got a job!

Starts training the weekend after Thanksgiving.

And he's excited. Because he'll be able to start making car payments.

So he can start driving this:
OK. Not that exact Jeep.
I got the picture off the internet.
It's entirely too cold outside to go take a picture of Josh's Jeep.
But his is blue and the same year as the one pictured. And that's good enough for me on this cold day. *wink*
I am proud of my boy for getting a job. I look forward to how this added responsibility and freedom will grow him. I can't wait to see how paying for his own gas opens his eyes to the value of good planning. Annnnnnd, I'm probably going to be a nervous wreck while he's driving around in this Michigan snow over the next several months.
But at least he'll be doing it in a vehicle with 4-wheel drive!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Learning to Trust

I had a great conversation with a teller at the bank yesterday.

Honestly, I don't even remember how we got started, but he was asking me questions about God and my faith - and the Holy Spirit just took over.
Early on, "R" asked me about how a person can keep the faith in the midst of struggles. And later, he pressed me for a more complete answer. He wondered, How can a person trust God to get them through difficult times?
At that point I think I leaned on the counter to get a little closer to him. And I told R I think it's important to remember what God has brought you through in the past. I believe there is a lot of value in recalling His faithfulness, so you can have confidence for your present circumstances.
Then I looked into his beautiful brown eyes and said, "It seems to me, we have a choice. We can either keep pushing God away and not trusting Him - which will likely result in Him allowing more difficult circumstances into our lives so we have more chances to learn to trust - OR, we can surrender. We can say, 'OK, God. I can't do this on my own. I'm going to trust You to take me through it.'"
That is the way God worked in me to build my trust. I remember it was mostly in hind-sight that I recognized the succession of events in my life which had shown me how trustworthy God is.
Yes. I'm a slow learner.
And at that point, it was rather undeniable. My God had been faithful through big things and small ones. Something in me (I think it must have been the Holy Spirit!) had me completely convinced I could trust Him with all my future needs, too. And so I came to the place of surrender, where I made the decision to trust Him. No matter what.

Before I left the bank, I promised R I was going to be praying for him. And I am. I am asking God to convince R of His love for him, and to help R come to that place of surrender. The place where he will know God is completely trustworthy and faithful.

How about you? How has God been teaching you to trust? Is there any way I can be praying for you today?


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just a Minute

So, the trouble I mentioned yesterday?
My heart was heavy because of it. The situation weighed on my mind.
It was the subject of nearly all my prayers.

And our God is faithful. Amen?
HE moved in me to simply share my heart with my son. To just tell him my thoughts and intentions. Honestly. Without rehearsing my wording, or trying to come up with catchy analogies.
It went something like this:
Me (entering room): Hey, can you take a break from your homework for a minute?
Son (guarded): Uh, why?
Me: I just want to talk with you.
Son (moving computer): OK.
Me (sitting on the bed): First, I want you to know I love you. Even when I do and say things you don't like; when I ask you to do things you don't want to do - I love you. Every decision I make for you is because I love you and I am trying to do what is best for you.
Son (Almost blank stare. Seems like he's listening, though I can't be totally sure.)
Me (trying to make connection) And I want you to know, I do understand you. I remember when I was 16, and I thought my parents didn't know anything. Like, really. They.didn't.know.any.thing.
Son (Kinda grins a little. Ahhhh, he's listening!)
Me: I am for you. Always, always for you. Never against you. I want to help you make good decisions and become the man God has created you to be. Please remember that. Even when you don't like - or don't understand - my reasons, please know that I love you and I am trying to do what is best for you. OK?
Son (relaxed): OK. (pause) I love you, too.

And that's all there was to it.
Quite simple, really.
But I felt like we made great strides with that conversation. There were no raised voices or hurt feelings (like so many of our interactions these days) and it felt as if my son actually listened to me.
Oh, I know we will still have conflicts in the future. But that one or two minutes sitting together, when I could be honest and open about my heart's desire for him was so good. So good. Like we were establishing a foundation for the years (and trials) to come. And I trust God will keep building on it.

Thank You, God, for your faithfulness in every moment. Even the hard ones.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

Everything's better with a buddy.

I have a new co-worker!
Monday, Tia joined the staff of Vista Springs Edgewood. She shares my job title, but is full-time in hours. Which means - pretty soon I am going to be back to working 24 hours a week.
And I am so looking forward to that!
For the past couple months things have been rather overwhelming at work, as we've been going through staff changes and shortages. I have worked long days - and still felt like I wasn't getting everything done. Only to come home feeling kinda grumpy because "work" wasn't finished even though I was exhausted.

That's why I was so glad to have Tia on board.

Then a funny thing happened.
Tuesday was Veterans' Day and we had a special afternoon planned for our Veterans. It involved lots of work in the way of planning and moving furniture and gathering people together. Which also meant lots of work executing the event and then moving all the furniture back into place.
Needless to say, it was another long day at work.
But I had Tia there helping me with it all.
And, at the end of the day as I walked to my car - tired body and sore feet - I realized I wasn't feeling grumpy. At all. Because I hadn't done the whole day of activities by myself.
I had Tia there helping me with it all.

Everything's better with a buddy.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Keep Forgetting

So, I had this great idea a couple weeks ago.

It happened on an evening when I was making dinner and certain teenage occupants of my home were not doing the things I'd asked of them. Or the things they were supposed to have done without me even asking.
Or something along those lines.
And I stood over the stove slaving away making dinner when I had the thought. Hey, no one ever has to ask me to make dinner. Nobody ever reminds me the job needs to be done. I just do it. Every day.
I entertained myself for a few minutes with my self-righteous pity party. And then it came to me!
I'd show them. Yes. I would teach these teens a lesson.
I would "forget" to start making dinner.
And when someone asked about it, I would tell them, Oh, yeah. I'll do it. But then I would allow myself to get caught up in something else, or just wouldn't stop doing the thing I was already doing. And I still wouldn't make dinner. I would let them ask me again. And again. Until they were really frustrated with me. Then I'd say, This is exactly how I feel every time you don't do the things I ask of you, and the things you're supposed to do because it's your job. Get it?
And in my imagination, a light bulb would go on in their heads. They would understand how I feel. They wouldn't want to put me through that kind of nonsense ever again, and from that day forward they would always do their chores in a timely fashion.
Sounds great. Don't you think?

The only problem is, I keep forgetting to forget to make dinner. *ahem*