Books and Business and Other Things I’ve Been Up To

Why hello there!!

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The big reveal: It’s me and my ruffle scarf creation. 🙂

It has  been six months since I’ve written on the blog. Six months!! I can’t believe it has been that long! I’ve had to take a hiatus from blogging to work on my other projects. I launched my craft business in December and since then I’ve been crocheting like a madwoman. Haha!! I’m just totally obsessed with yarn! Also, I’ve been working on setting up a website for the business along with getting all the legal junk squared away for my life coaching business.

During all this I became part of another book launch back in…oh, gosh! When was it? April or March. Another great experience! I was selected to help Leanna Tankersley with launching her now released book, Brazen: The Courage to Find the You That’s Been Hiding.

Ladies, if you don’t read anything else this year, read this book!! I will write a review soon so you can get a sneak peek!

The other thing keeping me busy is physical therapy. I think I might’ve mentioned before, but if not, I’ll explain. I get headaches and some awful headaches that stick around for days. Usually, about three days and it goes away, thanks to God’s mercy! I had a vertebrae in my neck, two to be exact, that were crooked. It would cause me severe pain if I moved my head around in any direction too much. All I had to do to keep away the headaches was to keep my head straight. (Right. Like that’s easy to do.) By the mercy and grace of God, the vertebrae straightened out but now my problem is with the muscles that got so used to the vertebrae being crooked so that it conformed to the deformity.  I have been to three different chiropractors over the last decade and they were only able to relieve the pain for a short while. So, I decided to try physical therapy. It has been a tremendous help, but only if I stick with going.  All through February I went for my sessions, sometimes twice a week, and then I ended the sessions because I felt better.

A few months went by and the headaches came back again. Once I had a headache for three days, I decided that was enough; time to schedule another appointment with the physical therapist. Through half of June and most of July, I went every week to therapy. This time around was a bit more of a struggle. The pain seemed to get worse before it got better. But then one night, I slept on my back with my head turned most of the night. I woke up with no pain, whereas, in times past if I did that, I would wake up with a headache. Praise God! So I ended my therapy sessions and I continue doing the exercises the therapists taught me. It’s been over a week now and the headaches have returned already. Ugh. I’ve had three days this week where my neck hurt and caused a headache.

With therapy sessions over, I’ve been trying to focus more on preparing to launch my life coaching business. So much to do  and so much to learn!!! So yeah!! It’s been an incredibly busy year.

I’m seeking the Lord’s guidance with the businesses and all He has for me, and praying for help to keep myself on track so I can continue writing. Did I mention I’m in the process of launching a website for my craft business? Did I mention it’s been a busy year? 🙂

I don’t know what the future holds, but I expect God to do great things. As far as this blog is  concerned, I plan on keeping up with it for the next few months and then just seeing how things go once I get my website up and running.

To my readers, I apologize for the long hiatus and for not giving a heads up to the long hiatus. I really didn’t plan on the hiatus, to be honest. Thanks to all those who have been reading and hopefully, waiting for the next blog post.

Blessings!

Greg-Rakozy (1)

photo credits: Greg Rakozy

Goal-Setting Newbie

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The New Year always inspires us. We feel optimistic. We set resolutions and start believing the best is yet to come.

 

I am one of those people that tried setting resolutions every New Year but always seemed to fail to reach them. My solution to this problem? Give up. Stop making resolutions because they don’t seem to work for me.

 

However, last year I tried something different and by the end of the year I looked back and saw how I made progress. What did I do different other than writing down resolutions? I actually cut out pictures representing my goals and put them on something I could see…a poster board.

 

Granted, the poster board was not put in a place where it was easily seen. I tried to find a good spot for it but I could only manage to prop it up behind my cedar chest where it would fold down. So, yeah. Not a good spot if I want to just turn my head and see it.

 

Despite the bad location, the images of what I pasted to the board burned into my memory, and somehow, that helped me focus on my goals. I guess it makes sense for me that it helped since my learning style is mostly visual. In other words, I learn best by what I see rather than in what I hear. So, I’m happy to report that a majority of what I pasted on my vision board I fulfilled by the end of 2015!

 

Now, onto 2016…

 

For 2016, I wrote down some goals that I will paste onto a new poster board and prop up somewhere, if not once again, behind my cedar chest. *sigh* I need to organize my office and find some space. Not much space to be had in a eight by twelve in a half feet room, but surely I can find some. Note to self: Write down goal for 2016 to organize office.

 

Here are my goals for this year:

  • Start life coaching.
  • Research small business management
  • Organize office
    • Remove cedar chest and place in the shed.
    • Arrange filing cabinets
    • Get a new desk that is functional for my needs.
    • Sell old desk.
  • Start Pinterest board for craft business
  • Get a Bible reading plan that I can use
  • Grow closer to Jesus
  • Make reading goals for this year and put in a journal.

 

I might add to this later, but for now, this is what will get pasted onto a poster board.

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The key goal on my list is growing closer to Jesus. A related goal also important that I need to put on my list, now that I’m thinking of it, is growing the important relationships with others in my life. Intimacy with Jesus and intimacy with others is the key to a fulfilling life. I have the tendency to focus too much on tasks and forget relationships until I start feeling lonely and then I’m reminded, “Oh yeah! I am a human being in need of relationships.” Duh. How silly of me to forget!

 

Through all this planning, I pray for the Lord to lead me. I pray that He will be glorified through everything I do. My struggle in all this planning is remembering that it is for His glory not mine. I need to remember that every success comes from Him. When I give into the temptation to make accomplishing my goals my priority or success my priority, I fail. When I make success my goal, I begin to feel frustrated and restless. I feel the weight of my world on my shoulders. But when I let go of pursuing success and make glorifying the Lord my ultimate goal, the burden is lighter. My frustration disappears. After all, the Lord is the one in complete control. He is the one that gives the ability to create wealth and makes success possible (1 Chronicles 29:12). I like what Gary Wilkerson said in the newsletter dated January 4th, for World Challenge,

“The only plans that will succeed are the plans God gives you.”

Seek first the kingdom of God, right?

 

At the end of this year, may I look back and see that I kept my eyes on Him, remembered that relationships are more important than tasks, and give Him all the glory!

 

Uh oh! Just thought of another one: Set budget goals for each month.

 

“Now, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him.” Romans 15:13a

Got any goals for this year you want to share? Please do!

My Disappearing Act

Ta-da!!

Some of you might be wondering where I disappeared to. I probably seemed to vanish into thin air but I assure you I’m still here. 🙂 Life spilled over and I’ve had to take a sabbatical from writing posts. I’ve had some family issues going on, one of which was an uncle diagnosed with cancer whose health rapidly declined and then passed away last week. I’m still grieving, honestly. He was a close uncle and his suffering with lung cancer hurt to watch.

Second reason for my disappearance: I’m plum worn out. I am in the process of starting two business and my time and energy is focused on those two things right now. As some of you might know from previous posts, sleep and lack of energy is a constant struggle for me.

It hurts not to write. I feel the need to write, but to best serve the readers out there I need the time and energy to devote to writing and right now I just don’t have it.

I will check in when I can and read posts from my reader’s feed, but until I can carve out some time along with some energy, I will just be reading blogs rather than writing.

Be blessed, ya’ll!!

Until we meet again…

What I Learned In June

It is time to assess what I learned this past month. I must say, it has been a very difficult month.  Some joy sprinkled in the days of June along with the challenges. So, without further ado, here’s my list of five lessons for the month of June:

  1. A good mattress is essential for good sleep. I’ve watched a lot of those mattress commercials for either the Sleep Number bed or Tempera-pedic. The actors talk about how much better they slept after they got their new mattress. Before their new purchase, they had aches and pains and sleepless nights. In May, I couldn’t relate. After June, I can relate. I slept terrible this past month. I struggle with sleep a lot to begin with because of health issues, but this June I think I walked with my eyes closed the whole month. So I bought me a new mattress despite the fact I make little money. Writing big checks almost give me a heart attack, but I did it. My body feels better, sort of. Now, my new problem: find a new pillow to replace the flattened pillow I’ve been using for 5 years.
  2. I don’t like being small. I am small, petite, if you please, and always have been. Why do I not like being small? I feel insignificant. I felt my significance fading when I started losing a massive amount of weight due to health issues years ago. I went from being 110 lbs to 79 lbs. There are many other things that make me feel small, but the more I think about it, the more I realize how Jesus came into the world as small and lived as small. He didn’t seek fame but he got it because of his work among the people. He was born as an infant in an obscure stable with only a few people there to celebrate his birth. Small is where we are in this great big world, under a great big God. I can embrace my smallness and in turn, embrace a BIG God. Amen?

    The quieter you become: Photo credits to Bec at Flickr.

    Sunset. Photo credits to Bec at Flickr.

  3. Abraham was called out by God. Sounds like a lesson from children’s church, eh? Think about it. The past few weeks we’ve been Abraham at church and the promise God gave him. The first thing that struck me like lightening is that God called an idolater out of an idolatrous country. You think Abraham knew God back in the Ur of Chaldean? Oh no. He probably lived his life like the others in his country, worshiping everything but the Creator until God showed up. A God initiated relationship turned into a God initiated covenant. God came to Abraham. God reached out to Abraham, a sinner. I recently heard this quote, “All other religions is man searching for God. In Christianity, you have God searching for man.” How beautiful?! How merciful and gracious and loving for God to reach down to the lowest depths to a sinner such as I and initiate a relationship.
  4. Bok choy and egg plant and yellow squash are good combinations for a stir fry. Who knew? I’ve never heard of bok choy til a year ago. I found a recipe for stir fry and tried it out this past Friday. Can I just say, yum-o!! It turned out delish (delicious) and I plan to make that again soon!
  5. A little ginger goes a long way. In my culinary adventures, I’ve discovered this truth while making sesame ginger chicken. The recipe called for 1 tablespoon of grated ginger. I don’t have grated ginger, but ground ginger I do, so I used that instead. Did I use a tablespoon of it? Not quite, but close and–whoa! Was it spicy!! My mouth was on fire and my nose running. Lesson learned: Only a teaspoon of ground ginger is needed.

You can probably guess what will be part of July’s lessons. Anybody guessing it has to do with a new pillow? 🙂 Hope everyone has a great July. Keep pressing into Jesus!

Welcome to the Masquerade Ball

I’ve never formally been to a masquerade ball, but after seeing one performed in the old 80’s movie, Labyrinth, when I was a kid, I was fascinated with the idea. To dress up in a fancy gown and wear an elaborately decorated mask held an appeal to me. Hiding my identity while acting out another persona sounded fun and I couldn’t really explain why.

I fancied in my head wearing the same full gown as Sarah only silver with my hair coiffed big, ribbons draped down the back and jewels around my neck and in my ears, holding a mask of peacock plumage. I also fancied myself dancing a waltz with Jareth (aka David Bowie). Call me crazy but I had a huge crush on Jareth. Must’ve been the make-up and the long, spiked hair because before seeing the movie I never cared for David Bowie. Never thought I’d say I dig a guy in make-up. 😉 And it will probably be the only time!

Sarah and Jareth dancing

Sarah and Jareth dancing a waltz in the masquerade ball scene of 1986 movie, Labyrinth.

I may never attend a masquerade ball but I’ve lived one all my life. I wore a mask to hide myself. I held up an identity to cover the real me.

The place where I performed this masquerade the most after becoming a Christian is in church. You know the line that everyone asks you when you first enter the sanctuary, “How are you?” In the moment of the question, I held up my mask of “fine”. If the truth of my state at the time was fine then the answer would be fine, but a lot of times fine was not fine. You follow?

My masquerade performance consists of acts of strength and intelligence. I pretend to be more intelligent than I am, and stronger than I am. I hate showing my weakness. I hate showing that I have limits. Ladies, I hate to admit it, but shopping wears me out much sooner than most women. I can do four hours and no more! Four hours of shopping and I drop. I also hate to admit it, but I forgot to brush my teeth today. Such is the life of a forgetful writer.

Why would anyone want to hide behind a mask?

Simply put, insecurity.

To be insecure is to not be safe from danger according to Webster’s Dictionary. When we wear a mask we do not feel safe to be ourselves. Our mask is a way to hide and protect ourselves from the danger we perceive present around us. It’s our fig leaf, if you will, much like Adam and Eve’s fig leaves they used to cover and hide themselves from the intimacy they had with God when they walked together in the Garden of Eden.

For years I hid behind this mask of “fine” and represented an image of a self-sufficient woman who really didn’t need anyone, yet inside I was dying of loneliness.

It’s funny how I even used this mask with God, like He can’t see me. Yeah, right! But I wore it in hopes that if I hid myself, my weaknesses and other things that maybe others wouldn’t like then I would be accepted and loved. As it turns out the mask became more like a wall, keeping others out, including God.

Holding up the mask became a weary task. What a burden it is to keep up appearances for others to like me! It’s a whole lot more work pretending to be someone I’m not than it is to just be me. The Lord showed me the intimacy and depth I desired from relationships will never be reached if I keep a mask over my face.

“Let it all hang out, ” He says to me. “The good, the bad, and the ugly.”

 “Love can not exist in the absence of truth.” ~ Michael Ramsden

Jareth (aka David Bowie) in masquerade ball scene in 1986 movie, Labyrinth.

Jareth (aka David Bowie) in masquerade ball scene in 1986 movie, Labyrinth.

How can people know you and love you for who you are if you pretend to be someone else? If we suppress the truth, love cannot exist. Our all-knowing God is not fooled by our masks. He sees us as we truly are and loves us still. We wear our masks and fool others as well as ourselves into pseudo-intimacy.

Adam and Eve were the first ones to the Masquerade Ball and then all of us followed.

After they sinned by disobeying God and eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3: 8), they knew what they did. They had guilt and felt shame.  When the guilt should’ve led them to seek God’s forgiveness, the shame instead led them to hide. In response to the shame they felt, they took it upon themselves to cover up what they did, hence the fig leaves. A poor cover-up, if you ask me. I mean, how well can fig leaves hide your nakedness? Not well!

But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I do not apologize for that pun. 🙂

We certainly take after our ancestors, Adam and Eve. As soon as we are conscious of our weaknesses, sins, flaws and the like, we hide. We buy our masks and decorate it to suit what we want others to see.

We hide behind our performance. We lose our identity because we think our behavior determines our identity.

Just as God did with Adam and Eve while they were hiding, God does with us. He calls out of hiding with this question:

 Where are you? (Genesis 3:9)

God isn’t asking “where are you” because He doesn’t know. God is omniscient so He isn’t asking for Himself. He is asking for the sake of Adam and Eve to draw them out of hiding and come to Him. He wants them to come to Him because He alone knows the remedy for their sins.

How gracious and merciful He is!

Not only does He calls us to come to Him but He provides the remedy!

Soon after they admitted their sin (and passed around the blame a bit), the Lord took an innocent animal to sacrifice for their sins. The blood spilled to take away their guilt and the skin of the animal covered their shame. Genesis 3:22.

Our Heavenly Father provided for us today Jesus as the remedy. This remedy was foreshadowed by the Father through the killing of the innocent animal as He spoke to that sly serpent, Satan:

“I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head…” Genesis 3:15

I am in Christ. Because I am in Christ, I can find rest for my performance-wearied soul. I can come out of hiding and find my true identity which is securely hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). My identity is safe there.

I don’t want to wear the mask anymore. My arms are tired! I am learning to put my mask down and walk into Christ where I find myself. There is no need for the mask any longer. He knows who I am anyways and isn’t fooled by my performance. All the mask does is keep me from the best relationship I can ever have. Coincidentally, it also keeps me from truly satisfying relationships with others on earth.

In the the words of Emily Freeman from her book, Grace for the Good Girl, she writes:

“God’s desire is that we live in freedom and drink from the wide, deep, powerful River of Life. The masks we hide behind keep us from experiencing the fullness of life the way we were meant to live.”

Are you wearing a mask? Do you know it is safe to remove it in the presence of Jesus?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever

I remember using the word, “whatever”, in the midst of an argument with my brother. We youngsters at that time, had this motion with our fingers to add emphasis to our “whatever” arguments. The motions stood for “capitalized, italicized, and underlined” which we used to prove our point.

Lately, I’m turning “whatever” into a prayer rather than use as evidence to prove a point. My “whatever” expresses an openness to whatever God wants to send my way. Whatever gift, wrapped in whatever package.

Not that I still don’t list out my requests. No, I think our Heavenly Father encourages us to be honest about our desires, but to ask with humility, understanding that what we think we want or need might not align with His will, because our ways are not His ways, nor are our thoughts His thoughts. Sometimes our desires align more with our flesh or sinful nature than it does God’s will.

We have a choice in our stance.

Loosely

Loosely (Photo credit: – luz -)

As I posted earlier here, we can stand with our fists clenched, demanding our way or we can stand palms up, open to receive whatever God wants to give. A quote I read from C.S. Lewis more eloquently states, “St. Augustine says, ‘God only gives where He finds empty hands.’ A man whose hands are full of parcels can’t receive a gift.” I will add to that quote by saying a man whose fingers are clenched shut is full of himself and can’t receive from God.

Isn’t that what we are when we demand our own way? Full of ourselves.

We live in a society where we are all demanding our rights. We must be careful of this sort of stance before God. Standing in demand puts us in a position saying God owes us something when the truth is He doesn’t owe us anything. He is not the debtor. We are.

We stand in need of emptying our hands.

I stand in need.

Frustration clenches my fists when what I want does not happen. Then I sulk for days until I unclench my fists and surrender myself to vulnerability, revealing my empty palms.

Yes, I went through this recently. Just call me Miss Stubborn Pants.

My Father waited patiently for me to relent. Once I did, He overcame me with peace and assurance that what He wants to give me is all good. And then a funny thing happened after I let go of my own way. Joy poured into my hands like water from a water pump. I cupped my hands and drew the water to my lips to drink in the refreshing goodness of God.

“Then Jesus called the crowd to him, along with his followers. He said, ‘If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing to even give up their lives to follow me.” Mark 8:35

KJV uses the words, “deny himself”. The Amplified Version expounds the phrase to “forget, ignore, disown, lose sight of himself and his own self interests”.

Psalm 48:9 O God, we meditate on your unfailin...

Psalm 48:9 O God, we meditate on your unfailing love as we worship in your Temple. (Photo credit: natil0ve)

Remember the rich young ruler? You can find him a few chapters ahead in Mark 10:21-22. Why would a rich young man walk away from Jesus sad? Because he didn’t want to empty his hands.

Let’s let go of our rights to our own self-interests. Lose sight of ourselves. Let’s live with our hands empty so we may receive whatever.

“Lord, whatever you want to give me, I stand with my hands empty, ready to receive. Whatever, Lord. Whatever.”

 

Saying “I Do” Before You Do

Dating. What is dating?

English: Created by Phil Scoville on June 25, ...

English: Created by Phil Scoville on June 25, 2005 Downloaded from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/philscoville/21528732/ This picture is free to share and remix with proper attribution under the following license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is it a sort of pretrial run at marriage? Guy and girl date to see if they fit together well enough to make a life long commitment?

The scenario I practiced and see others practice is about the same. It’s the same practice even in the Christian culture. This is the scenario: Guy meets girl. Guy and girl date. Guy and girl are inseparable for a long period of time doing everything together including co-signing a loan for a car, putting both names on title. It’s almost like they’re married only they don’t live together. They make important decisions together, consulting one another to be sure the decision is ok with the other partner.

Now, I’m just spit-ballin’ here, so correct me if my view is wrong, but why have we turned dating into another level of commitment like marriage?

Is dating really just another level of commitment that is a step below marriage? Or is it an interview to see if the person is really the right fit for God’s plan in your life?

I rarely talk about dating on here and it’s mostly because I’ve read so many books on dating. Yes, ad nauseam! Hence, my gag reflux at the topic of dating. Not that the concept is bad, I’d just rather be talking about other things.

Going through some tough dating relationships that ended badly, I turned to books for some wiser, more seasoned advise to figure out what I was doing wrong. I’ve read them all from “I Kissed Dating Good-Bye” to “Boundaries In Dating“. (For the record, I did kiss dating good-bye for awhile and then I had a reintroduction. 🙂 ) I’ve read many books just on singleness. I recently counted my collection of dating/single/marriage books and they total up to 41. You can understand my aversion now to the topic of dating.

I used to want to date the way I described in the scenario above. I got the idea from everyone around me. This is the way we date in America. This is how we roll in the dating scene. You meet someone and then that person becomes your life. Maybe you’ll get married. Maybe you won’t. You don’t have to figure that part out right away. Just have fun and be attached at the hip for awhile.

Then after a few relationships ended and I was left with broken pieces of a shattered heart once again, God showed me something. I gave my heart away way too soon. The guy didn’t make a commitment to be the keeper of my heart. I just gave it away hoping he’d catch it and keep it.

In a sense, I said “I do” to whatever guy I was dating before I actually got to the altar. How much sense does that make?

I said, “Here’s my heart, Mr. Maybe. Please catch it and take care of it always.”

Mr. Maybe said, “We’ll see. Maybe.”

I’ve seen ladies in my life date a guy for a few years and pretty much fulfilled all the duties of a wife except for the physical part. Clean guy’s apartment. Do his laundry. Run his errands for his business. Co-sign a loan for a car. Submit to his leadership, doing whatever he said. The ladies tried so hard to make the relationship work. They tried so hard to make it survive.

Until it didn’t.

Broken heart symbol

Broken heart symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And on the ground were left broken pieces of a heart and the ashes of a life wasted.

Ladies and gentlemen, dating and marriage are not the same thing. I think we need to define dating as a stage in a relationship where two people are getting to know each other to figure out if the other fits into God’s plan for their life. Which means, the dating relationship does not need to succeed. It’s not a commitment. It’s a pseudo-commitment, not a real commitment like marriage.

Marriage is the commitment stage of a relationship, a lifelong commitment, which means everything that can be done to keep that commitment should be done. Everything that can be done to save the marriage should be done.

God made a commitment to us written in the blood of Christ and then He asked for our hearts. God never asked us to give all of ourselves to Him before He made a commitment and I don’t think He wants us giving our whole hearts to another before they make a commitment to us.  He wants us to guard our hearts and only give it to those who are willing to commit to keeping it for the long haul.

Save the “I Do” for marriage. Recognize the dating stage of your relationship is a way to seek God for the best fit for His plan for your life. Doing so I think will save you some time and heartache and you will have a whole heart ready to be given away once you do reach that altar.

English: Broken heart sewn back together

English: Broken heart sewn back together (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m Alive!

I had good intentions this week, really I did. I had intended on doing some writing on Tuesday but, just as I talked about in my last post, a monkey wrench was thrown in and foiled my plans.

It all began on Monday.

I woke up early Monday morning with a not so good feeling in my stomach. I had some pain in the right side of my belly. I thought I’d take one of my pain meds for colon spasms thinking it was just a colon spasm. Usually this works and this time it did. I went back to sleep.

Then at a more appropriate time to wake up other than…you know, when the sun is still sleeping, I got up and got ready to start my day. I stepped out of bed and limped, holding my stomach.

“Well, I can’t take another pain pill since it hasn’t been eight hours yet,” I thought.

So I made myself some peppermint tea which is also good for colon spasms. But I could not get rid of the pain. Not only could I not get rid of it, but the pain increasingly got more intense and soon was followed by nausea.

I had plans that day and it seemed I was going to have to cancel them. I made it through breakfast but only because I forced myself to sit in front of my cereal bowl and finish off what was before me. I had to stop and take a break to cry, but darn it…I was going to finish it!

The next symptom was vomiting.

This was a sign to me that the pain I was enduring was not my usual IBS colon spasms. “Maybe it was a bug or something I ate the day before,” I speculated.

After accomplishing my goal I went to lie down. A few hours later I took another pain pill. After a few trips to the bathroom to vomit I started feeling a little bit better.

“Great! Now, the worst is over and I can get back to normal and have a normal day tomorrow.” Clearly I had picked up a bug somewhere. I thought since I got better that was proof that is all it was.

Oh contraire.

Tuesday morning I woke up feeling ok until after breakfast. The queasy feeling began then, but I thought it would go away.

I went to work and as the minutes went by the same pain I had the day before crept up beside me and hit me again, but this time with more force, grabbing my insides and turning them. The majority of the pain was on my right side, mostly towards my back.

Finding a comfortable position was impossible. I could not sit or stand or lie down and find comfort. I was grabbing at my back as if my back was out, but I knew that I hadn’t done anything to injure my back. The intensity of the pain was horrendous and thus, the vomiting ensued once again.

I took a pain pill again and waited an hour to see if it would ease up, but it did not.

I could no longer think that what I had was a bug or a virus of some kind. I started thinking of other possibilities: my appendix ruptured or…an alien was going to burst through the right side of my back. All I knew at that time was I felt like I was going to die, and if I wasn’t, death sure did seem like a good idea compared to the option of living in that amount of pain.

Course, there was another option. Since I could no longer take the pain, I called my mom and asked her to take me to the ER.

After telling the nurses my symptoms they suggested a kidney stone as my diagnosis.  A urine sample was taken and the nurses found blood. I had a kidney stone and a kidney infection, probably caused by the kidney stone. I had a CT scan done and discovered the kidney stone to be 4 mm. Holy Toledo! That’s a bowling ball! No wonder I was in so much pain.

Kidney stone with a maximum dimension of 5mm.

Kidney stone with a maximum dimension of 5mm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ER doc gave me the option of staying the night in the hospital or going home. Considering that I hadn’t finished passing the stone and the possibility of more pain to come, I decided to stay. Plus, the possibility of needing surgery to remove the monstrous stone led to my decision to stay close by some trained surgeons.

The nurses in the ER gave me some pain meds, and after numerous vomiting sessions and another shot of some stronger pain meds, the pain finally died down.

If you have been wondering where I’ve been this week, this is where I’ve been: recuperating from a kidney stone and contemplating the glorious gift of life. It’s strange that such a painful experience that didn’t include my life hanging on the brink of death can cause such reflections, but it has. Though I wasn’t going to die, I sure did feel like it. The pain seemed to be endless and in my mind the road ahead was death.

And you’re wondering what happened to the stone?

That monstrous stone disappeared. It never made it’s appearance in the toilet bowl. I never had to have surgery. Praise Jesus!!!

I am thankful to be back among the living. I am grateful to this life Jesus gives. Thankful to be able to enjoy His gifts in each day and that I am alive to His presence. I am made alive in His presence and to His presence. I have the ability to enjoy Him in each day.

The verse that came to my mind since being home from the hospital is this:

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:22

English: Forget-me-not flowers. Türkçe: Unutma...

English: Forget-me-not flowers. Türkçe: Unutma beni çiçekleri. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The lesson I want to take away from this experience is a reminder to enjoy Him. I want to remember in each day to enjoy His presence more and worry less about the tasks on my to-do list. I want to remember the source of my life is not in the things I do, but in the Person of Christ.

Maybe this can be a reminder for you as well. We are made alive in Christ. Now, live life as if you enjoy His company. 🙂

“Delight yourself in the Lord…” ~ Psalm 37:4

 

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Good Gift Hunting

153. The gentle love of God.

154. Giant red orb at sunset.

155. The beauty of classical music that touches the soul without words.

This is my list. I started a list of good gifts on January 19th. Since taking Life Coaching classes, one of the tools they suggest for people sort of stuck in a rut and needing perspective of the good around them is to hunt for it. Keeping eyes wide open, to see and receive is harder than you think, I am finding out. Mostly because the fast paced American lifestyle doesn’t allow for much time to stop and smell the roses.

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks (Photo credit: Hey Paul Studios)

But oh, so needful!!

There is so much going on in our world and not a lot of it good. In my own little world, there has been conflict and tribulations that wear me down. My cup has a leak in it. It seeps out whenever I suffer loss or crushed dreams or disappointments. Being the melancholy type personality, I tend to ruminate on the negative and all that went wrong with my day.

We all know those other personalities that are naturally upbeat and positive, always cheerful. I used to wonder if those people were the ones meant to have joy and the rest of us just have to miss out. Is it possible for all people to live in joy no matter their personality or dire circumstances?

I think I am finding the answer to be yes.

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. ~ Psalm 27:13

If we don’t believe we will see the goodness of God here on this broken earth, we will faint. We will grow weary.

Since starting this experiment of good gift hunting where I give thanks to God for His good gifts, I write it down in my little notepad. At night I might get out my notebpad and look back, which leads me to witness my cup being filled and overflowing.

What is this called? I’ve heard of this somewhere. Oh wait, giving thanks. I read that as a command the Lord gave us in so many places in His Word. This giving of thanks. Yet I failed to follow it or really take it that serious. Sure, I’ve been thankful for general things like the sunny day or the food on my plate, but now writing things down I’ve been more specific.

After a few weeks into the exercise, I noticed something happening to my attitude. I am much more positive and joy fills my heart.

Coincidentally, a friend of mine gave me a book on this very subject soon after I started my list. Yes, GAVE!!!! As in FREE! That is #25 on my list. Heehee. The name of the book is One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp and I devoured that book.  In it she talks about gratitude being everything. A very important attitude to practice as a Christian because it turns our eyes to the Lord’s goodness. In this world, I think our eyes hunger to see His goodness.

We are encouraged in Psalm 100 to,

Enter His gates with thanksgiving…

Before we do anything else, we give thanks.

When we send up our petitions, we mingle it with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6).

The opposite of thanksgiving–ingratitude. The sin that led to humanity’s downfall in the Garden of Eden. You remember?

The Christian concept of apocatastasis include...

The Christian concept of apocatastasis includes a restoration of the world to its original state, as in the Garden of Eden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Picture it: Adam and Eve living it up in the Garden. God provided everything they needed. Every good food. Every kind of fruit and veggie. More than any two people could need. Surrounded by absolute beauty, living in the presence of God in unbroken fellowship…unbroken communion. They really had it all! The Hiltons and the Buffets and the Trumps only got a small English cottage compared to what Adam and Eve had in their Garden Mansion.

And then the serpent, Satan, comes along and says to them, “Hey! God is holding out on you! He knows if you eat this forbidden fruit that you will become just like Him and He don’t want that. He’s withholding good from you. You better take what should be yours.”

Well, it was a lie, but both Adam and Eve took the bait–hook, line and sinker, thus plunging us all into a state of war with ingratitude. Ok, so some of us are at war with it and some of us give up the battle and just embrace it, but you know what I mean.

Ann says,

“We eat. And, in an instant, we are blind. No longer do we see God as one we can trust. No longer do we perceive Him as wholly good. No longer do we observe all of the remaining paradise. We eat. And, in an instant, we see. Everywhere we look, we see a world of lack, a universe of loss, a cosmos of scarcity.”

How do we get back our sight and see God for who He is: good.

Give thanks.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.” 1 Chr. 16:34

It sounds weird, doesn’t it? Give thanks first and then you’ll see? Don’t you need to see first and then give thanks?

We have been given a lot for which we can give thanks. As I mentioned earlier, the trick I think is slowing down long enough to look for it. We need to be intentional. We need to chose to see what it is we have already. Once we start there, our eyes widen and we begin to see more.

Is this a challenge in our mundane everyday lives? Yes. Is it a challenge to do when we receive bad news? Yes. But the Word of God tells us we can give thanks in all things (1 Thes. 5:18). Whatever situation we are in, we can find something to thank God for.

If I can be honest here, it has been a challenge for me the past month to give thanks. I recently found out I have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Now, this is in addition to another G.I. disease called Ulcerative Colitis. While the Ulcerative Colitis has been under control for years, the IBS went undiagnosed. I’ve had it for 10 years and didn’t realize it. I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy when I found out I had it either. I went into depression for a couple of weeks.

But then I started thinking, Hey! I have a name for it now so I can treat it. There is no real treatment for IBS the best way to manage it is through diet. Doctors and the medical field have not caught up with the needs of IBS sufferers. It’s so personalized and different for everyone that it’s hard for doctors to pin point an effective treatment plan. The only thing my doctor told me was to keep to a diet plan called the FODMAP diet. A restrictive diet.

It has really been a challenge and I get weary. And giving thanks becomes hard, but I must if I am to keep my head above the flood coming in. I must continue the hunt for good gifts.

My list today starts with:

222. Bringing joy to someone else suffering by giving a gift made with love.

223. The magical music of wind chimes.

224. Jesus reigns in my life.

I give thanks to You, Oh Lord, for You are truly good. There is no good thing You withhold from Your children.

Join me in the hunt, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s open our eyes wide and choose to see His goodness in this land of the living.

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I Remember…

I remember happiness when I was a child. I was happiest when playing outside in the summer sun on my swing set, swinging in the swings or sliding down the little slide into a pool at the end. I remember having contests with the neighborhood kids to see who could get closer to the sky as we lifted off in flight while in mid-swing. I remember the beauty of the day all golden with sunshine with a few cotton clouds in the sky.

A girl on a garden swing. Original caption: : ...

A girl on a garden swing. Original caption: : Bincadeira de criança : eu também me acabei nesse balanço… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember…

I remember tears falling. I remember sorrow entering my heart. A wound tearing into my flesh as my family was torn apart. I remember fear of the future. Then more wounds, more tearing as I grew into adolescence, and happiness replaced by fear.

Remember.

Bring to mind. To think of again.

I remember…

I remember a cross. I remember God’s Son given. The Son whose flesh was torn and nails pierced through skin. All for me. All for me.

Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:32

Proof that we can trust the Father for all things, to provide all we need because He didn’t spare even His Son. For us all. For us all.

The bad memories poke and sting threatening to open old wounds that have begun to heal in the presence of the Son. I take hold of the memories and bring them to Him. He is Lord over these too. He receives them and points me to the cross. His cross.

“The counting of all blessings is ultimately summed up in One. All gratitude is ultimately gratitude for Christ, all remembering a remembrance of Him. For in Him all things were created, are sustained, have their being. Thus Christ is all there is to give thanks for; Christ is all there is to remember. To know how we can count on God, we count graces, but ultimately there is only One…it’s all in Christ. Every moment, every event, every happening. It’s all in Christ and in Christ we are always safe…” ~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

And so I can remember and give thanks. Not that bad things happened to me, but that Christ is all that matters. And when I lift Him up above the bad and look upon Him, He heals the wounds just as Moses did with the serpent in the desert (Numbers 21:9). Remembering and giving thanks opens my eyes to see Him.

Cross & Clouds

Cross & Clouds (Photo credit: John H Wright Photo)

I remember and the bad memories pale in comparison to Him.

I remember and lift my eyes up to Him who alone can heal.

This is an invitation to remember. A call to bring back to mind Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Think of Him again. And again. And again. Fix your eyes on Him not on the bad of what has been done to you or the bad which you did. He who did not spare His own Son is safe to trust and faithful to heal.

And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. John 3:14-15

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