Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Heart of Worship

Like so many others, I need to come back to the heart of worship. For too long I  allowed the troubles of this worldly life to interfere with my primary purpose, worshiping our Father. Instead of focusing on HIM, I erroneously focused my time and energy on the trials and tribulations of my life. My "to do" list and a long list of worries have occupied my mind. I even found myself putting off my devotion time in favor of getting stuff done.

Clearly, I had made a tremendous mess out of things. I was putting both my chores and my troubles before my God. In fact, my troubles were becoming like a god to me.

The commandment to "have no other gods before me" sounds simple enough. In fact, I'd bet that a vast majority of believers may think that commandment is one of the easier ones to obey. After all, they only worship one god, the true God. But if you think about that, it is not always so. A number of people worship things of this world without even really thinking about it. Or they allow the things of this world to get so important that they, like me, neglect to worship God.

Open our eyes, Father, and make us realize that we need you everyday. Not just when it's convenient. Not just in a crisis. During the good times and the bad times. We are called to Worship You. Truly, honestly, with our whole heart and soul. Worship.

Here is a definition of Worship that I recently found :

 "Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His Beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose - and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin".

William Temple’s (1881-1944)    Readings in St. John’s Gospel.

May I suggest that each of us spend some time and reflect on the fact that Jesus made it possible for us (that's you and me!) to have the privilege of being able to to come before the throne of God. The throne of God! There is not one person worthy of such a privilege. But we have the opportunity to do so every day. 

Have no other gods before me........What do you have in your life that is preventing you from spending  time worshiping our Father. Is it your job? Your family? Your hobbies? Money? The Internet? TV? Are there things that somehow seem more pressing? Don't be fooled into thinking that the things of this world are more important than your relationship with God. Because they aren't. And they will never be.

Come back to the Heart of Worship. Because it is All about Him.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

There're No "Buts" About It!

Do any of these sound familiar?
  • “Forgive me, Father, for losing my temper but  he provoked me...”
  • “I know I shouldn’t have done it, but the temptation was just too great.”
  • “Lord, I know I need to be patient, but...”
  • “Forgive me, Father, for feeling envious but it’s been the desire of my heart...”
  • But why?”

The word “but” is so annoying. How many parents count to ten when they hear a child say, “But everyone does it!” Or how about, “But it wasn’t my fault, honest!”

It is foolish to think we can justify our behavior to the Lord. He’s not interested in our excuses. And He certainly does not want us to blame someone else for our own misdoings. Instead, He wants us to be accountable for our thoughts and behaviors. He wants us to acknowledge our sin and to stop playing the “blame game.”

Friday, March 2, 2012

Life is a Tangled Mess

Imagine, if you will, five skeins of yarn all clumped together in a tangled mess and you've been asked to untangle the clump. Looking at the clump some folks will automatically assume the job is impossible and will just throw it out without even trying. Some will make a feeble attempt and give up almost immediately. And some, like myself, will launch into the project with frenzied determination to solve the puzzle.

Converting a skein of yarn into a ball is advised by many before one attempts to start a project. As long as the skein is without snags, rolling up a ball of yarn is often an easy task. It's accomplished automatically and without any particular fanfare. With skill and a little imagination, all kinds of beautiful things can then be made.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In Sickness and In Health

 I just love weddings.

The hope. The promises. The look of love in the couple’s eyes.

I love to listen to the vows. Often I’ll reach over and squeeze my husband’s hand as I remember that precious day in October 1984 when we proclaimed our love and made promises before God and our families. …..”to love, honor and cherish, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health...”

Sadly, the joy felt at weddings does not always last. The divorce statistics tell us that! The challenges of every-day life get in the way and the next thing we know the hopes, dreams and promises are shattered. This is especially true if one of those every day challenges happens to be a chronic illness or disability. A staggering 75% of couples faced with a chronic illness or disability choose to end their marriage.

How can we reverse that trend? Why is it so much harder to stay married in these circumstances? What does the Bible say we should do? How can we safeguard our own marriages from this deplorable statistic?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do's and Don'ts for Hospitalization Support

I first published this to my Facebook Notes page in September 2011 and think it bears repeating. Fortunately, we do not have anyone in the family hospitalized at this time. There are families in my network that cannot say the same. This is for them.

My family has reached the "expert" level when it comes to handling major hospitalizations. Each time a crisis hits, I hear the well-meant refrain from kindhearted folks who simply say, "Call me if there is anything I can do."

Face it. I am not going to call.

It's not that I don't need assistance. It's not that I don't appreciate the offer. It's just that it is too burdensome to pick up the phone sometimes. 

It's daunting to try to remember precisely who casually said, "Call me." And I hate to inconvenience people. Everyone is busy, after all, with their own obligations. Besides, it takes precious time to call around. I am certain I am not alone in thinking this way.

Here are some simple, practical suggestions that may help YOU as you help others in a crisis mode.

  • Instead of saying, "Call me if I can do anything," identify a need and just do it. It is better to say, "I can pick Joey up at school on Tuesday and bring him to practice," instead of "Call me if you need anything." Be specific in your offer to help. What are you willing to do? When?
  • Fresh fruit, cold cuts, bread, milk, paper plates and bowls are all things that will be appreciated by family that's commuting back and forth to the hospital or who has someone home recovering. Caseroles or meals that can be reheated are appreciated. If you don't have time to cook for your friends, order a pizza to be delivered to their house at a time you know they are home.
  • Patients discharged from the hospital often need prescriptions picked up or medical equipment (such as a shower chair) and it is difficult for the caregiver to get out to obtain them. Offer to stop at the pharmacy or to sit with the patient so the caregiver can do it. 
  • Does your friend have pets? Pick up some animal food. If you are comfortable doing so, offer to stop by the house to walk the dog while your friend is inpatient and continue to do so, if possible, immediately following discharge. 
  • Laundry tends to pile up. As someone who has had to buy new underwear during a family member's hospitalization I can attest to that! Spend an afternoon at your friend's home and wash some clothes. Or, bring it home to your house and return it the next day or so.
  • Do you like yard work? Mow, rake, pull weeds (whatever needs doing.)
  • Is it the time of year to tune up a snow blower? Cover a pool? Put in or take out air conditioners? Move the patio furniture? Chances are these tasks will get overlooked during a hospitalization or recovery period, as will other home maintenance jobs.
  • Remember that commuting to the hospital (gas), parking garages and cafeteria meals are unexpected expenses that most do not budget for. (Some hospitals have fees for TV service for the patient. I once paid $8 per day so Larry could have TV and a phone in his room. And he was there for 3 weeks.) A small gift to offset these costs will be most appreciated.
  • When you go to visit, look around you. Are there dishes in the sink? A litter box? Trash that needs to go out? Take the initiative and put the coffee pot (or tea kettle!) on and tell your caregiver friend to sit. Then, over his/her objection, get the dishes into the dishwasher, empty the trash, etc, all the while lending an ear to your friend. Or, encourage the caregiver to take a nap. Chances are, he or she has been going full tilt since the incident began and can really use the rest.
  • Keep visits short as the patient and the family are often tired following a major illness or surgery. Pain medications can make the patient sleepy. Respect the need for the patient to rest.
  • Pray With your friend, not just for your friend.
It is INCREDIBLY HARD to ask for help. It is humbling. Most are too proud to admit there is a need. Or, like me, they don't want to bother anyone.

If you do help someone out, DO NOT mention how busy you are. It will only make your friend feel guilty for taking you away from your obligations.

At a time like this, I really miss my Mom. She would help to keep the home fires burning during a crisis. She'd make me a cup of tea, put food on the table despite my insistance that I couldn't eat (and I always managed to eat what she served!), she'd fold the laundry, do the dishes, encourage me to take a nap, listen when I just needed to vent, etc. Her support was invaluable.

You, too, can be invaluable to your family or friends who are faced with a challenge such as a major illness. Remember, there is a good chance you might need someone to help you out some day. Let's all try to help one another.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Learning to Be Content

Philippians 4: 12-13  Paul writes:
I know what it is like to be in need. I know what it is like to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Over the past year I have been part of a growing number of people around the US. I have been unemployed. After ten years at the same organization, my position was eliminated. My husband is disabled so our family had been dependent upon my wages to make ends meet. So, like so many others, I can honestly say that I know what it is like to be in need especially as the bank balance dips dangerously close to zero.

To the outside world, it looks as if my family is "poor." We have had to learn to "make do" or simply "go without." It has been a couple of years since our television has served as anything other than a means to watch an occasional  DVD. My dryer had been out of commission for about seven months, forcing us to utilize the clothesline. It got fixed about three weeks ago and ironically the washer died just  the other day. Our one and only computer has 3 keys that no longer work and so we use the on-screen keyboard to compensate. My husband's recliner does not recline....the list is quite long, actually, of things we used to take for granted and cannot use at this time.

One lesson we've learned is there is a difference between our "wants" and our "needs." God provides our "needs" just as He provides the needs of the sparrow! We are not hungry. We have our home. We have each other. We truly are abundantly blessed!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas is Coming!

Christmas is coming! Hooray! This year I have not gotten caught up in all the gift buying/holiday preparation frenzy as we honestly cannot afford such extravagance. Instead, I'm focusing upon the meaning surrounding this blessed season. And my heart is filled with joy!

There have been challenges galore in 2011 for my family. The heartache and struggles we've endured have enhanced  my testimony to how God has worked and is working in my life. Praise the Lord!

A number of years ago there was a popular story passed among Christians called "Footprints." I have it hanging in my kitchen as a matter of fact. Basically, it's a story about a man who takes a walk along a beach  with God over a course of his lifetime. Two sets of footprints are evident during his lifetime except during times of trial. God explains that those were the times He carried the person. What a marvelous illustration! God carries us during our times of trials, just as a loving parent carries a child. We are HIS children.

He sent HIS SON to live among us teach us His ways and to save us. That's what we celebrate at Christmas!

Do not let the circumstances of your life take away the joy in your heart as you anticipate the arrival of the Christ child. And please don't get so caught up in all the secular rituals of the season that you forget that God gave US the perfect gift already. You're not going to find it at the mall! Instead, you will find the perfect gift in a manger in Bethlehem. Jesus. Emmanuel- God With us. I cannot think of a better gift.

My wish for you at Christmas is that you, too, can experience the joy in your heart that comes in knowing that God loves you! He's there during all the storms as well as all the triumphs. Praise the Lord!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Follow Him Faithfully