Monday, October 31, 2011

One Little Bird

I woke up this morning feeling like crap.
I didn't feel much like being a mom. Or a wife. Or a friend. I know it's not acceptable for moms, wives and friends to say such things, but it was true.
My ears are humming like a Boeing 747, the floor is wobbly, my body aches and I'm tired. Tired of this disease. Tired of the loss in my life. Tired of being me.
I felt sorry for myself alright.
Then I saw it.
A little bird.
It landed on the bush just outside the window of my home office and stayed there for a really long time. Sometimes it even turned its little brown head and looked at me.
It was like it was asking me a question.
"So, what are you going to do about it?"
Good question, little bird.
"What AM I going to do about it?"
I remembered the words of the Serenity prayer.
Most of us know the first part:
"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."
But there's a second part, too:
"Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
I made a list of the things I can change, starting with my attitude. I don't have to like the way things are, but it helps if I can start from a point of gratitude.
I can eat healthier.
Take my medicine.
Spend time with friends.
Brush my teeth and take a shower every single day. Even when I don't feel like it.
I can take responsibility for my own happiness.
I can love and accept others with all their imperfections too.
Then I made a list of the things I can't change.
I have a disease.
I am never going to be well.
I'm not perfect.
Other's opinions of me.
The world is not fair.
Taking the first part of that prayer in conjunction with the second opens up a whole new thought process.
"Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it."
I need the power to change the things I can, but, like Job, accept the bad that comes from His hand as well as the good. He allows all things into my life so that I might grow more like Him and extend help to others who are suffering. When I let go of my idea of perfection and accept His will, I'm a much happier person.
I have mountains of blessings – a good cup of coffee in the morning, a warm home, a full nest, a well-stocked pantry, a husband who stays with me despite my eccentricities. What price would I put on these?
Each moment is a gift.
So, what am I going to do about it?
I'm going to embrace it.
Thanks, little bird, for the reminder.

Monday, October 24, 2011

When the Music Dies

It's back. Meniere's Disease, my shadow, my companion, my dread is back.

In many ways I'm fortunate. My symptoms do not include the debilitating vertigo that so many of my fellow sufferers live with. I have a wonderful support group, an understanding family and friends who never question the severity of my disease.

But all those things can never fully take away the wretchedness of this invisible illness. It takes my hearing, it takes my balance and it takes my ability to care for myself in ways that someone who has never experienced it can fully appreciate.

Perhaps worst of all – it takes the music.

I'm already deaf in my left ear and the hearing loss and distortion that come with an episode steal the high and low ranges of normal hearing in my right. That means that I can hear you speak to me if you are close enough because most speech occurs in the mid ranges of sound.

But, it takes the ringing of the phone, the whisper of the wind and even the sound of my own feet beneath me. I think I can live with that.

I don't think I can live without music.

Music is as important in my house as breathing. I married a musician. I gave birth to a drummer.

I use music to help me get through my day – to center my soul.

I was just getting to know Michael Buble. I have a long relationship with The Beatles. I hear the sweet sounds of Mozart and Pachelbel as my son is lulled to sleep.

I worship.

What happens when the music dies?

When the prophet Elisha needed to hear from God the first words he said were "bring me a musician." Through music, the spirit of God spoke to him and Elisha found the direction he was seeking.

What do I do now?

I've written a lot lately about trusting God.

Today I need to put it into practice.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's a Whack-A-Mole Life

Ever feel like you're stuck in that children's arcade game where the moles pop up and you have to whack them back down with an oversized plastic hammer - except that instead of moles, you're whacking problems? Life is a series of challenges that pop up when you least expect them. Get one taken care of and another one (or two) pops up. Home repairs. Whack. Bills. Whack whack. Car problems. Whack, whack, whack!
Some seasons of life seem to have more moles than others. Raising children. Saying goodbye to aging parents. Facing our own limitations.
It can be exhausting and it seems like the faster we whack one down, the faster they come at us.
When this happens to me I often find myself grasping at something -- anything -- to hit them. I worry. I cry. I get out of sorts and frustrated. The control freak in me wants them gone -- now. I can't do it all and it makes me mad.
That's the way life is, isn't it?
But, while I'm busy spinning my wheels trying to figure out the best strategy to win at the Whack-A-Mole game, sometimes what I really need is rest.
Just 15 minutes of silence.
A walk in the trees.
A cup of coffee with a friend.
A game of hide and seek with a chunky baby boy.
"Be still and know that I am God."
Sometimes in the silence I find the answer I was looking for.
Sometimes I just find peace for my soul.
I realize that I can't do it all, but instead of making me mad, it causes me to let go.
"My power is made perfect in your weakness."
I was not created to whack moles in my own strength. I was created to worship the One who makes all things beautiful in His time -- and that is the best strategy I can think of!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Present Presence

I was driving along the road yesterday with my kids in tow. My daughter, a delightful chatterbox with tons of insight to share, called from the back seat. "Mommy! Are you even listening to me?" I snapped to attention. I hadn't been listening.
Lost in my own thoughts and the distractions of the day, I was physically in the car, but in reality I was somewhere else. Maybe it was my next appointment, or that ever-increasing chore list. Maybe it was that over due bill or my next deadline. It doesn't really matter – I was with my children, but I wasn't really with them. I was cheating them out of my presence.
Their time with me is short. All day at school and then homework and extra-curricular activities mean that I get scant time for meaningful dialogue with each of them – when I choose to be distracted that time slims even more.
This morning I mentally ticked off a list of my online communities. I have two email accounts and another in the works, a Facebook page, a Website, a twitter feed, a blog and an online support group I regularly check in with. Add to that a cell phone and if I’m not careful and deliberate, my time can be eaten up pretty quickly with life's many technological advances.
I'm not saying it's bad. I’m just saying it takes effort for me to be physically and mentally present with my children.
On a recent, and rare, family vacation, I watched from my balcony as a young family spent time at the pool. A little boy about five years old was playing in the kiddie pool while his parents sat nearby. But, instead of interacting with him, both parents were distracted by their smartphones or PDAs. "Sad," I thought. But then quickly realized if it had been a laptop they were holding, "they" could have been "me." (One of the reasons I have so far resisted the urge to purchase a smartphone - a laptop is more difficult to lug around, therefore I only do it if I absolutely have to.)
I've been blessed with lots of children – two are now grown and out of the house, so I know first hand how fast it goes. There will come a time when they won't want me to listen, and that day is fast approaching. It's a shame that I have to remind myself to pay attention, but I do.
Years ago, at the height of my freelance craziness, I had a sticky note posted to my steering wheel reminding me to "be here now." I stuck it there when it occurred to me that I was missing my son's happy chatter after I picked him up at preschool – distracted with deadlines and interview appointments. That son is now 11 years old. I think it's time I put the note back on the steering wheel.
And one on my computer just for good measure.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fear Conquerers

Reading through this morning's Hope Devotional, a sentence caught my eye. It's found in the second chapter of Ezra, verse 3; "Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they rebuilt the temple at its old site..."

Did you catch the same thing I did?

The people were afraid...but they were obedient anyway.

How many times and in how many ways have I let fear get in the way of what God's calling me to do?

Volunteer at church.

I'm too shy.

Give your testimony.

I'm not a good public speaker.

Visit your new neighbors.

They'll think I'm crazy.

And the list goes on.

If you've never felt fear, my hat is off to you, but my fellow fraidy-cats know exactly what I'm talking about. And there must have been a lot of scared people in the bible, because it speaks of it so often.

Joshua 1:9 "Do not be afraid or be dismayed, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love and a sound mind."

Psalm 56:3 "When I am afraid, I will trust in you."

And there are many more where those came from.

It's been said that courage is not the absence of fear. It's feeling the fear and jumping anyway. I want to be a doer, not a regretter, so I've made a decision today to jump through the fear and trust God for the outcome. Are you with me? Awesome! I'd love to hear how God is working through your fear and accomplishing great things through you, so please share your experiences!

Have a fear-conquering day!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Who do you Love?

In a world that uses the word love to describe everything from ice cream to wallpaper, it's worth stopping for a second to ask the question. Who do you love?

I love my husband. I love my children. I love my enemies.


I love my enemies?

Probably not.

Truth be told, there are people in my life who are generally unlovable – at least from my perspective. Jesus says otherwise.

"Love your enemies. Do good to those who hurt you. Pray for those who spitefully use you."

Tall order.

I pray for the supernatural ability to love my enemies, but I'm coming to understand that it may come in increments. Right now, it may mean simply refusing to talk about them. Later, God's grace might add something new. As God works on my prideful heart, I pray it will grow deeper still.

As I continue praying, it is my hope that at some point God will give me a true and broken heart for the hurts in my enemy's life. We all carry burdens. We all have places of darkness and despair. But we are all lights, too.

I have something to offer my enemy. Forgiveness is a wonderful gift.