Tag Archives: hope

He Gets It

9 Apr

Do you ever feel like no one understands what you are going through?  I do!  Like your friends or even your family just don’t get it?  Me, again!

The other morning heading to work I was feeling a little weary, a little hurt, a little angry a little a lot of things, I guess.  I was thinking about someone who I am frustrated with.  I guess I felt let down by this individual and I felt justified in my feelings.  The fact that this individual had not met what I feel are reasonable expectations left me feeling, hurt and a bit rejected during an already difficult period.  I was struggling in that moment to let it go, to forgive, especially absent an apology or acknowledgment of any wrong doing, which I wasn’t holding my breath for.

When I am feeling this way, whatever the circumstances may be, it is my desire to be understood, for my feelings to be heard, for someone to get it!  You know, acknowledge the issue and the fact that my feelings are understandable?!  However, as with many things in life, I often don’t get my way.  Sometimes, the situation isn’t appropriate to share with another so that I can feel validated.  Sometimes, the other person because of their own issues isn’t willing or capable to have the conversation that needs to be had. Sometimes, we don’t get what we want.

In that moment, driving down I-5, feeling un-understood, my mind focused on someone who does understand me and I was reminded of this truth, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”  – Hebrews 4:15.

When you don’t get the apology you deserve.  When you need help and no one is around. When you feel alone.  When there is conflict.  When people have more important priorities.  When no one wants to listen.  When people say false things about you.  When people hurt you.  When a friend turns their back on you.  When you struggle.  When life is hard.  When you are in pain.  When you are overwhelmed.  When you have been let down.  When you don’t seem to fit in.  When you are tempted.  When you are tired. When no one else gets it.  God gets it!  He knows how it feels, He felt it.

He gets it and you know what His response was and is?  To love anyway. To humble himself anyway.  To forgive anyway.  To lay down His life anyway.

His example challenges me.  I am so far most days from responding the way He does.  It is my desire to grow in the grace He lavishes on me.  I want grace, but how freely am I giving it away to others?

His example convicts me.  How can I withhold from others, what I so desperately need from Him?

His example comforts me.  It is certainly a wonderful feeling to be understood by our friends and family and I am thankful when that is a reality.  But when it’s not, I serve a God who understands me.  He understands my ways, my feelings and He loves me as I am.

So thankful for a God, who gets it!  He gets you too!

 

 

First Responder OR Nuclear Reactor?

11 Feb

Several weeks ago now, I was running late getting out the door for work. It was extra cold that morning and the zipper on my coat was stuck, so I had been wrestling with it for about 10 minutes with my frustration level growing as the clock ticked. I finally gave up and decided, I’d have to just slip the coat over my head and try to wrestle with it some more later. I then went to finish getting ready and my 350 degree flat iron started to fall off the counter. I reacted quickly and grabbed for it! Only problem is, I missed the handle and grabbed the actual iron! Owww!!  The pain caused me to drop it and it fell to the floor where I was then able to pick it up by the handle.

In the following moments while digging through the closet to find some burn cream, God dropped a pretty clear thought into my heart and mind. I don’t know that I appreciated it all that much in the moment, but it would be futile to argue with the truth or God for that matter!

The internal dialogue went something like this…”you seem to be reacting instead of responding to circumstances and situations in your life. It is so much better to respond than to react. You can cause damage and hurt when you react but response can bring correction, growth, healing and even reconciliation.”

Like I said, it wasn’t fun hearing it, the truth stung like the burn I was dealing with, but I knew in that moment, God was asking me to work on being more responsive and less reactive.

It hasn’t taken me too much effort in the days following to see how right God was in His summation of my reactive reflex. It may look something like this in my life or your life:

I’m at work being pulled in what feels like a hundred different directions, there’s more to get done than can ever be done and a staff person walks in my office and says, “do you have a minute?” My reaction may include a rolling of my eyes, a heavy sigh or maybe I don’t even look up and talk while I’m staring at the computer trying to finish the thought I was in the middle of.

I reacted.

Have you read any social media posts lately that have annoyed you? Dare I say, even angered you? If I was going to react, I might make a whole judgmental story in my head about the person who made the post, or I might immediately begin to type back a missive in order to set them straight!! Perhaps engage in some written warfare, whatever it takes to show them the error of their ways.

That would be a reaction.

Parents and others who play a role in shaping the lives of little ones have lots of opportunity to either react or respond. Your child spills their drink at the dinner table and before you realize it, your tone is stern, your voice is raised, “You spilled your juice again! You need to start paying attention to what you are doing! I’m tired of cleaning up after you all the time!” A simple “oops, let’s get a rag and get this cleaned up” would’ve sufficed and left you and them feeling a whole lot better about life.

Sometimes we react.

 
You see even if it’s as little a thing as a stuck coat zipper and a falling flat iron. My reactions are revealing the condition of my heart. It’s a character issue.

If I am reacting based on my emotion, it’s all about me. When I respond I’m taking long enough to consider another’s perspective and choosing actions and words that address the person or situation in a way that builds up. Reaction is instant but responding takes effort.

I am certain that becoming more of a responder and less of a reactor will be a life long journey. It has to be if I want to be a person who leaves people, places and situations better. If I desire to be a life giver.

I want to be a first responder not a nuclear reactor. If you feel the same, below is a prayer from my heart to His, feel free to pray it along with me.

“Lord, people and situations can be so frustrating and so daily! I find myself reacting in ways that are less than ideal, less than what I know you desire. Less than how I see you model and demonstrate in Your Word. Please forgive me for the many times I have reacted in ways that make others feel less than, for the times I have made a situation worse because of my unwillingness to seek you before reacting. I need your help, I need your wisdom so that I can be someone who interacts with people and situations in a way that brings life and ultimately gives You glory. Thank you for caring enough to correct me, thank you for being gracious and loving to me even when the discipline stings. I want to reflect Your heart to others and respond to tough circumstances with the same love and grace you consistently show me. Change my heart and help me to be a responder not a reactor. In Jesus Name, Amen!”

Bonus Time

12 Aug

June 27th I was sitting in the hospital with my dad who had been admitted days before, while my sister was taking my mom to the emergency room as she was not feeling right.  What we assumed would be a quick trip turned into a wild & scary ride! Hold onto your seats.

I will never forget entering her room in the critical care unit for the first time and seeing her hooked up to all these wires and monitors with a tube down her throat.  I don’t do hospital’s well to begin with so seeing my mom like this was rough.  I observed from a few feet away at first, I had been told she could likely hear us and know we were there and I wanted to get myself together so I didn’t reveal to her how I was feeling inside at that moment.  It took me a bit to compose myself, I approached the bed, rubbed her hand and said, “Hi Mama”.  That was all I could do before my throat started to constrict and tears came.  In another 10 minutes, I tried again, “Hey Mama, it’s me Denise, I’m here” and I was done again.  A few more deep breaths and I made another approach, “Hey Mama, it’s Denise, you’re in the hospital and they’re taking really good care of you, all of your family has been here, Dad’s feeling better and we all sure love you.”  That was all I could do before my voice starting to give me away again.  I worked my way up to scooting a chair by her bedside, holding her hand and singing some of her favorites to her.  Cherished time with my mom.

The roller coaster ride continued day-to-day, hopes were dashed as the Doctor talked with my sis-n-love and I about the seriousness of mom’s condition and prognosis.  We cried, we prayed, others prayed and we continued to take turns sitting by mom’s side telling her how loved she was.  Mom would start to get a little restless as sedation would wear off and I was so concerned that she would become uncomfortable or frightened.  So, I was getting the nurse when mom opened her pretty blues and made direct eye contact with me.  I gave myself a split second pep talk so I’d appear calm, looked her in the eyes and said “I love you mama” and she mouthed back “I love you”.  It was the best I love you ever!

Getting my mom off the ventilator was not a smooth process, paddles were used on her chest 3x the day her tube was taken out to get her heart beating in rhythm.  How thrilling it was to walk into her hospital room after she was taken off the vent and see her alert and able to talk with us, even if her voice did have a new gravelly sound to it thanks to the whole ordeal.  Sadly, our celebration quickly turned to concern as she was not sustaining acceptable oxygen levels on her own.  Emotional rollercoaster.

The ride takes another twist later that day when the doctor talks with mom about the seriousness of her condition and that if she is not able to sustain proper oxygen levels on her own very soon, they may have to put her back on the ventilator.  If she goes back on the ventilator, there is less than 10% chance she’ll ever come off of it.  Tough news to process.

Doc came back on evening rounds and all 3 of us kiddos were there with mom so we could ask questions and have  a beyond difficult conversation.  The doctor was wonderful, informative, compassionate but it was hard, it stunk and none of us liked what we were being forced to deal with.  After the doc left the 3 of us stood around mom’s hospital bed and we asked mom about her life, if she was content and happy, if she had any questions for us, we reminded her how much we loved her and want her to stay with us and we made some tough decisions together, we tried to be strong and supportive but a few tears escaped anyway.  After all the talk, mom asks the 3 of us, “are you guys ok?”  There was a brief pause and then my brother took the lead with the honest answer and said, “No we’re not ok, this stinks, but we are ok with having you as our mom.”  Sweetness in the midst of pain.

The crazy ride continued, she was eventually released from critical care to another floor and just when we thought she was about to move into a nursing facility to gain some more strength, she was back in critical care with pneumonia.  Mom has been home now for almost three weeks and I’d say we’re still in the midst of a new adventure.  Thankful though for the opportunity.

My brother said in the hospital when things started looking up, “I think we got some bonus time with mom”.  I know many people wish they could have some bonus time with their loved one, so this blessing of more time together is something we want to cherish deeply, even when it’s hard and the ride feels a bit bumpy.

I reflect on the wild ride we’ve been on the past several weeks because today is my beautiful mom’s 65th birthday!  Only a month ago, as I was driving home from the hospital, I was literally crying out to God and begging Him to make a way that she could stay here with us longer.  Thankful that God answered that prayer and the prayers of family near and far, the prayers of church family and friends from all over.  So today, we’ve taken the day off work to celebrate a wonderful woman, whom we are blessed to call “mom” and soak up some of our “bonus time” with her.

Mom, on your birthday and every day, I want you to know and be confident in this, you are deeply LOVED and love NEVER fails!!!

 

 

 

 

Are We There Yet?

31 Oct

As a child growing up my family would make an annual road trip to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins. I always looked forward to our visits and time with them was the highlight of many of my summers.  Although, I loved being there and spending time together, I did not enjoy the 9 hour road trip! I was ready to be there before the family car left the driveway!  If teleportation was possible, I would’ve preferred that route.

I got bored in the car, tired of sitting, I could hang for a while by coming up with games to play with my brother and sister or sing some songs to entertain myself, but I just wanted to get to our destination already!  We didn’t stop when I wanted to and sometimes we stopped when I didn’t want to.  I couldn’t read because I would get car sick.  The car was too stuffy sometimes and other times I would convulse because of the frigid air coming through my dad’s rolled down window.  I didn’t really enjoy the process of getting to our destination.

I’ve come to realize that my attitude towards life has at times been fairly similar to my attitude towards my childhood summer road trips.  So little of life is spent at the finish line, a great deal of it is spent on the journey getting there.  What would be different if I learned to enjoy the process of getting there and didn’t wait to celebrate until I arrived at my intended destination?  Instead of being solely focused on the end goal, what if while heading that direction, I enjoyed the ride?

You see, most of life is the journey, very little time is spent at the finish line.  Daily life is spent preparing, working, failing, trying again, moving forward, taking two steps backwards, failing and trying again.  What a shame to not embrace the journey when it comprises most of my limited time here on earth, when it’s where I spend most time in relationship with others, when it’s where the growth happens.  If I only focus on the arrival, I’ve missed out on a lot of sweetness along the way.

Instead of asking, “Are we there yet?”  I want to learn to soak up the goodness on the way!  Anyone ready for a road trip?

A Small Piece of Yarn

3 Oct

I am thrilled to have a guess blogger on neeserisms, my very own AMAZING niece and her great insights…

I learned to knit when I was living in the orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  It took me about one month to learn.  One teacher taught me the basics and I remember offering my food to friends in exchange for their help teaching me.  I have been knitting now for over 6 years. One thing I have learned through this skill is that one small piece of yarn, when put in the right person’s hands, can be transformed into something useful and beautiful.  This illustrates what it is like if I put my life in God’s hands.  No matter how small I may feel, He can use me to do great things.  

Yarn comes in many different shapes, sizes and colors.  Each one can be used for a different purpose.  When you start a knitting project it is important to select the size, shape and color for what you are wanting to create.  There is one type of yarn that is best to use to make a scarf and another type of yarn that would be best to make a bag.  As the artist I get to choose what I think is best.  God as the creator of this world and the controller of everything gets to decide who is best to use for his purpose.  He may use one person to help the poor and another to encourage someone who is going through a difficult time.  He as the artist knows which of us would be best to use for each of His plans.

When you begin knitting you start with one small piece of yarn.  You use your needles to knit it together into rows.  You knit back and forth adding rows until it gets to be the size and shape you want it to be.  A small piece of yarn turns into a scarf or a blanket or socks.  I can relate to that small piece of yarn.  I may be small but if I put myself in the Father’s hands and be patient, He will slowly and carefully knit the details of my life together to create something awesome and beautiful.  I just have to be a willing piece of yarn. 

Once in a while when knitting a scarf I have made a mistake and missed connecting the yarn to the right row.  Sometimes I do not realize my mistake until many rows later.  If you want the scarf to be beautiful, last a long time and serve its purpose you must go back and correct the mistake.  In order to correct this you have to undo all the rows until you get to the point where you missed the connection.  This is true to real life.  When we rush through life and do not connect deeply with God, we make mistakes and our life begins going off course.   Sometimes things start to unravel and we have to allow God to correct and restore us.

When you see a small piece of yarn I hope will remember its importance.  The same when you see people who may seem insignificant.  No matter what our size, shape or color we have great potential if we choose to put our lives in the hands of the Heavenly Father ­ the master artist.  He can take our small pieces, our brokenness, our mistakes and turn them into something beautiful, something big and something amazing. 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” –  2 Corinthians 5:17  

Yeshi

 

We Don’t Treat God’s Work Like This

26 Jul

The evening before 7th grade school photos my Grandma thought it would be a great idea to have her live in care taker perm my hair.  Given the fact this lady had evidently gone to beauty school at some point in her life and I wanted to look extra special for my pictures, I went along with Grandma’s idea, which made her super thrilled!  The next day, I had my new black sweater picked out, a little blue eyeliner for that WOW factor and well, as you can see my fuzzy black hair to match!!  I HATED this picture, I actually would’ve said until last night, “I hate this picture” when for whatever reason (He knows) God brought it to mind and a memory that I had not thought of since the 7th grade, which has been about a good 30ish years for me.

How many of you can agree that the junior high years are not easy?  That would be an UNDERSTATEMENT!  For 7th and 8th grade, I went to a private school, looking back, this was a complete God send as I honestly, don’t know that I would’ve survived my high school years without having some of the life-giving influences that I received during this time.  I had a couple of teachers, that for whatever reason, just made me feel (they probably made everyone feel this way) like I was somebody special, like I had potential, like I had something of value to bring to the table.

My 7th grade teacher was Mr. Newman.  Just saying his name in my mind makes me smile because he was always such a wonder to my 12-year-old brain.  I have a sneaking suspicion, he’d probably be a wonder to my 40 something year old brain as well 🙂  My 7th grade self would describe him as very tall and lean, he was a runner.  I always thought off him as quite a brainiac, a real deep river, although, I considered him humble as well, so I know he would not think of himself in such terms.  I would say Mr. Newman was a bit odd, but odd in the best senses of that word.  Also, I’m not sure if you’re aware or not, but there are certain men that can wear turtle necks and certain men that cannot, Mr. Newman could rock a turtle neck!  He could be very serious, but uproariously funny!   He made history come alive like no other teacher I’ve had and I loved when he would read to the class, because he would do so in different voices and accents and sometimes he would make himself laugh, I mean really laugh!  There were times he would make himself laugh so hard that he would roll in fits of laughter on the floor!   There were a couple of times I wondered, “is he gonna be ok?”  I think he enjoyed keeping us on our toes.  He seemed so passionate and had such deep convictions but yet had this other side that just let loose like no one I’d ever seen.  He held himself to a high standard, I saw that he pushed himself to learn and grow and had a thirst for doing so and it made me want to do the same.

It was nearing the end of the 7th grade year and our yearbooks had been passed out.  Of course, we all wanted Mr. Newman to sign them and he made sure to give each student’s hand written message undivided attention. Several were gathered around his desk waiting their turn for his autograph and now it was my turn.  He was flipping through my yearbook and OOPS!  I forgot I had done that! Shame hits me!  Mr. Newman, of course turned to the page of my school photo, the one I hated.  My heart sank as he looked down at my fuzzy hair picture to see that I had taken ink pen and crossed my face out.   I hated that picture, I hated how I looked, but now Mr. Newman’s disapproval on top of it was going to shove my junior high self over the brink!

The response was not what I anticipated, Mr. Newman locked eyes with me, put one hand on my hand and gave me an intense look and I knew he was very serious.  It is difficult to describe how he was able to do it, but somehow he was able to communicate to me in a very authoritative yet loving way, and he simply said, “We don’t treat God’s work like this”.  That moment hung there for what seemed like an eternity, he smiled at me, and I nodded my head in a “Yes sir, I understand Sir” type nod.  He signed my yearbook and we moved on.

Even now, I am overcome with emotion as I think back on that moment and I think there are probably a few reasons why:

  • I need to hear the reminder again, “we don’t treat God’s work like this.”  Maybe, even more importantly, I need to hear it in the same way I heard it then.  Not something else I’m doing wrong, or another person I’m  disappointing, but instead I see you, I believe in you, so “no more”.
  • I’m so thankful that God sends people into our lives to speak truth and life and encouragement!  People who can see things in us we don’t see in ourselves, who believe in us, when we don’t believe in us.  I soooo desire to be that in the lives of those I touch!  What a gift we give, when we see the goodness and potential in someone else and simply tell them, encourage them and believe in them!  It’s life changing!!
  • My Grandma passed away in May of my 7th grade year so regardless of how I feel about the picture, I’m glad I let her have her way.  My teacher, Mr. Newman passed away in 2010.  I wonder if they’ve had a chance to meet?  It makes me smile to think 🙂

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

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The Birthday Lesson That Never Ends

2 Jul

My birthday will soon be here and just happens to coincide with another little holiday called Independence Day.  Most of us more fondly refer to it as the 4th of July.  I can remember as a little person probably around the age of 5, feeling rather impressed with the big deal so many people made about my birthday!  I mean, a lot of people were in on it and not just my family either.  The neighbors, the whole community, people on TV, my birthday was kind of a big deal!   People would celebrate my special day with BBQ’s, picnics, parades and even fireworks.  I didn’t really care for that part so much, so I stayed inside the house with my grandparent’s dog Gizmo, but I thought it was really cool they blew up stuff on my account, cause no one else I knew got that on their birthday.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, when I was enlightened to the fact that the celebrations weren’t in my honor.  That in fact it had nothing to do with me and a lot to do with some federal holiday called Independence Day, something about parting ways with Great Britain and a declaration of independence and well, what I painfully realized is, it’s not about me!

I wish I could tell you friend that this birthday lesson was the first and only I needed on this subject of “life is not about me”, but the true story is this, I have required frequent life long reminders.  You see my “me” side is very strong.  It is quite demanding and it can throw an all out fit when it doesn’t get what it wants.  I want so badly to say that as I turn 40 something, I have it mastered, but I don’t.  If anything, I am more keenly aware today, more than ever, on just how “me” centered I can be.  I want it to go my way, I want the credit, I want it easy, I want to feel good, I want the desired outcome, I want, what I want and when I want it, thank you very much!

Now I could be rather frustrated with myself (and have been frequently and often) and the fact that I have not attained Mother Theresa like selflessness thus far in life, however, that would just waste more precious time, there was only one her, there’s only one me and there’s only one you.

Here is what I want to focus on as my birthday is quickly approaching…God who taught me lessons at age 5 continues to teach me lessons today.  No matter how many times I try to make it about me instead of making it about Him or others, He continues to love me, extend grace to me and give me another opportunity to grow.  I am most like Him when I serve, when I take the road less traveled, when I take the high road, when I apologize first, when I give without expectation.  He is teaching me that the times when I become less, when I am weak, that’s when I really let Him shine!  It is through His patience to me and His kindness that I can be courageous enough to be real, even if its ugly, cause He loves me and that’s what it’s about.

Loving Him, Loving others, that’s what it’s about.  It’s simple really, but extremely difficult to live out with “ME” hanging around.  “Less of me, more of You Lord”, sounds like a good birthday prayer or every day kinda prayer for that matter.  I have a feeling I’ll be working on this birthday lesson as long as the Lord gives me birthdays 🙂