Prepared?

Sooooooo… who saw all of THIS happen ing in 2020 and how are those New Year’s resolutions going for you? (Insert eye roll here!)

There have been so many strident voices across the airwaves and throughout social media over the past several weeks that I just decided to stay quiet here at the blog for awhile. Quiet doesn’t mean inactive. I’ve been preparing…for a lot of things. Feeling prepared makes it easier to see the joy, find the fun, and take better care of those I love. While I know we can’t prepare for every eventuality, being prepared for basic needs frees me up to find ways to enjoy life no matter what else is happening.

Having older loved ones and loving those with compromised immune systems means preparation and occasional self-isolation is a standard part of life for us. It also means that “social distancing” is probably a little easier for us than it is for a lot of people. (grin) We’ve been practicing it for years. (Although I must confess that my rebellious streak struggles more when I’m TOLD to do something…even if I would have chosen to do it anyway. Yes, another eye roll is appropriate here, as well.)

Staying home together during this time has been even more fun than I initially imagined…and I was a little bit excited about it, to tell you the truth. It helps that my husband and I actually like each other and are easily entertained whenever and wherever we find ourselves together. We laugh a lot…yes, even now, and perhaps more so these days since he’s been working from home more.

Aside from making sure we had adequate medicines and a few extra goodies to get us through the “flattening the curve” portion of this excitement, part of my preparations have been about preparing  my heart to keep hearing God’s “still small voice” (1Kings 19:12) in the midst of all the chaos. That gets tougher to do when all of the talking heads and doomsday theorists are vying for our attention… especially if we spend more time with them than we do with Him.

Earlier in the year I started a project to read the Bible through in 90 days. That’s not going to happen. It’s going to take me 97 days, but that extra week was spent loving on family, taking care of some personal business, and taking a much needed rest. I’m satisfied with those choices and the result which means I’ll be finishing up this project just in time for Easter! In fact, I’ll be celebrating both the Resurection AND the Return of Christ in the same day. It seems a fitting thing to do.

Reading through the Word–even at this accelerated pace–has made this time easier on me. I am reminded daily that God’s plan is still in process, He is still in control, and nothing–not even our panic, a pandemic,  or our doubts–can change that. In fact, as I’ve traveled the Word these past weeks, I’ve drawn significant comfort from the fact that God continues to CHOOSE to use the imperfect, the doubting, the fearful, and even the rebellious to accomplish His will and spread His Good News to others in the midst of difficult situations.

Could it be because those characteristics provide the perfect foil for a living, loving, never-changing, always perfect God with a plan to save us from our sin and, often, from ourselves? I think that’s a big ole “YES!”

Have you said your “yes” to Jesus yet? If not, right now is the perfect time to do so. We aren’t promised tomorrow–or even the rest of today. That isn’t a scare tactic. It’s a fact. Saying “yes” to Jesus and asking Him to take away the sin that separates you from God IMMEDIATELY changes your heart, your mind, and your future. Saying “yes” means you are making the most important preparation you will ever make!

Are you prepared for eternity? If not, I would love to share more about my Jesus and how He can change your life today.

“You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.” Isaiah 26:3 (CSB)

Grace and Peace!

Time to share! What steps, if any, have you taken to prepare for “the pandemic”, the changes in your routine, or how to take care of your loved ones as we ride out this storm? What are you doing to occupy your heart, your mind, your time, or encourage your spirit?

Being well

I recently got an email from Pinterest with “18 Mental Health Pins” for me to investigate.

How did they know?!

Seriously. I’ve been struggling a little bit because I’ve just “lost” almost a whole month…yes, a month. Gone. Just. Like. That (snaps fingers).

It all started the day I was transplanting the magic beans and managed to hurt my back. Yes, magic beans. At least that’s what my Uncle called them when he shared them with me a few months ago. Actually, I think they’re called hyacinth beans, but I like that magic beans thing better. (Insert silly kid Grin here.)

Anyway! The beans got transplanted, the back muscles suddenly went into DEEEEEP spasms with (thank you, God!!!) no disc involvement and I began what has been quite a long recovery process. It really wasn’t how I saw my July happening, you know?

I’ve said it for years: I’m the most blessed person I know. Still true. Absolutely positive about that…and yet…I will admit without any wiggle room whatsoever that I am a horrid patient. Because I’m not. Patient, that is.

Sitting still, moving slowly, reconsidering even simple chores, letting things go, ASKING FOR HELP!–All of these things make me cringe. They might actually be my top five things to avoid…well…in the top 10, anyway…right after reptiles, rodents, the plague, reptiles (on here twice because I REALLY despise those things!), and cancer.

And yet, this was my month…complete with an adoring husband, kind friends who called and prayed, and a disgruntled cat who was being denied his favorite perch (my lap), and me…being whiny and negative and frustrated because for the first time ever I couldn’t depend on my body to do what I told it to do. That takes some getting used to physically…and mentally, as well.

Interesting things I discovered this month:

  • the world ran just fine without me.
  • many, many things happened without my input or my presence.
  • you can’t even breathe without it affecting your back muscles.
  • I am not a fan of whiny people…even or ESPECIALLY when it is me.
  • my husband likes being the caretaker more than being taken care of…for the most part.
  • it is never a good idea to do a spiritual assessment of yourself when you’re grumpy and in pain.
  • I am not as far along on that “being ok about giving up control” thing as I would like.
  • if you have been praying for patience for me, you can stop now. Really. I mean it. Stop it. Now. Feel free to pray for strength and endurance, but let’s just let that patience thing slide on out of the picture, ok? I am serious about this one.
  • pain can actually make you a more dedicated prayer warrior for others.
  • God can and will show up and give you stuff to do even when you’re confined to a chair.
  • sometimes, having Margin is good for situations that you wouldn’t really expect…or want.
  • chiropractors can actually help with some issues (pardon me if you are one or love one, please. I had never been to one before this month. They were kind and helpful and caring–and Bama fans, which made me smile even though it hurt.)
  • people in pain are much more sympathetic to others in pain than people who are rarely ill and have abnormally high pain tolerances (me…I’m talking about me although I would REALLY have preferred to find this out a different way, God! BIG eye roll–at ME, again!)
  • Pinterest, who sent me an earlier email with suggestions for my “RED” board that were 98% YELLOW (?!), might not be the best place to look for mental health tips.

That last one is important. I am much better off talking to God about what ails me–body, mind, or spirit–and counting on the truth of His Word to keep my mind headed in the direction that’s best for me–and you are, too!

“You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.” Isaiah 26:3 (CSB) 

As I am recovering, I am feeling the truth of that verse more and more. It’s not over…but neither am I. Returning strength gives me yet another reason for praise, another reminder to pray for those who still need it, and another call to gratitude for all my blessings: physical, spiritual, and mental.

May you be blessed and may you be well…in every respect.

IMG_20180720_194723477(and BTW, the magic beans are doing just fine…and so is Grace! In fact, she ought to be ready to transplant just in time for the Fall–although someone else may be digging THAT hole! grin)

Grace and peace!IMG_20180720_194741388

Making a list and checking it…

I’m not a worrier by nature, so it surprised me more than a bit to wake really early the other morning with an anxious feeling about some of what is going on in our lives right now.

I know God is in control. I also know that I’m not and–like most anxieties?–mine seemed to stem from that. (grin) In all truth, I don’t want to be in control of everything…just the parts about which I have questions! (bigger grin!)

Anyway! I woke up early with all of these questions and concerns running through my brain, so I did the only thing I knew I could control about them. I prayed…and then I opened up my Bible.

God led me to several different verses that He’s shown me over the years about HIM being the One in control (as a reminder, I’m sure!) and then to two verses I’d written on note cards for a teaching opportunity earlier this year.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”  Genesis 15:1 (NKJV)

Did you see the connection in those verses? HE is the reward! When we seek Him, we GET Him! That’s huge!! It ought to make us really excited and more determined than ever to seek Him every day–whether we’re anxious or not!

As I thought about this, I started making a list of what I KNOW about God and who He is–things I’ve personally seen Him do/be  in my life. I grabbed a simple 2-column steno pad all lined and easy to fill…

What I KNOW about God: Holy, Righteous, Perfect in every way, Loving/Loves Me, Gracious, Kind, Patient, Saving, Comforting, Doesn’t always reveal plans ahead, Provider…

You know what? I got stumped about half-way down the first column. I mean my mind went completely BLANK and I thought, “REALLY, Becky?! This is the best you can do?!” So, I stopped and prayed, “God, this is really pitiful! BUT, if I only knew THIS about You, then that’s enough. It’s still enough to trust You with this–enough to trust You with everything.” And then…more came to mind…and then more.

Soon, there were 2 filled columns and still more favorite things to write down about God, so I went back to the first column and started to fill in the empty spaces on the lines. Every time I got stumped again, I’d pray again. I started looking through the Psalms–not to copy David’s lists, but because I know David really knew God and we all feel more comfortable knowing we aren’t the only ones to feel things like fear, glory, anger, and peace with God. I didn’t find anything “new” there, just reminders of how my life has been a lot like David’s…and yours.

Pretty soon, there were only a few small blank spaces left on the page, but there weren’t any left on my heart. I was in full out praise mode…and oddly enough, ready to rest again.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

Are you struggling with decisions, details, disasters or just holiday angst today? (grin) Start making your own list and see what happens. I’d love to see those! Feel free to share them with me! What made your list?

“People with their minds set on you,
    you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
    because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
    because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.” (The Message interpretation)

NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER: Day 3

“You ok?

“Yes.”

“You’re not saying anything. Are you sure you’re ok?” My husband was doing what he always does: he was taking care of me and trying to make sure–no matter what else happens–that I’m alright.

“Yes,” I replied. “I’m just sitting here repeating this verse over and over right now.”

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

I told you. Yesterday was a really rough day for the two of us. Sometimes you just need to be quiet and lean in on the things you know soul deep…and on the One you trust completely.

No matter what we’ve faced together, my husband and I have always known that God was in control and that we could trust Him with anything. Some people don’t have that and, quite honestly, I’m not sure how they survive on regular Mondays, much less the difficult ones.

1029141355And now, suddenly, I had another example for the lesson I would be teaching for my Tuesday morning Ladies’ Bible Study. Yipp-ee. “That wasn’t really what I had been going for, God. What are You up to? How can we glorify You in this, God? I know. I just wrote that prayer that said, ‘Whatever You choose, I’m in.’ And I meant that. You know I meant that, God,…but this didn’t even occur to me. Help me honor You in this. Help US to honor You even as we honor each other in this difficult thing.”

My prayer was honest and it wasn’t said with anger or even frustration–it was said out of a heart of genuine shock and a “what’s next, God?” mentality. I really want to know. I mean, I REALLY want to know what He’s up to and what His plan is and why this was necessary. He’s got me curious, I tell you. I’ve got experience, you see, that He always works things out for my good. I know He’s faithful and I know He’s got a plan, but, right now, we’re still in the dark about it. We’re waiting. That isn’t always easy. Who am I kidding?! It’s NEVER easy for me! I’m way too much of a control freak. Talk about a plan? I can make you one of those in a heartbeat. For this, however? Well, we didn’t even see it coming…so I (we!) didn’t have a plan for it. This one is all on HIM.

I was talking with one of my best friends today on the way home from Bible Study and she said, “I’ve got to tell you, when I read your text yesterday, I thought, “Oh, MY! And she’s just started this NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER thing!” We both laughed and it was a great tension reliever for me. This is someone who knows me well. I know she chuckled about it, but I also know she prayed–and then prayed some more!

The great thing, however, is that I got to share with her that I haven’t been the least bit tempted to complain about our situation. I’m too busy praying and asking for help from the only One Who can fix it–and Who can fix US in it! We’re doing as well as we can be physically, and we’re loving on each other, and praying up a storm over here. It’s what we do–whether we’re in a tight spot or not. We’re just loving and praying, loving and praying, while we do what we can with the mundane things that are still left to do whether you’re in a tight spot or not.

I’m just putting that out there in case you’re still having a tough week, too. Or just in case, you’re dealing with something that is really hard–whether it started yesterday or not. Find you someone close by to love on and pray with and let the temptation to complain about it just wash away. Complaining won’t fix most things that are really wrong and it just ties up energy that’s better spent elsewhere.

I’ll see you back here tomorrow! Maybe we’ll have something great to celebrate! It could happen!

Grace & Peace!

The Weight of the Wait Lifted

After the phone call, it was a bit over 36 hours before my follow-up appointment for the new scans.  While I prepared myself mentally for “whatever” would come, I was reminded of Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) which says:

“You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.”

Some would say that it’s pretty simple-minded to believe that the verse above could be expected to really make a difference.  If that’s true, then count me among the simple-minded.  Eighteen words…words that were written so long ago that some consider them irrelevant for today’s issues and complications…worked for me.

In fact, they worked so well for me that I was able to focus on having fun with my husband on our last day off, take joy in the blessings that God seemed to delight in sending my way during that time and also be available to give comfort and attention to a loved one who was facing a struggle of their own.   I slept without difficulty and woke refreshed.

Over the next day I’d occasionally see a breast cancer awareness commercial or the notation on the calendar and be reminded of my appointment and the possible implications for my future.  Each time I chose to repeat that verse in my mind and God allowed it to penetrate my mind and take over my spirit.  I was peaceful.  I hate waiting—and I was peace-full.

There are people who think that faith in God is for the weak and the stupid.  I disagree.  I think a case could be made that religion for religion’s sake fits that criteria, but the God I serve is personal, so His response to each person and each circumstance is not a canned, predictable event.  It takes strength to have faith and to choose to believe all that the Bible says is true…especially when you don’t know what God will choose for you.  God could have chosen to let me wait without peace.  He could just as easily chosen another option for me.  Instead, He chose to bring a portion of His word to my mind and turn this situation into a practical-application exercise.  I do trust Him.  Implicitly.  Because that is true, the rest of the verse was also an accurate indicator of my response:  God’s own if-then statement in real life.  Once again, I slept in peace and woke ready to see what God’s choice would be.

I was the first one back.  Multiple images later—which apparently raised even more questions about the results–I was taken to another room for an ultra-sound.  The technician took her time and repeatedly returned to a specific area pressing in even more forcefully than the mammogram plates had earlier.  I began to accept that my next adventure might involve spending some significant time increasing my medical knowledge in the field of oncology.  I mentally repeated Isaiah’s words and told God again that I would choose to praise Him no matter what He chose for me.  I began to do so even then.  With God’s word still resounding in my head, a dimly lit room and ‘hillbilly music’ coming from the speakers, I was still so peaceful that I almost drifted off to sleep.  In my mind, I was aware that this, too, was part of the verse being fulfilled and I marveled again at a God so personal and so powerful.

Quite a bit later, the Dr made an appearance in the room.  He reviewed the results and pronounced his judgement:  I am well…dense, but whole…without any indication of cancer or other medical issue in need of remediation.  I took my free ribbon–shaped sugar cookie with the pink icing and headed out into the sunlight with a smile on my face.  Sure, I was glad for the Dr’s medical determination, but I was much more impressed and delighted with my God’s determination to show Himself faithful and prove that His word to me is true all over again.  If there are those who think that makes me simple-minded…I’m ok with that.