Margin meets meaning

I recently had an epiphany as I walked in the relative coolness of my early Georgia morning. By the way, I love the word epiphany. Although the dictionary defines it this way:

e·piph·a·ny ( /əˈpifənē/ )  noun

  1. the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12).
    • the festival commemorating the Epiphany on January 6.
    • a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being.

Wikipedia (the true source of all internet wisdom—HA!) defines it this way: An epiphany (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, “manifestation, striking appearance”) is an experience of a sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe scientific breakthrough, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective. 

ANY.WAY! I had one of those as I walked and prayed about something I’ve been praying about for months…literally months and months. I’ve struggled with whether walking away for a time from some activities that I love is actually God’s will or just a desire to make things easier right now given the family circumstances that we are facing. I believe that I might have finally figured out that those two things aren’t always mutually exclusive. (By the way, change is hard.)

A dear friend and prayer partner recently asked if I was still working on “margin” in my life. I told her that I hadn’t had much time for that lately, but perhaps, I SHOULD be working on it. We laughed and moved on with our conversation. Her simple question set my mind in motion, though, and I began to look for ways to incorporate what I spent a whole year learning about just last year. It shouldn’t have been so difficult to remember–and I really shouldn’t have needed someone to remind me of what I had so recently learned, but it was and I did. (Did I mention that change is hard?)

As I walked along the road I asked God–again!--what it was that He wanted me to do about my schedule. I had thought that giving up our business would open up all the time and allow for all of the personal reserves that we would need, but that hasn’t been the case. Instead, I’m finding–as many of you already know–that physical work is far easier than making our way through the spiritual, emotional and mental battles of dealing with a loved ones’ dementia. Suddenly, I had a thought that tied AJ’s simple question to the ones piling up in my prayer time: What if last year’s focus on Margin was ACTUALLY all done in preparation for what we would face THIS year? What if God, in His infinite wisdom KNEW and provided me with a whole year to practice what I need to practice, grow, and teach in a whole new way during the difficult days that we’re facing right now? (MAYBE because God knows change is hard for us, too?)

Well, well! Hmmm…things. to. think. about!

I shouldn’t be surprised by that. God is always good. He is always preparing us for the next levels and making us fit for the next battles. What surprised me–again–was the WAY that He seems to have done so about this subject. You see, I thought that last year’s focus on Margin was ALL about LAST YEAR and all of the business and busy-ness that it contained. I lost sight of all I have learned from that quote by J.O. Sanders, “God never ploughs [sic] unless He purposes a crop.”

Well, welcome to the season of harvest right here in the first week of summer. I came home and immediately put into action a plan to rearrange my schedule. Some of the changes involve things that I dearly love and that I have held onto out of a desire to serve God and others by using the spiritual gifts that God has given to me. Personally, I had questioned if it would be more selfish to continue in them (and possibly do them poorly) or to step away for a season. Following Christ closely doesn’t leave much room for selfish motives or ambitions, so I am putting some things aside for the moment that will, hopefully, also help provide an opportunity for growth in others. If “the moment” becomes longer than I currently anticipate, then God will be in charge of that, as well. His gifts are never meant to be hoarded or neglected, so I am certain that He will make a way for all of us to grow. Additionally, while I will be laying aside some tasks, He has already shown me ways that I will be able to take up/expand some others.

The main thing I brought home with me from my Monday walk was a sense of release/personally answered prayer and a sense of purposely walking closer to Jesus than ever before. I’m finding that this season of difficulty is also demanding a deeper journey with my Savior (because…well, you knowchange…!)…and I’m finding myself more in love with my God than ever before as I rush to draw near to Him. There is no other way to survive this!

Perhaps there’s more to teaching than simply standing before a crowd or pecking away at a computer. Hmmmm…Maybe, just maybe, I will be teaching others about God by putting into practice what He’s already taught me…when I just thought I was busy and in need of some margin for my soul. Instead of simply going for a walk by myself, I encountered God and He set about changing my expectations, my prayer time, my understanding of past lessons learned, and, as a result, my reality. Epiphany, indeed.

Grace and Peace!

 

 

 

 

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Waiting on perfection

I’m weird. (Don’t laugh too loudly. You are, too.) One of the things that make me weird is that I’m always in pursuit of perfection. That may sound like a good thing…but it can get in the way of getting some things done around here. In college, I would often be found cleaning the kitchen and bathroom the night before an exam because I “neeeded” (yes, ALL those extra “e”s are needed there.) to have things “perfect” before I could concentrate on the studying.

There are other things that contribute to the weirdness, of course. We all have things that make us individuals, but I guess that pursuit of perfection in the strangest things is one of my biggest challenges. I’ve been battling it (as in, I’m rarely distressed over it, but I’m always aware of it!) for a long time, but never more so that these past few months as we’ve battled much bigger issues.

I work hard to keep our home clean enough to be restful to me so I can make it restful for others. That means you can’t eat off the floor (since I have a cat and I don’t eeeven recognize a 5-second rule when there are animals inside), but all the towels and blankets are folded neatly in the closet and I try to keep reasonably up-to-date on the laundry. I’m not such a stickler on the dusting in times of stress, but it does bug me on occasion. I don’t let it get in the way of having friends over for a chat, of course, but I’m aware. Very aware. (Btw, I am only this way about MY house–or the hotel rooms I’m inhabiting. I could not care less–and don’t even notice!–other people’s spaces. I’m there to focus on the people, not their surroundings, aaannnnddd…maybe I should learn from that and cut myself some slack, but…so far…that hasn’t happened all that regularly.)

With all of the traveling and hospital sitting-time we’ve done recently and all of the necessary schedule re-routing as a result, some of these normally-done chores of mine have fallen behind in favor of just trying to catch up on a little rest so we can “do the next thing.” Because of that, I’ve not been able to be as creative…or, rather, I’ve had to be creative about finding ways to do some creating. I’ve optimistically carried painting supplies places that I never allowed them to see outside of the luggage and I’ve resorted to pinning things on Pinterest boards that I would like to try one day…when all things are perfect…and I have the time. Blogging is about as creative an opportunity as I’ve been allowing myself and I think that’s been more sharing than creating for me lately. Yesterday, I chose to allow myself to “create” some mail for loved ones. See, I’m stretching it.

Last night I showed my husband the wrapper off of a Dove Dark Chocolate square that says, “The magic is in the mess. Dorothy S., Louisiana” I don’t know who Dorothy S. is or how the people at Dove chocolates found her, and I would never have believed her to be right in this statement before, but something about her words grabbed me. The more I thought about it, I remembered that if I wait to create until things get “perfect” about the situation we’re in right now, then I might not create again for a long, long time. I can’t do that. I can’t wait anymore to let things be perfectly straight and manageable and comfortable and whatever other word I’ve allowed to interfere with doing something that feeds my soul and expresses life-joy even in the midst hard things.

This, too, is a mental health issue. It’s also a life and time management issue, a willingness to have fun issue, and a seize the moment for joy issue. In short, it is a God issue…as most things are. We don’t have to be perfect to enjoy the day we’re being given, but we DO have to be willing to look beyond our circumstances and remember that Jesus came to give us life! Abundant life! HERE and NOW…and in the time beyond, as well. While taking time to bless yourself may not sound very spiritual to some people, doing so can be a reminder that God created each of us in His image…and the very first characteristic that He shared with us was His ability to create.

“In the beginning God created…” Genesis 1:1.

While we won’t create anything so magnificent as the world and all that is in it, we can choose to create some joy and some peace and some rest right were we are today.

So. What are YOU waiting on to bless YOUR own soul? Don’t get caught up in your circumstances so much that you forget to LIVE in the midst of them! Advice from me to you (and from me to me!): don’t wait on things to be “perfect” before you start making them “better.” Find a way to bless your own self today. Maybe it is by creating, cleaning (uh, nope, that’s probably just me. sorry!), going for a ride or a walk, getting an ice cream cone, reading a book (or even just a chapter?), taking some hobby time or simply sitting still and breathing quietly for a bit. WHATEVER you choose, make sure you take time to thank God for the moments and ask Him to help us ALL choose to really LIVE and LOVE the life we’re given instead of waiting on everything to be perfect.

Grace and peace…and LIFE!

 

Dementia Chronicles (part 3)

As I wrote this, our loved one had been in an Emergency Room for over a week. (By time of publishing, she had been there for 12 days before being admitted.) I never knew that was even possible. We’re still not sure what the step will be or when it will happen. We’ve cried and prayed and waited for God to show up in calming the chaos and in bringing it under control and He has…for very small, intermittent bits of time. A few times, we were able to have actual conversations with her, but those typically didn’t last very long…certainly not as long as we would have liked!

It’s both refreshing and frustrating to catch a glimpse of her humor and then lose it again. Heartbreaking, actually, is probably the best word for it. We miss her. We love her. We’re working to keep her safe. We tell her all of that over and over…especially the “We love you!”-part. At times it comforts. Others, it barely registers. Instead, she is often convinced that she is in danger and wonders why help isn’t given to protect her and she becomes angry, as a result.

The professional caregivers around us have been kind and sympathetic. Some of them have gone FAR and above their normal call to duty. One of them even brought in home baked cookies to tempt our loved one to eat!  We’ve wondered why it was taking so long to find answers. So have they. Dementia treatment is so individualized that even “normal protocols” are governed by how a each mind and body reacts. Trial and error, wait and see are the order of the day…and that makes long days seem even longer…for ALL of us.

Today (the day of writing), we discovered that we are far from alone in the waiting. At one time there were SEVEN other families with those same questions in the same Emergency Department. Staff is stretched thin and must handle their regular load in addition to these guests who’ve been sent here for days on end in search of some small light along the darkened path of mental illness.

Finding lessons to learn along the way is the only way I know to cope in all of this. So far, we’ve learned the differences between hallucinations (seeing what isn’t there), delusions (believing what isn’t true), and dilerium (a serious disturbance in mental abilities that results in confused thinking and reduced awareness of the environment). While I AM a word-person, I could have managed quite nicely without ever knowing or being present for all three of these things and more.

We are becoming woefully familiar with drug names and treatment regimens, while working to learn the necessary steps to take as precautions to maintain safe environments and use all available resources. THAT is where God’s enlargement of my community has been most helpful. People in the same boat have a vested interest in sharing knowledge. Reaching out to tell what you know and see what they do can lead to all kinds of exchanged information! It’s even less to some renewed/revitalized relationships!

I think what I’m learning most of all, however, that while we can’t control everything about it, how we end up is greatly influenced by how we’ve lived. The attitudes we choose each day help determine our futures. I am determined to make the most of this lesson! If this is ever to be my lot in life, I’d like to be so full of praise and love for God that He just keeps on coming to the surface even if I completely disappear.

That means I’ll need to practice that more. Maybe you should, too.

No matter where you find yourself today and regardless of what you’re facing, look for ways to lighten the load of the people around you. Choose to look for and acknowledge the GOOD things and the kindness shown to you.  Pass them along! Be determined to share your knowledge and your faith, as well. Pray and remember to include some praise as you do!

Set the tone for the future and make today a better one, at the same time. It seems the only way to live.

 

Quilted

I’m cleaning out again. This time, I started with my linen closet…errr, closets (Plural. Eye rolls..Plural…again.) I love linens. There’s something about thread counts and coziness, colors and cleanliness that makes me smile.

As I’ve sorted through my collection of goodies, I unearthed a stack of older quilts. Several of them were purchased from various antique dealers across the South, a couple were gifts, and a few more were created by my maternal grandmother and one of her sisters. Those are the best!

I have a stack of more modern quilts that are larger and made to fit up to a king-sized mattress. While I find them to be useful and comfortable, my favorites are those smaller ones that are pieced together from colorful bits of cloth that served a different purpose and used to cover up people I know and love. Seeing a family quilt where the makers can tell a history of who wore what and when…well now, that is special.

There is the one with the big multi-colored corduroy squares made by my grandmother that wrapped me up and kept me warm on more high school football/band trips than I can count. It went with me on through college and was one of the first things I spread over that mattress on the floor in my first–and mostly empty!–apartment after grad school. Though it is ragged along the edges and in need of repair now, it is far more valuable to me than any of the others.

IMG_20190514_120636948Another one, made by one of my grandmother’s sisters, shows off the double wedding ring pattern and is full of bright, colorful rings on a cream background with scalloped edges. Aunt Pearl did this as one of her last quilts and I consider it a prized possession even though she missed a stitch or two due to failing eyesight. I love this quilt because she refused to quit doing what she loved just because it became more difficult. It now adorns the foot of a guest room bed so I can see and enjoy it regularly.

There’s something about resting under a handmade-with-love or out-of-necessity quilt that the store-bought and machine-made ones just can’t provide. There’s the love that came from the making along with the love that came from my daddy as he purchased another Aunt Pearl quilt with little Holly Hobby-like silhouettes because it reminded him of me and a Girl Scout project I did in elementary school. I also have a couple made by a beloved cousin and a treasured friend.

There’s the one my grandmother made out of scraps from clothing worn by all my aunts and uncles when they were growing up. I can’t tell you who wore what patch, but she could have… probably because she made those clothes for them, as well.

As I’ve sorted through these beauties I’ve begun to sharpen my focus. I’ll be keeping the love and passing along some of those I just purchased because something about them caught my eye…even the handmade ones from someone else’s family that ended up in the antique stores.

IMG_20190514_120846943Of those that are departing, there is one that reminds me a little of what my life looks like right now. While one side is a smooth and somewhat faded floral, the other side shows a definite pattern. Unfortunately, it looks like it might have been someone’s (or even several someones!) first shot at quilting. The pattern edges aren’t clean and clear. The points don’t always join where they’re supposed to join. It’s what I’d call a life lesson quilt–more than a little messy, but still capable of getting the job done. I still like it, but I think it’s time for the lesson to be passed along…now that I’ve been reminded to keep doing what I can for the people I love even when it gets hard and looks messy on the surface. Despite my perfectionistic tendencies and desires to be in charge of the results, God will have the job of sorting the outcome. I just need to keep covering up my people with love…and lots and lots of prayer.

Wishing all of us a day pieced together with love…even if it looks a little wonky or in need of some repairs!

Grace and peace!

 

small packages and bigger baggage

“When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package.” ~John Ruskin 

John Ruskin may not have mentioned this to anyone, but his quote can also be applied to women. I know this to be true by way of recent personal experience.

I walked into a local grocery store last week just to hear my name called out in a loud and cheerful greeting. It’s the kind of thing that can happen when you live in the “country” and shop at small-town grocery stores. People get to know you. They may even go to church with you on occasion. You see them in the local bank and you might even have them on your personal prayer list from time to time…or show up on theirs. For absolutely certain, you have to know that you will not be getting away with buying your favorite ice cream on the sly, so just you need to just go ahead and own that right up front. Also, when you supposedly write a blog and then DON’T write for awhile, well, you can expect to get called on that, too. Ask me how I know. (insert the chagrined shrug emoji here…and then go ahead and smile, because it just happens that way sometimes, doesn’t it, Cheryl?! LOL) Yes, my name was quickly followed up with an inquiry about when I planned to publish my next blog. I gave a vague little smile and told Cheryl that I was “processing.” Until that moment I hadn’t given blogging much thought because I’ve been in mourning.

No, I didn’t lose anyone close to me. I lost a thing, …a dream, …some expectations, and the ability to go and do my own thing while expecting that to continue somewhat indefinitely. It sounds selfish when I write it out like that, but it’s been pretty real for me. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been more than a little bit sad about all that loss, so I’ve been wrapped up in myself more than a little bit as I’ve carried this heavier baggage down the road without an end in sight…and I needed some space before I could write about it. Some days are, of course, better than others. Grief is never linear, but dealing with it head-on is a lot healthier than ignoring it and hoping it will go away on its own.

This past year, after our busiest and most successful year ever, we decided to close our business. We’ve joked about going out on a high note, but our spirits have felt anything but high about it. The decision caught even us off guard though it was our decision to make. I asked us (my husband and I) a question that had only one answer, so our decision was both made and then made official for the IRS in less than two hours. The year 2018 was a great one for our little business, but keeping it going and growing took a toll. It meant that we didn’t see family or friends very much. It meant we missed a lot of church and quite a few special events that we’ve always enjoyed participating in or seeing. It meant that we spent almost every waking moment for the months of the “show seasons” moving forward with intense focus. We worked hard almost all the time and when we weren’t working hard, we were working out ways to work more efficiently so we could fit more work into our already crowded work schedules. It didn’t leave us much time for anything else, including planned visits and keeping up with loved ones, much less for emergencies…

Family. You know they’ll love you anyway and NObody ever sits and thinks, “Well, YES, I am choosing my work over my family and friends and I am absolutely fine with that!” At least, we didn’t. We missed out on quite a bit and we knew it, but we kept moving forward with even bigger plans for 2019.

God had other plans.

Family health issues are a fact of life as we get older. It happens to everyone. Even as we worked and planned for our next season, we noticed some parental age-related changes that cropped up sporadically, at first, and then with greater frequency and severity. It became obvious that they would become increasingly difficult to manage. My folks were fine, but we have other family obligations that began to make it more and more difficult to commit to a show schedule, increase our time with loved ones, and still be available to participate in family care. The topper came when we sat in our tax lady’s office and saw the result of our great year and knew that no matter how successful we made our business, it would never be enough to justify our absence in the lives of the people we love. We have a larger obligation–and desire!–to be successful in being part of our families…for the sake of those who are well and for those who are not.

The loss of our business hurt. There are days when it still hurts for both of us. On those days I have to remind myself of all of the reasons we made the decision to close and remember that I am not alone in this battle. I’ve actually had more help with that than I anticipated. In addition to my fabulous husband, the God of All Comfort keeps showing up to help me. Without exception, when I become pitiful and focused on my own loss, He draws near and shows me what I’ve gained: ease of schedule, ease of pressure to perform/create just for the pleasing of others, increased opportunities to spend time with and care for those we love, and an unexpected loosening of some invisible bands of pressure that had grown to impede my breathing without my even being aware of them.

We’ve also been released–and given some time!–to focus on our marriage. As a result, we’ve begun to make more opportunities for laughter and fun. Our list of positives continues to grow and we are determined to keep finding and celebrating those gifts! We’re resting in the idea that God always has a plan that is for our good (Jeremiah 29:11)–even when it doesn’t always FEEL good to us and we can’t quite see the end result or enjoy all of the pathway to it.

Knowing all I do about the truth of that last sentence, it is still taking some time to process the grief over the loss of our business. It’s also taking some time to process the grief and loss that comes from changing family roles and responsibilities. The increasing need to “parent” a parent takes some getting used to…for all of us. It’s still early days yet on some of these fronts, but I’m really ready to stop being a small package with big baggage and get back to seeing what God has for me to learn in all of these changes. As with many other life lessons, this is a process and I have to choose it deliberately on a daily basis.

The good news for now is that I’m choosing to move forward and I’m getting my focus back where it belongs. I’m trying to unwrap all these new-to-me-again gifts I’ve been missing out on for awhile and celebrate THAT even as I attempt to process the grief. Here’s to the gifts from a God so big that He can deliver delight even from the ashes of despair.

Be glorified in who You lead us to be, Father, as we seek to become even more wrapped up in You.

Grace and Peace, dear friends. Grace and peace. This, too, is a process.

 

I used to…

I used to be a lot louder. That was back when I knew more. (grin) I think the quiet started when I began to realize how much I didn’t know. Incidentally, that probably started about the time I began to get serious about having a personal relationship with God. Coincidence? I think not.

Getting to know the One who knows it all, kinda shuts you up sometimes…or, at least, it ought to. “Before,” I just looked like I knew Him. That was pretty easy since I was raised in a home that taught the Scripture to us practically and deliberately from Day 1 of breathing on our own.

It was easy to look like I knew Him because I knew all about Him. (Just ask anyone who played “Bible trivia”  with our family. {BTW–“Bible trivia“?!–Is that even a possible thing?! The phrase kind of makes me cringe a little bit right now.} I made all the right appearances and I did all of the right things in public. My parents were praised for doing it right, but inside, I hadn’t really made a choice for following Jesus so much as a choice to ruffle as few feathers as possible on my way out the door. I had all of the head knowledge and very little of the heart knowledge or life application of all that I “knew.” I had plenty of the rebellion going on inside despite all appearances to the contrary.

I used to be louder. My temper was fierce and while I’m not entirely sure those days are past, but I know there are a whole lot fewer of them and that makes me happier in ways that being louder never could. Louder meant being called on for all the right answers even when my heart wasn’t in it–or NOT called on “so other people can learn for themselves.” Louder meant being perceived as right even when I was wrong. Louder meant being praised for WHAT I knew instead of WHO I knew. Louder meant more to me then than relationships did.

I didn’t know that a quieter spirit meant I would be able to hear God more clearly. I was too busy charting my own path to be very concerned about His plans. The fact that my path looked a little like His to those who weren’t looking too closely made it even harder to figure out that I needed a change.

I didn’t know that a quieter Becky meant time for others to grow and opportunities for me to grow and learn, as well. Turns out, I didn’t know all I should have…or needed to know. I didn’t know that being quieter would grow me up instead of just growing my reputation…and, oddly enough, would make me more concerned about God’s reputation in me than I was about my own.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know…and I wasn’t all that interested in finding that out. I was good. Just ask anyone who knew me! I was good. It was enough. I was enough. Writing that down makes me cringe a bit now, too, but I’m doing it anyway because I don’t want anyone else to make the same mistake that I made…when I used to be louder.

“The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” Proverbs 17:27 (NIV) 

Today, I am reminded that God’s Word is always true…and I am praying for a world that still thinks like I used to when I used to be louder.

Grace and Peace!

 

Some help required

I hate asking for help.

Maybe I’m the only one, but I’m guessing that’s not the case.

According to the writer of Acts, Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35 NIV)

I could try to pretend it is a “holy thing” and say that I’m just trying to live up to Scripture (insert VERY wry grin here)–and I do!—but I think that Jesus was simply stating a very human truth in addition to giving us a reminder that it is our job to help those who are weaker than we are.

It’s that word, I think: “Weaker.” I’ve never liked that word; refused to be that word; been absolutely determined not to live a life defined by that word. To be perfectly frank, I don’t remember applying that word to anyone else unless they were really, truly in that state through no fault of their own…and, even then, I’ve applied that word as a label very rarely. “Younger, smaller, sure, but weaker? Not so much. It just seemed unnecessarily mean. I was taught to be self-sufficient as much as possible. I probably took that to an extreme.

On the other hand, I am generally happy to lend a hand when asked. (That sentence had “always” in place of “generally” when it first slipped out onto the page, but honesty compelled me to change it.) I like helping most of the time—especially if it is something that makes things prettier, more efficient, cuts down on waste, or makes a loved one’s life a little easier. I don’t think of that of helping “the weak” at all. It is simply an expression of affection or the opportunity to be of service to those in my community.

Why, then, do I hate to ask for help…for myself? I have no issue asking for help for others. I’m happy to lead the way in that! But…for me? I hate it. I’d rather just do without.

Until I can’t anymore.

I’ve found myself there lately and I haven’t liked it even a little bit.

A couple of months ago, we dropped my husband’s truck off for repair and he took the big red truck to work the next morning. I didn’t have anywhere to be and it didn’t change my day plans at all…until he called. He wanted to let me know that while he was stopped at a traffic light behind a long line of cars—who were backed up because the police were working an accident scene at the intersection ahead!—he heard a horrible squealing-tire sound…just before being struck from behind. To be accurate, he wasn’t the first point of impact. That dubious honor belonged to the lady behind him who was then sandwiched between the car making impact and the bumper of the big red truck.

It seemed a simple matter, but then it turned out not to be so after all and here I am—about two months into this and still no resolution date for sure and certain. Although I wasn’t even part of the accident, my life has been the most affected by it in our household as I am still without my big red truck, which is currently receiving a new frame and being knit back together because they discovered there was more damage than previously understood.

I’m grateful that they’re able to repair it. I’m grateful that there are people who know how to do that–because I most definitely do not! I am grateful that most of the time I work from home and, at first, my thoughts actually led me to a mini-celebration about all the things I could legitimately say “no” to since I didn’t have transportation for a bit. It seemed a slight bright side in all of this to this introvert who loves being home more than anything. We’ve made it work pretty well for the most part, I’d say, but lately, I’ve begun to notice a change. There are only so many things that I can work into the time when the blue truck is here, when my husband is available to do them, or that can be postponed for the apparently indefinite time it will take to repair the big red truck and return it to factory specs.

I’ve begun to chafe a bit at my confinement. I’ve had to ask for help. (Did I mention that I hated doing that?) Oh, I know. It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t make me weak. It doesn’t even mean that I’ve been forced into an untenable position in any way–except that I really don’t like to ask or admit a need for help…or a ride…or to borrow a car…or assistance of any kind…despite the number of INCREDIBLY kind people who have volunteered or called to ask if I needed anything…including my very kind neighbor who graciously loaned me her car to drive to Bible study and get my hair cut yesterday! (THANK YOU, SUE!!!) I’ve just mainly associated community as a means of society, not as an avenue for assistance…at least for myself.

I’m pretty sure it’s a part of a pride thing. I’m good at that. Sad, but true: I really get that pride thing. THIS, however, has also had a different element to it: I’m learning a lesson, albeit a lesson I didn’t desire–or even know I needed.

I’ve needed and I’ve needed community in a way I’ve generally been able to avoid previously. Me! The introvert who celebrated at the opportunity to stay home even more than before! I’ve needed…and I’ve needed community. That’s different for me. It’s also been instructive and humbling, a little bit scary, and more than a bit frustrating for me. Additionally, it’s also been probably the most necessary lesson I’ve had from God in quite awhile.

Scripture is always true. It IS better to give than to receive, but it is also a good thing to  be on the receiving end of things sometime so that we don’t take for granted the many blessings we have, the opportunity to bless others when they are in need, and we learn to bless them in ways that show how grateful we are to help. It’s also good to be part of a community that loves you and be reminded of that, as well. Needing community doesn’t make us weak. It makes us human. Life lessons all around. I’ve had a refresher course in attitude around here lately.

Apparently, God knew I needed help with that, as well.

Grace and Peace!

Edited for update: Just moments ago my phone rang. Although this post wasn’t intended as an actual request for assistance, another precious member of my community called to say that she had read my blog post and she wanted to offer me the use of a truck until mine is returned. Once again, I am humbled–and once again, it is because of the goodness of my God and the graciousness of His people. I am, indeed, the most blessed person I know. Go, God, and thank you, sweet friend!