Thursday, February 25, 2010

Make Today Count

Today was a draining day. As I sit here and type, I am not really sure how much I have left to offer ... but there are somethings that feel important to say.

It all started this morning around 10 am. I was getting some things done around the classroom, as the kids were at music, and my classroom phone rang. It was my dear husband calling to tell me that he was on the way home from work. My mind immediately raced to the conclusion that one of my kids was throwing up ... that the flu had finally caught up with my household. It was only a matter of time I thought, as I asked him why. The answer caught me completely off guard. He was rushing home because my mom had called him while waiting for an ambulance to come ad take her post haste to the hospital where an "emergency pacemaker surgery" awaited her. What? Stunned, I picked my kids up, did some daily housekeeping with them, and sent them off to my teammates ... who willingly took on 6 more kids each so that I could take off for the hospital as well. I spent the afternoon in the hospital waiting room with my family, and my mom made it through the surgery like the fighter that she is. Her heart is now regulated, and we are at home trying to decompress from an emotionally draining day. BUT ... that is not why I am writing. You see there is a bigger story to tell ...

Let me share how God protected my mom. My mom had a heart attack about 3 years ago. She has struggled with blood pressure problems since, but had been fine in recent months. This morning she woke up with a strong urge that she had to get to her cardiologist by 9am. She made it there in time, only to find out that she was 30 minutes early for her 9:30 appointment. They checked and found that they could get her in early, and took her back. When they took her blood pressure, they found it to be 100/4o. Her heart was only beating 40 times a minute ... the average for a highly tuned athlete like Armstrong, but not for a woman in her sixties that has had a heart attack. An EKG further revealed that one side of her heart was no longer beating the way that it should. Her cardiologist called an ambulance and informed her that he was sending her for emergency surgery. Did you catch it? We did. God intervened. God got her there in time. God got her there safely. God took care of her. We are so thankful that He did, and to Him we offer up resounding praises of thanksgiving. But ... there a bigger lesson to learn ... or relearn as the case may or may not be.

You see what this did to me today was to give me a painful reminder that life is finite ... that my mom is mortal, and will one day die - as will each of us - but ... my mom is getting older and the reality that one day she will go Home and will no longer be here hit me like a brick. (Funny how truth can hit so hard ... even if it is not a new truth.) It reminded me that each of us has a predetermined number of days to make a difference here on this plant. Our days have to count dear friends. Each of them. We need to be active participants in the minutes that slip by every day. There is nothing that we can do to make them last longer than they will. We have no say in how many days we will spend on this side of Heaven, but we do have a say in how we will spend them. Will we waste them with things that will crumble like leaves long forgotten by Fall? Or, will we invest our time here in things that matter like other people ... making a difference in the lives of those that we are called to love as we love ourselves? The outpouring of this love may look different for each of us. Some will adopt, some with uproot and move the far reaches of the earth to help, while others will give financially and prayerfully. Some will sacrifice their time, treasures, and talents to make a difference here. What matters is that we do it ... that we sacrifice self to help and love others. That is how we will be remembered my dear friends.

With this said there is one more thing that I would like to share. I know so many people that are carrying hurts and angers around. Let them go. Lay them down. Life is too short to be burdened with anger and pain. When will your last breath be? Today? Tomorrow? 50 years from now? Only God knows. What burden do you carry that is taking valuable time from you? Marriage troubles? Troubled relationships with close friends? Work issues? What is it that is stealing time from you? Resentment? Jealousy? Discontent? Be active, seek God's face, pray that He would take it from you ... and then willingly give it to him. Sometimes I think that we spend an awful lot of time praying for God to take something from us ... to heal something for us ... but secretly refuse to let go of the very thing that we are asking Him to heal ... and them blame Him when nothing happened. It is not that He won't rekindle love that seems all but dead, grant patience when there is none left, or break strongholds of jealousy and insecurity ... it is that we refuse to let Him.

Today was a painful reminder that life is short. It is finite. It reminded me that we are here for a purpose, and that God is waiting not only to use us ... but to heal us as well. Take a moment tonight. Contemplate your mortality. Question how your minutes are being used. Search your soul for wounds that steal too much of who you are and the time you have here. Earnestly seek God in these things with open hands and a willing heart. And when you are done ... take a deep breath ... take another ... and yet another. Cherish each one.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Being Willing to Look at Things a Different Way

OK ...

(I just realized how many of my posts start with those 2 simple letters ... hmm ... interesting.) Anyway The Pioneer Woman inspired me to step out of my safety zone of the automatic setting of my Nikon D80, and experiment with the A and S settings instead. The experiment, play with depth of field. The photos below are the results. There are a few thoughts of mine at the end as well.

A Lavender Stalk
(Notice that there is one small area in focus.)

Spring Visitor
(Love the pollen.)

The Magic of a Spray Bottle
(Love the perfectly round drop on the stamen of the blossom.)

It all begins with a single drop.
(This one just makes me smile.)

A second look.
(Don't miss the reflection in the drop.)

I am in love with the A and S settings of my camera. It was a great challenge for me, and the results are amazing! I find myself looking at things thinking ... that would look so cool with a shallow depth of field! BUT ... this new adventure would not have been possible if I was not willing to step away from what I was comfortable with ... from what was easy ... from what I have always done. It took taking a risk ... looking at things differently ... and stepping into the unknown.

So many things are like that in life. Too many times we stagnate in comfort and miss the blessing of the unknown. There are so many opportunities for us to experience life in ways that we never imagined possible. God has woven them into each and every day ... we just need to be willing to step away from what we are comfortable with ... from what is easy ... from what we have always done. So be brave. Take your life off of auto. Risk it. The results will be amazing.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Driving a Lesson Home

The most amazing thing happened to me on the way home tonight. I am not sure that I really have a complete picture of the events, but I will share them the best that I can with you.

My phone battery was dead today ... so I was driving down the road listening to the radio instead of catching up with one of my friends as I usually do. I was driving in the far right hand lane (so there were cars on only one side of me), I had both hands on the wheel (remember I had no phone), and there was a nice empty "who knows what it is for" lane to the right of me. Each of these 3 separate events is an amazing example of God's provision and grace ... for the 3 combined most surely saved me from a horrible accident. I am not sure that I am being totally accurate in my explanation, but here is what I remember happening in the 10 seconds that is took. It all began with this dark large shape coming into my car ... into the side of my car. It all happened so fast that I could not even tell that it was another car swerving into my lane at full speed. I don't ever remember consciously deciding to respond by swerving into that mystery lane ... but I did. Just a quickly the car jerked back into its original lane, and I returned to mine. Just as I got back into my lane, the car once again swerved into my lane ... missing me only because I once again swerved ... only this time into a deep turn lane that was in front of the gas station to the right. I stopped in the drive way and just sat there trying to process what had happened ... feeling totally disorientated ... although not shaky at all - my heart was not even beating fast. It all felt quite surreal. Anyway, I watched the lady driving down the road from the turn lane, and noticed that she turned into the gas station. I decided to turn in as well. I think I thought that I would just drive by and see who had just almost run me off the road .. twice. Maybe I thought that I would say something like, "Hey, you almost hit me. What the heck was that?" I really wasn't thinking through all the details. As I pulled up towards her car, she rolled her window down. I did the same. One look at her face instantly put to rest any thought of pointing out the obvious to her. Before I could speak, (another of God's provisions) she launched into an apology that would have made the hardest-hearted person forgive her. Turns out she turned into the gas station to "come back and check" on me and make sure that I was alright. She never saw my car and lost control of hers when she tried to avoid hitting me. I thought she was going to cry. I told her that accidents happen, that I had been in her shoes before, and that the most important thing was that we were both alright. We parted smiling at each other and wishing each other well.

As I drove the rest of the way home I cold not help but reflect on the whole situation. My first instinct was to go in and give her a piece of my mind. I could have rolled down my window and let her have it before she even began to speak. Instead, I hesitated and listened to her heart and, in doing so, was able to just give her grace and even more so compassion. It took a lot for her to turn around and face me. She had no idea just what kind of person she was going to face ... but she did it any way. She risked whatever consequences awaited her to make sure that I was alright and to apologize. That is where God really drove the lesson home ... and He did not spare me the impact of truth. I would like to tell you that I always "go back and check" when I do something that is wrong ... something that might have hurt someone ... but there are times that I wrong some one ... intentionally or accidentally, that I choose to just let it go. Times where I am not sure they know that I did something that might hurt them. Example ... A comment is made with out thinking first, I luck out and I don't think that the person heard me ... I let it go and never go back to check. I forget a promise, but the person I promise never seems to notice ... I let it go and never go back to check. I am grumpy and take it out on someone, but they never say anything ... I let it go and never go back and check. The list can go on I am sure, but the point is that when we do something that is wrong, we need to go back and check ... even if it means humbling ourselves.

I drove away from the gas station in total respect of the woman that I met tonight ... may we all be brave enough to "go back and check" when we make mistakes that effect others.

May your drive time today be safe ...


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Who Me?

The most far out there thing for some one with insecurities to do is to go out on a limb and tell the world that she does. It is risky. What might other people think? What might they say? I am not sure, but I would venture to say that most women ... if being totally truthful would say, "Me, too." Regardless, I am here to say that I battle with insecurities. I battle with looking in the mirror. Scars from breast cancer have forever transformed my body into something that make me avoid the mirror when at all possible. Then there is the extra weight that I carry around, in truth it is probably causes and a cause of quite a few insecurities. Looking back at many of the negative pivotal events of my life, there is a common root ... trying to fix insecurities on my own, which often only served to feed them. My insecurities and I are age old friends. We have known each other a long time, but we are going to re-evaluate our relationship. It might be time to lay them down ... for real ... forever ... for sure. It is not like I haven't tried. I have tried many a time to lay them down at God's feet and leave them there, but it just doesn't seem to work in the long run. So, I am beginning a nine week journey in the search of true security in a world that seems so insecure. Starting next week, I will be doing the Beth Moore online book study of "So Long, Insecurity." I am sure that it will be a bumpy ride at times, but it is time. Time to take control. Time to give up control. Time to learn. Will let you know how it goes. My prayer ... that they would fall as quickly as the pounds I plan on loosing along the way.


PS ... if you too struggle with insecurity and would like to work through it with a community of women that would not be surprised to hear that you too struggle with feeling secure in all walks of life ... visit her blog to get the details.