Tag Archives: blessing

What happens at Grandma’s,…

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We recently returned from our typical summer travels taking us fifteen or so hours to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. My husband and I threw in the towel on flying once our son became a full-priced ticket. We discovered all the benefits of being in control of our schedule by driving to our destination. Albeit a lonnnnnnggggg two-day drive, we make the most of it with lots of yummy snacks, dvds galore, music loaded on the ipod for the hubs and me, books, e-readers, with plenty of food, and potty breaks along the way.

Unlike memories of past summer trips to Grandma’s, this one made a rather odd detour soon after arriving.  I somehow pulled a muscle in my back, which quickly became more pronounced as the muscles around it began to over-compensate. Before I knew it, I could hardly move any which way without feeling a grabbing, stabbing, pulling in my back. As other symptoms began to pop up indicative of a kidney stone, we soon felt an urgency to make a trip to the local ER. This was not how I wanted to spend our time away to which my husband quickly exclaimed, “you’ve been wanting a night out together!” As much as I wanted to break out in a belly laugh at his entertaining words, it hurt like crazy to laugh, much less cough, or sneeze for that matter.

I’ll spare you the bizarre goings-on at the hospital that rainy, road-flooding, holiday week-end evening. Suffice it to say there were no less than 4 police cars parked at the emergency entrance of the hospital. Loud screaming could easily be heard coming from a room just a few doors down from my curtained-off makeshift room. While awaiting my bed ride to have a CT scan done, I could hear expletives flying with more screaming! To my surprise, an officer appeared with a pair of handcuffs he was scrubbing off under the water at the nearby sink. To top it off, a baby’s ear splitting scream waffled through the hallway. Let’s just say, the ER that Saturday night was full of excitement! Meanwhile, I just wanted relief from the pain I was in, hoping to find out what was causing it, and dreaming of going back to sleep at Grandma’s.

Fortunately, the scan of my back and kidneys didn’t reveal any stones; yet it did prove the intense muscle spasms I was enduring. Unfortunately, the IV medication wasn’t relieving my intense pain. The next thing I knew, a rather burly nurse entered my room declaring there wasn’t anything else they could do for me so she would process my release. I’m not gonna lie; I was quite happy to be discharged but puzzled that nothing had been diagnosed or prescribed to relieve me of these painful spasms. My semi-medicated, loopy minded self was less than happy as we left the ER in pouring rain.

After a quick stop to the local drugstore, we made it back to Grandma’s safe and sound. This was the beginning of my long stint in a reclining chair. Little by little, the deep spasms in my muscles started to release with the help of a tens machine and muscle relaxer medication. Although I missed several outings while laid up, there was a silver lining to my botched plans. I received an unexpected, yet much needed break from keeping watch over my energy-riddled son. My injury suddenly became a blessing in disguise as I had days of loving care. No longer did I feel cheated by this so called injury! I had discovered a long overdo rest as everyone pitched in to keep control of our busy boy, and see that I had whatever I needed to be comfortable and recover.

In life, sometimes it’s easy to look at a situation that is not at all what we expected or anticipated and call it what it is, a terrible inconvenience. I definitely felt that way until I realized that God had lovingly built in some time to decompress, rest, find quiet moments of which I rarely ever get. It was then that I found myself praising God that if the mishap had to occur, it did so when we were with family where I could receive help. God is good, but we have to ask Him to give us the eyes to see it!

keep an ear to the ground, shall we?

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We are nowhere and everywhere all at the same time, can I get a witness? Yep, that’s a Mom. And because we are so ‘out and about,’ we have one of the greatest opportunities there is.

Drum roll……….

To keep an ear to the ground. Yes, that! Wait. What? Meaning to keep your ears sensitive to what you are hearing from others as you are about your business. This may seem crazy to some but I am constantly amazed at the many people I meet while out running errands, eating in a restaurant, chatting over coffee: if you listen, you will hear the stories from  those who have hurts, needs, anger, grief and all the rest.

My husband has often mocked me for lingering a little too long, chatting with someone who is pouring out their heart. My response to him: “how could I leave this person while they were in the middle of telling me about_____,and crying?” While I need to be more aware of those in my family waiting on me, I have long since been a listener and I hope a listener to those who need someone to hear them.

I could go on and on with stories over the years of a “chance” encounter with someone who eventually pours out her heart. I believe this is a gift from God. Truly. Some may think this is a curse, but I disagree wholeheartedly. God gifts each of us with the ability to connect to others and be ‘Jesus with skin on,’ as I call it. Certainly there are days when I don’t feel like connecting to someone in need. It’s like I want to press an invisible button or something and disappear. In  my own strength and energy I just don’t have what it takes. This is when I (we) need to tap into God’s unending strength and discernment. It is He who empowers us to do His work. I’m quite sure I’ve missed a real blessing many times when I’ve selfishly decided not to allow a connection with someone who needs a listening ear. Don’t misunderstand: nothing in me; rather, Christ in me.

Recently, while shopping at a local fave haunt of mine, I encountered a woman working the cash register, greeting each customer as they entered the store. After perusing the store, I made my way to the front of the store again to make an exit when she began telling me some personal things about herself. It spilled out, little by little. I learned she lost her oldest son nearly a year ago. She was devastated and even admitted that she wanted to end her life at the time of his passing. I was able to interject a few words of encouragement and proclaim God’s faithfulness and peace during difficult times in our lives. Her response was one of faith. I walked away receiving a blessing knowing that for whatever reason, our paths were meant to cross on that particular day, at that particular time. Now, every time I visit this store, she remembers me and greets me. People are hurting. They are in real need of someone who cares. Sometimes, a simple smile communicates that you care.

My challenge to you, is to be aware of your surroundings. Notice those around you as you are about the busyness of your day. It doesn’t require much time, just a simple smile, a knowing nod, a simple statement: “I’m praying for you,” can mean everything to someone who may not have anyone in their live to encourage them. You may just be that ‘cool cup of water’ to refresh someone’s soul. Trust me, you’ll be the one receiving a blessing for taking a minute to notice someone and their need.

 

 

 

 

A Gift of Thanks

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horn-of-plenty-575628_640While I have always loved Christmas, I’m beginning to believe that Thanksgiving might just trump it in my book. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love, love, love Christmas with all that it means to me as a Christ follower. It is the day we collectively celebrate, among fellow believers, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I, too, love all the warm fuzzies of Christmas: the beautiful lights & memorable decorations, Christmas caroling, purchasing just the right gifts for loved ones, the long-planned surprises and carefully guarded secrets, the yummy celebratory food and travels to Grandma’s house….so many years of treasured memories for sure! However, what knocks this special holiday down a peg for me is the over-commercialization of it all. It has become absolutely absurd to me that the Christmas season begins in “retail-world” well before Halloween, leaving Thanksgiving in the dust. Christmas has sadly become all about the almighty dollar….and the “stuff” it buys. Stores opening at ridiculous hours with their clerks working beyond what is reasonable and fair, boasting super-competitive sales to convince even the most tight-fisted of spenders. I won’t even get into the fights that ensue throughout the busy buying season with people battling it out over merchandise, for heavens’ sake! At the risk of being considered the next ‘Grinch,’ I resent what this special day has become.

Enter: Thanksgiving. What I have come to love about this sometimes dubbed, ‘pre-Christmas, obligatory family holiday leading up to the biggest celebratory day of the year,’ is that it is subdued, quiet, simple, reflective, humble, and most importantly, all about giving thanks for what we already have been given. We as believers, are so abundantly blessed (Ephesians 1). We should feel incredibly humbled and grateful for God’s provision on this day and every day. For we are not guaranteed or entitled anything.

As we countdown to this Thanksgiving holiday, while much of our focus turns to food and its preparation, as well as (for some) the enjoyment of watching football, I challenge you to quiet your mind and consider the bounty of blessings God has richly bestowed upon you. Rather than reflecting upon years past with loved ones absent from our table, focus on the people who are present at your table and the love that abounds. Most importantly, don’t just rush through your blessing this year; instead, prepare a mental list of 3 things you can truly give thanks for in your family’s time of saying grace. These don’t have to big or monumental things; they can be simple offerings of thanks such as: health and healing, protection from a near accident, receiving an “A” on a report card, having the money to pay for your groceries, or the provision of a long sought-after job. My point: rather than offering generic/blanket prayers of thanks such as “family,” “friends,” or “food,” consider being specific as a testament of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Truthfully, if you take just a moment to examine the past year of your life, you are sure to easily recall specific moments of God’s goodness and favor. Nothing is too small or too great; everything we have is due to God’s grace, favor, mercy and provision.

He is worthy of our gift of thanks….and so much more!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Intentional

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Intentional

So, this is something I’m thinking about today: being intentional. If you are anything like me, you find your brain full of good intentions each and every day. Calling a friend just to check-in, writing a note, picking up a little “happy” for someone who needs cheering up, cooking or picking up a meal for someone who needs a break….these are all great ideas and oftentimes these thoughts are planted in our minds for a reason. I’m ashamed and embarrassed to admit that I have allowed my busyness to crowd out that still, small voice in my head. Yes, the person I am being prompted to serve in some way is missing out but I, too, am missing out on a blessing by helping or doing for someone else. Have you ever thought of it from that perspective?

Sure, we are all busy. I cannot think of anyone that isn’t busy with work, kids, housework, sickness, etc., etc. None of us are immune to busyness. The secret though is to be intentional. Have you ever been the recipient of someone doing something for you that was purposeful? I have and it is always just at the right time. Why? Because someone felt led to be selfless and think of someone else but rather than letting it stop there, they chose to act on it. Not only were their efforts a huge blessing to me but they in turn felt gladness in their heart for doing something for someone else. It’s a win-win!

One of my favorite ministries (I have several!) is Intentional Living with Dr. Randy Carlson. He has a radio broadcast as well as a website that offers wisdom on this very topic. It has inspired me for years to make the time to do those things that are important. Things that you feel the Lord leading you to do or His Holy Spirit impressing upon your heart to do. Things that really do count for something of eternal value. I know I want to be a part of that but I need to be conscious of it and in tune with God to discern what He may be asking of me. Sure, it is usually at the most inconvenient time to do something not already part of your schedule. But, once you evaluate what is most important, you’ll recognize that what the Lord is impressing on you to do is by far priority.

True, most times, things that we are intentional about, we place great value upon. Reading a book, hitting the grocery store, going to a class, heading to work, even watching our favorite TV show. We can rationalize that watching a favorite TV show is a mainstay in our schedule when what maybe we should be doing is baking cookies with our child for a friend who is sick. For me, I have to ask God for a change of my heart. We are all selfish by nature. We want whatever time for ourselves we can possibly eek out of our day. Nothing at all wrong with that, unless God is impressing upon you to do otherwise.

I can think of many opportunities I’ve missed out on and I’ve felt badly. Badly because an opportunity was missed. Time is often of the essence and if we’re not intentional about doing whatever it is we feel we need to do, we will miss out. My challenge for us both today is to lean in, tune in and discern what it is that you need to be intentional about today. Don’t let time slip through your hands. Be Intentional!