Sunday, July 18, 2010

All for One and One for All!

Today, I...

...stood on the stage at church with Frances and Belinda - Esther was sitting at the piano.  It was the first time we were together again as a worship team in many months.  We used to be all on the same team, with Belinda and I taking turns leading, then things were shuffled up and now we are all on the same team again, only with Frances leading.  There were lots of feelings and adjustments that happened in between those two places as one might imagine, but some  things  never change.

Frances was beset by a number of obstacles this morning and as we strode to the front to pick up our mikes and face the congregation, I laid my hand on her shoulder, and said just loud enough for her to hear, "I'm behind you a thousand percent."  She  turned to say a quick thankyou, but the look in her eyes said much more.  It was clear she felt supported.  

It felt like a little piece of heaven there this morning...  Between we three it doesn't matter who is leading and who isn't.  It's all for one and one for all... 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Unexpected Pleasures.

Today, I ...

...was part of a simple but wonderful event at my kitchen table of which I believe someone else is going to write, so I am not about to steal their thunder.  :)

More tomorrow! (Or the next day.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 13, 2010

Today, I... really,  really scared.  Confrontation.  I hate it.  I guess because I always expect the worst result to come of it.  Well, heaven knows I've had  enough experience with negative results.  But I've grown a lot in the last few years, too.  I've learned - in my thinking part, anyway - that confrontation is a  good thing.  It  might be a bit messy, but it gets things out in the open where the problems can be tackled and worked out. 

So today I had to draw some boundaries.  If I didn't do it, I knew that I would end up feeling taken advantage of and maybe even would have clung to some  feelings of resentment.  I knew that wasn't good for either of us.  It wasn't fair, either.  How was the other person to know what I really thought about the situation if I only nodded assent to everything he said?  He couldn't possibly read my mind unless I opened it up for him so he could see inside too.  I had to take the plunge and let him know what I was thinking and try to help him to understand. 

I took a deep breath and I said it.  I didn't mince words because I knew I would get lost in them if I did.  I said it quick and kept to the facts as much as I could.  It went over really well.  I mean it was uncomfortable for a few moments, but he could quickly see where I was coming from.  The lights went on, the discomfort lasted for a bit and then it was over.  I had been fair.  Fair to the person who was now understands what my needs are and fair to me who had to make my needs known. 

I thought about how hard it was for me to express an opinion or to stand up for myself when I knew it was  going against the tide  - if I thought that others might not like me if I made waves.  I wondered why I had been able to take the plunge today when in times past I would have avoided the conversation and instead fought a slightly different war inside my own self.  I didn't have to think long before I realized the answer.

Work.  When working with others toward a common goal, there are many opportunities to face confrontation.  There are times when I need to disagree.  If God had not put me in this situation where I was forced to do it, and paid to do it, I would never have grown in this area.  I still don't like it, but I know it has to be done.  And I know that it ususally turns out to be a really good thing.  It just doesn't always "feel" like it's going to at the time. 

I'm almost always wrong, though.  Like today.  Thank you, Father, for putting me in a situations where I have to grow - where I have no choice but to be squeezed and molded and changed whether I like it or not.  It's the process of being conformed to your image.  Because you put me into a situation at work where I had to do it or face that I had not walked in integrity, I was forced to learn that with your help I COULD do it. 

I was thinking this morning as I was driving in to work about the 23rd Psalm.  I pray it at least once a day of late and this day was no exception.

Lord, you are my shepherd, so I will not want for anything - ever.  I have no needs!
You make me lie down in green pastures - you feed me well from your word and from the experiences you provide for me in everyday life- and you lead me beside still waters where my soul is calmed and I am able to drink deeply of your Spirit.  You restore my soul.  Sigh!  You lead me in paths of righteousness - you show me the right way to do things - you reveal your ways to me - for your name's sake. 

Even though that path gets so dark that I feel like I am facing sure death, I will not fear that anything bad is happening.  You are right there with me, leading me to a good place!  Your rod and staff they comfort me (because I know you will discipline me, I am not afraid of my sin nature, but am comforted by the knowledge that you will only let me go so far and that you will let it hurt enough to train me to forsake my own ways in favour of yours..

You prepare a table before me in front of my enemies - you show them that your hand of blessing is on me and their plans against me have been foiled again.  You work it all out in such a way that there is no doubt that it was you and you alone.  You pour the oil of "belonging" over my head, my cup of blessing runs over because you are so good to me!

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and regardless of the situation, I will be where you are and you will be where I am - forever.

Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12, 2010

Today I ...  blew it.  On many levels. 

I failed to plan ahead and so my day started off with a lot of disorganized craziness which could have been avoided, I  suppose, by a bit of pre-planning over the weekend. 

I failed to watch the clock this morning and lingered too long over my emails and Facebook account and ended up leaving a half hour later than I should have in order to get my day off to a good start.

I failed to stay calm on the inside (to walk beside the still waters and into green pastures) and instead got frazzzzled.  And that meant the people around me got frazzled too. (I kind of snapped at someone to stop finishing my sentences for me - then spent just such a long time apologizing - what a waste of time!) 

I guess there were some successes too, but my day was so affected by the bad start I gave it that there was no real recovery all day.  Tonight I'm going to bed on time - early in fact, and I hope to start tomorrow off on a  much better footing - firstly by making sure I walk out of the house having first followed Jesus to the quiet waters and taken a deep drink.  I felt like that first few hours was a train wreck which pushed all the minutes into the next over the remainder of the day, just like a runaway engine would cause the cars ahead of it to crumple into the next if it ran into them full force - boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, all the way down the line, one after another...  However....

In another facet of my life, today was Fanny's birthday.  Her 75th.  More about that another time.  But I'm glad I was there.  And so was she.  We made plans to visit Simcoe 2 sometime soon.  That's what she really wanted for her birthday, she told me.  What a small thing.  And it's in my power to give.  So a trip to Simcoe 2 she shall have!  I go to bed grateful for a friend like Fanny who makes me forget all the pressure in my life.  That is certainly one of her best gifts to me.  She refuses to speed up to my crazy speed, so I forced to slow down if I want to experience "presence" with her.  What a gift she is...

Onward and upward! Tomorrow is another day.

July 11, 2010

We read a chapter of Bill Hybels book, "Honest to God" at cell group this past Thursday evening.  He suggested journaling with God in order to jump start and revitalize your quiet times.  His suggestion was to start it with the word, "Yesterday..." but knowing that I won't be sitting down to write very often in the morning, I decided to start mine, "Today..."   I also decided to do it as a blog instead of in a paper and pen journal.  That way I can't lose it so easily. :)

So I begin.  Today...

Today...  a curly blonde head lay across my chest and my arms went around a warm little body that shuddered with sobs.  "I do-o-o-on't wa-a-a-ant to ca-a-amp"  Mikey's plaintive little voice was pathetic for a big brother who at times wickedly delights in tormenting the younger fellows in the family.  He's growing up so fast - in a matter of weeks now he will "hit the double  digits" when he turns 10, but sometimes the small, scared, and vulnerable little boy in him still reigns supreme. He's a "planner", something he definitely did not get from his maternal grandparents.  He has a gift for looking ahead and making sure everything is in place for future events that involve him.  But it's  not always possible to plan ahead.  There are lots of things that remain out of his control.  Like who your counsellor is going to be and who will be the kids in your cabin.  Those kinds of things challenge his need to get all the ducks in a row.  When he can't plan it all ahead, it turns instead into anxiety.

I was lying on the couch and I drew him as close to me as I could.  I spoke comforting words, giving him all the pat answers.  "You'll be glad you went when the week is over." and "Remember all the fun you had last year?" and "You can always run to Uncle Mike or Auntie Em if you need a hug."  He had an answer for everything and nothing I could say was helping at all.   I ran my finger gently around and around the palm of his hand, something that always calmed him as a baby and still works very well.  His sobs subsided and gradually transformed into shallow breathing, but I could tell that his anxiety levels were still off the scale.  Every few breaths he would let out a little groan as though he were experiencing some deep pain.

My heart is so full.  I want to tell him, "Okay, you don't have to go!" but it's not my call.  I quit with the pat answers and start wracking my brain for something that might work, but nothing comes.  I find my heart beginning to connect with the Holy Spirit and I begin praying for Mikey with groaning of my own that is too deep for words.  Eventually, the words come...

"Oh, Mikey," I start.  "Most of the time you forget all about Jesus.  You think about him when you're at Sunday School, or if Mommy reads you a Bible story, or during devotions at camp, but most of the time you forget he's there.  But he wants to be a part of your life.  He wants to help you through all this stuff.  He cares about you you so much more than anyone else does.  He cares so much about what you're going through, and he understands better than anyone.  He loves you more than I do..."

I ask him if he wants me to pray for him and his head moves up and down almost imperceptively.  I take that as a yes.  "Lord Jesus, you love Mikey so much.  Please help him through this.  Please let him know you are here.  Help him to calm down and to feel your peace in his heart.  Let him know that he can depend on you, that you will help him through this..."

We lay there quietly for a while, without another word of conversation.  Within a couple of minutes, Mikey is asleep.  I extricate myself from his embrace and head for the kitchen.  Not ten minutes later, Matthew bursts into the house announcing that Mikey needs to come right home.  It's time to leave for camp!  Matthew is also going to the Salvation Army Band Camp for the next week, along with their cousin Eliana, but there is not a sign of anxiety in his brightly shining eyes and his body moves with the anticipation and excitement that is coursing through him. 
I shush Matthew and make a quick call to their Mom.  I explain that Mikey is asleep and suggest they head off for Jackson's Point right away.  I will drive Mikey over in a couple of hours after he's had a good sleep.  Since his anxiety over camp had ensured a very short night for Mikey the night before, Mom agreed that would be a good idea. 

A couple of hours later, I gently woke Mikey and told him it was time to leave.  He jumped up and we headed out.  We went through the drive-thru at the Bradford McDonald's to pick up some lunch to eat on the way. 

Mikey was munching away on his Chicken Snack Wraps in the back seat.  He was obviously in a much better frame of mind than he had been before his nap.  "How long until we get to camp?" he asked.  I told him that I didn't think it would be much more than half an hour.

A little further on he piped up again.  "I'm not nervous anymore," he mused.  "I wonder why?"

I reminded him that I had prayed for him.  "God was ready to answer my prayer for you even before the words come out of my mouth!"

Mikey sat quietly contemplating for a few minutes. I wasn't sure if my words had gone in one ear and out the other, or if they had stayed in there long enough to have some effect.  The next thing he said was this:  "Well, I can't wait to get to camp now.  I just can't wait...  How long now, Mommy'sMum?"

And I knew the message had hit home and was already bearing fruit.

Thank you God!  What a privilege to have been granted a place of influence in a little boy's heart.  May I never take it for granted!