Sunday, July 29, 2012

More Than Enough

A few of the verdicts are in:  my dad does have cancer, coupled with an added issue, he is also going blind from macular degeneration - and I didn't get the job. (See: Troubled Water)

The verdicts still out: we have yet to hear about my mother's illness as tests are still going on. My temp job is still on a week to week basis.

There are new additions as well: more financial issues, my only pair of reading glasses broke, I turned my ankle walking to the car, and I have been ill.

With current finances, I am making do with the broken glasses, nursing my ankle, and praying my illness isn't what I think and can be treated at home without the need for a doctor's care or missing work. It feels as though I am living a chapter right out of the Book of Job. The hopeful news about that scenario? In the last chapter God restored everything to Job ten fold.

My devotions comforted and encouraged. Kings 4:42-44: God miraculously feeds a multitude through the prophet Eliseus with twenty loaves of bread and a few ears of corn. Then in John 6:1-15 Jesus feeds the five thousand with five barely loaves and two fishes.

It wasn't a coincident these scriptures appeared among my listed readings. They have personal significance for me (See: Blind). God was reminding me, not as a reprimand, but as encouragement: He> can take a little and make it more, much, much more - even my meager faith.

One evening this week, my husband called me outside. Arched across the sky was  a double rainbow -not one, but two.  I may be experiencing double the usual trials, but God was giving me double grace and strength.

Then my devotional, Streams in the Desert, had this: If we would look for the signs of His glorious handiwork, then every cloud would indeed become a rainbow, and every difficult mountain path would become one of ascension, transformation, and glorification.

My dad still has cancer, and is still going blind, but the doctor's feel my dad's cancer is so slow growing he will die of old age before he does from the cancer, and at the moment he sees well enough to continue to drive during the daytime.
Mother's illness is still undetermined, but she isn't suffering. My glasses are still broken, but usable. The financial challenges have not changed, but we have a full pantry and a roof over our heads.  My ankle has healed.  My discomfort turned out not to be what I was afraid of, and is treatable with over the counter medication. I didn't loose any days at work or have to pay for an office visit. My symptoms have improved, and I think am almost over it. I am working this entire week, and most likely the next in my temp position.

My little bit of faith and hope, magnified by God's grace, has gotten me this far and it will get me the rest of the way as well. Even if I falter, He will send me rainbows of encouragement, and a few loaves of bread and a few fishes.  And, they will be more than enough - with plenty left over. He promised, and I believe Him.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Troubled Water

The dribble of issues I faced last week have become a flood. News is still pending regarding my job interview for a non-temp position with full benefits. Those are precious commodities when you don't have them. Then, my dad's prostate cancer biopsy was yesterday, coupled with the news my mother was taken into the emergency room with severe abdominal pain. There is a mystery mass encompassing most of her abdominal cavity. May or may not be cancerous, the jury is still out on that. She sees the specialist on Tuesday, about the same time frame I will hear back on the job - and my dad's biopsy. Troubled water, indeed.

All the rainbows I related in last week's post, Rainbows, Miracles and Promises, were reminders from a compassionate God that He will be with me during these storms, as He has been for all of my life. These signs and reminders pop up prior to a difficult event, a forewarning, giving me a chance to brace myself.  Sometimes they herald a miraculous delivery, other times they are meant to comfort and encourage. I am not sure if there will be a miracle in any of the above situations, but I do know I won't face them alone.

This morning the devotional meditation in Living Faith is titled: Someone to Watch Over Me. God does watch over us, picking us up when we fall, holding and comforting us when we hurt. You do see, for you behold misery and sorrow, taking them in your hands. Psalm 10:14.

Streams in the Desert for today: When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved...Keep up your courage, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me." Acts 27:25.

When is it time to trust God?

When the waves beat high,
When storm clouds fill the sky,
and prayer is one long cry, 
"Oh, help and save!"
Streams in  the Desert,  selected

And so I search the dark stormy sky for that hint of sunlight, the rainbow of God's compassion bursting against the dark. I hear strains of the song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow and know His comforting arms surround my loved ones, and me. Regardless of the outcome of these situations, they will come from Him and they serve a purpose I may not understand, but I can trust. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rainbows, Miracles and Promises

It was a rough day. Work issues, compounded by a thank you, but no thank you, message on my cell phone in response to a recent job interview, tipped me toward a black hole of doubt and insecurity.  Then the  news may dad would be undergoing a biopsy for prostate cancer pushed me over the edge.

Our merciful God didn't let me stay there. Rainbows appeared. First, a co-worker shared a beautiful book of poetry and art by a young artistic prodigy, filled with poems and art with rainbows. During dinner that evening, we turned on the music channel.  Somewhere Over the Rainbow was playing. Later I logged into Face Book. A friend posted a picture of a Rainbow Cypress. Its white bark displayed all the colors of the rainbow.

My devotions the next morning revealed a special message within all of the references and images of  rainbows.

First was Psalm 105: 5: Remember His marvelous works which He has done....

Second from Streams in the Desert: Even though our circumstance are dire - we must wait for God to deliver us and not rush off with our hastily made plans - we must trust Him regardless of our circumstances. 

And then, thirdly a reference to Psalm 27: 14 from F.B. Meyer: ....take courage and wait for the Lord. Patiently wait.

The message: When things are at their blackest, I must remember all of the blessings and miracles I have received from my Loving Father during past difficulties. He has never forsaken me. He will never forsake me, and He sent all of these references to rainbows to remind me of this promise.

Thank you, Lord, for all of the rainbows, miracles and promises you have so graciously bestowed on me. Your strength and love will be sufficient for all my trials and challenges. Amen. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How to Have a Joyful Mind

Joy and happiness. Webster's dictionary states the two are synonyms, basically interchangeable. Scripture speaks of joy in a different light. It refers to joy as a sense of contentment regardless of our circumstances. In other words, the peace the world cannot give.

I've searched most of my life for a way to reach this rung in the spiritual ladder. I've tried many different methods: intense prayer, relaxation and mediation exercises, positive thinking and so much more.

They all helped to a degree. Yes, prayer can accomplish anything - if you are praying the right kind of prayer and with the right motivation. Merely begging God to change your circumstances will not leave you feeling joyful and filled with peace, unless you can give the circumstances to Him - completely - and then move on.

That's where I struggle, along with several other issues. Like an alcoholic at an AAA meeting, I must stand up and admit I am a worrier, I am a control freak, I am judgemental of others, I am selfish,  and I could go on, but you get the idea. And, I know I am not alone.

So, how do we flawed creatures find joy when faced with our own flaws, when faced with the flaws of others and the issues surrounding our troubling circumstances? A very good question.

In answer, I have found the book, The Naked Now by Richard Rohr to be one of the most insightful books I have read. Father Rohr gives a non-denominational, non-political, all encompassing insight into accepting and coping with our imperfections, those of everyone around us, and of our world.

Listed below are a few suggestions from the book that impacted my life greatly. These gems, repeated often throughout my day have enabled me to remain in a joyful, peaceful state of mind for longer periods than at any other time in my life - regardless of the turmoil surrounding me.

What might a joyful mind be?

When your mind does not need to be right.
When you no longer need to compare yourself with others.
When you no longer need to compete - not even in your own head.
When your mind can be creative, but without needing anyone to know.
When your mind does not "brood over injuries."
When you do not need to humiliate, critique, or defeat those who have hurt you - not even in your mind.

Thank you, Lord, for leading me to this wonderful source of spiritual insight,  for giving me the encouragement to follow the suggestions, and for being patient through my many failures. As you have told me over and over, it isn't how many times I fail, it is how hard I try that matters. Amen.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Drowning in a World of Irritability

It's been rough the last few weeks between a busy schedule and a plague of irritability. It's everywhere. From fellow commuters to co-workers to family. I know I can't possibly be responsible for all of it. So, this morning, I asked God how could I cope? I can't walk on eggshells every single moment of the day. He has offered us peace the world cannot give. How do I find it in a world filled with anger, sometimes unjustified anger?

His answer came quickly. The meditation in one of my devotions, Living Faith, yeilded one possibility. Rather than direct all of my worries and concerns toward how others will perceive my  actions,  or me for that matter, I need to ask only one question before I make a decison or take action. Will it please God? If the answer is yes, then I can proceede with confidence. If not, then I had better take a second look at what I am about to do, and my motiviations for doing it.

Of course, if I choose correctly, and my decison is met with critisim, jelousy or any other negative reaction, it won't be pleasant, but I must remember, when the dust of this world finally settles, it isn't the opinion of my boss, my co-worker, or even my family that is going to matter. It is God's opinion that will decide my fate - for eternity. So, who should I be pleasing?

Seems so simple doesn't it? Yet we all know what it is like to stand alone against popular opinion. It can have ugly outcomes. The Bible is full of stories illustrating that fact. So is history. I may not be asked to be a martyr, facing death, but I may face disproval and anger over and over again. After a time this tends to wear down even the strong hearted.

I think of Daniel in the courts of Babylon. He chose God over kings. He did not worry over their opinion, nor was he overly concerned about saving his own life. The only thing that mattered to him was pleasing God. And what happened? God supplied all of his needs, even shutting the mouths of the lions and feeding him while he was in the lions' den.Won't He do the same for me, if I put Him first?

And then there are the words of St. Paul.  The time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:6-7

My race will eventually end as well and I've decided I want St. Paul's eloquent words to be mine. If my heart is in the right place, then so will be my actions.

Armed with this resolve, I got in the car and did my usual race to work. No one honked at me. No one cut me off. In fact, traffic was so light I made it to work five minutes earlier than usual. My boss and co-workers were cheerful, the day flew by without any stress or anxiety. Was it just one of those good days, or did my attitude and perception have anything to do with it?

I plan a re-play on Monday, and I'll let you know.

Thank you, Lord for being my Good Father, caring enough to offer me guidance and instruction, along with all your blessings. With you by my side, I can handle anything.