Gratitude thoughts

My emotions are truly all over the place this Thanksgiving weekend. Thanksgiving encourages an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is intertwined with perspective. You can’t have one without the other. An attitude of gratitude implies that you are trying to find things to be thankful for when honestly it would be easier to whine, complain, feel sorry for yourself, etc. This is where I am right now. I am choosing to have an attitude of gratitude because I don’t want to whine or complain or feel sorry for myself….although, honestly, that would be easier.

For example….While I am excited and looking forward to starting a new job in a few weeks, I have nine potentially high-stressed filled days remaining at the present job. During this past week and a half since the news of my resignation was announced, co-workers and others I regularly come into contact with through my job, have blessed me with the humble opportunity to hear expressions of gratitude of how much they have enjoyed working with me and will miss me. Even as the chaos of the work day swirls around me and the overwhelming “to do” list grows, I am choosing to be grateful for the relationships I have formed while serving in this position. I can also trust God to take care of leading the right person to fill my position after I leave.

I am also learning to live with a chronic condition of pain and exhaustion and regular headaches called fibromyalgia. Through this condition, I am learning to rest. I am learning to lean on others in my life just a little more and to embrace the belief that it is okay to lean on those God has placed in my life. I am thankful for a best friend who completely gets  what I am dealing with because she lives with the same condition. So, instead of dwelling on the nerve, joint, and muscle pain and stiffness, I will choose to focus on the blessings of fibro….which requires a daily effort on my part. (One that I am not always the best at).

I love The Message translation of the first three verses of the 23rd Psalm:

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, You find me quiet pools to drink from. True to Your word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Psalm 23:1-3 The Message

I love this translation…He allows me to catch my breath through a release from a stressful job situation and sends me in the right direction to a wonderful new opportunity. Even through something like a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, I have to hold onto and believe He can and will use it for something good for His glory.

This Thanksgiving weekend, take a few moments and embrace an attitude of gratitude. Even through the hard stuff of life, God can and will use everything for something good.

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Reflections on Perspective

What do you do when your prayer is answered but leaves you with more questions than answers?

The past few months, although truly, it has been longer, I have been dealing with unexplainable pain, “brain fog,” headaches, exhaustion, and other random issues. I had an appointment with a specialist this week, and my prayer was that God would provide a name to what I have been feeling.

He did. I received a diagnosis. Fibromyalgia. Pain and exhaustion and not a lot that can be done for it. Chronic. I look fine yet I don’t feel fine.

In the past when I struggled with my health issues and other issues in my life, I ran. I used running to hide behind. I can’t run this time. I can’t physically run because I truly don’t have the energy to do this. Ironically, the physical difficulty with running this past spring is what first alerted me to knowing something was not right. And, I can’t figuratively run this time, either, because the pain is always there. I cannot hide behind my running.

The week before, I received answered prayer in the form of a blessing…a job offer that is everything I have been wanting. I have been praying, surrendering my current job situation, trusting, and waiting. And one week later, another answered prayer, but this situation, different, much different.

How do I reconcile joy with pain?

I believe God has lessons for me He needs me to learn through fibromyalgia. This is another opportunity to trust Him. This is another opportunity to rely on Him. Perhaps, the greatest lesson I need to learn is to rest….to rest in Him and to simply rest.

I am not good at resting. In the story of Mary and Martha, I can relate to Martha. I am distracted by all the things that need done. While Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening to what He had to say, Martha was busy and distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. I can relate to Martha. I have always multi-tasked doing a million things at once trying to get everything done. Now, the exhaustion and the pain are forcing me to slow down. And, I don’t like it. I don’t know how to rest. I don’t know how to be still. I don’t like it.

I think there is a lesson here I need to learn. A lesson in being still. A lesson in resting. A greater lesson in trusting.

In this season of Thanksgiving, can I find something to be thankful for in fibromyalgia? That is my challenge to myself…to have an attitude of gratitude despite pain and fatigue and to learn to rest.

Be still

 

 

Lessons in the Seasons of Life

The fuzzy, fleece blanket is wrapped around me. A warm cup of peppermint tea sits beside my computer. The fall chill is in the air. Thanksgiving and all it brings…turkey, sweet potatoes, football, family gatherings, shopping (no, thanks!)…will be upon me next week. Fall will soon fade into winter.

One of the things I have a love-hate relationship with in Ohio are the seasonal changes. I love Spring and its promise of new life. I love the warmth of Summer and all the outdoor activities. I love the colors of Fall and the cooler weather. I have a true love hate relationship with snow. It’s so pretty especially on Christmas. Yet, because I commute 50 minutes to work, I am not fond of snowy and icy road conditions. Each season has beauty all its own as well as potential challenges…tornadoes, storms, extreme heat, ice, snow, etc. You get the idea.

I believe life is like the changing seasons. I think we experience seasons in our lives…some we like more than others. I like to think of my life in seasons. Some seasons feel long, like they will never end, like the cold, barren nature of Winter. Yet, the promise of Spring always comes.

God works in the waiting seasons of our lives. Each season brings lessons…sometimes, well, oftentimes, painful lessons. I listened to a sermon recently talking about the power of gratitude and the flipside of what happens when we are not grateful…entitlement, expectations, frustration, and resentment can set in. The most powerful thing a friend challenged me to do has been to keep a gratitude journal. It began as part of a challenge to surrender my job situation to God and to focus on the positive things I experience everyday. As I began to focus on the positive things I was grateful for at work, I discovered that each day it became easier to be grateful in the difficult chaos of my situation and current season of life.

The lessons in this situation, in this season of my life…to lean on God and rely on Him more fully, to love people as they are and judge less, to focus on the positive, to be grateful for everyday blessings, to trust that God continues to work while I wait, to see waiting as a time of growing spiritually, to pray more boldly and truly embrace the belief that God listens to my prayers, to serve others with joy despite the circumstances, to love God more fully with all my heart…

God is faithful…He has answered my prayers…He has blessed me with the deisres of my heart in His perfect timing…He has grown me so much during this season of my life. I am looking forward to this new season in my life. God has blessed me with a new job…I am so excited…yet also, sad to be saying good-bye to those I am leaving behind but forever grateful for this season in my life.

What might God be trying to tell you in the season of life you are in right now? If it is a particularly difficult season, I challenge you to try keeping a gratitude journal. Perspective can change everything!

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Sunday Reflections

The world is unpredictable. The world feels out of control.

Despite all the chaos, all the uncertainty in the world, one thing remains constant for those who believe…God never changes.

It is easy to feel fear. It is easy to feel unrest.

Today, at church, we spent a lot of time on Missions. Our youth spoke of their passions for missions. They sang songs of praise to their Heavenly Father. They were not afraid of the unrest in the world.

We need not fear. God is on our side. He is constant.

The Lord will fight for you. You only need to be still. Exodus 14:14

still

Sunday Reflections: The Present

This mother’s heart has had its fair share of bittersweet moments this past week. On Wednesday, my teenage daughter headed to Mexico for a mission trip. This child has a heart for missions. Last year, she went to Mexico on this trip and fell deeper in love with serving God through serving others. On Friday, my son celebrated another birthday. Not only did he turn 12, the last official age before becoming a teenager, but we also celebrated his seventh birthday with him. Our son joined our family at the age of 5 ½ …a match made in heaven that only God could have orchestrated…to grant me the desires of my heart, another child. This sweet boy has adjusted well….he is my son, and I am his mother.

A mother’s heart…proud of her children, humbled by their faith and love for Christ, excited to see the people they are growing into….Yet….. bittersweet moments. They are growing up. These moments will never come again.

One thing I have learned from my residents with dementia and memory impairment is that they live in the moment. By living in the present moment, they fully embrace the moment…all the senses are involved…the smell of baking bread, the taste of the warm buttered bread, the laughter of those sitting beside them, the warmth of a hug from a trusted caregiver…they live in the moment.

As my children grow older and time passes by, I desperately want to cling onto each moment of laughter, of joy, of tenderness. These moments pass. Homework must be tackled. Laundry piles up. Grocery shopping must be done. Stacks of bills must be paid. The mundane stuff of life threatens to rob the joy from everyday moments. I must stop. I must pause. I need to take the moment to see the silly antics my son is up to. I must pause and take the extra effort to connect with my teenage daughter.

I need to learn to be more present. I must take time to pause, to rest. I need to slow down. I need to laugh more. I need to make more time for family and friends. I need to spend more time in quiet solitude with my Heavenly Father.

Live in the moment. Embrace life. Let go of the past and quit fearing the future. This is my challenge to me and to you. Take time to slow down and truly be present.

The present is a present.

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Reflections from a Weekend Writing Conference

I love writers’ conferences. I just attended my seventh writing conference. This particular conference was held at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. It is called the Indiana Faith and Writing conference http://faithandwriting.com/.

The thing about writing conferences is that suddenly a room full of introverts appear to be extremely extroverted. This can be wonderful and scary to a writer all at the same time. At a Christian writing conference, the support from the writing community can feel welcoming and supportive, but it can also feel intimidating and overwhelming. So, why do I attend writing conferences?

  1. I always learn something helpful to propel me along this scary journey called writing.
  2. I always come home inspired to write more.
  3. I always come home with crazy ambitions like telling myself I will get up at 4:00 in the morning to write.
  4. I meet some great people.
  5. I know and believe that God can use anything at any time to bless me.

What exactly do I mean by number 5? Last year, I attended a writing conference to learn about blogging and gain some much needed writing inspiration and motivation. I left with that and more…a new writing partner. Over the course of the year, this writing partner has become not only my writing partner but my best friend. I was blessed to attend the AU writing conference with her this year. God truly does use anything at any time to bless us if we are obedient and respond in trust. This gift of friendship continues to bless me in more ways than I could have imagined. He truly is faithful.

Ephesians

Nominated…Liebster Award

I have been blogging for about a year, and one of the great joys of blogging is meeting other writers with similar interests in the online world. I have a few blogs I faithfully follow. One of my favorite blogs…Quiet Confidence…is filled with honesty about everyday moments seeking to draw closer to God. So, I am honored to be nominated by Lisanne at https://lisanne3015.wordpress.com/ for the Liebster Award. I am honored to be chosen by her because her blog has inspired me so much. I am still new to the blogging world and have less than 3000  followers which qualifies me for this nomination.

Liebster Award

The Liebster Award
The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to fellow bloggers in order to support and encourage them in their blogging. The guidelines for receiving the award varies, however, the general rules are as follows:

– Post your award to your blog in a blog post
– Answer the 10 questions that were given to you by the fellow blogger who nominated you
– Nominate 3-10 other bloggers you have discovered with less than 3,000 followers
– Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer

Here are the 10 questions I was asked to answer:

  1. Are you content in blogging or is it your dream/aspiration or calling to write? I enjoy blogging and use it as another way to grow in my faith and connect with others. I am a writer, and feel called to do so. Writing has always helped me to share what is on my heart and mind.
  2. What holds you back?  Time. Time. Time. I am learning to wake up early to have more writing time in the quiet of the morning.
  3. What is your favorite, most genuine or impactful post in your opinion? My 31 days of surrender that I just finished which allowed me to share my on-going journey to trust God more fully and surrender my desires to Him.
  4. What leads you write, either educationally or experiences that compel you to share  your wisdom? Helps me to process life around me
  5. Do you have a profession, other than writing? I work in long term care as a memory care director. I am also a wife and mother.
  6. Do find it beneficial to engage in webinars or conferences? If so, are there some you’d recommend? I do enjoy attending writing conferences not only for the helpful information but for the connection to other writers. I met my writing partner and now best friend at a writing conference last year. The two conferences I would recommend are ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) http://www.acfw.com and the BREATHE conference http: //breatheconference.com/home
  7. Does your family understand your desire to write? Yes, and they are very supportive.
  8. If you aspire to write, is your choice memoir, fiction, devotional or other? Christian fiction and devotional
  9. What’s your favorite song? Two current favorite songs are “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin and “Just be Held” by Casting Crowns
  10. What’s your favorite food…running out of ideas ;)? Three…all Cs…chicken, chocolate, and coffee

Here are my picks:

Erika Shirk at Overflow https://proverbsnineteen21.wordpress.com

Ann Graham at Flourish https://anngraham.wordpress.com

Tracey at  Grace  https://ephesians2v8.wordpress.com

Jeanie Benson at http://jeaniebenson.com

Here are my 10 questions for them:

  1. Who has been most influential in your decision to write?
  2. What led you to choose the focus of your blog?
  3. Where do you find your inspiration  for your blog posts?
  4. Who is your favorite author?
  5. What are your writing aspirations?
  6. What is your favorite Scripture or quote?
  7. What does a perfect day look like for you?
  8. Coffee, tea, or neither?
  9. Favorite childhood memory
  10. Advice you would give to someone who wants to be a writer

Thank you to each blogger for your unique voice and perspective you bring to others through your writing.