Monthly Archives: August 2011

Check Engine….SOON!

Tonight I come to you at the end of an exhausting day.  I can promise that once I am finished with my blog, sleep will come to me with no problem tonight.  I spent the day with my Grandma, Mom and Aunt at St. Mary’s Hospital.  As it always tends to be the case, we were not gathered together for a joyous occasion.  My Grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer last week.  She was recommended for a mastechtomy as well as removal of any and all lymph nodes that are contributing to this terrible disease.  Unfortunately, the surgery brought the family more questions that answers.  The doctor could visibly see the lymph nodes he was removing, which means it is very likely the cancer has spread all over her body.  Do what extent?  That remains to be seen.  More tests will be needed before the treatment options can be explored.  In addition to worry and concern about my Grandmother’s fight with cancer, my mom and my aunt are searching for options for her after care from this surgery.  You see, the last five years have thrown some pretty serious curve balls at my Grandma.  She has been living in a state of denial for the last few years.  So much so, she has stopped taking care of herself, her home- the very basic necessity’s of life.  To be quite honest about the situation, she has known about the lump in her breast for a year, but didn’t feel it was necessary to mention it until it became too painful for her to go through normal everyday life with it.  To be frank, she ignored her check engine light. 

As Nichole Johnson put it, we all have check engine lights in our lives.  And, just like our cars, when we ignore the warning signs in our lives, we too will eventually break down.  I don’t come as my grandmother’s judge and jury tonight, I come to you as a woman who, too often, ignores her own check engine light.  My symptoms often include exhaustion, anger, anxiety, fear and unfortunately the muffin top that does not allow my jeans to fasten correctly.  If I let it go too long, my system over loads and I fall into some pretty basic symptoms of clinical depression.  I lose my hope.  I cease from being a proactive, key player in my life and morph into someone who just lets life happen to her.   As I have cycled through this stage a couple of times, I have come to realize that I can only be as effective for God as my body will allow me to be.  What kind of witness for Christ can I be when I am lounging in the bottom of the pit along with my pity party partners?

Here is my point.  God created us to have life and life abundantly.  If you are feeling ANYTHING but peace, you have a check engine light that is on.  You have an issue in your life that needs to be addressed.  Maybe you simply need a day away.  Maybe you need to visit with your doctor for a physical.  Maybe you need to sit at the foot of the cross and allow the glory of God to cover you with his precious love.  We are too precious to run on fumes.  We can only be as effective for God as our bodies allow us to be.  Lets treat them as the Lord’s temple:

“For the Lord did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, and a sound mind.”
                                                                                                                                  2 Timothy 1:7

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Gut Check!

Last Sunday, my dad and stepmom came down to have lunch with us as they do every now and again.  If I am to be completely honest with you, I treasure this time that I get to spend with him.  As I was growing up, I saw my Dad twice a year.  At Christmas, and on my birthday.  As he has retired from the military and moved back to Illinois, I see him much more frequently and it is a blessing I am thankful for each and every time we get to meet.  See, when you grow up missing the presence of one parent, you miss very important hints into your character and your genetic make up.  I remember many times where I look at my mom and think, “in some ways, I am just like you.  In other ways, I swear I was adopted.  Where in the heck did this character trait come from?”  But as I grow closer to my dad, I find that God has made a beautiful mixed up blend of both.  I find that as an adult, I am thankful to find those mysterious character traits were not implanted by aliens, but instead from my Dad.  I have his penchant for sarcasm, his body build and his analytic temperment.  But one area where we agree to disagree is our belief in God.  I believe.  He does not.  I don’t know why, or what his experience has been, but it does not prevent me from praying to God to break through to him on an intimate level. 

So last week, we are sitting at my kitchen table and he picks up my bible and starts thumbing through the pages.  He says, “I saw in the history channel that there are prophecies in the bible that were not in the original text.  They were not placed there until AFTER the actual event happened.” I said, “Wow, thats interesting.  Let me show you where some of those places are.”  I flipped to a section in John that is spelled out in italics.  Prior to the section, it tells you that this story was not in original text.  To that he said, “Huh, well thats good, it should.”   I agree.  I proceeded to tell him about the Beth Moore conference I went to in which she spoke about John the Baptist.  About the group of people that bible scholars believe he lived with after the deaths of Zechariah and Elizabeth.  You see, this particular group of people poured over the book of Isaiah.  For hundreds of years, this culture had not heard from God.  He was silent.  There were no prophets.  Just the promises of the old testament.  So these cave dwellers studied the scrolls of Isaiah over and over looking for this fore runner for Christ.  It is believed that he landed right on their door step.  Those original scrolls of Isaiah were found in our present times.  Scrolls of the complete books.  How amazing!  We went on to discuss it a little more and moved on to the next subject, but as always, I found myself questioning, “God, did I say the right thing? “

I have taken the pressure off of myself to convert my Dad.  I did that a long time ago.  I don’t have that kind of power.  My Dad is a facts and details man.  Quite frankly, I could care less about the facts, simply because God speaks most powerfully to me when the facts dont always make sense.   I guess you could say I have the faith of a child.  But that’s when it hit me.  I was straightening my hair when I thought, “Its on purpose!”  You see, God says that just by looking all around us, we have the all evidence we need to believe in Him.  But more important than that.  He has given us the power of choice.  I can choose to believe the wise people of the world.  The people who say the bible is foolish, it has too many discrepencies, it cant be the truth.  Or, I can choose to believe God.  The one who says that he will reveal his secrets to his children. I believe that it’s on purpose that we have to choose.  I believe its on purpose that he has left a little room for doubt.  You see, it takes faith to fill up the gray area.

I emailed my Dad and told him I had done some thinking about the prophesies.  And I told him that I had been chewing on our conversation.  There may have been some changes to biblical prophesies and, if you choose to believe, inaccuracies in the text, but the fact that remains is this.  Man was created with a sinful nature.  That sinful nature seperates us from God.  Every single one of us, no exceptions.  He sent his son to die on the cross.  The choice is this- Do you believe it?  Really believe it?  The unchanging message of the bible is that we have a choice to believe or not to believe.  Because if you don’t REALLY believe it, you will still remain seperated from the one who promises life.   I know what I have chosen.  How about you?

I will continue to pray for God to reveal himself to my Dad, but I will not carry the weight of his salvation on my shoulders.  That’s his choice.  In the meantime, I will continue to plant and water seeds whenever he will let me.  And he is starting to let me.   I will trust God to do an amazing work in his life when the time is perfect. 

Dating Clark Kent….

When I was getting ready this morning, the Phineas and Ferb superhero episode was playing the the background.  My beloved Isabella was getting upset with Phineas because he kept taking off on her right at the times she needed him.  A spin off of Superman if you will.  So what was the difference between Isabella and Lois Lane?  Isabella had not yet been swept off her feet by “The Beak”.  She desired nothing more than to spend her day with the ordinary Phineas having “the best day ever” with her secret crush.  On the other hand, Lois Lane had the hunky Superman saving her day on a regular basis.  She was so caught up in the adventure, that she missed seeing Clark Kent for who he really is.

I find myself coming to you with Lois Lane syndrome.  I am a self admitted adreniline junky.  I love a good challenge.  Find me a mountain to climb and I will meet you there with the supplies.  My problem today is simply this.  God hasn’t put any good mountains in front of me to climb as of late.  And I am a little bored in my day to day life.  See, I have this little voice inside of me that says I am above living the “Ordinary life”.  I wake up every morning with the belief that God put me here for an extraordinary purpose.   Yet everyday, I simply go through the motions of getting up, getting the kids out the door, going to work, coming home, etc, etc, etc. If I had to name this season of my life, I would call it Clark Kent.  Normal, ordinary and boring. 

God has been faithful to meet me everyday in this challenge.  He is convicting me to be extraordinary, even in the ordinary times.  Times when the water is calm and the horizon is clear.  To lean on the strength of His Spirit, even when I don’t feel like I need it.  The truth of the matter is this.  When there is no present struggle in my life, I quit trying.  I just fall into the motions, go with the flow. I question what my purpose truly is for being here. Life has to be more than this. And then he is faithful to show me the blessing in the little things.  Holding hands with my hubby.  Belly laughing over nothing with my kids.  Spending some much needed time with good friends. 

Today, I am going to take a lesson from my friend Isabella.  I am going to look at my ordinary and plan to have “the best day ever”.   Life never goes without its challenges for very long.  And sometimes, saving the world isn’t all its cracked up to be. 

“It is wise to stop wishing for things long enough to enjoy the fragrance of those flowering now!”
                                                                                    Patricia Gifford