less is more with injured finger tendon

Empty

less is more with injured finger tendon

So this is what happened on a Friday afternoon almost two weeks ago…..

I cut my index finger right at the joint while attempting to cut some watermelon with my sharp knife. After a stressful trip and several hours at the ER, I came home with a small splint, three stitches, and orders to return first thing Monday morning for surgery to repair my severed tendon.

I admit I am not good with medical procedures and emergencies.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a tendency to feel faint or go into mild shock when dealing with an injury. I don’t like this about myself, have worked and prayed my way through many situations, and have grown much, I think, but it still seems to be a weakness I must continue to deal with.

What makes it worse, is that I know that this is just a minor situation compared to what others have dealt with.

There are much more serious medical conditions and diseases (such as my friends and family members who have gone or are going through cancer), and many people I know have suffered great losses and pain of a more serious nature.

I have repeatedly wondered why I seem so weak.

I’ve come up feeling rather empty.

And this is the word prompt from last week for Five Minute Friday. I’m finally feeling enough strength today to write (typing with one hand), and link up with some wonderful fellow bloggers, squeaking in just under the wire before this weak’s new prompt.

I’ve been thinking about this all week, and really wanted to write.

Last weekend all over the world, Christians celebrated Easter. We remembered the life, suffering and death of God’s only Son, and rejoiced together in his victorious resurrection. (If you are not a believer, these amazing claims at least bear some serious contemplation.)

And the victory of Christ can help me in my weakness.

I know that in my brokenness, Christ can become strong in me.

Because the grave is also empty, I can find healing for both my body and my soul. Even my thoughts and fickle emotions can learn to be at peace.

I guess it’s not so bad to feel empty.

 

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:8b-10

 

So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 5:21

 

He personally carried our sins
    in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
    and live for what is right.
By his wounds
    you are healed. – 1 Peter 2:24

*****

 

 

 

One God and Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus

Enough Already

One God and Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus

 

Today’s post will be linked up with my friends over at Five Minute Friday, where different authors and bloggers all join together to write their five-minute’s-worth of thoughts on a common theme. Today’s prompt is “enough“.

*****

This morning I awoke to sun. Shiny, bright and inviting; after a week of cold rain and clouds, it brought immediate help to my weary bones and heart.

I have no major complaints; I am thankful to say that life is not too difficult right now.

But some days it’s still a struggle for all of us.

I clicked on Facebook for a few minutes and saw that my dear sister posted a photo of the snow covering they awoke to today. Then another faraway friend stated the same…..the roads were worse than ever, and the snow-clearing machinery may have already been put away.

So my first thoughts when I saw the prompt for today’s writing was, “ENOUGH ALREADY!”

I know there are so much deeper and meaningful things about which to write, but that’s where I was at first.

I proceeded to get my (phone) camera and try to capture photos of the beauty around me, in order to share online with my weather-weary friends.

Then a little treat: a fluffy little bird, bathing happily in my birdbath, with other birds flitting about. I immediately started a rough video and shared that instead.

Next, I proceeded to start my quiet time. I looked at my scripture of the day, 1 Timothy 2:5-6,

For,

There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.

This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.”

I chose a new devotional (from YouVersion), which led me to one which included music and an Easter theme.

 

Here is the song that was written about today:

 

 

So, in the end, I am writing about something more serious.

Something I believe is so important, so vital to the heart, soul and lives of myself and those around me.

The Church is already in the season of Lent, and will soon be sharing in many celebrations of Easter, the culmination of the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

It bears some serious thought, whether you are a believer or not.

I remember an Easter sermon given by my former pastor a few years back, in which he showed us a diagram, a graph sort of image that represented what happened to the world at the time when Christians claim that Jesus died and rose again.

No matter what you think about it, something happened.

The world was definitely changed.

People have testified not only to walking and speaking with him in person after his death, but for thousands of years, men and women have claimed that their lives have been changed forever by their acceptance of that single, horrible, then victorious gift.

We cannot ignore the sacrifice nor the celebration.

And it is enough, already.

*****

 

 

Inspirational mugs

Choose What Defines You

It’s Five Minute Friday time, and the prompt for this week is, “define”. Join me as we consider this word today.

*****

Inspirational mugs

 

What defines me?

According to Dictionary.com, two meanings for the word, “define” are:

“to explain or identify the nature or essential qualities of; describe”,

and

“to determine or fix the boundaries or extent of”

We can be defined by a lot of different things. Events, circumstances, feelings, opinions all affect how I define my life.

These self-definitions help describe who we are and who we want to be. How we define ourselves can also set up boundaries (both positive and negative) that will be difficult to cross.

 

I can live in the past … and never move forward or plan and change my life for the better.

I can live for the future … and forget the formative events and people who have served to make me who I am today.

I can listen to the words of those around me, both positive and negative … and forget the words of the One who made me.

I can rely on my fickle emotions … and refuse to believe the truth beyond what I can feel.

I can base my value on what I do, how much I achieve or produce, what I own, how much money I have, how talented I am, the grades and recognition I may or may not receive, and what others think (or what I think they think) about me … all the while ignoring the truth which is often disguised by the way things look on the surface.

Some folks even prefer to define themselves by their difficult circumstances … because they don’t know anything else and are afraid to change.

 

We have a choice about what defines us. 

 

I’ll never forget a little story I read many years ago in a Readers’ Digest article.

It was about two men who were brothers of an alcoholic father. One went on to be a responsible adult with a good job and family. The other made nothing of himself and may have become an alcoholic himself.

When asked about why they turned out the way they did, each man had the same answer:

 

What would you expect with a father like mine?”

It’s not always easy, but we always have a choice.

I chose to listen to the truth.

I can find the truth when I believe the the good words of those who care about me.

I can find the best truth when I believe the words of a God who not only made me, but designed me for a beautiful and unique purpose.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!

– Psalm 139:13-18a, NLT

You can choose what defines you.

Choose to believe, and act upon … the truth.

*****

 

 

 

 

friends on Facebook

Friend Me

This post has been written to add to the Five Minute Friday link-up, where the prompt for the day is, “friend”.

*****

friends on Facebook

 

Friend me.”

This is a phrase that would have made a lot less sense when I was a little girl.

Social media was not a thing; in fact, I still remember the first computers (that weren’t the size of a room, and that “regular” people could own in their homes). Yes, I may be dating myself, but that’s OK.

But it’s a common request these days, connecting us to those we know on Facebook and other social media.

I am fairly careful who I friend. It’s good to be safe online and in real life and use godly caution.

But let’s not live in so much fear that we shut real people out.

I know that online relationships and acquaintances can never take the place of spending time with flesh and blood people, but I do find it engaging and a wonderful way to keep up with those I do know and love but can’t always be with due to miles or time constraints.

There are several wonderful ladies I’m getting to know only online. I have never met them in person, but if I walked into a room and they were there, I would give them hugs.

I believe that real friendships can be made, renewed or rekindled, or just maintained partly by interacting online. I even wrote a whole blog post on that premise.

But let’s not forget to get off of our technology and out into the real world.

Let’s make time to get together with those we love and those we wish to know better.

Don’t just pass by those people with whom you go to church, those neighbors you wish you knew better, or the colleagues you see at work, without touching them somehow.

Be the person who is not afraid to smile at a stranger, stop to help a passerby, or even offer a word of encouragement or friendship to those we meet.

Let’s cherish the ones we love and not take these moments for granted.

Because the hearts of everyone around us are saying, “friend me“.

And my heart needs to be a friend, too.

*****

 

 

 

snow boots on sidewalk with wet snow

How I Turned a Miserable Shoveling Experience into Worship

snow boots on sidewalk with wet snow

Perhaps this should more accurately be called, “How We Shoveled Heavy, Wet, Sloppy, Back-Breaking Snow, and Still Managed to Be Thankful”, or something like, “How to Be Thankful in All Circumstances, Even When Your Back Aches and You’re Soaked to the Skin.”

I’m not even sure I can claim that I was entirely thankful, or that I felt like worshiping out there, but I certainly gave it a good try.

It all started when after a couple of weeks of almost spring-like weather and all of our snow had melted, we got the weather prediction that a big snowstorm was moving in. Used to such teasing in New England, we bucked up and faced it like men (and a strong woman).

As the day drew nearer, we kept checking in on our weather apps to check the prediction updates.

The good news: almost a definite snow day (which means no school or sometimes work, up here in the north).

The bad news: around 8-14 inches of snow, with the possibility of up to 2 feet in some areas.

The night before we stayed up a little later than normal, knowing that there would be no school or work to go to, and awoke after sleeping in to nothing much happening outside.

But then it started, slowly at first, but increasing as the day went on.

And then the really bad news: the weather report stated that it would probably change over to rain or sleet at some point in the afternoon. So we knew we could not wait for every last flake to fall before we went out and braved the storm to begin our snow removal.

As nice as it is to not be too cold outside, this is not always beneficial in a snowstorm. In fact, I’d argue that it’s one of the worst possible outcomes (topped only by dangerously cold weather or icy conditions, or a full-blown blizzard).

By the time we all got out there, about six inches of snow had fallen, but the falling precipitation was already transformed into all rain. which means not only were we going to get wet, but the snow would be unbearably heavy. And as much as I like a good workout, there is no good way to shovel heavy, wet snow without straining one’s back.

Yet, braving the elements, we put in our time and hard work, and gradually removed the offending snow.

my men shoveling heavy, wet snow

Two of my men hard at work, shoveling heavy, wet snow. (The other is out there somewhere, too.)

Shortly after I had been working, I began to realize that my otherwise warm down coat and thick jeans were beginning to soak through.

Now if you’ve ever been soaked through to the skin in your clothes, you know this is at best a miserable feeling. But try that in close-to-freezing temps and you’ve got yourself a pretty good reason to complain.

As much as it’s OK to vent a little, before long I realized my attitude had degraded into a miserable, complaining mess, not unlike the scene around me. I was feeling like there was nothing for which to be thankful.

And then I realized I had to do something about it.

So I pushed myself to start naming things I am thankful for.

I started with the fact that I am healthy and strong enough to do this work.

Next, I listed people I know and love (I named a bunch of them), and thanked God for them. Then I went on to give thanks for my cars and home, and other random blessings. Eventually with every scoop of slushy snow, I named something else for which I could express gratitude. I think I even named every delicious ice-cream flavor I could think of with each slushy scoop, before I decided to change over to prayer.

I prayed for several people I know, and it made the work bearable.

shoveled steps with wet snow

I won’t lie to you and tell you that I felt wonderful or had any divine revelations during the course of the afternoon, because I didn’t.

I still felt crummy and wet, with rain water now dripping down my head and back, and parts of my legs feeling thoroughly chilled. The only other time I remember being this wet was when I was at a high school camp out with my Inter-School Christian Fellowship group. It was March, and we had decided to have a water fight which soaked our heavy coats and all the way through to our underwear. This was memorably uncomfortable, as the March evenings in Ontario are still relatively cold.

But back to today.

I was able to change my attitude with an act of my will, by choosing to be thankful.

 

Here are 3 things to reflect on when you are tempted to complain:

  1. Start being grateful for anything and everything you can think of.
  2. Recognize that you’ve probably been through more difficult circumstances and survived, and that there are others around you with more concerning problems right now.
  3. Turn your thoughts from inward belly-gazing, to a prayer for those around you.

 

I am tired and sore, and I’m sure my back will ache some tomorrow, but at least I recognize how much I really have for which to be grateful.

I know of so many around me going through some really hard times. There are those who are grieving the loss of a loved one and many who are struggling financially. There are acquaintances struggling with their self-image and friends who are out of work. We have family members who are suffering with physical ailments that can only be healed by a touch from God. So many I know are hurting.

We’ve gone through some hard times ourselves, but through it all, God has been faithful.

my soaking wet, smiling face

My soaking wet, but smiling face.

I’m thankful today that even thought life is far from perfect, it’s pretty good right now. We are strong and healthy and together as a family.

We have a nice, warm home and cars that run well, clothes on our backs, and good food to eat.

We are surrounded by family and friends who love and support us, a church in which we can both use our gifts to minister to others and receive blessings ourselves, and jobs that are mostly pleasant and provide for our financial needs.

With our wet clothes either hanging (and dripping) downstairs or drying in a warm dryer, at least we’re warm and cozy again. There’s homemade soup to heat up for supper, and Caramel Turtle brownie mix that beckons me to bake soon.

coats and clothes hanging to dry in basement

Coats and clothes hanging to drip dry in our basement.

As I reflect on all of my blessings, I realize that I really have a lot.

With God’s help, I can count it all joy, both in difficult times and in those wearisome or mundane times in the middle.

I can chose to be thankful in every situation.

I am learning to make all of my life, even those miserable experiences, a place of worship.

*****

It just dawned on me, shortly after posting this as I made our supper, that the worship song we sang on Sunday is totally appropriate. I’ve had the words of the chorus going through my head all week,

 

Your praise will ever be on my lips…

 

I guess maybe my heart was listening, even though I was unaware.

 

*****

In what difficult or challenging circumstances do you currently find yourself in? What helps you to change a negative attitude into one of thanksgiving or worship? For what can you be grateful today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

girl jumping off rocks

Abandon

girl jumping off rocks

 

Today’s post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday.

*****

The word for today’s writing is “abandon”, and my first thoughts are of a negative nature; pictures I’ve seen of abandoned animals, or worse yet, stories of neglected and unloved children come to mind.

When I read the definitions, abandon includes the following:

  • to cease to support or look after
  • leave without intending to return
  • give up completely (a practice or a course of action)
  • allow oneself to indulge,
  • complete lack of inhibition or restraint (noun)

When I think about my life, there are many things that should definitely be abandoned. Some of them may feel like new fears or feelings, but many more are things I’ve carried with me for my whole life.

I desire to give up fears and doubts, negative thinking and self-talk, complaining, pride and striving in my own strength, holding onto hurts, making poor decisions based on feelings, and other emotions, thought patterns and actions that do not bring life.

As a Christian, my decision to follow Christ includes the abandonment of many things; but not for my harm or lack of enjoyment. God asks me to give up those things that would hurt me or someone else, or hinder me from personal growth. He asks me to prioritize following him and doing those things that would give him glory.

The verse that came up in my daily devotional was Colossians 4:2,

 

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”

 

When we devote ourselves to those things that truly matter and follow the loving plan of the One who created us, it will bring life and peace. We will not long for the things we’ve chosen to abandon, because they don’t bring real fulfillment.

One of the worship songs I’m practicing for Sunday morning is called Fully Devoted.

The chorus speaks of being fully devoted to and following after the One who gave his life for me. The song reminds me to step out in faith without fear, and share the wonderful gift of God’s love with the world.

 

“Fully devoted we follow after

The one who gave it all

Christ alone be praised

No matter what it takes for the glory of your name

Christ alone be praised

We are stepping out in faith so the world will know your name

Christ along be praised”

 

You may listen to the whole song here:

 

I wish to abandon the things that only bring temporary satisfaction and don’t promote life and growth. I desire to embrace all that God has for me, and to share his good gifts with those around me.

Only when I abandon the things I do not need will I have room in my heart and life for the things that are truly good.

And that’s a sacrifice worth making.

*****

 

 

 

 

coffee and inspirational books

Slow Down

coffee and inspirational books

Today’s post has been written for Five Minute Friday, and today’s prompt is “slow”.

*****

Why is it so hard to slow down?

I think that I love slow, but my reality suggests that I crave busyness and productivity. I am really good at busyness, but have lots of room for growth in using my time productively and efficiently.

I naturally feel compelled to run in circles, “getting things done”, all the while truly desiring the slow, quiet times.

This week I awoke one day with vertigo; a health concern I have dealt with over the past few years, and thankfully one that does not plague me as it did at first, mainly because I have been blessed with doctors and a physical therapist who taught me just what I needed to know to mostly stay healthy.

But it did make me slow down.

I vacillated about calling in sick to work last night, rationalizing that I could muddle through and then take a day off, but my body told me otherwise. My supervisor assured me that staying home and resting was the right thing to do.

Yesterday I read about all the rage of owning and using an Instant Pot. It seems everyone has one and who can live without one? One more appliance to learn, store and maintain could be helpful, but arguably could just be one more thing in my otherwise overflowing life. Sometimes these tools are blessings, allowing us to slow down, while other times it’s just adding to our busyness and clutter, when really we should be satisfied with what we have.

Today is another unseasonably warm day for February “winter” break in New England. It’s been hitting the 60’s, all but a few stubborn piles of snow have melted into what appears to be an early spring, and I have yet to get outdoors and enjoy this uncommon beauty.

I keep thinking of more things I should get done today on my day off, even though I worked a little too much while not feeling well yesterday, in order to be able to take today to totally rest.

So my main goal for the remainder of this day is to slow down,

enjoy life,

be thankful for my many blessings,

and trust that if I stop long enough to think, relax, and be grateful for what I have today,

everything will be waiting there for me tomorrow

and I will be able to work and play with renewed strength.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

when i am weak

When I Am Weak…

when i am weak

 

This post is written for Five Minute Friday, where I join a nice bunch of bloggers to write for five unedited minutes on a weekly prompt. Today’s word is weak.

*****

Why do I feel so weak?

Have you ever asked this question?

It may be any combination of factors: physical tiredness, hormonal imbalance, emotional fatigue, or just plain feeling overwhelmed, just to name a few.

We’ve all been there.

The Bible tells us that when we are weak, then He is our strength. You can read about Paul’s struggle with the thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians.

 

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.

 

 

Since it’s an inevitable part of the human experience, what can I do when I feel weak?

Here are some simple things to help when we are feeling weak:

 

  1. Go to bed! – You may simply need some rest! Take a nap or go to bed early, and give your body the rest it needs.
  2. Take a break – Sometimes we simply need to slow down or even stop, and just give our minds, bodies and emotions a breather.
  3. Do something that rejuvenates you – This can be different for all of us, depending on our personalities and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Take a walk or a hike outdoors, sit in the sun, enjoy a cup of coffee, listen to calming music, read a book, start a campfire, watch a favorite TV show, work on a fun project, or do something creative. Pick something that will give you the energy you need.
  4. Spend time with someone or people you love – We were designed to live in community. We were never made to go it alone. Spend time with someone who cares about you, who will build you up and offer godly encouragement and advice or simply provide a listening ear.
  5. Get appropriate help – It may be that you need to seek out the help and wisdom of a doctor, counselor or pastor/leader. It’s OK to ask for help, even though it is somewhat counter-cultural. True strength is not in doing it all alone, but in recognizing that sometimes we need a helping hand.
  6. Watch what you consume – Check your eating habits and take supplements if needed. The old saying, “You are what you eat” holds a lot of truth.
  7. Spend time with God – For Christ-followers, this is our life-line. Pray, read your Bible, spend some time in worship or simply in quiet “listening” mode. If you are not a believer, the simple act of quieting your mind and body will provide some needed refreshment and give you time to think.

These are just some simple tools that I’ve found to be helpful when I feel weak. I hope this list provides a springboard to your finding rest, strength and peace when you feel weak.

You may also wish to read a previous post I wrote about what to do when you are struggling emotionally.

*****

 

 

winter sky with clouds over evergreen trees

Playing it Safe

 

winter sky with clouds over evergreen trees

This post has been written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday, where you may join us as we write about the prompt, “safe“.

*****

Oh, how I love to play it safe!

It’s in my basic personality to keep to the safe road, not liking too many changes, not straying far from the norm, and certainly not taking too many risks. I feel most “safe” when I know what to expect and don’t have to process emotions and thoughts outside of my usual routine or known parameters.

There are many situations in life in which playing it safe is important, even life-saving.

Taking precautions when driving, when near deep or turbulent water, when dealing with fire, or when dealing with life-altering substances such as drugs, alcohol and the like. These scenarios require sticking fairly close to what we know is safe.

But in most areas of my life, I have let clinging to the safety of my known boundaries keep me from growth. I have stifled the possibly glorious or just plain simple things that God has wanted to do through me to affect others around me in a positive way. I have been lazy or let fear keep me from stepping out and moving forward in my work and personal life.

In these instances, I need to learn the beauty and the excitement of stepping out into the unknown, in even jumping wholeheartedly into the net that God will surely provide when I risk for him and his purposes.

Whether it’s in the mundane responsibilities I find myself in daily at home or at work and with others, or be it in my blog or in my personal interactions with my family, I want to become more adventurous.

I desire to earn that level of trust in God that allows me to take the next step or the next jump, and simply trust him, not allowing fear or pride to win.

I know in my mind that this is true, but I need to step out and find new territory with my Lord in every area of life.

Enough of simply playing it safe.

There is too much at stake to not take the risk of the next best step.

Why keep simply walking or trudging along in life, when I could fly?

see i am doing a new thing

 

*****

 

 

 

 

God will supply all my needs

Be Sure to Make Time to Breathe

God will supply all my needs

Today’s post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday. Join me there as we write for five (mostly-) unedited minutes of writing on the prompt, “breathe”.

*****

If only I could just find a minute to BREATHE…..

 

Do you ever feel this way?

Or perhaps a better question is how do we avoid feeling like this for much of our necessarily busy lives???

 

I’ve had a hectic month. While January is usually busy as we “undo” from the holidays and get back into the daily swing of things, this year I have felt especially over-scheduled and overwhelmed.

Due to some family transitions and responsibilities (nothing critical or life-altering; just “normal” family busyness), it has simply flown by. And I’ve felt so behind and not on top of things.

I’ve finally managed to put most of the holiday stuff behind me, but am still sorely feeling the need for more time and space to work on goals, resolutions (if you will), and just general overall life scheduling and planning.

Well, today I slept in, and despite the feeling that there aren’t quite enough hours left in this beautiful day, I have been blessed with a quiet day at home.

My dear (and wise) husband left me with his Jesus Calling devotional open on top of my computer, which was the perfect “hint” to put first things first today.

Here is the reading for this day:

Devotional about anxiety and focusing on Christ

I was aptly reminded that my anxiety is based on my focus being in the wrong place. When I simply look at what’s visible around me, I fail to recognize that I belong to a God who will never leave me, who promises to be always by my side, and who cares for all of my needs.

My “verse of the day” from the YouVersion Bible App is also appropriate for me today.

 

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

-Philippians 4:19

 

When we turn our eyes and our hearts from what we can simply see around us, and intentionally place our focus on the One who created, knows and loves us best, we can sit back and rest assured, and breathe.

It’s so important to not only carve out some time from our busy schedules to stop, think, plan, pray and rest, but also that we place our focus firmly in the right place.

God has provided all I need.

I need simply to stop to breathe and take it all in.

*****