Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Anxious Abby

Abby didn’t want to be anxious.  She really tried to fight against the all-consuming awareness that she wasn’t in control.  Being anxious helped her to stay focused on the false comfort that she was in control of her circumstances, but what she couldn’t control were the other 99 percent of the people and circumstances around her.

What if?  What if?  What if?

This lead question was always at the forefront of Abby’s mind, teasing her, pursuing her, and not letting her rest.  The what-ifs about the circumstances of her job tied her stomach in knots, as well as the barrage of attention her anxiety gave to the little details in life when she wasn’t preparing to go to space. The questions the rest of us face every day without the excess anxiety tormented Abby.  What type of bread should she buy that is healthy?  Where she should invest her money without taking too much of a risk?  What shoes look right with this outfit and were they made in the USA or were they made by a child in a third world country who had no food except what he or she had to beg for on the street?  If you asked Abby to list the things that gave her anxiety it would be easier for her to list the things that didn’t give her anxiety.  

Abby wondered sometimes as she tried to fall asleep if it was always going to be this way.  She eventually resigned herself to the fact it probably would.  She didn’t remember a day in her life when she did not feel the physical symptoms of anxiety.  As she got older, she realized how tiring being anxious made her, and that in itself was getting old.  Anxiety drained her and left her feeling tired and exhausted.  Exhaustion is unhealthy when you are an astronaut flying into space.

The rest of Abby's story will be included in my first book, Approaching the Throne of Grace, to be released in the near future.  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Who's in Charge Here?

We have two dogs, Maggie and Lucy, whose number one enjoyment is laying on the back of the love seat and looking out the window.  This is where they spend the majority of their days.  They look so sweet, quietly lying there, as they watch the birds come to the feeders and wait for the neighbor dogs to walk their people.  The squirrels and the deer like to indulge in the feast, so they visit too, and my dogs announce their visit and then some.  When the squirrels or the dogs or the deer show up - watch out!  The sweet quiet doggies turn into barking maniacs.

The barking has been a problem, to say the least, and after trying all kinds of techniques for stopping the barking, we have found one technique that works about 99% of the time, and we learned it from Cesar Milan, the dog whisperer.  I was amazed by how quickly it worked.  After watching an episode of Cesar working with dogs with similar problems as Maggie and Lucy, we gave it a try.

Quietly stand next to your dog, place two fingers on their side.  Don't yell, don't tell them to stop barking, don't get mad.  Just stand next to them with two fingers on their side for a few seconds.

It works!

Now, because the dogs are smart and they catch on to the things we do to show we're in control, the two finger trick lasted a few days.  Then, both us and them, slowly went back to our bad habits.  They barked, we yelled.  But when we regrouped and got back on track, the next time they barked I did something a little different.  This time, along with the two finger trick, I said "I'm in charge," calmly and with firmness, and they both immediately quieted down.

Those three words seem to bear a lot of weight.

"I'm in charge."

Well, you know God and what he's always up to.  Teaching me spiritual things through daily dilemmas.  So here's the lesson:

Picture the thing or things you ruminate on constantly.  Anxiety, fear, pain, regret - whatever it may be - and imagine that emotion or behavior or whatever it is looking like my barking dogs whenever it  takes over your thoughts.  On and on and on and on it barks and carries on.  All the yelling and praying and agonizing hasn't stopped the barking, and the barking is about to drive you crazy.

Now picture God, coming up beside you and placing two of his gentle giant fingers on your shoulder, as he whispers in your ear, "I'm in charge."

Maggie and Lucy can't do a darn thing about what's outside the window.  The squirrels aren't afraid of them and neither are the deer.  They hear the barking coming from somewhere, but the barking poses no threat, so they just go about their business.  While Maggie and Lucy are about ready to go into seizure mode because of their barking, the squirrels or other dogs or deer just keep doing their thing.

That's what your ruminating looks like to God.  Needless, and maybe a little crazy.  (I don't know for a fact that a loving, patient God thinks we're crazy, that is my own unsanctified interjection.  I do know how crazy my dogs look carrying on, so I have to imagine I look just about as crazy when I carry on to Him about things I cannot control.  Just sayin').

You and I bark and bark and bark at the things we can't change nor can we control.  The only one who is being harmed by the barking is us.  Our blood pressure is up, our heart rate too.  Our stomachs get in knots and we are losing sleep because we keep barking at something that is clearly not afraid of us.

But God, when He comes beside us and whispers in our ears, "I'm in charge," the squirrels and the deer scatter as he opens the door welcoming peace.

There's calmness.

There's rest.

We can ruminate and bark and fret all we want for as long as we want, but it doesn't chase the visitors away.  They come because they can get something good to eat.  We can bark at them all we want, but if we don't let God chase them away, eventually we'll bark so much we'll be hoarse and out of breath.

God's in charge.   It's time to let him handle those fat and greedy squirrels.


As always, please do not use pictures without permission.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015 Reveal

My A to Z Challenge is going a different direction than the challenge of the previous two years.  Instead of pointing up and looking at the names of God, this time we will look around at people who may look similar to you.  Similar in some ways, but different in others.  This A to Z challenge is a sneak peak inside a book I am having published soon.  It is a book about people like you who may share some of your weaknesses, emotions, struggles, and strengths.  Some may even have the same questions you have, share some of the same doubts, and maybe even some of the same fears.

I hope that when you read about Anxious Abby and Impatient Irene, Ben the Bartender, Proof Positive Pete, Tattooed Tom, Wayne the Wounded Warrior and a community of people with some of the same quirks and thoughts and struggles you may relate to, you will see God's grace poured down abundantly on situations similar to yours.

It all starts April 1st and goes through every day in the month of April except Sundays.   Hope to see you there!


Monday, March 16, 2015

Unwrapping Your Christmas Gift

We have a three season porch that stays closed up over winter, but at Christmas I put up a tree in there but I have yet to take it down.  Aside from a few snowman on it, it goes pretty nicely with the outside environment. I'm debating on whether or not I should take it down or leave it up.  As I was looking at it this morning it got me thinking about Christmas.

Have you opened your Christmas gift yet?  The one you got in the weeks of December leading up to December 25?  You sang the songs, you bought the presents, you rushed here there and everywhere trying to fit everything and everyone into a few short weeks and then the day finally arrived and you were....exhausted.

You went through the motions of enjoying all your preparations, but in the end, when the last torn paper was thrown away and the last ornament tucked in its plastic box, the tree thrown out or taken apart, you were glad it was finally all over.  

But there's still a gift left for you.  You haven't unwrapped it yet.  You looked at its pretty packaging and you sang to it, but I think it may have gotten put away with your artificial tree again.  But it's still there, waiting to be opened.

Remember all the words you heard about this gift:

Wonderful Counselor - is he your counselor?  Is he the one you're going to first for counsel?

Mighty God - you got a little chill bump when you heard that in December, but have you grabbed onto the Mighty hand that reaches out to you again and again and again?

Everlasting Father - that baby you said came for you? He has a dad, an everlasting Father.  A father that is like no other father.  Have you reached up for the arms reaching down for you?

Prince of Peace - Remember peace?  You had it for a second somewhere between December 1st and December 25th.  Where did you misplace or is it something you only bring out when the calendar tells you to?  

Maybe you should open your gift and use what's inside.  A gift is worthless if it isn't used, so maybe you need to dig that gift out before December.  Wait!  I have an idea!  Dig it out today!  Then, I know this is daring, because it is only March, but open it and then be really brave and use it!  See how it works, what it can do.  It's not doing anyone any good, least of all you, just sitting on a shelf or in a dark closet waiting for its cue nine months from now.

Don't wait for a calendar to tell you when it's time to talk about the gift or think about the gift or live and act in a certain way because the gift is coming.  Sing the songs today.  Joy to the World the Lord has Come!  Guess what?!  He's come and He hasn't left!  You may have put him in a closet or on a shelf, but the truths of who He is are busting out of the box you keep him in. All he wants to be for you is your Wonderful Counselor, your Everlasting Father, your Mighty God, and your Prince of Peace.  Today!

What on earth are you waiting for?  Christmas?  Oh wait, it's Lent.  Silly me.  Wrong season.  My bad.  It's the time for morose and quiet reflection.   Guess you'll have to open your gift in December.  It won't be hard to find, still right where you left it.  

Peace, a little snarky I know, but still



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

At Risk For Falls

As a nurse, one of the most prevalent issues we try to prevent when taking care of a patient or a resident is preventing falls.  When I hear my name being called by a nursing assistant as he or she is coming towards me, the first thing I think - while praying it isn't - someone fell.  We don't want someone to fall and get hurt under our care, so there are interventions we use to prevent a confused or unsteady person from falling.   No matter the nursing environment, whether a hospital or a nursing home or anything in between, our common task is preventing someone from falling.

I thought of that this morning as I read Jude 24:  "To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy -"

I chuckle as I imagine the angels up in heaven going over their falls prevention programs and care plans.  I smile when I think of the times I have charted on a fall risk patient or resident, "call light within reach."  As much as we can do to prevent falls and to protect those who are at risk for falls, falls still happen.

But this passage gives me hope and I hope it gives you some hope too.

You see, the choices you make that you think you have no control over or maybe you think you'll never be able to stop making or you just don't think you have what it takes to not mess up or to fall - whatever it is you struggle with - you have someone who is able to keep you from falling.

The only God our Savior.

He is able to keep you from falling.  Your call light is within reach.  He will get to you BEFORE you fall.  He will make sure the clutter is removed so that you don't fall.  He will make sure you don't have the wrong type of footwear on, that you have help when you try and walk.  He is at your side the second you press your call light and you don't have to wait for him to come and help you.  He is able to keep you from falling.

Falling hurts.  Sometimes bones break, sometimes skin cuts open and bleeds.  Sometimes you don't get hurt when you fall, but you still feel the embarrassment or the humility of actually falling when you were just going along and minding your own business but stepped on a patch of black ice and before you knew it you were on the ground.

Sometimes we slip and fall not physically, but mentally, emotionally, and yes of course, spiritually. The spiritual broken bones and bruises affect our souls.  Our hearts bleed when we fall.  But those falls are preventable.

The only God our Savior is able to keep you from falling - and, the best part - present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy!  He's so proud of you and sees you without fault now, because our Savior, when you are in his presence has great joy seeing you there!  Isn't that amazing?! your call light within reach?  Don't forget to use it!