Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Have You Ever Had One of Those...Months?

Well, have you?  Have you ever had one of those days...weeks...months?  You know, where everything seems to be going heywire?  I have.  In many ways, this January has been one of those months.

Let me share a few things that happened in Beranville this month:

The month started out with my husband, Alan, having an emergency appendectomy which included an overnight in the ER with no sleep for either of us, another night and day in the hospital and 2 week of "down time" for him as he recovered.  He is rarely "sick" so this was all new to me.  And, let me tell ya, it's hard to keep a hard-working farmer down. 

Dentist ~ 2 cavities (that I get filled tomorrow).

Sick kids ~ vomiting, diarrhea, earaches.  Then,  Alan, and I had a stomach bug at the same time.  We were up together in the middle of the night getting sick.  Not a bonding experience that I recommend. :)

A head cold that just won't go away.

Some issues with my oldest son, Andrew, that are too complicated to write about in a snip-it.

More doctors visits this month than our family normally has in 6 months. 

Stool samples for 4 tests, collected in 10 containers and ran to town 3 times in one week. The first samples I collected from my 21 month old's diaper in my minivan with two popsicle sticks and a rubber glove.  All the while, little Noah was saying "Ucky!" from his car seat in the back.  :)

Tons of research online.  Trying to "self-diagnose" 3 different people that I love.  Praying for healing for them... and several others in my life.

Then, the month ended today with blood work for Noah.  Another trip to the hospital.  The blood had to be taken from his arm and it took them 3 tries to hit a vein.  I felt terrible.

It's been a bit stressful.  Sometimes I handled the stress heroically, sometimes not so much.  But, I have been reminded again and again this month that, although I can't change my circumstance, I can choose my attitude.

I refer to these verses often: "Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."  I Thessalonians 5:16-18

And this past week these verses have been such a comfort to me: "This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." Hebrews 4:15-16

His grace is all I need.  So I go to Him bodly, admitting my desperation for Him.  And He understands my weaknesses!  I can be thankful, even joyful in all circumstances.  I keep praying.  I keep pushing ahead in confidence.  I can choose a good attitude because I know His grace is sufficient and works best in my weakness (see II Cor 12:9).  I don't have to be perfect!

And I'm thankful, oh so thankful, that I can see all the good that took place this month too.  Lots of eye opening, growing moments.  The smiles, hugs and laughter.  Good cuddle time with the boys on sick days.  The fun family times in the midst of the craziness (like celebrating our Andrew's 5th Birthday).  The way I have been reminded of how much God loves me, and just how much I need Him! 

Tomorrow I will probably mess up again.  But I know where to turn for an attitude adjustment when I need it most...and I need it most, all of the time.  ;) 

Goodbye January.  Welcome February.  Another month, another chance to choose a good attitude, to accept His grace and to be grateful.  Yep, it's going to be one of those months! :)

What attitude will you choose?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Did You Want To Be?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a girl I thought I wanted to be a teacher. I lined up my stuffed animals and dollies and “played school”. Other days I would line up my mom’s daycare kids and do the same. I actually taught many of the kids to count and say their ABCs.  However, the dolls listened better and the stuffed animals were quieter then the daycare kids. But either way, I enjoyed standing in front of my make believe class.  I dreamed of making a difference in the lives of young children someday.

As my high school graduation neared, I thought travel and tourism sounded exciting. I even pursued a travel and tourism degree. Later, I worked as a travel agent and found that it’s not nearly as exciting planning for other people trips that you would love to take yourself.

As a 20 something I contemplated going back to school for marriage and family counseling OR cosmetology. I worked several different jobs...restaurant server, customer service rep, hotel front desk clerk, travel agent, office manager, etc.

Through it all I always wanted to be a MOM!

What did you want to do?  What did you want to be?  Did you ever dream of being a slave?  Yeah, me neither! :)

Yet, that's what I'm learning should be my greatest desire...to serve.  I don't mean being a door-mat.  I mean, choosing to be a slave. 

Do you think I'm losing it?  Take a look at this verse from God's Holy Word:

"...Whoever wants to be a leader among you must
 be your servant, and whoever wants to be first
among you must become your slave.
For even the Son of Man came not to
be served but to serve others
 and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Matthew 20:26-28

As a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ, my desire should be to serve...as Jesus came to serve.  And not just to serve (because doesn't every wife and mom serve?!?!?), but to serve as He did, not with selfish ambition or with a grumbling attitude, rather with a humble, gentle, loving, selfless spirit.  Obediently serving out of the love I have for Him and the love that overflows from Him through me to others. 

I can choose to serve, knowing nothing I can do will diminish my value and, in the same way, nothing can make Him love me more or less.  I am His, my identity is safe with Him, and yet, He tells me to serve.  It's not an easy thing to do, but it's what Jesus told me to do...to take up my cross and follow Him.

So today I desire to be a slave!   A slave, eager to serve as my Master serves!  To have a heart open to whatever and whomever He brings in my path today. 

Yes, I want to be His humble servant.  What about you?

Lord, I need your help.  I can do nothing apart from You.  I want to be Your humble servant, unselfish and yielded.  I want to serve, as You came to serve.  To be Your slave, your hands and feet.  To love as You love.  Let my desires be Your desires, my words to be Your words, my actions to be Your actions.  I know You answer as we pray according to your will and so I believe today you will answer this, my heart's cry, as I also believe it is Your heart's cry.  And tomorrow I will pray it again.  Thank you, Lord Jesus!  Amen.

"So those who are last now will be first then,
and those who are first will be last."
Matthew 20:16

Friday, January 6, 2012

Oh, to Love Him More!

My husband ended up in the ER the night before last. Just a few hours after I said something I shouldn't have.

I spoke to a loved one earlier in the day. Someone who shared health concerns. I was reminded that life does not go on forever, that bodies fail and all people die. Even the strongest of us.

As I thought about and prayed for this person, emotion ovewehelmed me. I spent the evening thinking about all the things I take for granted. Of this fleeting life. Of regrets and goals to do better. I thought of the people I love and the way I wanted to show them more...much more.

In all the feelings I failed to see what was right before me.  To recognize the seriousness of my husband's pain. The pain of the man I say I love more than life. The pain he had told me he was experiencing. The pain I thought would go away. He seems so invincible. He's so healthy and strong. Rarely complains.

In the uproar of my feelings, concerns and contemplation of life, a remark my husband made, made me angry. I lashed out with hurtful words. Even as I said it, I knew it was wrong. Emotions getting the best of me. Still I spewed them. The tongue is like a blazing fire. Oh, to control it!

All that time thinking about what really matters...and the one who matters right before me, get's overlooked. He got the worst of me.

As I sat in the emergency room with my dear husband, I had more time to think. 1am...2am...3am...4am. It was 8am before he made it to surgery. An emergency laparoscopic appendectomy. I did not sleep all night, but that didn't matter. What mattered was he was getting the help he needed. I apologized for my words. He forgave me. I love yous were exchanged...and we meant it.

On Wednesday afternoon I thought all was well. Although these health issues have been brewing where I can not see, and where I do not know, in my world all seemed well. How quickly life can change. Oh, to remember! To live each moment as if this is my last chance.

My pastor reminded us on Christmas Eve that this life is about relationships, relationship first with God and then with others. And so I vowed that this year, this new year 2012, I will focus more wholey on something that has already been important to me, relationships. To live more as Christ, less selfishly and more lovingly. To love God with all my heart, mind and soul and to extend that love to others. If I love Him as I should, I will love others as I should.

Only days into this goal and I blow it. Letting hurtful words slip my lips, in one of the most important relationships in my life. Then, my husband gets sick and I kick myself.

BUT HIS mercies are new every morning! And really every moment. I start again, reaching for the goal. Living in this moment. Wishing to see, really see.

My heart echoes the words of Ann Voskamp "O Lord, open the eyes of my heart, the eyes of my hands, the eyes of my mouth, the eyes of my feet. I long to live all eye."

I asked my husband for forgiveness. He very graciously forgave me, saying that he understood. He loves me. I asked God for His forgiveness. He forgives and gives me new mercies. He loves me too. And I am so thankful! I decide to forgive myself...not looking back, but living in this moment and looking ahead to what He has for me to do next. Reaching towards the goal.

I hope to take my husband home from the hospital today. As he recovers from his surgery, I thank God that it wasn't much worse. I thank God for another chance.

Henry Blackaby wrote, "Jesus does not need your resolutions, your recommitments, or your promises to try harder this year. If your resolve to obey God last year (or last week) did not help you to be faithful, it will not make you successful this year. Jesus asks for your love. If you truly love Him, your service for Him in the new year will be of the quality that He desires."

Oh, to love Him more! Which will lead to loving others better...and speaking words that are filled with His grace, rather than fleshly poison. Help me, dear Jesus!

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

May the words of my mouth and the meditation
of my heart be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

copyright Rachel Beran