Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Where have I been?

I knew it had been a while but didn't know it had been almost two weeks since I blogged.  Sorry about that.  A lot going on.   Let me tell you about it.

1)  Easter.   The picture above is of Gabby, Wilson and Carlos because Wilson was the Easter bunny.  We didn't have anyone extra here, but our worship service was spectacular and we enjoyed those who were here.  Bart cooked an amazing meal which I didn't eat much of because I was leading in a 30 day No Cheat Challenge on Facebook.  I made it thirty days without cheating and lost 6 more pounds.    Posting a picture of everything you eat five times a day is time consuming :-).

(I know I blogged for a couple of days after Easter, but wanted to share this picture above so I threw in something about Easter)

2)  I am in charge of a committee that is having our first gala tomorrow night.  I loved the gala when I was branch director at Bethany because I delegated everything and had very capable people handling the details.   This year, I'm the one with the details and that's not anywhere close to my skill set.  We are in great shape and have 370 people registered to attend, unheard of for a first event.  Super excited but anxious as well.

3)  My kidney stones returned to visit for a couple days.

4)  My mom has been having a really hard time and that is unusual.  She has been my rock for my entire life and now approaching 89 she is needing me more than ever.  Physical problems that are causing falls and a lot of anxiety have her a real confused and it's frightening.  She doesn't want me to come there, so the stress is handled from here.

5)  Dominyk is planning to leave in 3 weeks.  His buddy bought him a ticket back to Minnesota and we feel like it's a really bad plan for him to do that.   He only has housing for a week which is "plenty of time to find a place to live and a job."   We are worried about him and he is anxious and has no motivation to comply ... very similar to the last week Tony lived with us.   It's caused some stress.

6)  It is April and in my life April has had some pretty icky things happen.  Yesterday in particular was filled with trauma triggers and I ended up having a very hard time falling asleep last night and woke up way too early.  Which is the purpose of this post.

None of us chooses to have anxiety.   It creeps up on us and it doesn't always make sense.  The human psyche is very complex, and our anxiety can be tied to things brought up by our emotional memory which aren't even thought of cognitively.   And when it hits it can be awful.

Last night, as I lay in bed, words I memorized as a kid from Philippians 4:6-7 went over and over in my mind.  I can't even find the Living Bible online anymore -- I think it has a new name, but this is how I remember it:

"Don't worry about anything.  Instead, pray about everything.  Tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers.  When you do this, you will experience peace which is far more wonderful than the mind can comprehend.  His peace will keep you quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus."

So last night I spent some time praying.  I told God my needs, and I thanked Him for the times He had answered my prayers.     Eventually, peace came.   Not peace I could find for myself somewhere, but peace from God.

And this song started to play in my memory and I fell asleep to it.  A song that has been reminding me of God's peace since 1985.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Tired of Doing the Right Things with No Results?

Ever get discouraged because you keep on doing what you're supposed to do but you don't see results?

Jesus and the Apostle Paul both used the analogy of sowing and reaping.   Jesus told a parable in Matthew 13 about a guy was scattering seeds.
As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 
If anyone knows what it is like to sow a bunch of seeds that are wasted, it is Jesus.   He routinely and daily gives his love and his best to people who reject him in a multitude of ways for a multitude of reasons.

Then Paul told the Corinthians,  "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow."

Putting those two passages together reminds us that we need to keep doing what we're supposed to be doing.... sowing seed.  Or possibly watering it.  But the results are up to God.  It's only God that makes it grow.

So, if you are discouraged because someone is not responding the way you want them to when you continue to sow and sow and so, don't be.   

God is not asking us to grow plants -- that's his job.

All he's asking us to do is to sow the seeds.

If you replace the word swimming with the words sowing, I hope this song gets stuck in your head not just today... but for the rest of your life.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Skipping the Middle

As a child I grew up in a denomination that skipped Holy Week.   It wasn't that we forgot that Jesus died, it's just that we didn't have special services to talk about it.   We went to church on Sunday and we celebrated Palm Sunday and then the next week we might have Wednesday night regular stuff where it might get mentioned, but basically we jumped over the next few days and came back the next Sunday to celebrate the Resurrection.

We skipped the hard, gut-wrenching icky stuff.   We knew what happened, but we didn't talk about it a lot.  And I never noticed.

Until I married a man a man who had changed denominations and was a United Methodist minister and he pointed that out to me.   Since then, I have spent the last 22 years slowly walking through the week that long week where Jesus went from crowds shouting "Hosanna" to crowds screaming "Crucify Him."  I listened again to Scripture about a Man who had dinner with and washed the feet of men he knew would deny and betray him.   I listened to the prayer that this Man prayed to His Father, begging that he be let off the hook, concluding "Not my will but thine be done."    I heard the court trials where this Man was accused but chose not to defend Himself.  And I heard every word of all of the things that happened to Him physically as he died.

I was forced to feel the pain, not just physically, but emotionally that He endured.  I was face to face with the raw emotion of disciples who betrayed and denied Him and those who were faithful to the end, but then devastated by what they thought was the end.

This week I was in church on Thursday night, and Friday noon, and Friday night and on those days over and over again I was reminded of the price paid for me.

Yesterday we gathered together one more time.  But this time it wasn't to talk about pain, betrayal, denial, suffering or death.  It was to celebrate the One who conquered death itself.  I must say that celebrating resurrection when you truly walk with Jesus through the torture of the week is much more meaningful.   I could barely choke out the words, "He is risen indeed" because of tears as I recalled not just the glorious thought of the resurrection, but the powerful pain of the week before.

Aren't we like that as humans?  We love to skip the middle.  We want to go from mountaintop to mountain top and never pass through the valleys.   But Jesus invites us to share in it all.  In Romans 8:17 it says,
"Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory."
The next time you enter a difficult period of your life I invite you to experience the middle.  Seek for what you can learn during the hard times.  Embrace, if you will, the pain, the betrayal, the suffering, because you know that if you share in His suffering, you will share in His glory.

And when you rise again, which you will, the victory will be sweeter, deeper, and more profound than if you try to avoid what leads up to it.

He is Risen!

And so will you.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

My Bad....

After the "marathon" I came home and thought I updated everyone.  But apparently, the blog got neglected!  Sorry to those of you who don't follow me on Facebook and didn't donate -- I forgot about you!   Everyone else heard lots about the race.

But here you go.  I'll fill in what was on Facebook from Saturday until now.

On Saturday morning I walked with some of family members on a cold cloudy morning right here in Danville.  We had a good time.  I ended up walking 3.09 miles.... I know, weird number, but apparently you have to be int he inner circle to have it be an exact quarter mile on the track, and I was in the outer circles most of the time.  So, according to my fitbit, it was 3.09 miles.   Pretty cool huh?  We went out to lunch afterwards and had a great time.

Then Sunday morning at 4:22 a.m. I woke up in severe pain and an urge to urinate like nothing I'd experienced before.   I thought it was just a urinary infection and was standing at the door waiting for it to open at Urgent Care on Sunday morning at 8.   After an hour and a half, the Nurse Practitioner having seen the X-rays saying.   "you definitely have Kidney Stones -- more than I can count."  She gave me heavy drugs, told me to make a urologist appointment and sent me home.

I was miserable for 24 hours ... except when I was asleep and heavily medicated.  But today I'm much better.

Did that answer everything?

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mountains and Valleys

If you are my friend on Facebook (and you haven’t stopped following me or snoozed me :-) you know that I finished that walk I promised I would on Saturday.

Three of my friends here and my husband and daughter and her boyfriend and kids had agreed to come all the way to Lynchburg to support me. When our office in Lynchburg had to cancel the Do It 4 The Kids Day event,  I knew that I had about 125 people who were going to be very upset if I didn’t do the walk.    So we had our own impromptu event.  There were no bouncy houses, no food was served, but it was really fun.   I had said I would walk 25. and ended up walking 3.09.  Some of us went out to lunch afterwards.  It was such a great day.

Then yesterday, when I should have been walking around church collecting remaining pledges and being congratulated, I was instead at urgent care and in bed with kidney stones.

The reason for this blog entry, however, is not, to have it be all about me.  When I share my own personal story, it is to remind you of something similar that you have gone through and tie in spiritual connections for you and for me.

So, when was there a time when you had a huge victory and the next day you found yourself feeling completely defeated?   Peter, James and John sure knew what that felt like.  In Matthew 17 they were with Jesus on a mountain when suddenly Jesus was transfigured — his face shown like the sun and his clothes became white as the light.   Suddenly, Elijah and Moses appeared.   Peter was in the middle of trying to convince Jesus to let him put up shelters for them to live in when they heard God’s voice and fell to the ground terrified.  Jesus encouraged them to get up and told them not to be afraid.

Wow, what an amazing experience!  To see Jesus transfigured, to be in the presence of Moses and Elijah, and to hear the very voice of God all in one day.   That had to have been an awesome experience.  They headed down the mountain and the first thing they came across was a man whose son was possessed by a demon.  Ugh.  Can you imagine how their euphoria suddenly disappeared?

Life is like that.   We have highs and we have lows.  The key is believing that God is with us, no matter what.  Today I share two songs, one of which I have shared before.  One brand new one, and one very old one, that talk about this idea of mountain tops and valleys…

Saturday, March 24, 2018

I'm ready!

Today is the day.  And I'm writing about it everywhere because I have told so many people about this 2.6 mile marathon that I'm walking/hobbling through this afternoon.

If you aren't on Facebook you will miss out on all kinds of updates like this one:

One hour from now, on this very chilly morning, I will be walking 2.5 miles. Five months ago I don't even dream of that possibility and here we are. I know that I will be in a great deal of pain, but I believe I will do it and am stronger, lighter and have more muscle than I did back then. I feel a lot better too!

THANK YOU to everyone who sponsored me and encouraged me on this journey. This very morning I broke the barrier I had been stuck at and have now lost over 20 pounds. I couldn't have done it without you.

Stay tuned to Facebook for live videos and updates during the race. Once it is over I will post one more time and then close down these updates ... for this year any way.  

I'll save the emotions for that post (assuming I can crawl to the computer this afternoon :-)

And if you are a person who was waiting to see if I actually did it before you sponsored me, you can do that this afternoon. Or you can do it now as a statement of confidence!

Or this one:

Ready for the day.
Neosporin with pain relief recommended by Beth Van Deusen Swenson for my foot pain.
Very cool Contigo Autospot Water Bottle my daughter Mercedes Lee Soto Fletcher bought me.
Finished some Kashi cereal on the food plan by my very cool and super many trainer Dave Gluhareff who was recommended by my friends Ralph K. Hawkins and Cathy Hawkins.
Bombas socks, my new favorite thing. (If you've never tried them, I can get you a discount.... let me know).
All of the support and enthusiasm of the 125 folks from all over the country and from all different periods of my life who have donated to sponsor me and to help kids and families. I would tag you all, but that might be exhausting and soak up my energy
The example of people like Mary Beth Bova-Burgess and Mercy J. Clements who have done so much more than this and been my inspiration.
And looking forward to being surrounded by my amazing husband Bart Fletcher and my granddaughter, my daughter, my grandson, and my amazing friends Cathy and Kelly, mentioned above, Michelle Cox LarkingKen Larking, and Nicola Parrish
Finally, I've got a really big God who has been with me through all of my journey. 
Can you think of anything else I might need?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Fully Alive

What does it mean to you to be fully alive?  Maybe it means noticing every good thing around you -- nature, relationships, fulfilling work, and celebrating it daily.  Maybe it means experiencing the heights and depths of this life without running away from the hard times that always teach us more than the good times.   Or possibly you have your own definition.

This verse in Habakkuk 2 (the Message) tells us how to get there ... how to get to fully and really alive:

“Look at that man, bloated by self-importance—
    full of himself but soul-empty.
But the person in right standing before God
    through loyal and steady believing
    is fully alive, really alive.

Be in right standing with God, be loyal, believe steadily.     It's a place that we can live in most of the time, but once and a while we recognize that something has slipped and we need to head back there.  Being fully alive, which sounds exciting and adventurous is actually made possibly by things that sound relatively boring .... loyalty and steady believing.

I invite you today to do those things which Scripture say make us "Fully Alive."  

Will this age me if I say this is the way I remember them?