Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Back to Work

The prospect of returning to work, working the night shift part-time at the retirement home where I previously worked, has me grateful but also anxious. I also regret the lost opportunity of working the evening shift position I was gunning for back in the summer.

I'm grateful to have a job as a nurse and to be well enough to work. I appreciate the slower pace of the night shift and the nightly routine that keeps you busy. I don't get to interact with the residents as much, but there are some I see frequently. 

I feel anxious about adjusting back to working, and learning any things that have changed in the routine. I am concerned about my sleeping schedule with working nights and sleeping days and then then going back to sleeping nights when I am not working. I am also aware to avoid isolation working the night shift I will have to participate in regular social activities or volunteer on the days I am not working. 

My first shift back is Thursday. I'll have to see how I adjust back to the working world and how many things have changed since August. Staying up all night can be difficult and sleeping during the day can be tough.

I recognize I do not return to work on my own. I do have support from my employer, my family and friends. I also have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and the support of my Saviour and Lord.

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Solid Rock

I have some go to devotional materials. I read "Jesus Calling," "Jesus Today", and "Jesus Lives" by Sarah Young. Lately I have been doing a devotional from She Reads Truth which arrives in my Inbox. I often read "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers. Sometimes I read "The Language of Letting Go" by Melody Beattie. I often read a bit of "Be the Gift" by Ann Voskamp before I turn out the light. Also every morning I read aloud "Blessing Your Spirit" by Sylvia Gunter and Arthur Burk.

I have come to realize that I can read devotional materials all day, but if I am not putting any of it to practise it is pretty much useless. I might have great knowledge of the Bible, but where is my heart at? Am I like the person who looks in the mirror of God's perfect law and immediately forgets what she looks like?

I tend toward selfishness, and self-centredness. I don't always see others' needs and even when I do I don't always do anything about it. At times I am guilty of saying I will pray for someone, and then failing to do so, at least with much frequency. I am easily distracted from my prayers and prayerfulness is a hard virtue to practise.

Am I looking for an experience or am I looking to develop a relationship? I am grateful that despite my failings, Jesus is faithful and patient with me. He is pleased with the smallest of my baby steps. He speaks to me in a language my heart understands. He rescues me from situations I get myself entangled in and He carries me close to his heart. 

When I am anxious about something, He calms my fears just as He calmed the storm. He tells me to be still and speaks peace into the situation. He loves me as much on my worst day as on my best day, and He tells me I am worth his sacrifice. While I am my own harshest critic, He is my greatest encourager, allowing me to be convicted about my sins, but not condemned. He's my Rock and my Deliverer.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Broken but Beautiful

Every piece of me, shattered and dispersed, fits together in a mosaic of untold beauty. The shards glued back together, reassembled and sorted interlock and form a picture of God's grace. The cracks are where the light gets in, as a Switchfoot lyric goes.

What could have destroyed me, has only made me stronger, stronger in the broken places. I have scar tissue, but that's the body's way of healing itself. My brain is recovering and I have the mind of Christ, a sound mind that is disciplined and recognizes that old patterns will no longer work.

Sometimes the old ways reassert themselves. I begin to catatrophize or I exhibit all or nothing thinking. I consider throwing a pity party or I worry about the future and fail to envision any hope. I view the past with a blue lens, remembering all the horror and pain. I look forward thirty years or just ten and wonder how I can survive this condition.

But I am not meant to live in the past or in the future. The now, the present moment, is all I have to consider. I don't have the grace for tomorrow's problems and stewing about the past is a dead end.

Finding out who I am is an amazing pursuit. Who I am in Christ and who I was created and designed to be. Discovering who God is also a spectacular journey that will never end definitively, because He is so much greater than we could ever imagine and so much beyond what we could ever know.

I'm glad I am on this pathway to life and I know who goes before me and who stands behind. I feel safe and secure in the shelter of His love. I believe He will always go with me and even if I have to go to the other side of the sea, His right hand will hold me fast.

I am looking for my calling, the place where my giftings, and the deepest need in the world intersect. This is my true vocation, and I know I have been blessed in order to be a blessing. It may or may not involve my career, but I know my talents cannot be buried or used selfishly to no one's benefit but my own. I don't know how I will serve others; I don't know how I will share the love of God; I just know I am commanded to love other believers and my neighbour, and to share the good news, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey the Lord's commands. He promises to be with me always to the very end of the age. "Fear not little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Beginning Anew

As the 2018 calender gets put away, I want to begin anew. I want to let go of old ways of coping, old baggage and insecurities, old patterns of behaviour. I want to rid myself of envy, greed, malice, and slander. I desire a new heart, no longer of stone, but one of flesh. I want the weeds in my garden uprooted.

I have gone through a season of pruning, of painful changes, of choices I never wanted to face. I have found throughout my pathway to wellness that God drew near and kept His promises to me. He remained faithful and true to His Word no matter how up and down my emotions were.

God definitely got my attention. CS Lewis once said that pain is God's megaphone to the world. I now have a dialogue with God that I don't want to end. I have a friendship with Jesus; I am sure of the Father's love; I have a newfound reliance on the Holy Spirit.

Life is not a rose-garden, by any means, but neither is it a place devoid of beauty or truth. As I look to the spring I think about rebirth and renewal and about what I will plant in my garden literally and metaphorically.

Things I want to throw away include anxiety, worry, negative attitudes and expectations, insecurity, and the belief that I can't cope with life. Things I want to embrace include confidence in God and myself, love for others and God, peace within and without, joy not based on circumstance, patience when I need to wait, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. I want my life to be enriched by the fruit of the Spirit and my life to be productive in things of eternal value.

I want to be a marathon runner, training my body and mind to compete so as to win the prize. I want to be a farmer patiently waiting for the rains. I want to be a soldier who fights for truth and justice and defends against the onslaught of the Enemy.

"Search me, God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

Monday, December 24, 2018

Yuletide Yearning

It's December 24th and Christmas fast approaches, swifter than Santa's reindeer, it will be upon us.

Somehow this season of belonging and of love, joy, and peace is also one of alienation and disconnection, discouragement, grief, and conflict. No matter how many fancy bows we slap on our gifts, or how perfect our gift selection is, there remains a void Christmas cannot fill.

Those who remember who they have lost, whether years ago or recently, grieve the fact that their loved ones are not here. Those whose families are not perfect, who are alienated from family members, lament their losses and struggle towards peace within themselves. Those who have yet to find a love they imagine could fill any gaping hole in themselves, mourn the absence of their other half. Those who long for a child, but find it beyond their grasp, grieve the hole in their family.

Jesus came to bring joy, he came to bring peace, and he was the perfect Gift of love. It's when we forget why we celebrate Christmas in the first place and get caught up in all the trappings of the season, all the glitter and gifts, all the baked goodies and scrumptious feasts, that we are in danger of missing why Jesus came and why he is still relevant more than two thousands years after he was born.

Jesus was sent to usher in the Kingdom of God. He was sent to be the Sacrificial lamb. He came as a baby so he could set the captives free and give sight to the blind, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour. He came so he could point the way to his Father, and so he could be the Way. He came to tell the truth, and to be the Truth. He came to demonstrate life, and to be the Life.

"Because of His boundless love, He became what we are in order that He might make us what He is." (Irenaeus). Christ's incarnation, that he came as a helpless child, yet the fullness of God dwelt in him, means so much more than a Hallmark card can express. His life, his death and his resurrection mean everything. If your joy and patience seem in short supply in the hectic pace of the holidays, take a deep breath and remember just what was wrapped up in that Perfect Gift.

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Valley of Decision

Some decisions can have long-ranging impacts on the rest of your life. One of them is a choice of a career. Another is a choice of a spouse. While you can always switch careers or career streams, hopefully you go into a marriage with the intention of remaining with your partner for life.

That's why careful consideration should be made of whether the person you select as a potential mate is suitable and compatible. No one is perfect, but are there any red flags that cause you to hesitate?

You can fall in love so easily, but will you be able to stay in love with this person during rough seas? Do you love them enough to face any disaster together or crisis? Are there signs that you can work well together? How do you handle a disagreement or conflict?

You don't have to be identical in all your viewpoints or strengths, but you should complement one another and be working for the same goals. If there is something about your partner that you wish you could change, you have to ask yourself could you handle it if the person never changed in that area.

I'm only in the beginning stages of a relationship, and I admit to questioning whether our love can go the distance, with all the challenges we will face. I want to be clear-eyed and alert, and not clouded by unrealistic expectations. I don't want to face misery later, when I wake up from my dream scenario and realize relationships are hard work and there are certain behaviours I cannot tolerate.

I haven't come to a firm conclusion. I think I will maintain a prayerful watchfulness, and listen closely to the voice of God, in whatever form it comes. In the end, the decision to continue pursuing the relationship is up to me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Greatest Gift

What's the best gift you ever received?  What about the best gift you ever gave?

A number of gifts come to mind as I ponder those questions, but sometimes the gifts don't stick in your memory for long from Christmas to Christmas or birthday to birthday.

Giving gifts is one of my love languages, but more so I give words of affirmation and encouragement. My cards tend to be lengthy missives which delineate everything I love about the recipient or express my best wishes for their continued health and happiness.

The Bible says the greatest gift is love. Without it you're bankrupt; without it as a motive your best actions are without any value. It will remain long after the dust settles; it endures forever.

It is the new command that the apostle John gave, "Love one another." Love comes from God and every one who loves is born of God, and knows God.

I'm realizing I can do many good things, things that are kind and considerate, things that people can point out as beautiful or beneficial, but my motives for doing these things can be mixed at best. Also I can keep myself busy and stressed doing things I was never intended to do.

Listening to the Holy Spirit is key, as is soaking in the Heavenly Father's love, and keeping close to Jesus Christ, who is a friend and a brother.

How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God and that is what we are!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Soul Prints

There's some people you could never forget. They come into your life and leave their imprint on your heart and soul. They might disappear or grow distant, but they were your friend and nothing can ever change that.

I've said goodbye to many friends. Usually it is not even that we had a falling out, we just grew in different directions or moved locations or no longer had time and energy to maintain a bond. In some cases I'm not even sure what happened, but I knew it was over. Other times I hurt people or became offended at people while I was unwell which is why I likely will never return to Facebook, the scene of the worst of my crimes. Or I missed a critical meeting like a baby shower, with regrets, or a visit that I couldn't participate in, because I was in the hospital.

I've come to see regretting the end of friendships is not productive. Better to remember the friend with fondness and move on. If you did hurt someone, it is important to apologise, if it is in your power.

I have had to let go of a dear friend, with whom I had a toxic relationship, and that was very difficult. Yet she wrote me a heartfelt email that granted closure to our friendship. She released me with a blessing, and I know she always had the best in mind for me in her heart. I will never forget her, and I will remember her prayers for me and how much she cared over the years.

I have a few close friends who are very important to me. I rely on them, and I try to a dependable friend to them as well. The reality is you can't always rely on friends or be entirely trustworthy yourself. There are no perfect friendships; there is only one perfect friend and I depend upon him and cling to him fiercely when there appears to be no solid ground beneath my feet.

I am grateful for friends who give so much love and support to me. I am thankful for fellow believers who pray for me. I even treasure acquaintances who care enough to give a listening ear. I truly am blessed.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Peaceful Repose

Of late I have been improving in my ability to sleep well. Part of it is following a proven bedtime routine that prepares me for peaceful slumber. This strategy is called "sleep hygiene" and has nothing to do with showering, though that might be part of a successful bedtime routine.

I think the biggest breakthrough happened was when I relaxed about when I would fall asleep, and realized there was actually no way I wouldn't get at least some sleep, especially after taking my medications, which basically knock me out anyways.

But actually there was an even greater breakthrough, when I trusted when I couldn't sleep or was awakened in the middle of the night, that there could be a purpose for being awake.  That there might be someone to pray for, or something to battle through. It wasn't a disaster to be awake at midnight or 3 am or 5 am; it was actually an opportunity to spend time with God and seek his guidance and direction.

I can ask God to help me sleep. If something in my day is troubling me, I can bring it to him. If I have any burdens I have picked up I can lay them down. If I have become prideful, I can turn away from that. If I feel unsafe either physically or spiritually, I can remember the angels that surround and encamp about me. I can remember the blood of Jesus which purifies and protects. I can remember my Heavenly Father who holds me in the palm of his hand and who has numbered the hairs of my head and keeps my tears in a bottle.

When my emotions seem out of control, there is One who can bring peace. He can still the storm with three words: "Peace, be still."

Sometimes I picture Jesus with me, standing by my bed, or even holding me in his arms. I think of what he might say to me and I remember his red letter words. At the hospital He was always there when I couldn't sleep, and I would pretend we were having a slumber party, but I complained to Him He was keeping me awake. He might have been keeping me awake, but it was for a purpose. More likely He was working on me, reorganizing some files deep in my brain, or redecorating the walls of my home.
Hard to believe this was already three years ago. Where has time gone?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Brian Doerksen- Grateful for Another Day

Lyrics for Grateful for Another Day by Brian Doerksen

[Verse 1]
I'm grateful for another day
This gift of life all lit with grace
A day to let judgments go
A day to love peace and let it grow

[Verse 2]
I'm grateful for another day
A change to trust come what may
A day to risk loving more
Let's see what God may have in store

[Chorus 1]
A day to see the reasons, a thousand gifts receiving
A day to trust that God will see us through
A day to stop complaining, a day to start reclaiming
A day to trust that God will see us through!

[Verse 3]
I'm grateful for this gift of time
I'll live it knowing love is mine
A day to let worry go
A day when compassion stirs and flows!

[Chorus 2]
A day to see the reasons, a thousand each season
A day to trust that God will see us through
A day to stop complaining, a day to start reclaiming
A day to trust that God will see us through

Gratitude is a theme running through my life right now like a golden thread, transforming the ordinary or the painful into a thing of beauty and life. Through being thankful for the blessings I have and continually receive, I can take my eyes off what I perceive as lacking or weak in me. My eyes are focused on the face of Christ, sometimes appearing in the faces around me who need something I can give, be it only a smile or a kind word. One of the gifts I can give is encouragement, another is being present rather than distracted. I might have teaching gifts, but I have so much to learn I try to be receptive to anything a wiser person might be able to teach me. I need to learn the difference between being empathetic and compassionate and trying to "fix" or rescue someone. As a branch on the vine (John 15), in order to bear fruit I must be connected to Christ and receptive to the Father's love. I need to follow my calling and choose the best rather than merely the good.