Sunday, April 25, 2010

Meaninglessness

What do you think of when you think of meaninglessness? For me life is meaningless when I think of being alone. I look around me often in a conscious effort not to take for granted what I have. I do have a nice home, money to do things within reasons, the blessing to be a stay at home mom and be there for my kids even when they are in school and right afterwards, and more. We aren't rich by any means but we do not lack. To be honest, I enjoy all of this. But would I enjoy it so much without Brian and the girls or dear friends?

When I look at my life I realize that a lot of the problems I had in the past stemmed from loneliness. I sought relationships and connections in unhealthy ways because I detested being alone. I was not meant to live a solitary life - but without Jesus in me, I didn't know how to develop Godly relationships. I can still remember those intense moments of loneliness. Sometimes it still hits me and I have to forcibly make myself realize how many people I do have in my life that care and love me in return. I am no longer alone.

Somewhere along the way I had to decide to do my part in building relationships. It became more important than building a career, acquiring wealth or the need for more stuff. But there is balance. I can minister through writing and speaking and still be a faithful spouse and parent. By faithful I mean being faithful to spend time with those I love so I can build and nurture those relationships. But I can think of many Christians who gave their entire lives over to ministry that they neglected their families and ended up burnt out, divorced or with children who turned their backs on God. This isn't solely related to pastors. A businessman may have the same issues or even a working mom. I know Brian and I struggle to balance running a business with family and ministry. It's so easy to become unbalanced. But together we can do it.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-14 (NIV) says: "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

To me it's clear that relationships are key. God is the integral cord but he created us for relationships. Alone I could be overpowered. Through relationships I will overcome. Alone I feel meaningless. The scripture says we accomplish more through relationships. There is something powerful in our relationships when we God coexists in them. It takes just one person who refuses to leave you lying on the ground to prove this. I have been on both sides of that. I have been so alone that there were times when I didn't have anyone to pick me up. It was awful. Sometimes I just wanted to give up and not get up. I didn't feel like I had anything to get up for. Now I have let God open my life to relationships. Now when I fall there is someone there to reach down a hand and help me back up and I do the same in return. It's how it was meant to me. I no longer feel that intense overwhelming sense of emptiness that loneliness brings. God brought me these relationships and I am learning everyday how to nurture and cultivate them.

I think the world perpetuates the idea that if we're strong we don't need people. That's a lie. We need each other. We were created for relationships. We were designed to do life together. Without relationships life is meaningless.

Today's Reflection: Even when there isn't another person around I no longer feel lonely. I know when Brian will be home at some point, the girls will wake up or get out of school, and there is always a friend I can connect with as well. I am so thankful Lord for these relationships. They strengthen me. Through them you define my purpose and calling. Sometimes I cannot comprehend the blessings in my life that have come through relationships. I am so thankful that I no longer feel disconnected in this world, like an outsider looking in.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Get Connected - Stay Protected

I recently had a security system installed at the house. I learned how to arm and disarm it easy enough what's taken the most getting used to is hearing the warning beeps every time I open a door. The warning beeps can be a little disconcerting and even annoying. I thought about turning the warning beeps off, but somehow that seems to negate the purpose of having a security system. Those warning beeps are reminders of what to listen for so if there is a time it goes off and I know it's not due to me or the family, it quickens my mind to pay attention and be aware. It helps give me a sense of security in normal daily situations not just security in knowing it's armed when I am asleep or away from home.

I think as Christians we have a built in security system as well. Have you ever been in a situation where you just knew you needed to leave or be wary? That's a spirit of discernment that comes from God via the Holy Spirit. But if you turned the discernment volume down or even off you could be in a messy or dangerous situation quickly.

Most of us wouldn't purposely turn the volume down or off. But how do we keep it to where we can hear it? We have to stay connected to God. But then the question becomes how to stay connected to God. If you ask a variety of people they will probably all offer different advice. One might say to get up at 5 am and spend an hour in prayer and bible study. Another might say to listen to praise and worship music all day and yet another might say something entirely different.
The reality is it’s not a 1-2-3 step process. Being the anal person that I am, I would prefer it. If I do this, this and this - then this will naturally happen right? Nope – not with relationships. They simply do not work that way. I've learned the hard way that you have to cultivate and nurture all relationships, especially one with God.

So as loosey goosey as it sounds you have to figure out what's good for you. If you're not a morning person getting up at 5 am will probably not work for you past 1 or 2 mornings. But getting up 10-15 minutes before the kids might be doable.
But regardless of what you do, make it structured and stick to it. Just as you might set a regular date night with your spouse, a lunch date with girlfriends or go to the gym, it’s just as important to schedule your time with God. You will know when to do it - rather than trying to fit it in. If you have just 15 minutes, start there and work your way up to more and more time. If you look at your day realistically there is time. I ration my time on other things until I know I've done what I need to do. I have even been known to set a timer to account for how much time I spend online If I don't I could easily spend an hour or two at the computer. So set a reminder and if need be a timer – and spend some time with God.

If you're a go with the flow type of person this might be hard for you. I am SO not a go with the flow type of girl but if I were, I might think of a 1000 other things or just rest and relax and not realize I hadn't made time for it.

So start with 15 minutes. Pray - talk to God. Find a devotional book that speaks to you. Most are less than 5 minutes. Read it, meditate on it, pray about it and then include God in the rest of your day. I talk to God while I shower or drive or clean. I listen to a lot of Christian music because it puts me in the mood to commune with God. I have to prep myself physically and mentally because I tend to make things harder than they are. So if I can do this – being the queen of procrastination and excuses that I am - I promise you can too. Like anything, practice makes perfect. The more connected to God that you are the more you’ll hear his voice and feel his discernment and the more guided you’ll be.

Get connected - stay protected.

Today's Reflection: As I develop my relationship with you I am fully aware of the power of the Holy Spirit in my life. I feel his presence guiding and directing me and definitely protecting me. I cannot fathom living this life without him. Thank you Lord for the gift of the holy spirit and for developing a heart within me to hear his voice and lean towards his words fully with understanding.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Becoming Childlike

My almost 5 year old has been wearing glasses for 4 years. She's extremely far sighted and has an astigmatism. We go to the eye doctor 2-4 times a year on average. We just went in December and lately I've noticed her right eye still turning in even with her glasses on so I decided to take Raina to the opthamologist.

He brought up the inevitable - we need to patch her good eye. I pretty much knew this was coming but my biggest worry was how Raina would react. I came home and did some reading and chose to invest in a couple of really girly patches rather than do the adhesive ones. They are on the way and we'll start patching as soon as they get here. I expect because we are patching the good eye to help strengthen her weak eye, that it might be uncomfortable, harder to see at first and may even give her a headache.

But I am hoping for the best. Raina's always been very compliant with her glasses. Even when she was 1 and got her first glasses she kept them on. She seems to have always understood that she simply can't see without them. She doesn't fight them or even the doctor except when they dilate her eyes.

When I really ponder this I realize she understands the need for glasses and eye doctor appointments and accepts it. She goes with it. And she's only about to be 5.

When I compare how accepting and understanding she is of the inevitable things in her life I realize how much I am not. I am the one constantly trying to find the easier road. There always has to be an easier way right? I spend so much time searching for the easier way or by procrastinating and putting off the inevitable, that I make things worse.

We can learn a lot from children if we let ourselves. I want to be more like Raina and accept hardships or problems easier. Children are so beautifully resilient. They just go with the flow for the most part as long as they are nurtured and loved through it. How many times have we seen our kiddos take a really hard fall and because we kiss it and pray to make it better they seem to be fine even though they have an awful scratch or bruise? As an adult I would probably limp throughout the day rather than moving on.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

Today's Reflection: Lord teach me to be more like my children. Show me how to be the example to them I need to be but always remind me how much I can learn through them and how they see the world before them. Help me not teach them my anxious procrastinating ways.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Dream

I am not one gifted with prophetic dreams. My husband truly has the gift of prophecy and words of knowledge but I do not. Seldom do I even remember my dreams long after I wake. But I had a dream a few days before I was hospitalized with the infection and I wanted to share it.

The last Friday of every month Brian and 2 friends get together for an all night prayer retreat. I normally truly dislike being alone at night. I don't sleep well and tend to get fearful. I was already feeling pretty bad at this point and didn't realize I had an infection yet this night I wasn't as anxious as I normally had been.

I went to sleep the last Friday of January and had a dream. It was a very vivid dream that I remember in detail almost 3 months later. In this dream Salem and I were in a building of some sort with a lot of people. We went there willing but later we couldn't leave. There was a woman there and she was very adamant that we could not leave. I do not remember feeling fearful but shortly after she said we could't leave Brian, a friend named Leonard and some other people crashed through the building in vehicles. Brian told me to leave with Salem and they'd handle it.

In the next scene of the dream, we were leaving the house. Our house is on a corner and our driveway is on the corner right outside the backyard. I had both girls with me and we stepped outside and I noticed the same woman across the street. Again I don't remember feeling afraid. But I noticed her and I remembered where she was from. I got the girls in the van as I watched her. She never crossed the street to where I was but I could hear her talking to me. She was telling me things like she had to kill me, that I couldn't live and she had to destroy me.

Again - I wasn't afraid. For a woman that has in the past and is still dealing with a lot of fear issues this has stuck with me. I simply was not afraid. I remember telling her I didn't want to die but if I did God would send someone else to do what he had called me to do. At this point my neighbor came out and shot her. Later she's in an ambulance yelling at me that this isn't over.

This was Friday night. Sunday afternoon I was really sick and Monday I was in the hospital. I do believe in coincidence and I do believe in the supernatural. I am also not one to see a demon behind every shadow. But I truly believe this dream was either a warning of what was to come or something hugely spiritual in my life.

I think of this dream everyday. In the bible God allowed Peter to be sifted. God allowed Job to be tested. I definitely do not think God made me ill. But he allowed it for a reason. Was I being sifted or tested? I think so.

Now I'm trying to figure out why.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jenny Bizaillion

While I was in the hospital the 2nd time recovery from the surgery to clean out my infection, I'd often play on Facebook. Many of my friends new a young woman named Jenny Bizaillion. I never had the pleasure of meeting her but she changed my life. But while I was in the hospital and later at home recovering, Jenny was in the hospital as well. She was admitted February 4th in critical condition with pneumonia.

Jenny's struggle was indeed critical. The infection rampaged and on February 22nd she passed from this life into the arms of her heavenly father. She was 32 and left behind a grieving husband, 8 year old daughter and an amazing amount of loving family and friends. In the 2 plus weeks prior to her death I prayed for her daily - several times a day. As I was getting better she seemed to be getting worse. As I got to go home, she weakened and continued to fight for her life. On February 22nd she died as I was getting my PICC line out from the comfort of my own home.

I remember just crying as I read the update. What on earth was fair about this? She was a beautiful vibrant young woman full of life and calling. Why was her journey called short?

I simply do not know. I do know I still wonder why I am here and she is not. I am so thankful to still be able to parent my daughters and live a wonderful life with my husband. I am here for a reason. I am still waiting for God to define that for me. I just know he has something planned for me. I am here in this world for a reason. My world may be small but it's my world. I can do something incredible in my world just as Jenny did.

Everything I read about Jenny portrays her as a Godly woman full of love and compassion and gospel truth. I want to be remembered likewise. Jenny - thank you for living for God and being a true testimony to his gospel. I know I will think of you often and while a part of me grieves for your family's loss - I know you are fulfilled in the arms of the father. Thus I will pray for your husband and daughter as I pray for mine. I will pray for God to heal their pain and bring them peace. I know your calling is complete or you wouldn't be in heaven and I pray that the lives you touched on this earth will continue to reach out and touch others creating a lasting legacy of hope and peace.

You brought hope to my life in a dark time. I never feared for my life but I often feared for my family and what would happen to them if something happened to me. I watched my little girls struggle with worry and fear and saw my strong and never worrying husband worry. I remember asking God to let me stay and be with them longer. And for reasons I do not understand I was healed on this earth and you were healed the moment you went to be with the father. All I can assume is I have more to do.

I do not look at this gift lightly. I actually feel quite overwhelmed at times. But regardless, I see your life as a beautiful reminder that challenges me to do better and be more and to do what God has called me to do. One day in heaven I will look forward to meeting you, hugging you and telling you thank you in person.

What did 90 days of solitude do for me?

My therapist recently asked me this and I was puzzled. It did teach me a lot in that I leaned in and really delved into getting to know God and worshipping him on a new level. But what did God really mean for me to learn from it?

Later that night I had dinner with my friend and she said she thought it was preparing me for this journey I went on medically. I was very tired and ill and then hospitalized again homebound with the PICC line and wound vac. All in all it was over 12 weeks before I wasn't homebound and tired and weary.

She's right. I would have probably had a nervous breakdown if it had happened before my 90 Days of Solitude or if I hadn't obeyed and done the 90 Days of Solitude. I was tired and slept a lot and even though I had a lot of help with my house and with the girls there was still a lot of time left in the day. I wasn't mentally capable of a lot of bible study or complicated thought process due to a lot of medicine. Yet I was able to draw peace and not worry because my spirit was full. My spirit communed with God and knew what I needed.

Thank you Lord.

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My "other" blog is more about day to day life with my husband and kids and rants and raves about a variety of subjects. Hope on over.

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