(Last Week’s) Five Minute Friday: Ready

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Gentle Reader,

Linking up late (again) with Kate and the FMF crew. Setting the timer for five minutes and I’m: ready.

Go.

I never feel ready for anything. Ever. Even when I was a kid and I’d study for tests weeks before they actually happened, I never felt prepared. I was always convinced that I was going to fail. (And I did on occasion. Organic chemistry. Algebra. I have yet to use either in life. Whatever).

I’ve carried that sense with me into adulthood. I’m always looking over my shoulder, wondering when the fall is going to come. No matter how hard I work or how well I do my job, surely I’m going to get fired. No matter how well I’ve got the lesson prepared (or the game, or the discussion questions, or anything) for the kids on Wednesday nights, it’s going to be a flop. No matter how closely I follow the recipe, when I cook dinner (a rare and well-documented thing in my house), it will suck.

Somehow, somewhere, some time, I came to believe that I’m a weakling who can’t handle anything. I started second-guessing every decision. Re-thinking every word. Clipping my cuticles (nail obsession tends to happen in those who are anxious). Oh, and I analyze. Everything. All the time. From every angle. Until I want to throw up.

It’s something else when you actually make yourself sick.

Looking at this belief of mine, this idea that I’m never ready…well, it makes me shake my head. So many times it hasn’t been true. I make plans and see things through and the failures, while real, have never been big enough to rock my world forever. I’ve worked for the same people for 14 years, for Pete’s sake. It makes zero sense to think that I’m going to be fired every time I walk through the door.

Here is another area in which I must learn to operate out of what I know and not what I feel. There’s a lot I can prepare for. I might not feel ready, but I can be ready. When the times comes when I can neither feel nor be ready – like my approaching visit to the liver specialist – I can rely on the One who goes before me.

The Lord who is always ready.

Grace and peace along the way.

Stop.

When the Hits Keep Coming

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Gentle Reader,

Jesus never said that the abundant life would be trouble-free. In fact, He explicitly told His people that “in this world, [they would] have trouble” (John 16:33). That statement stands today. We will have trouble. We simply cannot escape it. So, how is it possible that an abundant life, a life filled with blessings and joy, can also be a frightening, frustrating, painful life?

I’m dwelling on this. Last week I told you that several of my friends are dealing with some really tough things. We’re talking big things here, like death and abusive relationships. Chris and I continue to scrape by on the seat of our financial pants. There always seems to be more bills than there is money. I lay awake last night wondering how we could possibly make it work. My parents are in the same boat. My brother is recovering from his third foot surgery.

I get the trouble part. I’m living that.

Thus it was a bizarre feeling that rose up within me when we took the dogs for a walk last night and spied the barest hint of Autumn color tinging the trees that line the neighborhood pathways. In the midst of struggle, there was beauty. Splashes of gold and vibrant red, lit by the blaze of sunset. I could not have enjoyed the moment more if everything in my life was perfect. I suspect that I enjoyed it because my life is not perfect.

These little reminders from God are what keep us going. I don’t know how we’ll pay all of my medical bills or replace the engine in the stupid, stupid truck. I don’t know how to adequately comfort my friends. I have no money to give my parents to help them and I can’t make my brother’s foot heal any faster. But I do have the changing leaves. I possess a reminder any time I look out the window, a reminder that tells me that there are seasons. That life is never static. That the hardship of the now will not overtake me for I know the One who has overtaken the now (also John 16:33).

I am a pessimistic, deeply cynical person, so I know how impossible the words I am about to write will seem. Nevertheless, it’s true that there’s always something to be thankful for. I am learning that, if I let Him, God will step in a blow that pessimism and that cynicism away. He will give me little glimpses into something better, something more. I’m learning that I can listen to the Enemy’s lies if I want to and travel the path of discontentment and despair, but what’s the point of that? I’m learning that holding on to hope – really, God Himself – is the only thing that makes sense even as it seems senseless.

Why do people die when they do? Why do relationships turn sour? Why does the car have to break down the same time the body does? Why do people run away? I don’t know. I simply don’t have the answers for any of that. All I know is that the leaves are changing. That, somehow, is evidence enough that God is at work.

Grace and peace along the way.

The Detox Diaries, Five Minute Friday Edition: Fill

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Gentle Reader,

After my two-week hiatus I am once again linking up with the FMF crowd at our new hangout, Heading Home with Kate Motaung. Yes, our beloved Lisa-Jo has passed on the baton. But that’s okay! Sometimes it’s right to let a good thing go.

For this first post with Kate, we: fill.

Go.

“Omer”

I’m running on empty today, God

What You gave her just isn’t enough

I need You to meet my need

Adjust Your outpouring supernaturally

I don’t want to complain

I don’t want to be greedy

I just need enough of You

To fill the omer within me

I wrote this poem, based on Exodus 16, years ago, but it came to mind as soon as I saw this week’s prompt. God has answered this prayer over and over again, today in a parking lot being the latest occurrence.

Just a brief recap: as many of you know, I live with some chronic health issues and back in May began the process of coming off of Cymbalta due to liver problems. Thankfully the withdrawal symptoms have passed, but the road to an understanding of what’s happening to my liver is a long one.

A long one full of potholes.

On Monday I had blood work done. Tuesday the doctor called and told me that my enzymes were elevated. Higher than they were in May. I needed to come and see him as soon as possible and get a referral to a specialist. I stayed late at work yesterday so I could leave at mid-morning today and trek across two towns to get to the appointment. He didn’t tell me much more than he did on the phone, but I got the referral and an order for more labs, to be done tomorrow morning.

I’ll be honest: I freaked out when I got that call on Tuesday. I’ve made changes to my diet. I’ve been exercising. I was really hoping that, after two-and-a-half months, there would be some improvement. I certainly wasn’t expecting things to be worse!

The closer I got to the office today, the larger the lump of panic in my throat. Pulling into the packed parking lot, I located an open space beneath and tree and clunked into the…whatever that concrete thing is that keeps you from running into the grass on the other side. Turning off the engine, I closed my eyes, took and deep breath, and prayed.

Okay, God. I need You. I need You really bad. I need You to fill me with that peace, that peace that doesn’t make any sense. I don’t need high blood pressure right now. Calm me down. Help me to hear what the doctor says and make whatever decisions I need to make. Give me clarity. I am with You, Jesus. You are with me. 

I got out of the car and finished with, “Let’s do this.”

My blood pressure? 117 over 70-something.

Almost before the words came out of my mouth, the peace flooded in. From head to toe, I was filled. Completely. There wasn’t any room for fear. I listened, I asked questions. When my doctor told me not to freak out, I smiled.

Because whatever happens, I’m with Jesus. And His plans are good.

Stop.

Grace and peace along the way.

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.