Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Evening

"Sunday night - when the stress of the previous week comes back to haunt you and the unforeseen stress of the week looming ahead is already on your mind."

I was going to post this on Facebook, but then - I decided not to. It's not only depressing, but it completely leaves out what I SHOULD be doing instead of stressing about my stress.

Last week was just awful. Stress in every environment - home, work, and church was at a much higher level than what I normally deal with due to circumstances mostly out of my control. I've spent a lot of time feeling unwell, with churning insides and an achy head. I've ruminated, thought, and pondered. I've imagined different scenarios that haven't even happened yet. So how much of this IS in my control? Much more than I'd like to acknowledge - because, when you acknowledge that you CAN make changes in the way you handle things, then you acknowledge that you have the responsibility within your grasp to do so.

At times like these, it seems I am always being brought back to the place to recognize the difficulties that others are going through. A mother in our church lost her youngest son yesterday - an adult son, but her son nevertheless. A wife of more than 50 years is grieving the loss of a husband. A friend is struggling with cancer treatments. A work colleague of more than 8 years is in the hospital fighting for her life. This is LIFE, people. This is what life is like. I heard somebody say once that life is dealing with a problem, then handling another, then facing yet another, and each one rolls in like tumbleweeds in a stiff breeze. They pile up and pile up, and you just meet them one by one by one - and it's like that for everyone. Even kids. The stress that some kids have to cope with is mind boggling to me.

However, there is refuge. There is strength. There is power. There is healing. There is grace and mercy. There is Someone who stands along beside, and suddenly, it's His strength and His power working to provide just what is needed.

My prayer for you today, no matter what your circumstances, is that you are provided just what you need in order to put one foot in front of the other and simply move ahead in what you are called to do, walking in peace and joy, and always looking to the One who is underneath and all around.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Life Which Continues to be Well-Lived

Mervin Troyer went to glory on March 11, 2016 at 97 years old. He was married to my aunt Dorothy, my mother's sister who went before him many years ago.  He could best be described as a man who lived life well, and a man who exemplified faith and trust in the God he knew and loved.  He was a  servant and helper, a person who knew the value of hard work, honesty and integrity.

I have said all of those things regarding Uncle Mervin, and have nodded affirmatively while others have spoken of him in such a way.  But the challenge is, if I don't learn from Mervin's life, if I don't take something away and apply it to my own, it's like looking at a reflection in a mirror - it's here, and it's gone - nothing is different.

By a life well-lived, I don't mean a life characterized by perfection, or by accumulating material possessions, or taking vacations to exotic places, or even by being well known.  I mean a life lived consistently, day after day, week after week, and year after year by these principles:

Work hard to provide for yourself and your family.
Serve others to give what you can to help however you can.
Humbly acknowledge with gratitude the life you have been given.
Have a deeply personal relationship with the God who made you.

Mervin lived all this and more each day, and even after Dorothy left this earth, he got up each day, made his bed, ate his breakfast, and then FOUND SOMETHING TO DO.  Mervin did not spend hours watching TV, Netflix, or playing on the computer.  He lived life simply, and with trust that all would be well.  I'm sure there are days he was sad, days he was lonely, days he was sorrowful, days he didn't feel like doing anything.  He was, after all, only human.  But even after he moved inside the Villa nursing care, his hands stayed busy as he made gadgets, tops, and toys. No excuses here.  You get up, you're breathing - that's a sign -  so you get busy and you DO.  Mervin found purpose in living each day just as God gave it to him.

So for me - the questions I need to be asking myself as I I consider the life of Mervin Troyer - am I working hard to provide for my family?  Am I serving others and giving what I can to help however I can and whenever I have the opportunity to do so?  Do I humbly acknowledge with gratitude this life that God gave me?  Do I have a deeply personal relationship with the God who made me?  Have I taught my children these values and have they caught the baton that I hope I've passed to them? Have I made it plain and obvious to those who know me that when I've gone to glory that this is the legacy I desire to leave behind?  

They say saints rest from their labors in glory, and perhaps they do, but somehow, I don't see Mervin sitting in a rocking chair doing nothing.  Somehow I think he is stepping on those streets with energy and purpose as he meets his Savior and finds his beloved wife, his son, his sister, his parents, his relatives, and friends.

Mervin Troyer - a life well-lived here on earth, and continuing on to be well-lived in his eternal home.  Mervin taught us great lessons - lessons of faithfulness, trust, and of looking with expectancy for what is to come for those who are the children of God.  I wouldn't wish Mervin back here for anything, however, I hope he knows what an impact he had on me - a little girl who grew up watching him simply doing what he did best - putting words into action.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

First Post of 2016

February 28th - and it's the first blog post of this "new" year.  Wow.  It's not that things haven't happened - they have - it's that obviously I'm not making this exercise of the mind a priority!

Last post in December, I was home after having a "brain event" on December 1.  This event has now been diagnosed by a neurologist as a seizure, so I've been dealing with the ramifications of that since.  I am back to work and overwhelmed at work, but not driving until May 1.  Many people have offered to help me when needed and I am so appreciative.

Work is both the time I'm at school, and in the evenings and weekends at home, so I'm pretty exhausted.  BUT - blessings abound.  My grandson is growing up and is verbal - he tells me about everything.  My kids are doing well and are in a good place in their lives.  Spouse has decided NOT to retire but is looking forward to when he can.  My son and daughter in law have finished classes and training to be foster parents and have received their first placement - a darling 3 month old baby with dark hair and an uncertain future.

And me?  I am hearing birds sing outside - it's been a warm February.  I see the sun come up on a new day.  I know that my Redeemer lives and I know that one day, all will be made right.  At times grief and sorrow overwhelm me as I consider events happening in our world - as I write this, we are 3 days post a workplace shooting at the Excel Corporation in Hesston.  But as I sit here and think about the lesson I have prepared for my class at church today, I am comforted by what I read in the Psalms.

"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents
      of the wicked.
 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor;
  No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
 O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you."   Psalm 84:10-12  NIV

Truly, our God is all we need as we live with the uncertainty and chaos that this world brings.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday - it's just me Lord

This morning a friend took me to breakfast before she had to be at school, and we played catch up.  I now know all the news, shared while we laughed and ate together.  She brought me some things from school staff, including a card signed by all of them and a gift card - how appreciative I am of those who are reaching out to me.  They are all so busy and things are so hectic right now so I am doubly blessed.

So after all this there is no conclusive evidence to point to what happened to me.  I can't believe that my insurance company is going to pay Wesley tens of thousands of dollars and there's not an answer to why I lost consciousness.  I am relieved, but am puzzled.  Thankfully, I am going to back to work January 4, however it seems I'm always thinking about it, hoping that it won't happen again.

We had our family Christmas gift exchange yesterday.  The old man and I so much enjoy watching our kids and kid in laws interact as friends.  Much of the time, we just observe them and marvel that they all get all so well.  The gifts that were given were thoughtful - they have truly learned the art of giving.  Of course, the "star" of the show was our grandson, who certainly knows how to rip paper off of packages.  That was almost more fun than what was contained in the box.  He enjoyed playing with his first remote controlled vehicle - a little train that wheeled around on grandma's kitchen floor.

 Speaking of Christmas, have you given yourself time to think about and ponder the meaning behind our celebrations?  The Eternal Son came wrapped in human flesh, born helpless and dependent - His life exemplifying sacrificial love from day one.  In my class at church yesterday, we "pondered" the entire chapter of Luke 2, and discussed the only record of Jesus' early years recorded in the gospels. Several times Luke says, "Mary pondered these things in her heart."

We need to spend more time pondering and less time pontificating.  More time praying and less time stewing about what we can't change.  More time thinking about how we need to meet God on His terms and less time about what our rights are.  The life we choose to lead when we choose obedience and adherence to a holy calling is difficult and not for the fainthearted.  Following up on commitment takes time and energy, and an understanding that it's not about self, nor about what we gain.  It's about what the kingdom of God gains when we give it all up for Him.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mom

Thirty years ago this December, my mother went to heaven to be with Jesus.  I think about her a lot, even daily at times, in spite of the fact that this event happened in 1985.  She was stricken with a stroke in June of 1984 and appeared to be able to benefit from rehabilitation, however, another stroke occurred a few weeks later which caused so much damage that she never again would speak, walk, sit, eat, or take care of her own needs.  She communicated with eyegaze and at times could squeeze your hand, but this depended on the day.  A vivid memory I have is on a day that my sister was here to visit, and came to say goodbye.  As Linda walked out the door , mom turned her head to follow her, her brow furrowed, and tears flowed from her eyes.  I hadn't at that point seen her turn her head, but I had from time to time seen moisture on her face.  At times, she was so aware of people around her but so unable to communicate - however, I think in this instance, she willed herself to try to express what she was feeling.

So today, I woke up and thought of her.  I was already bemoaning the long day which stretched before me - I am here pretty much alone from early morning on - and I wasn't looking forward to it.  But then, thoughts of mom came to the surface.  For more than a year, she laid in a bed, totally dependent on others to help take care of her every need, even moistening her mouth with swabs because it became very dry and she was not able to swallow anything.  (The last food I saw her eat was some green beans from her garden I brought her in the hospital after her first stroke.  "These are good!", she told me.  I remember thinking I was so glad I brought them for her - she loved garden green beans.)  So from first stroke to her homegoing, it was a few days more than 18 months.  My dad faithfully visited her two and sometimes three times daily, and others visited as they could, so I would imagine that every day she had at least one person from the family and community who came to see her, however, I still think of her lying there, day after day after day, night after night going by slowly with no one around except for an occasional nursing staff member to check on her, every day just like the previous one, with no end in sight.  And here I am, a daughter of this mother who suffered so much, impatiently waiting at home for the ok to return to life as normal.  Mom never had that.

Mom, you are after all these years still teaching me, still giving me an example of faith, of hope, of perseverance, and of longing for heaven and all that awaits us.  Your daughter at 61 years of age is still learning from you, and what precious lessons they are!  How grateful I am to be your child, and that you raised me to be someone seeking to know God and to be a part of His family.  And now I can see that my own children are continuing in this faith, and participate in this legacy.  There is no greater joy for me.

"Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not.
As thou has been, thou forever wilt be.

Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning, new mercies I see!
All I have needed thy hands have provided,
Great is thy faithfulness!  Lord unto me."

-Words by Thomas Chisholm
-Music by William Runyan
_

Monday, December 14, 2015

Day 14

I'm starting my 3rd week of being off work.  I feel pretty good almost all the time, and would like to go back, but am waiting on the doctor to look at all of the slides from the tests I had at Wesley and tell me what he thinks happened.  I hope to hear from him today.  In the meantime, I wait.

I could be all mature and tell you what I've learned so far, but it's a work in progress.  One thing I know - I'm an independent person and it's been hard for me to ask for rides or other accommodations. I would much rather be the person that gives to someone else - not that I'm so altruistic but because frankly, it's easier I think.   The other thing is that I have to work hard at staying in a routine and on a schedule.  I find it difficult to find "meaningful" work when I'm here at home, so having things planned to do, even though I don't necessarily WANT to do them, helps.

My study through the Psalms is continuing.  We're studying David's life in my class at church and knowing the background for some of the Psalms he wrote is interesting.  Lots of honest sometimes gutwrenching emotion there, lots of painful plaintive crying out to God is present in his writings.  Thanks be to God these writings were preserved for us today and are so meaningful to so many.

Today I think of those I know who are in far worse circumstances than I find myself in and my prayers are for them.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Verse for Today

"Praise be to the Lord,
  to God our Savior,
Who daily bears our burdens. "

Psalm 68:19

Day Seven Post Brain Reboot

Recovery is going slow but well - it's baby steps every day.   This never happens at a fast enough pace no matter what the injury - and part of it is to just learn to be patient and wait for healing to come.

I'm walking ok except for some veering in other directions and some balance issues.  Speech/commnication is still a bit odd and not quite "normal" - sometimes it seems to take me awhile to find words particularly mid sentence just in social conversation.  I'm also having some sensory issues but not to the extreme - I've found that taking naps when my body is tired helps with that.  All in all, it could be worse and as I said yesterday, I am profoundly grateful.  

Doctor's appointment tomorrow, and I'm going to try to see my district supervisor to discuss work related issues.  Also I will try to make it to church for Wednesday night dinner, so it'll be a full day.  

On the schedule today - playing the keyboard and just doing some housework.  I'm trying to work the crossword puzzle in the paper and just practice walking.  It's such nice weather that I might try to walk down the sidewalk to the end of the block and back.  

Encouragement for today comes from Lamentations:

"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.

I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion;
  therefore I will wait for Him."

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
   to the one who seeks him;
It is good to wait quietly
   for the salvation of the Lord."

Lamentations 3:22-26 NIV