Thursday, October 22, 2009

Comfortable in the Common

Life. It's so full of ups and downs and all-arounds. We can get pulled in a million directions at once and run ourselves ragged. As you know, in my case, a certain oinky flu slowed me down for a few weeks. In fact, I'm still not quite 100%. However, thankfully, I have truly discovered some major benefits in the midst of this season of sickness.

I have been spending a ton of "down time." Basically, I just do the basics. I go to work. Care for my family. Relax and rest. It's as if being sick has allowed me the freedom to slow my hectic pace down and feel okay about it. I didn't realize how much time I spent "doing" rather than simply "being." I teach on this subject a lot, but, apparently, I wasn't heeding my own advice. (Big surprise!)

Anyway, I've spent more time recently in God's Word, doing Bible study, devotionals, reading for pleasure, and just visiting with my family. In addition, I've been resting and sleeping more without the guilt. And let me tell you, the benefits are plenty. I'm feeling more stable, God-centered, content, well-rested, peaceful, calm, the list could go on. These are some pretty nifty goodies from God. Before I felt over-burdened, busy, bossy, and more than a little bratty if we're sticking to "B" words. I'll leave one "B" word off the list, but I'm sure you can use your imagination. I was biting at people (especially) my family. Snarling some too. Not a pretty sight for a Princess Warrior (or anyone) for that matter.

Growing up, I was addicted to chaos. I had to be caught up in a whirlwind of craziness to even feel alive. I was on the constant search for something or someone unusual or different to to add excitement to my life. For those of you who know my story, that included drugs, partying with rock stars, having a multitude of dysfunctional relationships, and living on the edge in everything I did. Being home alone, relaxing and reading ... major boring back in those days.

Granted, as I've grown up in Christ, I've become far more content with my life regardless of the circumstances. My quest for happiness and cheap thrills has changed dramatically, yet, I was still rushing around and busy doing. Getting sick brought my life to a screeching halt; I can still see the skid marks. Needless to say, going from doing everything to nothing in the blink of any eye had a major impact, an impact that I'm only beginning to understand.

God uses every experience as a learning one, if we let Him. He has allowed me to find such joy in the common everyday things. Sometimes we need to slow down. We need to give ourselves permission to rest and relax. Life is overflowing with stressors. Why would we want to add more stress to the pile? The crazy thing, we often keep doing the very things that cause us frustration and we avoid what will help us feel better.

I found out that God can slow me down anyway He so chooses. I'm not saying He caused me to get the flu, but He has certainly used that experience to get me refocused on Him and what's important.

Is is time for your to refuel? Fill up your spirit? Get some rest? Do you, like so many of us, find it difficult to give yourself permission to take a day off from the rat race?

Well, consider this your personal permission slip to slow down and get comfortable in the common things. What you'll discover is a whole lot more of what's uncommon in our world -- peace. You don't have to be bed ridden with swine flu to slow your pace, you can do it right now. Put your own brakes on and reach for that cup of tea, a journal, your Bible, and a good book. Or, stop what you're doing and go to bed! Yes, you heard me right. Get a good night's sleep or a nap. Your body will thank you.

This encouragement, friends, is coming from a woman who has written articles about Ministry Madness ... yep, I wrote about that topic more than once. I didn't feel spiritual unless I was doing something for God. For the first time, I truly think I understand what it means to simply be with God. Now that I've slowed down enough, I just might find out what I'm actually supposed to be doing for His Kingdom.

Go ahead, Princess Warrior, relax, rejuvenate, and renew.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

In Sickness and in Health

Here I am. My first official Blog entry since the dreaded H1N1 Swine flu hit our home with the vengeance of a hurricane. Only now, two weeks from that first day of sickness, do I feel halfway sane and capable of writing more than a sentence or two. Talk about faith tested. I've never been so dreadfully sick in my life.

One day I had a headache, the next I was totally and completely out of it. My son, daughter, and mother were all hit hard as well. For some reason, though, this thing got me the worst of all. I had just returned home from speaking at a women's conference in Coos Bay. Which, by the way, was a fantastic weekend. Next thing I knew, I was bedridden. I could barely breath, couldn't talk, couldn't sleep, couldn't stop coughing, and was wracked with body aches and fever. Bless my mom, who didn't get as sick as the rest of us, managed to hold the household together by a thread.

I have a whole new understanding of what it means to "stay spiritual" or not, in the midst of illness. I had some rather un-spiritual moments. No wonder marriage vows include "in sickness and in health." I cannot imagine the level of commitment, care, and love required to take care of someone who is unable to care for themselves for an extended period of time. I couldn't even stand myself during this flu, let alone my family members. I can see why they call it swine flu, it's like you're rolling in a pen of mud and misery, squealing in agony. Not a very glamorous picture for a princess warrior.

As a Princess Warrior, what did I learn during my illness? That truly God is the Only Thing I could cling to and keep a smidgen of hope in. Because, of course, being sick wasn't the only negative thing happening. Let's just say financial matters continued to harass and I had no power to deal with anything. (Is it ever just "one thing?")

I literally had to be in the moment, trusting God, and taking care of my body. When you're that sick, trying to figure things out just isn't happening. A fever-ridden brain without sleep is not able to make decisions, especially logical ones. So, basically, I had to surrender to getting better and riding the waves of misery, trusting there would be light and ultimately better health on the far side of the sickness-sea. Two weeks later, I'm far from 100%, but I'm so much better. Thank you, Lord.

Since I couldn't talk due to being so out of breath, I did a lot of silent praying. A lot of breathing in God and breathing out sickness. I had to be still and know God is God. I could hardly make it to the restroom, if you know what I mean ... I felt helpless, hopeless, and toward the end of it all, a little hostile. At one point, I actually considered that I might die from this flu. I'm so very thankful that wasn't the end result. Yet, in a weird sort of way, when you feel that ill, you make peace with life/death/whatever. When it's just you and your fever-induced thoughts, a whole lot of strange thinking goes on. I was so grateful that I had scriptures memorized and God's promises stored in my mind. When my head hurt too bad to read, I was able to call upon His truth for comfort and encouragement. He always provided just enough light.

I'm sharing this whole flu fiasco because I suspect, as always, I won't be the only one who experiences the nightmare. I want to encourage you to hang on. It will get better. I actually had to go to the doctor twice for help; thankfully, they provided assistance as they could. I also stumbled to my computer to send out short health updates on facebook, and, thankfully, kind people, friends like you, sent encouraging words and prayed for my family. I really wasn't alone -- ever -- regardless how I felt.

I guess my message is simple in a way. Let God and others love you and care for you when you can't. Sometimes reigning real includes knowing when to be still and let God work His healing magic in your heart, health, and home. Let us join together and pray for health as we move into the Holiday Season. It is a time to celebrate the goodness and glory of our King. After all, it is by His Stripes we are healed.

Lord, it's been the strangest, hardest, sickest two weeks in my life. My family has been riddled with illness, yet you sustained us and are healing us. There are many people alone and sick, who are afraid. Please bring hope and health to everyone who is sick. Reveal Yourself to each of them, for with You as our Lord, we are never alone. No matter how sick we are, or how difficult life may be, You are our hope and salvation. You can carry us through. Remind us to band together in prayer. We pray for holy health and healing, bring rapid resolution to families suffering with the flu. Keep health care professionals healthy, give them strength and courage to serve others who are sick. Instead of allowing this flu to tear people apart in fear, draw us together with love and encouragement. Let us help where we can and pray without ceasing. Amen.

Hints to help:

Bring a meal to a sick family. Offer to transport children or un-sick family members. Send a card, email, or make a quick phone call of support. Understand that the person may be unable to talk, but simply knowing someone cares will mean a great deal. Ask if you can go to the store for juice, milk, or other supplies. Check in with people. Let's be a Christian community that cares.

In Sickness and in Health, we can continue to reign real. Loving others as God loves us.