Day 7 – August 7, 2014

If you know me or my family personally, or at least on Facebook, you may be aware that my husband, Kelly, has been pretty much down for the count for the better part of two weeks. He somehow severely injured his knee. We honestly have no idea what happened – one day he had a little bit of soreness, the next he was using a cane, the next he was on crutches. A first visit to a doctor, followed by a referral to an orthopedic surgeon, have thus far led to no answers. X-ray showed nothing, and an MRI is scheduled for Tuesday. I’ve watched this husband of mine, who prior to this hasn’t taken a sick day in years, be out of work for about five days, and then only go back because he had too much work to do, not because he felt better. Thankfully he is able to do a fair amount of work from home, and he has a gazillion sick days saved up, but still…it’s been a trying time.

Because The Year of Blogging Faithfully is all about my honest take on the journey that God is leading me and my family on, I’m going to be perfectly honest: I’m used to being the patient, and I prefer it that way. I don’t like being the caretaker. Since Kelly and I married in 2001, I have had two babies, two cancers, a hysterectomy, an appendectomy, a tonsillectomy, a thyroidectomy, and all four wisdom teeth surgically removed. Kelly, as I’ve mentioned, is never sick. He has taken care of me with patience, love, understanding, tenderness, and strength…over and over again. And that’s been it. I’ve never really been called upon to return the favor. In sickness has been me, and in health has been him. Until now.

If this had happened three months ago, or, even worse, three years ago, it would have been a disaster for all involved. The woman I was until recently would have been completely on the edge of losing it at all times. I would have run screaming for the hills (and straight towards a sushi dinner which I would have believed I had earned) after the second time I had to run up and down the stairs to get something for him.

I really don’t believe I was a bad person, and now I’m a good person. It’s not that simple. I love my husband more than anyone else on earth, and I felt the same way three months ago. And three years ago. I want to be his helper. I’ve always wanted to be his helper. His partner. And I think I have been. He and I make a pretty amazing team, honestly. We always have. But a large part of what makes us such an amazing team is the way his strengths correspond with my weaknesses, and vice versa. He is the world’s greatest caretaker, and I have been known to be a pretty incredible patient. See what I mean? He thinks things through while I go with my gut. He naturally and instinctively pinches pennies (even before pinching pennies was so important for us!) while I believe it is sinful to not invest in a new designer purse every few months. (By the way…thank goodness for the thrift store my sister found which doesn’t seem to know what it’s got. Seriously. I have a Kate Spade in near-perfect condition which she got for about the price of the gas used to get there. Amazing.) We’re a perfectly-designed, uniquely-fitted duo which never would have made sense on paper. I’m so grateful God doesn’t make lists of pros and cons when He makes plans.

But now the shoe is on the other foot. I am the caretaker. And it’s amazing how God has changed my heart. Don’t get me wrong: I always would have done whatever I could to help my husband in this sort of situation. But I would have grumbled. A lot. I would have been cranky. I’m not proud of that, but I’m being honest. God has changed my heart. 

I feel so blessed that I am gainfully unemployed, so that I can be home to be his nurse, his chauffeur, his errand boy, his chef, his cleaning lady (well, okay…maybe not that one), and whatever else he needs. I’m not boasting here. Not at all. In fact, I can’t imagine being filled with more humility than I currently am. Because I know who I was, and I know who I am now, and though the foundations may remain the same, there are marked differences. Differences for which I claim no responsibility. 

Differences which I am proud to say are souvenirs from the journey.

 

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Day 2 – August 2, 2014

Do you ever hear God speaking to you? If so, how does He speak to you? There have been times in my life when I have severely needed my spiritual hearing checked. God could have spoken to me through a literal burning bush, and I probably would have rushed to get a bucket of water. But when I am listening to Him – and listening for Him – He speaks to me in remarkable ways. He usually speaks to me through what I am reading, or a sermon at church, or a song. But because He knows how oblivious I can be, He usually uses what I am reading AND a sermon at church AND a song. They will all hit – boom, boom, boom – and they will all be telling me the same thing. And then the Holy Spirit gives me an excitement and a peace regarding whatever call to action is clearly being put before me. Well, I think God just might be trying to tell me something this morning. See what you think…

I’m not making any of this up. I literally read these things this morning, as part of my time with God. And I didn’t intentionally read them. Well, I did… (“No! I won’t read! I WON’T! Oops. Didn’t mean to do that.”) But these just “happened” to be the chapters I got to today in two books I have been reading. I have been reading Praying God’s Will for Your Life by Stormie Omartian for, oh…I don’t know. Years, I guess. Because I always quit when it gets too tough. Too pointed. I always quit when I realize I’m not up for the challenge God is setting before me. I mean, I want God’s will for my life, but not at the expense of totally giving up my will for my life. Just being honest. Well, this time, I want it. I really want it. And yes, there are still things I want, but the difference now is I’m realizing I am never going to be able to get what I want if it isn’t what God wants, because really we want the same things. He just wants them better. (Did that make any sense? Probably not.)

So the chapter I read in Praying God’s Will for Your Life this morning was entitled “Praying to Say Yes to God Each Day of Your Life.” And from that chapter came this painful, hard-hitting, undeniably true little nugget:

The part we don’t want to hear is that a time comes when each of us must place our desires and dreams in the hands of God so that He might free us from those that are not His will. In other words, you secure your future by releasing your dream to God and, if need be, allowing it to die. If you’ve always had a certain picture of what you think you should do, you have to be willing to let the picture be destroyed. If it really is what God has for you, He will raise you up to do that and more. If it isn’t, you will be frustrated as long as you cling to it.

Ouch. But hey…that might not have really been intended for me. I’m also reading Bruce Wilkinson’s The Prayer of Jabez, a fascinating, polarizing little book which I am probably one of the last ten people on earth to read. I decided to read a chapter of that this morning, too. Because surely, in that book, God would tell me “Hey, you’re right on track. Don’t change a thing, kid! You’re gonna be a star. A star, I tell ya’!” (Why does God sound like a Hollywood talent agent in my mind? Does that give you some scary insight into my brain?) Well, hmm… Today I got to chapter three, “Living Large for God,” and in this chapter the author brought up the subject of Arithmetic. Well, first of all…WHAT?! (Side note: I have the dictionary.com Word of the Day widget on my phone, and today I learned something. Did you know there is “a printed punctuation mark, available only in some typefaces, designed to combine the question mark and the exclamation point, indicating a mixture of query and interjection, as after a rhetorical question,” called an interrobang? Fascinating.) Anyway…I hadn’t used or even thought of the word Arithmetic, well, maybe ever. And then the day after I decided to use it for The Year of Blogging Faithfully, it’s being discussed in The Prayer of Jabez, in the very chapter I just “happened” to be reading today?

Bruce Wilkinson wrote of expanding our territory for God’s work, and he said:

For most of us, our reluctance comes from getting our numbers right, but our arithmetic completely wrong. For example, when we’re deciding what size territory God has in mind for us, we keep an equation in our heart that adds up something like this:

My abilities + experience  + training + my personality and appearance + my past + the expectations of others = my assigned territory.

No matter how many sermons we’ve heard about God’s power to work through us, we simply gloss over the meaning of that one little word through. Sure, we say we want God to work through us, but what we really mean is by or in association with. Yet God’s reminder to us is the same one He gave the Jews when they returned from captivity to a decimated homeland: “Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

Our God specializes in working through normal people who believe in a supernormal God who will do His work through them. What He’s waiting for in the invitation. That means God’s math would look more like this:

My willingness and weakness + God’s will and supernatural power = my expanding territory.

Double ouch. But that’s okay, because that could really all just be an amazing coincidence. If only I hadn’t had my headphones on while I read. If only I hadn’t been listening to a playlist with more than 70 songs on it, and if only the one which “happened” to play hadn’t been “I’m Letting Go” by Francesca Battistelli.

 

I’m letting go
Of the life I planned for me
And my dreams.
Losing control
Of my destiny.
Feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe.
So I’m letting go.

This is a giant leap of faith,
Trusting and trying to embrace
The fear of the unknown,
Beyond my comfort zone.

Okay, God. I’m putting down my bucket of water now. Can’t wait to see what You have for me in the sermon at church tomorrow…