an alphabet of thanks “G”


google images

google images

Today is again easy.   “G”   “G” is for grace, indescribable, undeserved, and unending. 

When I think of all the ways God has “graced” me, I am humbled. And not just me. I read Scripture and see God’s grace to the Israelites time and time again. I see God’s grace extended to others everyday.  But the one thing about grace that needs to be said is this:

While God’s grace may be free, it isn’t cheap. It was paid with a price. A big one.

When God extends His grace, we need to  remember the price that was paid for it and to make sure we  don’t just accept the gift casually.

I don’t understand God’s  grace.  I’m just  grateful for it.

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Grace Unleashed


happiness

Grace Unleashed

Just a quick post today but an important one. Sometimes God (You may call your power source something else. For me, He’s God.) shoots grace our way  when we least expect it. We might not even recognize it till after the fact. We should, of course. Especially if it’s been a matter of concern.  But maybe that’s exactly why.

We get so entrenched in the problem, we don’t see the small sliver of relief when it comes. It’s kind of like an experience I had with a dear friend the other day. She has suffered some significant losses over the last few years and depression has set in. She  finally consented to short-term medication.  After having been on it for about three weeks, I could tell  that she was getting better by observing almost impercetable changes in her behavior. But I had to point it out to her.  She didn’t see it herself.  She was focusing on her depression. She didn’t see the little ray of sunshine peeking through that I did. 

Yesterday I had the same experience but it escaped my over-stuffed mind.  Right in the middle of  sharing the day with my husband, I grasped how monumental and much-needed the experience had been. The sudden realization of the grace that was sent my way pierced through all the layers of discouragement and gave me cause to leap for joy inside. The experience may seem inconsequential to you in light of what you may be experiencing.  But here it is anyway.

I took my mom (She suffered a fall six months ago, experienced severe vertigo, serious depression and a host of other things and has only been out of the house in the last six months for various doctor’s appointments and a couple of visits to family) to the ophthalmologist yesterday.  Afterwards, we went grocery shopping and out to lunch. We were gone over four hours.  That would have been a record even before the fall.

So today I’m feeing all warm inside as I reflect on our time together, on having had my mom “back” for a even the briefest of time. I know tomorrow might be a different story but I am encouraged that this might be the beginning of having her regain much of what she’s lost-even the contrariness and stubborness which will drive me nuts but which I will gladly embrace.

Grace gives us hope for tomorrow and breathing space for today.

So today I’m so thankful for the four-hour grace period that was gifted me yesterday.

Thank you, God, for the unexpected shot of encouragement.

living below the clouds


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living below the clouds
 
It’s not easy maintaining a positive attitude when dark clouds seemed stalled over your head  and there’s a lot of stuff going on below. (By the way, that’s where I am right now.) While there is a break in the clouds on occasion, mostly it’s overcast. God seems to have spread a gray sheet between Him and us. 
Would you agree we all have days like that? Sometimes a number of them in a row.  We’re not clinically depressed. We don’t need medication.  We don’t need therapy. 
 
We just need a break from the unrelenting cloud-shrouded life.  
I find when I’m under grey clouds it helps to remember the transient nature of clouds.  Even today as I write the sky overhead can’t seem to make up its mind.  Will the clouds be given permission to part so the sun can shine through or will they remain huddled together in a solid mass?  
 
I find I respond two ways to the dark clouds. If I’m already having a contemplative day, I might actually prefer clouds. I think you know what I mean. There’s something that appeals to us when the sky matches our mood. It’s like friends. When we’re in the dumps we usually seek friends who we know will try to match our moods in their manner of speech, and choice of words. We don’t need them to act depressed, of course, but we don’t want someone who acts too cheerful either. It’s insulting. Sometimes a pep talk is needed but not in a” rah, rah, cheerleader mode.  I try to make sure I act appropriately as well when I’m the one listening. Something I experienced a few years ago brought that home to me.  
 
 I once mentioned in a group of people how fortunate I felt when compared to the rest of the world. One individual, (I later learned) felt I thought myself “better” than other people. (By the way, I still feel fortunate.) I guess it’s all how you look at things. Glass half-empty or glass half full. I wasn’t aware that this person was struggling with some serious issues. To someone who wasn’t feeling very blessed himself, my remarks must have felt like cold water splashed in his face. 
 
I’ve since learned to be careful how I share these kinds of things. I try to remember that while my clouds have moved for the time being, someone else’s clouds have just shown up. I wished he could have seen my past and the clouds that once hovered over me as well or the clouds that are hovering now.
 
Now, if I’ve planned a day to stay inside and pursue a creative project, I kind of like gray days. But if I’m feeling really down, I don’t want the gray clouds; I want the sun. I want something to interrupt my mood and cheer me up. When the gray clouds are not welcome, I remind myself that clouds, by their very nature, move. (Of course, if you live in Michigan as I do, you might have to wait weeks, not days.) If I keep putting one foot in front of the other the sun eventually does break through.  My mood gets better. I see things more clearly. It’s just the unrelenting nature of life.  All we have to do is look above us and wait for the sky to change.
 
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a quiet journey


christmas 2007

christmas 2007 (Photo credit: paparutzi)

 a quiet journey

Ugh. The flu bug has struck our home.  I hate being sick but being sick at this time of year-OMG. 

I was already behind due to the renovation and my mom’s care. I’m trying to convince myself I’ve been this far behind before during the Christmas season but I know it’s never been this bad. The truth is I’m one of those annoying people who’ve always been able to brag about being done with my shopping and wrapping by Thanksgiving.  Seriously. By this time I’ve made and froze what cookie dough can be prepared this way in preparation for an all-day baking marathon later in the month. All the Christmas decorations would have been artfully displayed the week after Thanksgiving.

This year, the tree sits unadorned. The boxes and boxes of Christmas ornaments are still tucked away in their beds apparently for a long winter’s nap. Many gifts are yet to be purchased and those I have bought are yet to be wrapped. I haven’t even made out my master list of who is getting what and how much I’ve spent. Oh, and I forgot to mention all the homemade gifts I like to make. I should be panicking but I’m not. I tell myself that I always get it all done. I’m not so sure this year though.

I was just starting to get my footing when the flu bug bit. I remember little of it as I spiked a high temp and slept away a whole day. So now I’m even further behind. But here’s the thing. It’s o.k. It really is.  (Maybe I’ve been too sick to panic. J)

I think not though. I think maybe I’ve finally realized that Christmas is not only a time to give gifts, it IS a gift.  The season itself, I mean. It is the gift of serenity. The serenity that comes from knowing there is another story being played out in the “heavenlies”, a story that is so much bigger than me and my flu and obsessing about how I don’t have twenty-four hours to spare to be sick. But now I’m reminded that I don’t have the control over things I think I have. Things happen. The Christmas season can get interrupted for all kinds of reasons-some of our own making, some outside our control. Like the flu.

I’ve been thinking about how “quite” was the journey that Mary and Joseph took to Bethlehem. The whispered conversations they must have had as they snuggled under the stars with the gentle breeze cooling them at night and the sounds of the night singing them to sleep. This trip could well have been the first time they even had a chance to really get to know each other. Something tells me that in the years ahead they often looked back at this journey as the most peaceful time of their lives.

Maybe in the next couple of weeks I can have my own tranquil journey. Maybe this is the year I won’t get it all done. Maybe this is the year I’ll throw off the burden of perfection and learn to live with compromise. Maybe my own journey to Christmas will prove as “quiet” as the one traveled so many years ago. Maybe the gift awaiting me will prove as wondrous.

 

 

doing the right thing

Aside


doing the right thing 

I love it when I do the right thing. I don’t always know the right thing to do and even when I do, I  don’t always do it. Especially if I’m tired. Especially if it interrupts my plans. (I hate to have my plans interrupted.) But most especially I hate it when I know that doing the right thing isn’t going to result in  anything good for me. Yet, in the end, I do feel good about doing it. Am I the only one or are there others there out in  blog land that are as conflicted as I am?

But today I did do the right thing.  An elderly person I know is, as we often say, “going downhill”. To her, it seems very much an “uphill” battle. Her vitality is gone.  Now it’s as though someone or something has taken over her spirit.  She’s existing but she’s not living. She’s lost  interest.  She suffers from depression and solely relies on medication to make her better.  She has never done the hard work required to look at herself and her complicity in her depression and she’s unlikely to try now.

She’s from a different era. When people didn’t examine their lives. When people didn’t talk about their feelings. When people  let their wounds fester unattended. When people believed everything their doctor said.  Never questioned. They lived their lives in bondage to what other people thought, never daring to take a chance.  Never daring to be who they really wanted to be.  Do what they really wanted to do. She never shared her struggles with anyone, ever.  Airing one’s dirty linen on a  public clothesline was taboo but having the dirty linen wasn’t as long as it was secret. So many secrets that have choked her life.

So if she’s how she is today, is it any surprise?  One cannot live a lifetime of unfulfilled dreams, of dashed hopes and of being so out of touch with  themselves  and tackle old age with grace. It’s hard enough for those who have.  So those of us who are aware of their inability to find grace for themselves have to do our best  to “grace” them however we can.  Today I tried to do that.  I don’t know if it was enough. I never know if its enough.

There is a saying I remind myself of often. I tried to find its source but Mr. Google didn’t know.  It’s just another way of saying ,”do the right thing’.

“Do as much good  as you can,

 to as many people as you can ,

for as long as you can,

in any way that you can.”

Is there anyone you need to do the right thing by today? (No matter how inconvenient, no matter how little you might be rewarded.)