What Matters Most: Loving God & Living Simply…part one

It’s getting close to my birthday and there’s nothing like getting a year older to make me stop in my tracks and ponder life. There is no doubt in my mind I want to make changes. How will I go about it? What are my first steps? I ask myself questions:

  1. What matters most?
  2. What have I accomplished?
  3. What do I want to accomplish?
  4. What do I need to eliminate?
  5. What brings me joy?
  6. What needs changed?
  7. What needs to stay the same?
  8. What is God leading me to do?
  9. Are there people I need to distance myself from?
  10. What goals do I need to set right now?

Wow. That seems like a lot of questions. I’ll answer the first one first: What matters most? To love God and live simply. This is what is the most important to me and how I want to move forward with my life.

The next few weeks I will be answering these questions, and I will share my thoughts here. This is my way of taking steps to change my life and to recognize my priorities. I’ve been feeling a bit stuck, like my feet are trying to ice skate in mud. It just doesn’t work. And some things in my life don’t seem to be working, either.

OK, back to my answers of what matters most. This answer has two parts, so today I will address the first part. For me, loving God is where it all starts, where it all leads, and where it all ends. God comes first. Without him, I am nothing. So, how do I plan on loving God?

  • Through daily prayer. My conversations with God can be lengthy or short, complex or simple, tearful or happy. The important thing is to keep the relationship strong and active. I totally believe God understands my frustrations, anxieties, heartaches, sorrows, and joys and wants me to lay them all out to him. Part of the healing is in our communication.
  • With daily devotionals. One book of devotionals I’ve been reading is Jesus Calling. It’s written as though God is talking to me. I am his child, He loves me, and I am important. Most days it touches a part of my heart that needs healed. I will continue with this, and I will add in a variety of other readings from time to time.
  • By studying God’s Word. By not only reading the Bible, but actually studying thoughtfully what it says and gaining understanding, it draws me deeper into a relationship with him. I will read the Bible daily and continue my Wednesday night Bible Study at church.
  • Journaling. My journaling often turns into “Dear God” letters. What I cannot say with my tongue, I can usually write into words. It has been sporadic in the past, but I will strive to make this a daily practice now.
  • Worship. Oh boy…this is where things get really complex and uncomfortable. I haven’t been attending worship services for a multitude of reasons. My agoraphobic issues, for one. The rest I cannot disclose for risk of being fired from my job. Suffice to say things are uncomfortable. This week, I’m going to see if a pastor within another denomination would be willing to talk with me about my concerns and perhaps give me some guidance, or at the very least pray for me.

So there is step one. This step has been relatively easy, thus far, but I know there will be more challenges to come.

If you’d like to follow along with me on this journey toward a new life, subscribe.

Take care of you.

Trish

Pew Thoughts

My faith has been a long journey.  I was not always a Christian, though I tried to be a good person.  I was taught right from wrong and a good understanding of respect for others.  My grandmother gave me a Bible of my own and I read it often, though I didn’t always understand.  It wasn’t until later in life I fully gave my heart to Jesus and accepted him as my Lord and Savior.

I always wanted to belong to a church, and I finally joined one in the small community I grew up in.  It was not my first choice for a church, but it was close and I knew some of the folks there were really good Christians.  Soon, I learned that even in church all was not perfect.  Soon, I learned the difference between Christians and pew dwellers.

We all sin, we all fall short, we all struggle.  Some admit it, some don’t.  It was difficult for me to accept that even Christians had serious flaws.  But I also knew Jesus healed the sinners and made them want to sin no more.  I knew I had to keep my eyes on Jesus, but sometimes I faltered and didn’t.  I was a sinner who needed healing.

I moved out of that community to return to my home.  I gave up on churches for a while.  I visited some other denominations, but none of them felt right.  Then one Sunday morning, I walked into my present church and knew I was home.

I volunteered, I attended every Sunday, I went to a Sunday School class.  Going to church was something I loved.  I loved God and the people in the pews.  There was nothing I liked better than to serve the Lord, and eventually I was hired as the Office Manager.  It felt right.

Fast forward seven years.  A series of heart breaking experiences within the church have questioned my belief in the “church” itself.  Oddly enough, my faith has grown stronger into a relationship with God that keeps my hope renewed.  He is my Rock.  Without him I am nothing.  He has picked me back up every time I have fallen.  My faith stays strong.  In the midst of dissension, God has given me grace and a stronger, deeper love for him.

Yet, I am struggling.  I have once again seen how human nature and the devil can sneak into a church and play havoc.  The devil is a sneaky bastard, make no mistake.  He’s crafty and mean, and he likes getting into the pews every Sunday.  He likes getting into the people sitting there, getting into their heads and hearts.

In my eyes, I am seeing a slow motion movie play before me.  The characters look familiar, they look like Christians, they say they’re Christians, but the stones are flying and no one is safe.  Slowly, they stone each other to death, and at the end of this movie, no one is standing.  I’m watching it play out before me and I don’t know how to stop it.  My body is bruised and bloodied from the fresh wounds of stones against my own flesh.  And I just stand there, waiting for the stones to stop, but they don’t.  I don’t know how to stop others from getting hurt, either.  There are just too many stones.

Sometimes I think there are too many pew dwellers; they outnumber the Christians 2:1.  The devil dances with them during sermons, whispering in their ears so they won’t hear the message from God.  He promises them pride, power, and a religion of their own making.  

I also know the devil does not like prayer.  He seeks to destroy those who call on God, those who praise God’s name.  Yes, that devil is crafty and mean, and he makes the pew dwellers crafty and mean, but he is no match for the power of prayer and God’s saving grace.  

So I pray.  There’s nothing else I know to do but pray.  I will pray for the pew dwellers, and I will pray for God’s people.  I will pray for unity and love and for the stones to stop being thrown.  I will pray for kindness, compassion, and forgiveness to replace all the stones being thrown.  I will pray for that Christian love like Jesus gave to us.

Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, people are people.  We mess up, we fall down, we get back up, we forgive, we love, we hate, we fight, we laugh, we cry, and we do it all over again.  It is so easy to point the finger at someone else and blame the troubles of the world, and the church, on them.  

I’m praying for a church I can call home again.  Where I feel safe, loved, and respected.  I believe it can happen.  With God, all things are possible.

My faith journey has only begun.
Take care of you.

Trish

Five Days Later…

It’s been five days since I heard the words “You may have cancer.”  What have I been doing?  Thinking?

On occasion, I have wondered how I would react if I had to hear those words.  I pictured myself breaking down into hysterical sobbing, making out my will, writing my obituary, and planning my funeral.  I was certain I’d never be able to drag myself out of bed again and I’d be making arrangements for new parents of Maggie and Jonnie Katt.  I didn’t think I’d ever be able to stop crying, I’d drown in my own tears at night while sleeping.

In reality, none of those things have happened.  There is a peace within me, hope surrounds me, and I am finding strength in God’s promises and scripture.  I’m filled with optimism and feel certain all will be well and my body will heal itself of whatever is ailing.  I have surprised myself.   I still haven’t cried.

I’ve also learned a a few things about people.  There are people who are kind and tell me they are there for me if I need them.  Some of those people surprised me with their unexpected kind words.  Some people just want to be nosy…I expected that.  Some people don’t want to be around me, like maybe they don’t know what to say or they are afraid they might catch cancer from me.  The silence from some is deafening.  There are those who won’t say anything to me but are quick to talk about me and make speculations as to what is wrong with me and what type of cancer I may have.  And there are those who are reliving in their minds losing a loved one in the past and are very emotional.  They are still filled with pain.

I’ve also learned some things about myself.  I don’t want anyone around me crying and being sad, immediately thinking the worst.  If they cannot share in my faith of God’s healing, I’d like them to stay away from me.  I’m going to be quite selfish right now.  I believe in God’s healing power and prayer.  I believe God’s got this, that He will not leave me nor forsake me, and if I have faith as a grain of mustard seed, I can move mountains…and cancer.  It’s important that those around me believe right now, too.

I have learned that my trust has to be in God.  All of it.  I love the people around me, but when all is said and done and it’s the end of the day, it’s going to be God and me.  I cannot expect the world to stop for my friends, they have to live their lives.  God alone is my refuge and strength.

I’ve learned my faith is stronger than I knew, and my love of God is greater than I thought.

So what am I actually doing while I wait on my next doctor’s appointment?  I’m being kind to myself.  I’m resting, making time for things I enjoy doing, and smiling at strangers.  I’m hugging my pets every day and telling them I love them.  I’m reading the Bible down by the river, and praying.  Every morning on the way to work I thank God for another day, for all the shades of nature’s green, for sunshine, flowers, and a warm, gentle breeze.  I laugh at stupid things I read on Facebook, drink Diet Coke with wild abandon, watch The Golden Girls, and still wonder how Donald got elected President.  (Please…no backtalk from my Republican friends.  I listened to your whining for eight years; I’m entitled to my thoughts.) And I pray for others who are going through their own health scares and struggles.  I understand the journey.

One thing that has especially touched my heart is hearing from cancer survivors, those who have had the cancer scares, and those fighting the cancer battle right now.  Your strength, compassion, and kindness has touched my soul.  You are all in my prayers.  You are all amazing.

So if you see me out and about while we are going about our daily living, tell me a good joke and let’s laugh together.  Share a funny animal video with me on Facebook.  Sit down and drink a beverage with me.  Share your thoughts about life with me and tell me how I can pray for you.  Don’t be sad for me during this wait.  Rejoice in knowing we each can have a relationship with the greatest Healer.

God’s got this.


Take care of you…

Trish

So What Now?

May 30, 2017.  Today, I was told I may have cancer.  So…what do I do now?

I wasn’t expecting this.  This happens to women who have family histories of cancer.  This happens to other women.  Heart problems run in my family.  Diabetes runs in my family.  But not cancer.

What do I do now?  I hurry up and wait on an appointment with a specialist.  I patiently wait for the phone call that tells me when and where my biopsy will be.  Calmly, I go about my daily routine as if I never heard those words.  I go to work, I function, I act normal.  No one will know unless I tell them.  No one will know everything that’s going through my mind, how I’m making plans.  Who’s going to care for my pets?  How much recovery time should I expect?  What kind of treatments will they do?  Will I ever be able to sleep again?  Will I ever laugh again?

But nothing again will ever be normal, because I’ve heard those words telling me I may have cancer.

Part of my brain is numb.  This information is still processing and I can’t quite comprehend it all.  I don’t think I’ve fully accepted it.  I haven’t cried yet.

So what do I do now?  Today, I pray.  Today, I ask all my friends to pray for me, too.  I talk to God and somehow find peace with all this.  I ask Him for healing and strength and comfort and I don’t doubt for one second that He will get me through this, and HE WILL HEAL MY BODY.

Today, I was told I may have cancer.  Today, the earth shook a little, the sky darkened a little, and my life changed.  Today, I learned that four words, you may have cancer, would forever be implanted in my memory.

Today, I learn to praise God through the storms.
Take care of you….

Trish

Why Journal?

  
Journaling is the act of writing in a notebook.  It can take on different types of writing, from psychotherapy writing in which you may write about your deepest feelings of grief and hurt to ultimately promote healing, to a daily recording of events taking place in your life, or to something in between.

As a journaler for many years, I have used the act of writing to get myself through a bad marriage, divorce, grief, depression, a thankless job, sudden life changes, sickness, goal setting, and to record happy moments.  I’ve written in French notebooks, dollar store notebooks, moleskin notebooks, and leather bound notebooks.  I don’t think there’s anything more healing for me than the act of putting pen to paper and placing my thoughts and feelings into words.

Journaling has long been recommended by counsellors and therapists as a tool to use during depression and getting through difficult life circumstances.  Seeing thoughts on paper can bring new light and transparency to problems.  It can be freeing and life changing.

In a 2006 article from psychcentral.com, There is increasing evidence to support the notion that journaling has a positive impact on physical well-being. University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health.

  

There is proven healing in writing.  Often, I’ve not even known my true feelings about a situation until I begin writing about it.  One thought leads to another and before I know it, I see on paper something I didn’t even realize I felt.  Writing can get to the truth inside you.

Besides being healing, it’s also just plain enjoyable.  I love a pretty journal with bright colors that make me want to write in it.  It seems to beckon for my attention every day.   I also love the plain black pocket size moleskin notebook to carry in my bag.  I’ve got dozens of those things filled with my thoughts from years past.  Sometimes it’s interesting to glance through them to see where I’ve been and how far I’ve come emotionally.  Sometimes, it can also be painful, like remembering the death of a loved one.

Finding just the right ink pen for my journaling has also been important to the process for me.  I’ve experimented with many, from cheap to luxury.  My favorite is a modest PaperMate.  It writes well, the ink goes smoothly on the page, and it feels good in my hand.

For a writer, journaling daily can be significant in cultivating discipline. Knowing I need to write a few sentences each and every day keeps me motivated, and it keeps me writing.  All the thoughts that go into those journals are mine and no one else sees them, but they are invaluable to me.  They are a private part of me I do not share.  My heart and soul are laid right out there, but they are mine alone.

The start up cost of journaling is affordable for most everyone.  All you need is paper and pen and a desire to put them together.  The rewards are tremendous, and the value is priceless.

  
Are you a journaler?  If so, how has it helped you?

Blessings