We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Finding Focus

"Can you wait a minute, hon?" someone from the ER asked as she pointed to a wheelchair and turned her attention to another patient.
"Uh . . . sure." I tried to breath as I lowered my bulky self into the chair. I had been in labor all day and had no intention of arriving early enough to walk the halls as I had done with my firstborn. By now, the clock read 9:35 p.m. Maybe I'd waited too long.
Finally, after a bumpy elevator ride, I somehow got into a hospital gown and stumbled toward the bed. A quick check revealed it was time . . . time to push. But the contractions, one on top of the other, got the best of me. I lost my focus.
The nurse gently took my face in her hands, looked me in the eye, and spoke calmly and firmly. "Sarah! It won't be long now. Come on. You can do this."
That's all I needed. Less than thirty minutes later, we welcomed our beautiful Sharon Joy into the world. I cuddled her close and focused on her tiny face. Twenty-nine years ago today. Happy Birthday, Sharon!
Sometimes, life's circumstances seem a little like birthing a baby. Maybe we've been working on a project for a long time. Or, a difficult relationship seems to be wearing on us. Or, keeping up our health regime seems overwhelming. Or, it seems like forever until we will finally finish an important goal. It's easy to feel panicky, to lose our bearings. Maybe all we need is for someone to encourage us, to help us focus.

Today, let's find someone to encourage. We all need to hear: "It won't be long now. You can do this. I know you can."

An unnamed New Testament author must have needed a little focus, too, when he wrote, "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith . . . Consider him . . . lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls."(Hebrews 12:2).

Need a little focus today? Look up!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Change What?

I've spent the last week editing . . . editing my own personal experience story.

I pored over news reports, medical records, and books. I dusted off journals and found the box of cards, letters, emails, and photos. I let my mind wander down hospital hallways, beside hushed, uncertain bedsides, and into the busy rooms of rehab centers. Once again, I looked into the misty eyes of my children. I remembered, with gratitude and guilt, how they and others cared for me and my husband over many months. I pondered multiple memories that poured over me in vivid color.

At my keyboard, I added important elements and deleted insignificant or inaccurate details. I made a change here, a clarification there. I want every page to be as close to the truth as possible without deleting the heart and soul of the story.

My life's a little like my manuscript. I need a little editing now and again. A change here, an addition there. A different focus or way of relating to the people I love. I want to live as close to the truth as possible without deleting the heartbeat of who God is shaping me to become.

Can you relate?

Just as I've been studying primary sources to write about our experience, we need a point of reference for our lives. There's value in poring over the gospels, dusting off our journals filled with struggles and blessings, finding the box of encouragement and wisdom. Sometimes we need to take time to let our minds wander down the hallways of our hearts and once again look into the eyes of those who believe in us, want us to succeed . . . and pray for us. As we ponder the sacred echoes of truth, may we allow the Master Writer to edit our days. Even a few small changes from His hand can transform us and give us hope.
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

St Francis of Assisi 




Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Year . . . Are You Apprehensive or Hopeful?

A couple years ago, I wrote a few thoughts titled A Brand New Year, But the Same Old Me. True, isn't it? It's easy to feel defeated before we begin. Yet, God is always the same, too, no matter what year it is. I think about this every time the calendar changes. Rather than focus on the same old me, I want to focus on the eternal God, who is the "same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). The Lord who is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1). The One and has a habit of "doing exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).

My dad and I chatted about the new year on the phone today. Perhaps both of us feel a little apprehensive about the unknown months ahead. Our family has taken some hits the past few years. My mom passed away in 2013. Dad had triple by-pass surgery the same year, plus a few visits to the ER since. Then there's the quiet defeats, the disappointments, the rewrites of life.

But never without the presence of God. Never without His grace and direction. Never without His Word to comfort us and keep us centered in the truth. Never without His faithfulness. . . . Never without hope.

That's a lot to be thankful for.

After our car accident in 2003, a pastor friend challenged me to "dream big." I've thought about that now and then as the years have slipped by. Perhaps 2015 will bring me closer to my goal of publishing our story, a story of learning to trust in the midst of trauma.

So, how do you feel about the new year? Apprehensive? Hopeful? A little of both? As we step into January 2015, the God who created the universe walks by our side. "My times are in your hands" (Psalm 31:15).