Monday, November 19, 2012

Guard your heart...the stakes just got higher

I was reading and article and the following really stood out...

When we do make this change, we will not think of ourselves higher than we should (v. 3), and our judgments (perceptions, beliefs, conclu­sions, attitudes) will be sober, clear, and accurate. Transforming our thinking can lead us to the right behaviors (vv. 9–21). The right behavior will then lead to the outcomes we want such as peace, intimacy, and oneness. The more we understand this principle, the more positive impact it will have on our relationships.
One of my good friends, Dr. Gary Rosberg, is one of the most spiritual men I know. When I grow up I want to be just like him. Whenever we're together, talk on the phone, correspond by e-mail, or chat after I finish a radio interview on his show, the last thing he always says to me is, "Hey Mitch, guard your heart, brother." This is another way of saying, "Be very careful to protect your mind from the wrong stuff. Put the right things in your mind. Protect it. Shield it from the bad influences." Just recently, after the birth of my first grandchild, Gary's message to me was: "Mitch, guard your heart, brother. The stakes just got higher."

Children make the stakes a lot higher...

Austin Kieff and Caroline are very observant.  They watch what I (and others) do and they really listen to what I (and others) say.  Of course, there are selective hearing issues which I am not referring to in this post, ha!  I am being convicted more and more with respect to the GIGO principle...shows I once made certain were DVRed to watch later or songs that I love (probably my biggest weakness) are losing rotation.  I cannot protect my children from everything, but for the most part, I can choose what and when they are exposed to certain things. 

I am not really a New Year's resolution maker, but lately I have been making a list of things that  I want or need to improve upon.  Making the most of the time I have with them and making my influence on my children a positive as possible is close to the top.  With that, time is limited.  I want to make the most of the relationships that truly matter in my life, not spend endless amounts of time in areas that have little to no benefit.  Prioritizing...hard, but needed.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Feeling a bit like Jonah

The following devotion was stumbled upon by me (it really is there...scroll way down if you want skip the rambling)...I say stumbled, but really, I think it was delivered to me for a purpose...I am not really sure I have processed the last few months. Maybe that is what this devotion is helping me do...maybe the one line is all I needed, "thank Him, worship Him for loving us enough to turn our worlds upside down to get to us." He definitely did that.
I am a creature of routine and orderly chaos. David and I practice the divide and conquer technique, ha! We are pretty much equally involved in all we do. Boy did that change for a month or so. Our two-parent home became a one parent household in someone else’s home. We tried to maintain as much normalcy as possible, but really, how normal is it when you are not living in your home, when you are relying on others to help get you through the normal necessities of the week. The Lord definitely delivered lessons to humble, foster appreciation and draw us nearer to Him.

Managing the required activities of our day became a burden to someone outside of our home. While I am so very thankful for our parents and their assistance during this time, it was hard to accept. Mom took Caroline to school and picked her up every day for almost three months. Now, yes, she does work in Troy, which definitely made it more convenient. But, I am very well aware of what she gave up to do so. She was unable to be at work early to prepare for her day…a practice that she has enjoyed for quite some time now. She literally planned her day around picking Caroline up. For instance, if she was leaving early, she left late enough to make sure she did not disturb nap time. She did not have to, but she did it for us. My dad checked in on David and planned work around the house so that David was not alone any more than he had to be. He would not admit, but I am sure he probably lost money during September and October to help us out. Not to mention the cost of adding four to their electric and water bills! Go ahead and throw in groceries, too.

Our steady income was cut in half. Scary. This was probably the hardest truth to process and the thing that upset my apple cart the most. David’s original timeline did not have him going to work until after the first of the year. His FMLA would run out the first week of December. Our insurance is through his employer. We had a guarantee he had a job and we had insurance through December. After that, whether or not he went back to work was at the discretion of his employer. Insurance, not a real issue because we could pick it up through my office. I like absolutes. I like to plan. I am an accountant.  The uncertainty of David’s job and the the potential impact of this accident rocked me to my very core. So, on the day of his accident, these were some of the thoughts going through my mind:

  • My husband will be immobile for months
  • His income was just temporarily eliminated
  • His ability to do his current line of work may be permanently impaired
  • Wait, his current source of income could be permanently eliminated
  • How am I going to make our home accessible to him
  • How long is he going to be in this hospital
  • What if the rod doesn’t take…that happens sometimes
  • Austin Kieff has football practice and Caroline has to be picked up from daycare
  • I have to tell Austin Kieff and Caroline about their Daddy…
  • Thanks to one nurse, the thought that there was more than a possibility that I might leave the hospital without my husband…I think this was the thought that shook me the most. Austin Kieff is 6 and Caroline is 3. Their ages not so far away from when my mom was left to care for my brother and me. Very different circumstances, but the thought did cross my mind more than once. Now, I know the nurse was only doing her job. But, the first statement of (paraphrased, it has been awhile) “well, the thing you have to be most concerned with is his chances of developing an embolism are extremely great right now. A lot of blood entered his system from that break and surgery to insert the nail. He bled out a lot. If he throws a clot, we may not be able to do anything. His risk for infection is pretty high too. His levels are not great, but he is young and not a smoker.” Thanks nurse who didn’t come back to our room.

Side Note:  I think every medical professional we encountered thinks that statement softens the blow a bit. Hey, he will not be able to walk for three-four months, but he is young and not a smoker. Hey, we had him on a little too much blood thinner, but he is young and not a smoker. Well, this is going to be tough, but he is young and not a smoker.

I could probably list a hundred other concerns that briefly flashed through my head, some lingering longer than others. But, you know what? It was not very long before I took the stance of whatever happened would happen. I could not go through each day worrying about the next one or at least not focusing on those concerns. I think it was a God induced auto-pilot. He gave me peace and guided me through the necessities of each day. No matter what lay ahead, He would provide.  That does not mean there would not be suffering, it means He gives strength to endure.  His grace is truly sufficient.  The hospital week was the most difficult. Trying to be present for the kids and David was tough. There were some late nights because the kids did not want to go to bed without seeing Daddy…a thirty minute drive from home for thirty minutes, maybe an hour visit and then home for supper, baths and bed. I am so thankful for a job and wonderful coworkers that allowed me to be present... coworkers who prayed for us, for whose generosity and kindness I will ever be grateful.

God definitely met me where I was. He met every need…physical needs, spiritual needs, financial needs. He blessed David with healing...healing in His time, not on our timeline. David was ahead of every milestone after his second or third checkup. The first few did not go so well, but after that it was phenomenal. There was new bone growth before it was expected. He was able to put pressure on his leg before it was expected. He was able to walk unassisted almost two months before it was expected. God is good. He is good in our suffering and He is good in our health. Praise God that He is good when we do not deserve His goodness. He is also forgiving when we do not deserve it.

and you will seek Me and find Me, when you seek for Me with all you heart…Jeremiah 29:13

Were there why me moments? Of course, but really, who am I to question, why me? As one of our friends from Sunday School said a few years ago, why not me? This is the attitude we should have all the time. We do not deserve anything but death.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

The wages of sin are death, but by the mercy and grace of our heavenly Father, by His sacrifice of His son Jesus on the cross, we are cleansed of our sins when we believe and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior...but it is more than just believing, it is how we's acting on our faith, not just believing...even demons believe in God...

"And here’s the big idea in faith: faith is an internal conviction that leads to an external action. Faith is not just what you believe, it’s how you behave. Sometimes you can really tell who has faith by what they do."

All this to say, my world was turned upside down…or was it turned right side up? Have we been going through the motions without really investing ourselves? I have been struggling with the lesson to be learned from this experience. Part of me cannot help but wonder is it preparation for something larger. God has healed David twice. He has brought our family through two very difficult situations. But, stripping all emotion and fear aside, they were short-term. They were manageable. They were temporary. Both had the possibility of being more than they were…but that is each and every event in our lives, isn’t it? A guy was killed in a similar accident as David’s around the same time of his accident. Several people say David was lucky. David is blessed. I am not sure what charge the Lord has given or will give him. I am not sure how the Lord plans to use these experiences, but I know that He will. It may be to work on me…our relationship with Him…or our family in some way. I honestly don’t know. Maybe it was to draw us nearer so that we truly hear His voice when He speaks to our hearts...

Now...for that devotion I mentioned...some of us are not running away, but we are not running towards God with all that we have either...complacency is just as bad as running away.  I pray that I actively seek Jesus each and every day.  I pray that as I spend time in God's Word, that I am "careful not to read it in a religious way. And the way religious people read it is this: “Oh, there are good people. There are bad people. I want to be like the good people.” Here’s how we read it: “There are bad people and Jesus.” That’s how we read the Bible..."  Because that is it, there are bad people and there is Jesus.  Thank God for Jesus!

Jonah: The rogue prophet and the mission of God, Part 4
“But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.” Jonah 1:4
In this verse, Jonah has run from God’s presence that dwelled in the Temple in Jerusalem—and he is running as far and as fast as he can from God.
What do you think God does when his children run from him? I’ll can tell you one thing: he doesn’t fold his arms, shrug his shoulders, and say “You’ll get what you have coming to you.”
God, Abba, the perfect Father was going to pursue his child at all costs. This verse tells us that the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea. A wind didn’t just happen stir up. As he is sovereign over creation, God hurled this wind on the sea. The ship was about to come apart! Jonah and the rest of the men aboard were about to die!
Some of us might confuse this with God’s judging wrath upon Jonah for his disobedience. Our temptation is to turn God into the enemy, for we ourselves once were his enemies. However, God’s judgment of sin does not appear to be restorative; it is destructive. In this case, we see what God intends: he desires to see Jonah repent, to restore Jonah to himself, and to deploy him for his mission to Nineveh. The reality is that as God disciplines us, we ought repent before him, thank him, worship him for loving us enough to turn our worlds upside down to get to us.
This is what God’s passion for his glory, his love for his people, and his love for his enemies actually does. He will break up our escape plan and bring us home.
So what does this have to do with Jesus?
Today we see that Jonah would rather die than run to his enemies. Jesus would rather die than see his enemies die in their sins. Jonah ran from the presence and the people of God. Jesus is the presence of God and dwelled among God’s people.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012