Saturday, January 5, 2019

My Word for 2019: ENDURE

Now that we've entered a new year, I have been contemplating what my word and verse should be. Several different words have come to mind...marathon, fortitude, patience, persevere, resolve, resignation, forbearance.... but the one word I finally chose was endure. Two verses are the sources for what I base my word on: 

 "...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,," ~ Hebrews 12:2 

"being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great ENDURANCE and patience", ~ Colossians 1:11

In my youth, I excelled in sports that required being fast...and sprinting. In track, I ran the 400 meter dash. In softball, I ran the bases faster than any of my teammates. I've also been one to be more interested in getting things done over doing them slowly and more precisely. I've always hated anything that required long, drawn-out activities. I get tired, impatient, and bored easily.  

Of course, God has a way of strengthening us in our weaknesses by allowing us to endure through different experiences. And I definitely have experienced having to "endure" waiting for many things in my life. Recently, I went on a weight loss journey, and was determined to lose 50 lbs in 6 months. Of course, that journey has taken much longer and, even though I have lost 35 lbs, I'm still working on  the last 15 a year later. I think this journey will continue through the rest of my life. I have also struggled with the disappointment of not meeting my goals on my schedule. I've  struggled with waiting for God's timing for me to be able to travel with my hubby, following his retirement. But most difficult for me has been waiting for the Lord to open my son's heart and invite Him into his life. So, needless to say having "endurance" is what I feel God is trying to teach me about every day!

When I think of endurance and what it means:
Endurance is the power to withstand something challenging. If you decide to run a marathon, you will need lots of endurance to run many miles.(source)

Endurance involves our mind and heart, or the way we react to hardships. A person who endures manifests courage, steadfastness, and patience. Endurance is “the spirit which can bear things, not simply with resignation, but with blazing hope and keeps a man on his feet with his face to the wind. It is the virtue which can transmute the hardest trial into glory  Endurance  can also be used when discussing an exhausting mental situation or stressful time — the endurance to bounce back! (Source)

I know most all of us have felt like giving up at one time or another. I've prayed many prayers over the years. I've waited patiently for God to answer those prayers. Some, He has answered. Most of them, though, I'm still waiting for His answer. Even though it's not been easy(and many times I've wanted to give up). The strength to patiently endure only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit in us!  It is only through Him that I could have endured over the years in many areas of my life. 
caregiving for my mom for 3 years
waiting to travel in our RV
Waiting for the bond of a shared faith with our son.
“The Christian life is not a 100-meter dash but a marathon. Those who lack patience, endurance and discipline will drop out of the race.” 
–Randy Alcorn, 90 Days of God’s Goodness
Endurance builds character and integrity in us. Scripture speaks of this process of character development: 
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18). 
"The life of endurance requires us doing many hard things and often suffering. But these hard things are the very ones that bring purpose, joy, and satisfaction to our lives." (Source)

I've learned that when you hope for something, it seldom occurs as you expect. I must not let my level of satisfaction and accomplishing my goals depend on people who may or may not have direct impact on what I do or how I do it. Often I find myself either feeling disappointed or stressed that something hasn't happened yet or that others who have made promises to me haven't followed through with them.  But, I'm learning that I cannot let other people make choices about my life. 
“Don’t let the expectations and opinions of other people affect your decisions. It’s your life, not theirs. Do what matters most to you; do what makes you feel alive and happy. Don’t let the expectations and ideas of others limit who you are. If you let others tell you who you are, you are living their reality — not yours. There is more to life than pleasing people. There is much more to life than following others’ prescribed path. There is so much more to life than what you experience right now. You need to decide who you are for yourself. Become a whole being. Adventure.” ― Roy T. Bennett

When I start to feel unsure of myself, aimless, or can’t find anything  that makes me lose myself, I have to remember that I need to always turn to Jesus who is the "Author and Finisher of my faith". I should not depend on anyone else, but only God, to come through for me. 

This isn't easy to do. When we make a decision that goes against what others expect of us, we usually will be choosing an uncomfortable and even painful journey. Sometimes, the burden will be so enormous that we will have three options every step of the way: give up, give in, or give it all we’ve got. I hope I will be able to choose the latter. 
Becoming a more resolute person will require me to dig deep and find the will to overcome any obstacles in my path. I cannot change outside circumstances, so I must change my response to the events. Going against the current is tough. When you start doing something different, you’re pointing out where other people are going wrong — so they may get angry and defend why they do what they do.
I know that all I can do is continue to be hopeful and persistent that He will answer in His timing. As I continue to wait, I also must resolve myself to accept this moment and to appreciate that my present circumstances are just as important my future experiences. I need to appreciate and be thankful for all He has done, in spite of what I have to endure. Ways that may help me through this would be to write down my goals everyday, focus on the task I wish to accomplish, and maintain my resolve even when times get hard. If I see something in my life isn’t working, I must be willing to change it up and be flexible, or be willing to embrace my conditions, and to be kind to myself and know that building resolve is a work in progress. 
“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

What is meant to be invites me to let go of the mental struggle that opposes the natural flow of life's events. Life proceeds, regardless of your resistance to it.
"The Christian life is not a sprint ... it is a marathon. Training for one is far different from the rigors of preparing for the other." 

“Jesus has called you to run a race. It’s a faith race. It’s long-distance and multi-terrain.”

Other encouraging verses to help us to endure in our lives: 
  • "But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” (2 Chronicles 15:7)
  • So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Cor. 9:26-27)
  • forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. (Philippians 3:13)
  • “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (Hebrews 10:36)
  • “Let endurance complete its work, so that you may be complete and sound in all respects, not lacking in anything.”​ (James 1:4)
  • "Don’t waver in resolve. Don’t fear. Don’t hesitate. Don’t panic. God, your God, is right there with you.” (Deuteronomy 20:3)
  • "Strengthen your resolve and do what must be done." (2 Samuel 2:7a)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

2018: Some Unexpected Changes, While Other Hopes for Change were Unfulfilled

It's hard to believe, but another Christmas has come and gone. I pray your Christmas was full of love and blessings. I'm so thankful ours was uneventful(a large family gathering and a small Christmas Eve meal), but also a little sad...
2018 is almost over...
Where did another year go? 
I had planned on writing many more posts this year, but it just didn't happen.

My word for this year was "change". Yes, I admit, there were several things that brought change for me in 2018...some were good, many were very difficult. Other changes that were anticipated never occurred. 

I'm realizing that's real life, though.
It brings lots of surprises, followed by numerous disappointments. 
But, it's just been one year out of many.

The truth is, the best any of us can do in this life is just do our best and trust God for the rest.

As I think back over 2018, I know I am blessed with changes that I have experienced!!...
  • I have my son back, after he went through a rough marriage/separation, which had put a barrier between us for years.
  • I participated in a weight loss/fitness program and lost 35 lbs and became healthier.
  • My hubby just recently retired from his job of 42 years. There had been several dates for his retirement set over the years, but he finally is officially retired.

There were also changes that I had hoped for that did not occur...
  • Receiving outside help with the caregiving of my mom, who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. (I never realized how exhausting and challenging caregiving is!) I recently had been reminded that it is the 3 year anniversary of when I quit my job and began caring for her. For over a year I had wanted some help with this and, in August this year, we began the process of officially applying for that help. Unfortunately, the process has been excruciatingly difficult to complete! (Lots of paperwork and hoops to jump through, as well as lack of availability of professional caregivers). After almost 5 months, we still have not gotten any help.
  • Traveling/RVing was something that I had hoped and dreamed to be able to do in 2018. We made a few very short trips(a couple of days each) within our state in our RV. Because retirement plans, as well as not finding caregiver help, had been put on hold, so have our travel plans. There is no timeline set for this for now, so I cannot say if it will happen in 2019 or not.
  • Even though I have my son back, I have prayed for years to share in having a strong faith in God with him, but it hasn't happened, yet. I will continue to pray for this, but only God knows when/if/how this will happen.
Ultimately, I have to say the "changes" for me this year have been an emotional roller-coaster.
I've had some hopes and dreams met, but also some that were crushed.

Some quotes about change...
"Give up the struggle and the fight; relax in the omnipotence of the Lord Jesus; look up into His lovely face and as you behold Him, He will transform you into His likeness. You do the beholding–He does the transforming. There is no short-cut to holiness."  (Alan Redpath)

"When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves."  (Viktor E. Frankl)

"There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse."  (Washington Irving)

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves." (Anatole France)

"What we count the ills of life are often blessings in disguise, resulting in good to us in the end. Though for the present not joyous but grievous, yet, if received in a right spirit, they work out fruits of righteousness for us at last."  (Matthew Henry)

In my next post, I'll be sharing a new word(or words) for the new year ahead that I have felt pulled to write about. If you have a new word, feel free to share them with me in the comment section. Until next year(2019), may the Lord bless you, strengthen you, and empower you!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Painful Change

"Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong."
N. R. Narayana Murthy
Normally, I am quite open to change, and even welcome it over doing the same things, over and over again. Especially when I have patiently waited for an answer to a specific prayer, the change the Lord has brought about to answer my prayer produces an overwhelming gratefulness and joy in my soul! 
For the past 25 years (but more deeply in the past 8 years), I have prayed over a specific change in the life of a loved one. Throughout these years, God has allowed me and my family to go through some amazing, but mostly tumultuous times. (If you have read my past blog posts, you may have read about some of those times.) My prayer has been to bring my loved one home...and ultimately, back into having a relationship with the Lord. Recently, the Lord answered the first half of my prayer. Of course, I was overjoyed! It was a big step that only God could have opened the doors for it to take place!!
The thing is, it was such an instant event, I'm not really sure how prepared I was/am for the changes that has/will occur...I was so set on the thought that it would take longer than it did (even though I deeply wanted it to be answered right away), that I went ahead and made my own plans, not thinking that they could all be affected by this, too. I truly didn't think that change may possibly upset the balance in my life. 
What I've Learned
  • Painful change and hurting for the right thing(s) - the thing(s) that break the heart of God - is good. 
  • When I try to avoid pain, I avoid taking risks that could change my life and other's lives. When I try to avoid pain, I avoid loving and being loved in return. 
  • There cannot be change without some pain, but it will be worth it if I endure the painfulness of change.
  • I grow and learn new things every time something changes. I discover new insights about different aspects of my life. I learn lessons even from changes that did not lead me to where I wanted to be. 
  • Frequent changes make me easily adapt to new situations, new environments, and new people. As a result I do not freak out when something unexpectedly shifts.(Something I did a lot in the past). 
  • Not all changes lead me to pleasant periods of life. Unfortunately we do not live in fairy tale and sad things happen, too. Overcoming the tough period have made/will make me stronger. 
  • One never knows what each change may bring. When I turn from my usual path there will be plenty of different opportunities waiting for me. Changes will bring new choices for happiness and fulfillment. 
  • Small changes become extremely valuable. One shift at a time, small changes will eventually lead me to the desired big one...God's ultimate answer to my prayer.  
Some songs about change.......

Sometimes I wish change wasn't so painful, I wish pain didn’t affect me so deeply - so that I can love, live, hope and dream more.

But I must remember—if there was no pain, then there would be no change, and without change there can be no joy or miracles! So, I rejoice in the already answered prayer and wait for God to answer the second half of my prayer...

 "God's plan is always the best. Sometimes the process is painful and hard, but He has a purpose for our pain, a reason for our struggle, and a reward for our faithfulness."
(Dave Willis)

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