Saturday, December 24, 2011

The LIGHT in the Darkness

So, what do you do at 5 in the morning, after a whole night of not sleeping?  Besides wanting to tear your hair out and scream, I mean.  When you're too frustrated to stay in bed trying in vain to "trick" yourself into falling asleep, but you're too exhausted to really get up and do anything either.  Well, you work on your blog about God's goodness of course; because it's very important to remember...especially right now.  So bleary eyes and fuzzy brain aside....

Christmas....I love this time of year so much.  Christmas is my thing...always has been.  Some of my warmest memories of family togetherness and being joyful are of Christmas time -- getting together with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, singing Christmas carols, having our own family Christmas, the excitement of anticipation -- what's in that package? -- and experiencing it all with the wonder of childhood.  I know some people do not have those treasured memories or the loving family to share it with.  I know this is a blessing in and of itself.  And I am very thankful to the Lord for it.

One of the things I have always especially loved about Christmas is all the lights.  Lights on the trees, lights on the houses, candles in the windows, big lights, little lights, multi-colored and twinkly lights.  Both as a child and now, I love to sit in a dark room with only the Christmas lights shining. There is just something very warm and joyous about Christmas lights, like they are lighting the way for what is to come. Or whom. Even now, in the pre-dawn darkness, I see some Christmas lights left on here and there, and it brings me child-like joy and excitement (in spite of no sleep).  Light has always been important to me, so I guess it makes sense that I would love the extra-specialness of Christmas lights.

I really love the passage in Isaiah that says "Those people walking in darkness have seen a Great Light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a Light has dawned" (9:2).  I used to sleep with a night light  because it made my childhood bedroom less scary.  Some qualities of Light:  Light guides us and shows us the way to walk.  Light can bring us great comfort and hope.  Light always overcomes the darkness.  A single candle can light up a whole room.  Darkness can no longer envelope anything the Light has touched.

Now as an adult, I've had my share of dark times -- I've struggled with chronic illness, losing loved ones, being misunderstood, loneliness and even with the darkest of dark places, depression.  The idea of  Jesus, the Great Light gives me hope and expectation that eventually, in His timing, I will see a brighter day.    After a sleepless night in the darkness, after the especially long lonely and confusing hours, there is almost a relief when morning light comes with it's fresh perspective.  The Light is always there, even if I don't always see Him right away. And I don't have to worry about stumbling around in the darkness because the Light has dawned that first Christmas night.  May Jesus, the Light spark some hope in your heart as well.  Merry CHRISTmas!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Gift of Rest

Have you ever been so busy that you haven't had the time or inclination to see God's blessings in the every day? Unfortunately, that has been my case lately. Thus, the silence here.

I am very grateful that God has just given me a solid week of not leaving the house, not having to go anywhere. For some, that would drive them looney, but it was just what I needed! The last time I had a whole week free of demands, was probably about four or five months ago! I have really been struggling with my CFS, feeling like I have barely been surviving each day, just keeping my head above water. I've also been struggling with feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, discouraged, and spiritually blah too. So, this week was truly a gift to me.

During this week, I was able to rest, read for fun, watch some of my DVR list, catch up with a friend over the phone, have conservations with my husband, catch up with my online friends on Sparkpeople and facebook, do some things around the house in spurts, and spend some time with the Lord. The anniversary of my grandma's passing came and went (Nov. 2, 19 years ago), and I have been blessed with my first great nephew, (born Oct. 31). (More to come on these later.)

I wish I could say I feel fully rested. I don't. And the last few days I have been either fighting a cold, or a flare-up of my CFS. But I sure feel much better than I did, and that's progress. Anyone with chronic illness is acutely aware it takes time for recovery, but I have enjoyed and appreciated this week.

I know there's truth in the health of the whole being -- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual -- being affected by the health of one or more parts. As I have tired physically, those other parts of me have suffered as well. Again, it takes time, but I have been given some additional insights into my relationship with God, and I don't feel quite so helpless and overwhelmed emotionally. The frustration and discouragement still lingers around the edges, especially at this time of the year, but I thank the Lord for the Gift of Rest, and will do all I can to make sure I have more of these opportunities to be still and lie down in green pastures.

One of my favorite passages is Matt: 11: 28-30, which includes these words "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." That's what this week has been for me.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Intangible Gifts

There will be no photo accompanying this post, because often the Lord shows me His love and blessing through intangible ways -- ways I can't see or touch, but ways that are deeply impactful in my spiritual life. I love it when He speaks to me and teaches me right where I am in life.

It's ironic that even though my body has been very weary recently, I have also been very restless in my mind and spirit. I recognize this comes from anxiety in my heart, which I struggle with quite often. I also struggle with probably the worst form of anxiety -- anxiety of getting too close to my Savior. I get afraid of what He may ask of me, or what He may "take away" from me. This has happened because of some ways that He has "disappointed" me in the past (at least according to my human perception). The truth is, whenever you get disappointed or hurt, your ability to trust gets damaged as well.

But you know, even through all this "stuff" in my rocky journey toward Him, He is faithful and patient. He has been the One to show me what my struggles are, what has caused them, and that the answer is to "Be still and know that I am God." (Ps. 46:10a) Being still has a lot to do with resting and trusting. So I ask myself how I trust people, when it should be so much easier to trust a perfect God than imperfect people. It must be that I know and love them. I know their character, and know they wouldn't do anything to hurt me intentionally. I know they would do everything in their power for my good. Therefore, I trust them.

Ahhh, says the Lord. That's the key. So, after being a "believer" so many years, I find myself still in need of REALLY KNOWING my Lord and therefore REALLY TRUSTING Him. And you know, just as He has been teaching me these things, I feel assured He will stay with me, ever faithful and patient along the way. And I know from past experience, it won't be an easy ride. I am left with the only response I can make. I am helpless. I am weak, but He is strong. I have only the ability to ask the most simple yet profound prayer my heart can make of Him: Help.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Simple Gesture Can Mean So Much

So much for my idea I was going to post here regularly. Ha! Time has been moving along, and while I have had many ideas for my blog here -- thankfully the Lord has not stopped showing me His blessings and Love -- both time constraints and perfectionism have kept me from recording them. My bad! May I hopefully do better, because I find this so important for me.

Today I had one of those days where it is hard to see the blessings and to be thankful. I have been feeling blah emotionally, and physically weary the last few days. Add a headache today, and well, I just wasn't feeling well at all. And no matter how much I rested, I just couldn't seem to feel any better it seemed. With days like this, the frustration and discouragement levels mount, especially when my mind has all these ideas about things I would have liked to accomplish today, without a single one getting done.

This evening, having to come up with an idea for supper and actually fix it just served to further overwhelm me. So I wonder if you can imagine what I felt, when David volunteered to make supper and clean up afterward? Oh, sweet blessing! A husband who understands, AND makes a wonderful meal for us! It tasted so good! It made me feel so loved and cared for, and so special too. I really, really appreciated it! And I really, really appreciate him too! What a gift to know that God uses others to bless me as well!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Garden Pleasure

I have many interests, which depending on how you look at it, may be a blessing or a curse! But I'm certain several of them will make it into this blog at least once, probably more.

Here's an example: I love to garden. I have to admit it is challenging for me physically because of my CFS and energy limitations, and I hate weeding with a passion, but it's still worth it. What can I say? I'm addicted to playing in the dirt ;-) I love to see things grow. I love the freshness of it, and watching the growth with each new branch, bloom and baby veggie. There is a sense of satisfaction I get from working in the ground, planting a seedling and then harvesting and preserving it's fruit for the winter. Every year, I wonder... should I grow a garden this year? It takes so much time and soooo much of my energy. But every year, I do it...gladly (well, except for the weeding haha). An added bonus? Spiritual lessons. You see, I learn a lot about God through gardening. For instance, the way he patiently works, nourishes the soil, plants, and weeds, and toils all for the joy of seeing the fruit...

Flowers bring me special joy. Along with my perennials (which I like to add to each year), I like to plant containers and set them on our porch. It just makes our home look cheerful and welcoming. The bright colors, the fragrance, the delicate petals -- it all makes me happy. Summer just wouldn't be summer without flowers.

I take special pride though, in my vegetable garden. I love that this is a way I can provide good and healthy food for our table. Last year, was a disappointing one for our garden. We began to wonder if our garden plot in back of the house was getting too shaded by our huge oak tree. So, this year we planned an experiment. I planted one of each kind of plant in the old garden spot and one in a container situated in a place in our yard that gets almost constant sun. The tomato plants still seem to be doing pretty well in both places, but the eggplant and pepper plants are a different story. Can you guess the winner? ; )

Garden Eggplant
Container eggplant

This year, I also tried planting lettuce for the first time. I put Boston in one container and Romaine in the other. As I planted a little late, I wasn't even sure if the seeds would do anything. I was very surprised! I have actually been pulling them up by the roots for now to keep thinning them out. Oh and they are delicious! I see a lot of yummy garden salads in our future!

And speaking of the future, since our container garden is doing so well (at least so far haha), my dear sweet husband has offered to build a raised bed in that area for next year. I can't wait!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why a Blog?

So why blog? It's really not that I think my life is so fascinating and important that others should just want to read about it. Really, I'm not planning on this blog having more than an audience of one. Ok, two -- God and me. Well, ok...God, me, my husband, my mom and maybe a handful of family members -- haha.

I decided to blog because I too often take for granted God's blessings for me. When you live with daily challenges such as I do, I'm afraid it's far easier to live in negativity and what you can't do, and what you don't have, and what is "seemingly" taken from you, than the blessings that you are surrounded with every day. I am ashamed that is the truth. So, I am starting this blog to encourage myself to look for those blessings and appreciate them, and be grateful to my good God and Father because of them. His Word says He DELIGHTS to give good gifts to His children, so I am going to look for those gifts each day. Hopefully, I will focus more on my positive side again. haha

I decided to call the blog "Simple Gifts" firstly because I've always liked that old Shaker song, and I try to live out it's message. I am learning the gift of being simple in my heart, the gift of coming to the Lord with a child-like faith (still very much a work in progress), and I continue to learn and strive for that simplicity in my life and in my home. The fact that life is very hard (and no mistake it is), and it can be very painful, God STILL gives good gifts to His children. Even when it doesn't seem like it, He does still show us His love through simple gifts -- His blessings to us. Deciding to start this blog has already helped me re-focus on looking for them. I hope to continue and post regularly here how God has shown me His love and care.