Owl's Head Lighthouse, Owl's Head, ME

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Comfort, Food and Success

Health. Fitness. These two words are not ones that I frequently use in my writing. The reason? Well.....I think its because it means hard work. There is nothing about it that can be romanticized or appear beautiful. It is easier to avoid the topic because it can quickly take me out of my comfort zone. For many of us, comfort means food. And who wants to really look at our food choices under a microscope? We want what we want, when we want it!

Yes, I would like to be healthy. I would like to be fit. Who doesn't? But like so many things, we can talk about it and wish for it, but until we get serious about changing, we will never see success. It means denying myself at times and sweating frequently. Hmmmm.....see why I don't write about it?

There is no magic formula for fitness. And yet, from years of experience, I can tell you that it requires more than just following a food and work-out plan. Don't misunderstand. It does take those things. Within each of us, though, is a place that can undermine our attempts at fitness. That place is our personal "safe zone". While we may venture out from there, often with visions of improving ourselves in any of various ways, when life becomes overwhelming we retreat back to the "safe place." At some point in our lives we learned to feed ourselves in that place. The flavors, textures and scents that we have come to associate with it are life lines. I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing.

The problem comes when we dwell in that place of comfort instead of resting briefly. It comes when we continue to depend upon food (or other type of comfort) to be our main source of comfort. Held there by our fears and failures we sink deeper into self-comfort mode. The tremendous need of humans, and especially women, to feel safe and secure is something that the Creator placed within us. Why then, do we fail to reach up to Him who longs to meet that need? Why do we insist on attempting to meet it alone?

As much as I wish cheesecake or swiss cake rolls could make me whole, they never will. So once again I am left with a choice. Do I reach for the ice cream or cheesecake or do I trust the Lord and go for a walk. When will I really understand that I don't need that food? That there is something better that the Lord wants for me?

Walking, I find time to talk with Him. "Why," I ask, "do I always fail at this? Why can't I conquer this area of my life? Is it even possible to lose the weight that has held me down for so long?"

The soft answer comes, and I know that it is not this weight that has weighed me down. The physical weight is only a symptom of a larger problem. The body is science. If I burn more calories than I eat, I will lose weight. There is something else.....roadblocks I have placed in my own path over the years.

As life happens, it is so easy to begin to see yourself as a helpless victim. And maybe in some ways we are. The problem isn't being the victim, its the seeing....seeing ourselves. If our eyes were trained on the Saviour instead of on ourselves and our circumstances, so many patterns of our lives would be changed.

That is why it cannot be that I make time for working out OR for devotions. They must both take place for me to be whole. And I don't mean a stiff, formal reading of prescribed Scripture, and a hurried prayer. There must be a spiritual meeting between my spirit and that of my Comforter. When that takes place, a peace and wholeness pervade my being. The emptiness no longer needs to be filled.

But just as one delicious dinner cannot meet our continued dietary needs, neither can one precious time with the Lord meet all our continued spiritual needs. It must be constant return to the source of fulfillment. We must become more aware of our own spiritual thirst and have the discipline to return for more of the sweetest water available.

No, it is not easy. It is, in fact, more difficult than the most difficult work-out routine. But the rewards are far sweeter than we can ever appreciate in our physical bodies.

I do believe that "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." His strength is real and so much stronger than our own. When He calls me I must bow my knee and acknowledge His Lordship in my life. As I look to Him, the other things of life will be corrected. Yes, it will take physical work and self-denial, but if my spirit is full I will continue to succeed.

Today, may I make each choice looking at the face of the Saviour who gave everything for me. Is He enough???

"Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation. He ONLY is my rock and my salvation: He is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved....Trust in Him at all times: ye people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us. Selah." (Ps. 62:1-2,8)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Responsibility....What It Looks Like

He stands tall on a stool over a sink of dishes waiting to be washed. Water drips down his arms as he scrubs away at a bowl that had held the morning's oatmeal. The drips fall to the floor. All seven of his years showing as he maturely finishes the job at hand.

The girls work together, somewhat smoothly, folding laundry and delivering to the appropriate homes within the drawers of each family member. The floor of the laundry room is, at least for the moment, free of grass and other debris. I didn't do it....she did.....my oldest.

Another son asks if he can begin his schoolwork early today. He has each day this week. Well, that is partly because his mother fired him, or at least temporarily laid him off. In an attempt to teach personal responsibility to our children, we have assigned a chore list to each for every week. Along with that comes enough training to ensure that each participant is able to meet the demands of those tasks with confidence.

Unfortunately, like we all do at times, my son had a bad week of personal responsibility last week. While some of his chores were done, many were not, and the attitude left something to be desired. As any manager must, I was forced to look at the people I had placed in each position. Each was slated to received a small amount of pay for jobs well done at the end of the week, and, with the current economy being considered, I had to unload the most unproductive of the team.

Now this is not an easy thing to do. You may think it is a hard woman who can do take away a son's sole source of income (and, no, I do not pay unemployment), but what else could I do?

After receiving the news, my son retreated to his room (presumably, to carefully consider the lesson to be learned). When I looked in to check on him, my husband sat on the edge of his bed, and they talked. While I did not hear everything, I was touched by what I did. They talked of choices. Of being the place where the "buck stops". I heard my husband share his heart....a father struggling to mold his son into a man and steer him away from the mistakes of his own.

We are each faced with our own responsibilities every day of our lives. Some we meet with courage and yes, a good dose of personal responsibility. Other times we would rather bury our heads beneath the pillow and forget what must be done. Whether there is a time clock in our lives or not, there is always a choice to do what is right or to do what is easy.

It is this that we want to prepare our children for. If they learn nothing else from us, may they learn to take responsibility for themselves. To be men and women who can stand tall, knowing they have done what is required. That they would learn how to be stewards of the lives they have been given. In the process of training my children I am challenged to do a better job myself. As I see pride in their own work increase, I am encouraged to do the same. I dare not allow my own weaknesses to be the stumbling blocks in the lives of those I love so much.

My son is looking forward to next week when he is eligible to be rehired for a position within this "family-owned business". No doubt, there will be more days of shirked responsibilities, but hopefully lessons will be learned that will continue through life.

"Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." (I. Cor. 4:2)

"Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach other also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (II Tim. 2:1-3)

While the dishpan may be a lowly learning ground, may it yield "faithful men" who will be worthy to carry on the work of the Lord in whatever capacity they are led.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Legacy of Faithfulness

They say he is going to have heart surgery soon. That each day is a blessing, and that every day without the surgery is another day he risks death.

Wow. I guess I have been processing the information, and it has taken time to understand my own feelings enough to write about them.

This news about my grandfather is not sudden. The deterioration of a heart valve has happened over time. Everyone knew that eventually it would need drastic measures, and so here we are.....

A life that in one sense is hanging by a thread, but in another, very real sense, one of the most secure lives I know. My daughter asked me if I was scared....and I had to think about it. What do I feel about the grandfather who has been my pastor most of my life, the man who did "creep-mousy" with each of us, the man who taught me in school, the man who married us, the man who has faithfully stood in the gap?

A person's relationship with family, especially one in which there was constant contact, is always a crazy quilt of emotion and memory. But as I lay in the dark after my daughter had gone to sleep, I continued to think of her question. Was I scared?

I'm a nurse. I understand the risks associated. We all know that there is tremendous risk and that we could have to say good-bye to this one. But there is something else that I know. There is no one else more ready to leave this world and finally go home to the Lord he has served so faithfully.

You see, I know his heart. I have seen it so many times through the years. As a teacher of many foolish and rebellious kids, I saw his tears as he begged us to spend time in the Word of God. At the time, in our ignorance, we little understood his passion. I can see his frustration as he tried to get into the thick skull of his oldest granddaughter and lead her in the way that was right. I am quite sure he wanted to shake me, but I didn't "get it".

His unwavering patriotism has always been the standard we were to follow. He taught us to stand straight and proud in the presence of the flag of the country he had served. His stories of those who had given their lives in that service will forever remain in our minds and our hearts.

He stood behind a pulpit in a church that to most would not have been worth the time, but to him was a God-given, life-time ministry. The tin ceilings and walls held a congregation of few, often less than a dozen. For nearly forty years he ministered here without complaint. While he no longer ministers in that church on a full-time basis, he continues to meet whatever needs arise, as he is able.

That church was the family I grew up in.

In his burden for the state in which he lived, he has actively participated in outreach, not only to his own town, but in towns all across the state. Hundreds of miles they might put on in a Sunday afternoon, to be able to hold a service for those in a town without someone who could faithfully share the Light.

Always, he has offered missionaries the opportunity to share their work with a congregation that, while having little to contribute financially, would hold up these servants faithfully. My grandparents passion for missions has been a guiding light for all of us, and all of us have been involved in missions in one way or another throughout the years.

Today both he and my grandmother are actively involved in serving within their local church, filling the pulpit in others and daily ministering to the lost and newly saved within their community. To them, the Great Commission was not simply a verse to memorize..........it was an invitation to total life surrender.

When I look back at the girl I was, I am ashamed. I had the heart of God's servant in front of me everyday, and I failed to grasp the significance. This was not just my grandfather, this was the man God had given to lead us toward Himself. He handpicked this one to stand in that gap. Thank-you, Lord for this legacy of faithfulness.

As I look at my feelings regarding the man I call Grampy Lloyd, I cry. Not because I fear for him, but because I fear for me....that I have not gleaned all that I might have, from his years of walking the way ahead of me.

Every day is a gift. A diagnosis of poor health does not change this or make it more so. Today, I thank the Lord for this legacy and for the chance I have had to learn from some of the greatest servants the Lord has on this earth. I cannot wait until we all get to meet in the home of the Greatest Servant of all time.

My oldest two children recently told me that they wanted Proverbs 3:5,6 as their life verses.

"Trust in the Lord will all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

My heart was full as I listened to them quote the verses that I had heard so many times from the mouths of their great-grandparents. For it was these very verses that had been chosen by both in their youth, and had been their guide through these many years. If my children carry that forward in their lives in the same way, there is nothing else I would ask. May we, and they, be as faithful as those who have gone before.

I get it now, Grampy. Thank-you.