Monday, September 26, 2011

Oh, Joy!

"The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse."
--Helen Keller

Our Pastor preached a sermon yesterday from John 16. It was about having joy. I have been having a particularly challenging month and I am just not feeling the joy. I'm sitting here this morning, asking myself the question Pastor Tony challenged us with yesterday...If I'm not feeling joy, then what in my life is stifling it?

So here I am, overanalyzing joy. Have I ever felt joy? What is joy anyway? If I'm not feeling happy does that mean I don't have joy?

Merriam-Webster defines JOY as "an emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires". But a woman, Emily Rustad, left a comment on the Merriam-Webster website that made so much more sense to me. She wrote that "joy is different from happiness in that the word "happy" comes from the same root word as "happen": "hap." "Hap" means chance or fate. the feeling of happiness comes from what happens to a person by chance, but joy is a source of delight. it is what lies underneath all emotions, no matter what happens to a person."

So we can have joy in all circumstances because of Jesus. Because of what He did for us. But joy is not about my circumstances. It is not about whether I'm feeling happy today or whether my kids are listening or whether my husband and I got into an argument. Joy is more then just an emotion. My joy is Jesus. It is my hope in Him. It is my belief that He is in control. That even though things might be hard right now, the bigger picture reminds me that He loves me and cares for me and that is my joy.
HEBREWS 12:1-3
A huge cloud of witnesses is all around us. So let us throw off everything that stands in our way. Let us throw off any sin that holds on to us so tightly. Let us keep on running the race marked out for us.

Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the author of faith. He also makes it perfect. He paid no attention to the shame of the cross. He suffered there because of the joy he was looking forward to. Then he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

He put up with attacks from sinners. So think about him. Then you won't get tired. You won't lose hope.

Let us keep looking to Jesus...
Then you won't get tired...
You won't lose hope.

Linking a post from the archives with Ann today…

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Next Step...Squirrel...for my ADHD Hubby

This is an update from the post, "Loving an Adult with A.D.D", back in April. About a month or so ago my husband was officially "tested" for ADD/ADHD. We learned that he has moderate ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Initially the "hyper" part came as a surprise because I would not necessarily describe his physical behavior as hyper. But apparently "hyper" is not always physical, but internal, with how their thoughts are processed and that makes a lot of sense for Adam. His number one complaint is how overwhelmed he feels with all of the thoughts he has running through his mind and he doesn't know what to do with them.

Knowledge feels like power as we slowly begin to understand the impact ADHD has had on my husband's life and in our marriage. It has opened a door for us, for me, to have genuine understanding of how differently we think and process things. It's not been easy and I feel as though we are still only scratching the surface.

So what now? After his "diagnosis" he was given several options. We have put off making a quick decision about the path to take, but it seems the longer we wait the more I see how overwhelmed he can get and how stressful that is for him. Although initially medication was not something he was interested in, if it will help him to focus better and add stability to his emotions then I think he is willing to give it a try.

He has an appointment with our family doctor in October to discuss some options. At that time we will know better who will handle his medical care (GP, neurologist, or psychiatrist) and what medicine(s) he will try.

I am amazed at how adults who live with ADD/ADHD have learned to overcompensate for their ADD "weaknesses". Depending on what they struggle with because of ADD they often have other areas that they are very strong in, as well. These strong areas often "make up for" the areas that are harder for them.

This past summer Adam changed jobs. There were many reasons for the change, but one benefit was definitely a less stressful environment. He previously was in charge of running multiple projects at different locations. Having to keep track of all the details was very stressful for him. Now that his work environment is better we are seeing how stressful home life can be for him. He has said that at work he only has to focus on work, but at home he has to wear multiple hats (Dad, husband, maintenance, etc.) which means different responsibilities to different people. We are still trying to find ways of making this a little easier. I'm not sure we have figured that part out yet.

I'll be sure to share what happens after we visit with the doctor. I'm sure there are many ADD/ADHD adults out there trying to navigate this same path and we hope what we share might help you. Your feedback and experiences can help us, as well, so feel free to comment or send me an email.

(The "squirrel" is a reference to a scene in the movie "Up" when the dog has an apparent ADD moment. It's all in fun!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Faith In Spider Webs?

What they trust in is fragile;
what they rely on is a spider’s web.
They lean on the web, but it gives way;
they cling to it, but it does not hold.

JOB 8:14-15

What do you trust in?

If I were to be honest, brutally honest, my biggest struggle is trusting in myself. As a Christian, I know the One I should be trusting in, but disappointments and baggage often lead me on the path of self-protection and self-reliance. My lack of faith leads me to worry, anxiety, and fear. Because I know deep down that even I cannot deliver what I'm looking for. No matter how much I try I cannot control nor protect myself from the things I fear the most.

An overwhelming thought, but I am so thankful that's not the end of it. Although my tendency is to trust in myself God has shown me the fruitlessness of that labor. When I pridefully think I am in control, I am usually left with more disappointments and unmet expectations. Putting my trust in myself, or anything other then God, is like "relying on a spider's web" as described in Job 8:14-15. I am going to fall. I may desperately try to lean on or cling to it, but it will not hold. It was never meant to.

The first line in the praise song, "Firm Foundation", says, "Jesus, you're my firm foundation. I know I can stand secure." It's the thing I so desperately want but cannot provide for myself. Security. On my own, I am insecure. When I lean or cling to other people or other things, my security is not lasting. It will give way.

I think living in faith is realizing that all attempts to do things successfully on your own will fail, or atleast turn out badly. We need God. He is secure. We can lean on Him. We can cling to Him. This is why we can have hope. He will "uphold you with His righteous right hand" as promised in Isaiah 41:10. And He will not let you fall.

"Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long..." (DEUTERONOMY 33:12)

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Nudge and a Song

A couple years ago I wrote a post entitled "Nothing Better Than A Good Book" and it's been awhile since something has been "good enough" to inspire a blog post about it.

The surprise of my summer reading came after I read, "The Reluctant Prophet". Written by Nancy Rue (co-writer of the Sullivan Crisp novels, "Healing Stones", "Healing Waters", and "Healing Sands") there is not much I dare say about the storyline (because I don't want to ruin it for you). It twists and turns and blossoms into something you may not expect. And it gently taps you on the shoulder, reminding you how intricately involved God is in each moment of our lives. How He often asks us to do things that don't make sense to us at the time, but if we follow His leading, He will do much more then we ever imagined. The main character was real to me, funny, questioning, and impulsive. I liked her because I could relate to her. The storyline isn't contrived, nor is it meant to guilt you into "service". Instead it encourages you to be aware of the nudges in your own life, believing that God has a great purpose for each one of us.

The back of the book describes the story in this way: "It's a total surprise when 40-something Allison Chamberlain feels a divine nudge to buy a Harley motorcycle and go wherever it takes her. Soon she finds herself in the darkest corners of society, experiencing the heartache of the poor. Will she discover that healing comes through the voice of God and those who follow it?"

To my delight, "The Reluctant Prophet" has a Part 2 coming out on September 24th called "Unexpected Dismounts". I hope you will consider reading this thought-provoking, inspiring work of fiction.

My second suggestion is music. We are always listening to something around here! I have written about my love for good, female singers before in my post "Song In My Heart". I would like to formally add Audrey Assad to that list of female artists.

I first heard Audrey Assad when I was randomly clicking on artists in iTunes one day. I liked her the moment I heard her. Her album, "The House Your Building" has become a fast favorite. My husband and I have also had the opportunity to see her in concert. She is a very humble, but extremely talented songwriter and singer. Her songs are from the heart and full of Truth. She seems to be making a name for herself these days and will be touring with another of my favorites, Sara Groves, this fall. I hope you'll give her a listen!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Getting Too Comfortable

"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."
(adapted from a line in “To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns)

There is something comforting to me about having a plan. I don't always enjoy the extra work planning can sometimes bring, but it's totally worth it to me in the end. Planning helps me feel more in control and not necessarily in a bad way. Thinking things through and being prepared are good things. However, you cannot have a plan without having expectations. And we all know that best laid plans can always change or even go wrong.

The best way to describe last week was an adventure. We were scheduled for a weeks vacation at the beach when Hurricane Irene hit the east coast and disrupted our weekend plans. Disappointed and a little frustrated with not knowing whether the hurricane would cause enough damage to cancel our plans we did our best to keep our options open. Thankfully, it left a lot of rain and some tree branches behind and little else. We finally did get to the beach, a couple days late, but happy to be there.

If that was the only lesson we were meant to learn last week that would have been enough. On our second day on the beach a strong wave hit me (and probably a flying elbow) sending me to the ER for swelling and seven stitches on the bridge of my nose. I cannot describe the trauma this "minor" accident caused our family. We had been out swimming together and blood rushing down my face was not a sight my children knew quite how to handle. Initially struggling with the "why did that have to happen" I quickly changed my perspective to "thank you it wasn't something much worse". I didn't hit the bottom and I didn't lose consciousness. And as every Mom can identify with, I was super thankful it was me and not one of my kids. And so our best laid plans were disrupted again by my injury and we were left to process the trauma the rest of the week.

Apparently bad things do come in threes because at the end of our trip, when friends came to visit for the weekend, their little boy got lost on the beach and we frantically searched for a 3 year old whose legs carried him seven blocks from where we had been sitting. Praise God he was found relatively quickly and unharmed. But you have to know those minutes of not knowing were hideous.

So I have come away from that week knowing none of those things would have happened if we had just stayed at home, but believing everything happens for a reason, having no regrets about going. In our case, my nose will heal and that little guy is back where he belongs, but I cannot take one moment or person for granted. And I cannot get too comfortable, trusting in myself and my plans because they can change in an instant. I have faith that God is in control, even when my plans change, especially when my plans change.

The day after my nose accident, this song came over the iPod. It is a good reminder that although I do not know what is going to happen and I may not understand what does, I place my faith in the One who does know and "I know He watches me".

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

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