Can Can

Hi, all! I’ve started journaling again, so of course, I’m blogging again, too.

I’m such a rules-bound person that I found it a good exercise this morning to list some things I CAN do. So here they are, fresh off the brain. Enjoy. (I would love to read your Can Do lists, too!)

I can wear white whenever I want to.
I can never wear white if I don’t want to.
I can say “No” with one word, “No.”
I can say “I’ll think about it.”
I can change my mind at any time.
I can let others face the consequences of their actions.
I can find growth in facing the consequences of my own actions.
I can feel differently about someone’s pets than they do.
I can feel differently about anything than others do.
I don’t have to laugh at jokes that hurt my feelings.
I can allow things to be awkward.
I can choose to not comment about other people’s choices.
I can choose to not comment about other people’s choices.
I can choose to not comment about other people’s choices.
When criticized, I can respond calmly. They may be right, and they may be wrong.
I can be alone.
I can be quiet.
I can be happy.
I can be sad, or afraid, or anxious.
I can feel any way I feel.
I can be thankful.
I can live without ______ (fill in the blank with anything).
I can choose to not comment about other people’s choices. That again.
I can smile at myself in the mirror.
I can be taught things.
I can teach others things.
I can age.
I can accept how things are.
I can exhale.
I can trust God.

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Acceptance or Prayer? Acceptance and Prayer?

I have been wondering lately how acceptance and prayer work together. Not so much about how the Serenity Prayer works (that is a thing of beauty, and deserves its own post) but about whether our prayers work with or against the acceptance of reality.

On the one hand, it is good and healthy to accept that things are as they are (or were as they were). This is us receiving reality with open eyes. But on the other hand, we are told to pray for people, situations, and ourselves. We are told to pray for healing and God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” We are told that “the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” And, “You have not because you ask not.” This creates a tension in my mind.

In praying for change am I not accepting reality? In accepting reality am I not believing that God can change things? What’s a body to do?

Well, here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

One, I know that God can change things. I believe down to my shoes that God has power over all of creation. From world-shaking events to good parking spots. The weather? Yeah, he can change that. Cancer? Yeah, he can heal that. My stinking attitude? Yep, he’s really good at changing people. God can change things.

Two, I can ask God to do something or to change something. We have God’s permission to not like bad things and to ask him to change them. You may even say it’s our duty.

Three, we accept what he decides to do. We, in our praying, in our asking, submit to God’s will. He may answer, “Yes,” he may answer, “No,” he may answer, “Not yet.” In believing that God loves us and is working his good and perfect will in our lives, we can say “Not our will, but yours.” We accept the yes, the no, or the not yet. We may never stop praying for something (and that’s allowed, too!), while at the same time we accept that we may never see our prayers answered in the way we would like them to be answered. We accept he knows, and does, best.

Boiled down it looks like this:
1. Believe He can do it
2. Ask if He will
3. Accept what He does

I know this doesn’t remove the mystery of God’s will and prayer, but it does help me see where acceptance fits in. I am finding so much peace and healing through learning to accept things as they are. Things about me, things about you, things about the world. Do I still ask God to change things? Every day. Do I accept that he may or may not? Well, I’m working on it. But I do accept that this is a life-long process. God, grant me the wisdom…

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Tick Tock

I was journalling today something about hearts that I wanted to share.. hearts… hearts… oh yes, the heart is a muscle! And like all muscles it gets stronger with use. And as you know, to build muscle you have to tear down muscle, and it rebuilds stronger, bigger.

So it is with the heart, the figurative heart. The heart we love and grieve with. That one. The temptation (for me) is to protect my heart to the point it takes no risks. No risk means no pain.

Tut tut, Alice, this is not good, nor is it living.

Our hearts will break. Our hearts will rebuild. Thus it is with hearts. And most importantly, in Junior Asparagus’s words, “I know whatever’s gonna happen, that God can handle it.” And he can. And he will. We only have to live, and love, one day at a time.

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As Trees Do

I saw them falling and felt my heart sink a little. July? It’s too soon.
What’s wrong with those trees? Are they ill?
I looked around town and found out, no,
no, there is nothing wrong with my trees.
Tulip poplars can start to lose leaves as early as July.
As early as July when it’s dry.
It’s just what tulip poplars do.
Winter isn’t coming early and the tree is not over sick.
I can relax and un-brace myself.
A tulip poplar will be a tulip poplar.

and people will be people
and that person will be that person
and I will be me
and we can grow as trees do

Un-brace, Un-fear, Un-clench.
A tulip poplar will be a tulip poplar.

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Some Days

There are days
cold, dark soul days
when I see only the broken things

Those days
cold, dark soul days
I wrap my shoulders with grief
and wait for the thaw

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Spooning

For people with chronic illnesses, or just limited energy levels, the Spoon Theory makes a lot of sense and helps us explain to those we love why some days we just can’t even.

Briefly the way Spoon Theory works is that you have a finite number of spoons each day, paying a spoon or two as you go for each activity. Some days may end with you needing more spoons than you have on the table, causing you to to borrow from tomorrow’s stash. So then tomorrow you start the day with fewer spoons, again paying as you go. Some days you may find you have only enough spoons to get out of bed and eat.

My goal has been to manage my spoons well so I don’t find myself in a deficit. Some days it can’t be helped, but the idea has been to spend, or not spend, my spoons as well as I can.

I have a hunch, though, that it isn’t beneficial for me to conserve spoons for tomorrow anymore. I suspect that when I go to bed with leftover spoons I don’t sleep well, which gives me too much time awake in the dark. Hello, anxiety.

For the past three weeks I’ve been experimenting with spending all my spoons every day. I am walking between 4 to 6 miles each day, as quickly as I can. I’m pushing myself, draining every last bit of energy each day. No spoons left behind.

It is my goal to drop into bed exhausted and sleep like a farmer. Assuming farmers sleep well. I am trusting that the new day will arrive with enough new spoons for me to do what needs to be done that day. “Give us this day our daily spoons…”

And guess what! Sometimes I have enough energy and sometimes I don’t!

But usually I do.

The worst that has happened so far is a low energy day (think tired from the bones out) and have to cancel my plans for the day. Or muddle through in a thick fog. It’s not the end of the world, and I know by the next day I’m likely to be up and running and using up spoons like a soup kitchen.

I’m sleeping great. I’m gaining muscle and overall feeling much better about all kinds of junk. Who doesn’t have junk? I have junk. And those fatigue days? Fewer and fewer, my friends.

Spoon Theory makes sense, and is a very good explanation to how our energy works. But I believe that for me, right now, conservation is not good – it leaves too much energy left for worry and fretting. The best use of my energy is to use up my energy, each and every day.

We’ll see! I reserve the right to be wrong. I’ll let you know.

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Once an Austrian went yodeling

I need to explore this more. This thought.

This morning as I was drinking my coffee and reading I suddenly remembered a person who over 30 years ago was in my College and Career Sunday School class. He was paralyzed (recently?) and was trying to make connections with others in the class. Sometimes I would sit next to him as he tried to turn the pages of his Bible.. his hands in a type of strap that made it difficult. I remember wondering if he wanted help… sometimes I would help.. sometimes I wouldn’t. Why didn’t I have the sense to ask him if he’d like me to help? The thought didn’t enter my mind. Only whether I should help or not help.

But that’s not what my mind was focused on this morning. This morning I remembered when this young man tried to start a Bible study class in the evening, and nobody came. I don’t remember any other facts around this event, just that it pierced me. But no, I didn’t go the class either. I felt horrible about it, but pushed it out of my mind as best I could.

And this morning I remember him and his Bible study and I ached for him. And then I wondered, how would I feel if one of my sons tried to start a Bible study and nobody came? And what if my son was this paralyzed young man? He’s somebody’s son.

I only thought my heart was pierced before. It bled when I placed my sons in this other young man’s place. And myself in the place of his mom.

And I prayed for that man, and if he was alive today would God please bless him. And while I was yet praying, suddenly and without warning, a new thought came to me:

“God, do you want me to be sad about this?” Because I was. I was very sad.

“God, if you want me to be sad about these things, and all the sad things that pass my eyes (and imagination) all day, I will. I will be sad if that’s what you want. But if there is something else you want me to feel, please let me know.”

And as the story often goes, I opened my Bible for my daily reading and this is what I read:

“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.”

In all honesty, I read this and it didn’t hit. I looked up and prayed again, “Lord, if there is ANY other way you want me to feel besides sad, please somehow let me know…please show me…somehow please make it known…. Oh. You just did.”

There it was. How God would like me to feel. Just from that little bit of a Psalm is a blizzard of how he wants me to feel! He wants me to be thankful and call on him. He wants me to let others know what he has done. As you may know, you can spend a great amount of time recalling what he has done. I intend to do that.

Also, he wants me to sing about him, to tell about him, to Glory in his name. I’m not 100% sure what glorying in his name means, but I’m hoping to find out.

Lastly, he wants my heart to rejoice. To look to him and his strength, and to seek his face always. Rejoicing sounds quite a bit different than what I’ve been doing. Yes, please, I would like to rejoice.

I do understand that there is a time to laugh and a time to cry, and I understand that he makes some of us more tender (frail?) than others, and this is his will. I also understand that just because I think something or feel something doesn’t mean it’s what I should be thinking or feeling. My thoughts and feelings need to be sifted though his Word. Early and often.

Now, I don’t want to be a hearer only and not a doer. I know I will have sad thoughts because sad things happen, but it is my intention (Father, help me) to liberally add thankfulness to my thoughts for what he has done. And I’ll start right now.

Thank you, Father, for creating me.
Thank you for redeeming me, for making me new, for giving me a new name.
Thank you that my future is secure in you.
Thank you for the Holy Spirit – your Spirit lives in me!
Thank you that you will never leave me, never forsake me.
Thank you for rescuing me from wrath, thank you that you are preparing a place for me…

I could go on and on. And I will. Thanksgiving really does have snowball effect. I’m hoping for an avalanche.

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