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The ache of the waiting room

(This is a guest post from an online blogging friend.

Sharing her heart to yours and mine. We have all been in the quiet of the waiting room. It is both awkward and strange, and it pulls you into many thoughts and feelings.)

The ache of the waiting room

This is the waiting room. Welcome. You know this place, don’t you? When we are in the waiting room, we eventually have to make this choice: We can either distance ourselves from God or we can trust him in the wait.

This truth became so evident to me over the last three years, a season when I’ve logged many hours in waiting rooms—literal ones. Waiting for a friend when she had a cancerous lump removed. Waiting for our daughter Anna when she underwent procedures for a digestive problem. Waiting for Dad when he had a pacemaker put in, and then more waiting when he had part of his right leg amputated.

I’ve found that waiting rooms everywhere are a lot alike. An interior decorator has done what he or she could to make the place inviting. Chairs are upholstered in trendy colors. Fake greenery has been arranged in matchy-matchy ceramic pots.

Meanwhile, the one you love is on an operating table. Your inner “fixer” is paralyzed. Unless you happen to have a degree in neurosurgery or anesthesiology, you are clearly not needed. You are, instead, stuck—feeling rather powerless—in the waiting room. If you’re lucky, a digital board identifies your loved one by a number and provides periodic status reports.

My family of origin tends to be the obnoxiously loud ones in the waiting room. Humor has always been a coping mechanism for us. I suppose there could be worse things than laughing through hard times.

Our stories in the waiting room kept us sane during one of Dad’s recent surgeries. Every so often, one of us would step out of our circle, somber faced, to check the digital board. A sister would whisper, “Still in surgery.” We’d pause, and then we’d all start in again. Here in the waiting room, it was about stories, connection, laughter. It was about family.

There was no pushing, only pausing.

Oddly, these moments, when I sat miles away from the answers I wanted, were an unexpected gift because they caused me to consider the practice of being still. I did not flit or fly. I was a bird on a wire, wings tucked in, waiting for hope to appear, inching up from the horizon.

Waiting has compelled me to understand that I’m not in charge of the world and that my notions of control are all an illusion anyway. Waiting can feel like a weakness, especially in a culture that places a high value on self-sufficiency and “making things happen.” Waiting is the opposite of sufficiency, and it leaves me exposed and armorless.

I step into so much of my life wearing armor: The armor of ambition. The armor of good performances. The armor of masks. The armor of control. The armor of trying harder.

There is no armoring up when you’re waiting. You simply wait, stripped down, vulnerable before your struggle. You can fix nothing. You are not in charge now—not that you ever were—but the armor you wear on a typical day gave you a false sense of security. You finally realize there shall be no pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. This can be a very beautiful thing. When you pause—instead of push—you do all the things that matter most: You pray. You read Scripture. You sit quietly—or laugh loudly, if that’s more your style—with friends and family. You practice allowing yourself to be still.

In the quietness of a hospital waiting room, I would often turn inward and whisper to my Savior, “How would we get through this without you, Jesus?” Letting down your faux armor causes you to more carefully inspect your life and discover how incredible it is to belong to Jesus: Where, oh where, would we be without Jesus?

Where are you today, friend? Where, oh where, are you?

Perhaps you are in a waiting room of some kind too. Perhaps you wish to act instead of wait. You want to take matters into your own hands but haven’t a clue how—or even if you should.

What are you waiting for? The answer to your financial distress? A baby to come? A resolution to a relational conflict? The phone to ring? The wound to heal? The last twenty pounds to drop? That moment when it’s your chance to finally celebrate?

You ask good questions for which there are no immediate answers: Why is this opportunity slipping through my fingers? How am I going to go on now that he’s gone?

Maybe today you actually are reading these words in a hospital waiting room while someone you love is in the operating room, and your prayers seem to dissolve into antiseptic air as you cry out silently: Are you here, God?

Though he may be silent, God has not abandoned you. He is working while you wait.

The work that God does in the waiting room often proves more important than the end result. Here he will give you clarity for what he wants you to do when the wait is over. Here he will draw near to you. Here you will get in touch with your essential self, the one who wasn’t made to wear all that armor.

This is the greatest gift of the waiting room. Lean in close, for when you least expect it, you will sense the presence of Jesus in ways you never could have before.

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BIO: Jennifer Dukes Lee is the wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, and an author.

She loves queso and singing too loudly to songs with great harmony. Once upon a time, she didn’t believe in Jesus. Now, He’s her CEO. Jennifer’s newest book, It’s All Under Control, and a companion Bible study, are releasing today! This is a book for every woman who is hanging on tight and trying to get each day right―yet finding that life often feels out of control and chaotic.

Adapted from It’s All under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible by Jennifer Dukes Lee, releasing this fall from Tyndale House Publishers.

 

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An interesting chat with an 8 year old

Today I had an interesting chat with our 8 year old grand son.
He actually turns 8 on Monday but we took him out for breakfast early so his parents could have time with him on his actual day.
We were sitting at the table and he looked at me and said, “I have never seen your bedroom.”
I said to him, “it really isn’t too exciting and it’s a bit of a mess.”
His reply to me, “sounds a lot like our house and actually the whole world is a bit of a mess.”
Yes it is true, the whole world is a bit of a mess; and it seems to be pretty obvious to this little guy we have a lot of work to do to better ourselves.
Spending time with the grand children is priceless. Especially if you can get them alone.
Our grand daughter’s usually come together since the 14 year old’s are twins.
They do almost everything together. The oldest grand daughter is 19 now and working full time and driving my hand me down car. She is really growing up fast.
It’s a good question to ask ourselves, how often do we stop and just chat with each other?
It is precious to listen to them, I found a saying that said, “listen and silent have the same letters with different meaning.”
When we become silent and truly listen we can hear many profound things.
I can hear inflection of words, tone of talking, the meaning of how it is said, I listen to hear and not so much how I am going to respond. Active listening is an art. A gift one can give.
When I was in counseling he would often tell me, “I am listening to what you are not saying as much as what you are saying, I am watching body language and mannerisms.” At first it made me nervous.
Then I got used to his ‘leaning in to listen’.
It felt good to have someone listen to my words, even if I had to pay him.
He clarified a lot of confusion and misuse of ideas within my recovery.
It was good.
So my question for you, when was the last time you really heard someone?
I mean leaning in and listening with a heart ‘interest’ for what they are saying.
Let us challenge ourselves in the next week or two. See how often you listen and then respond.
You might be surprised at what you find out.
The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.
I think this is something to think about.

About six months ago I joined a professional writers

About six months ago I joined a professional writers group.
It was a bold move on my part since I am not professional and only write here, in this place.
Oh occasionally I will do guest posts but mostly it’s here and my audience is pretty small.
Some of us were commenting on our ‘small’ audience and one of the leaders gave a talk to us.
It was not only encouraging but thought provoking too.
She said, “So you only have 19 people reading your blog writing. Ok then you do your best to serve those 19 people and to make them want to come back for more of your words.”
“For instance if you had all 19 readers in your home for coffee, you would set out your best cups, your finest dishes and your homemade goodies to make it nice for them. You would do things to welcome them.”
It was a very different concept for me because we used to have a small group in our home on a weekly basis and it stressed me to have them. Hospitality is not my ‘highest gift.’
Also to have 19 in a room is rather large and not considered an intimate sharing time.
So to make it more, friendly and safe, we could break the large group into two.
In the blog world you can’t really do that; what I am trying to realize is this, NO number is too small.
Whether you write for 1, 4 or 19. You write for your audience and say what you need to say to them.
They will appreciate it too if they know you are doing it for the right reason.
The writers group also tells us to keep track of our email list and respond to our readers.
That is hard for me since I have no idea who really reads this.
Other than 1 or 2 who comment, the others are a mystery to me; kind of out in cyber space.
Unless my readers send me a comment I have no idea who they are and I won’t be able to reach out to them.
I write because the Lord laid it upon my heart to share words that would both encourage and challenge those who choose to be readers. That is why the name came to be “something to think about.”
After much prayer those words came to me and I thought it was exactly what I wanted to accomplish.
After reading a blog post I wanted the reader to step back and think on the words written.
Giving them ‘something to think about.’
In the future I am not stressing about numbers or wondering who.
I am just writing into this little space and if it becomes a blessing to you; well then I did what I have wanted to do.
May God get all the glory for the words that are shared as HE began this good work.

In the last post I wrote about finding

In the last post I wrote about finding God’s love and purpose for your life.
It is so easy yet so many make it so difficult.
In the Bible which is the Word of God it tells us we are loved many times.
It tells us that God knew us before we were even born. How awesome is that?
Psalm 139:13-16
[You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.]
Isn’t that amazing? God can see and observe us way before we are known.
When my own babies were expected the technology was not so great but I was able to see the image in black and white and shades of grey. We knew our daughter was upside down and very comfortable to stay there. Now with even better technology they can do 2,3 and even 4 dimension ultrasounds so precise that one can see hairs on the babies head and feathery eyelashes.
That is how God saw us.
Psalm 139:17-18
[How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them: they out number the grains of sand! When I wake up you are still with me!]
What a beautiful image.
We are at the beach every week and walking on the sand is a part of our visit. There are many grains of sand. You couldn’t begin to count them. I think that is the whole point of this verse.
In Psalm 143:8-9
[Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk for I give myself to you.]
In order for us to truly take in and accept HIS divine love for us; we not only need to trust Him and also believe in His promises to us.
Ephesians 3:18-19
[And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.]
It is simple and yet so hard to believe at times.
He said, in John 14:23
[“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”]
Jeremiah 31:3
[I have loved you with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.]
The choice remains for us. Believe it to be true or not believe it at all.
The choice we make will determine our direction. It’s that easy.

God chooses you for a purpose

God chooses you for a purpose in your life, so you can say completely, “I am chosen.”
Whether you believe in a God or not, you are chosen to live the life you have been given.
Our Pastor continued his teaching on The Increase and I of course took many notes.
We find increase in our lives by identifying our identity.
Some of us have made the wrong agreements that have shaped us towards a wrong direction.
When we say agreement, it is not a ‘verbal’ YES. It is a spiritual ‘agreement’ in our heart.
For instance if someone told us when we were young we were not pretty, or not smart, we could take that internally and then make the agreement to ourselves that ‘no matter what’, I cannot be pretty or smart.
It is an internal agreement.
Identity has everything to do with who you see you are. If you believe in yourself then you can do well.
If you feel you will fail then you possibly will. Your Identity shapes your future.
It is about Who made us and who empowers us to walk whole.
If we don’t allow our identity to lead us to a positive direction; possibly towards God who made us, we will turn and move away from Him and become more negative.
Pastor said, “Learn to find the right reflection of you. Grasp it and don’t let it go.”
It is transformational, to understand and see who you really are in the EYES of the Lord who loves you.
Pastor said God always takes our weaknesses and expands them towards our growth.
If I am by nature a introvert which I am (which is not a weakness but if I am leader it could be).
God might ask me to go to a seminar and be a part of a large group. Not my comfort zone but through that process I could grow stronger in areas so I can move forward in others.
Sometimes God has to lower us, in order to elevate us.
1 Samuel 16: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
It is a heart condition that stirs our identity and direction.
David was chosen in this passage of Samuel because his heart was balanced, anointed and gifted.
God knew his heart condition was right and He knew He trusted in a process.
David was not scared when he fought Goliath because HE knew the power was from God.
In his weakness he might have said, “HE is big”; In his faith, he said, “MY God is bigger.”
He had confidence that God would not leave him alone in the time of need when meeting the enemy.
We find strength when we meet our Goliath’s in life and realize they have NO power over us.
Learn to find the right reflection of yourself and grasp it with a firm grip.
Whether you believe in God or not, it doesn’t matter because the truth is, your identity was given by Him when you were born. What you do with that information is your destiny. It is your choice.
He chose you for a purpose and that purpose is to find His love.

When you think about the written word

When you think about the written word, it brings relationships to a new level.
After writing the last blog post; I have been thinking about the art of writing letters and notes.
Isn’t it a wonderful surprise when you get a note in the mail that you didn’t expect?
Or better than that, someone actually mails you a little gift box that says, “I have thinking of you.”
It is so easy to do yet for some reason we don’t do it very often.
I am not sure why, is it easier to send a note on your phone or an email?
Sometimes the old fashioned way is the best.
I even have an old fashioned spiral bound address book.
It is easy to navigate for me, especially when I can find it. (which pile did I put it in?)
It is not electronic and not difficult to use.
Long time friends are in my address book. It is kind of like the calendars on my wall, it is a sense of history that I got from my grandma. She always had things written on her paper calendar.
There were years and years of calendars that noted doctor appointments and luncheons.
I like paper and pens. I don’t do a lot on my phone it limits me and my computer is just what it is, not as good as paper and pens. I have a paper calendar in my purse for appointments.
My den tends to be a bit of a mess but I can find what I need in whatever pile I placed it in.
I guess one could say I am old fashioned.
When you think about the written word, you move into the realm of keepsakes and legacy.
At least I would hope that my family would love and treasure; the few books that have been printed with all my years of blogging inside them.
I think the written word especially in hand writing is very traditional and precious.
What are your thoughts? Do you have a special tradition around notes and cards?
I would love to hear about them.

The discipline of writing

The discipline of writing is a very integrated part of our lives, for those of us who write on a regular schedule.
Ann Voskamp who is a very well known writer, once said, “Even an audience of one, deserves full attention. Write for God’s purposes and the rest will fall into place.”
(This is not a direct quote just sharing the concept)
I do believe the idea is wonderful.
My little writing space is not well known, is not meeting the masses with great numbers or even reaching out to those in the writing field.
I write because I love it. Not because I have a huge following, but because it’s a discipline for me just as my exercise or my food prep.
I think for me it is more a calling of my heart to leave not only a legacy of words but also encouragement for those who read it.
This last month I joined an online face book group that challenges the art of writing.
Leaving the computer and purchasing paper, notecards, a good pen and a list of those who you want to bless with a hand written note from your heart.
I love the idea and challenge.
In our world of technology we have lost the art of hand writing.
My own cursive writing has changed throughout the years, since I don’t do it often.
In church I take notes as fast as the Pastor is speaking and my words are messy and sometimes not clear to read.
I choose to slow down. I choose to purchase stationary that is pretty, with nice envelopes.
Stamps are not that expensive, and even a pretty pen doesn’t have to break a budget.
Shall we challenge ourselves to think of our friends or perhaps even family members; then send them a well thought out… note from your heart?
The lady who guides the face book group calls it, “capturing the written word.”
How we can bless someone with an unexpected note.
She said there is power in giving and receiving.
I know the art of thank you notes has gone by the wayside and it is sad.
If someone purchases a gift for you; that means they went out of their way to think of you, and then made the effort of purchasing out of their budget the gift.
That deserves a thank you note.
When we were young little girls I remember our mom making us write thank you notes to our grand parents. Sure wish I could see those little hand writings now. It would be a treasure.
So this little unknown blog writer is challenging you to join me in this new idea.
Let’s think about who we can bless, what we need in order to do it, and how we can not make this a project but rather a new lifestyle of writing.
Let’s do this.Our thank you note from our wedding almost 44 years ago.

We go to the beach quite often

We go to the beach quite often and the camp where we go to every Thursday has a place that was created for conversation and sharing.
When I walk by it I imagine the many conversations taking place in the dark while eating smores together around the fire pit full of warm crackling flames.
It is a place for friendships and challenges, and even maybe a place for prayer.
Those who created it called the spot ‘a conversation pit’.
It is in a circle in the sand with hand made benches and one can see the ocean that is barely visible if they walk upward on a sand bank.
Many who have sat in this place find it peaceful and relaxing and the invitation for conversation is a bonus as they sit there with each other.
If you were there what would you talk about? It is an invitation to be real and honest.
Sharing from one’s heart is difficult for most of us.
Most of the time when I go down to the beach I try to walk 2-2.5 miles.
It is relaxing and good for me.
But when I do go I am not just by myself. There are other people here.
My last blog writing I shared about a special friend of mine, and this kind of
goes back to my thoughts about friendships and the matters of the heart sharing.
When you have a special friend you value and then add special time spent together; it becomes a part of your favorite gift you can give yourselves.
I value all the friends I have in my life and strive to make them a very important part of my life.
A conversation pit does not have to just be at the beach, it can be in a coffee shop with someone, or church or a restaurant.
Wherever you both feel safe to share openly and honestly about matters of your heart.

Have you ever been in that kind of setting?

The gift of friendship adds value to your life

The gift of friendship is one that I do not take lightly.
We just got back from a trip to central Oregon to see my good friend and her husband.
Our boys used to play together and it has been a friendship of over 30 years.
It was a wonderful time of sharing with each other and also exploring a little of the area.
We went to the high desert museum which has been on my husband’s bucket list.
It was a hot day and to be inside some of the time was nice.
My friend and I have been close for many years. She is a gift to me.
As we have aged we have changed in our physical appearances and also our health.
Both of us are dealing with potential problems that should they get worse; we will need additional help.
We pray for each other and we encourage each other.
It is a friendship of comfort. There are no games and no hidden agenda’s.
It is a friendship that challenges the best in us to come out and the not so good to leave.
I value her and her wisdom and her ability to rise above her situations.
She is a warrior who survived losing her first husband, and who waited for over 7 years for the right ‘other’ man of her dreams to come into her life. She is happy and loved now.
She is classy and smart and I am so very glad to be a part of her life.
The gift of friendship is just that, a gift we unwrap carefully and then treasure.
It is something that creates in us a ‘feeling’ of value.
I believe in her and she believes in me. We pray for each other and always want the best for each other.
“Many people will walk in and out of your life but only true friends leave footprints in your heart.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

A very different day for us at the parade

Last Saturday we had a very different day.
Our family went out just like many others to watch a local small town parade.
There were over a hundred entries between bands playing, people marching and floats of all kinds.
Our grand daughters were on a float for the soft ball team and our grandson’s were in the parade because of their karate class.
People of all ages were there to have fun and enjoy the small town feeling.
Just before the float our grand daughter’s were on; a church float in front of us had assorted ages of children.
At one point as the float moved by us a little girl who we later found out was six years old, fell off the float and was run over by the wheels of the flat bed truck.
People were screaming, hysteria was happening.
I covered my eyes so I didn’t watch everything although I did see her completely under the tires.
The driver then moved forward and then backed up to get her out from underneath the truck.
My oldest grandson told me about it after it happened.
As soon as they were able someone picked her up and ran her to the fire department that was about a quarter of a block away. Soon after that we heard a life flight helicopter descending and then ascending up into the air taking her to a children’s hospital. It all happened so fast.
My heart was sick, my stomach weakened by the visual of that little girl.
The atmosphere changed for all of us and it was really hard for me to get into the festive spirit of parade waves after that.
I just kept praying for that sweet little one.
Later that day or maybe it was the next day the family posted pictures of her in the hospital and she survived. MIRACULOUSLY.
God protected her completely and she was released to go home about three days later.
She was very bruised and very fragile but she survived with no broken bones or head trauma.
All I can say is we witnessed a miracle.
No one can ever tell me our God is not a God of miracles; because we witnessed first hand an amazing one.
It was such a relief to me and many others to know she survived.
I have been quiet here on this page; as I have had to take care of myself.
It just proves things can change in an instant without notice.
Her family gives all glory to God. She is truly a miracle.When I saw one of my grand daughter’s after this all happened she said to me, “grandma she will be ok when they ran her to the fire station she was crying, that means she had breath. You can’t cry without it.”
We could all breathe a little easier knowing she survived a most horrible accident.
Sunday at church I kept reframing the image of her on the ground, with angels surrounding her speaking whispering healing words to her.
It was an incredibly different day for many of us who were there at that parade and we hope we never experience it again.
(sharing this without permission of the family, it is only as I witnessed it.)