Monday, October 25, 2021

Always

One thing that I tell my nursing students is to never think in terms of absolutes. 

Every patient is an individual, with individual experiences, and their bodies adapt differently. Just when you think you've got a care plan perfect, something will happen to throw a wrench in it. 

I don't know why I don't practice what I preach...

because my mind often thinks in terms of absolutes. 

As in...

"You ALWAYS are late."

"You ALWAYS put your foot in your mouth."

"Why are you ALWAYS so socially awkward?"

"Why are you ALWAYS a disappointment?"

"Quitting is ALWAYs your way out."

You get the picture...

The truth is, I am a creature of habit, and some of those habits are not good. I do often skimp on exercise. I do often sleep late. I do often procrastinate...

but not ALWAYS. 

This all or nothing mentality has been my downfall in many things. 

I love to plan. Love goal setting. Love to think of how I'm going to improve myself (ha, ha!) 

And then... I miss a day of exercise. Miss a day of whatever "habit" I'm tracking and then... I ALMOST ALWAYS fall off the wagon. 

Today, I had planned my day. I knew I had class from 930-330. I knew I had some things I needed to do for work tomorrow. I knew I had Bible study. I also knew that I wasn't going to be able to walk many days this week, so I planned a walk. 

Here's an absolute for you...

when I plan my "to do" list, I always overestimate how quickly I can get things done... and that really is something that is an always. I never finish with time to spare. So, tonight, I had worked on a couple of assignments after work, and didn't account for having to change clothes before my walk. Nor did I think about having to grab something to eat. 

So, I went to the park and walked... and only got in 1.5 miles before it started raining... which meant I quit about 10 minutes earlier than I had planned... which meant I got in line at Wendy's with just enough time to grab a bite to eat and slide into a seat at church as they were starting the readings. 

So, perfect timing... but that surely doesn't always happen. 

Tonight, I'll just be thankful it worked out and roll with it. =) 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Path

 I love hiking. 

It's one of the places where I feel closest to God.

Standing in the forest, sunlight filtered by the tall trees, there's an ethereal feeling. 

As I hike, I often miss out with what is around me, because I tend to watch my feet. I've been tripped up by tree roots one too many times, so even though I know that as I gaze directly in front of me, I'm often not seeing the blooming flowers or ferns or greenery... I can't take my eyes away from the path ahead of me. 

I also like a path. 

What I mean by that statement is simple. I'm not one of those hikers who likes to go "off the beaten path". 

Several years ago, when we were hiking more frequently, we would often venture on more difficult trails that weren't trodden down by larger groups of people. While we usually ended up seeing some great scenery on those trails, I didn't enjoy making my own path. 

I guess that's kind of how I am in real life, too. I don't like to blaze a way. I don't like change and don't consider myself a leader, so you'll not find me trying things that haven't been done before. 

In one way, that is smart... cautious... safe....

but is life supposed to be safe? 

Maybe we aren't necessarily supposed to make our own path... rather, we are to look to the path that is laid out before us. We're told in Scripture not to look to the right or the left... eyes straight ahead... just like me when I'm hiking... although I don't think we're to keep our eyes on our feet. 

Rather, we are to look to Jesus... the author and finisher of our faith. He forged every path for us, and He's still walking with us. 

Let's keep walking, friend. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Still

I'm cheating, writing this one a day late...

Yesterday morning as I was driving to work I looked over and the moon caught my eye. Most days I miss the sunrise, because I like to sleep as late as I can, but the sky is usually still a quiet blue when I head into work. 

There's a spot on the left-hand side of the road heading into town, just past Hwy 52, where you can glance over and see between two hills. The moon was suspended in the sky, a pale silverish color still visible in the sky. Hovering just beneath, a wispy white fog... but it was underneath the moon... kind of like a table cover aligning the sky. 

My breath caught. Even as I was driving, I felt my heart be still. There was something so peaceful about that fog, the moon suspended, the light of the sun just beginning to appear over the mountains. 

Sometimes, we need to pause... to reflect... to still ourselves. To allow ourselves to fully appreciate and experience all that is around us. 

Being still is hard for so many of us... but I'm reminded that even the moon, that appeared to be just hanging suspended in the sky, still, isn't really still. The earth is constantly spinning, the moon constantly pulling, everything in motion... 

but there is a center of gravity that holds it all together. If that imbalance were to change, life as we know it would change. The earth would tilt on its axis and who knows what would really happen...

We must find our center of gravity, as well, so that even as we spin in the chaos, we can be still, spiritually. His name is Jesus. 

"Be still and know that I am God..." 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Afraid

 Last night my Pastor talked about perfect love casting out fear. 

I never considered myself afraid of things growing up, at least that I can remember. I never was afraid of the dark, I loved to climb trees and romp outside, and love roller coasters. Public performing didn't really phase me, either... one time a waitress gave ME  a tip for my impromptu belting of "Tomorrow" from Annie. 

As I got older, though, I became more afraid... more afraid of things that I didn't even really understand. Abstract thoughts, irrational things.. 

In the sermon last night, the point was made that fear didn't come until after the fall. Adam and Eve were in perfect harmony with God- perfectly loved- so they didn't have to be afraid of anything, and then, as soon as they realized their nakedness, they hid because they were ashamed... and maybe a little afraid. 

Afraid they would be seen. Afraid they would be found out. 

Aren't we most afraid when we feel vulnerable? 

When we start loving ourselves, though, and accepting God's love, we don't have to be afraid. 

We can cast all of our cares on Him. 

He's bigger than the boogey-man, in case it's been a while since you've watched Veggie Tales. 

This doesn't mean that we can throw caution into the wind. We are to fear some things... the Bible tells us that the beginning of wisdom comes from fearing the Lord. 

Wisdom is a precious commodity these days... 

maybe because we are all afraid of the wrong things. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Taste

 Today I had lunch at my desk as I frantically typed scenarios for skills checkoffs to be completed right after lunch. I always seem like I'm only one step ahead... if even one step. 

As I snacked on my nuggets and fries, dragging a french fry through ketchup and praying I didn't drop it on my white scrub top, I thought of how often I rush through things. 

Not just food, although I honestly do... eating on the run has just been a fact of life, dating back to dinner on the bleachers in a gym. And being a nurse, wolfing down whatever I could find that I liked in the cafeteria that could be eaten in 10 minutes before I had to go pick up another bag of blood or do another assessment or help take a patient off the bedpan (thank you, cafeteria staff, and nurse aides, and all those in the hospital that we can't do our jobs without!) 

Yes, I rush through experiences, always waiting for the next one. 

Rush through books because I want to check them off my list. 

Rush through time with family because... well, I have so much more to do. Not that family isn't important. They are THE MOST IMPORTANT... I just don't always treat them as such. 

When we wolf down our food, we don't give our salivary glands time to register the taste. I've honestly eaten before and realized when I was finished that I didn't taste anything... and it wasn't because my taste wasn't working. It's because I hadn't experienced it. 

There's something else that happens, too, when we eat too fast. We don't ever know when we are full, because we don't give our brain time to catch up to our body, and we just keep stuffing, and stuffing. 

If we take time to slow down and fully appreciate, we get a full sensation. 

And, again, that just doesn't apply to eating. When we pause to taste the joys of life... stop to smell the roses, if you will...

we realize how satisfied we can be. 

"Taste and see that the Lord is good." 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Effort

 Ever  heard the saying, "If she didn't breathe naturally, she'd never breathe?"

Sometimes I think that relates to me. 

I'm embarrassed to say it... but I have a lazy streak in me. 

As a kid, I much rather would have been sitting with my nose stuck in a book than do chores. I helped with the laundry, with straightening up my room, with dusting and vacuuming, but as soon as I could I was planted in another world. 

My Dad raised pumpkins and strawberries some summers growing up. We helped with the weeding and the harvesting, although I'm not sure how much help I actually was. Mostly I just complained about how hot it was and how sweaty I was and how I was getting "ate up by bugs" and was sure to get "bit by a snake". 

I complained because it was work. 

Work takes effort. 

From what I know of the Enneagram, I'm a 9, which means that it is far too easy for me to become a sloth. I hear those 9/s don't like conflict, despite what our husbands say, and part of how we avoid conflict is just by not putting in the effort. 

All my life, I've been a procrastinator. (Seriously, all my life. My Mom was in labor for a looooonngg time and I was still stubborn and had to be born via c-section. I've been late ever since). 

Mostly, though, I procrastinate on things I'm afraid will be difficult to do, or things that I think will take a lot of effort. 

Anything worth doing is worth putting effort into, right? 

Except how do we decide what is actually worth doing? 

In economics, there's something called a cost/benefit ratio. (Maybe. If there isn't, there should be, because it sounds good. Made YOU think I knew what I was talking about... unless your an economist. If so, sorry!) There's also some kind of formula that helps you determine a profit margin- what you're going to make when it is all said and done. 

When we're deciding if something is worth the effort, that's what we have to look at. How much is it going to cost us- not monetarily, but energy wise. Time wise. Are we going to have say no to something else? 

Then, what are we going to get out of ti? What's the benefit to us? 

And finally- is there going to be a profit? 

Oddly enough, these numbers can all relate back to money, but that's not what I'm talking about here. The greatest things, those things that are truly worth the most effort, really sometimes don't pay off. 

Relationships are hard. 

People are petty. 

But ultimately, people should be the priority. 

You'll never go wrong putting in an effort to connect with someone. 

Also, self-care... you'll never go wrong putting in an effort to care for yourself. 

YOU have to decide what is important. For me, I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadow...

actually, that was Whitney. 

I have decided, though, that my purpose is to glorify God and encourage others. That will take effort, and I won't reap the benefits always... but that's ok. The effort will be worth it. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Kind

 She sits on a porch swing breaking up beans into her faded apron. She's got a kerchief around her head and her hair is tied up in a bun. She has glasses perched on her sharp nose, and wrinkles so deep that her face looks like a roadmap. Those wrinkles extend into her hand as I watch them break the beans methodically. 

She pushes her foot back and forth as the wind caresses my arm. I'm snuggled up next to her as close as I can get without being in her lap, and still somehow she maintains balance and keeps breaking those beans. The cars fly by on the highway and there is a bird singing in the tree next to the porch. Even as a young child, I close my eyes and drink it in... the feel of sunshine, the taste of popsicle still sweet on my tongue, the feel of the wind blowing my hair, falling loose from the ponytail securing it out of my eyes. 

I rub my hand on her soft skin and listen to her hum softly. We don't have to speak, because the words are there, present just as close as the Holy Spirit. I don't know the song she's humming but it's some hymn, I'm sure, a silent prayer and praise to the One who created her and the beans and the wind and the sky and the tree and me... 

I open my eyes and glance up into her face, drinking in her smile as she puts the white plastic tupperware bowl onto the gray concrete porch. The dog lazily stretches on the rug in front of the door, lolling his tongue and following her movements with his eyes. She leans over and pats him on the head as she opens the door, and beckons for me to follow her. 

Just an ordinary day.... mundane, every day activities lived sacrificially for those she loved. 

Her dark brown eyes behind her large plastic framed glasses twinkle among the wrinkles, and in this moment, I see the epitome of someone who is "kind."