Friday, October 28, 2016

I Just Gots to Know!

Knowledge …

I must confess that I love knowledge. Especially as it pertains to people and what makes them tick. I like to understand how people … particularly those who are nearest and dearest to me … work.

Why do some people view life one way, when others see things in a completely opposite manner?

What makes the dynamics a certain way between two people in a particular relationship? And yet those same two people may relate in a completely different manner with other people. Why is that?

Why are some folks shy and aloof? Why are others outgoing? Why do particular people make you feel safe and warm? And why do others make you feel like fingernails on a chalkboard?

This quest to know has been part of my psychological makeup for as long as I can remember. At first, I attributed human differences to astrology and the signs of the Zodiac. “Oh, you’re a Taurus … no wonder you are so stubborn.” Then I read a series of birth order books. “Oh, you’re a firstborn, so that’s why you are an overachiever.” Later, I was introduced to the concept of the four basic personality temperaments: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic … and the many variations thereof. (Apparently I am not the only one fascinated with this type stuff; if you do an on-line search on personality, you will be amazed at all the resources you find.) There are tests to determine how your unique personality influences you in the workplace, in marriage, in parenting, etc.

Couple my need to know the how and why of “relationship ticking” with my analytical nature, and you come out with someone who loves all those types of testing tools. When I was homeschooling my children, they suffered through more of these kinds of testing sessions than they probably care to remember. I wanted to know what these tests said about their temperaments and personality traits so I could better understand them and how they inter-related. We took personality tests. We took spiritual gifts inventories. We took aptitude testing to see what careers they would be best at. You name it, we probably “tested” it. I was in my glory, because I just loved the discovery of it all. It simply fascinated me. Still does. And I honestly find it odd when people do not share my enthusiasm in learning about these things.  

 Over the years, I have come to understand that my desire to know, my need to analyze, and my enthusiasm in the quest are part of the gifting that my heavenly Father saw fit to include in the unique package He fashioned together in me. (And he put an equally unique form-fitted gift into every one of us.) He made me the way I am in order that I will have the tools necessary to accomplish the plans and purposes He has created for me to fulfill while I’m here on this earth (Ephesians 2:10). It’s okay that others aren’t just like me; in fact, it is good that there is only one of me, for the world would be hard-pressed to deal with more than that!  And it is equally okay that I am not just like everyone else. God doesn’t make cookie cutter people. He makes originals every time.

So there is abundant and unique blessing in the gift package I came with, even if it might feel like fingernails on a chalkboard to some folks. However, a person’s gifting should also come with a warning label, because when applied the wrong way, these gifts can do more harm than good, both to the “gifted” and to the recipients of the gifting.

For me, my need to know can at times pass beyond interest and understanding and go straight to taking what I understand about personality and relationships and using it to pigeonhole people; when I see their behavior or thought processes as predictable, it always leads to prideful assumptions and painful misunderstandings, rather than just letting the people I love be who they are and tell me what they think or feel. A novel idea, right?!

 I had an epiphany just this morning, regarding my “need to know.” Our family has recently been dealing with an unexpected circumstance that has come up; one of our children has decided to divorce, and it came as quite an emotional shock. Some time has passed since the initial announcement, and I have had a chance to process and settle my emotions; overall I am feeling more peace in the midst of things, but there are times that I agonize over what we might have done differently as parents to help our child avoid this painful situation. I’ve been reading a book that I felt might shed some light, “doing my research,” so to speak, as is so true to my God-given nature. The author suggested many things parents might do to help their children navigate the world and all its ills in a secure and stable fashion, and I recognized that hubby and I fell short in more ways than one.

Lord, if we’d have done “this” or “that,” would things have gone down differently? I wondered.

In essence, I was pleading with Him …

I gots to know!!!!! How did this happen? Am I responsible?

His answer came in that still small voice I have come to know and love, and I was filled with conviction and peace at the same time, as well as with a sense of well-being and confidence.

I heard His words coming from my own mouth:

Why are you doing this to yourself? 
What good is it doing? 
What would you do if you did know the answer to that question? 
Can you go back and change the past? 
Will assigning blame make you feel better?

(And, yes, I do talk to myself…)

He continued:

Did you make mistakes as parents? Yes. You are human. Humans make mistakes.

Did your mistakes contribute to the thought processes that led to decisions that may have precipitated the circumstances facing your child today? Probably. 

And by the way, if I happen to reveal any of that to you, it’s to help you know how to pray for the situation, and to help you ask forgiveness from your child if necessary. It is not to give you permission or a reason to condemn yourself; there is no more condemnation (Romans 8:1).

Were your mistakes solely responsible for this circumstance? No. Remember that little thing that I put into each one of you when I created you? Free will? That free will operates in every single one of you, and that free will must take at least partial credit for every challenging circumstance that makes its way into a life.

And He closed with this:

Wouldn’t your time be better spent reminding yourself of the truth of My faithfulness to you and your children? If you spend your time meditating on Who I am; remembering that nothing is a surprise to Me, because I know the end from the beginning; considering that I am the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and that all of My good purposes will be accomplished and prevail over the assignments of the enemy, because their accomplishment depends on Me and not on you … you will find a peace, a joy, and a strength that can never be had any other way. This is walking in the Spirit.

When you let your need to know become your driving force, the thing that you trust in for your peace, security, hope, and solution, it becomes a god; you become the god of your own life. You are in control, rather than resting in My control.

Let it go. Leave it with Me.

I love you.

I love your family.

I got this.

You don’t   gots to know   anything but that!


Saturday, November 7, 2015

There's Another Woman ......

There have been other women in my husband's life before. His mom. Our two daughters. The women our sons married. But this one is entirely different. Unforeseen. Recent. One who came without warning and whose presence my heart met with ambivalence and fear. 

Zoe. That's her name. 

She's been part of our lives for almost a month now. And I've learned to accept her. Actually, she is all her name says she is ... Zoe means "life," and she is just that to Wayne and me and our relationship. 

Before you call me crazy, let me explain ...

We had a scare in early September, you see. Had the outcome been different, I could be without my husband now. And I know there are many out there who have had to face this loss in their lives, so I am not making light of this reality or taking our own near-brush lightly. No, not lightly at all. 

On September 3rd, Wayne had stroke. It happened in the very early morning as he was waking, rather than when he was driving to work on the 24-mile-long Causeway Bridge, which could have caused a horrific accident and taken many lives, including his own. By God's grace, I recognized what was happening, and we got him to the hospital. 

Doctors aren't sure what happened or why. He didn't have the normal precursors or warnings. So far, tests and labs have proven inconclusive as the the "why" of the event; all the tests merely confirm that he did indeed have a stroke. 

One of the tests that doctors ordered done was a sleep study. This has been the only test so far that has had a positive result: Wayne does indeed have severe sleep apnea, also known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). He actually stops breathing over 30 -50 times an hour while sleeping. I knew he had some serious snoring issues, but....

That's when we learned that we would have a third presence in our bedroom at night, a CPAP machine. It was hard for me to get used to the idea of Wayne sleeping hooked up to a machine which makes him resemble an elephant. The first time he donned the mask, our dog Sugar had no idea what to make of it. She just stared at him, like he'd grown another head ... well, a longer nose, at least. 

I'd heard many horror stories of how difficult sleeping with these machines can be. Noisy. Mask issues. Frustration that could be so bad that it caused the OSA sufferer to choose to take his or her chances without it, rather than to endure the machine. 

And I made up plenty more of my own: 

How will we sleep comfortably with him attached to a tube? 
Will we ever be able to snuggle again? 
What if he can't adjust to it? 
What if he can?
Will life ever seem normal again?

A good friend of ours counseled us, before we even got the machine, to name it, for we would need to view it as a friend. 

That's when Zoe was born.

I am happy to report that there is life after an OSA diagnosis, after the addition of a CPAP machine to your life. In fact, life is really good. That man hasn't snored one single time since Zoe arrived on the scene. We can actually sleep in the same bed, in the same room, in the same house! Wayne isn't covered with bruises from where I've had to elbow him all night long to hush the grizzly! And we have a little peace of mind; we may not know why he had the initial stroke, but we do know that his brain is no longer oxygen-deprived during sleep. 

So I just want to be a beacon of hope and a word of encouragement to anyone facing similar life changes. Life is an adventure! Embrace it!

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Keurig is not Foolproof!

I felt a lot like the Time to Make the Donuts man from the old Dunkin Donuts commercial when I woke up this morning. On top of the week-long trip (a ten-to-twelve-hour drive each way) my daughter and I just made to Texas, from which we returned last Wednesday, hubby and I made our own turn-around trip to Texas this past weekend. We returned home just last night. On both occasions, I made the several-hour drive, returning home in the evening and going to work the very next morning.

While in Texas the second time, I visited an H.E.B. grocery store and picked up some of my favorite coffee, a treat, and the thought of a hot cup helped propel me from the warmth of my bed to prepare to leave for work.

I popped the K-Cup into my Keurig and pushed the button. While I fed the dogs, I inhaled deeply the aroma of H.E.B. Café Ole's Texas Pecan. It smelled heavenly.

On groggy autopilot, I finished with the dogs and reached into the cabinet for my coffee mug.


I already smell the fresh brewed coffee.

I am holding a cold, empty mug in my hand.

Where is my coffee?

Are you kidding me?

In my sleepy stupor, I had just popped that handy little cup into my foolproof one-cup coffee maker, my personal coffee valet. After the kids all married and left home, hubby purchased me a Keurig, because I was the sole remaining coffee drinker in the house, and making a whole pot of brew for one or two cups each morning was just too much trouble. I would either get the coffee too strong or too weak ... or full of grounds because the filter folded over on the tiny amount of coffee I had to use for just one person.

I've enjoyed my Keurig immensely. I want one cup of coffee; I use one K-cup. My perfectly right-strength coffee fills my cup, and I have to throw nothing away. What's not to like? Foolproof!

Until today.

Today, I proved that the Keurig is not fool proof. Because in my groggy state, I forgot the coffee mug. I had the wonderful aroma, but no coffee. The coffee had drained into the overflow reservoir, leaving me to feel quite foolish, standing there with my empty cup trying to figure out where my coffee was.  

I had to giggle. I knew I was tired, but....

As I drank my coffee, the second cup I brewed and actually put in a mug this time, I reflected on the incident. In addition to being comical, there was a spiritual lesson to be had here. Several lessons, in fact.

Scripture is filled with references to our being "vessels". And in those references we are vessels that are filled, being filled, filled to overflowing.... We are earthen vessels filled with the treasure of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:6&7). We are filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19). We can be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Colossians 1:9). And these are just a few ways our vessels can be filled. But there is one fact we cannot ignore: if we do not bring our vessel to God, if we do not submit our hearts, our minds, our souls, to the One who created us, to the One who sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:24-25), we will not be filled. Our treasure, our fullness of God, our knowledge of God's will, our wisdom, our understanding -- all that the Father longs to fill us with will be lost. It will pour into the overflow, rather than into our lives to enrich us and bear fruit.

So we must be diligent to present our cup to Him each day, that He may pour into us all that He would have us to pour out to others. If we neglect to position our cup to receive from Him, we will be the empty mug, trying to figure out where our joy is ... trying to figure out what our purpose is ... trying to figure out why God feels so far away.

It's time. Time to smell the coffee. And time to fill the cup!

May you be blessed. May you be filled. May you be His.