Tag Archives: patience

Things That Go Bump in Our Lives

BAT2

Many times in our lives, unexpected events pop up out of nowhere, unnerving us and sending our routines into a tailspin.  Some of these sudden “surprises” like a call from an old friend or a gift from a loved one are very welcomed and leave us with a warmed heart and a renewed enthusiasm for life.  Most of the time however, it seems the little unforeseen dealings are much less than desirable.  Anything from getting an unexpected tax bill to a sudden hailstorm that turns your prizewinning flower garden into a new pile of mulch, life at times just leaves us as riddled as your shredded dahlias.  Often times though it’s how we handle the challenges of life that leave us still moving forward or stumbling about, off kilter and half crazed.  Here is a perfect example.

Some time ago, two of my sisters and I were visiting with our mom at her house.  Mom lived in an older ranch style house that actually betrayed its’ age on the outside but was firmly stuck in the 1970’s on the inside.  The living room was large and “L” shaped with an oversized brick fireplace with a poured concrete hearth, three inches thick; that thing was definitely a trip hazard and could have given many a grandchild a good concussion or goose egg contusion.  The walls consisted of composite plywood paneling that wrapped a medium brown hue to everything.  A multi-colored brown and rust wall to wall shag carpet rolled across the vast floor space.  Splotches of orange colored spots dotted across the carpet from decades of the sun kissing the carpet, licking at its’ fibers and discoloring sections.

Even though the kitchen was the “official” gathering place for our family, that evening found the three siblings and their mom conversing in the retro living room.  At night, the room always seemed dark regardless of the number of lights turned on, throwing shadows along the walls and corners.  That night one of those shadows seemed to move; there in the corner…it moved again.  All of a sudden, we heard a whoosh and saw a black fur ball with wings invading our air space; a bat had squeezed in somehow from a very small crack around the doorframe of the front door.  Someone screamed “BAT!!” and subsequently ducked as the little night creature once again circled around to make another die bomb maneuver.

Our mom was in her eighties at the time and needed the use of a walker to get around.  Mom was in her favorite blue rocking chair in the living room, the right wooden arm of the chair hand rubbed and worn from many years of habitual hand movements.   When mom heard “BAT!!”, she exclaimed “BAT!???” and her adrenaline took hold; she proceeded to pick up her walker, carrying it and making a silver streak towards her bedroom, slamming the bedroom door behind her and leaving her adult children behind to fend for themselves.

This wasn’t the first time my parents had had problems with these furry winged night riders so there were designated badminton or “batminton” rackets positioned above the hutch in the kitchen.  I felt around the top of the hutch until I found my weapons of choice and made my way back to the living room.  I had an impromptu cheering section as my sisters were eagerly awaiting the reluctant “hero” to rid the world of this fearsome beast.  Racket firmly in hand, I waited for the dingbat to make another pass so I could end this duel of wits or lack thereof.  Suddenly out of the shadows, a small black form came swooping my way; I had no time to think but acted out of instinct.  My left-handed backhand seemed to be sufficient as I made contact with the little beast, sending it whirling wildly towards the living room drapes; it stuck on the curtains like it had been made of Velcro.  I used both of the rackets, making a bat sandwich to secure the little rodent wannabe and proceeded to release the little rascal back into the wild.

You might be asking yourself, what does this story have to do with my daily problems? Well actually more than you think.  You see, just like in the story reflected above, many times people address problems that suddenly crop up very differently.

Some, like our mom in the story, sees a potential problem and their first instinct is to run away from it, ignore it and maybe it will go away, or to close that proverbial bedroom door and heavily breathe that sigh of relief and denial.  Most of us know that left unresolved, minor problems quickly become huge problems.

Other folks are fortunate like my sisters in the story; they get to sit back as spectators to observe and watch how someone else handles and resolve a particular problem and hopefully learn something in the process.

However, most of us are or should be in the last category; addressing the problems that arise head on.  We need to take whatever it is to the Lord in prayer.  He knows our needs better than we do and if we can’t figure out a quick fix and many times we can’t, our Lord will give us the grace and peace to work through it.  It wouldn’t really be a bad idea to pray for a little patience during this time?

It must have been the fact that I was the token male that night but I had no choice but to face the problem, in this case, the bat’s unwanted appearance and resolve the crisis so we could continue on with our daily lives.  Had I not vacated the little creature from mom’s house but instead just ignored the thing, nobody would have slept that night.

Just something to think about the next time trouble comes along and tries to make a nest in your hair.  It is better to have a few moments of anxiety and excitement that ends in resolution than to have…wait for it…bats in your belfry?

Romans 5:3-5 NLT– We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Transplants—Cultivating the Best from Change

wilted

My wife and I are weekend garden warriors who like to piddle in the yard whenever we get the chance. Our new home is basically a blank slate on the outside and I’m sure we will have red clay up to our elbows in no time. But it seems no matter how long we have been gardeners, there appears to be a mystery surrounding the act of transplanting.

Depending on the flora species, most plants get a little touchy about having their root system manhandled.  Many times, they tend to be perfectly happy in their root bound state and transplanting that plant to a new, different, larger home may result in a temporary sagging of leaves and pretty much a visually sad state. You see, the plant needs time to scope out the new soil, stretch out its roots in the larger expanse, and nibble on the new aromatic fertilizer but temporarily as a result, some of the leaves may get droopy and yellowed and the whole plant may seem depressed. It doesn’t understand that in the long run, this change is necessary for its very survival.

My wife and I have been experiencing some droopiness of our own. For you see, our physical move has been very much like that displaced vegetation. And even though we DO know long term it will be very beneficial for us, the adjustments to the physical surroundings, culture, and lifestyle are sometimes pretty overwhelming. “What do you mean you don’t have a Gold Star Chili or donut shops down here?” But we both know who the master potter is and that He will give us exactly what we need, when we need it so we can continue to grow and bloom for Him. However, the fertilizer, the spiritual nourishment we most desperately need to grow bigger and better than ever before is yet to be determined; we need a church home.

Whether you are a believer in Christ or not, attempting to integrate or graft one’s self into the right living organism called the local church is as important as finding the right sized pot and proper fertilizer for a houseplant and the very act of finding a church home is not a small feat. You cannot force yourself in to just any environment and expect to grow spiritually. Many times due to traditions (we have always done it this way), infighting, or just a simple lack of vision, a church body can become stagnant and unhealthy. Maybe in those circumstances, a little weeding needs to be done. And on the other end of the spectrum, a growing, vibrant church can be just too “busy” to cultivate and nurture the souls of new converts or those looking for a church; they may have a “live long and prosper, now scoot!!” or “danger, stranger!” mentality that leaves the individual wondering what just happened. Yep, sometimes even a healthy church “plant” becomes too large and needs to be separated and replanted from the main plant to remain healthy.

We have confidence that God, our master Gardener, has the perfect spiritual “garden” in mind and that He will plant us among other believers in His time, all different but yet the same, to grow and prosper for His glory and purpose. And even though the act of being transplanted to a new “pot” can be more than a little stressful and yes, painful at times, we can cultivate the best from change and grow to appreciate its’ abundant rewards.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.  2 Peter 3:18 ESV

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Romans12:4-5 NASB

 

Pacing in the Waiting Room—Part Deux

…the rest of the story

hash marks

Before you go any further, if you haven’t read Part I of this story, please retreat to that earlier post.  If you have read the first part, you might be interested in how our story has played out this summer.  You may even be interested in re-reading the first post to refresh your memory…truth be told, I had to…

Part I basically ended with getting an offer on our house in Ohio.  That was definitely an answered prayer but we were suddenly presented with the “Oh no, what we gonna do now” question as we basically had forty-five days before we had to move out of our house and into what and where?  Even that was a real answer to prayer as it commonly is a thirty day turn around to close on a property but the buyer asked for extra time due to going through the VA for a loan.  As I had time off saved up, I quickly called my daughter and asked if I could crash at their place for a few days so I could look for homes and a job.

Having updated resumes and reference sheets in hand as well as a fresh suit and shirts, I headed south to North Carolina to pursue living accommodations and a new IT position somewhere while my wife kept the home fires burning up north.

My wife and I had been looking on the web for homes and had several listed that we were interested in and it wasn’t difficult to schedule showings on these homes.  With iPhone in hand so I could Facetime my wife and integrate her in a “virtual” tour of the candidate homes, I followed the surrogate realtor from one property to another.  After seven showings of prospective properties within our budget, we came up short, not one property meeting our needs.  Needless to say, we were bummed.

Since I had worked in healthcare related Information Technology for almost thirty-four years, I hit the area hospitals and soon found out that all applications needed to be completed online.  After leaving the last job prospect feeling completely rejected and defeated, I meandered back to my car, wondering if this was really God’s will that we make this drastic change in our lives.  I turned the car on and started down the hilly streets of Morganton headed toward the interstate.  I had recently purchased a new CD from Danny Gokey and it was playing in the background.  As I headed on to the interstate, the third song from the CD was playing and my complete attention was drawn toward the words highlighted below.

“Tell Your Heart To Beat Again”

Written by Matthew West, Bernie Herms

Broken like you’ve never been before
The life you knew in a thousand pieces on the floor
Words fall short in times like these
When this world drives you to your knees
You think you’re never going to get back to the you you used to be.

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away, step into the light of grace
Yesterdays a closing door you don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you’ve been
Tell your heart to beat again

Beginning just let that word wash over you
It’s alright now, love’s healing hands will pull you through
So take one step, look back up
See the rise and feel the sun
Because your stories far from over and your journey’s just begun

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away, step into the light of grace
Yesterdays a closing door you don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you’ve been
Tell your heart to beat again

Let every heartbreak and every scar
Be a picture to remind you, who has carried you this far
‘Cause love sees farther than you ever could
This moment He is working everything out for your good

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away, step into the light of grace
Yesterdays a closing door you don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you’ve been
Tell your heart to beat again

With every fiber of my being, I knew God was speaking to me through these revealing lyrics.  I was now an official “distracted driver” as I was praying and thanking God for His goodness and guidance.

Unbeknownst to me, my daughter and son-in-law had talked to his next door neighbor about selling our home so quickly.  The neighbor’s response was, “you know, we are currently building a house on other acreage and had planned to move out of our house so we could prepare ours for market.  Do you think your in-laws would be interested in looking at our house?”  On the last night before I was to return to Ohio, my son-in-law and I toured their home, iPhone in hand so my wife could tour as well.  My heart leapt as I wandered through the rooms and garage.  Later my wife told me I was moving around so fast, she could hardly see anything!!  Once the tour had concluded, I asked the homeowner what the asking price was  for the home. His response sent me into shock as Justin and I just stared at one another; as it turns out, his asking price was below appraised value!!  You see, the house was PERFECT for the two of us and right beside of our daughter and her family!

I returned to Ohio on that next day which was on a Wednesday and my wife and I returned to North Carolina two days later.  My wife was able to tour the house in person and after giving the nod to purchase the house, we went about securing the loan from the local Credit Union and met with the attorney that would handle the contract.  We flew through the inspections and on June 11th, we moved out of our home of almost seventeen years.  The next day, on the morning of the 12th, we closed on that house and immediately hit the road for North Carolina where we met our movers on the 13th to move in to our new home.  On the 15th of June, we closed on our new home and were able to pay off our two year old car loan as well.

And now here we are in September.  I went back for my last week of employment which ended on June 26th.  We are now a one income family for now and are doing just fine.  My wife and I decided it be best if I began the employment search after our vacation in October.  I no longer have the sense of urgency for a high salary/high stress career; rather, I have a peace that God is truly in control of our lives and we were redirected to this area not just to be with our daughter and family but for another purpose, a holy purpose, yet to be revealed.

Perfect Imperfections

Stone Faced

I have a little confession to make…I’m a left-handed, Appalachian, perfectionist.  And while you might have mental images of a barefoot southpaw, the last confession item has been a real pain in my life for most of my life.  I want everything right in its place; symmetrical—perfect.  But then reality hits; we are not perfect—not even close in thought, word or deed.

I am quite aware of my own imperfections.  Some mornings, I stagger into the bathroom, gaze into the honesty mirror and utter a silent “Oh Lord, what are we going to do with”that” today?”  I am way too aware that I resemble more of a peach pit than Brad Pitt.  The years have successfully tap danced a fast paced number across my body.  Nature has a nasty sense of humor and it seems she is currently laughing hysterically.  How else can I explain having both gray hair AND acne at the same time?  My teeth have shifted around as if they are aligned on some active fault line.  My joints are starting to crack so much that when I stand up our dog jumps and scampers away…

I have tried to remedy some of these physical imperfections in the past.  One year, a day before our trip to Disney World, I decided to go with a more youthful look and had my hair and goatee dyed.  The stylist made a drastic mistake with the hair color and I walked out looking like Juan Valdez!  I was more than embarrassed as we walked through the Magic Kingdom donning my new black pelt; even the Hispanics were pointing and laughing…could it have been because my light brown Andy Rooney brows were sticking out like a sore thumb?  I have since embraced the gray—at least I still have hair…and as another side benefit, I occasionally get an accidental senior discount!

As the old adage states, “Nobody’s perfect” and what a true statement that is! However, sometimes we use that very statement as an excuse to not do the very thing God is urging us to do.  The Bible is chock full of examples where imperfect people were being used by God for His purpose.  Moses had a speech impediment, David had a thing for bathing beauties, and even Saul/Paul had a self-righteous indignation toward Christians to the point of persecution.  2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB) reads–And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Another words, we need to accept our frailties, our imperfections, our weaknesses and allow God to use these fallible traits for His purpose and glory.  But as a caveat, just know that when you decide to say “yes” and follow whatever God would have you do, you will never be the same.  For God does not want to leave us “Just As I Am” , rather He wants us to be more Christ-like.  Philippians 1:6 (NASB) reads, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. 

So tell me, isn’t it time you took a good look in your own internal honesty mirror?  What personal imperfections or weaknesses has God wanted to use of yours that would be perfect for His purpose?  Truth be told, God wants your entire package of perfect imperfections…and mine.  And as for my perfectionism, God and I are still working on it.  I have not mastered it completely which my wife can attest as I follow behind her during cleaning and straighten up all the pictures on the walls…

Pacing in the Waiting Room

hash marks

I haven’t been writing lately…what an understatement as my mind has been absent of clarity for what seems like weeks. You see, my wife and I have been on a journey where we feel compelled to make a physical move to North Carolina. For months we have planned and worked toward that goal, knowing that in early 2015 the transition would be complete; and then nothing. It seemed that God had become silent on the whole issue and the promising job opportunities dried up like a plant devoid of moisture.

We suddenly found ourselves wandering around in the waiting room of life and it feels a little like the following scenario. You are dazed and confused, trying to figure out how you landed in the small monochrome hued room. You look all around to examine every detail of the dingy holding cell; the out-of-date magazines strewn about and the unmistakable wear patterns on the dirty putty colored commercial grade carpeting where others before you had paced back and forth, burdened with the same abstract state of confusion that is momentarily swallowing up your very being. You desperately look for a way out but all you find on the walls are hash marks where others counted their days in captivity. What I failed to notice was the door on the other end of the room with the old polished brass door knob. I turned the knob and walked through the door only to find out the door knob was only on the inside…

You see, I could have left my bondage any time I wanted…IF I had stopped pacing in the waiting room long enough to listen to that still small voice I had followed all along. God’s voice was the one we heard that stirred the initial sense of urgency in our souls. His voice was the same voice that urged us to plant those tulip bulbs in the fall because they would look great in the spring when the realtor took pictures of our property in preparation for our home sale. During that time of wandering, one of my siblings simply stated something she had heard…“Patience is waiting for God’s perfect timing”. At the time, I was just thankful she lived far enough away from me so I wouldn’t have the opportunity to smack the snot out of her…but she was right!

And here we are; we met with the realtors and the pictures were taken of our property, including the beautiful multi-colored double tulips we planted last fall. We gave the nod on a Sunday afternoon to put our home on the market. On Monday morning, I received an e-mail from Lifeway Christian Stores with an article from John Ortberg entitled, “Ready or Not…” and began with ““Feeling ready” is highly overrated. God is looking for obedience.” The article continues on explaining how we don’t necessarily need all of our ducks in a row; we just need to be obedient. This was really good to hear as we were taking on this faith builder without a job waiting for me as we continue this adventure.

On Monday afternoon, our house appeared on the different MLS related web sites. We received a request for a showing the next day and by late afternoon, had an offer for the asking price. We signed the contract on Wednesday morning and started the process toward the June 12th closing date.

The buyers who were looking at our home on that Tuesday arrived forty-five minutes early. Not knowing who the individuals were walking around the property, my wife introduced herself as she headed out the door with the dog. As it turns out, the buyers had been looking for quite some time for a house that suited their needs but always came up empty. The husband mentioned to Jenny that our home “just fell in their laps”.

And for the icing on the cake, God had laid on my heart some time ago a figure we needed to get from the equity of the house to apply to our next home in North Carolina. As it turns out, when all is said and done, there will be enough “equity” for that amount plus enough to pay off our car.

Some may say this past week has just been a series of fortunate coincidences; I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this has all been a God thing!! So please use this “lesson learned” and remember; the next time you find yourself in life’s waiting room, don’t pace…stop, drop, and pray your way out…then listen…and obey.

 

Psalm 37:7-9 ESV— Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

Part two of this blog can be found under “Pacing in the Waiting Room Part Deux”