Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The small miracle of underwear

...say what?

The truth is, there is a time to laugh, and laughing at yourself is truly valuable, because it keeps life in perspective. For those of you who have heard this story before, I apologize, but it bears retelling.

Last February, I went to my first ever writer's conference. For me, it was a zip-line type adventure. I was launching into an unfamiliar world that both intrigued and terrified me. I've always been shy, and something like this was definitely outside my comfort zone. I'd never even flown by myself without someone waiting for me at the other end. (Have you picked up that I'm not exactly a world traveler?)

So I prepared carefully. I was especially concerned about my clothes, as I wanted to present a professional, put-together image. Basically, I wanted to fool them into thinking I knew what I was doing. Which I definitely didn't. I took my suits to the dry cleaners, and deliberated carefully about which blouses to take, and what jewelry would compliment but not overwhelm each outfit. I had a different outfit for every day. I was prepared.

When I arrived at Denver airport, I met my roommate, who was a feisty senior and veteran of three conferences. Together we traveled to the hotel, found our room, and I began to unpack.

Have you guessed the punch line yet? In all my careful preparations, I had neglected to pack underwear. I had the pair I was wearing. That was it.

While my roommate studied her conference binder, I ventured out ("to get some fresh air") on a quest for underwear. I wanted Wal-Mart or Target or the like. What I found was hundreds of boutique-like stores that sold everything but what I was looking for. The one that came close was "Victoria's Secret", but one look in the window told me that I wasn't going to find what I wanted there, either. (Oh, my!) Besides, I was getting worried about adding "getting lost" to my list of adventures. I carefully picked my way back to the hotel.

The only solution that presented itself was to wash out my one pair of underwear every night. However, there was no way I wanted my roommate to know my predicament, so rather than hanging them in the bathroom, I laid them on a shelf above my suits. Only problem was, they didn't dry there. I wonder if she pondered why her roomie gasped every morning as she got dressed? It sure wakes you up!

This February, I am again going to the Writing for the Soul conference in Denver, Colorado. Can you guess what is already packed in my suitcase? It's the little things that make life worthwhile!

Do you have a "small miracle" story that makes you laugh at yourself?


Monday, 30 January 2012

The Small Miracle of the Open Hand

I've been thinking about Abraham and Isaac lately.

 Isaac was the miracle child of Abraham. He had him when he was 100 years old, and his wife Sarah was 90. (Just the thought of natural childbirth at 90 boggles my mind!) An even greater miracle was that God promised that one day Abraham would have millions of descendants through Isaac. Issac was his pride, his joy, his promise, his son.

But one day, God asked Abraham to sacrifice him. Now, if that had been me, you would have heard the howling into next week. "Lord, this is my SON! The one YOU gave me. Remember that promise...the one about my descendants? How were you planning to do that if I sacrifice him? Have you thought of that, Lord? And he's my SON..."

But Abraham wasn't like that. Abraham had learned to live with an open hand. So early the next morning, he took Isaac, and they went up in the mountains to sacrifice.

Wait a minute...what about Isaac? He wasn't a toddler at this point, he was a young man. He could easily have overpowered his father. But even when he understood that he was the sacrifice, he didn't fight it. Isaac was living with an open hand, too.

When the moment of truth came, God sent His angel to stop the whole thing. "Now I know that you fear (trust, revere, honour) God, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son."

God has been calling me to live before Him with an open hand. It's hard. There are times I want to grasp and hold to those things that are precious to my heart. But the key to living with an open hand is trust. I put my hand in His 40 years ago, and if there is one thing I have learned, it is that He can be trusted. No matter what the circumstances, or how painful the pain, HE CAN BE TRUSTED.

"Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this:" Psalm 37:4,5.

So here is my small miracle today, Lord. My open hand, reaching out to You.

How is God calling you to open your hand to Him?

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The small miracle of risk-taking

Every Saturday morning that I am not working, I walk the 4 km. around the lake near me with me with my neighbour. It is a time for us to connect, and we are always amazed at how quickly our time goes. Walking and talking with a friend is the best!

This morning, only a few steps into our walk, it became evident that yesterday's rain/snow mix had frozen overnight, leaving a slippery glaze over the pathways. Before three minutes had passed, I did a face plant on the concrete path. Thankfully, nothing but my pride was hurt, and we continued to slide, stumble and trudge our way around the lake. It took us twice the time, but we made it.

God has been teaching me about taking risks for the last few years. I am probably the least "risky" person alive, and He began to show me how fear was making my world smaller. The decisions I made based on fear were hurting me, my family and my faith. I talked about the awesome power of God, but I wasn't trusting Him in my daily life. That was too risky. Too scary.

Like a loving Father, coaxing a wobbly toddler to take a few steps, He nudged and encouraged me. There are lots of risk takers in the Bible, but the ones I relate to most are the wimpy ones. Moses, who was getting on God's last nerve with his excuses why he can't lead the Isrealites. Gideon, who wanted a sign. Then another sign. Then  just one more sign. Barak, who sidled up to the judge, Deborah (pretty much hiding behind her skirts) and said, "I'll go if you'll go." If these guys can take risks, I know there is hope for me.

What I have discovered about risk taking is this--there are no guarantees. God doesn't say, "Take this risk and everything will work out." That's why they call it a risk. I have taken emotional, mental and physical face plants so many times, it's a wonder I still have a nose. However, without risk-taking, life is dull. Safe...but dull.

God is calling me to move away from fear, and to take steps, even when the path is icy, and I might fall. The biggest tragedy is not to have fallen, but to never have taken  a step.

Today's small miracle isn't in the walk on icy pathways, but in getting up again after many falls and taking an emotional risk. The miracle is that this wobbly God-follower is holding firmly to the Father's hand and risking again. There is no guarantee of the outcome--only that I am not alone.


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The small miracle of Death

What a strange way to start my first post. Let me explain.
     I work among the very elderly. Death is a part of what I do, and although it's not an every day occurrence, it happens. And I must confess, I'm not very good at it, even after all these years. It's always hard to say "good-bye."
     A few weeks ago, one of my residents became gravely ill with pneumonia. In a day's time, she was hovering on the brink of death, and everything within me screamed, "NO!" A few days before we had visited and talked of my grandchild, and she'd attended my knitting group. We'd talked of politics and the news. The next day, she was struggling for breath and didn't recognise me.
     I think you have to work with these people to understand. Even though they are aged and frail, when their quality of life is good, and my joy each day is to bring a smile to their faces, it's hard to let go. When I went into her room a few days later, and she had responded to the antibiotics and called my name, I was ecstatic. She was back.
     A week of recovery, and she began to attend my programs. Last Friday, I had a luncheon that she was able to attend and enjoy. Yesterday she wasn't feeling well, and stayed in bed. Today, she left us.

     But it's alright. That week, when I was able to serve her one last time, and see her smile, was my small miracle. Today, she is with her Saviour, and full of joy. That is her miracle, and not a small one!

Have you had someone in your life who has left their footprint? Tell us about them.