Friday, March 10, 2017

Lent me your ears

I'm not catholic but I've found that I'm drawn to seasons of remembrance and reflection.  I have a pretty go, go, go kind of life and don't always have my mind on the spiritual.  So when I heard Lent was starting I thought to myself I should participate.  It's a 40 day period leading up to Easter and is meant to be a time of preparation mirroring Jesus's 40 days in the wilderness.  It's a time of confession and reflection on the sacrifice Jesus made to pay for our sins.  Traditionally this includes fasting but the modern interpretations of fasting have come to include giving something up for those 40 days.  Some people give up TV or pasta.  I got the very clear impression God wanted me to give up noise.  From the moment I wake up to the time I'm falling asleep I'm either listening to a book or have TV on in the background.  It helps occupy my mind while my hands are busy.  God's been hinting that this is a problem.  How can I ever hear from Him if my ears are always listening to something else.  So I agreed and the number 10 popped into my head.....10 hours a day of silence...........................................................................................................................

Um, no God...that is a lot of hours of silence...Like that was just an arbitrary number that I thought of before I did the math....that's not actually what God wants? It can't be, I don't want to do that!

It went on in my head like this for a little while and that's when I knew that was exactly what God wanted me to do and that I really did have a problem.  I'm addicted to noise.  Granted, my noise.  I don't blare heavy metal all day long.  That would be torture.  Nope, my noise is books.  One right after another.  No need to concern myself that I haven't heard from the Lord.  No need to learn how to take my thoughts captive.  Nope, books cure most ills.  Too tired to get chores done and don't want to feel guilty, cue up a story!  

Now, that 10 hours does not include sleeping, I checked.  That's 10 awake hours. Anyway, it's been really hard.  I've had to plan for other peoples noise in my quest to give up 10 hours a day.  That means I have even less of my own noise and my selfish heart has whined...oh yes.  There has even been angry, pouty face.  Totally ashamed.  It has meant that I have had lots of quiet time with God and have gotten a lot of chores done.....nothing motivates you to do something you don't want to do like being bored of just sitting there listening to your own thoughts *shudder*  I'm grateful that God is working on this with me.  It needed to be addressed.  I'm still struggling with looking with dread upon the remaining time, I didn't realize Lent could be so looooong, but I'm looking forward to being closer to my Lord and truly ready to hear from Him.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Stress Progress

Whether you're dealing with a plethora of first world problems or just a few, stress is a problem for most people.  It's linked to all kinds of health issues and generally sucks the joy of life right out the window in my experience. Part of getting a "God checkup" every so often (you know, the search my heart and see if there be any unclean way in me/what are you wanting me to learn/where are my strongholds of sin/which battle am I gearing up for, thing) for me has always included some regret that there are certain areas that I seem to always struggle with.  I know, I know.  I haven't reached the finish line yet...there is no perfection on this earth.  For a long time I couldn't see (or didn't recognize) progress in any area of my life.  Now, God has graciously and kindly shown me some areas that have definite growth and all praise and glory goes to Him on that.

Our house is a little old.  Home ownership has a lot of stresses when it comes to repair and maintenance.  Our first home was a new build and while we didn't live there long enough for maintenance issues we did struggle with a sea of mice and black widows that were displaced from the empty lot behind us when new construction began.  Our second home had black mold and many other issues but when we got one of the estimates for repairing the mold problem I had my first TMJ attack from my jaw stress clenching.  Lack of money or lack of expertise can lead to paralyzing indecision.  My husband and I are not handy people.  Repairing a fence, putting in a water heater, replacing a sump pump....we've done those things...but not well.  We've had some pretty major expenses for our current house.  This week I got a quote for over $19,000 for a repair along with several other thousand dollar repair jobs that need to happen.  It should have been stressful....and I'm pretty sure I'm not stressed about it.  (My body and I don't communicate well so I sometimes don't know when the reactions I'm having are stress related)

Here's the thing, God is using these potential stressers as a test, not for His amusement but for me.  You see, God has been doing a lot but the two I'm going to focus on right now are the long term work and the short term work.

  1. I've been struggling with weight and ever increasing headaches and migraines.  I've tried a lot of things (see previous blog posts) and didn't really believe this "new thing to try" would make any difference.  With reservation I entered into an intention to prepare Whole 30 every day for a month (I didn't think I could give up dairy)  I can say I've lost a little weight but the biggest difference is the decrease in headaches and I haven't had a migraine in weeks.  This is a HUGE deal.  I had a 4 day migraine not too long ago.  I've also had enough energy to get more tasks done which helps my overall mental health.  
  2. I've noticed I hold onto house and money stress much less than I used too.  I have the resources and calm to do what I can to research and make the best decision available.  10, 15 years ago....that was not me.  I'd call my dad. I'd stress out about who to even call for a specific issue. I'd stress about how much it cost and I'd often wait until the problem was worse and it forced me into action.  
Without these situations, and a few spiritual prompts to look, I wouldn't have noticed God had been succeeding in teaching me how to give up worry and stress.  While it's never fun to be out thousands of dollars, I can honestly say I'm bubbling with joy.  It's inexplicable, it's miraculous, it's God!