June 22, 2011

Keeping the plates spinning?

I recently asked a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, “How are you doing?” 
“Keeping the plates spinning,” was the reply.
I immediately pictured those performers that had a dozen or so plates on the end of poles, going from pole to pole to working to keep all the plates spinning at certain speeds so the plates don’t fall off the poles and smash into pieces on the floor. 
A man named David Spathaky, who spun 108 plates simultaneously in Bangkok on television in 1996, holds the Guinness World Record for spinning plates.  Yikes!  Think about the constant evaluation, second-to second judgments, dashing crazily - all the work to keep all the plates spinning.
Familiar feeling?  How many plates are you spinning right now?
I could relate to my friend’s comment too easily.  I knew that feeling of dashing crazily from one responsibility to another; one commitment to another; this scheduled event to that appointment. 
Family, work, events, appointments, a favor needed, a commitment asked…
Suddenly I’m hearing a crash from one direction, then oops…another.  Feeling overwhelmed or exhausted.
It’s not sustainable.
I feel a self-imposed looming disaster when what I should really just do is stand still, embrace the crashing and smashing and shout “OPA!!!”
Can you hear the loud chorus in your head…”OPAAAAH!!!”
An exclamation – a declaration of humorous and joyous affirmation saying “God is bringing you through the self imposed chaos, anxiety, mania, and crazy dashing to a state of the wisdom of a still spirit”. 
We need to come to a state of serene exuberance.  A plate may fall – actually plates will fall.  It’s okay.  Stop dashing around.  Stand Still.  We’ve been blessed with loved ones that will still be there if we drop a plate or break something.
We have a Father who is there to pick up the pieces. 

 Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Psalm 46:10   “Be still, and know that I am God.”

June 9, 2011

Living life under the conditional statement?

“When things slow down, I’ll feel better and relax.”
“When they apologize, it will make things easier.”
“If she just had answers, she could move on.”
“If the house would sell, we wouldn’t have to ….”
“I need to get past next month, then…”
“When I finish this…”
“If...”  “When…”

I’ve been part of several conversations as of late in which people are struggling in very heartfelt ways.  I’ve been holding a couple of these situations quite heavily in thought and prayer.  As I’ve stood still with them, several thoughts have struck me.
One of the realizations that hit me most came from my teacher perspective.  Each of those heartfelt statements was a conditional statement.  “If…, then..”   “When …, then….”
There was a prerequisite to each person having happiness … being content … experiencing peace … having hope.  Life for each had limitations, something restricting them from actually living – a contingent circumstance not allowing living, only allowing existing day to day or moment to moment.
With this thought came a strong realization of how much I actually live life under a conditional statement.
So many people are coping with serious burdens, I do realize … yet each of us struggles with troubles. 
Our Lord, Himself, told us “in this world you will have trouble”
(John 16:33) – not might have – will have.  But our hope comes in what he says next… “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
All of those conditions – fear, anxiety, hurt, pain, meanness, struggle, trouble – exist. But we don’t need to conquer them to have peace or contentment or joy.  Christ overcame and conquered them for us.

In the midst of the storm, we can dance in the rain.  During those days filled with hurt, we can find pleasure in the moment and treasure it.

I think I’ll stand still with the thoughts and knowledge that I can and will live life unconditionally through God’s love.  I invite you to do the same!
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
1 Peter 5:7   Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Psalm 55:22   Cast your burdens on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Hebrews 13:8  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

June 3, 2011

Clearing the clouds and discovering spring

It has seemed like the grayest stretch of what we here in Oregon call spring. It’s more than the fact that we’ve had the fewest days without a ray of sun on record in a long time. Spring has seemed to have been put on pause.

In some ways, I’ve felt my spirit has seemed torpid as well.
Inactive, sluggish, apathetic, lethargic, hibernating… dormant.
Lately my spirit’s season has been overshadowed in life by the clouds of my youngest son’s tough bout with a contentious lung illness; my oldest son had a spiral stress fracture in his foot causing him to have to miss the last half of a sport season; my father had been ill with pneumonia; my mother-in-law is ill with a rheumatic issue; a good friend is leaving; my daughter got a job in another state; I’m volunteering in a couple of capacities in certain areas of our community settings; went through bout of bronchitis; am out of sync with a couple of friends due to stages in mom’s life; still unsure of myself at times skill-wise in this part time marketing position I am now working; had to put on a new roof during rainy season; the 16 year old got his license and is driving – out there – alone. These are just some of the clouds that insist on hanging overhead.
Not sure which cloud was raining hardest before I started wanting a raincoat – how about an umbrella that won’t turn inside out with the next gust life sends. I am giving old Oscar a run for his title as GROUCH; I guess spirit wise I just built up my wall of sandbags and hunkered down – hibernated – went dormant.
Stepping back to Stand Still, I see the full view and shake my head. My Standing Still time as been experienced in the form of evening walks. I got my head above those sandbags I’ve had piled so high; took a look as saw that my life wasn’t as dormant as my self-focused, selfish, grouchy self thought.
While walking I noticed a little window that had grown open in a bank of clouds. The clouds framed a view of the top of a huge, puffy, bright white cumulous cloud tip. There was a stark contrast with the lower level gray clouds and this luminous white cloud above. It was a visible message from my Heavenly Father telling me that no matter how gray those clouds of life fill my sky, He’s there. Larger, brighter. Off the to right of what I had just seen a small rainbow appeared.
I laughed. I thought to myself “okay Lord, I got it”. As I finished the walk I took notice of spring, which even Oregon gray and rain can’t stop. Rhododendrons were in full bloom in so many colors – red, white, pink, purple, orange. Dogwoods have their cross-shaped blossoms open baring the middle ‘crown of thorns’. Irises begin to stand tall. The scent of lilac is in the air…
What was dormant is awakened, revived.
“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” – Martin Luther
Spring comes to my soul.
No longer torpid.
Resuscitated and beginning to be renewed.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
Not even the clouds of life I allowed to overshadow my spirit - can distance me from my Father.
Here comes the Son… (and the sun).