Category Archive: Change

WHAT’S MY FOCUS? Circumstances … or Jesus?

By the end of the day Thursday, Don didn’t know whether to pull me into his arms and comfort me … or run.  It seemed that everything that could go wrong throughout the day, did.porcupine 2

We had driven to San Jose to pick up our laptops, in for repairs. “Ready to go,” was the verdict. However, two more issues showed up when I tested mine. Eddie fixed both and sent us on our way. We enjoyed a late breakfast at that wonderful French eatery, Jacque n le Boq, and enjoyed our visit en route home in a welcome rain. Fighting a sore throat, I was quieter than usual.

My sweet husband suggested we make my bank and grocery stops before going home so I didn’t have to do those errands later. Parking was full, so Don dropped me off in front of the ATM. Walking toward the machine, I realized I had the wrong card in my hand. (Why are all my new credit cards lookalike red?) I turned to go switch cards … and couldn’t see Don’s car anywhere! Frustration mounted. When he finally drove up, Don thought I was finished. Not done, but simmering! I traded cards and made the deposit, and once again couldn’t find the car. Don was actually parked nearby but he was in a place where neither of us could see the other.

On to groceries … that went quite smoothly, and we returned home.

My computer logged onto the network immediately. Don’s didn’t. I spent the next three hours on the phone … Clickaway. Comcast. Nothing worked. Since I was on the phone I also asked why I couldn’t get Netflix on TV, and was directed to LG TV. It didn’t take the gal long to tell us we don’t have a smart TV, so we can’t get Netflix on it. Three hours on the phone and all I learned was that we have a “dumb” (but beautiful) TV!

computer frustrationTired.

Frustrated.

Irritable.

Problems I couldn’t fix.

Feeling ill, light-headed.

NOT a good day. And this stuff is all minor in light of the real crises in our world – bombings in Paris, shootings in San Bernardino, and a gang-related shooting in Wichita in which a friend of a friend lost her sister-in-law. Add to that illness, holiday loneliness, and a higher rate of suicide during holidays.

Last weekend Pastor Rene spoke about “Change of Plans.” Often our plans change due to circumstances beyond our control. How will we react? Will we keep our eyes focused on Jesus or be swallowed by the frustration of the moment?

When I climbed into bed beside Don last night, we talked through the day. Thankfully, we were both able to laugh together about the confluence of frustrations.  “OK Rene, you warned us …”

I looked at my hubby, his arms enfolding me, and said “Today I failed. I did nothing like Jesus.”

But this morning is the start of a new day. I still can’t get Don’s laptop online, despite much effort. But I’m trying to keep my focus on Jesus rather than on the laptop connection. This will eventually be resolved and, more important than the resolution of the problem, will be how I respond.free-christian-clip-art-.014-1

What’s your challenge today?

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.   James 1:2-3 MSG

Patience … in short supply?

As I drove down the curved, tree-lined road, tears welled up in my eyes. I was running on empty in the patience department. Multiple priorities and an overfull schedule meant I was running from one thing to another with little if any margin. Flashes of my impatience, my attitude of entitlement blitzed through my mind …

  • My husband needed a couple of minutes’ help but I needed to leave for an appointment. My impatience surfaced in my tone of voice.
  • I waited impatiently for a clerk who was chatting with an old friend while I needed to make my purchase and get back on the road.
  • I felt irritated because someone wasn’t working fast enough.
  • I felt entitled to receive service before others because I was in pain.

My time was “obviously” more important than theirs.

Conviction set in. Father, I’m sorry. Patience is a fruit of your Holy Spirit but it’s just not being evidenced in me AT ALL right now. Please, change me.

PATIENCE

And my Lord is so faithful. I immediately felt a load lifted and, while I’ll probably never be the epitome of patience, I changed. In Galatians 5:22-23a, the apostle Paul tells us “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control …” (TLB)

Yes, I have choices. Will I respond with impatience or will I ask for His grace to calm my heart and see others as more important than myself? But … and it’s a big one … I can’t produce patience on my own. I can choose my behavior, my responses to challenging situations; but I cannot make myself patient. Instead, patience is a result of knowing Jesus and allowing His Spirit to make me more like Him. That’s both freeing and challenging; I can’t do it on my own. But I trust in my God, “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I will fail – often. But He is there to forgive, correct, and continue His work in me until the end. Wonderful promise!

Patience under construction

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Colossians 3:12 NIV

Where are you finding victory in living out the fruit of the Spirit? Challenges?

 

A Mighty Redwood has Fallen – and Risen!

Bola, glorifying God through her musicMy tears flow. Don and I hold hands, praying. Our friend Bola Taylor passed into the arms of Jesus at 3:46 Sunday morning, Tokyo time. I wrote about Bola as one of the mighty redwoods in my life in an earlier blogpost at http://carolshope.com/2015/09/becoming-a-spiritual-redwood/

Once, when Bola and Ken stayed in our guest house, my mother was visiting. I didn’t know Bola well yet. But as Mom and I walked on the driveway, Bola stepped out onto the deck, waving.

I looked up. “Bola, this is my mother, Helen.”

“Hi Mom,” was Bola’s immediate response. And “Mom” it was from then on.

Bola brought gifts. I have several beautiful pieces of Japanese cloth mounted and framed. Before she and Ken came, it was always “I love shopping for other people. What are your favorite colors? Do you like cloth? Paper? …” And somehow, she thought Don looked like a “Simba,” which became her nickname for him. We loved visiting with Bola and Ken, just having them around, enjoying their passion for Jesus and for the people of Japan to whom they ministered.

Colorful, vibrant, crazy in love with Jesus, funny. According to Ken, Bola “prepared us well when she mentioned not to worry because she was only taking an earlier flight (first class) to heaven and will be reserving a seat for us!”

We will miss you, Bola. But the grave is not the end. While this beautiful, loving redwood has taken flight, she has been lifted up to the heavenlies, where I’m sure she is praising her Lord with every fiber of her being.

The Apostle Paul assured us when he said, “And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus.” I Thess 4:13-14, The Message.

See you soon, dear friend.

Water Polo and Redirection

water polo logoSTRETCH!  The long arm of the white-capped boy reached over the black-capped player’s shoulder to wrest the ball from his grasp. Both teams turned 180 degrees, swimming toward the black-capped goalie. Back and forth they swam, treading water whenever they were not swimming, redirecting according to which team either held onto, or took over, the ball.

I’ve never watched a water polo game before. But our grandson, Benjamin, was playing in a tournament near our home. What a fascinating game. I didn’t realize those toned young men were never standing on the bottom of the pool. Its depth went from 7′ to 12′. How do you put power behind the ball when you’re treading water and fighting off your opposing teammate, who is trying to take the ball from you?water polo ball

Not only was the heavily chlorinated water irritating Ben’s eyes, the sun was also blinding him, making it difficult to see the ball and respond to his teammates. Nonetheless, Benjamin made some good plays and we were (and are) proud of him. A high school senior, he is applying to colleges, keeping up his grades, and is committed to his water polo team.

I thought of how our Father sometimes redirects us. When we turn away from Him or ignore His leading, He often convicts, challenges, or woos us back onto the path He has for us.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

And do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways submit to Him

and He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

God redirected me when I was engaged to marry a wonderful man who was not the best partner for me.

He redirected me when I was developing a new sense of independence and productive singleness following the death of my first husband, by bringing a wonderful man into my life. That man has now been my loving, and beloved, husband for almost six years.

My Father even redirected me when I felt overwhelmed last week, and resentful of requests for assistance. He changed my heart so I became open to responding with grace and love.

How have you experienced God’s gracious redirection?