Archive | February 22, 2013

The Power of Suggestion

Do you remember when we were kids. The first thing we were told not to do was the first thing we wanted to do. Ever notice whenever you have no electricity, the first thing you want to do is turn on a light? Or how about when you have no water? The first thing you need to do is go to the bathroom, but then you can’t flush! Have no heat? Suddenly, you’re just about frozen with no hope of ever getting warm again. It’s the power of suggestion.

Advertisers know this.  All they have to do is show you a picture of a big juicy cheeseburger, and “poof”, you’re hungry and feel the sudden urge to run to Wendy’s. (Or maybe, you think you need a cheeseburger now because you just read that!) It’s weird how our minds work!

Tonight, I went to see the Chambersburg Area Middle School’s (CAMS South) production of Willy Wonka Jr. My nephew Cory played Grandpa George in the play.

Willy-Wonka-JRIt was a good production! The only bad thing was the continuous theme of candy and chocolate. I leaned over to Dave several times to “hint”….”I think we need to make a stop on the way home,” I’d say.

“You do, do you?” he’d reply.  He knew what I was wanting!

I’m a confirmed chocoholic! If there is no chocolate in the house, I’ve been known to eat from the stash of semi sweet chocolate chips I keep in the freezer, or take a “dose” of chocolate syrup from a tablespoon!

I always thought Willy Wonka (the movie) was rather disturbing. I cannot stand the psychedelic boat ride scene. I didn’t even like it tonight….the flashing lights they used to simulate the swirling lights from the movie, made me about nauseous. Despite my dislike for Willy Wonka (or maybe it’s just a dislike for Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp….depending which version you’re watching), I sat and watched the production. However, the constant reference to chocolate and worse yet, seeing a chocolate waterfall throughout most of the 2nd half, starting stirring that craving even more.

I leaned over to Dave again. “We need to stop for gas on the way home.”

No response.

“Did you hear me? We need to get gas on the way home.”

“Yes, I heard you,” he answered. “Are you sure there’s nothing else we need to stop for?” he asked. (He knows me so well!)

“Well, maybe….” I reply. “Maybe, just maybe I might need a chocolate bar about this big,” I say as I hold up my hands about 2 feet apart.

Dave says, “I don’t think Sheetz sells candy bars that big.”

“Then I’ll get two of their biggest ones to make a bigger bar,” I decided.

He just rolled his eyes and smiled. But on the way home, he did stop for gas (we really did need gas!) and he brought me out two of these:

Hershey Bar with AlmondsAaaaaaaaaaah, chocolate heaven!

Now, did I really “need” the chocolate? No. But did I enjoy it? Oh, yes!!!! Drat that power of suggestion!


Amid the Trials

Several years ago, my church did a bible study on spiritual gifts. We did an in-depth study of what gifts there were and we all took a “test” to determine what our gifts were. My gift turned out to be encouragement. I was also strong in the servant & compassion departments.  Really? Encouragement? Surely the test must be wrong. I’m not one to send out cards for every occasion. I rarely remember a birthday…though Facebook helps remind me of birthdays now….so I don’t really have an excuse. I’m not an encourager. That’s what I convinced myself of.

A few years later, there was renewed interest in what our spiritual gifts were and I did the course again. Certainly, if I took the test again I’d come up with a “better” gift. The results were the same. By this time, I was in nursing school and I thought for sure that compassion should be my gift. Nope…still very strong in the encouragement department.

Time went by and I put this on the back burner. Life was busy, and the test was wrong anyway, so I thought, so why should I care?

There were many trials that I faced in my late teens up through my 30’s. I had some difficult employers who didn’t care for my dedication to God and my desire to go to church and be a part of church activities. I had a boss that lied to other employees and claimed that I had said things about them, which thankfully, these coworkers knew I would have never done or said those things.  By the age of 25, I had lost all of my grandparents and a beloved uncle died of a terrible disease. (He instilled in me a love for birds and flowers.) I was involved in two major car accidents (but thankfully escaped injury both times!). I faced financial devastation several times. I nearly lost my first pregnancy (Katie) to HELLP Syndrome (a severe form of preeclampsia). I lost two pregnancies and a precious baby boy that we were adopting. One thing after another occurred….more than I can list here. Some things were just absolutely devastating and I couldn’t figure out why God would ever allow someone to go through some of these things.

I Cor 10.13

Well, I know now. He was developing my gifts. He allowed these trials to grow my faith. Now in my role as a development coordinator, I get to interact with many people. During the course of my visits, we get to know each other.  These people share their life-stories with me. Many have had similar if not the exact same type of trials that I have been through. I soon came to realize that perhaps, just perhaps, God allowed some of those trials so that I could connect better with some of these people. I could encourage them by sharing how God helped me through those same trials.

Recently, I met a woman who was once fired for sharing God’s love with a patient. She refused to stop, and they fired her. Now, I was never fired, but I was advised to keep my religious beliefs to myself. I could identify with her and we were able to share these frustrations together.

I also met a man who shared about the devastation of losing his first-born baby girl shortly after birth. Again, I could identify. We lost our son when he was 2 days old because his birth mother changed her mind about the adoption. I knew that pain he felt.

Another shared about losing a parent to a debilitating disease that deteriorated her mind and body over time. I had experienced that multiple times in my family, but I sensed a parallel comparrison to her situation and the long illness and subsiquent death of my grandfather.

Why does God allow trials? There are trials we will never know why He does allow them.  Then there are others where it’s painfully clear why we’ve had to deal with them.

When I was suffering pregnancy loss, followed by the loss of our adoption, no one could have ever told me I’d see God in that situation. In fact, I spent an awful lot of time yelling at Him for allowing it to happen. Yes, I yelled at Him.  I’d scream every night on my way home how much He’d let me down. I’d scream on my way to work as to why He’d punish me in this way….after all, I worked for an OB/GYN and those kind of nurses should never have a pregnancy loss. It took a while, but I soon realized that God was allowing me to experience this so that I could minister to other women who experienced a loss. I could help comfort and encourage them.

As we go through trials, it’s difficult to think that something good could ever come of that moment. But at some point, an “aha” moment might come and you’ll realize very clearly that God uses those moments to grow us and to encourage others. So bring on those trials! God has promised us He will never give us more than we can bear. Thank you, Lord for growing us in these trials of life!