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‘Tis a Gift

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Here we are, the week after Thanksgiving and we’re already elbow-deep in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season.  Fortunately for me, I have a week off.  So what does someone do with a week off when they haven’t had a week off in over a year?  Well, clean and organize of course!  In the time span since I last wrote a blog post, my parents have moved in with us, combining two households into one.  My job status has changed, not once, but twice (though I am still working at the same ministry).  And, last but certainly not least, wehave gone through a major home renovation.

Renovating the house was a grand pain to say the least!  There were days we wondered if we’d ever be able to move around the house without it being an obstacle course.  There were boxes everywhere…bathroom items in the kitchen and living room, kitchen items in the bedroom, and anything we could live without for a while was moved to the basement.  That’s where I spent my day today – the basement.  My goal for this week is to get a semblance of order back to the chaos that is our basement.

While the hubby was in the woods with our daughter this morning (it’s the first day of hunting season in Pennsylvania), I headed for the basement to tackle what we lovingly call the downstairs living room.  It has become a room that resembles the living quarters of a hoarder.  Boxes, unlabeled with items overflowing from them sit around the room in abundance.  They sit on the floor, on the furniture, on any available space there may be.  And then there’s the dust from the sanding of drywall (it all seemed to settle in the basement), wood shavings (they cut all their boards, trim, etc in the basement when it rained), and cobwebs since it’s been a neglected area for over a year.

As I walked in the room, I was overwhelmed.  Where to begin?  I realized quickly in order to lessen the clutter of the room, another area needed to be created to accept the organized boxes.  The first order of business was to move a bookcase we use to store our games, closer to the living room area.  With that moved and the games unpacked and loaded on the shelves, a space was now created where boxes could be moved.

Since Christmas is close by, I decided to organize all of our Christmas items first.  Now with two homes merging into one, there are enough decorations to decorate every room in the house (yeah, that’s not going to happen!).  I was disheartened to discover that when we put away the decorations last year, we did just that…put them away.  We didn’t take time to put them in the boxes they belonged.  Everything was just a jumbled mess.  By the end of my day, all the lights were together, ornaments together, snowmen were together, candles and garlands were in their respective containers.  I had a great sense of accomplishment!  And best of all, it was all moved out the living room and created a place to sit on the chair AND the sofa in the room!  PROGRESS!!!

I sank down on the couch, now free of clutter, dust and cobwebs and stretched out, enjoying it’s comfort and softness.  Christmas music was coming from the radio, and I believe I began to drift off to sleep.  I’m not sure if I was just day dreaming or actually dreaming, but I began to imagine the finished product that would be this room.  A room free of boxes, decorated and clean again.  A sanctuary where I could get away and just spend time in solitude.  (That’s my ultimate goal for this room!)  I thought about how different the room was starting to look without all the extra clutter.  What other clutter could I remove?

Thoughts of finances, pending bills, needed dental work and car repairs were clouding my thoughts.  Worry about whether my daughter would find the deer she shot this morning (it was a 6-8 point buck!) were floating around in my mind as well.  So many things cluttered my brain.  It was exhausting.  I closed my eyes once again and prayed a little prayer.  “Lord, remove the clutter and worry from my mind.”

It was then that God reminded me of Matthew 6:24-34 –  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  (NIV)

I felt as though I had been given a gift.  “Yes, Lord, I know you’ll take care of me even at my weakest moments, even when life is so cluttered and I can’t see a clear path.  You are good!”

So, this first day of this week of vacation was a special one…yes, I spent the day working, but I was given a special gift and lesson today and something to remember as I go through the week.  Thanks for the gift, God!

❤ Miriam

Say a Little Prayer

I’m sitting beside a new person in choir this year.  I don’t know her well, but I can tell that she is really enjoying the fellowship that choir offers. I’ve also sensed that she’s lonely. We have very little in common, other than we both like to sing and we both suffer with arthritis. She has freely shared about her life with me. She’s suffered through 8 surgeries mainly replacing major joints like her knees and hips. She lost her husband about 3 years ago, and then nearly died herself just 4 months later during a surgery. She’s had a bad time of it the past few years.

Tonight, when I went to choir and walked in, I was in an awesome mood! I was at my favorite place to be on a Thursday night! I stopped and chatted with some friends before I went to my seat. When I arrived at my seat, there she sat, crying.  I quietly took my seat, not sure what to say or do.

“I’m not having a very good day today,” she sobbed.

Thinking of the things I’ve been learning as I develop my gift of encouragement, I answered, “What’s happening?”

“They moved my mom to a different nursing home today, and it’s terrible. I don’t understand why they felt they needed to move her. The place she’s at is dreadful. I don’t really want her there, and she’s blaming me for letting it happen. It wasn’t up to me, but she’s not understanding that,” she said, as a tear trickled down her cheek.

“Oh my, that’s sad,” I replied. The nurse in me started asking questions about her general health, where they had taken her, trying to assess what type of care the woman might get.  It didn’t sound promising the way she described it.

“I want to take her somewhere else, somewhere she can feel more at home and less like she’s in a hospital.”

I offered some suggestions of good places I knew of for her to investigate.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have come here tonight,” she said. “I called Fred (our director) and told him I didn’t feel like I could come this evening, and he said I should, that it would help. I hope he’s right.”

“He is,” I replied. In my mind, I journeyed back 6 years to this same month, pretty close to this same week. I was just getting over the shock of losing our adopted son after having him home with us for 2 days. I was devastated. I wasn’t sure I could return to choir. But, I was encouraged to return. I believe choir saved me that year. “He is right,” I said again, because I knew it was true.

We started to sing our songs, and soon I was seeing a bit of a smile on her face. It was time for me to do my solo and after I did it, I sat back down. The director said that he wanted someone to be a prayer warrior for each soloist this year. She leaned over to me and said, “I’ll pray for you!” I was touched.

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As we were leaving, she was in the lobby picking up invitation cards for our concerts. I felt a subtle tap on the shoulder. I knew who it was. “Yes, God?”

“Pray for her,” I heard Him speak.

I sat down my music and purse and went back in to her. “Can I pray for you before I leave?” I asked.

“Oh, would you?” she replied.

So there, in the middle of the lobby, we joined hands and I prayed for my sister in the faith. “I’m so glad I came this evening! Thank you,” she said. I reached out and hugged her. I didn’t know if she was a “huggy” type of person, but it didn’t matter to me…she needed a hug.

“I’m going to call some of those places you told me about first thing tomorrow. Thank you so much,” she said.

Thank you, Lord for prompting me to reach out to her and touch her heart.

♥Miriam