What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Healthy Distractions

I’ve been dealing with some physical illness as of late, mostly unexplained nausea and stomach upset. I’ve taken the necessary steps to try to deal with the illness by seeing doctors and getting tests run and scheduled. The problem is it takes a long time for some of the tests to get done. I’m waiting right now for a test that won’t get done until mid March. That’s a long time away yet to deal with nausea on an almost daily basis.
So, how does someone cope with physical illness over a long period of time? I’m sure there are many who have dealt with this in their lives, but I have a few tricks I’ve been learning. I call them my distractions. They are good, worthwhile, distractions and allow me to live beyond the symptoms for short periods of time. Being able to do that is probably helping me keep my sanity.
One thing I recently discovered is covering one physical discomfort with another physical discomfort – but one that is good for me. So I’ve recently started using the treadmill that has been collecting dust in our family room. Exercise is good for me in so many ways. Even though I’m not walking miles and miles or for long periods of time, the actual motion keeps me distracted from the other ailments long enough to get in some exercise. I’ve found I can easily walk for 15 minutes and during that 15 minutes I don’t notice the nausea because I’m noticing the movement of the treadmill and the movement of my legs more so. That’s a healthy distraction.
Also, I’ve noticed that writing helps me distract from the way I’m feeling physically. Sometimes it’s as deep as a chat on Facebook – not really very deep. But sometimes it’s writing a longer piece like this blog that keeps me focused on something besides the physical pain. Even though I’m indirectly writing about the pain, the actual act of writing causes me to think about the mechanics and grammar of writing and the physical pain becomes less noticeable. Whether I’m writing an email, a journal entry, a chat, or my blog, writing is a worthwhile distraction.
Artwork is another way I distract. Whether it’s doodling or drawing something concrete and realistic, drawing distracts from the physical pain I might be experiencing. Sometimes I just sketch in black and white but more often I use colors to brighten the page, which in turn brightens my mood. I like drawing colorful outdoor scenes for instance. One of my favorites recently is on the top of this post. Cardinals on a winter’s morning give a splash of red in an otherwise dreary day. That’s what doing artwork does for my physical ailments. It gives a distraction to the dreary day.
Prayer is another way I distract. Focusing on the needs of others by praying for them gets the focus off of me. When I’m not focusing on me, I’m less likely to be caught up in the pain or discomfort I’m experiencing. On top of the relief it brings me, prayer is useful. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (James 5:16). So I try to be an effective woman and pray. That’s a great distraction for me and can be a help to many others.
Do you have ways you distract from physical pain or discomfort? What are some of those? Leave a comment and share so we might all give them a try next time we need a healthy distraction.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

First Priority: Remember and Celebrate Our Redemption

Last week at my mom’s funeral, the priest talked a lot about passing over into a new life with Christ. It just so happens that I believe that is what happened with my mom on January 11th, when she left this world and passed over into the next. I agreed with the priest’s assessment that Mom is now with Jesus in heaven and enjoying all the pleasure of her passing over.
It also so happens that today I started a study on the Biblical Feast of Passover that Israel celebrates once a year. I was taken by the fact that when God started Passover as a feast or holiday for the Israelites that He made the month it occurs in the first month of the Jewish calendar. A priority month. A month to start the whole year off with a bang. A month to remember and celebrate God’s delivering Israel out of the slavery of Egypt and the beginnings of bringing them into the Promised Land. He wanted to make sure that the Israelites remembered where they came from and how God miraculously brought them out from the pain and suffering they were enduring.
As a Christian, remembering my personal Passover is just as important. It is a chance to remember and celebrate the gift God gave me in His provision of a Savior who would mark for the world and for eternity that I am one of His, marked by the blood of Jesus, the New Testament lamb, to be spared the wrath of God. Like the Old Testament Israelites, who were marked by the sacrificial and celebratory lambs they killed and roasted on Passover night, the lamb’s blood on their doorposts marked them as children of God. And God’s wrath passed over their doors and homes as He went about killing the firstborn of the Egyptians because they would not acknowledge God or God’s special people.
Fortunately today, and since Jesus died on the cross to accomplish the New Testament Passover, we can all be God’s special people. But, it does involve making Him a priority in our lives. It does involve living life, each day and not just once a year in a special month, as people set apart for Him. I think of my mom when I think of such people. She was not perfect. She, like all of us, had her little quirks, but she loved Jesus and looked so forward to going home to Him at the end of her life. She often said to me that the life she had left to live she wanted to live in such a way that she would be able to direct people to Jesus. She wanted us all to experience the ultimate Passover and for it to be a priority in our lives. I hope I can do that each and every day as my mom strived to do.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Memories of Mom

Can you remember your earliest memory of your mom? I can’t come up with a specific memory that is my mom from a young age. What I remember about my mom is a presence, a personality, a practical influence in my life.
My mom recently passed away and it has sparked thoughts of how she influenced my life. To some the influences may seem trivial but in reality they are profound to me. The things I remember about Mom helped form who I am and who I’ve been as a mom myself.
Mom was a trooper in the sense that she was game for anything. One memory I have is being taken, with my three siblings and my dad, to Florida for a couple of weeks one summer. She packed our clothes, planned our route, scheduled motel stops, packed lunches, planned dinners (often made in an electric frying pan in the motel room), organized the station wagon, and arranged for games to play along the way. The organization involved in taking six people, including four children, ages three to ten, from Michigan to Florida baffles me as I think about it today. Yet Mom did it, for us, to give us a trip we would never forget.
Mom also developed into a seasoned camper. We bought a camper when I was about nine and never looked back. We would spend long weeks during the summer camping all around Michigan and Canada. Again, Mom organized and orchestrated all kinds of details regarding these trips. I remember her enjoying the camping trips but she was not work-free during these trips. There was still the cooking to do, the dishes to wash (which meant boiling water on the stove), laundry to wash and activities to plan. The lazy days of summer were not lazy days for my mom as she strove to provide us kids with memorable summers of camping fun.
Mom was rightly proud of her professional life. She was a college-educated woman. She was a Medical Technologist at a time when many women didn’t get a college degree. She worked for several years in a doctor’s laboratory and then took time off to have her growing family take priority. After many years as a stay-at-home-mom, she went back to work in a nuclear laboratory which involved getting retrained, right along with the current staff of the lab, in new ways of doing medical testing. She worked for many years after that, using her money to help put all five of her children through college. She loved her job, but that was not the goal of working. She wanted to provide for her family. She valued education and expected each of her children to complete their bachelor degrees as a minimum. That happened, not just because of her financial support but because of her encouragement to achieve academically.
Mom was still supporting education into the lives of her grandchildren. Her financial resources were such that she could give large chunks of money towards college educations for each of the grandkids. I know I appreciate that interest and support as my kids have benefited from her generosity. She will continue to influence her nine grandchildren based on her encouragement to value their educations as much as she did. My kids have strong memories of their Yiayia supporting and being proud of their academic achievements. She came to each of their high school graduations and was proud to be included in the celebrations of their successes. Mom was true to the end on valuing education.
There are other thoughts I have of Mom. Not all of them are positive, but over the last year or so I’ve come to understand that Mom did the best she could and what she did do was not half bad . . . it was much more than half good. I’m successful in the things I do today, in part, because Mom invested so much into my life. For that part, I am forever grateful.