Am I the storm?

Fate whispers to the warrior,
“you cannot withstand the storm.”
The warrior whispers back,
“I am the storm.”

~Unknown

When I came across this quote, it really struck me as a powerful way to combat the fear, doubt, worry, anxiety and sheet exhaustion that goes along with the battle with cancer. While I’m not the one with the horrid disease, when cancer strikes, it affects the entire family. So to read this quote seem like it would be empowering, right? We look fate square in the eye, lean in close and, with an antagonistic smirk, declare we are the storm.

I don’t know about you, but left to my own capabilities, I am anything but the storm. In fact, left on my own, I tend to struggle to stay afloat in the pity puddle created through worry, fear and anxiety. And closely related to those are the ugly cousins of resentment, irritation and impatience.

Left on my own, this is more what I tend to do.
I would hasten to my place of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest. ~Psalm 55:8

No, as much as I would like to identify as a warrior who can confidently take on what may be considered the lies of Fate (or the Devil in some quote variations), I cannot do it alone. I am wonderful at talking the talk, but sometimes walking the walk is a completely different story.

I need the rest of the army….and let’s throw in some marines, navy seals and air force fighter pilots as well. And let’s make sure the commander is one worthy of taking on the brewing storm.

Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy. ~Exodus 15:6

That ideal Commander-in-Chief would be the one who not only has the power to create the storm, but the one who also is sovereign over the storm.

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. ~Matthew 8:24-26

And that army of warriors? Those would be everyone who has come to our aid in prayer. And, we have awesome prayer warriors…from here in our church to across the country…and jumping across the pond as well. Without these intercessions, I assure you we would be feeling more overwhelmed and lost than we already feel now.

Some days I feel strong and fearless in the eye of the storm. But then there are the days when I feel like a single drop just might drown me. Lately, some complications have arisen that are testing both our patience and resolve. And, I can confidently say I’m somewhat terrified. And, there are many nights after he’s asleep where I find myself feeling overwhelmingly sad that there’s a chance all the plans we’ve made for the future just might never happen.

So, am I the storm? Not hardly. But when I’m aligned with the one who created and has the power to calm the storm…and with those who know how to use the powerful weapon of prayer…and the mere mortals in whose hands we put our health care….

…we can become the perfect reciprocal storm.

Playing along with others over at Peabea’s Pictorial Tuesday.

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LTTL & Song-ography

daff and drops 72Texture by Kim Klassen; Lily, 80% screen with selective masking

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise.
~Laura Story, Blessings

Rain. Storms. Tears. Perhaps the hardest part of being a Christian is the resignation that we will have storms in our lives. We will have tears. We will have trials and hardships…sometimes unbearable hardships. Being a Christian doesn’t give us a fee pass from experiencing any the hard stuff in life. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we’ll magically live a charmed life. In fact, many times, it’s exactly the opposite.

This is a hard concept to explain to a non-believer. Why is there pain and suffering? Why are there trials, disasters and disappointments? Why would we look at these things in our lives as blessings and mercies in disguise?

Well, isn’t that a good question.

By human nature, we don’t appreciate pain and suffering. So, why are Christians so tolerant of God, who may not grant their wishes answer their prayers with desired results? Wouldn’t it make sense that God would want his children to be happy? Wouldn’t he want us to live a comfortable life, free from stress, trials, despair, fear and disappointment?

Not all the time.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
~Romans 8:28

Well, that sounds a bit trite, doesn’t it? It sounds like a great way to excuse God from ensuring “his children” are safe and happy. After all, isn’t he a Cosmic Vending Machine…a Divine Sugar Daddy…that’s there to grant our whims and wishes, and give us what we want if we agree to stick with him?

It’s a hard mindset to adopt…this suffering-for-no-apparent-good-reason thing. In reality, this is why many people walk away from Christianity. We seem to think this is a negotiable “you do [this] for me and I’ll do [this] for you” type of arrangement. Mutual benefit….but only on our terms.

Newsflash: we need to get over ourselves and see what is actually happening. After all, if you’re a parent, how many times do we say ‘no’ to our children when they whine about what they want? How many times do we let them struggle with a project or learning a new skill? Parenting is hard…it’s difficult to mold our children into responsible adults. If we step in and make their lives easy all the time, what does that teach them?

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. . . . Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
~James 1:2-4,12

Trials, persecution, suffering, despair, disaster, challenges, failures….they all work to build character. When facing the challenges of life, the Christian realizes these things cannot be overcome without help….and that strength comes from a humble heart and the reliance on a sovereign God that knows what we need, and when we need it. Although, during those time, it usually bothers the control freak in all of us that we’re not privy to the bigger plan. We like being masters of our own destiny…just like our children.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
~2 Corinthians 12:9-11

Paul said it so well. All to often our prayers sound like this: “Puleeeeeze God…take this (fill in the blank) away from me.” When, in fact, it would be better to pray: “Help me through this, Lord, and show me what I’m suppose to learn from it.” Big difference.

While on this earth as a man, Jesus asked God the Father to take away what was about to happen to him. Jesus, the divine, accepted the persecution, suffering and, ultimately, death knowing his suffering was fulfilling a larger, more beneficial plan for redemption and salvation. And because Jesus experienced suffering, fear, disappointment, pain and despair while as a man, He uniquely understands when we experienced the same. Christians draw closer to Jesus during those times in our lives because we know He understands and will not abandon us. We may not like His methods, but we trust in His mercy and grace to make us stronger and shape us into a better being.

Linking up with those who share
at Songography and Life Through the Lens.

Sick kitty

Guess I can cross another item off the bucket list. I didn’t realize this experience was even on the list, and it was definitely a first for me.

One of our kitties is sick. A few weeks ago, I noticed Midget, the smaller of the two upstairs cats, looked thinner than usual. She’s always been a small cat so she can’t really afford to lose much weight to begin with. I began watching her and found out she would eat a couple bites of her food and then walk away. Her sister, Bridget, was more than happy to finish off her meal so I always saw empty bowls and never thought much more about it. But, when I thought about it, it occurred to me she had been reclusive and non-interactive as well.

Midget fluids 4

I felt this warranted a trip to the vet. Weigh-in showed she had lost 2 pounds and was dehydrated! That’s not good. 😦

Multiple scenarios were presented as to the reasons for her behavior changes…all of them very expensive. After two office visits, blood work, two rounds of IV fluid injections and some pain meds, the vet’s best guess was there was some sort of infection in her lungs…cause unknown. We could hospitalize her and they would continue to give her daily IV fluids, pain meds and observe her for a few days or…………………….

We could do it at home.

Whaaaaaat? I think my face must have shown my reluctance and panic because she quickly assured me it wasn’t that difficult to give subcuticular IV fluids to a cat. I had serious doubts. But I took the fluid bag and a bag of needles home, along with the pain meds and an antibiotic.

For the next two days, I stressed about attempting this procedure. Then, I couldn’t remember the demonstration the vet gave me in the office. So, I consulted an expert source, YouTube. And sure enough, there was a wonderful video on how to do it.

The fluid bag hangs in the laundry room. Midget is instantly suspicious. I’m still anxious.

Midget fluids 1

I take out of the needles and try to wrap my head around what I’m about to do, all the time thinking there’s a good reason why I didn’t pursue a career in veterinary medicine….and this might be top of the list.

Midget fluids 3

Google suggests I practice inserting the needle in an orange. So I grab a orange and follow the instructions.

Midget fluids 2

And it’s not so bad…..but it’s not actual skin so I’m still doubting I can even do this on something with a heartbeat. Finally, it’s obvious this cannot be put if off any longer. I attach a new, clean needle and beg Entrepreneur to help me. To my surprise, he agrees. He has some background in surgical procedures but hates cats so I’m a bit suspicious on exactly how much help he will be.

In the end, I mustered up enough courage to actually insert the needle into the scruff and her neck (per the YouTube demonstration) and the fluids start to flow. Midget is amazingly tolerant of my inexperience and I know she feels my anxiousness. But both of us survive and she doesn’t seem traumatized. As of this post, I’ve given her 6 treatments and, together with the antibiotics, she seems better. And, she is still speaking to me.

And it occurs to me that way back in January, I chose a word for 2015. That word was fearless. The word was chosen because of life’s uncertainty with Entrepreneur’s kidney cancer diagnosis. Seems silly to attribute that big word to this scenario, but the fact is that I did have to overcome a bit of fear and trust that I could do this.

So many times we avoid situations because of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of what others will think. Fear of confrontation. Whatever it is and whatever the reason, sooner or later we all must face our fears. And then make the decision to conquer or run from it.

Fear is nothing more than the perception of a situation. Danger is real….fear is a feeling. For sure, there are dangerous situations and being fearful is justified. But many times how our mind perceived a challenging situation can be very powerful in what actions we take. When fear confronts us, we need to analyze why we are afraid. We need to set our emotions aside and be completely honest with ourselves before we can accurately assess the situation. Once that assessment is made, we need to objectively assess the perception of ourselves and decide if we believe we can move forward, past the fear, and accomplish what needs to be done. It’s easier to take risks when you completely believe in yourself. Doubt yourself and you’ll never take any steps forward.

Fear:  False Evidence Appearing Real.
~Author Unknown

Nothing in life is to be feared.  It is only to be understood.
~Marie Curie

Linking up this week with Lisa over at Life Through the Lens

Entering into the unknown

A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown. ~ Denis Waitley

dark path

Are you a risk taker? Do you see a path into the unknown as an opportunity? Or, is an unknown path something to fear?

Paths that are well-lit offer some sense of security. We can decide whether it’s worth traveling because we believe we can see what lies ahead for us. We think those paths are predictable and safe.

But, there’s little to entice and excite our imagination.

Maybe we like these well-lit paths because we’ve been hurt venturing into the unknown. Maybe we’ve been blind-sided and are now suspicious…wanting to peek around every corner before taking that first step just to make sure we don’t get knocked down again. But we can’t foresee everything. And we shouldn’t always assume history will repeat itself. Well-lit paths can lure us into a false sense of security and dead-end comfort zones, where we’re never given the opportunity to grow as a person.

Our lives improve only when we take chances – and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves. ~Walter Anderson

And then there are those paths that are not well-lit. They’re a bit dark and scary-looking and we’re left wondering whether it’s safe to venture into the unknown. These paths could hold treasures beyond our wildest dreams….but they could also present dangers, set backs and obstacles to overcome before getting there. As a general rule, we don’t like obstacles in life, do we? When trouble appears in our path, we tend to cut and run. We prefer the smooth and wide road; the easy road; the predictable road; the seemingly safe road.

So what needs to happen to entice us to consider taking the path that’s not already well-lit and all laid out for us? What should we do to help us take that leap of faith and accept the risk of  success or failure? Why is it so difficult to choose this path and to experience (good or bad) what lies ahead?

Dreams for our lives rarely come with guarantees. The sooner we accept this, the better off we’ll be when deciding whether to take a risk. The seemingly smooth, well-lit path does not necessarily lead to happiness just as the dark, scary-looking path doesn’t always lead to danger.

It comes down to faith. Where is our faith and in what does it lie? It’s a well-known belief among those of religious faith that God seldom leads us down well-lit paths. He tends to steer us in the direction of paths we consider dark and non-welcoming. Paths where we are encouraged to follow his lead and ask for guidance in our steps when we can’t see what lies ahead. Many times it’s his way of forcing us to not always want to rely on our own impressions; to not always think our way is the best way; to not assume what we think we see is the best direction for our lives.

Entering into the unknown takes courage. It’s to take a risk  and believe that, no matter what happens, God will be there to help us through it. And to also believe whatever lies ahead will include tremendous blessings.

That’s the hardest part.

It never ceases to amaze me when God wants to take someone to the next level in their life and they let fear of the unknown rob them of tremendous blessings. ~R. Alan Woods

Linking up with Friday Finds for this one because when I reversed my route walking through a local park, I discovered the “entrance” to the wooded area looked different coming from that direction.
Friday Finds

Traveling light

travel72If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light.
Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness
selfishness and fears.
~Cesare Pavese

Not sure I can add much to this one for Quotography’s theme of Travel this week. I’ve found (the hard way) that envy, jealousy, unwillingness to forgive, selfishness, fear of the unknown, resentment and bitterness are heavy baggage.

Have you ever noticed that it takes twice or three times as long to make it to your destination when hauling all this around? And when I get there, I’m exhausted.

I really need to learn how to pack lighter.

Linking up with Quotography
Quotography