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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Might have been bad timing….or not?

Can you believe I chose “Joy” as my One Word for 2017?

Joy. Really?

When I picked this word back in January, my crystal ball was evidently malfunctioning. For who in their right mind would choose Joy knowing their husband would be facing brain surgery in a month and a half? How in the world is one to be able to pay attention to Joy in the middle of crisis and chaos?

I had good intentions choosing Joy for my word this year. Yep, those good intentions were to try to see moments of Joy around me. But it’s oh so much easier to notice Joy when life is beautifully smooth, isn’t it?

Joy seems more elusive when we’re weary with one challenge after another. It’s hard to see the Joy in life when we’re up to our eyeballs in worry and anxiety. Choose Joy is a phrase batted around by those trying to offer help for people facing hopelessness, despair and uncertainty. Like “choosing” joy is as easy as choosing which pair of shoes to wear…or choosing what to order for dinner.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~Matthew 6:34

Isn’t that the truth.

Back in January, it was so easy to write that Joy doesn’t come from a worry-free, prosperity-filled life. In a more self-reflective moment, I wrote this:

I believe Joy is something felt deep in the soul. Something apart from the temporary warm fuzzies of pleasure and happiness. It’s something intangible that grounds the mind, despite the circumstance. Joy settles deep in the heart and soul, creating peace and a strength that makes a person feel they can endure the worst life will throw.

Very profound if I do say so myself. I just don’t know how well I’m doing in this department while in the middle of these “circumstances,” which are hard and more than little overwhelming at times. Left on my own, I don’t feel anything has settled in my heart except mental exhaustion, much less peace and strength.

But there I go again, confusing Joy with Happiness.

I have discovered my hindsight is working fairly well. In hindsight, I’m thankful for the flu. Yes, you heard correctly. I got the flu the Sunday before we were to leave on vacay. By Thursday, Entrepreneur was showing the first signs of it. A flu headache, coupled with the headache he already was experiencing is was drove us to the ER…and to the discovery of the cancer mass.

As terrifying as this event has been, in hindsight, I see it did provide opportunities to repair some family rifts, and opened up heartfelt conversations that otherwise might not have happened. I suppose there are things to be thankful for in the middle of chaos. Focusing on being grateful can result in experiencing Joy.

So, even though 2017 has not started the way I’d hoped, I am going to try and feel those moments of Joy in the middle of chaos and confusion by focusing on being thankful and grateful.

february-rose-72

S is for Samson

photo credit: http://bit.ly/1jiM26M

photo credit: http://bit.ly/1jiM26M

Think of him as the Thor of biblical times.

Samson’s supernatural strength is legendary. It was promised to his parents that, as long as his hair grew, God would bless him with unparalleled, physical strength. He grew up during a time when the Israelites were being punished for ignoring God. After forty years of persecution by the Philistines, Samson’s calling was that he would begin the deliverance of the Israelites from the Philistines when the time was right.

Unfortunately, his legacy is tied to a woman named Delilah, and he looks like anything but a deliverer. In fact, he looks very stupid and gullible because Samson has this uncontrollable attraction to the wrong sort of women. Reading his life story is like reading a Greek tragedy. When he’s not falling for the wrong women, he’s running from the Philistine guards who are hell-bent on capturing him because of his great strength.

Enter Delilah. Beautiful beyond description. Samson falls hard for her and is deliriously happy. But Delilah has a serious character flaw. When the Philistine guards hear of the budding Philistine-Israeli romance, they go to her and offer to pay handsomely if she’ll find out the secret of Samson’s strength. She is more than willing to make a few bucks and agrees. So much for true love.

Delilah tries to trick Samson into telling his secret. And each time she has the guards waiting to capture him when he shares his answer. Each time her plan fails, she figures out Samson has lied to her. And being the queen of guilt, she plays the “you don’t really love me” card. Heartbroken at the thought that he might lose her, Samson finally comes clean about the source of his strength. “…If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.”

The deed is done. Samson’s hair is cut while he sleeps and his strength vanishes. The guards capture him while Delilah counts her money and waves goodbye. And just to add insult to injury, the guards gouge out Samson’s eyes. After all, a blind man really isn’t a big threat regardless of how strong he is, right?

Samson is presented to the Philistine king and there is great rejoicing in the kingdom, thinking the Philistine gods have delivered over one of their enemy’s greatest assets. Samson is shackled and forced to work in the mill grinding grain. And all the while, Samson’s hair is starting to grow again. And the Philistines forget that crucial detail. While he’s grinding away and his hair is growing, he has a few conversations with God about his sorry state of affairs. The conversation goes like this, “O Lord Godplease remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

During one of the Philistine pagan festivals, the king decides it will be great fun to parade his prized prisoner in front of everyone. So, Samson is called up from the mill to stand and face the jeers of the crowd. Now, remember, Samson’s hair has been growing the entire time he’s been grinding grain. As he stands in between the pillars of the temple, he braces himself between two of the main support columns. And begins to push.

His strength restored, Samson brings down the house…literally….and crushes all the Philistines. But, in a strange twist of fate, he doesn’t survive.

We might look at Samson and think, what a colossal failure. He falls for the wrong women; is blinded by lust and cannot see her true nature. He gives in to temptation and reveals the one thing about himself that can defeat him. He’s captured by an arch enemy, blinded for real and forced to work in a Philistine prison. Humbled and fallen, he works as a slave….until God chooses the exact moment to reveal his sovereign power. Samson realizes his only hope is to trust the God who gave him the gift of strength to begin with. Through his sacrificial death, he took his failures and turned them into victory…ultimately fulfilling his prophesied destiny.

How often are we blinded by the things we think we want and cannot see the bigger picture? How often are we humbled by circumstance and think we’ve failed? How often do those circumstances serve to remind us that God is always in control and working behind the scenes to fulfill a much bigger plan that we could ever imagine…when the time is right?

Linking up with ABC Wednesday
ABCWed14

Standing the test of time

It’s not the beauty of a building you should look at;
it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.
~David Allen Coe

Claysville post72

As we were waiting for a table at our favorite off-the-beaten-path, homestyle eatery, I glanced down at the floor of the porch. This is what I saw. AAAACCKKK! I was amazed the porch was still in place because, by all logic, it shouldn’t be based on its appearance.

The building itself has been around in one form or another since the steamboat era. The interior has undergone massive reno to become the awesome place where deliciousness is served today.

Claysville Store

I suppose the porch has been this way for decades and it’s still standing, so something strong must be holding it together. Or divine intervention. I’m not sure which one it is.

Foundations can be tricky. To look at this building, it seems to defy all logic that it’s still standing. But it’s been in this exact spot longer than any of us have been alive. It’s been through storms, floods and gradual ground shifting as the river relocated itself over time.

On the flip side, how many times have we seen beautiful buildings that are built on shallow foundations. Buildings that can’t withstand the trauma of nature and stress of their environment?

What kind of foundation is holding you together?
How confident are you that your foundation can stand the test of time?

Belief systems serve as foundations for our lives. The stronger the belief system, the more stable our lives will be when we’re thrown into that inevitable storm. If we have a firm foundation, we will not fall or slide into the abyss.

Think about how many people you know that look fabulous on the outside. It appears they have it all together and headed for the top. Now, when a crisis rocks their world, how many of them crumble to pieces and can’t cope? How many turn to substance abuse/addiction or some other external coping mechanism to help face the reality they’ve been dealt? When push comes to shove, their weak foundations can’t support the weight. And they begin to crack an crumble under the pressure.

Now, think about those who seem to have an inner strength that helps them face trials and storms without falling to pieces. The ones who adjust their sails when the wind changes. The ones who, when life seems to repeatedly hand them lemons, will trade them in for limes and make mojitos?

Belief systems. Whatever they are, they serve as the core foundation for how we handle life. It’s not how we look on the outside. It’s what we’re made of underneath; it’s what supports us in a crisis; it’s what holds us up when the ground shifts.

And it’s what keeps us standing firm and strong over the tests of time, against all logic.

So this is what the Sovereign Lord says, 

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,

 a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;

the one who relies on it

 will never be stricken with panic.”
~Isaiah 28:16

Linking up with Quotography and Tuesday Muse
Quotography  Tuesday Muse

Inside, we're all swans

ugly duckling
Textures by Nancy Claeys 0601 overlay 50%
Kim Klassen Lily, overlay 100%

It doesn’t matter if you’re born in a duck yard, so long as you are hatched from a swan’s egg!
~Hans Christian Anderson, The Ugly Duckling.

Took another new route the other day on my mid-day walk. This time I ended up by a park lake and smack into a brood of Canadian geese.

When looking for a quote to go with this shot, naturally I thought of the Hans Christian Anderson classic, The Ugly Duckling. But, since I’m fresh out of ducklings and swans, geese will have to do to illustrate my point.

I read through this children’s classic story again and was struck by how sad it really is. I found my heart breaking for the “ugly duckling” as he was mistreated and ridiculed when younger. It’s a sober reminder that life is, many times, not ideal. And there are obstacles, struggles….and yes….very nasty people around every corner whose primary goal in life is to beat us down and break our spirit.

 It felt quite glad at all the need and misfortune it had suffered, now it realized its happiness in all the splendor that surrounded it.

In the end, the ugly duckling’s miserable life was rewarded. How much different would he have been if he’d hatched in a swan’s nest with a silver spoon it his mouth, and had never known hardship? Would he be better or worse? More importantly, how would the assessment of his life have been different?

Then he felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wings, for he did not know what to do; he was so happy, and yet not at all proud…Then he rustled his feathers, curved his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart, “I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”

Humility, grace and appreciation. Virtues that can only be achieved by going through, and surviving trials and tribulations. The opposite of these virtues? Pride, self-admiration and conceit. Because it’s only through raging storms that we can fully appreciate sunshine and not take it for granted.

We’re all hatched from swan’s eggs. We all have the potential to be beautiful creatures, full of joy, happiness and appreciation for the life we’ve been given.

The difference is the “yard” in which we’re raised.

Linking up with Tuesday Muse and Texture Tuesday.
Tuesday Muse
Texture Tuesday

 

Page 20

Page 20_Walking with the Wise
Texture by Kim Klassen: grey day, hard light 70%

I do not want to cope with adversity.
I want to kick it in the butt, smack it around, grab it by its throat and force it to divulge its hidden benefits, subjugate it as my servant and profit from it enormously.
~Dan Kennedy excerpt in Walking with the Wise

Kaylene at My Whisperings challenged us to find our Quotography this week on page 20 of a book. I looked long and hard…which is why I’m a day late. But I’m happy with what I found and believe it more than describes how we need to view adversity. I’m also using it for Tuesday Muse and Texture Tuesday.

Much like this shot from our February 2011 Snowmageddon event, when adversity and challenge hit, it’s all to easy to throw up our hands in despair, cry out that life just isn’t fair and give up. Isn’t it, isn’t it, isn’t it?? I know I have thought this way many times in the face of devastating obstacles.

But how much healthier would it be if we took this approach and “kicked butt,” to uncover the hidden benefits in those horrible, trying times? How much cooler would it be to view adversity as something that can be harnessed and profited from instead of letting it lay us out in defeat?

For all of you facing challenging situations in life, I wish for you the strength to “kick butt” and never be content to let adversity trample over your future.

Linking up with a bunch of photo challenges
Quotography   Tuesday Muse
Texture Tuesday

W is for Wings

What do you think of when you hear the word, wings? Planes? Birds?

What characteristics you you think of for wings?

Did you know references to wings in the bible are common.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; ~Isaiah 40:31

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.
~Exodus 19:3-5

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
~Psalm 91:3-5

I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
~Psalm 61:3-5

Eagle’s wings are a favorite descriptor and for good reason. An eagle’s wingspan can be between 7 and 9 feet! The bird symbolizes untiring strength, endurance and power. The word also symbolizes shelter and with a wingspan of 7-9 feet, we’re talking the size of a small room. And isn’t there just something majestic about watching an eagle (or any large bird of prey) soar effortlessly in the air?

What better symbol to represent God’s unfailing love and enduring power in our lives?

Linking up with ABC Wednesday