Chocolate Chip or Oatmeal Raisin?

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. This business of living life causes one to prioritize those things that are needs vs. wants, and also those things that are must do vs. don’t have to do. For a while there, I was posting frequently. I felt I had things to say and this was the only outlet I had found in which to say them. And then I realized I began searching for things to post about. What part of my day is “post-worthy?” What will people find interesting about what I am saying?

It was then I realized I wasn’t letting life happen, I was working too hard and trying to make something happen just so I could write about it. That was not a good thing. So I decided to back off for a while, and concentrate on the things I should be doing…family…work…ministry…living my life. My life is not wrapped up in how succinctly I can encapsulate my experiences into a blog post. My life is something to be experienced, and occasionally shared, if the circumstances are right for it. What is my point in all this? I realized I was too wrapped up in this internet world, and not wrapped up enough in the real world.

But as I sat here tonight, having taken care of a few essential kid-related tasks, following up on emails, and winding down my day, I saw the link for my blog site on the Favorites Bar. Hmmm, I haven’t posted in a long time. Now is as good a time as any. Lots has been going on, so, sure, go for it. I know, not the most motivational of inner dialogues, but it did the trick. And now the big question…WHAT DO I WRITE ABOUT????

This week for me has just not been…good. It started out wrong and got progressively worse. Relatively speaking, that is. No one in my immediate family died, or got sick, or lost a job. My kids and spouse are all fine, healthy and, per the usual, annoying when they want to be. I had a check up this week and I’m healthy as well. The car hasn’t broken down, the bills are all paid, and the cats are still alive. For all intents and purposes, life is good. So what’s the problem, you ask? As I come to the end of my week, I feel like I have just lost confidence in the world at large. Wait, let me amend that. I’ve lost confidence in my part of the world, in the people in my part of the world, and, I fear, maybe people in general (although I sincerely hope this is not the case, and I am just generalizing).

I learned on Sunday that our pastor will not be attending an important youth gathering next summer with our kids. The trip requires both male and female chaperones and now that he is not attending, we have to search for another guy to fill that role. This is not an easy task, considering it requires taking a week off of work (if that person has a job), and being responsible for 3-4 male youth. The pastor fits the bill perfectly because a) this is part of his job; and b) he doesn’t have to take time off of work. But alas, it is not to be. And while I could go into the stated reasoning for the inability to attend, let’s just say it is strikingly similar to the oft quoted, “because I said so,” argument parents give their children.

The second nail in the coffin of my lack of confidence came when I sat with an older patient who had just had brain surgery. This patient is over the age of 85, and a brain tumor was discovered only after doing a test to rule out damage after a fall. A doctor felt surgery would be beneficial, and now that this patient is post-surgery, mood, behavior and cognitive ability are drastically reduced, possibly to the point of no recovery. I am so angry about this! This person was kind, a bit quirky, and just a sweet older person, and after surgery is now angry, yelling, frustrated, and no longer oriented to person, time or place. “They” say things might get better, but a well respected doctor has also said the patient should be on hospice. SAY WHAT?!? Again, I am so angry! It was an egregious error in judgement to institute performing that surgery (in my opinion). Without surgery, life expectancy would not have been longer than 10 or so years. Does the surgery increase that life expectancy? Of course not! But instead of allowing for natural progression of something which had, up until that point, been undiscovered and not causing any significant impairment, this person’s mood, demeanor and personality are completely changed. It is unsure at this point whether or not this patient will even recover enough to be able to eat or walk independently. I am so angry about this!!

And then there’s my concern with my child’s future. College planning, financial aide…can it be happening already? We are on a journey so many others have taken, but it is foreign to us and we are clueless. The government says we should be helping our child with paying for college, and we make too much money for this child to get a good amount of financial aide. Are we supposed to work solely for putting our kids through school? What about retirement? What about paying off my own student loans from my graduate degree I received just a few short years ago? Have we failed our youth because it’s either mom/dad paying for school or the child ending up with years worth of debt. It’s all weighing on my mind, and while I feel like scrunching my eyes closed and forgetting it all, before I know it, my kid will be graduating and the crap will really hit the fan. Ugh.

And then there’s the country’s difficulties, with hurricanes, neo-nazi rallies, pardons, travel bans, and investigations. I feel as if our culture has digressed several decades, and we’ve forgotten that we are all one people…yes, PEOPLE. How can we continue to be people, if we think each person is somehow different from us? The same blood, the same bones, the same muscles. We are all the same, but with different spirits. The outsides are unique, our spirits are unique, but what makes us people – God’s people – is the same. Food nourishes us all the same way. We breathe the same air. We are all born, and we will all die. But I sit in my corner of the world and feel sometimes as if we are a hopeless people. I try not to let these negative beliefs interfere in my life and ministry, but I cannot deny they exist in the larger world.

So…I’ve been thinking about all of this…the youth trip, my patient, my kid’s college plans, the anger, violence, discrimination, and natural disasters…and of course I’m forgetting that in the midst of all of this, my God is there. He’s just waiting for me to look up from my concerns, and realize it. Just waiting for me to say, “Oh yes, you haven’t left. You know how all of this will be taken care of.” Why do I think I need to figure it all out on my own? Why do I have to have the shoulders to carry the weight of the world?

The power of prayer cannot be scientifically proven. There is no way to measure just how many prayers it takes to “make” something happen. But I know prayer does work, because God wants to hear from His children. He wants to hear what is troubling us, causing us pain, or what is causing us to stumble. He can fix it all, but first we have to want things to be fixed. We have to admit we cannot do it on our own, and that we need help. Like the small child who thinks they can reach the cookie in the cookie jar, but instead knocks it to the floor and everything breaks, we are that child. We are reaching for the cookie – the sweet treat of goodness, compassion, peace, joy, and love – but we need that little extra oomph in getting there. That’s where God comes in. He’s the master baker with the never-ending supply of the sweetest treats there are.

God’s peace to you all.

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