"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
May 26, 2010
Have a safe Memorial weekend!
A few days ago, I did something really goofy. Imagine that! I had gone over to the home of my niece and her husband to babysit my great-nephew, Jax. Jax had a double ear infection and a viral infection and was really sick. Earlier that morning he had thrown up on the sheets of his parents bed. Before leaving for work, his dad put the sheets in to wash. I dried them, then decided to put the sheets back on the bed. My niece hadn't been feeling well either and I thought she might would like to lie down and take a nap with Jax that afternoon, and it would be nice for her to have the bed made up. What a great aunt I am!
Their bedroom is very small and the bed is scooted right next to the wall. I had to get onto the bed to get the fitted sheet on the top corner of the mattress. I was halfway lying down and had lifted the corner of the mattress to slip the sheet over it. No problem! But when I let go, my left arm was right in the crack between the mattress and the headboard, and the momentum of letting the mattress go caught my arm and pulled it downward. I didn't think it was a big deal, until I tried to pull my arm out, and discovered that my elbow was stuck between the mattress and headboard. Now I had a problem! Jax was napping at this time, but I knew that he could wake up at any moment. I had to figure out a way to get loose. I was lying on the mattress and couldn't move much at all. The mattress is an older one and the edge was very firm and had no give to it. I tried pulling the mattress to make way for my elbow, but that wasn't working. I was doing everything possible to try and get loose. I knew that I couldn't just lie there, but had to someway somehow get my elbow unhung. I finally had to just yank up as hard as I could and force my arm out, which hurt! But I manage to get the bed made and it was all good.
Jax woke up and was feverish, and I was rocking him and trying to sooth him until his mommy got home. I was so concerned for him, that I forgot about my mattress incident that morning. My niece arrived home from work and we were discussing the doctor appointment she had made for Jax and how he had done that morning, and my little problem from earlier completely slipped my mind.
The next day when I was babysitting Jax I realized that the top of my arm, right by my elbow, was really sore. I couldn't figure out what the problem was. I knew that I had been carrying Jax around quite a bit, because he was sick, but thought that would have made the inside of my arm sore, not the top.
Later that evening I told Jon that I couldn't figure out what had happened to my arm, but it really hurt and was very sensitive. If I just barely touched it or bumped it, it felt like it was bruised inside and was really sensitive and painful. I still didn't make the connection to my incident the previous day. In fact, I had forgotten all about it and hadn't mentioned it to anyone. There was no outward sign of bruising or redness, although it did feel a little swollen. I had Jon feel it, and he said it kind of felt like a knot under the skin.
A little while later we were watching an episode of American's Funniest Home Videos, and they were doing a segment of clips about people or pets that had somehow gotten stuck. While watching it, a light suddenly went on! I started laughing and told Jon that I had just remembered something, and knew what was wrong with my elbow and why it was so sore.
Isn't it amazing that something that hurts so badly at the time, can completely slip our mind when we become focused on someone else? Yes, my arm was sore later, but what had happened was so insignificant that I forgot what had happened. I was more concerned about Jax running a fever and being sick. I was trying to do things to help my niece out since she wasn't feeling well. My sister had been sick over the weekend and kept running a fever off and on after she started feeling better. and I was thinking about her. I had planned a 50th birthday party for my sister and with the three of them being sick, I was worried that one of them wouldn't feel like coming to the party. Thankfully, they were all feeling great by the day of the party. But all those things made my little piddly incident of getting my arm stuck seem silly and insignificant.
There are times when I don't feel well or some body part begins aching or hurting; which happens more frequently now that I'm getting older. The more I think about it, the worse it feels. If I continue dwelling on it and allow my focus to constantly be on what hurts, then my mind begins to wander. "What if it's my heart...." "What if I have cancer...." "What would Jon do if something happened and I died...." "I wonder if I could have....." Then I become worried and the ache or pain feels worse and seems to spread, and then I really start fretting about it.
I've mentioned this various times, but last year I had about 6-7 months where I wasn't feeling well. Gallbladder symptoms apparently vary on different people, but one of them can be a pain in your left shoulder and across your back. You can also get severe indigestion and heartburn, which makes your chest hurt. I became so fearful that it was my heart. I even went to Urgent Care one day and they did blood work and an EKG to check my heart and said it was healthy. There were nights when I would wake up and be having an anxiety attack, and I would have to get up and walk the floor and "talk" myself through it and pray for peace of mind and calmness. I hated feeling like that. Even after gallbladder surgery, that happened a few times. But everyone told me how good I would feel immediately after surgery, but no one told me that it would take a few weeks and that I would still be having some symptoms as I healed. It was about a week after surgery when I went to see the surgeon to have the staples removed that he began asking questions. "Are you hurting here," "Do you have swelling in your upper stomach," "Does this still happen," etc. and he explained that those things were normal and would probably happen for another 6 weeks or so. It made me realize that what I was experiencing was nothing to worry about and that I was going to be fine.
I prayed that God would help me focus on other things instead of my health, and that He would give me peace and stop the anxiety. When those thoughts tried to slip in, I'd begin praying and thanking God for my health. I have not experienced any anxiety in the past 5 months and when I get aches and pains, I know it's normal and that I'm fine. But I also know the danger of zooming in on those things and constantly keeping my focus on them.
Now I do realize that things do occur in our bodies that are abnormal, and God often gives us warning signs that we need to take heed of, and go to a doctor to get it taken care of. I am not saying to totally disregard every single thing that occurs with your health.
But it's not only our health that we can obsess about. It can be a relationship, finances, and any number of things.
I was recently talking with someone whose parents divorced several years ago. His dad began sitting alone at home, and wouldn't get out and do anything. He was becoming depressed and was focusing on his failed marriage and the negative things in his life. His son sat down with him and pointed out what he was seeing take place. He encouraged his dad to get out and start doing things for other people, instead of sitting around feeling sorry for himself. He told him that he would be amazed at how much better that would make him feel. Thankfully, the father took heed of his son's advice. He went to his pastor and told him that he was ready to be put to work and asked what he could do to help out at the church.
God didn't create us to be selfish individuals who only cared about ourself. But He desires us to reach out and minister to others. And by "minister", I'm not referring to standing behind a pulpit preaching. But we are to reach out and help and encourage other people.
One of the main ministries of the New Testament church was caring for those in need. They fed the hungry, took care of the orphans and widows, and made sure that no one was going without. They took the words of Jesus to "love you neighbor as yourself" literal. By loving others as yourself, you make sure that they are being taken care of and that they know that someone genuinely cares for them.
Proverbs 3:27, 28 says, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor, 'Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,' when you have it with you."
But it's not always material goods or food that someone needs. Sometimes they just need a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. They need us to be available to them. They need our time, not our money.
Romans 12:15 says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."
When we focus on others, we will be happy for them when good things happen to them. When they're blessed, we're excited for them, instead of feeling jealous. When tragedy or heartache occurs, we sit by their side and cry with them.
I will never forget my high school counselor. After Mama passed away, I was having a hard time dealing with her death. But I really didn't know who to talk to, and felt like everyone expected me to be strong and go on with my life as if nothing life-changing had just happened. I was a sophomore in high school when she died, and going back after the funeral and everything was over with, was extremely difficult. I remember breaking down and crying one day in one of my classes and no one knew what to do. I knew it made the other students uncomfortable, and that I couldn't do that again. One afternoon I was having a hard time and the counselor took me into her office and let me talk. I was crying and I'll never forget her sitting there with tears rolling down her face, crying right along with me. She wasn't telling me that I needed to be strong, or that everything was going to be okay, or that given time it would get easier. But she sat there and listened and cried with me. That was what I needed at that time. I didn't need words, but I needed someone to weep with me and share my grief. That's hard for us to do many times, because we want to fix things, and feel like we have to talk and give encouragement. But sometimes people need a shoulder, and for us to keep our mouths shut and cry right along with them. They don't need us to make them feel guilty for crying, which our words unintentionally do at times, but need us to share their load by just being by their side.
I want to have the attitude of "what can I do to make someone's load lighter". "What can I do to encourage and help someone?" I don't want to go through life self-centered and focused on Loretta. But I want to focus outward and be aware of others around me, and be willing to give of myself to make someone's load a little lighter. I don't want life to be all about me, but I want it to be all about others.
My prayer is that we would all be more aware of those around us, and be willing to reach out and do whatever we can for them. I believe that we'd find our lives much happier, and our problems would seem less significant.
Sometimes, the needs of someone are obvious. In the story of the Good Samaritan, the man in need was bleeding beside the road. But more often, it's hard to be sure. Loretta didn't need 'comforting' words. She needed someone to cry with.
When in doubt, everyone can use prayer.
1 pkg. white chocolate instant pudding (small box)
1 large Cool Whip
1 banana, sliced
4-5 apples, peeled and diced
1 can pineapple chunks or tidbits, with juice
1 c. miniature marshmallows
Mix Cool Whip and dry pudding together. Add remaining ingredients and fold together. Refrigerate.
1.Who was the youngest king of Israel, and how old was he when he began his reign?
Which king of Judah was said to have been the most evil king who had ever reigned, and God said He would bring such calamity upon Jerusalem that whoever hears of it, "his ears will tingle"; but then later after the king was taken into captivity to Babylon, he repented and God restored his kingdom in Jerusalem?
Which prophet did God say these words to: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you...."
What was the occupation of Rahab, the woman who hid the spies that Joshua sent to Jericho?
Which man told the king that his wife was "his sister", thinking he was protecting her from harm?
Josiah was 8 years old when he became king. (2 Kings 22:1)
Manasseh (2 Kings 21:11,12 , 2 Chronicles 33:12,13)
Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5)
Harlot (Joshua 2:1)
Abraham (Genesis 20:2)
A heart that is focused on others will not be consumed with self.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon