Saturday, September 29, 2012

#musesofamom: Some Things I Should Not Change

You know what? Technology and my iPhone have gotten the better of me and I have given up on them.  Friend, you may be shocked and amazed at my pronouncement, but allow me explain my frustration.


I am a mom, wife, school volunteer, church volunteer, writer, blogger and chauffeur (and not necessarily in those orders on most days!) and therefore I have many things that need and must be kept aligned in order for my life to be lived without disaster.  Or chaos.  Or drama.  At least not in unmanageable quantities.

Lately the whole "syncing calendars between devices" has just about driven me over keyboard (hence, the drama and chaos that I hoped to avoid).  In the old days, all my entries were logged in the Outlook calendar on my PC.  I set my reminders and events so that when I checked email -- poof!  There were my reminders. Then the iPhone entered my world and I discovered the Cozi app. Genius! My Outlook calendar could sync to the online Cozi calendar, which in turn showed up on my iPhone app.  Hooray! I could also add my to-do list, grocery list and meal plan, all in Cozi from my PC or phone. I could even add calendar reminders from Evite to Outlook and sync it all.  Brilliant!

Confession: I hate typing on my IPhone. Texting is useful (love shortcuts) but typing entries quickly on a calendar app was not an easy or enjoyable process for me. Try making your next appointment at the doctor while whipping out your iPhone, loading the app, scrolling to the appointment date, opening it, typing info on three screens with fumbling fingers, all while the receptionist has efficiently entered the information on her PC and is waiting for you to finish (with that "look") so that she can move on to the next person. I manage, but later I would always retype and fix entries on the online calendar when on my PC. I am a perfectionist that way.

This spring I got the iPad 3. Joy of joys! I love my iPad. Instead of my 17" laptop, it is much more cozy to cuddle with an iPad in bed while reading a book through the Kindle app. Or playing Solitaire.

Of course I downloaded the free Cozi app. I could now input items on my iPad instead of the PC, along with the to-do list, grocery list and meal plan (that I had yet to use). Forgotten was the Outlook calendar. Cozi with the iPhone and iPad were my scheduling world.

Drama and chaos ensue. All the birthdays and other yearly events on my PC calendar did not resync to my Cozi calendar at the beginning of this year. Cozi reminders would only text once on my phone. Monster fingers made entries look like a foreign language. Things were forgotten. After a half-hearted attempt to retype all the data on the iCalendar already provided on the iPhone and iPad, I began to feel like a deer in headlights.  Hit. Me. Now.

I must clarify that Cozi is NOT a bad app.  It's actually quite easy to use, convenient, and I am confident that it works precisely how Type A personalities would like it to work.  For non-Type A people (ahem), a calendar can't be made difficult to handle. Multitudes of tasks I can handle and delegate; just don't make it another task to keep it all straight.

Back to today. And the 90s. I am going back to the handy dandy datebook, my friends! Not the fancy Daytimer -- goodness knows that I wouldn't manage those lists and colors and cross referencing. I'm much too phlegmatic for that. THIS is the solution, arriving during Back to School shopping. Right. On. "Target".

So far, it has been a great success.  I am taking one month at a time, and it's all getting in there. Plus it fits nicely in any size purse. Confession: I never used those to-do lists, grocery lists and meal plans anyway.  Post-its are perfect for lists. Who knows -- I may just go crazy and use different color ink pens for my entries.

Some things should not be changed. Just sayin'.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#musesofamom: Imperfect Progress

Starting this week, I am excited to be a part of an online bible study with the book, "Unglued", by Lysa TerKeurst and facilitated by online bible study leader, Melissa Taylor. This book has been on my "to read" list for some time, and just when I began to bury myself into it, information on this online study came to my attention. No simple coincidence, right?  Let's just say that I couldn't get my mouse clicking fast enough to get enrolled!

Just in the first chapter I am struck by the similarities of Lisa's account versus my own experiences. As a woman in her "later 40s", I feel helpless with my emotions at times (okay -- countless times!), wondering if this if the beginning of the dreaded period of aging change, or if there is something else wrong with me. Why must I deal with these emotions anyway? Why did God make me like this?  "God gave me emotions so I could experience life, not destroy it." (page 16) Yes, I want to experience life!

Within me is the strong desire to make positive changes, but I also have that not-so-good-at-times trait of perfectionism:  "I am going to do this right, or I just won't do it at all!" There are some perfectionists who drive themselves crazy by working hard to make it perfect, but there is also the type of perfectionist that can become so overwhelmed with the thought of having to do it perfect, that they don't even try it at all for the fear of doing it wrong. Guess which one I am?

Thank goodness there is what Lisa calls, "Imperfect Progress", those "slow steps of progress wrapped in grace." (page 14) I can do slow. I sure do like progress. And I certainly can do imperfect! As a wife and mother who prefers to complete many projects quickly and efficiently, I have come to realize that seeking change for myself will have to be a longer process. Trusting God will be a part of this process -- He has never let me down before. In fact, in my bible reading today I came across Isaiah 40:31 which reminded me of God's faithfulness:  "But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."  I am certainly ready to make some imperfect progress.  Will you join me on this journey?

If you want more information about the "Unglued" online bible study, click HERE for more info.  

Friday, September 07, 2012

#musesofamom: Find True Loyalty in Friendship

I just concluded reading John MacArthur's newest book called: "Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You."  (You can read my review of the book here on the blog or go here)  Such a great book!

One of the chapters that I particularly liked (and one that was also a little convicting!) was the story about  Jonathan, son of King Saul and closest friend of David.  Many of us may remember the story told of Jonathan and David's friendship from Sunday School;  however now as an adult, this narrative gave me some new perspective on friendship.

After King Saul had disobeyed God and young David was annointed as the next king, David, already an adept musician, was employed to be Saul's musical "therapist"; playing the harp for him when he was distressed.  Shortly afterward, David steps forward to kill the taunting Goliath and it was after this event that David was asked to live permanently in the palace (no doubt so Saul could keep an eye on him).  He later married Saul's daughter and became a leader in the nation's army as well.  Things were going well, until David's success and popularity with the people threatened Saul so much that he decided to kill David.

During all this drama was Jonathan.  He was no doubt  an eye witness to the killing of Goliath and recognized that God's favor was upon David.  This prince, very much unlike his own father, saw a kindred spirit in David while he lived at the palace.  I Samuel 18:1 describes their deep and unusual friendship:  "The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul."  They were soul mates, or the first "bro-mance."  When Saul made his death threat against him, David knew that he would have an ally in Jonathan because they had made a covenant of loyalty with each other (I Samuel 18:3)  Jonathan interceded on David's behalf, but Saul was resolved to end David's life.

David became a fugitive, and was on the run for his life.  However, Jonathan still was able to find ways to encourage his friend as he did in I Samuel 23:17:  "Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you.  You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you.  Even my father Saul knows that."  

What was impressed upon me was not just how this friendship was extraordinary, but that Jonathan had a fierce loyalty to David, even though he knew that he would not inherit the throne from his father Saul.  There was no animosity, no jealousy.  He humbly continued to support and uplift David, even telling him that when David took the throne, he would be there beside him as continual support.  Jonathan truly loved David and had no earthly agenda with David's friendship.  He "did not merely accept his non-kingly role; he embraced it wholeheartedly -- eagerly protecting and promoting the one whom God had appointed to be king instead of him." (MacArthur, Pg. 104)  

Today I believe we treat loyalty and friendship in itself far too loosely, especially when it comes to our own success and accomplishments.  Through TV reality shows, the workplace and other situations, we witness how those who say they are "BFF's" will turn on each other with gossip and antagonism when one has something good happen to them.  Competition and jealousy take over, and the friends will take sides with other people dragged intp the drama in order to push forward their own agenda.  How can that be called friendship?

Paul the Apostle tells us how to be a real friend in Colossians 3:12-14:  "....clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony."  

I want to learn to be a true and loyal friend like Jonathan, don't you?  A faithful, dependable, loving confidant who embraces her specific role that God desires in that relationship.  That role may be as an encourager, promoter, protector, mentor or all of the above.  I do love my friends, but I know that I can continue to improve more and more to be the friend back to them that I know that God can enable me to be.

Why not take time this week to contact a friend that you haven't talked to in a long time with a handwritten note or phone call (no texting or Facebooking allowed!)  Or if the Lord has impressed on your heart someone from your past, look for them through Facebook and reconnect!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

#musesofamom: God, Do You Care?

God, are you there?  Because I really messed up this time. 

That was my somewhat hesitant, and very much hysterical, call to God back in late 1996 when I became pregnant. 

I had been confident that my boyfriend, who had asked to marry me, would come through as the hero to rescue me and to set a date.  And he did want to set the date, but not for the wedding . . . .  for the abortion.  The fellow who shared his vision with me of a family with four kids now wanted no responsibilities.   When I refused his request to have an abortion, he left.  I wouldn’t see him again.

Unfortunately, the decision to take my life plan into my own hands would quickly be seen as a serious mistake.   I had just turned 30, had a good management job and was living on my own, but the surety I previously had regarding my long term career goals and future marriage plans had disappeared. 

As a long time follower of Jesus, I wondered if He was would still be there for me, and whether this would be a storm from which He would save me.   From that hesitant, sincere call to God, asking Him to take over this mess I made, my prayers were answered in ways that were entirely unexpected!

God, do you care?  Because I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t.

He DID care; He forgave me when I asked, and He did not offer any condemnation during this new struggle.  How did I know? 
  • I received a large, unexpected raise at work that would allow me to raise my own child.  
  • It was discovered that I would get a portion of my salary for a paid medical leave while I would be off work for six weeks after having the baby.
  •  Friends rallied around and sponsored a baby shower that helped me get started in a new life with a baby.
The best answer to my prayers was a vision, in which I dreamed about playing with a toddling, blond-haired little boy, who I called “Matthew.”

A few months later, I gave birth to a sweet, cuddly (and loud!) little boy, who I promptly named Matthew, which means “Gift from God.”  From that day, I look at my son as a special gift – one that is here to do great things for God and one who was created for a divine purpose here on earth, regardless of how he entered the world.

From that time, God has still provided many blessings:   I married a wonderful man who is not only the very best husband for me, but is a fantastic father who was specifically chosen by God for my son.  

Does God care?  He does!  As I work through Jennifer Rothschild’s Bible study, “Missing Pieces”, I was once again reminded that even when we are in the wilderness, we can be humbled, learn our true character and find out whether we will learn to obey God’s commands (Deut. 8:2-3). In this case, that was learning the lesson that God has the best plan for my life, not me. God rescued me from myself, and delivered me from additional hardship.  Were there consequences?  Yes.  However, God is faithful, and when I search for Him, He hears me and delivers me.  (Psalm 34:4-7)  

UPDATE:  (9-3-12)
Just today, I get an email out of the blue from the husband of a friend who I have been out of touch for about five years.  He wanted to tell me that she has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and just learned of this diagnosis in April.  Chemotherapy has not helped, and she is currently in a rehabilitation center.  She also has two sons who were adopted, both with special needs.  Of course, I called her immediately.

Remembering this blog post from just one day ago, I now cry -- does God care for her?  Where is He in this circumstance?  Where is His compassion in her pain?

As I learned from "Missing Pieces", I must "take God as He is and trust that He cares because He is in the boat" with my friend right now.  I can only believe that God has brought my friend and I back in touch as part of His plan of compassion for her.  

Want “real hope when life doesn’t make sense? “  Find out more about Jennifer Rothschild’s new Bible study, “Missing Pieces” HERE.