Something to look foward to

I had an epiphany yesterday: I have very little that I am looking forward to.

This is a rude realization – it reeks of hopelessness and hints at depression. It leaves me feeling empty and sad.

And I see that it needs to be remedied.

I’m not talking about planning a vacation, or what museums to explore on the weekends. It’s not about looking forward to a trip, even a trip to see my kids.

What I crave is people. Interactions with others. Social relationships. Fellowship, as discussed in today’s sermon, where you give yourself to others, and they give themselves to you. I miss the opportunity to be in ministry, to be in leadership. To serve others. To be with others.

My job is not filling the need I had hoped – to connect with co-workers and to forge relationships. Instead, I work with an individual, do the paperwork, and go home. Very little to no interaction with anyone other than my student. Not what I was looking for in a job.

I could turn my attention to volunteering. Perhaps I should register with the local hospital, and find some hours that fill my days with people.

I am enjoying my Bible Study and look forward to Thursdays,  I also look expectantly to lunch dates, or chiropractic appointments, or anything else that gets me out of the house during the otherwise long days.

I need to find hope in my day-to-day. To have things that make getting out of bed worth it. I admit that I stay in bed many mornings because I have nothing I need to get up for.

What if I joined a gym? Would I look forward to walking on the treadmill, next to others walking too? I know I appreciated and even looked forward to my physical therapy – maybe it would be the same. Maybe I would even make a friend or two.

How can I become more eager to get out of bed to meet with Jesus? My Bible Study helps with that, definitely. I am excited to see what God will teach me. But how do I translate that to daily living? To jumping out of bed so that I can meet with God in my quiet time? Is that enough to bolt me from my bed every morning? I reluctantly admit that it is not, at least not yet. Maybe that is an area where I am growing.

And as I keep saying, these things – relationships – take time.

So I’ll be excited to do my daily Bible Study. I’ll anticipate lunch with a friend. I’ll look into volunteering. And I’ll pray for God to bring me the enthusiasm to get going each day, to expect what and who He has for me.  Perhaps those friendships are coming, and can be something to look forward to!

Missing my kids…

img_0063

My 20-something kids left this morning after two weeks of vacation. Our daughter arrived a week earlier, our son on his 21st birthday a few days before Christmas, and we’ve enjoyed a wonderful long visit. We shopped, read books, watched movies and Netflix (have you seen The Crown?!), took a two-day history tour that included Harper’s Ferry, Gettysburg, George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum.  We played with the cat, shared opening presents and making meals, and really enjoyed each other’s company.

And now the house is very quiet.

When we lived in WI, we could get up to visit them at school pretty easily. We didn’t hover, but could pop up for an event (concert, shopping). And being closer, even though we didn’t see them except every few months, somehow made it easier to be absent from them.

When we lived in Florida, I knew they would come for the beach and sun and escape from the winter cold of the upper Midwest.

Now, they just feel so far away and time stretches so long between visits.

And this is the way of things. We raised our kids to know Jesus, to be strong and independent, to be able to tackle problems with heads on straight. To grow to need us less. So we did it right. And it’s hard, because they’re great people and I really like spending time with them.

So I’ll choose to focus on the fun we had together and I’ll plan for our next visit northward. Who knows when, but we’ll be visiting great people!

 

Settling in

My last post was awhile ago. I haven’t had much to say.

In fact, I stopped writing completely. Between living in the apartment and then moving into our house, I put my journal in a drawer. I just got it out again last week when I realized I hadn’t been writing at all. I’ve found that my daily journaling helps my blogging – so I’m here again.

I wrote before about back pain – my back seized up again the day before we were moving into our new house. Not great timing, but God worked a miracle. After two days flat in bed in tremendous pain, I walked out of our apartment and into our new home, where I promptly laid down on our much-more-firm mattress. I recently started physical therapy to strengthen my back muscles and keep it from happening again. My back is still quite sore, but hasn’t locked up again. Thank You, Lord!

We’re all unpacked, except for the books – we need bookshelves. Our Florida house had a large built-in, so we need a place to put them. But everything else is put away, complete with pictures in the walls. It feels like a home.

I joined a Bible study, but was only able to attend once due to a work conflict. Yes, I’m working very part-time. But it gets me out of the house and around other people. I’m a brain trainer – teaching cognitive skills like memory and visual processing – the pieces that make up IQ. It’s a good job, and I like it.

In general, my days are long. I’m lonely, but that just goes with the situation. It takes time to get to know people and be able to call an area “home.” I always know that, going into any move, but I’m always surprised by it too.  I feel like I should be “further along” in making friends. I have to regularly remind myself that it hasn’t been a year yet, only 5 months, and the solution here is time. Time to learn my way around without GPS. Time to meet others and make friends. Time for people to get to know me.

We haven’t done a lot of exploring of our area since we moved – making our house into our home has occupied our time. But I’m looking forward to the leaves changing and taking a color drive, seeing the trees on the mountains in their brilliance of reds, oranges and golds. They’re just starting to change, so maybe we can take that drive as soon as next weekend.

Time to go to church. I’ll write more later!

Unsettled versus contented

I’m not lonely or bored.

Except when I’m lonely or bored.

I wake up and think that I should stay in bed as long as possible, to keep a long day from starting. And I go to bed as early as reasonable, so as to end the long day.

And in the middle, I try to put structure to a day with hours alone while my husband is at work. It’s just me and the cat.

I go to the grocery store. I go to the drug store. I get a haircut. I’ve made appointments for a chiropractor and doctor and psych doc. I plan to join a Bible study that starts in July. I’ve emailed a woman about the local Moms In Prayer group (now on break, but hey, maybe she’ll talk to me anyway). I read. I knit. I do Bible study. I do laundry. I color. I flip TV channels. I call my mom. I call a friend.

I try to do something every day, but I need to add more to my very limited routine. I should be able to get on a treadmill most days per week. Maybe I can alternate it with hiking along the neighborhood walking path, or driving to Shenandoah National Park and hiking there. But it’s difficult to leave the apartment. Inertia: a body at rest tends to stay at rest…

I say I’ll write, but I’m having a hard time being disciplined about it – whether it’s to blog or work on chapters for a book. Can I even write a book? I’ve been told I have one in me, but getting it “on paper” has me intimidated.

I should write. I should exercise. I should go to a coffee shop and strike up a conversation. I should, but I don’t.

I know I wrote about stuff, and not having my stuff around me. But it seems like if I had my stuff, if I was in a house and not this temporary apartment, I might feel less unsettled. At least I’d have something to do – put everything away. Find a home for all the stuff in the boxes. Or get rid of the stuff in the boxes.

Meet the neighbors. Sit outside on my deck. Sleep in my own bed.

But I don’t want my stuff to be what brings me comfort. I want Jesus to be enough. So I’m trying, through prayer and study, to get there. To let go of being unsettled, and to settle into Him. To draw closer. Even closer. Closer still.

It’s okay to talk to Him all the time, so I do. It’s what He wants anyway. And He welcomes me bringing everything to Him. All of these thoughts of discontent that float through my head. I give Him all of my long days, and ask Him to do something with them, something that is good, something that brings Him glory.

I’ll put aside my unsettled self. I’ll rest in His perfect timing. I’ll tell Him about my day, throughout my day. I’ll trust Him to bring the relationships, the activities. And I’ll try to be content in the present moment.

I want to learn to live Philippians 4:11b-13:

…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Trouble with Waiting

In this world you will have trouble. Jesus said this (John 16:33), and He wasn’t kidding.

I’ve always taken these words personally, though they certainly apply to more global issues like war, economy, politics, poverty, oppression, etc. But I’ve always read them for my encouragement, to remind me that this world is not perfect and there is trouble. Every day. With a capital T that rhymes with P and stands for…poor me.

When I’ve been self-pitying about things that aren’t going my way, or even real problems in my life, this verse is a reminder that these light and momentary troubles don’t surprise God, though I might be caught off guard. God promises that I will grow through these experiences, these difficulties, and shine God’s light more brightly because of them. They build me up for eternal glory – they count for eternity.

For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]! 2 Corinthians 4:17, AMP

I was reflecting on my situation a year ago, and the turmoil that I was feeling as our move to Florida was on hold. I really struggled then; it felt like the yo-yo of moving and not moving was never going to end. I couldn’t believe that after all of my life’s difficulties in 2014 (depression several times, car accident, empty nesting, family health issues), I was expected to handle more in 2015. And I really struggled with the reality of “trouble.” I felt like I had already had so many impossibilities that had been out of my control, and this start to 2015 was going to undo me. Even my therapist and psych doc had told me that I’d been through more difficulties than most people can handle without breaking, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that I broke, and that I had major depression again.

But God’s Word says that even though we know that we will have trouble in this world, Christ has overcome the world.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.] John 16:33, AMP

These troubles are not forever. And we are not alone in them – God promises His perfect peace through the tough times.

I am to keep my eyes focused on Christ, not on my circumstances, nor on my troubles and difficulties and tribulations and distresses and sufferings. My eyes on Jesus means that, like Peter, I get out of the boat and focus on Him and not be distracted by the waves of turmoil all around me. (Matthew 14:25-32)

Easier said than done.

I’m in a situation now where I’m waiting again. Waiting to see what God has planned for me. I’m waiting to make friends, waiting to be in leadership, waiting to connect, waiting for whatever He has next for me. I thought that by now, after almost a year of living here, I’d be further along in these areas. So I’m trying to use this time to draw closer to Him. To treat this seemingly uneventful, without trouble but without impact, time of my life as a time to spend getting to know Him more. This requires discipline – to be in God’s Word and in His Presence every morning. To commit each moment of each day to Him. To be willing to let Him guide the day.

And my days are pretty uneventful. I don’t have a lot going on, though I am trying to be involved in things that take me out of the house and get me around other people. So it should be easy to find time to spend with God. To write. To read. To relax in Him. To meditate on His Word and contemplate His character – to get to know Him better while I wait for whatever it is that He has next for me.

I learned from last year’s angst. I am less bothered by the waiting. I’m not anxious, I’m not fretting. I’m trusting God that He’s working out all the details in His due time.

Yes, there are daily difficulties: I feel lonely sometimes. I wonder what I am offering to the world right now. I miss being in leadership, in facilitating discussion groups or teaching. I wish I were more connected with other people, and wasn’t alone so much of the time. But these things I’m missing, these troubles, I’m learning to see them as opportunities to give them to God. To pray about all of them. To tell Him my heart and hurts and loneliness and concerns, and trust Him to work it all out for His eternal glory. His timing. His plans. My patience. My dependence on Him. My increasing knowledge of who He is, and trusting His plan for my life, for my daily activities, and for any troubles that may come.