Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes

Sabbatical twists

Life is unpredictable.  I started sabbatical with thoughts of long unstructured days that would be pretty much at my disposal to do whatever I wanted.  Ha!  If only……

Don’t get me wrong, it has been wonderful to take a step away from my usual life and enjoy the slower pace of living in the country.  Just the environment has caused me to relax.  But, God does have  a way of de-railing my plans.

My Dad, who has been struggling with dementia for the better part of at least 15 years, took a sudden turn for the worse a few weeks ago and after a little over a week, he passed away peacefully. My two brothers and I were there with my mom, and I am so thankful that I was close by through his hospitalization and then transfer to hospice care.  God knew the timing, and He was so obviously present all during the weeks before and since Dad’s death, even in the fact that my blood glucose numbers were better during the week of the funeral than they have been in months.  That was a huge blessing, and a total surprise considering how little exercise I was getting and how badly we were eating.

And now we are back home in Cincinnati, catching up on work here, and preparing for a postponed wedding shower we were to have had the week of the funeral.  Two months of sabbatical are gone, only 4 left to go.  I am having to adjust my expectations so that I do not set myself up for disappointment.  I would like to think that I am prepared for this and will just accept that whatever I am able to accomplish during sabbatical will be enough. That needs to be true.  But expectations are powerful and can set me up for regret.  I need to remember that my ultimate satisfaction comes from being in Christ, and that the rest is gravy.  When we return to Illinois, I am praying that it will be with renewed appreciation for the time we have left there, rather than panic at looking at all that I had hoped to accomplish.

And, not for nothing, but a new, fun haircut has given me a happy boost. It’s the little things that lighten the days!

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Busy in the wrong way

I was praying this morning and a random (?!) thought came into my mind that I pondered for a while.  It occurred to me that my schedule has been controlled by my desires – a desire to be noticed, a desire to appear capable, a desire to share knowledge, a desire to help, a desire to feel fulfilled.  These desires are not evil or anything, but it hit me that this is the wrong way to shape my life.  I want my schedule – the activities I choose to participate in, the way I do my job, the work I take on – to be determined by what God is calling me to spend my energy on and to take on only those things that I have the energy and time to do well.

One of the talks I remember from a Biblical Counseling Training week at was about unfulfilled longings.  I was reminded that the only thing that will bring ultimate satisfaction is Christ – my life in Him and His in me.  So doesn’t it make sense that I should be listening carefully for His leading as I rebuild my life after sabbatical? If I truly seek to fulfill the desires of my heart, why not let the One who created me lead me to that fulfillment?

Then, as God often does, shortly after my prayer time I read this morning’s entry from an online devotional and it was a confirmation of what I had been thinking. Rather than summarize it, I am going to quote  from it:

You don’t have to go far from your front door before you’ll see a t-shirt or bumper sticker proclaiming: “I can’t adult today.” I know the feeling.

When the emails pile up in my inbox and the mountain of dirty laundry threatens to avalanche across the basement floor, I want to escape, too. Preferably to a lounge chair by a quiet pool, with a glass of lemonade and a new novel.

An occasional day at the pool—no “adulting” required—is one of God’s good gifts that I am free to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). But I get into trouble when I regularly think my ordinary work is something to be avoided. God’s prohibition against laziness in today’s passage (Prov. 31:27) means that my life was never intended to be one, long soak in the hot tub.

Instead, everyone who walks by the Spirit has been redeemed from a life consumed with selfish desires and set free for a life of serving the Lord.

Like the woman in Proverbs 31 who cares for her family (v. 11–12, 15, 27), works diligently (v. 15), wisely stewards her financial resources (v. 16, 18), and serves her neighbors (v. 20, 26), the self-controlled woman uses her time and energy for the glory of God and the good of others.   

Megan Hill, Day 9, Trading Laziness for self-control, from Rooted in God’s Love, a 9 day devotional for women, www.crossway.org

So here is the conclusion I have been coming to over the past couple of weeks about myself. I have been too caught up with doing so many different things that my focus and energy is depleted for pretty much all of them. I don’t want to find myself avoiding my ordinary work because I am exhausted by all of the other stuff I am doing.  When we left for sabbatical in June, I was finding myself dissatisfied with the quality of my work and relationships, getting by on the minimum for almost everything I was doing. I don’t want to live that way. This kind of life also takes a toll on my management of type 1 diabetes.  Stress is a blood sugar nightmare, leading to roller coaster days that leave me depleted and cranky. There were too many days like that in my life.  Besides. I am getting old, let’s face it.  I do not have the energy of 30-year-old me.  It is probably about time I faced that.

So what is my take-away lesson from all of this? I will be looking to form a life in which I take on fewer responsibilities, so that I can fully focus on the things I do. I love my job at ECC, especially since it is a ministry that I love – I want to know that all that I do as part of that job is God-led and God-glorifying. I will choose other responsibilities and activities outside of work carefully with the same goal of being led by God and glorifying Him. That does not mean that everything I do will be church-related. But there are going to be some painful  “no’s” – painful for me because there are so many things I love to do but that I need to lay aside for now. It also might mean that I am just as busy as I was, but busy with fewer things, using my time and energy for the glory of God and the good of others in ways that I do not know yet.

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Family and Focus

This past weekend we had the privilege of having both of my brothers and sisters-in-law here, and my mom came over from her assisted living residence. On Friday night we had a bunch more family come over for dinner, and my kids were also here so it was quite a crowd! SO much fun. I realized how precious family is – and what a blessing it is to be able to have this time to bring everyone together here. We have become the hub of my dad’s side of the family, since all of his siblings are now gone. We ate and talked and ate some more and everyone seemed to be sorry to see it end late in the evening.

We all teamed up and did a lot of work outside on Saturday trimming trees and bushes, washing the house, clearing out stuff from the garage and under the deck and other tasks. Many hands did indeed make lighter work! The results speak for themselves:
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You can now actually see the house as you drive in.  You cannot see all of the work on the garage and deck that we did, but suffice it to say that it was totally worth all the sweat!

One of the things I have noticed about life out here is the lovely sounds that surround us. Birdsong – LOTS of it, frogs croaking, wind in the trees, cows mooing occasionally (though I must say they are remarkably silent…..), rain on the sunporch roof and the occasional dramatic thunderstorm, the distant sound of cars going over the rumble strips near Route 1, and more. It’s as if when I pull into the drive, my whole body just relaxes as I let these sounds wash over me.

I am so blessed to be able to choose what to do each day. I begin each day doing some housework project. I am trying to do some preliminary work to prepare the house for eventual sale – once my mom realizes that is what needs to happen.  Preparations for J and D’s wedding in September, knitting (high on my priority list!), reading (and the stack of books grew at TGCW18), and getting back into sewing are just some of the things that fill my afternoons.  My quiet times in the morning are long and leisurely. God is blessing that time with the richness of His Word and of the words of others. I am finally reading Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret as part of my devotions, and it is so inspiring and encouraging. And convicting. From his example, I realize how distracted I have been in the past year or so.  My mind has not been able to settle on one thing for very long, and I am hopeful that this time in the country will allow me to re-learn the art of concentration and focus.

And perhaps one of the best things of all is that diabetes seems to be fading into the background of my life rather than occupying TOO much of my time and energy.  Part of that is the less sedentary life I am leading – housework, long walks along the roads nearby and gardening are now routine. As a result, blood sugar management seems easier and I am not so stressed out by sudden rises or drops in my numbers. I am surprised by this, but it has made me realize that I have been stressing myself out way too much over short term blood sugar changes.  I really want this to be a long term change that sticks.

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Life in the country continues to change me.  I look forward to what God is going to do over the coming months.

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