Which way?

flu-1679104_1920Week #2 of what has turned into a nasty sinus infection.  The cough is so persistent that REM is a luxury, and of course, lack of sleep sets me up for another migraine, which greeted me this morning when I woke up after a few hours of rest.  Bob was about to drag me to the doctor (nurses are such good patients, you know) but I betook myself yesterday and was first in line. 

The doctor (one of my former students, BTW) basically said I was already doing all the right things, and then added an antibiotic and high-powered cough syrup into the mix. 

As I write this, I’m sitting on the patio.  The birds are singing, a distant rooster is trying to wake up the town, and Bob—bless his heart—is sound asleep in our bedroom which I vacated in the middle of the night so at least one of us could get some Z’s.

And I realize I am at a juncture.  I can follow my symptoms down that road of negativity, or…

I could rewind what I just wrote: I am sitting (not lying in a sickbed) outside (the weather is beautiful, sunshine dappling through the trees in the cool morning air) listening to birds.  I’m drinking my pot of Yorkshire tea.  I have a healthy husband who loves me and our family.  Most of my plants are actually thriving in the garden.  (Okay, people, that’s a big one, just saying.)

The list goes on from there.  And I’m reminded of someone in worse straits than I:

“A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.  Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.”

Severely beaten and thrown in a dungeon, not a pretty site.  There was no denying their pain or predicament, but they were also at a juncture.  Gripe and complain, or focus on and use the resources they had (each other, love of God, voices to worship).

Admittedly, God doesn’t always send His breakthrough in the form of an earthquake.  But almost always there are others watching and listening to how we respond prior to the breakthrough. 

The highest miracle, and the bottom line of all life’s situations, is the spiritual breakthrough of those influenced by Paul and Silas’s reaction to their circumstances.  Hmmmm…

My tea is now gone, and thankfully, so is the migraine.  Time for a little gardening.  (Shhhh…don’t tell Bob.)

Acts 16:22-25 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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RED ALERT!

IMG_20150103_172451138No, that was not a reference to any political affiliation, but any true Trekkie would recognize that phrase as the warning signal on the Starship Enterprise, which might be followed by such notable quotes as “shields at full” or “fire proton torpedoes”. 

However, the term is a good illustration of a deep-seated anxiety plaguing our American society right now, one of many in fact.  The election of 2016 is being touted as one-of-a-kind, and to some degree rightly so.  On the other hand, the angst and rancor are nothing new, but a fine old American tradition dating back at least to Rutherford vs. Tilden of 1876.*

Of course, the political climate is only one example of the generalized apprehension that is so much a part of our culture.  It’s unfortunate that, as a Christian, a purported follower of the Creator of the Universe, I have a tendency to acquiesce to some of the same anxieties.  I say unfortunate because a) I should know better, b) I know WHY I should know better, and c) I have been given sufficient Power to act on that knowledge.

In reality, these fearsome “what ifs” are the 64-color crayon box version of worries, complete with the sharpener on the back, just in case the particular color of the day becomes a bit dull in our Enemy’s hand as he tries to scribble on my world.  And my Enemy is not the government, the boss, or even the neighbor next door. 

There’s the rub, the real point.  The apostle Paul wrote that we “war not against flesh and blood, but against the unseen powers of darkness”, and when it came to supernatural antagonists, if anyone knew what he was talking about, it was Paul.  I have an Enemy far more seditiously subtle than anything I may read or hear on the news.  And if I get wise to one of his colors, he’s got plenty of others to choose from, unless…

As I write this, I am at a nursing conference.  Here is a piece of scientific wisdom from Dr. David Schramm’s session:

reality2

Hmmm…sounds familiar:

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

That doesn’t mean I ignore all the bad news in favor of the good.  But it does matter what I choose to focus and reflect on, since it helps determine what my responses will be to all things, both good and bad…

…no matter what color the next “alert” is.  (And there WILL be more.)

Philippians 4:8 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

* http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/11/28/im-democrat-heres-how-hillary-and-recount-campaign-leaves-me-feeling.html)