Thursday, August 9, 2018

Surrender: It's a Game Changer

Dear Diary,
I know it's been three whole years since I've last written. I mostly write on insignificant topics that I can fully find meaning in.

[Go ahead, take another look at this diary. If it's your first time here, I suggest starting with Half Full & Half Empty, IMG! or Dressing Room Moments II. Really, there's not a bad post in this diary, so go ahead and start at the beginning. wink! ]

The following post has been on my heart for a long time, and this is the best way I know how to share it. It is a more serious topic, but also helpful. I hope.

God is in control.
My faith tells me this.
My Bible tells me this. (Just ask Moses, David, or Paul.)
But am I really giving control over to Him?
When I am put to the test, relinquishing control of a situation becomes a wrestling match with God himself. A match I’m not going to win. (And I would forgo a lot of pain if I just realized that at the starting bell.)

God is in control whether I give it over to Him or not. I’m kidding myself if I think otherwise.

This lesson never has been more blatantly demonstrated in my life until my third child was born almost 12 weeks premature, at 2 pounds 1 oz. Three weeks earlier, my body started rejecting the pregnancy in the form of preeclampsia symptoms, landing me in the hospital with a forthright doctor spewing a list of all the possible things that could go wrong if my baby girl was born during that crisis. Praise God she stayed in the womb another three weeks.

I don’t want to focus on the drama of having a baby born that early. Truly, that is a story I tell only when asked. Each one of us has unique come-to-God moments. My focus is not the specifics of what I faced during those three months, but how I responded and what I learned. He is a God who gives and takes away, but He also is a God who always loves, who is always in control. (Just ask Job.)

I listened to Twila Paris’ song “God is in Control” daily while driving home from NICU hospital visits. I would blast that Greatest Hits CD, song #1, and belt it like no one was listening. It was a way to release the feelings of fear that I had bottled up that day amidst the tubes and wires, beeping screens, basinets, and sick babies of the NICU. Driving home in the darkness of the evening, the song brought me to a place where faith met reality: God was in control, I was not.
The fate of my baby, whether she was healthy or ill, lived or died, was not in my hands.
I could not muster control,
I could not conjure it,
I could not create it.  
My feelings could be summed up in one word: helpless.
Completely and utterly.

Twila’s opening line, “This is no time for fear. This is a time for faith and determination.” was a perfect antidote for my emotions. She was a cheerleader to buoy my spirit, squelch the fear, and keep hope alive.

God is in control…God is in control…my nightly mantra as I put miles between me and the hospital, and put blind trust in those giving her the complex care she needed.

So why didn’t I feel any better? Why didn’t I go through my days with confidence and true joy, knowing I had an all powerful God who could do almighty deeds, who loved me and would not run out on me during my crisis?
God is in control. Yes, but what about (fill in the blank).
God is in control. Yes, but I just need to (fill in the blank).
God is in control. Yes, but if I only had (fill in the blank).

It is the “Yes, buts” that is our undoing --a sure way to keep the stress level high, to lie awake in the dark in a disheveled bed regretting the past or scheming for the future, to let the devil get a hold of our pride and tell us it is our job to fix the problem.

God is in control PERIOD. 
Zip it. 
No more talking.

Get rid of the “Yes, buts” and accept His control.
Acceptance is a type of surrender.
It wasn’t until I accepted the outcome of His control that I found peace.
Even in war, peace follows surrender.

You want peace that passes all understanding in any crisis? It’s “only” a two-step process: 
1) Acknowledge that our sovereign God is in control and you are not.
2) Accept the outcome of His control, no matter what it is. No matter what your wildest imagination or nightmare scenario is, put up your white flag and surrender.

Like I say, it is a process. It happens differently for everyone.
Weeks and weeks of intensive care visits gave me the time to finally stop wrestling and relinquish.
I’d been pinned to the mat and cried Uncle “Abba!”
I resigned myself to what God would ordain.
I let go.
And it was a game changer.
There is one thing that has always been true.
It will be true forever.
God is in control!


Until next time,

Monday, July 27, 2015

You Know You're in California When...

Dear Diary,

Had a fabulous vacation this summer.  Flew to the West Coast and spent two weeks experiencing the many facets of California.

What a fascinating state!
From the mountains,
to the ocean,
to the valleys, dry and irrigated for orchards and vineyards,
I'd say the land was as diverse as the people who live there.
I know, Diary, I am so profound today!

But had the landscape not given me any clue -- say it was cornfields where ever I roamed -- there are other giveaways that would give me no doubt what state I was in by the end of the trip.

I shall share with the help of visual aids.

Giveaway #1 

While it is not a law for these toilet seat covers to be in public facilities,
apparently Californians take this potty perk very seriously.

With the exception of the hotels, these were in every public stall I "went" in
--and I frequented many. 
Was that too much information?

Universities, wineries, national parks,
restaurants, you name it, it had them:
lobster bib covers for the porcelain throne.
I don't know if the boys were so lucky.

Giveaway #2

California beaches are colorful, a people watcher's dream.  While I never got in the water to swim, I watched smart, strong people in wet suits brave the waves on their boards.  
The Pacific is cold. People in thongs don't go in the water.  
I don't think people in thongs can really DO much, anyway.  

Giveaway #3

Take a close look.

Here's a wider view....

 Maybe this view will help....
Thanks to

At one rental house near the coast we had artificial grass..."astro turf," i.e. The Brady Bunch backyard.

Substitute the swing set for the ping pong table and we could have had a set for Marsha and Peter to toss around a football. (No, Marsha, don't do it!!!)

I don't suppose most Californians have plastic grass, but I have to admit it makes for easy care: no watering or mowing.  A little sweep-sweep and you are ready for some putt-putt golf.  Only in Cali!

Giveaway #4

This is perhaps the biggest clue to the state.  Well, other than the obvious use of the word California.

California is in a severe drought, and is in an official Drought State of Emergency

We crossed bridges under which there was no lake or river, despite the optimistic/outdated display of blue on our GPS.
Every ranch, farm, orchard and vineyard was irrigated.
Hotels limited the pool and laundry use (to the chagrin of the children and this mom, respectively).
Restaurants served water only to those who asked.

"We're in a drought,"
"Because of the drought,"
prefaced many a conversation with a local.

Yes, CA is a beautiful place with a dark secret lurking beneath its surface. Just a scratch from those tourists paying attention will expose the ugly reality of a bone-dry, dusty, desperate land.
Yes, Diary, I am on a roll with the profound today.

We arrived home to a rain soaked state.  The wettest June on record, with more than normal rainfall already for July. Nature can be cruel.

And while I can't say that I experienced any earthquakes, I'm sure I felt a tremor while lying in my hotel bed in the early dawn of our first morning.  Or perhaps the vibration was a byproduct of a snoring husband. I was wearing ear plugs at the time. I'd rather hang on to the mystery of that moment than give in to the thought that there was a practical explanation for what I felt.

And those are just a few clues, Dear Diary, as to how you know you are in California.

Oh, and one more dead giveaway before I bail: