The Christian “Look”

Sorry for the lameness in lack of posts recently.  I won’t make excuses.

I will, however share with you this awesome article from Relevantmagazine.com a few friends of mine just posted on Facebook called “Being a Christian Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think It Should.”

The article speaks well about how grace and “real” Christianity does not always look the way other Christians or society wants it to look.  Really, by looking for Christians to appear a certain way, we are putting God in a box.  Grace is a process, we are works in progress and we are made perfect only in Christ, but still exist in changing earthly bodies with personalities and characteristics that change and grow and may not always be perfectly Christ-like.  And maybe being Christ-like isn’t what we all imagine it is sometimes.

I go to church at an inner city church plant.  The pastor call the congregation a “motley crew” and it is true.  We come from all walks of life.  There are hipsters and homeless people and wealthy people and young and old.  People are grappling with addictions, with difficult life circumstances with being students or stay at home moms or with growing up in this world in general.  We are all sinners.  Our thing in common is Jesus and what God’s grace is doing in our lives.

If someone walked in looking for people to look or act a certain way, they might be shocked.  People should know Christians because they are different.  Because of the love and grace the exude.  That does not mean they all have to be extroverts who dress and behave a certain way.  They can have tattoos and piercings or wear skirts and have long hair.  They all still struggle in one way or another.

I am guilty of it.  As humans, we all judge.  We compare and put people and things in boxes.

We need to stop putting God in a box.  And just as much, we need to stop putting what God does in, with and through people in a box.

We have a flower!

The M household has an announcement.

We have a rose!

Legitimately.

I have written about my attempt at green thumb antics before.

Our rose bush has finally sprouted a single open rose.  And another is on the way.photo 1

Our rose is becoming like how some people are with babies.  We get one after a long wait and then another is on the way quickly thereafter (or at least that is how it seems to me as an innocent baby wanting bystander).

I am so proud of our rose.  I discovered it yesterday morning and got excessively excited and then Patrick got excited too.  We are becoming those kinds of people.  The kind that have plants and are proud of them.

So, I tore out the cat grass (it isn’t like the cat was enjoying it) and planted cilantro and chives in its place.   We’ll see how this goes.  I am really hoping for fresh herbs.  If it goes okay, maybe I’ll expand the repertoire further.  Baby steps.

It is kind of strange, but the rose reminds me of all kinds of hope.  Hope in the fact that things grow (sometimes despite their environment).  Hope in new life.  Hope in new seasons.  Hope in things to come.

A Good Father Gives Good Gifts

A good father gives good gifts.

This is a concept that I don’t struggle with. At leat not the statement itself.

I was fortunate to grow up with an awesome Dad who provided for my needs and many of my wants. So, the fact that God would do that too, doesn’t stretch my imagination too far.

And yet it does.

I was talking about this with some friends from church last week and it has been coming up in the study I am doing this Lent season.

God gives good gifts. Tons and tons of them.

For some people, that alone is tough to process because they grew up in environments where that doesn’t seem plausible. Where their loved ones didn’t provide good gifts, so the concept that God would is tough to grasp.

For me, it is tough to process because that is a lot of gifts. And those gifts don’t always seem good.

The thing is, that sometimes we are so needy that we miss out on the real gifts. And we miss out on the biggest gift of all, Jesus.

In church a couple weeks ago, we were talking about how we really shouldn’t be giving God ultimatums. Because ultimatum faith is not faith at all. The concept that we will believe if we see a sign. We will believe if good things happen. That our faith is based on our day to day experience only. That can’t be the case. There needs to be trust. Our reality needs to be changed.

Realistically, there have already been signs. The whole water into wine thing… A sign that God provides the best for his people. The whole healings and miracles chunk of time, again, sign of provision, sign of who He is, etc.

Should that be enough?

I mean, there is a place for seeking signs.  It happens in the Bible.  But, in our discussion it was that people sought signs in faith that God would respond.  And it wasn’t an I’ll do this if you do that kind of sign.  It was a seeking evidence for God’s will sort of thing.  And even then, if  you get down to it, often, it was more of a confirmation because the human was doubtful than a necessity.

I am an empirical person, so I admit that it is tough for me sometimes, as I am sure some of you reading this think I am bat crazy. But, I have read around the manuscripts and the origins of the documents and have drawn conclusions that God and Jesus make sense to me.  And that those gifts are good gifts.  And that the changes in me are good gifts that couldn’t be because of me alone.

The reading I have been doing asked the question last week that also kind of followed along with something we were discussing at church.

How would the presence of God be more satisfying to you than answers from God? –Huag and Walker (2013)

Agh. That is a tough one.

I would love to say that I am super holy and that the presence of God is always satisfying without answers.

I would be lying.

Realistically, I know the statement is true. The presence of God is comfort and peace and joy, but it just isn’t simple and happy go lucky butterflies and rainbows.

Answers are tangible. They are the evidence for an empirical mind. And I want answers because I like being worldy brand happy. I want my career to be perfect, I want my family and friends to be happy and healthy, I don’t want to worry about money or housing and I want to have kids. The thing is answers aren’t always what we think they should be and answers will only satisfy me for so long.

I have been struggling with answers. It is tough sometimes to remember that an all knowing, loving God is present when you are hurting and longing for something you can’t have.

It brings me back to ultimatum faith.

Belief because I got what I wanted and acts of faith because I want something. Or disbelief because I can’t have something. That when bad stuff happens, God must be judging us and we aren’t good enough.

It just doesn’t work long term. In fact, it can get to be soul crushing.

I have been learning, especially over the last year or so about valuing the presence of God even when things aren’t going right, when I’m not happy, when things are tough and when loss happens. I have lots of gifts. More than I can ever count. More than I realize I even have. My last couple years have been emotional roller coasters.  But, I feel best in the presence of God because that is better than the stuff I have here in the long run. Sometimes the best gift is no gift at all. Just time and love.

I am striving to switch my perspective. To value the presence over the gifts all the time, not just when it is easy or when things are going terribly or awesomely. Kind of like we should enjoy time with our loved ones, not what they give us.

Presence of God is more permanent than answers. Sure, it is more fluffy sounding, but really it is more hearty.

A good father gives good gifts.

I am thankful for that. I like my gifts. But really, in order to be a good father and give good gifts, being around is key, otherwise you can’t know what to give when. You need to know who you are gifting to.

And that is why I prefer the presence of God. Even if I like the gifts.

July 1

It is July 1, which means it is the first Monday of the month and thus, Medical Mondays, a day to link up with all blogs medical.  If you want to check out other fantastic medical blogs (which you should), click the button below…

It is also Canada Day, which means a long weekend for me (okay, I worked overnight Friday and all day Sunday, but still I am not working on a Monday, so that is pretty huge).  I am not a very festive person, but am pumped to be heading to watch the Tattoo (aka this awesome military related show) this afternoon.  Check out this video below if you want to see why I think Tattoos are awesome.

And lastly, and most importantly (for me, at least), it is the start of a new year of residency.

A piece of me feels like I should celebrate like these guys. Image from bmaycreative.wordpress.com.

For those of you non medical people, residency training in North America follows a strange calendar year from July to July (just to make sure that we don’t actually align with other post-secondary or life related time markers).  July 1 is the official start date.  Thankfully, here, every year that is a holiday, so many get to delay the inevitable until the 2.  That being said, there are always the unlucky souls who have to start out with call on the 1st.  I was grateful to not be one of those.

So, I have survived a year of residency.

Don’t worry, I am not about to give a self-help first year survival guide. If you were looking for that… It isn’t here. Image from jeffwerner.ca.

That is 13 blocks of rotations, which for me worked out to 9 different specialties and 11 different departments or areas of departments.

I worked in two different cities.  I spent 55 nights on call, thankfully only 24 of which were spent in the hospital.  That really isn’t bad for a first year residency.  It makes me grateful for many months of home call and three rotations with no call.

She looks better than I did some nights. Image from tumblr.com.

I went through at least 10 pager batteries, two pagers (one for each city), two pairs of “work” shoes, one triplicate prescription pad and enough pens to supply a classroom for a year.

I wish my pens were that pretty. Image from penguyart.com.

I can now pull out all sorts of drains and staples, do a lumbar puncture, do a paracentesis and releluctantly sew up your wounds.  I would rather not, but I can do those things.

I have a permanent ink stain on my right ring finger.  And I still, for some strange reason prefer doing paperwork over procedures (see the previous paragraph).

I am still scared of my pager.

Image from teen.com.

I still feel like I don’t know anything.  In fact, I think I know less.  That is just the beauty of being in medicine.  The more you learn, the more your learn you don’t know.

We are still married and are still happy about it.

I still love my specialty, even though I so rarely actually see it.

So, now we move on to PGY2.  Which, for me isn’t that different from PGY1.  I am off service even more than I was last year.  But, at least this year’s off service stuff feels more relevant and likeable than last year’s off service stuff.  Some more of it is oncology related.  And, I get to cover call for my home service when I am on some of these rotations.  Not that I am excited about call, but at least I get to do it from home and with the patients/staff I will work with some day.

Other than that, things are the same.  Wandering from rotation to rotation, but getting to stay longer sometimes.   The lost feeling remains.  I am taking the same physics course again this year.  I am working on the same research (I quite like it, so that is fine).

The cool part of it all is that I can now say I am a PGY2.  Apparently, somewhere in there, I am supposed to be growing up.  I am not the baby of the residency program any more.

Unfortunately, I am not actually getting taller. Image from claireyhewitt.blogspot.com.

Hooray for a new year and for a new step in training.  Just 4-5 more years to go.

Congratulations and good luck to everyone else who is starting or moving on in residency.

The Satisfaction of a List: I suck at meditating

Today’s prompt for the Daily Post is one I can never resist… “The Satisfaction of a List.”  Like the prompt states, I can’t resist the power of a good list.  There is just something about list-making that I find inherently satisfying.

This list is a bit of a silly one, although it is something that I discovered just this weekend.  I was volunteering/observing at a cancer retreat this weekend, which was an amazing experience both personally and for my professional future.  I plan to write a bit more about my general experience another day.

The list that I am writing is a top 6 list of the reasons why I suck at meditating.  A big chunk of the retreat was learning relaxation techniques and how to meditate, etcetra.  It was cool.  I liked the bits of yoga and qi gong we did.  The meditation, not so much.

  1. I am a poor relaxer.  This would probably actually make for grounds for me to take up meditation, but the problem is that  they tell me to relax and I either almost doze off or I start making mental check lists.  They say this is okay and that you should acknowledge it and go back to concentrating on your breathing.  But it is hard.

    Image from i.chzbgr.com.

  2. I have poor posture.  Why is this related?  Well, you see, most of the meditation we did were sitting meditations.  And that involves sitting at the edge of your seat with proper posture.  Half way through every session I started to get a pain in my right back (thank you slight scoliosis and North American culture induced poor posture) and then I would try to shift quietly but shifting does not fix it.  Not that the laying or standing ones were much better, but the sitting ones were the worst.

    Image from barkhamofficefurniture.co.uk.

  3. I have authority issues.  This comes off as weird because I love rules and such, but I still hate when people tell me to do something that is optional and not always logical.  For instance, telling me to breathe into my pelvis or picture my loving light filling my heart in the middle of my chest does not make practical sense, nor does it sound like something I want to do.  I then get all stubborn in my head and annoyed and, well, that kind of dulls the whole experience.

    Me during the meditation when told to relax and clear my mind. Image from buzzlol.com.

  4. As much as I believe in holistic medicine some of the imagery and such seemed hokey to me and I couldn’t get past that.  I tried being open minded, and I know that visualization is valuable to so many people, but for me it just felt silly.

    My attempt at open-mindedness. Image from catholibertariandotcom.wordpress.com.

  5. Doing things like concentrating on my breathing or bum in the seat or what have you make me feel like I am hyperventilating or uncomfortable.  Please stop drawing my attention to them.  At one point, I was convinced my lungs would implode.

    Going through my head whilst concentrating on breathing. Image from education.com.

  6. I am childish.  Some things make me giggle.  And in a quiet room where everyone is seeming to be listening and doing intently, it is really hard to stifle the odd snicker.  And stifling the snicker makes you want to do it more.

    Image from erichufschmid.net.

Again, I must re-iterate that I had a great experience at this retreat overall.  I just didn’t love the meditation.  Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.  And my experience should not belittle that some people derive great benefit from meditation and that I may at some point in my life.   It is very life changing for some people to have that means of relaxation and stress reduction.  You can change neural pathways, alter your stress response and better your self awareness and coping… I get it.  But, right now to me, it just felt like something I did not want to do and something that I am not good at.

An Only Child on Sibling Day

Today is apparently Sibling Day… Or yesterday was.

Or at least that is what a ton of my Facebook friends are pointing out.

Sibling day doesn’t really matter to me.  I don’t have any actual siblings.

I don’t really think we need a day to appreciate people that happened to also be birthed by your parents.  It isn’t like you picked them or wanted them, or for that matter even like them.  Just saying.  I am sure your siblings are great and you love them very much or at least it is in vogue to say it today.  I just don’t get the whole it has to be said on a randomly selected day thing.

It must be the only child coming out in me.

Being an only child isn’t bad.

People have told me I didn’t turn out too spoiled or odd relative to what they expect only children to be.

I don’t know.  Sometimes, I feel like I am.  I really don’t fully grasp the whole sibling thing and internally struggle with things like wanting to get my own way (but doesn’t everyone?).

Being an only child has its perks.  I got to go on vacation with my parents.  I didn’t really have to share my stuff.  I had lots of one on one attention.  Nobody else was at home to get me sick or fight with me (except my Dad, who at times liked to egg me on and acted as an excellent sibling replacement).  As an adult, I am fortunate to have parents who are flexible with family dinners and such because, well, it is just the three of us to schedule around.  It is pretty cool.

Some people have asked me if I think it is good or bad to have only children where I was one.

I have mixed feelings.  I think it depends on the kid.  I did benefit from the attention and it is pretty sweet.  But, there are some things you miss out on.

I had to play by myself a lot.  That meant I learned to entertain myself.  It also meant I struggled with people who didn’t follow rules that existed when I played games with my parents or on my own.  I played a lot of board games with myself.  Things like frisbee and catch suck when you are alone.  You throw and then you chase… Then, repeat.  And sometimes it would just plain have been cool to have another kid around.

I was jealous of my friends with siblings.  I made up siblings in my head.  I often imagined I came from a family with like 10 kids.  As an adult, I also get jealous of my friends with siblings. Partly because some of them have become great friends.  But, moreso because I have come to the realization that when my parents are old and demented, I will be on my own to take care of them.  There won’t be anyone to take shifts with me (at least no blood siblings).  I feel like that is a big stressor in only children that I have noticed more and more, especially working in health care.

I also am aware that some only children turn out super spoiled.  And some might argue I can be that way too.  I think it depends on the parents and how you take care of your kid.  I know some people with siblings who are super spoiled.  Personality and parenting play a big role in that stuff (in my naive opinion).

Nonetheless, I wouldn’t trade my childhood or my adulthood.  I am happy to be an only child and I likely wouldn’t be quite who I am today if I had siblings.

I do not want to just have one child, though.  I used to think I did when I was younger because my parents are huge fans of the one child thing.  But, knowing what I know now, I want to have a few kids so that they get the sibling experience because it sounds cool to me (and here comes yet another generation of a parent wanting something for their kids that they didn’t have, even if what they had was perfectly good).

Realistically, I pretty much have siblings.

Because my parents had just me around, I feel like they had more time to take in my friends.  In fact, I have a few friends who share my parents and I theirs.  They are like my sisters and their parents are my “other mothers” and “other fathers” and vice versa.  It works.  I am grateful for having kind-of siblings.

My kind-of sisters and our mothers.

My kind-of sisters and our mothers.

Patrick has a brother and a sister.  So, I at least have siblings-in-law now.  It isn’t the same.  And I totally don’t grasp the dynamics of family dinner scheduling, rules about gifts or all that good stuff, but it is still cool.

I guess that means I have a lot of a good thing.  I don’t have any “real” siblings and I think that worked out well for me overall.  Being an only child has its challenges, some of which I am convinced can only be understood by other only children, but it also can be pretty cool.  I am also lucky enough to have some great “kind of” siblings and they mean the world to me and will support me and my parents for years to come.  Sort of like the best of both worlds.

If you love me, then just love me. Don’t just give me pretty words.

Yesterday’s prompt from the Daily Post (punctuality is an issue for me on here, I know) was to take a line from a song you love or connect with and make it the title of your post.  I love far too many songs to easily settle on one.  But, I managed.

This is one of  my favourite songs by a band called The Wedding entitled “Say Your Prayers.”  Here  it is.  

Look at you now just standing there
Like you think you’re something
The lights are up
And the crowd is looking your way
Just waiting for what you have to say
So go ahead boy,
Give ’em a little taste of hypocrisy
And maybe a hint of blasphemy
Whatever you’re preaching, it isn’t me
You wanna walk with me?
Do ya? wanna walk with me?
Well if you love me
Then just love me
Don’t you give me pretty words
Lay your life down at the altar
Let me see how serious you are
These people don’t look to me no more
They’ve got their idols in various forms
With lust in their eyes
They crave for more
Take their place with the corporate carnivours
Whoa! keep your focus
Cuz the day will come
When everyone will give account
For what they’ve done
Make me proud
Make me proud my son
You wanna walk with me?
Do ya? wanna walk with me?
Well if you love me
Then just love me
Don’t you give me pretty words
Lay your life down at the altar
Let me see how serious you are
Look at this broken world
Look at my children, oh
Look at this broken world
Look at my children, oh
Cuz they’re already gone
Sing to me the love song
Look up!
Say your prayers on the steps of the capital
Look up!
Say your prayers on your knees
Look up!
Say your prayers
Oh!
Look up!
Say your prayers
You want it to be like you always thought it would
But all you seem to accomplish is the opposite
You wanna walk with me?
Do ya? wanna walk with me?
Well if you love me
Then just love me
Don’t you give me pretty words
Lend your life down at the altar
Let me see how serious you are

I love the sound of the song, but I also love the message and how it is presented as if it is from God.  God cares more about having our heart and genuine love and less about the flowery perfect lives we can act like we lead.

I had friends who would always laugh at the way I prayed.  Because I just said whatever was on my mind.  I talk to God like I talk to people.  Which can sometimes be a bit bizarre.  Patrick sees my praying as an adventure of sorts.  But really, like the song says, God doesn’t need perfect formulated prayers.  He just wants us to walk with Him.  And He wants us to act like we walk with Him all the time, not just when we think we should.

So, some people may not like the song because it screams and others may not like the song for what it says.  But I quite like all of it.  I am glad God wants that sort of serious, genuine relationship.

Plus, the song just genuinely gets me pumped.  Something I need on this delightful post-call morning.

Breakfast club

I am watching The Breakfast Club today.  I was motivated to watch it after going to see Pitch Perfect with the Child and our friend, M.  You see, it is referenced repeatedly in Pitch Perfect and I wanted to know what the fuss was about.  Plus, it is on Netflix and I am on vacation.

The Breakfast Club is about a group of teens in Saturday detention.  They are required to write an essay about who they are before the day is over.

The kids are the stereotypical high school stereotypes, they list themselves in the beginning of the movie as the athlete, princess, basket-case, brain and criminal.  They all know one another, but really know nothing of one another beyond the stereotypes.

The movie follows the teens as they fight, break rules and eventually get to know each other’s dark secrets and learn that they all want to avoid making some of the same mistakes as some of the adults around them.

In the end, they write a collective essay about how they do not fit the stereotypes suspected by the principal.  They are changed in knowing the truth about one another.  But, it they still go back to the lives they once had because such is life with cliques in high school (or any time, for that matter).

I have heard this movie described as one of the best high school movies of all times.  Although I have never seen it to this point, I might agree.  It is well put together and it does take a good look at stereotypes and the background behind those stereotypes.

I was watching another show this week (clearly, while on vacation, I have been watching a lot of television) called Emily Owens, MD.  Yes, it is yet another medical show.  The jury is still out as to whether or not I want to gouge my eyes out or watch it.   But, in the first episode, she describes the hospital as being like high school.  You still have the crazy kids, the geeks, the jocks and the divas.    I thought the description was a little over the top.  A bit extreme.

Despite that, it is kind of true.  We grow into adults but sometimes things don’t change that much from high school.  I mean, we change, we grow, but we still are insecure, we still do foolish things and make bad choices.

The stereotypes in this movie and present in real life.  We all know a crazy one and a bad one and a princess.  But that is really just a piece of a person.  An outward façade.

Some people say surgeons are all cold and don’t like people.  Yet, I have met surgeons who love clinic as much as cutting and call patients from home to check in.  Others think all oncologists are warm and fuzzy people.  I have met some fairly nasty people who work as oncologists.  Then there are people who assume pathologists have to be anti-social to work down in the lab all day, but it took one day on a pathology rotation to see that they are just as chatty as everyone else, just they have different interests.

In high school, I was most definitely a nerd.  In university, I was most definitely a nerd (well, in first year, there was a phase where I was thought to be a stoner hippie based on my friends and overall attitude). In med school, I was a nerd.  But, a lot of that has to do with people you associate with, activities and decisions you make.  Not necessarily your personality in full.  There a cliques everywhere in life.  They don’t stop in high school.  They still exist where I am now.

I am going to a career fair tonight to talk to people about my field.  It will be a good time.  I love this kind of stuff.  The thing is… Like often attracts like.  There are stereotypes for a reason, even if people are individuals beneath the labels.

The Breakfast Club is an interesting look at high school and stereotypes.  The whole thing really goes on into adulthood where we try to pretend to not have stereotypes and wish we were more secure. And we do kind of turn into our parents whether or not we want to.  All in all, a good movie.  Plus, it has a very good closing song.  Quite appropriate to the movie.

Stop and Refocus

Today, in Sunday School, we continued our study in the book, Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Horger Alsup (again, I recommend it, if you get the chance and I am only half done reading it).  The class is small.  I am only there once in a blue moon, but today was a worthwhile day.

God has me come home for the lessons I need to hear.

I worry about everything.  I like to control things and, as I talked about earlier this week (check out that post here), I need to let go of things.  To top it all off, I care way too much (and yes, it is possible) about people and things that happen to people.  I mean this in the sense that I grieve and worry for people and things that I have no connection to or control over.  Aside from praying for them, there is nothing else I can do.  Yet, I often get into a spiral of thinking there is.

Take earlier this week, for example.  I was at a code in the middle of the night while I was on call.   It was a young person who I was not actually caring for (just in the right place at the right time).  They survived the initial resuscitation.  I had hear the nurses complaining about how messed up this family was earlier in the night… Their colourful attitudes and language.  This doesn’t change what happened.  But, it shaped my view of them.  And I wonder about them.  How they are.  I worry how choices made that night may have affected them.

Yes, it is good to think about it.  To improve on things.  To care.  But, sometimes, I think it is too much.  The amount I can think and worry.

I often take on other people’s grief.  I don’t mean to.  It just happens.  I spiral and think of how I would feel in that situation.  How they must feel in that situation.

It isn’t healthy.  That much I know.

But not only those sorts of things.  I worry about all sorts of petty things in life.  Not just big things.  Small things like supper or whether it will rain on our drive home tomorrow.  I worry about my future, unconceived (is that even a word?) children.

The chapters we read addressed living out faith.

It was all wrapped up with this quote:

Know Him and act like you know Him.  That is faith. –Wendy Horger Alsup

The author lines out a bit of a biblical approach to faith.

When things get crazy… Stop.

Sounds simple enough… But, how often do we really stop.  Just take a deep breath.  Arrest the flow of irrational and rational thoughts and pause.

She then suggests refocusing.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. –Colossians 3:1-3.

This is an interesting proposition.

My mind often races.  At work, on my way to a call on the floor, I often rehash what I need to do when I get there, the differential diagnoses, the worst-case scenarios.  At home, when things get rough, I think of how awful things could be if x happened.

The bottom line is that, with God’s help, we must stop in the middle of our struggles and force our line of vision back on the eternal perspective […] All else will pale in comparison when viewed against the backdrop of his eternal purposes.  –Wendy Horger Alsup

How different would things be if I stopped and refocused things on God?  What I know God to be.  How I know God is in control (even though I try not to let Him be in control sometimes).  And even more importantly, letting God take control.

Sometimes, it seems that things are terrible.  That we can’t see past our own sheltered lives of awfulness.  We are indeed selfish people.  Even when I fixate on the troubles of others, it is often still my reactions that I focus on.

But, when you take a step back, and look at it knowing that God has control.  And knowing how God has worked things out in the past, perhaps it might be easier to take a breath and move on.  To not focus on our sinful worries.  God hasn’t done anything to cause me harm in the past.  Sometimes things feel bad.  But, they turn out to be for good.  We just can’t always see beyond what is in front of us.

God does some of His biggest stuff in our lives in the hard times.  In fact, some of the hard times are used to show us the big stuff.

Maybe if we stop and refocus more, we would see it.  We would benefit from His work.  We would be acting more in obedience.  We would be acting more in faith.

It isn’t easy.  It takes practice.  One of the ladies suggested tattooing stop on her forehead and walking around with a mirror in her face to encourage her remembering to take time before responding to things with negative thoughts, worry and sin.  We decided that would look silly.

But perhaps, it takes conscious encouragement from others to remind us to stop and take a breath.  Refocus on God.  And remember the amazing things that come out of life through God, even in the times we spend freaking out.  Sometimes He takes things away or makes things difficult in order to make Himself clearer, to bring Himself glory, to help us grow.  Stopping and refocusing helps us to live in faith and act like it too.

We can’t do it all on our own.  We have to let God carry us through.  And truly, it is a beautiful thing once we stop and let it happen.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  God, the Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. –Habakuk 3:17-19

Shake it out

I was listening to music this morning while getting dressed and such.  The first song that came on was “Shake it out” by Florence and the Machine.  I haven’t heard the song in awhile.  But today, it struck me.  It was the song I was supposed to hear today.

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play
And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn
And I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around
And our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it’s always darkest before the dawn
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaaah
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah
I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart
Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back so shake him off
And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It’s a fine romance but its left me so undone
It’s always darkest before the dawn
Oh woah, oh woah…
And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t
So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my road
And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope
It’s a shot in the dark and right at my throat
Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Well what the hell I’m gonna let it happen to me
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

As you may have noticed from a few of my previous posts, I have been a little overwhelmed and such with the move and all of the change and stuff going on in my life.  I guess all of the moping about that stuff brought out a lot of other guilt and thoughts about things that I really don’t need to stew on any more than I already have.  But more than that, I have been taking it all on my own.  Despite Patrick sitting by worrying about how unhappy I have been seeming, I have been plugging away at things as if nothing is wrong and pretty much ignoring anyone’s attempts to help… Including God’s.

With the first verse, a verse I have heard many times before, I thought hmmm… That is just like me.  Maybe it is the Barnum effect, but nonetheless, I connected with the lyrics.  With the feeling of being dragged down by things I can’t see, but can feel.

And then the chorus started… “Shake it out…” And repeat.  I don’t know if I ever really though about it.  Shaking out the cobwebs.  Shaking out the anxiety and stress.  Makes sense.  But, especially the fact that “its hard to dance with the devil on your back.”  Very true.  It is… That is a lot of extra weight.  I am a firm believer that much of the negative feelings and worries and all of the nasty stuff is maintained by the devil.  That although God lets us go through trials that the devil wants us to feel the doubts and anxiety.  And that really drags you down. 

The overarching concept of the song is restarting.  A new beginning.  Getting the devil off your back and moving forward. 

Grace is awesome like that.  God puts up with all of our crap and lets us come back to Him.  Every time.  He doesn’t like it, but He loves us, so it works. 

So really, I think I sorted myself out a bit today.  I remembered that I need to get over the changes and move on.  That God can help me pick the devil off of my back and get on with living.  Because there is so much more to dance about than wallow in.  And that is great!