Tag Archives: hope

What the Habukkuk is Going On? The April Fool’s Antidote

25 Apr

 

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I might have.” —Abraham Lincoln

I had to take a few weeks off to regroup after my recent blog about April fools. Not that it doesn’t reflect my true feelings, but because I diverted from my mission. Let me assure you, all you wonderful people who sent me encouraging messages, although I’m frustrated with the direction this nation is taking, my spirit is still at peace.

Being at peace does not enable me to close my eyes to what’s happening in this nation. It stirs me to act, using the only weapons God has chosen to armed me with: words and prayer.  Sometimes I feel as if I’m running through a forest of sleeping people, trying to wake them so they can flee an approaching tidal wave. But after posting my April Fool’s blog, I remembered, that’s not my job. My job is to remind people that there is light in the darkness for those who seek it. That there is hope, and love, and peace in this nation, regardless of what we see in front of us.

So this week, I present the April Fool’s antidote: light.  It’s an increasingly rare commodity, but it’s something we all need in order to keep hope in our hearts. There’s light in each of us that we’ve been given to share, and when we do, it becomes contagious.

Sometimes it takes darkness to bring out the light. I’m reminded of the prophet Habukkuk, an oft overlooked character in the Bible with a heart for his country’s fools. Habukkuk became fed up with God for not “fixing” what was wrong with Israel. He accused God of taking a rather heartless stance against the Israelites, refusing to hear their cries for help.

God didn’t reply with sweetness, but basically said, “Habukkuk, my boy, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

The rest of the short story involves Habukkuk waging a futile argument to save his people despite their foolishness, and trying to show God the folly of his plan to have the Babylonians conquer the land—those stinking Babylonians who are even worse sinners than we are, thank you very much. But God assured him the Babylonians were on their way to enslave Israel. Eventually, the prophet realized he had only one recourse: trust God, regardless of his apparent senility.

So, Habukkuk looked for the light. He reviewed all the things God had done in the past for his people, from freeing the slaves living in bondage in Egypt to bringing them into a land of their own. And he reviewed all the promises God had made and brought to fruition. Then, despite all desolation and ugliness around him, Habakkuk vowed to continue praising God for his sovereignty and his goodness, and to trust God’s plan.

His spirit was at peace, even though the world was not.

That same peace is available to all of us. While it’s quite possible our country is about to suffer horribly for decades of bad decision-making and a tendency to race away from God, his people can still be at peace by remembering there’s more going on than what we see, and God’s plan for us is good. Review all God has already done in your life, and all the promises he has made. Not once did he promise that our lives will be easy, or that our loved ones will not suffer, or that the world will not crumble around us. But God has told you he knows what he’s doing, and you can trust him. He’s with you throughout all these troubles, and he’s going to bring you through it. But there’s more.

Once you find this peace, figure out what your job is in spreading it to others. Use whatever weapons God has given you to beat back the darkness. Be one of what former president George H.W. Bush referred to as the “thousand points of light.”

I thought of this when I heard a story on the radio this morning about a judge who sentenced a repeat-offender alcoholic and veteran to jail—and then spent the night with him. The judge, a fellow veteran, recognized the signs of PTSD, and while he had a legal obligation to sentence the man, he didn’t want him to be alone in that cell. Read about it here: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/n-judge-jail-vet-article-1.2612232

So, as the antidote to April Fools, let me tell you about a few other points of light I’ve heard about recently. People who understand how to beat back the darkness. As you read, ponder this: what are you doing with your light?

. . . A restaurant owner in Kochi India put a refrigerator outside her business so the homeless could help themselves. She kept the fridge stocked with unused food from her restaurant and it remained unlocked around the clock. Other restaurant owners started adding to the supplies. A steady stream of visitors partake of the food, but they each take only what they need. http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2016/04/03/458925/India-Minu-Pauline-refrigerator-homeless/

. . .Two boys from Illinois helped a homeless man get out of the cold and talked one of their fathers into helping purchase a train ticket so he could visit his son.  Two years later the man sent $10,000 to their high school to say thank you. http://abcnews.go.com/US/high-school-students-good-deed-spurs-10000-donation/story?id=38006234

. . .A café owner, when approached by a homeless man for food, offered him a job instead. The man, who couldn’t get work because of his criminal background, is quickly becoming one of her best workers. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/minnesota-cafe-owner-shows-homeless-man-job-not-the-door/

strong_stronger

Now, THAT’s a man of light

. . .A powerlifting former Marine befriended a 12-year-old girl with a rare disease and is now spending all his efforts to increase awareness of her disease so others do not have to suffer. http://distractify.com/news/2016/04/06/powerlifter-girl-bff

. . .A young Houston girl with terminal brain cancer was given a Make-a-Wish grant. Instead of using it for herself, she asked them to make a well in Sierra Leon so children there could have clean drinking water. Her act touched singer Matthew West and inspired a song on his new album.  http://www.breathecast.com/articles/matthew-west-young-girl-brain-cancers-story-inspired-song-new-21755/

I’d love to add more to this list, with stories of courageous people who refuse to be dimmed by the world. In fact, as my contribution to fighting back the darkness, I’ve decided to write a monthly “Stand in the Light” post. But I’ll need your help. If you know someone who is a light to others, I’d like to write about that person. Or, send Rosefitz.portraitwriter@gmail.com a link to your favorite light-filled story, I will share it with my, er…, 49 or so readers. Perhaps we can inspire people to start their own fires…

We’re all in this together, people. Let’s light up the world.

—-

I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
– Habakkuk 3:16-18

 

You Are That Man! Hope for the One Who Feels Overwhelmed

21 Mar

I’m thinking about my friend K, who is carrying a lot on his shoulders these days, and who I’m sure feels as if he’s taken on too much, certainly more than he can handle. He hasn’t come to me for advice, nor would I expect him to, as there are many other friends on his first line of defense. Although I love him dearly, I’m more like the aunt who lives far away.

But if you ever DID ask what I thought K, I’d probably answer with a story (because I’m a storyteller after all) and I’d put you right smack in the middle of it.

I’d tell you to think of yourself as a Dad, sitting at the Saturday morning breakfast table with your 5-year-old son. You’ve just announced it’s leaf-raking day, and his eyes light up like sparklers.

“Oh, Daddy, let me help!”

You say yes, of course. You don’t need his help, and you can probably get the job done much more quickly without his help, but this will be good for him. Teach him about responsibility. Man’s work. Besides, you so deeply enjoy that bonding time.

To the garage you go, you and your little man. You pick out the lightest rake for him, and direct him to the small, level strip of ground beside the mailbox. He starts smacking that ground with gusto, and leaves fly.

“Hold on, son! You might want to try flipping that thing over.” You demonstrate how to use the rake’s teeth and he gives you that grin that never fails to melt your heart.

“Like this?” He pulls exactly four leaves toward his feet.

“Exactly like that.” You smile and watch him joyfully attack his adversaries, and then you turn to tackle the slope with all the bushes, dislodging a mountain of leaves from beneath the tangled mass of roots and shoots.

You pause to check on your little man, who is now holding his small rake horizontally, balancing a pile of leaves as he brings them across the yard.

“Watch this, Dad!” He shoots the leaves upward, laughing as they fall down upon his head.

You laugh with him and return to your work, prying the wet leaves away from the curb. A little later he calls you to come inspect a wooly caterpillar, clearly ready for winter in his thick brown and black coat. The two of you watch together, heads touching, marveling at nature’s ways as the caterpillar forms a tight ball.

You tussle his hair and stand. All that’s left is the area along the driveway. It’s the toughest part because navigating the delicate flower bulbs is somewhat tricky, but you’re enjoying the day so much you have no trouble slowing down to pull some leaves out by hand. Your son starts singing a silly song and you join in.

These are the good times, you think to yourself.

Finally, you’ve amassed a pile for bagging. Your little man takes one look at it and his shoulders sag as he realizes his area is still not complete.

“Whoa buddy, what’s wrong?” You nearly break when you see the tears welling in those beautiful innocent eyes.

He sniffs and wipes his eyes with his sleeve. “Daddy, I wanted to do a good job for you, but I didn’t do anything right.” He gives his small pile a disdainful kick.

“Oh I don’t know about that.” You kneel down to look him in the eye, recognizing the yearning heart and the self-condemnation. “My man, you were great company today, and you made me laugh, and you did make this pile of leaves, which helps more than you know.”

You take his hands and press your large callused palms against his soft pink ones.

“These little hands made that little pile, and the big hands made the big pile. The important thing is, we did it together. When your hands get bigger, they will do more work, but for now, you did just enough. Besides…” You glance at the pile…“We’re not done yet.”

He nods and sniffs again, walking over to yank a lawn bag from the box by the trash can. But when he returns, you kneel again, take the bag from his hands, and set it aside.

“What, are you nuts?” You lift him and carry him to the pile. “How often do you get an opportunity to jump into such an incredibly PERFECT landing pad?”

Giggling, he squirms out of your arms and grabs your hand. Together you fly into the pile in a bundle of side-splitting laughter and start throwing leaves at each other. Finally, as you lie side-by-side, panting, your little man reaches for your hand and again gives you his famous, heart-melting grin.

“I love you, Daddy.”

You sigh, letting those precious words settle over your heart.

It’s been a good day.

————–

handsNow K, I know you can relate to this story, because I know you’re a great dad and you’ve had days like this. So I want to remind you to see yourself in this scenario. Read it again and really see yourself, because, my friend, You Are That Man.

No, silly, not Dad. That’s God.

You are the Little Man.

God’s Little Man.

And don’t you forget it.

————————–

His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. – Psalm 147:10-11

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Seemingly Preposterous Peace on Earth

14 Dec

Hi everyone,

I’m so sorry to be absent for such a long time. Certain (good) priorities seem to be taking all my time lately. However, because people are asking if I’m still here, I will post a favorite Christmas piece from last year. I should be back in the writing saddle next week. Until then…be at peace!

Peace on Earth? Preposterous! Or is it?

We’re entering what the angels announced to the shepherds as a season of, “Peace on Earth, good will toward men,” according to the King James’ version of Luke 2:14.

No other phrase I know makes less sense these days. As you read this, members of the Islamist group, Boko Haram, are marching across Nigeria, killing all Christians in their wake; ISIS members are beheading children and innocent civilians of all faiths who block their attempts to forcibly institute an Islamic State In Syria; and Russia-funded operations have now killed more than 4,300 people in eastern Ukraine. In our own country, hate mongers are cackling with joy as decent human beings are led astray by the promise of entitlement. “You don’t have to think—we’ll do it for you,” the hate-mongers say. “Don’t waste time examining your lifestyles and searching for answers, just burn, burn, burn and take, take, take!” Our nation is weighed down with rioting and protests, murders, rapes, theft, smuggling, drug dealing…and an increasingly pervasive hate-thy-neighbor attitude.

How did we get here? Does it not make a complete mockery of God’s promise that we would have Peace on Earth?

I don’t think so. I don’t believe the angels were heralding a healed world as much as an escape plan for those who must endure its gradual demise.

To clarify, let’s consider my youngest, who started driving this week (audible sigh). This event forces me to dwell on his impending adulthood. Soon, he will be out there “in the world” making daily decisions about right and wrong without our counsel. His father and I taught him as best we know how to respond to tough situations, but the rest is up to him. My parting words to him as he heads off to college will not be, “don’t murder and don’t hate.” Instead, I will tell him two things: “Remember your God, and remember you are a Fitzsimmons.”

That’s all he needs, in any situation. When he’s at a party that turns wild and learns that the punch he’s been drinking all evening has been spiked, I’m counting on him to remember God and say a prayer for protection. If he keeps a cool head, he will then call home, and his father or I will drive to wherever he is to pick him up. When we find him, will he be crying hysterically? Will he have joined the revelry and be hanging from the chandeliers? Not if he remembers who he is.

Instead, I prefer to believe he will be sitting on the couch, or on the curb, watching the world he knows crumble. He will have likely witnessed some incredibly bad behavior by people he’d thought were upright and responsible. Classmates will be smoking and drinking, and doing things they wouldn’t do in front of their families. Some poor girl will throw herself on a boy just to be liked and give away more than she should. Perhaps he will feel the same heartache we feel when we watch the evening news.

In the midst of the chaos, however, he will know peace. He will know his parents are on their way, and that there might be punishment in his future depending on the situation, at the very least, admonishment, but they will forgive him and love him as much as they did the day before. Then he will be wiser about the world, which should help him deal with the next tough situation.

On the other hand, he might choose to forget us and join the ranks of the lost. Should he choose this path, his life will falter, and he will struggle more than he has to, and bad things will happen. He will scoff cynically at the word “peace,” and perhaps convince himself that God is a liar. In his shame, he will likely turn from his parents. Nobody wants to be reminded of the good when they are pursuing evil. But the moment he decides to turn from that activity, the peace will return. His parents will forgive him and help him get back on his feet. They will never stop loving him. He knows that.

He may also fall victim to the revelers and be injured or even killed by their activity. This is a risk he takes, as we all take, just by being in the world. However, he cannot live in fear of attending parties just because someone might show up with a gun. He can have peace though, in knowing that if something does happen, he belongs to God and God will take care of him in life or death.

Luke 2:14 is translated in different ways, from one Bible to the next. When I struggle with a verse in King James, I’ve found the New International Version often does a better job of translating the original Bible into English as we know it today (and yes, Kevin, this book has been vetted, tested, and authenticated). The NIV version of Luke 2:14 is written, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests.”   

Jesus My Savior

Peace on Earth starts in the heart.

Surprised? I was. Reading this translation changed everything for me. From this perspective, the angels did not proclaim a blanket promise of peace on earth at all. In fact, Jesus told anyone who would listen that there would never be peace on earth. Our world has become an increasingly wild frat party, enticing good people to forget who they are and seek only to make themselves happy, right now. In the process, innocents are hurt, the line between right and wrong is blurred, and many partiers fall hard into the abyss.

Peace on Earth starts in the heart.

Jesus came to remind us to remember God and remember family—you are a child of the King, after all! If you do that, then you will be able to find peace, even in a crumbling world. Wherever you are, and no matter how bad it looks, you can call him and he’ll go to wherever you are and help you escape.

No, you cannot change the world. It is dying. However, you can change a part of it. Use your talents, skills, and every blessing you’ve been given, to make a difference where you can. LOVE your neighbors (we’re talking the action verb, not the noun). In doing so, you will pull people from that frat party, one-by-one, and put hope and peace into their hearts by sending them back to the loving, forgiving arms of the Father they’re trying so hard to ignore.

If you’re still at the party, and you’re looking for Peace on Earth, try getting on your knees. You’ll find it there.

“The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:7

 

Winter-weary warriors, wait no more!

26 Mar

It has always been difficult for me to choose a favorite season. I can easily narrow my list down to four finalists, but then I’m pretty much stumped.

Today though, I’m rather certain I like spring best, particularly after a winter as long as we’ve had in Northern Virginia. (Yes, I can hear my New England family saying, “Winter? We’ll show you winter!” All I can say is that for some reason, I’m not pining as much as usual to visit you.)

Across most of the nation, winter receded like an ocean tide this year, ebbing and advancing. With each advance we received yet another blanket of snow, another no-school day, another bring-in-more-wood-for-the-fireplace night, another too-cold-to-leave-the-bed morning.

We’re weary, and some of us are even a bit gloomy. It’s been that kind of winter. But now we’re finally stumbling out of our homes, still dazed and a little hibernation-groggy, and we can see hope seeping up through the tired, cold land that even a week ago seemed to threaten to never thaw. It’s in the air.

Tulips

They’re coming. I don’t think they’ll be blue, but they’re coming.

The trees are still bare, for the most part. Still we know that those tiny, tight buds at the end of every branch are pieces of beauty and new life preparing to burst forth. And just below the surface of the damp ground, millions of eager daffodils, crocuses, and lilies are trembling with anticipation, waiting for the warm sun to call them upward. It’s coming.

There’s something precious about watching nature re-awaken every year. It melts the icy memories until we can barely recall running outside in jammies to warm the frozen car, or sliding over icy patches, hands clutching wildly for something stable, or re-shoveling that mound of white stacked against the mailbox by midnight plow trucks.

Instead, we remember the frogs and crickets who will be back soon to sing their evening serenades, and the mockingbirds and finches who will post themselves high in the trees, where the acoustics will do them justice. And hummingbirds, and butterflies. (And yellowjackets & wasps, but we’re ignoring them for now.)

Spring is a time to plant and wait, knowing good things are coming. Spring also reminds us about second, third and fourth chances, or however many we need. The yard is a clean slate. Squirrels haven’t stolen this year’s crop of tomatoes, we haven’t lost the grass to dandelions, and the holly bush we thought for sure had been trimmed back too far is showing signs of life. Life is all around us.

For those of you who think you can’t make it one more day, trust me, you can. Spring reminds us that all things can be made new—even people. Toss off that cloak of weariness and delight in every good thing. Allow yourself to take joy in the anticipation. Breathe deeply, and notice anew the gift that is spring.

Because in springtime, anything is possible.

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. — Song of Solomon 2:11-12

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Christmas year-round: March

I’m a little behind with my March Christmas idea because of family concerns, but it’s not too late to do a little something. In fact, let’s deck the halls, you know, with spring—Eggs, chicks, flowers and bunnies! It’s just the ticket for driving winter out for good…or at least for eight more months.

Easter decorations

A study in Easter’s disproportionate nature

Christian Prayers for a Muslim Tradition

28 Jun

Today is the first day of Ramadan, which has always meant nothing to me because I understand very little of the Muslim religion and its customs.

However, this year I find myself thinking of Fatima, a beautiful woman from Pakistan who watched my youngest child for more than five years, and I’m picturing her in prayer during this time.

Fatima had a quiet spirit, laughing eyes, and an accent that made everything sound exotic. We loved the way she pronounced our son’s name—not “Charles,” but “Shar-less.” Fatima and her family moved away when my son entered the first grade, but the peace and grace about her stays with us to this day.

Flag of Pakistan

Flag of Pakistan

We knew she was Muslim, but we were indifferent about it. She dressed in the conservative shalwar kamez (pants with an ankle-length, stylish shirt), and a scarf that I believe is called a hijab. If I’d taken a moment to ask, she would have happily told me what it was, but I showed no interest in her customs. When she asked for certain days off during Ramadan, I found alternative care, but did not inquire about that either. I guess I didn’t want to pry, or have to “defend” my own religion. I wish now that I had asked.

Fatima loved America. She studied for weeks before her citizenship test, and I can still recall how her face lit up the day she told me she was now a U.S. citizen. She celebrated Independence Day, Flag Day, and Memorial Day. She asked me questions about my uniform, and loved the idea that I was a Marine. On September 11, 2001, she grieved with the rest of America when our nation was attacked.

That was the first time I asked her anything about her religion, and I’m ashamed to say it was more accusatory than curious. I rushed home early from work that day and went straight to my son, practically snatching him from her hands.

I looked into her eyes, which were not laughing that day, and I demanded to know, “What kind of God do you have that he would endorse something like this?”

She practically sobbed her response.

“That is not our God. Our religion doesn’t teach this.”

It was somewhat of an epiphany to consider that perhaps those who profess to follow Allah are as varied in character as those who profess to follow Jesus. Some are good, some are evil.

I also knew Fatima loved my son. She practically raised him, while I went off to work, alongside her own two children. She read to them all together, bought his favorite foods, taught him the Arabic alphabet, and gave him gifts at every occasion. Even Christmas. She loved Christmas, and I never thought to ask why.

So that brings me back to Ramadan, and why it matters to me now. I’ve learned a little bit about Muslims since those days. I worked for a while in a place where terrorist group activities were tracked and analyzed. There I read, almost daily, stories about Boko Haram spreading its anti-Christian violence across Nigeria, and the fear and hatred being spewed throughout Indonesia by Jemaah Islamiah, and now the atrocities spilling out of Syria and across Iraq with mind-numbing speed, all in the name of “Allah.”

I believe more Muslims are like Fatima than Saddam Hussein, and because I believe that, I’d say they’re a lot like me. They want to please God, and follow His will for their lives. So for the next month, as the world’s Muslims enter a time of prayer and fasting, I will be praying as well. I suspect we’ll be praying for the same things:

1. They will be praying to become spiritually stronger. I will pray that as they seek to know God, He will reveal Himself to them, during prayer time and as they dream at night, as a loving God and a God of mercy.

2. They will be praying in appreciation for God’s gifts. I will pray that as they search for the Truth, they will learn it. While they study their most precious gift, the Koran, let them find and take to heart its command to read the Injeel (the New Testament), and realize that if God is, indeed, all powerful, He can surely maintain the integrity of a little ol’ book over a mere 2,000 years.

3. They will be praying to become more obedient. I will pray that their obedience opens doors to understanding.

Near the end of July (around the 24th), Muslims will enter an even more intense period of prayer, known as Lailat al Qadr, or the Night of Power (also Night of Destiny). During this time, they will pray through the night, believing that this night marks their fate for the following year. The doors between them and God will be open wider than ever. They will be praying for mercy, forgiveness, and salvation, not knowing for sure whether He would do so. I will pray for the same, knowing that He does.

Is anyone with me?

 

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:16

 

 

 

 

Waiting on The Call: Roping Time with a Molasses Lasso

3 Jun

I’m not good at waiting.

I remember a time early in my marriage when I was struck by a creative muse and got up around midnight to write a story that wouldn’t let me go. When it was finished, I liked it so much it made me giddy. I wanted so badly to share it that I woke my husband from a sound sleep, turned the reading lamp on to its highest setting, and pushed my story under his nose.

“Read it!”

Startled by my exuberance and the brilliant illumination, he shielded his eyes and squinted at me to determine the source of my distress. When he realized there was none, his entire body sighed with exasperation. He would have given me his incredulous face if he could have held his eyes open.

Instead, he took the pages as he rolled away from the lamp’s glaring light, and slid MY MASTERPIECE under his pillow on his way back into dreamland.

Not one to give up easily, I yanked his shoulder back so I could retrieve the captive pages and encouraged him again to take a look.

“I can’t believe you won’t support me,” I wailed.

Sensing he was somehow in the wrong, my husband struggled to sit up. He took the papers and honestly tried to focus. Instead of reading, I suspect his brain was weakly calculating the requisite number of seconds he had to sit upright before I’d believe he’d read it. He handed the papers back and mumbled, “Looks good,” before slipping away again. Never mind that they were upside-down.

I spent the rest of the night pouting.

He finally read it the next day, somewhat alert and mostly awake after a poor night’s sleep. He gave me good comments and some constructive feedback. His serious attention to the details compelled me to go back and look at it again. I realized it wasn’t as good as I’d thought the night before, and I rewrote it three or four times before I liked it again.

Since then, I’ve learned to be a bit more considerate about when to share, and to put my ego on the back burner. At least I hope I have.

However, when I took Joe’s story proposal to the writers’ conference recently, that giddy kid resurfaced. I drove down to Asheville feeling a bit like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, who just knew his teacher would like his paper about the Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock so much that she would tell his parents to purchase one immediately.

My appointment with the agent was on the first day, and I approached her table with a mix of excitement and fear. I didn’t bring the giant basket of fruit as Ralphie would have, but I did almost give her that knowing wink. And I must confess, I looked around for a blackboard on which she could scrawl “A++++++!”

She took my proposal and read. For a long time. The voices in my head waged a battle of conjecture as I watched. “She loves it. She hates it. She’s read 50 others just like it today alone. I should have worked harder on the opening. She nodded! She likes it. She’s taking too long. She hates it…”

At last she looked up, smiled at me, and said, “Would you e-mail this to me?”

YES! YES! YES! Wait, what?

She didn’t ask for my manuscript, but for an electronic copy of the proposal. For a while, I was crushed. Surely, she saw the potential in Joe’s story. I’d been expecting to leave this place an agented author.

But then I remembered that long-ago late-night “reading” and found peace. I received the best possible response for a conference setting. There was no way she could give that proposal a definite assessment there, with hundreds of would-be authors clamoring for her attention. She wants to read it again, later, when she can give it serious focus. And I must wait. She said it could take two or three months for Joe’s story to reach the top of her pile. Sigh.

Calendar with the days marked off

Like sand through the hourglass…

I sincerely believe that because patience is one of the many virtues I lack, the less content I am with waiting, the longer it will take. So, I’m back at my writing desk. While I wait, I will finish the final chapter of Joe’s story and start working on my web page, to make it a more active place of business.

Instead of pining for answers, I will be thankful for how far along this book has come, and I will quote the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who said, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

The agent will contact me at just the right time. I will be patient, and I will remember that she did smile.

I will also keep checking behind the stereo for a package. You never know.

 

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14

There’s a Cure for That, but Can You Handle it?

10 Apr

The kitchen looks like a war zone—plates and pot lids strewn about, towels on the floor, a blade from the overhead fan dangling precariously. Blood is seeping out from my husband’s sleeve, dripping onto the kitchen island. Our foreheads are drenched in sweat and we’re panting with exhaustion. The cat’s ears are flattened back, and his eyes seem to be spinning wildly.

I look at my husband for support. We nod in agreement—break time is over. We’re going back in, this time with even more determination.

We’ll get this medicine into him if it’s the last thing we do…

 

OK, it wasn’t that bad, but it felt that way. Aslan, our sweet kitty from the Twilight zone, fought like a wild tiger for about ten minutes before we gave up, and we had to give up, to keep him from hurting himself.

The most disheartening part was that we were fighting over pain medicine. He was in great pain from a bladder infection. We were struggling so hard because we love him and don’t want him to be in pain. But he was afraid.

Cat in a box

You can’t hide in a box. There’s pain in there too.

You cat owners out there would agree, the veterinarian’s instructions were almost laughable (and by laughable I’m talking about that hideous, fear-based, strait-jacket laugh):

“Just measure out 3 milliliters with this plunger and squirt it under his tongue twice a day,” she said. “Do not squirt it down his throat.”

Under his tongue. Riiight.

So we all know how that train derailed, don’t we?

When Aslan wouldn’t open his mouth voluntarily (I hear you snickering), hubby tried the grip & pry method, which instantly brought out the claws.

Then we tried wrapping him, cajoling him, and bribing him with treats, all to no avail.

Then we tried brute persistence (“the heck with under the tongue; this is going down the throat!”) Naturally, more medicine went into my own mouth than his. Tastes as nasty as you’d expect, but my neck doesn’t ache anymore, thank you very much.

We even tried putting it in his food, but apparently the odor is easily detectable, and thereby initiated a hunger strike.

And after all this struggling, we still hadn’t even touched the antibiotic—a rather large purple pill that he needed to ingest in order to cure the infection.

So finally, we gave in. Setting aside the pain medicine, we managed to get him to take the antibiotic by disguising it in a bit of tuna. After about a week of only antibiotic medicine, he is back to his old self. The pain medicine is still in the vial. It makes me sad to think he was in pain much longer than he had to be…if he had only let us help him.

When I think of how hard Aslan fought us and the stress he put himself through, I wonder if that’s what it’s like from God’s perspective as He directs our paths. Does He feel frustrated, or does He watch in amusement when we fight Him? Does He try to force us, or does He give in and let us stay hurt just a bit longer than we might have been?

We’re such goofy kids. We turn away, hide, make deals—anything to avoid THAT, because it’s painful, or different, or scary. How sad to think that all along we’re not only making things worse, but we’re missing out on wonderful gifts He wants to bestow upon us. Because we think we know better. Because we’re afraid. Because we’re mad at Him.

I struggle with the irony that I only want to curl up on His lap and purr when all is well. However, it’s when all is NOT well that He wants most to hold me. For more than ten years I was particularly angry at Him because I lost many loved ones before what I thought was their time, despite knowing that as long as I’m on Earth I never will understand why. By not trusting that God knew what He was doing, I spent years wallowing in anger and hurt before I came back to Him, exhausted from the struggle. He wanted to hold me but I wouldn’t let Him.

I can assure you that whatever pain you’re going though, God is certainly aware of it, and He knows the reason for it, and He knows what will come of it. Trust that He doesn’t want you to be in pain. Why would He, who loves you more than anyone could possibly love a cat, want anything but good for you?

Don’t fight the arms that hold you. His touch can heal. Sit still, already! The best is yet to come.