Some sweet friends and family have asked if I have a subscribe button. Finally, I do have subscription abilities… if you want my new posts sent to you via email. Well, I think I do. These plugins don’t have great directions!
THIS BLOG IS ONLY A TEST OF MY NEW SUBSCRIPTION PLUGIN
For those who have asked if there was a way to “subscribe” to my blogs. I just added that convenience (or nuisance, depending on how you look at it). Please feel no pressure.
I sent an email to a handful of people, who I am pretty sure requested it, telling them I set them up. THIS IS A TEST BLOG, for those people. Please let me know if it worked! You should get an email with this blog printed in it. If you would like to get these emails, you might need to confirm it by checking the box that says “Notify me of new posts by email.” and then click the post comment button.
And if you haven’t told me, but you would like to get an email when I post a blog, please comment below, or email me at email@example.com. In the subject line say Blog subscription, and I will add you to the list. (So far I have not been able to get a “button” on the homepage that allows people to add themselves).
There IS a safe unsubscribe offer at the bottom of every email. 😉 You aren’t hooked for life.
You could also LIKE the Pink Reflections Facebook page, where I post each blog. https://www.facebook.com/pinkreflections.org?ref=tn_tnmn
Soon, I hope to not be on Facebook, personally. Or to limit it tremendously — see my last post. And the one before it about my smart phone ADDICTION. A challenge to understand YOUR possible ADDICTION is coming. I would love you to play along and let me know how it goes!
Rob and I watched a very old and horrible alien encounter movie Friday night — there is just no good, mindless TV anymore. But it was very nostalgic.
I got a glimpse of what Rob might have looked like in his plaid flannel shirt with a puffy down vest — and long curly hair. And remember when traffic lights blinked after midnight, and “snow” came on the TV about 11:00 pm, just after the national anthem played? The good ole days.
It made me think of that familiar high pitched noise, and the ominous announcement “This is only a test! In the event of an actual emergency…” It gave us all the opportunity to think of our cold war bomb shelters or earthquake and tornado plans — then it was back to Gilligan’s Island, I Dream of Jeanie, The Brady Bunch (little did I know that was a precursor to educational TV for me).
If we had that today… would there ever be an uninterrupted program? The world is nutty… I don’t understand it… but I feel called to more prayer and more bold sharing of my faith– and the amazing ways God shows up in my life to help me do things I never would or could alone.
Faith is personal, but certainly not private. Romans 1:12 says “That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”
The term “Sandwich Generation” was officially added to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary back in 2006. The Sandwich generation is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting (financially and/ or emotionally) their own children. It’s me and possibly you?
There are many ways to build the sandwich…
Traditional: those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.
Club Sandwich: those in their 50s or 60s sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and possibly grandchildren, or those in their 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
Open Faced: anyone else involved in elder care.
And the definition doesn’t mentioned the fact that for women, aging parents and young adult children all hit just about the same time as menopause. Talk about a fried, HOT mess!
As “children” in our midlife season, it’s a joy and privilege for us to help our aging parents in any way we can. God thought it so important that honor your parents was the first commandment with a promise attached to it. “Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” It’s not hard to understand why, especially after you have children of your own. I know I am forever indebted to my wonderful mom and dad for all their sacrifices, love, and gifts for me. I would do anything in my power to make this stage of their lives better and more joyful for them. The problem is the “answers” to the big issues of the golden years aren’t always entirely obvious — and often the days don’t end up feeling so golden to our parents. We feel powerless to give back to the ones we owe the most, and this hurts us.
And then there’s our children — at any age, they are our very hearts, beating outside our bodies. There is nothing within our power we wouldn’t do for their good. We never thought it possible to love them more than when their chubby faces peeked out of smocked dresses and cute little overalls. But we do. We love who they have become and all the potential we see for them. We pray for them as they launch independent lives. But it’s a tough world out there, and like us, they have to learn a lot in the school of hard knocks. It’s so hard to watch your child struggle — at any age. We feel powerless to protect them anymore, and it hurts us.
Currently all 5 of our children are in a great place; I am so thankful. But I have also been around long enough to know how life works. We’re almost always heading out of a tough time or enjoying the good times before our next challenge. John 16:33 says it well, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
It all adds up to this: being at the center of this complicated and tremendous sandwich is often one of the most difficult stages of our own lives. Our good hearts and willing hands can be rendered helpless against the perils of the “aging process,” whether we’re talking about men and women developing independence through the teens and 20s or the aging process of the 70s, 80s, 90s and sometimes beyond.
Do you ever feel like the middle slice of meat — definitely fried to a crisp — expected to hold together a whole tremendous Dagwood Sandwich? I know I do.
Sometimes from the center of my family sandwich, I feel incredibly overwhelmed and consumed. It seems I can’t really name the really “big” stressors in my life, but I am drowning in them collectively. My mind is cluttered. I have little time to take care of myself. I’m scattered, trying to manage my thoughts, feelings, and plans for myself and my family. I just can’t seem to do all that I feel I should accomplish for others or in my own life.
We eat out more, because I’m not managing the house or meals all that well. Exercise gets squeezed out, and the added pounds from both add stress. I miss events in my friend’s lives, and cringe when I hear myself apologize saying, “It’s been such a busy week.” Rob and I plan short little getaways to escape and hang on tight to our marriage as a priority.
Time passes and I realize with our travel and busy schedules, I’ve been to church once this month and woefully neglected my quiet times. I’m sporadic in both reading the Bible and prayer — both of which I know can be the very joy and fabric of my soul. My mind — filled with my own life plus the duties of being the all-important center in the family sandwich — is rarely still or quiet enough to listen for the Shepherd’s voice. I am conforming to the world and believing only in the circumstances around me, and what I must do to help those I love.
Webster’s definition of an idol is “the excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” In today’s language an idol is anything that replaces the one, true God. Looks like my well-meaning daughter and mother roles have developed into an idolatry problem. Another commandment in Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Anything that consistently takes me away from my relationship with God is idolatry. I will be able to keep BOTH commandments I’ve mentioned, when I’m putting first things (God) first. Matthew 6:33 says “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
I take a deep breath… exhale. I must guard and protect my intimate times with God above all else. Period. This is the best thing I can do for myself, my parents, my children, my marriage, my work, my life. Trust God and His plan. He has never failed me or led me astray. I have never been sorry I did things His way, even when the world didn’t understand.
One more thing comes to mind — what am I seeking in all my concern and efforts for my parents and children? What caused me to drift away from God? In a nutshell, don’t we want control of our lives? I used to be able to tend the little red wagon holding all my children without major disturbances. My parents were thriving and still available to advise me. I was “in control,” and had resources — but what about now? Everything seems out of MY control — even that which is going well! (Is this realization possibly called wisdom?)
There’s nothing wrong with doing all I can to give comfort and help to my family — and others for that matter. This falls under the Greatest commandment. We help in many practical ways, both our parents and adult children. Decisions must be made and actions taken — and at times, we are the ones called upon to make them. But motivations are always worth checking. Do I feel it is all up to me? Am I trusting that God loves all my family more than I ever dreamed of? Am I remembering that this life on earth is just a blip on God’s eternal timeline? Is God remaining #1?
And what about the anguish and guilt I feel around the way things are and all I can’t do? What of my need to influence my children’s choices or judge my parent’s decisions in the turmoil of these senior years? What about when I risk relationships with my siblings, because I am well-intentioned and believe my way is best for my parents? What about when I preach instead of simply listening, loving and accepting. Can I really trust God’s plan for life and death? Can I live my life His way, and be thankful in all things? Even in this messy sandwich stage?
Well, I would design old age differently, if I were god. I wouldn’t allow illness, dementia, deterioration or degeneration (wrinkles and gray hair might be okay, but I would have everyone view them as badges of honor). I would want old age to be, well, golden. I would gladly give up some of my comfort for my parents to live out their lives on a wonderful, high note.
I wouldn’t let anyone treat my children unfairly or without kindness — at any age. I would want everyone to know and love them as I do. I want them to inherit, without pain, all that I have learned through the experiences of my life, so that they would never suffer. Wouldn’t my way make for a happier, if possibly more vanilla life? It feels like it at times — but it sounds ridiculous even to me when my way is spelled out.
It is Good Friday. “And on the night He was betrayed, He broke bread and lifted it up, and gave thanks.” (1 Corinthians 11: 23-24) If Jesus can give thanks in that, knowing His crucifixion followed, can I not trust Him and give thanks in all that’s on my overflowing, sandwich-adorned plate? Or will I believe it’s all up to me, and squeeze him out — just for this season.
It all circles back to God… Ruthless trust in the One who loves me and all my family most. And putting Him first: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
Priorities. Trust. Love. God’s got my whole Dagwood sandwich in His hands. I’m glad He’s in control, and I’m just a piece of beloved, fried pastrami in the middle.
Note: This may sound like nothing concrete and easier said than done… but, considering yesterday’s post when I was feeling pretty low in my prayer life — Abba is faithful and will show the way through prayer. Please read it, if you have a chance. 😉
It’s not that I’ve grown weary with writing, frustrated with my lack of understanding in navigating the blogger’s world, or fallen back into the fear of sharing my creative efforts that seem to pale in comparison to all I read (though all of those are temptations). I just haven’t finished any of the eleven blog drafts I am working on!
Nor have I felt an insistent nudge to write NOW about THIS — like I did a few days before Christmas when I stopped my shopping and scurrying to sit down and pour my (new) thoughts on paper in a one or two hour sitting. All my posts aren’t like that. Others start as a ‘series’ in my mind, are tumbled about and typed and edited over a day or two, weeks or even months.
My remaining unpublished reflections from the 2003-2006 period of life I ominously call, “the divorce,” have not drawn me in to add my 2014 perspective. Sometimes I just don’t want to go there. I want to write about wonderful, joyful, encouraging things. The truth is that God’s work in my divorce is ALL those things. To revisit that time and to share is to be generous with what God has given me. I will soon return to writing about “the divorce,” because it is in the posts reflecting on all God taught me through that pain — your comments reveal — God touched the most women. Thank you for your comments, here and on facebook. They are a tremendous source of encouragement and blessings for me!
This post is different. I am sitting sipping my coffee in a fuzzy cow’s hide rocking chair on my porch at Alligator Point. It is a beautiful morning, and oh so peaceful. Through many years, this sanctuary has been where God has best communicated His love for me, His desires for me, His delight in Me, His gifts to me, and His awe-inspiring majesty and character. God and I love to be together here. I feel His pleasure, His love, and gratitude overflows.
Of course there is nothing magical about this porch. God is available and longing to be with me always! It is my heart that is changed when I am here. Alligator Point is a beautifully slow place — where the urgent is forgotten and all that’s important rises to the surface. God’s presence rolls in as persistently as the waves. I cannot lose Him in the curious play of the dolphin. the soaring dives of the pelicans, the unique hilarity of the flying fish, the warmth of the sand, the exhilaration of the wind, the timidity of the sea turtle, the energy of dogs on the beach, the amazement and joy of little children in the sand and surf, the sunrises and sunsets…. even that list could fill 100 blogs! But if you’ve ever been to the beach (or your special place), you get it.
As I was reading through Paul’s Epistles in The Message (all references in this post will be from The Message), I felt a nudge… “just write and share some of what you are learning, believing and thinking as we’re together.” So with no form or forethought, here are a few things the Holy Spirit has placed in my heart… I am writing them in ‘His voice’ as they come to me in my time with HIm. I have prayed this way for years — inspired by the little devotional, “God Calling” (which also inspired the wonderful and popular Jesus Calling). These are my words, my prayers, as I feel the Holy Spirit speaking to me today. I invite you into our conversation, and pray you will be blessed and only that which Jesus desires you to see or hear will come to you.
Be yourself. Fully alive as I created you. Share all that you are. Do not be afraid. I am always with you. I adore in you. I will always love you.
Stop striving and trying so hard to be good. To do things for me. Why do you return to that life? You know I simply want our hearts joined in love and friendship. That is all you must do. Open yourself to me in daily surrender. The rest is up to me. Don’t feel you need to start a new work. Open your heart to the filling of my love and let it pour through you as you open your heart to others.
When you feel tears as you did last night, notice. your heart, where my Holy Spirit dwells, I am speaking to you. Draw near to Me. Spend time listening to me — to know my will for you in this. Let me heal you and guide you in touching others.
Gratitude! See me and acknowledge me in all things throughout your days. Let praise and thanksgiving be spontaneous outpourings. Nothing exists without My hand. All is attributable to me. In ALL things, give thanks. Worship me with your whole life!
Prayer is crucial. Prayer is time spent with me. Sharing your heart. Listening. Agreeing with Me. Adoration. Notice how with your husband gone, you want to text Him a greeting in the morning, share little thoughts throughout the day, and go to bed with ‘goodnight’ and ‘I love you’ whispered from your lips. How much more I long to be with you all day long! I have given you this wonderful earthly relationship as a reflection of my love. As wonderful as it is, I AM loves you infinitely and perfectly. I am perfect love. Enjoy your husband in gratitude to me, but also let your marriage point you to Me! I am your top priority, your sufficiency, your first love. “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things shall be given to you.”
What I did while on earth, continues on… I live through you and all my children! Please don’t squander a moment. I created you. You bear my image. Do not censor or hide who you are, who I am — or the world will be deprived of the uniqueness in you that speaks of me. You are nothing without me, but you reflect the very LIFE of Christ through my Holy Spirit in you! Live as if you believe in your heart all that you know in your mind is true! Let me cover your doubts and insecurities with My love and assurance. I cannot tell you how excited I am for you to live this wide open life! Smallness, scarcity, and fears come from within. Open your life fully to Me and others. Live openly and expansively! “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12
“The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.” Galatians 3 It really does begin and end with ME! Let go of the old life. The old ways. The world’s ways. Look for ways to draw near to Me. To join Me. And I will draw near to you and make your path known. “When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace.” Galatians 5
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the works you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6 Remembering that it is I who equips you. You are perfectly suited for the work I prepared for you in advance. To the world it sounds harsh and limiting to say, ‘it is all about God, not you.’ But you know, in this there is great freedom! It’s not up to you! Respond to Me and let Me work through you. You will be blessed beyond measure.
“It is in Christ we find out who we are and what we are living for.” Ephesians 1 I AM is your answer. Put down your books for a while — possibly the 40 days of lent? This is not meant to be a rule to follow, but your joy. Put down you other good and worthy books, blogs and devotionals, and devote that time to Me — to prayer and My living Word. Let’s get close and intimate for a while to be sure you are clear on who you are in Me. Then, I will send you out in confidence to LIVE IT! To live out your inheritance. To join Me in the work I am doing! I have been preparing you for this time. Do not rely on your natural abilities; I am equipping you. Trust me. Cling to Me. I love you. Soon we will run on the road I am calling you to travel!
Watch what I do and do it! I love you! Love others as I have loved you. I am generous and extravagant with My love! Since all you offer flows from me, you draw from the same storehouses… Love as I have loved you. And fill the very air you breathe with thanksgiving and praise as you go. Celebrate Me everyday in every moment. Make it clear to all you meet that it is your joy to love and encourage them. Think about that. Everyone. Remember you are called to love even your enemies, and pray for them. Generosity knows no boundaries!
Be bold in sharing Me. When people hear of Who I am and all I have done, they cannot help but respond to My greatness! “The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you.” Colossians 1 Share yourself with others and reveal me. Trust me to water the seed and grow the faith. All is done in and through Me. “Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple.” Colossians 1 “Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. … No, you’re already in … through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin .. God brought you alive right along with Christ! Colossians 2 Join me in all I am doing! Be alert and aware of Me through daily, intimate relationship. Pray that you will see the doors I open for you, and let me guide you to make the most of every opportunity. All things are possible with Me.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, Abba… I am so humbled before you. Thank you for loving me so well and giving to me so generously. Thank you for this little piece of heaven where we meet so intimately. I lift to You my prayers for anyone who reads these words that nothing will enter their minds and hearts that is not good and pleasing to You. I pray that you will bless them and grow their personal relationships with you, wherever they are today. I pray that all the readers of my blog will seek Your Word, the Bible, to know You and Your truths for themselves. I pray that they will know your salvation. And with it, Your love, peace and joy. In your precious name, Jesus, I pray. Amen