Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Gift of Surrendering


Right now it is storming here.  The rain is pouring from the clouds outside, and inside, the tears are pouring from my eyes.

Today is one of those days, when I just want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and forget about everything.  It comes on the heels of a particularly bad couple of weeks.  I have been battling the Shingles for the third time; I have had another painful gall bladder attack over the weekend; and this morning I had to rush Pork Chop (our little doggie) to the vet because he his throat and nose were swelling up and he couldn't breathe (a reaction to a vaccine he had received).

And today marks one year since my since my husband and I pulled up roots.  Roots that ran wide.  Roots that ran deep. A year since we relocated, in order for us to follow what The Lord is calling us to do, in this season of life, in the place he is calling us to do it.

But here's the thing.  It has not been an easy transition.  I am missing my friends.  I am missing our home that my husband and I built and the memories that we created there as a family.  I am missing the life we knew for the last 20 years.

My husband works long hours and I am finding myself alone and isolated from others far too much of the time. Current health challenges keep me from getting out and about as much as I would like in order to meet and make new friends. The health care modalities that could ease (if not possibly eliminate) the chronic pain I suffer with are readily available here, yet not accessible, since our insurance won't cover their cost. Our house still hasn't sold.

At this point, I am wondering what in the world are we doing here??

But here's the other thing  - even on my worst day, I have so much to be grateful for.
I serve a God who lavishes his Grace on me each and every day. A God whose Mercies are new every morning. A God who walks with me, lovingly leading me to a renewed sense of His Presence, Mercy and Love. I have a family and friends who love me. I have a beautiful home (well heck - right now I have two) and my husband has a good job.

And here's the third thing - What if the very things I need are the very things I fight the most? What if this solitude is exactly what I need at this time to draw me closer to my Lord? Exactly what I need to become more serious about my prayer life? Exactly what I need to step more deeply into my callings as writer and life coach? What if this season of transition is actually a gift wrapped in suffering?

So what if it's not really about the transition after all?  What if this transition is really about transformation?  My transformation?  A stripping away of the old, and ushering in of the new? Excruciating growing pains.  My loving Father inviting me yet again to follow Him in FAITH?
Me, kicking and screaming like a toddler who doesn't yet want to leave the ice cream shoppe.  He, like the good Father that He is, reaching down, picking me up and carrying me, until exhausted I stop kicking, I stop screaming, and at last, I are ready to let go of my will and surrender to His.
Hard Surrender. A Long Time in Coming Surrender. Not a One Time and It's Done Surrender. But Sweet Surrender.

Perhaps, it is in these moments -  these moments of Surrender - that He sets me down, takes my hand in His, and once again invites me to follow Him in the calling and places He has chosen and equipped me for long before I ever arrived here; perhaps it is in these moments  - when Surrender finally comes - that I get to participate in the great exchange - exchanging my Temporal wants and needs for His
Eternal Purposes.  Perhaps it is in these moments - the Not a One Time and It's Done Moment - but these times of Sweet Surrender -  that I get to partner with Christ in the plan He has set out for me, using the gifts he has given me, in the timing He has ordained for me, to actually make a difference in the world.

I certainly hope so.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

When Opportunity Shouts

It's been a strange kind of day.  I had lunch earlier with a dear friend, who no longer lives in the same town as I do, so I cherish our get togethers all the more now.  While at lunch, we were discussing how neither of us really wanted to serve "inside" the church anymore, but wanted to go "outside" its' walls to reach the lost and hurting with the love of Christ.

Later in the evening, my husband and I were sitting in our living room eating dinner, while watching the evening news.  We heard someone shouting outside and at first we ignored it, thinking it was just a neighborhood kid playing around.  When the shouting got louder and more insistent, we went to the window to see what was going on.  We saw a woman standing outside our gate, yelling and waving a flashlight.  My husband went outside first and I followed behind.

The young woman was shouting hysterically that something had happened to her dog - that he was hurt and that no one was home and she needed help.  We recognized her as someone we had seen in the neighborhood and working around town, so my husband went down the road with her to check on her dog, and I stayed behind and prayed.

We live and operate a bed and breakfast off the beaten path on a long winding country road.  We are grateful that The Lord has given us the resources to turn our modest home into our dream home, as well as to build a lovely bed and breakfast cottage on our property, surrounded by beautiful gardens, to offer as a place of rest and refreshment to others.  There are other modest homes in the neighborhood and a sprinkling of mobile homes - some well maintained - some badly in need of repair.

When my husband returned home, the news was not good.  The young woman lived in very poor conditions inside one of the mobile homes. She owned several dogs whom she dearly loved, and the one she came frantically looking for help for, had been hit by a car.  She had recently lost her job and had just broken up with her boyfriend because he had been abusing her.  She now had a roomate, because she was afraid to stay by herself.  And tonight one of her "babies" that she had adopted from the humane society was badly injured.

She apologized for "bothering" us and for crying about her dog.  As I hugged her and assured her that as a dog lover myself with a "baby" of my own, I completely understood - it seemed so inadequate.

My husband's calm compassionate demeanor, as he followed this distressed young woman home, examined her little dog, and helped her determine the best course of action to help her precious pet - all seemed so inadequate as well.

I wanted to take away her pain - all of it.  The pain of possibly losing her precious "baby", the pain of poverty, the pain of suffering abuse at the hands of another.  But I couldn't.  My husband couldn't.  We couldn't.

I wanted to pack up my extra clothes, my extra dishes, my extra sheets and blankets and bring them down to share with her.  When my husband told me she had mentioned to him how beautiful she thought our bed and breakfast gardens were and how peaceful she felt when she walked by, I wanted to throw open our garden gate and tell her she could come sit in it anytime she wants.

But I can't go down the block, goods in hand and drop them off uninvited and unasked for.  Still, I believe she came "shouting" at our house for a reason.  Perhaps, it was just for tonight's need - comfort and help in her distress.  Perhaps more.  I honestly don't know how to help her, only that my heart wants to.

Later, as I pondered the obvious question out loud to my husband of "Why?" "Why did she come to our house for help?" - she doesn't know us, we aren't the nearest house - he gave me the obvious answer.  "Because she saw the light on." The other houses in the neighborhood were dark - ours was shining brightly.

Yes! I want to be the house with the light on.  I want to be the life with the light of Christ shining brightly.  I want to offer people in distress the same love and compassion that I as a child of God have been so blessed to receive from Him through Christ.

Perhaps, we did give the woman all she wanted and for that matter all she needed from us.  Perhaps it was just a start and there is more to give.  I will have to trust that the same God who brought her to our home in her time of need, will show us if there is more to do.  But for now, I will be thankful for the opportunity that came "shouting" tonight.

Questions for Thought:
What opportunities are "shouting" at you?
How might God be calling you to respond?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Crazy


"You can find inspiration in everything (and if you can't look again)" -Paul Smith

I've been asking myself a lot of questions lately.  Questions like: "What type of women do I really want to coach in my coaching business?" and "Who exactly do I want to reach with my writing?"

I've also been wrestling with some recurring questions swirling about in my head (yes I hear voices - does that make me crazy?)  ones that are constantly vying for top billing in my thoughts. The winners as of late have been "Does that make me crazy?" And "Who do you think you are?"

I often find inspiration in strange places and today I found it in Southern Hip Hop Artist Cee Lo Green's hit "Crazy." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgRLrOyxUBo&feature=youtube_gdata_player.  He wrote the lyrics to "Crazy" after a conversation he had with a friend about people thinking artists are insane.

In case you're not familiar with the lyrics, they read like this:

I remember when, I remember,
I remember when I lost my mind.
There was something so pleasant about that place.
Even your emotions had an echo is so much space.

And when you're out there, without care,
yeah, I was out of touch.
But it wan't because I didn't know enough.
I just knew too much...

Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Possibly

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice
That's my only advice

Come on now
Who do you
Who do you
Who do you
Who do you think you are?
Ha, ha, ha!
Bless your soul!
Do you really think you're in control?

Well...
I think you're crazy!
I think you're crazy!
I think you're crazy!
Just like me!

My heroes had the heart
to lose their lives out on a limb.
And all I remember
is thinkin' I wanna be like them.

Ever since I was little,
Ever since I was little, it looked like fun
it was no coincidence I've come
And I can die when I'm done

But maybe I'm crazy
Maybe you're crazy
Maybe we're crazy
Probably


Yes, I remember when I lost my mind - when I decided to follow my dreams and I remember the pleasantness of that place as I finally gave myself permission to free up the creative space to do so.

I know what it's like to be out of touch - to ignore logic and reality and to follow my dreams anyway - because I know what they are, and because to me, they are worth following.

I'm all too familiar with  the voice(s) in my head that are constantly asking me "Are you crazy?" And "Who do you think you are?" And I know all too well the constant struggle to not let those questions deter me from my path.

I realize that while following my passion in life will give me the time of my life, thinking twice about the cost to do so is so very necessary.  So I've thought about it twice (maybe three times)  and I've decided that not following my dream would invariably cost me more.

Today, the answer to the nagging question "Who do you think you are?" was finally forthcoming! "I think  I am an ordinary woman with an extraordinary dream - to inspire others to follow their dreams by following mine." 

That dream (to be a writer)  was there since I was little and as I looked at my heroes, I too can remember thinking I want to be like them.  And no, it is not a coincidence that I've come to this place - it is a decision.  A decision to follow my dreams.  A decision to do what it takes to get there.  A decision to inspire others to do the same.

 I only recently declared myself a writer along with many others followers of 
http://www.goinswriter.com and shortly thereafter writing opportunities began to open up.  I am now in the process of transitioning to a writer's life and finding inspiration in the two online classes I am presently taking at http://www.susannahconway.com and http://www.kellyraeroberts.com.

I now know the type of women I want to coach, the readers I hope to reach with my writing.

They are the "crazy" ones.  The one's that have a dream deep in their souls, a passion burning them from the inside out, a calling that won't stop calling their name.  They are the crazy ones who know  too much - they know what their dream is and won't give up its' pursuit until it's realized.  They are the crazy ones, the ones who are ignoring the medical reports and seeking to find purpose in their pain and fighting their way back to a joy-filled life in spite of the facts.  They are the crazy ones who leave the cushy life of the corporate world to open their dream business.  They are the crazy ones, the artists, the musicians, the writers,  the designers who want to speak to others through their beauty and their words.  They are the crazy ones, the ones who'll ignore logic, the ones who will push past  insurmountable obstacles, the ones who hear questions swirling around in their brains, and the ones who want to find the courage to answer those questions...... all because of a dream.  

Yes, I want to reach the "crazy" ones - the ones just like you and just like me.

"Does that make me crazy?"

Probably.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Am a Writer


As the warm water washes over my body in my morning shower, thoughts are whirling around inside my brain just begging to be captured on paper before they once again elude me. I let myself allow those thoughts to go where they desire.

The ideas excite me so much I hurry through the rest of my shower, step out of the tub, towel off and begin to get dressed so that I can begin the business of writing today because....

I am a writer.

As I comb my hair it feels a little oily. Did I forget to shampoo? I ponder whether It would be possible to let it go since I've set aside today to really concentrate on writing a contest entry for the "You Are a Writer" Contest. I decide against it; we have Bed and Breakfast guests arriving shortly and it would not look very professional for a disheveled host with somewhat oily hair to greet them. So it's back into the shower.

Now, I am showered (twice), shampooed, dressed and ready to begin. I turn my iPad on, poise my fingers over the keyboard and....the phone rings. Better take this call it might be a B&B booking......

By now the clock is showing 1:00 and my stomach is demanding lunch...so I decide to fix myself something to eat, but continue to keep the creative thoughts flowing, while I gobble down left-over chicken pot pie.

I stack the dishes in the sink, turn to go back to my bedroom office, ready to get a fresh start, when my little dog begins barking wildly alerting me to the arrival of our B&B guests.

I get them settled in, return to the house ready to begin at last.

I am a writer.

As I pass through the living-room I catch a glimpse of a white car parked in front of our house. I pause to look at it a minute trying to discern why it's just sitting there when I notice a lady getting out with a package. I grab the ginger ale I had poured into a wine glass and head outside to meet her. She hands me an overnight package to sign for and comments on the beauty of our gardens.  As I sign the receipt slip I tell her we are actually a B&B. I see her staring a bit at the wine glass and I explain to her that, though I am a writer, I'm not drinking wine in the middle of the day - it's just ginger ale.

"You're okay," she says soothingly, "You're okay."

I ask her if she wants to come in to take a peek at the gardens and I offer her some ginger ale, more for proof of my sobriety than for pure hospitality. We have a pleasant visit and then I head back inside and sit down to begin writing.

The house phone rings. I ignore it and keep writing. The doorbell rings. I ignore it and keep writing. It rings again, this time more insistently, so I reluctantly get up to answer it. It's my neighbor, explaining that he has some of our mail and that he tried to call but no one answered so he thought he'd better bring it over.  I thank him, but silently wonder why he didn't just put it in our mailbox. I try to be pleasant as I move towards the gate with him, all the while only half listening as he talks about the tree across the street that is sure to fall on our house when the next big storm blows through if the county doesn't cut it down soon. I excuse myself and tell him I need to get back to work because...

I am a writer.

I decide that I need to pack up and go to my favorite coffee shop to get away from all the distractions so I can really write. After I arrive, I order a cup of serene green tea (because by now I need it) and a cinnamon scone and pick out a table in an out of the way corner near the back of the shop.

At last I am alone with my thoughts. My fingers fly across the keyboard much like a pianist's fly across a piano during the Allegro scherzando third movement of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor. I become lost in the words, lost in the story, unaware of passing time. The ideas seem to flow effortlessly and I am quite sure that at last I will have something to show for my efforts.

Sharon, one of the shop's owners, invites herself to sit down for a moment to chat. She directs my attention to a large table nearby where the pieces of a puzzle are spread out and invites me to work a while on the "community" project. I decline, thinking that I am already hard at work on my own puzzle, trying to fit the fragments of sentences together to form an inspiring piece.

Sharon excuses herself to go and assist a customer and I see Carrie heading towards me with the same expectant smile she always wears. As she asks if I mind if she sits down, and does so without waiting for my response, I instantly feel a prick of guilt over not feeling more altruistic towards her today.  Carrie is a high functioning autistic which she proudly proclaims to whoever will listen. She is full of stories, mostly the same ones retold in different ways, but ones she loves to tell nonetheless. I push aside my iPad, give her my full attention and just listen without interrupting to comment. After a while, she notices my iPad, my pen and the papers which are strewn all over the table and proclaims to me, "Oh, you are a writer!"

"Why, yes," I reply.

"I am a writer."

Two hours later, 268 calories richer and $6.75 poorer, with two proud paragraphs to my name, I head home. I cook and eat dinner, clean up, feed the dog and take a long hot bath. 
I slip into my nightgown and then slip into bed. I pull my iPad close, ready to have some really intimate conversation with it but it seems that all that I've wanted and waited all day to tell it, has slipped away. 

I decide to thumb through a few magazines in hopes of gaining a little inspiration. I find myself getting pumped with creative ideas - ideas on how to make my environment a more inspiring one in which to write because....

I am a writer.

I survey my bedroom office. The floral lavender walls provide the perfect balance of inspiration and relaxation. The plum colored sheets covered with a beautiful ivory matelasse coverlet dress the king-sized cherry wood sleigh bed. A hand painted five-shelf bookcase holds only books which inspire me to create. On the right side of our bed is my writing space. Two huge 30x16 rose canvases are mounted above my antique verde colored wicker and iron desk. Two oil-rubbed bronze buffet lamps flank either side of the desk, and my laptop and iPad rest in the middle. 

Oh this is a place I can write! It's a place where I can withdraw from the world, be alone with my thoughts and coax them onto the page. In fact, I am able to coax several more paragraphs out in a short time and I begin to feel encouraged that I might make the contest deadline after all.

I am a writer!

But wait.....something is not quite right.....I hate to admit it, but I must....as a person who is visually inspired and very cognizant of the psychology of color and how it affects my mood and ability to create, I have to admit that this iPad case which I ordered online last week thinking it was plum, only to discover it is actually grape, just isnt working.
I have tried to pretend it is plum, tried to pretend it works, but each time I look at it - it reminds me of the nasty grape-flavored anti-nausea medicine I needed to take last week after an acute attack of gastritis. It causes me to feel nauseated all over again and I just can't write.

I decide to Google " best iPad 3 covers" and also to Google "whether plum or fuchsia inspires more creativity."

Although plums resume touts it as encouraging deep contemplation, pink is described as a powerful color representing the feminine principal. I find both a plum, and a lipstick pink leather cover. I switch back and forth between the two, comparing them in high resolution, and I finally decide on the lipstick pink one hoping that it is in actuality closer to fashion fuchsia than to hot pink. It should perfectly balance out the lavender walls, the plum accents and look beautiful sitting atop my verde desk under the oversized pictures of the pink roses which perfectly blend shades of amaranth pink, carnation pink and Persian rose with apple and forest greens, sepia, ecru and eggshell.

I decide to forego the advertised free shipping and decide instead to pay the two day shipping cost. That way I can be assured that my beautiful leather pink lipstick case with its intricate pebble detailing will arrive before the deadline for getting my "You Are a Writer" entry in.

Then I can do the final draft sitting at my desk, bathed in creative surroundings and I can be sure that it captures, in my own unique way, through my own unique process, who I am....

I am a writer!

As I hit the "buy now" button, I notice the clock reads 2 a.m. I lay the iPad aside, pull the covers up and let my final thoughts of the day carry me where they will because...

I am a writer!


Terry Gassett
Writer

Friday, May 11, 2012

Refreshment

Ahh - Stress - we're on all too familiar terms.  But how well are we acquainted with the other side of the coin - Refreshment?  Jesus tells us "Come unto me all ye who are burdened and heavy-laden and I will refresh you.

While Jesus and His Word provide the ultimate refreshment, we can also rejoice that we have been blessed with the creative canvas of our Father which is on permanent display for our enjoyment each day.

When was the last you stopped to truly delight in the beauty of God's creation? The last time you paused to enjoy a raindrop gently touching your cheek? The last time you sat quietly listening to the morning songbird serenading her young or the evening Hoot Owl bidding you a good night? The last time you drank in the intoxicating aroma of a rose or ran your fingers gently over its velvety petals?

Can you remember when you last witnessed a breathtaking sunrise or watched clouds morph from cats into old ladies?  How long has it been since you've said hello to the "man in the moon" or quietly waited on your front porch for "star light, star bright, the first star you see tonight?"

When was the last time you skimmed a rock out over the top of a creek just so you could count the ripples it made? Listened to the secret conversations hidden deep within the recesses of the sea shell you discovered as you witnessed the ocean changing from high tide to low tide?

When was the last time you paused and unloaded your burdens?

All too often we are so busy carrying our burdens from place to place that we miss the joy of the moment, and so refreshment eludes us.

Refreshment begans with a pause - pausing to put down our burdens, pausing to pick up the Word, pausing to commune with God in prayer, pausing to drink in the beauty of His creation.

Will you take time to pause today and experience the joy of refreshment?
    .

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Value of Piddling

I spent the day piddling.  Piddling is so not like me - I'm usually one whose "To Do" list is written the night before, whose day is well thought-out and well planned; one who feels their day has been a success when most of the items on the "To Do" list are checked off at the end of the day.

But today was different. Today I piddled.  I filed the stack of papers in the kitchen and the ones in our bedroom that I've been meaning to get to for the past few months.  I folded the two baskets of clothes in the laundry room and hung my husband's shirts in the closet. I made some long overdo phone calls, and even penned a note to a friend.  I checked in with the little town of Mayberry to see what Sheriff Andy Taylor, Aunt Bee, Opie and the gang were up to. I fixed myself a peanut butter and honey sandwich with a glass of milk and ate it outside on the front porch while my doggie chewed his bone at my feet.

Ah life is good... I piddled around today and I am unapologetic.  For you see, I've discovered the value in piddling.  I got so many of the little things done, the things that get pushed aside so much of the time, while I'm going about the business of running a business.

Tomorrow, I'll be back to my "To Do" list, full schedule and well thought-out and well-planned day.
I hope to accomplish much and at the end of the day feel that I've succeeded. Back to business as usual - except for one thing -  in the not too distance future I'll be scheduling in another day to just piddle.