Saturday, April 29, 2017
Well…as I commented yesterday morning, I had decided to embark in a little adventure. I was not going to fret about every tiny detail of one of my classes that I was particularly worried about. Like I said, I usually have every minute of every class period perfectly planned so there is no “mindlessly-browsing-my-phone” time available to my students. Needless to say, accomplishing that makes me a very frazzled teacher. Yesterday, I was bothered, nervous, anxious (all of the above) about one particular class for which I was not confident I had enough to do. But I chose to trust God rather than to go into a frantic re-planning session.
I went in armed with what I had previously prepared and without rehearsing in my mind how to do this (that was SOOOOO hard…I caught myself constantly trying to rehearse/re-rehearse in my mind…and making myself stop was a task). Anyway, I distributed the activity which involved a significant amount of reading. I hardly ever give them in-classroom reading activities because that is just WAY too passive for me. I usually assigned reading activities as homework. And in the rare occasion that I do give them a reading to do in the classroom…I hardly give them enough time to finish it…why? Because I hate the silence!!!! I get nervous thinking they are going to just pretend to read when what they are doing is secretly using their phones under the desk…
I have issues…yes…that’s the point of all this!
Anyway, I introduced the task. I gave them the reading. And I let go. I kept glancing at them to make sure they were actually reading, and to my surprise…they were! They even seemed interested!
I decided to give them until the half hour marker so everyone would finish the entire reading. And, yes, I had to stop myself from the urge of cutting the reading time short…but I managed. At the set time, we began a rather productive discussion and before I knew it…time was up! Go figured! I survived an unrehearsed, non-fastidiously planned, non-action-packed, non-frenzy-inducing, but rather calmed class!
I forgot to mention, I commended my mind and soul to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit before I did all these, of course. Otherwise...you know…
I trusted God to take care of me in the little things, and I pray I can learn to trust Him in the big things…for He is always with me…even when I am not aware of His presence.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, even the most stubborn of Martha’s can have a small Mary moment of calm and stillness… how refreshing!
Friday, April 28, 2017
I am a paradox tangled into a contradiction. I am an obsessive controller who is disorganized. I am a poor planner who stresses out about endless to-do lists. I am a type A/action-driven person who wastes enormous amounts of time. I live on the edge and I’m afraid of everything.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s very confusing being me.
By God’s grace I’m able to finish my days in one piece.
For most of my life, I’ve been spinning in a wheel of frantic pacing, panicky planning and fearful attempts at controlling everything around me…and boy, I sure am dizzy.
Here’s just one example. As a teacher, I want to have every second of my class planned. If I don’t, I lose my students to the evil phone devil…so, I frantically spend most of my mental time preparing for class to make sure that those 50 minutes are packed full of things to do. I’d wake up in the morning and the first thing in my mind would be the long list of things I had to accomplish that day, and of course, on the top of the list it would be a mental rehearsal of each of my classes. I’d drive myself crazy with step-by-step self-instructions…the day would not start yet, and I’d be exhausted.
Then, God in His great mercy and love for this anxious daughter of His, placed in my hands a devotional that speaks to me directly, and for days, weeks really, I have been hearing from God a message of letting go. He has been speaking to me about depending on Him and Him alone…and to stop thinking that I can have it all under my control. This is what He says to me today:
As you look into the day that stretches out before you, you see many choice-points along the way. The myriad possibilities these choices present can confuse you. Draw your mind back to the threshold of this day, where I stand beside you, lovingly preparing you for what is ahead.
You must make your choices one at a time since each is contingent upon the decision that precedes it. Instead of tying to create a mental map of your path through this day, focus on My loving Presence with you. I will equip you as you go so that you can handle whatever comes your way. Trust Me to supply what you need when you need it.
I’m getting ready to go to class, and there is one that I am worried about because I don’t think I have enough activities to do with them today…but I am resisting the temptation to go into panicky planning and just trust…maybe it will be a relaxed classed!!!??? Where my students are not in some sort of Spanish frenzy…well, that’s a thought I never thought about…hmmmm…let’s see how it goes, shall we?
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Back in 1991, I think, entertainer Paula Abdul had a hit song called Rush Rush. It was a slow-paced, romantic ballad that Dan and I adopted as “our song” during the early days of our relationship. He even made me a super cool video to this song…I’m so sad I can’t find that thing…but don’t tell him, OK? I think he believes I still have it…yikes!
Anyway, back then I didn’t know much about Bible sisters Mary and Martha…let alone the fact that I was showing the first signs of being a die-hard Martha. The fact I liked this song, however, should have been my first clue of how I was going to turn out. Little did I know the sensual beat of “Rush, Rush” was going to become the cantankerous cackle of “Hurry UP! Hurry UP!” that is often heard nearby my surroundings, coming out of my mouth…
I rush because I always feel like I’m running behind in life... I start up my days earlier than I have to hoping to enjoy a slow morning…but it never happens. Inevitably, I find myself rushing up and down the steep steps of my house (my knees will eventually slow me down, I know it) trying to leave the house as soon as possible so I can have more time at work and take it easy, to only end up rushing back and forth in my office and hurrying down the hallways so I can get to my classroom earlier and then continue rushing through my class periods until I’m done and I hurry back to my office so I can do some work before I hurry back home to start rushing the kids to do their homework, make dinner, finish up work, do some housework so I can have a few minutes of “quiet, slow-paced” time with God which I end up rushing through so I can go to bed and get some sleep…which doesn’t come easily because my mind is rushing through all the things I have to do the next day…
It is impossible to get all caught up with my life… so I keep on the “rush, rush.” And I’m exhausted.
The truth is (which I have not yet learned) that there is a lot of truth in the expression “Who cares?”
Dan has dared to tell me that upon occasions. He has said things like: “Who cares if the house is not clean to your standards?” “Who cares if the dishes are still sitting in the sink since this morning?” “Who cares if the bed didn’t get made?” “Who cares if the laundry is piling up?” “Have you realized that you are the only one who actually cares?”
I was infuriated the first time he talked to me like that!
Later I realized, he is right…
That’s not what life is about! I’m wasting my time rushing around to accomplish tasks of lesser importance, while the truly significant things that matter in life lie unattended.
This are the moments when my Martha nature gets in the way of true worship. Rather than keeping my eyes on the Most High, I focus on the circumstances, issues and tasks of the day thinking that I’m in control and that I can juggle them on my own. It is no wonder that I’m stressed out and constantly in a hurry. Nobody can do life on their own. I need to learn the lesson of Mary and pray the Holy Spirit helps me realized and act upon the fact that sitting still by the feet of Jesus is the best way to get things done. It might seem too passive for an action-driven person like me; but it is the most effective and efficient way to accomplish the most important goal of my goal-oriented life: basking in the presence of Christ…
It is time for me to stop the senseless “rush, rush” crazy cycle I’ve been spinning in for the last 20+ years…and learn to lean on Him from the smallest to the largest of tasks.
Monday, April 24, 2017
There is always something thrilling and majestic, but also something overwhelmingly humbling that pops into our hearts and souls when we get to witness the power of prayer. I mean, it isn’t as if our very lives weren’t a miracle in and of themselves, and that prayers are not answered every second in this world…but sometimes, oftentimes, at least in my personal experience, I am so distracted that I don’t notice the divinity of ordinary moments.
God, however, in His desire for us to be inspired, moved and transformed, upon occasion chooses to display His power in a way that is impossible to take for granted or to think of as ordinary. Even the most distracted of Martha’s could not ignore it when Our Lord decides to show His power for us to see. And last week it happened to me.
As we sat in fear waiting to hear about the serious condition of a dear friend…more like a surrogate mother really…I prayed in earnest, from the bottom of my heart, as did an entire congregation of souls who sincerely love this woman of God.
When I went to visit my friend at the hospital, I have to admit I walked out of there and had to sit in my car at the parking lot for a while because I could not stop sobbing… Even though she had shown signs of recognition, I felt as if we were going to lose her this time…suddenly, however, I did experience a surge of hope. And the prayer that came to my heart was: “Until you say otherwise, Lord, I will continue to pray for her complete and full recovery…until you say otherwise, Lord…”
I repeated that prayer over and over again during my hour-long commute back home. That very same night, I got word that my dear friend had made a miraculous come back and that things were looking up. Prayers of praise and thanksgiving popped all over the place as those who had been hard in prayer recognized the Lord´s hand all over the situation…from the moment she collapsed at church, instead of in her house where she would have been alone, losing precious time, crucial for recovery, to the moment they removed the tubes and she began to speak again, Christ’s power has been made evident for all to witnessed.
I know she has not fully recovered yet; but I trust God’s plan and by His grace she will be a testimony of how our lives are in His hands…the safest place to be.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Lent and Easter have come and gone, and with them, a rather intense season of my life has taken place. March was an awfully stressful month and whatever has passed of April has not been much different. Choppy waters propelled by doctor’s appointments and tests added to house-guests and extra responsibilities and frustrations at work plus the everyday battles fought at home, have left a tail of anxiety trapped within its wake.
I have to confess that my Martha condition has been exacerbated by the events and circumstances surrounding me these last two months to the point of utter distraction…and I am ashamed…
I have not exercise my ability to come to the feet of the Lord with my burdens and just sit still in His presence, like Mary. I have been Martha all the way, every day…seeking His face just to complain and to throw panicky words on His direction in a desperate attempt to grabbed a miracle that would pull me away from a pit that I failed to realize was of my own doing. I dug the very hole where I sink. And I forgot that rather than continue on my frantic pace to be my own god over my circumstances, all I had to do was to be still and let Him be God.
It even got funny, now that I think back…for example, when I announced that we were going to host the family for Easter at our house, my sons yelled in unison: “NOOOOO!!!” Not because they didn’t want to spend precious moments with their relatives…but because they knew what that implied: a relentless push to clean and prep the house so it would get to my impossible standards of tidiness. They knew the days of slavery to a mop, broom and bathroom chemicals were upon them and they felt helpless.
But, the good news is that Christ loves us way too much to leave us in the pit. Like He did with Martha, He spoke to me in a language that I could understand…and on Easter morning…He rose in my heart again when He showed me my older son, Grant, carrying the cross at church in the short drama the youth put together during the sunrise service. I filmed the whole thing…and I replayed it over and over again to re-live the emotions that I felt when I saw Grant doing a most moving job playing His part as Jesus in this drama…and in those brief and unassuming minutes, my soul was finally attuned to the reality of Christ in our midst.
It was as if Jesus was telling me…in a whisper…”nothing else matters…The Cross leads to Victory! Our troubles are momentary, I have paid it all…you owe nothing…just seek me, and you will finally be free…you will finally have peace.”
Easter Sunday dinner at our house was a success. I overcooked the appetizers and corn bake. The icemaker was malfunctioning. The TV set broke. It rained for a while and the dog threw up in my new rug. All in all, however, it was a great day. The rain eventually stopped and the sun began to shine brightly, warming our weary souls enough to see the kids, young and old, play and be silly in the backyard. When the rain came again, we sat in our TV-less family room and chatted until a calm and contented feeling settled in our hearts and it was time to say good-night.
God is Good, All the Time…and All the Time, He is Good. His Love and Mercy reaches even to the most distracted of Marthas and His face shines even in the darkest of pits. I pray you all had a most blessed Easter.
Thursday, April 6, 2017
I have crossed the threshold of Martha and Mary’s house. I’m back on the dusty road. My feet are beginning to get dirty again and pebbles are starting to crawl into my sandals as the distance between me and the sisters’ house increases.
One thing is for sure, the time I spent visiting with them has confirmed as well as revealed much about the inner workings of my soul and about the specifications of my design. I am a Martha that needs to learn one very important lesson from Mary: How to choose to seek Him first above all other things. The way I seek Him, however, is as a Martha, for I cannot be a Mary.
I need to surrender to Him. I need to let go of the things that entangle my everyday life. I need to trust Him so peace like a river can flow all over me as I leave behind a frantic lifestyle that makes me frazzled and overwhelmed.
I am a restless spirit who needs to learn how to rest.
I am a mover who needs to learn how to be still.
I am an action-prone woman who needs to learn that sometimes the best action is to sit down and listen.
I am an intellectual who needs to learn how to tune in to her heart so mind and spirit could be in sink.
I am a doer who needs to learn that she cannot do it all.
I am a hurricane who needs to learn to discover the joy in the gentle breeze.
I pray that the journey with Martha and Mary has been as productive and enriching for you as it has been for me. Please let me know if you’d like to share any of your Martha and Mary stories. I would love to hear from you.