Joan Reynolds

Real Faith, Real Life & Real Joy
Browsing Christian Faith

What If We Had No Stress?

August16

How would we handle our lives if we truly perceived them as not being stressful? I have really been chewing on this for the past few weeks, as I am readjusting to my new life. I am on a three-hour different time clock,  and I have let go of all my attachments; to things, furniture, houses, ways of making a living and ways of volunteering and connecting to people. That has left me with pretty much a clean slate upon which to choose what I want my life to look and feel like from now on.

What I noticed immediately was the difference between me and my family and friends whose days were caught up with keeping up with everything already on their plates. I recognized just how difficult it is for anyone to get any perspective on what needs to go, when staying ahead of crisis seems to be an all consuming job. Even though someone, perhaps a counselor or physician, may alert them to the fact that they have to rid themselves of some stressors, getting time to do that in their stressed-out environment is impossible. Making that time seems to only cause pure panic that everything will swamp them. It’s the story of the guy spinning ten plates in the air. If he stops focusing one may drop. If he doesn’t stop focusing he may go nuts from the pressure and they may all fall on his head. What is the solution here?

Some of us may have noticed a friend, suddenly stricken by an accident or illness, having to totally rearrange their priorities and though the immediate reaction is how will all the things they have been handling get covered, we soon observe that a peace has come over them that we never saw before. Often they have just, finally, had to put their health and their families first on their agenda, to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. It is amazing that we love them none the less for this decision, because we know it is the only way they will survive to remain in our lives. Why is it that we can’t see this until disaster befalls us? Why can’t we make similar decisions before we are forced to, when it really is in our best interest?

I have come to see, over the past four years, that everything bad that happens does have a silver lining, if we are willing to look for it. Every loss is indeed a gain, for God if for no one else, as we most often turn our attention fully to Him only when we run out of other options. He is capable of making all things new and using everything for our best. Total trust in that is the only fact we have trouble acknowledging. Why do we cling to our stress? Is anyone really making us, or does it just confirm some absurd reason for being here that we seem to have to be needed? We are needed, but often not for the reasons we think. I have been examining that for the past month, and found I have had little reason to blog when I was so happy and so stress free. What does that say about our need to constantly communicate our stress with others?

Hmmmm. I am still pondering all this in my heart. I hope to have more insight in the future. Until then, it is good to be back on my gypsy-like home page, back keeping in touch with life, love, and faith.

He Makes All Things New!

August14

Today I put the last piece of the puzzle in place before I become a grandmother, and forget how to do anything else! I found my new church family. Its funny how you think you can do that last, after you get your house in order, so to speak, when you have made a major move.

Two weeks ago, I had researched churches in my new locality and I actually narrowed it down to a couple I thought I would check out. I dressed for church (probably overdressed, by Southern California casual standards!) and drove to one of them and pulled into the parking lot about a half hour before the service. It was very funny, but God never urged me to get out of the car. I watched people greet one another in the parking lot, and go into church over the next half hour, but then I drove home. there was nothing wrong with what I saw. The people looked friendly and like people I would like, but there was just a caution to sit in my seat.

I feel at home pretty much every where I go. I have a tendency to make others feel comfortable. I am not terribly shy. So for me to find the place that is right for me, I really have to wait on God and feel His direction. That is not always easy. But today I could see why I hesitated. The church I went to today was just perfect for me. A non-denominational Bible-based church, but one with a very real outreach in many areas of the community. I had no problem being first out of the parking lot, then took a moment to stop by the newcomer’s table where I met a nice couple, then went in and sat in the church, where the musicians were warming up.

Soon people began to fill the church, and I was surrounded by many men and women my age who introduced themselves to me and included me in conversation. Then followed a wonderful service where the songs seemed hand-picked for me in response to all I have seen God do for me in this move (Great is thy Faithfulness was one). I found out after the service that the senior ministry usually sat on the exact opposite side of the church. Some people had taken their usual seats today so they all moved to where I was sitting. You can’t tell me that wasn’t the Lord! The last church I was in, I kept asking if there was any senior’s ministry and didn’t find out for a year that they all sat together and had a Bible study during the first service. I spent a year sitting alone. No one seemed to know or to tell me that there was a group I was looking for all that time, the church was that big.

This to me was all the sign I needed that I was indeed in the church God thought was best for me at this point in my journey. My other complaint at my last one was minor, but it was that they never played any music that I recognized from many years of being in the church. Today He gave me one familiar song, right off the bat. I had four people hand me their cards or their numbers and one gave me the newsletter of the goings on of the over 60’s. What a blessing!

Just like when I got my dog Gypsy, my first part of finding him was just to turn into the humane shelter parking lot and sit. I didn’t go into the shelter until the next week. Had I gone sooner, my dog would not have been there. This church did not even meet last week, when I drove up to LA to see my kids, as they were out in the community doing projects with non-profits. Had I gone to their parking lot that day I would have not been received at all. This was the appointed day. I love when things are that clear. Then I can just move forward and enjoy being a part of what God has for me, not wondering if there is something better, or doubting my choice.

Everything about this move has followed that pattern, as though God came here ahead of me and found everything I would love. I am enjoying finding all the good gifts He has laid out for me on this wonderful treasure hunt. My basket is overflowing with presents (and Presence), and I know that I am His much loved child. It is a wonderful feeling!

The Queen of Restarts!

June21

A male friend of mine from thirty years ago (and another lifetime!) called today. I started telling him about my move to the other coast and my plans to fly out there and find a job and a place to live next weekend.

He has known me through several major moves, three to different states, one to a different country, so he is used to this kind of news from me. I haven’t done anything for twenty years though, so even he was caught off guard for a minute. Then he said, “Well, you are the Queen of restarts!”

I looked the word up in the online dictionary and it said “to begin again or anew.” That does feel comfortable somehow. Not so much recreating myself, but being willing to take a whole new look at life from a different perspective! I feel like I am just willing to put on a new pair of glasses and see what I can see.  A different climate, perhaps a new group of friends, a new place to put my computer and a few other belongings that will make the trip, a different path to walk my dog Gypsy, a time change of three hours. A new church family, and a new grandchild!!!

Yes, that does sound like anew more than again, the again  really means I have done this before ….but never in the same way, or with the same companions or the same attitude or mindset. I will gather up all that I am now and that is who I will be taking with me. The product of all those other moves and memories,  all the inner healing God has been working on with me over the years…..It is a-gain!

The one thing I do know is I will not be traveling alone. God will be right beside me, ready to share the wonder and joy,  heartache and helplessness. It is all part and parcel of the continuous journey we are on together. My hope is that He will help me use all the gifts and talents, healing and hope that He has put inside me wherever we land and that I will be a blessing to those that I have yet to meet, especially that grandchild!

 

Faith or Fear…Who’s Home At Your House?

June20

I was playing around with these words today, because it seems to me they are the two most important words in dealing with everyone, everyday. No matter what our situation, how we handle it has everything to do with how we approach these two words.

Fear and faith cannot inhabit our bodies, minds or souls at the same time, therefore we are continually choosing the one for whom we will open the door . Is it the one who gets there first? In that case, is your faith only visiting when you call and ask it to come over?

Do you let fear in the moment he knocks, immediately pondering worst case scenarios, moving on from there to call a few friends who, depending on their own relationship with these two visitors, either add to or help dispel your fear? Finally, after much inner strife and struggle, do you finally turn to God to replace fear with faith in your current situation?

FEAR. F+Ear. What it looks like to me is we get to choose our own F-word. Whichever one we give our ear to is the one who takes up residence.

We can listen to God and give ear to Faith, or we can run into the waiting arms of the enemy and let fear claim squatters rights. It is truly a matter of choice. Whomever you let in first is difficult to evict. So take a few moments to choose wisely.

Faith on the other hand, separates into this for me:

Faith =

Am

I

Trusting

Him?

Pretty simple actually. Answer that one and you will know why you run where you run when the unexpected or unwanted happens. Keep an eye on those guys! It is your choice, you know.

Magical Mystery Journey!

June14

I was getting ready to write about something else this morning, but as I put my prayer results into my prayer journal for yesterday I just could not help but continue on the vein I have been on!

I have taken a normal composition book, the kind we all used in school “back then,” and on the left side every morning during my quiet time I write down my prayers for the day as I am talking to God. On the right side I usually put the answers to prayers I have received. I will usually do the answers to the previous day before I pen the requests for the current morning.

I have been doing this for a couple of weeks now. I got the idea from a book by Kathryn Stockett  called The Help. The main character was infamous in her church for the book in which she put her prayer requests. It seemed everyone wanted to be in its pages, as she appeared to have a direct link to God’s heart.

What I have noticed is how incredibly specific and daily are those answers, now that I am seeing them in my journal the very next day. I think sometimes we feel blessed and we thank God for answers to our prayers, but there is a vagueness to the timing and we often don’t notice how much He did in any given day.

My results are written directly across from my requests, and it is difficult to obscure the obvious! He is right on it, like white on rice, as they say. I am sure I am not alone in this, but perhaps I just rarely hear of others with my same observations. Partly because I am in the midst of a big move based solely on faith I may be more finely tuned than normal, even for me.  The unfolding of His plan for me from day to day is absolutely thrilling!

How apparent setbacks or obstacles quickly turn into blessings is clear as can be, especially if I haven’t given them even a moment of worry in my own mind. What a remarkable friend we have in Jesus, and how awesome is our God, able to do anything we cannot do, just because He loves us so!

 

God Is On The Move!

June7

This was a very interesting weekend, full of amazing ‘God has been there before me’ moments!

There are almost too many to mention, but it started with trying to find and book an inexpensive flight to LA to celebrate both my birthday and my daughter-in-love’s shower the end of this month. there were only a couple round trips left that would come in at my budget and they necessitated a back up for my Nanny job two evenings that week. I  didn’t have a back-up person, so I was hesitant to hit the Book It button.

After a few hours of looking for alternatives, I committed and just did it. Withing two minutes the phone rang and a friend shared the good news that her next door neighbor, a friend of mine as well, would be glad to take the nanny days I would miss! Yea. Then the mailman came about five minutes later and brought an envelope containing a check from someone I had helped find a tenant for his rental property several months ago. It was for just over the price of the round trip ticket to LA! Double yea.

Then my son came over and shared that he was in a new and happily compelling relationship with someone he met several weeks ago. Which was also an answer to my recently stepped-up prayers for my youngest son to meet the love of his life. I don’t know if this is the one, but if not it will help him get ready for the one! Triple yea.

Then today I found out the price of the bridge I will need to replace a bad tooth and a few minutes after that an offer on a house I had put in for an investor got accepted, giving me almost the full price of the bridge just in time for me to need it! Quadruple yea.

There are several other things that have also been happening, but I can share them tomorrow after I know the outcome. I am excited, because God is definitely moving to California with me, and I guess we are going sooner than I had thought. He is a good husband, always providing for me with plans He has set in motion way before I am aware of it all. It always blows me away how He has prepared the way for us. That’s when I know for sure that being single never means being alone, and I am so very grateful for that. We will celebrate our 29th anniversary this December. I don’t think we have ever even had a fight!

 

Time And Love

May29

While these really don’t appear to have anything to do with one another, they often do. Love is an expression; of our feelings, our commitment, our connection to one another.

Expression can be through the written word, or the spoken word, but usually it is in one of those forms. In a busy life contained within an even busier world, very often time limits everything. What we choose to give our time to often points out where our priorities, and often our hearts, lie.  If you are in constant contact with someone, a small comment like “I can’t talk now, I’m…….” is perceived as neither  a slight nor particularly personal in nature. From someone with whom you haven’t spoken in a year, someone as close in relation as, say, a brother or a sister, it is difficult to receive without a slight personal edge to it. We all have our duties and our allegiances, those to whom we are very careful not to let our words carry unwanted thorns. And then we have times that we are busy just trying to accomplish all that we have to do for those in our inner circle, or for ourselves, where adding  anything else to a full plate seems overwhelming.

Lost in those moments (we do not have time for) is often the essence and the promise of our future relationships. Will we even notice the place where the other person finally surrenders to not being a priority, not being even a little important, no longer an unexpected but perhaps wonderful interruption to their schedule? It is where one person seeks to exit from the pain of not being noticed, and withdraws to a more comfortable place in the shadows of anothers priorities. Much like the clear message that there can’t be a fight if one party stops fighting, there also can’t be depth and a growing love if one person stops making time for the other. It becomes a void where the absence becomes a hole where love used to be or almost worse, a numbness to any feeling at all. This being preferable to a harbored grudge or resentment, it becomes merely a bruise that over time and neglect will no longer hurt.

I am often struck be how a person’s smile, or face lighting up as they catch our eyes, does more for our bodies and spirits than any amount of vitamins and reading spiritually uplifting material can do. It takes little time, but instead a real recognition of the persons presence and value in our life. We all remember to say those things to their relatives when they have left this life, but did we always take the time to let the person themselves hear the light in our voices or our words that let them know they were priorities?

We can always improve on this as we face each day. We can always notice those to whom our noticing really matters. For me, it always comes back to the differences in the way God created us in the first place. There are amongst us individuals to whom everything seems personal. There are also those amongst us to whom life is a mountain of details needing to be handled. We each bring needed perspectives to our daily living.

The trouble arises when we forget our innate differences and just assume everyone sees life exactly as we do. Bridging those rivers is what real relationship is all about. Love, for me, comes from someone remembering to notice how different we are and yet taking the precious time to work at building and maintaining the bridge anyway.

 

 

Barnacles, Be Gone!

May26

I was talking to two good friends this morning and noticed I had repeated the same phrase twice, so I figure there is more than one person who needs to hear it besides me!

I was talking about going through my years of stuff, something I also find I am not alone in doing these days, and so many things no longer need to be saved. They are pictures, letters, papers relating to a me that I have outgrown. Oh, a lot of clothing goes in that category as well! Seriously, there are things that you have grown beyond, people who are no longer in your life, things that were important that have taken their seat in the balcony, or the basement.

We grow, hopefully, into the best version of ourselves over time. This requires updating, as would a previous edition of most books. A little editing, refining, making current the most important parts of our story. I referred to this refining as getting the barnacles off, as one would remove them from the bottom of a boat, so that it could skim through the water faster. That is what I am doing, scraping off barnacles for my own ease of movement to the next phase of my journey. What can I let go of that will allow me to travel easier, faster, a slimmer, more compact version of myself?

There are some parts I will leave behind. Past ways of earning a living, such as real estate and faux finishing, are probably best served traveling only as memories. They both carry a lot of weight in supplies and paperwork, past clients and information galore. I actually enjoyed the relief that followed my shredding of past files and was aware of a heaviness that lifted immediately off me. I am still wrestling with furniture, what to sell and what to give away, but that will sort itself out soon.

What I want is to take the very best, most streamlined version of my best self, pared down only to the necessities to maintain that self, and then begin my new life armed with the knowledge of who that person is, today, and what is important to her. On that I can build my best new life!

Triumph!

May18

Over fear, that is. All the things you read about feel the fear and do it anyway? They are right, but it doesn’t take away the fear….until after it’s over! Like the next day. When you realize you stood in front of a live audience and sang a song with a live band without really rehearsing and never trying out the mike, something you have never been familiar with, and totally one hundred percent terrified you will forget the lyrics!

OK, so you only lost one word, and no one would even have noticed if you hadn’t laughed at yourself. And all in all, you took a risk, and there was never going to be a safer time to do it. Now I know why comedians test out their work in comedy clubs for years…..I don’t know how my son does it. Sometimes in front of twenty thousand people with his face blown up on a huge screen and every move recorded for history! God Bless him! And He certainly has. There is no better backup than your son on sax, not for this Mom who has a song or two unsung still inside her.

Anyway, I would have told all my friends to come, but I was afraid I would feel more pressure and chicken out. I had to have an exit plan. The funny thing was the day before his gig I told him there was a song with a sax solo I thought might be fun to do together. He was all over it and we just decided to do it with little fanfare or discussion. I figured I am leaving this town shortly and nobody here really knows I like to sing, so it will be a farewell song of sorts (meaning if it bombs, they will forget quickly, or at least I won’t have to think about it). But I remembered telling the Lord last year that for my 65th birthday I really wanted to gather friends and family and see if Bob could fly East and put a small combo together and I could sing a song or two. The day before his gig I realized it was close to that birthday, and even though I was now moving West as my present, God had assembled half the people on my list and the perfect combo. Was I going to miss God’s present to me? I could have, easily. But I didn’t, gratefully. Another reason to keep our eyes open for the opportunities hidden in the fears. Don’t let anyone steal them from you or scare you away from them!

Fighting Overwhelm!

May10

Forty-five days and counting. Still haven’t cataloged the furniture to foster care vs. to sell. Spent another day scanning papers that might be needed (or wanted) for review someday….probably only if I write my memoirs, but who knows at this moment?

Another call to Salvation Army who will be by with their weekly truck for pick up. Why does it seem that I am hardly making a dent in everything? Because I have waited 35 years to do this, that’s why!

I am really seeing the value of less is more, in regards to everything. The few things I should have been remembering to do on a daily basis (take vitamins, exercise, eat well) got lost in the volume of stuff that I probably just kept moving from room to room, pile to pile, house to house, all these years. No wonder I felt tired!

It definitely helps to have a goal, but just setting up easier methods in the computer can take an entire day! At the end of the day I just have to appreciate that the piles are lower, the system is there for the future, the appointments are made. It’s something. One more step toward freedom from the clutter that surrounds me! Resist the temptation to toss it all as there has been ‘gold in them thar hills’! (was that from the Beverly Hillbillies?)  :-)

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