“To do or not to do” – I’m sure you’ve heard that saying a time or ten in your life. But did you LISTEN? I mean really listen…not just 'hear.'
To do or not to do requires a decision, action on your part.
As I was prompted to several days of steeping in God’s Word this week. It wasn’t my plan, but I'm glad I not only heard, but I was willing to be still and listen. I was also prompted to praying in the Spirit – I had no idea “what” I was praying, or for whom. By the weeks end, no less than ten people had contacted me with prayer requests, needs, but mostly, to stand in the gap for them as they were facing critical mass warfare.
As I spent those days, at first I was annoyed. I had wanted to get finished up on my second edit for Don’t Wimp Out – Finding Faith, Courage and Victory in Life’s Daily Battles. I have been getting impatient as every time I get close to finishing up, I get knocked on my keister. First the post-chemo complication of having my small intestines wad into a knot, requiring surgery. Recovering included getting all the way to Heaven’s Gates (for the 3rd time) only to have CPR bring me back. Then it was a re-staging of my 14th separate battle with cancer. Most recently, it was a two month battle with pneumonia.
As I have been forced to be “set aside,” I have had hours to look “Up.” God reminded me that sometimes He puts us on our back so we will look ‘Up.’ Having a hoarse voice or no voice at all, and zilch energy, I was a captive audience and truly listened to Him, and looked Upward.
God whispered the same 4 words He has been saying to me since 1985 (Obviously, I am a SLOW learner!): Trust, Obey, Rest, Wait. (Trust: Totally Rely Upon the Savior’s Timing; Obey: Openly Believe the Eternal Yaweh; Rest: Relinquish EVERY thing, Submit Totally; Wait: Willingly And Intentionally Trust….which brings it back full circle to “trust.” (OK, so I’m a dyslexic disciple, too, getting things backwards) He’s tells me to go Right and I meander more to the left, until He hollers: “CARE!! The OTHER left! (meaning get back to the “Right” side!)
As I reflected on each of these words, and watched and listened to the news, and watched God’s Church, I realized how blessed I am to have a non-existent immune system where I can’t be in “public.” I am in a season of being ‘set aside.” It has given me eyes to see how the Church has become complacent. Not just denominations or buildings or race, but His Body. The Church focuses on how many likes they have on their Facebook Page, or how many followers on Twitter; they count numbers of bodies that fill the seats as they “entertain” instead of delving into His word – our Life’s Road Map. Moral failures and sin abound because the Church in America is ‘listening’ but not HEARING; they are ‘looking’ but not “SEEING.”
Our only “Like” should be to God. Our only numbers of followers should be the ones we are bringing to Him, and showing them what a REAL RELATIONSHIP is, not a social media site or gaming site with someone you can’t see or talk to face to face, or go to church for a Sunday performance.
Everyone is bickering and grousing, gazing down at their phones, texting, talking to Siri instead of to God. Their GPS (God’s Personal Sign – to something bigger than themselves) is totally out of kilter and they wonder why they constantly feel “lost.”
I believe, what God was showing me in multiple ways, at multiple times, through multitudes of people and their situations and actions/inaction is – “If My people will not take a stand up for what is good, right and REAL, then they will stand up for nothing.”
I don’t want to get to Heaven’s gates and have God say to me: “Why do you call me Lord, Lord? You have been lukewarm. I don't know who you are.”
Will you stand up against the throngs of today’s worldly culture that shows no respect, values life little, and who does not have a personal relationship with God where God's Heart is their Home?
I hope not.
It’s no secret that I’ve been “set aside.”
At first, I chaffed. I complained. I whined. It didn’t take long to realize tantrums don’t result in answers other than letting pent up feelings blow out like the steam of a pressure cooker.
But being “set aside” has had more blessings than any basket could ever hold. And maybe, just maybe, it took “setting me aside” was the point – to come to the end of myself.
Someone recently asked me: “What is the meaning of Life?” I paused, and thought real hard. My friend’s answer was spot on: “The meaning of Life is LIVING a life full of meaning .”
And then we found this rock at Care's Corner.....what do YOU see?
YOUR life has meaning…are you living it?
As I look from our front window, the seasons of change are evident. Piles of dirty snow sti;; cover most of the the ground, a driveway of glare ice is painstakingly slow as it changes to the Spring Break-Up look of mud, muck, hidden slippery ice and huge dagger like icicles flying off the gutters. I think I may have seen my first bit of green today on ground that had been snow-plowed bare.
It is easy to grouse and complain of the mud tracked through the house from boots not taken off, or an array of “tweener-season” clothes that are dropped by the front door. Does one wear boots? Cleats? Snow bibs? Thermal bibs or walk about in jeans and a hoodie? Wait five minutes and the answer will change.
We are gaining 6+ minutes of light per day, and our bodies getting used to Daylight Savings Time. My ol' bones adjust to losing an hour of sleep. Sigh… my daughter reminds me sleep is far over-rated. Besides, that’s what happens when we die, right? Rumor has it we get to catch up on sleep! (But I've not had confirmation on that, yet!)
Seriously, though, in the middle of my grousing about mud, muck and roller coaster temperatures, I received a Kingdom Keister Kick. Was I going to continue to complain and nag to/about those around me about the mess and the lingering boomerang bug/flu we’ve been hit with (for the 3rd time, thank you) or was I going to kneel – and say a prayer of thanks that we had made it through another wild Alaskan winter, say a prayer grateful for more daylight, and the return of many birds who had flown south (wisely) for the winter? Will I make myself pleasant to be around as I focus on the good things surrounding me – my family, my friends, a warm wood stove and new opportunities as Bill begins his last season of a long, hard, yet rewarding working career?
The choice is totally mine. What about you? Will you NAG or KNEEL?
Every have one of “those” days? You know, the days when the phone rings incessantly, appointments have to be changed, your desk is under mounds of papers (at least I think it is!) and all you want to do is go play outside in the sun and snow?
These are the days that I consciously STOP. Literally... STOP.
I take a breath (or three). Then I go to the place where I know I can find peace. It’s my special quiet place where I meet with the One who laughs with me (and at me some times, I’m sure!) who listens to me, who encourages me.
In fact, I just got back from there – and this is what He reminded me:
3. Remember My care is for all that concerns you. Don’t forget that I created nature to refresh you – so be faithful to get out and breathe in all that I have created. Sing! SING LOUD!
4. Don’t go throwing yourself onto or into the scrap heap.
5. Have patience: Why? Because I choose the strong and willing who will be pounded, hammered, challenged, tuned up by turning screws tight until just the right music emanates through you, showing the world how much you are willing to love and honor Me, not the stuff in the scrap heap!
Ahhh... I'm sure glad I took a "time-out"!
As I opened the window blinds in the bedroom, there she stood, munching away, trimming one of our hedges. I commented to my husband, “Yep! Must be getting to that part of the year! Mama Moose methodically continued chomping down her breakfast. Her yearling calf was on the other side of our house, directly beneath one of the kitchen windows, before joining mom for breakfast around our place. The two of them gave “Bed and Breakfast accommodations” a whole new meaning!
In the last twenty-four hours we have had a huge temperature swing. It went from minus 24 to plus 34 degrees F. The warm-up, forecasted to stay in the teens to low thirties, is a welcome change from below zero temperatures as a high. I think the moose thought so, too, as they slowly meandered from one hedge to another. We have been worried about the moose lately with the extreme cold weather (even by Alaska’s standards). Over a foot of snow covers the ground and snow/ice pack the main roadways. With limited hours of light (sunrise was at 10am and sunset at 4:30pm today – a gain of almost 5 minutes of light!) moose kill increases as they search for food. Searching on paths of least resistance, they tend to walk the railroad tracks or on the sides of snow-plowed roads and driveways, making them a hazard for cars, drivers and the moose. We don’t mind their trimming our hedges – it saves us the work come Spring, plus the pruning will bring out more prolific vegetation and greenery!
Watching Mama trim our hedge, it reminded me of one of my devotional readings this week. It was the lesson of “the hedge.” Often we think of a hedge as an object put up for protection - something to keep us away from harm, even if it has thorns or something sharp and is painful, when we lean up into/against the hedge’s foliage.
As I thought about it, while yes, a hedge is for protection, it can hurt or painful. Protection comes as we are ‘hedged in’ during various trials or tough times that we are facing. God and His garrisons and legions of angels encamp around us, 24/7, and uses protection THROUGH the trials, the thorny situations, to teach us patience, endurance, coping, even peace. And while we may feel the pain, God never lets us go through any more than we can handle.
So will we allow God to put a hedge of protection around us, even though at times it might mean experiencing hurtful sorrow or pain?
How can we not as He wore a crown of thorns for us?
The hours of light grow longer for us in the North, as sure as Seasons are made for change. The events of another year have filled us, grown us, changed us and even shaped us. The weeks and months continued to make us into the ‘us’ we are, and will continuing to BE.
In each day’s little (or big) happenings, we have pressed on, doing our best to live in the moment. Some days have been easier than others, yet if we look close, there are nuggets of golden memories in each day we had life to breathe.
I had no idea what the word LEAN IN” (my ‘word’ for 2018) would mean. I’m not sure I can adequately express the significance these two words held for me, other than it was the right word for the paths I would travel.
Uncertainty fills the air as I enter into the next year – from retirement of being an occupational therapist, looking towards Bill’s retirement from his life work of construction of every shape size and color, to continued adventures at the end of our hand being “medical missionaries.”
So it seems appropriate as I pondered and prayed for my 2019 “Word of the Year” that
CONTENT would bubble to the top and burst to the top of the list. Whatever crosses my path, wherever the journey will take, I purpose to be CONTENT…and with that word comes much Peace.
Thank you for journeying with me through 2018. Hopefully THIS is the year that my second book, Don’t Wimp Out will find it in the hands of the publisher – its close!
May you find your special word to bring you peace, purpose and passion in 2019.
thaYep - Alaska is no place for wimps. Just ask any of the several thousand people in Alaska who have lived with 684 earthquakes in the last 24 hours......That makes it probably well over 800 since the 7.2 that you may have seen on TV, that hit at 0830.
One of the infamous photos is of a road buckling. That road is a main feeder roads where we live. My daughter ventured out today and for your information, she says the sink hold they show on all the news clips don't compare OR prepare you when you drive by it.
One of my favorite hoodies has the saying above: Alaska: Just North of Normal.
Where else if the airport, seaport and trains grind to a halt do you realize you will only have 3 days of groceries available, as it come by land, sea or air. If the roads are buckling.....oh well!
But we are resilient, we are hearty, we are kind, and we help each other. We are blessed to have no earthquake related deaths recorded yet, and only 3 fires (from broken gas line). Yes, it's in the 20's, yes, it's snowing off and on, yes, there are millions of dollars of damage, and yes, our nerves are shot with aftershocks. Structural damage, road damage is everywhere and kids are delighted there will be no school for at least next Wednesday.
But like you - we rely on Faith, Family, Friends and FUN......after all - a lower 48 news caster reported our "salami' evacuation order was cancelled. We were SO relieved, as we didn't have crackers in the cupboard! (It was supposed to be tsunami!!)
Thanks for the out-pouring of concern, texts and emails. We are fine - nothing a vacuum cleaner and broom and elbow grease won't clean up.....when it stops shaking! Stay tuned!!
For those of you who have hung around and with me over the years, you know that I have a collection of what a friend calls “Careisms.” Careisms are comments that I use enough times in my vocabulary they’ve stuck - much like an octopus’ tentacles!
“That’s the way the pickle squirts” or “Did you take your B3 today? (Bible Before Breakfast) are couple Careisms. I’ve been asked if I have a favorite one. It truly is a hard question. Yet, after today, after our family Thanksgiving get-together at our place, I can definitely say “Blessings and s’mores” rates at the top.
I am so blessed to have a husband who has stuck with me through thick and thin, and is a real homegrown chef. He inaugurated his new BBQ today. We were treated to slow-cook/crock-pot short ribs, ribs over gas heat and/or ribs over propane/gas. I’m sure not going to be the one to say which was best – they were each stellar! He added his touch to a “homegrown” mea. His fresh high bush cranberry sauce, relish dip for the raw veggie tray, Ezekiel 4:9 bread mushroom/spinach stuffing with his homegrown seasonings (no boxes here!) and the munchies of artichoke/spinach hummus and meat and crackers tray the kids brought, we were more than sufficiently blessed!
Bill shares his love for cooking with our equally talented daughter. Her green bean casserole and pot of brown beans platter added to the bounty. And THENNN, a slice of Heaven was served. With her award winning gift of making stellar cheesecakes, I have a new favorite after today. She made Bailey’s and Oreo cheesecake cupcakes. Who could resist these blessings?
A second heap of blessings were the real life examples of the saying “If I knew grandkids would be so great, we would have had them first!” Scott and Samantha filled our hearts equally to overflowing as our tummies were. Samantha is like her mama. She loves her olives, especially if they are on her fingers! It wouldn’t be a holiday or birthday if we didn’t have olives, and if either of the Moms forget to throw them in the basket, stocking or have on the table, “uh-oh” are we in trouble!
Blessings, Blessings, Blessings!
Samantha literally ran circles around me in a game of “run around Nana” – after 30 circles we thought for sure she would crash in dizziness, but nope!! Round and round she went.
Scott and Nana stayed out of the way (mostly), playing with my Goofy bowling set, the annoying noise making Goofy crayon, working on matching and hidden picture games, finishing off making snowflakes and considerable (“Nana….go faster!) time on a mask. It’s sure a good thing my long-term memory is intact!
We always look forward when the kids are able come to our place. It’s a blessing we don’t take lightly, with their busy schedules, work and parenting. I realized I hadn’t seen Tim since his foot surgery on November 6th. I was a bit taken back with his neon pink cast/splint! He assured me it wasn’t his choice, but has found the neon pink is bright enough that people tend to steer clear of it, which he truly appreciates!
S’mores? That comes in because we used to say “love you more” to each other. It soon slid into s’mores. I confess, in the fall/winter I start going through withdrawal of campfire s’mores and I make microwaved s’mores. Samantha agrees with me that chocolate should be at the top of food pyramid! This summer Bill’s built a huge s’mores fire pit, complete with benches and chairs crafted from slab-wood. When we watch the kids for an afternoon/evening, we usually have pizza. Who knew the last time, we’d also had a s’mores pizza for dessert!
Need I say more? We know we are blessed. We don’t need a special day to celebrate Thanksgiving. For, in our family, Thanksgiving is every day. So are Christmas and birthdays. We daily take the time to be grateful, to give thanks, whether on the phone, in text, or in person. As a family, we know all too well, there are no ‘guarantees in life.
Our Careisms of “No Regrets” and “Take one day at a time” because “Any one of us could get hit by a moose tomorrow” are familiar in our family. We hope they will be for you, too!
Thanks for being OUR “Blessings and S’mores!”
The Alaska summer/fall season (aka: construction and tourist season) is quickly coming to a close. In reality, at times it’s hard to discern “what” season we are experiencing – unless we looked at the calendar. (Or if you believe in the tooth fairy.)
Cool temperatures and rain were the hallmark of our “summer”. Potatoes, beets, turnips, carrots and berries grew prolifically. Everything else either didn’t grow, or rotted…..except the peas. The moose got the peas days before we had hoped to pick them. Oh well, at least we know our moose are truly ‘organically’ fed. The rains continued into September, with sparse sprinkles of 60-70 degree weather – enough to rid ourselves of our winter white palor. (Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!!) In Alaska, because we are so close to the sun in the summer, you can sit outside for only 15 minutes and get a tan or if you forget your SPF, a nice red glow. The cool temperatures brought out the mega-mosquitoes. The aroma around town was “Ode to Deet” with an added tropical scent (your SPF sunscreen!)
While Fall typically lasts about two, maybe three weeks of splendorous colors , with reds, oranges, fireweed feathers and berries. This year, the colors did not stay the typical two weeks. Neither did the temperatures. All the way through the last week of October we had shorts/t-shirt weather of 50’s, with nighttime temperatures in the forties. Uncanny! We had the brilliant colors, but with the warm temperatures, they quickly turned to brown, and blew away on the evening winds.
Now, if you believe in the tooth fairy, you will believe our weather forecasters. This past Sunday we heard we ‘might’ get one to three inches of snow, We chuckled. SUUURE! After all, it had been in the 50’s all week breaking state weather records daily. Snow? No way!
Imagine our shock when we woke up: six inches of the white stuff, and still coming down hard - all day. The weather forecasters were right? A funky little system stalled over a small part of Anchorage, Palmer and Wasilla. Yet, 15 minutes from our house, nary more than a dusting of snow. (Whew! It is the last week to get a road job finished up Bill was working on!) Now that the snow has stopped, we delight in the return of diamonds glistening as the sun sparkles on the snow bedazzled atop the the once again bare birch limbs.
But MINUS THREE DEGREES? How could one forget what that is like? Our truck would not start. My post-chemo neuropathy flared big time. I drug out the hand-warmers. Three layers of clothes and snow pants and parka were under the Halloween costumes
I have been sleeping in the living room recliner for several weeks, due to the re-staging of my colon cancer attempting a come-back, nine years later. I've felt devastated. I feel sucker-punched. Going through all the tests and exploratory procedures set me physically, nutritionally, emotionally and even spiritually back. Especially as I was getting back to the final home stretch on Book 2: Don’t Wimp Out.
To make matters worse, (yet in a weird possible way) a tooth damaged from chemotherapy that was to be pulled almost 2 years ago was becoming infected, necessitating oral surgery. As the doctors said, “your “normal” (which is far from normal) was and is being very abnormal.”
My medical team’s prescription seemed like a cruel joke. “We want you to do NOTHING.”
What exactly is “nothing?” No talking (due to the oral surgery). No chewing. No talking. (Say whaat?!) I am to be in essential ‘medical quarantine’ at home, only around family. One doctor told me I am so medically fragile, it might do well to get my affairs organized (again).
Even eating/drinking what I could over the last nine months, I have lost over fifty pound – prompting me to remind myself and others: “Be careful what you pray for: you just might get it – like losing some weight, or some time to do “nothing”…..
Why am I sharing all this? First, is many people have been texting/emailing/calling asking have I disappeared. Au contraire – just working on my favorite Yoda quote: “Do it or don’t. There is no try about it.”
Doing nothing is hard work. Temptations are everywhere I turn. Yet, so are many other opportunities. I have time to be still. I have extra time to truly know what it is to learn how to ‘pray without ceasing’. And, while the neurological connections from brain to heart to hand are impacted, I know that the word of encouragement and admonishment that God has given me is spot on. That word? YIELD.
YIELD. Yield my time line. Yield my will. Yield to the moment and no more. Yield to look at the wonder around me. And take advantage of the time to “do nothing!”
What word is God sharing with you today? I’d love to hear!
We usually tell you that "no news is good news".....we think we are going to change that to "OUR 'normal' is so ABNORMAL!"
This is a statement we have recently heard from physicians, friends and family to boot. Our 'normal' summer was a hodge-podge mix of highs to 80, 2 floods/high water (and remodelling of our property AGAIN) and a bit of everything in between. My body once again stymied physicians, and not in a good way.
In the midst of our "you-can't-make-this-stuff-up" days, Bill found himself getting flown by a Coast Guard Search and Rescue heliocopter into the village of Nuisit (west of Prudoe Bay on the oilfields), His expertise and knowledge was called upon to come up with an emergency plan (and supervise its implementation) to re-open Nuitsit's washed out airport runway. It was even more urgent as the village had about 350 additional NON-residents of the village stranded as they had been attending the 45th anniversary celebration of the village, The Coast Guard helicopter was used to bring in emergency food and shelter supplies. Weather hampered some of the work (and delayed Bill getting home) but we are proud to say his plan worked and pilots praised him for his idea and implementation.
While he was away, we were experiencing high water/floods. I was certainly glad Tim had gotten home a week early from working the summer in the village of Nak-nek/King Salmon, doing lab work. He took over for Bill, overseeing everything from power outages, roads flooding, vet duties as poor Bubba (our brindle Mastiff/Rhodesian Ridgeback) got a tooth abcess that required surgery and chauffering me.
They say when it rains it pours - I was just glad that when we had smoke there was no fire.
I wrote the following the other night. it explains a bit of where we are at the moment. We are still working to wrap our heads around what it all means, but for now it will be as always: one day at a time, hitting life head on, with our heads held high. Book 2 (Don't Wimp Out!) is back from the editor, and as soon as I get my feet back under myself, I will get back to work on it. Sorry - "LIFE" got in the way to be able to have out for the holidays!!
Thanks for hanging in with us and for your support.
Sleep eludes my exhausted and pain weary body.
Feeling as though I have hit my lowest of low points,
I am empty and void of feeling,
I roll out of the warmth my bed and wander the house, hoping to discover some magical remedy that would allow me some semblance of restful sleep, if even for an hour.
Recent weeks have been filled with disappointments, at times even despair.
My heart is heavy laden.
Friends do their best to fill voids with cheery sentiments and well wishes.
You want them to just go away. How can they relate to that which they’ve not known?
The floods of summer rains tore majestic trees from their firm roots, depositing them on mounds of gravel that were non-existent one short week ago. Unusually early warm winds swept away the bright Fall yellows and reds of birch and willow trees. In their place are left bare limbs with piles of brown dry leaves in their stead. While the thermometer states it is an unseasonable temperature, more like a warm summer day, my chilled body shivers uncontrollably.
Wearily, I continue to wander in the stillness of the midnight hour, in the quiet of the house. I hope to not awaken Bill, sleeping soundly after laboring long hard hours, additionally performing my tasks as well. My days are relegated to prescribed rest, hoping to win another battle with my nemesis of physical foes. The constant companion of unrelenting pain plagues me with the guilt of having to let others take over, my depleted frame not able to achieve even the simplest of tasks. Relinquishing and humility are not easy.
I gaze outside one last time before returning to the bed that beckons. As I look to the heavens, I unexpectedly realize that the daylight hours have become shorter, and we are able once again to see the majestic Big Dipper, the Alaska State flag, with its tip pointing directly to true North.
As if on cue, a grand spectacle unfolds. First, twinkling stars appear. I focus my gaze at the black and bold outline of the mountains we live beneath. A white shadow comes into view over the very tops of the bold black mountain tops. Suddenly, with no fanfare, no warning, the white shadow turns into dancing reds, purples, greens and yellows. The colors shape-shift as they cascade running the length of the mountain range. Great spires of color reach higher and higher, scampering quickly, then fade.
In the stillness of the night, when I thought I had hit my lowest point, when sleep eluded my weary frame, the utmost of His highest handiwork fills my soul deep within. So like God, to know what you need, when you need it the most.
So like God to be in the details. One hundred percent of the time.
Care Tuk is a nationally known speaker, educator, and retreat/workshop leader. She has been a school, hospital, and home health occupational therapist for more than 30 years. She has been named as a Top Business Woman in America and recognized for her work with youth, disability outreach and awareness, and the American Cancer Society.