Oregon Gardens

My husband and I are enjoying the beauty and wonder of one of the most beautiful places on earth for a few days. This is a very welcome refuge in the midst of a chaotic era.  The pandemic has meant everyone is home, cooped up in a neighborhood we usually enjoy living in a lot. So getting away is ever so welcome. We are thankful for the small town we live in, though a change of scenery is good for everyone.

Eventually I will share some of the best pictures….this place is a photographer’s dream. It’s nearby our family farm, so coming here feels like home. Last evening, I sat in my power chair a few feet from a doe and her fawn, and they watched me as I enjoyed their presence. Humming birds fly so close to my head I can hear their wings and feel the soft breeze generated by their wings.

fences and lambs

Last evening my husband and I were returning from the store, and one of the lambs was outside of the fence. So we went back home, and I grabbed my boots and a rope and went to see if I could get the lamb back inside the pasture. I borrowed a kid on the way since I can’t run any more, and the kids father and another brother followed us out to the field. This is just a few minutes from our neighborhood. These aren’t my sheep, mind you, but the owner is an older fellow who is having some health problems.

When I arrived at the pasture, the lamb was already back inside the fence and a huge gaping hole in the rusty old poorly maintained fence made it obvious where he had escaped. I thought about how vital boundaries are in our marriages, for our health, and in so many ways. Many of us live in marriages where the fences are not always well-maintained. That can look like so many different things. Emotional neglect, love anorexia was a terms I think someone used, lack of intimacy, anger issues, the list goes on. In our marriage, sometimes we go too long without spending quality time together. Now and then, I think it was less lonely being single.  I can do something about this by finding ways to connect with my husband.  However just as the farmer needs to maintain his fences, marriage takes work. The sheep don’t get out so often when the when the fences are maintained properly.

As I was fixing the fence last night with some rope, bungee cord and leather, I thought about what kinds of things our marriage needs right now. Some of the things that reassure and comfort my husband include having a clean kitchen, keeping up with housework, and having order in the house. Sometimes these things are hard to achieve for me because of my health as multiple sclerosis progresses. But I felt like it was a gentle reminder last evening to me that our marriage will benefit from finding creative solutions to the challenges we face. I don’t know for sure what the future holds, and I can only do my part. But I do know that God speaks to me as one of His beloved lambs, and His word strengthens and encourages me. I’m reminded to look to the shepherd for all of my needs. One version of Psalm 23 says, the Lord is my shepherd. I have everything I need. In Christ, I don’t have to look at the things that are lacking in my life and be discouraged, I can look to Him for fulfillment and unconditional love. May He bless you today.

Q & A about Healthy Detachment

Q:  How did you get to healthy detachment?

My response: You ask such wonderful questions. I may need to ponder my response a bit more, but I’ll give it a try. I think I have a little advantage in that my career was in counseling. So our training taught us to hold unconditional positive regard for our clients while maintaining a healthy detachment. If I am working harder than a client, something is wrong. It’s their life when they walk in the door, and it’s their life when I leave. I’m learning to respond more consistently to people in my life in a similar way. I’m letting them deal with their own anger issues without engaging much. I won’t tolerate  control and unhealthy expression of anger. I am teaching others how to treat me.  I may create another blog where I write about this and related topics specifically, but not yet. Rest is what I need today for my health as MS gets more challenging.

What strategies help defuse tense situations rather than escalating things?

  •  I worked in the prison system when I was a young woman. They taught us what to do if taken hostage, use of deadly force, and all kinds of things in the training. I always try to remember some of the ways they taught us to keep things from escalating worse. One was just calmly saying the person’s name. I grew up with a father who was severely mentally ill at times, so I guess I learned to disengage from a young age. He would rage at me for hours if I allowed it. I would just think to myself, poor thing. And not allow his words to enter my heart if possible. Sometimes I just acted as an objective observer. I remember telling dad I’d work for him one summer on the farm but if he yelled more than 15 minutes I was going home and billing him for the full day. He agreed to it. Hang in there. It’s not easy, but we can learn a lot that helps us have quality lives despite the challenges. I have decided that I am going to be myself, do good self care, and let the chips fall where they may. I can have joy in the LORD and focus on my walk with Him, and find fulfillment in Him.  One day at a time, and trusting God to provide and guide me, including how to respond.

Creating Space for What Matters Most

Sometimes we can get caught up in working towards a goal, and in the midst of learning and trying to accomplish something, we lose sight of how this may be impacting us and our relationships.

Recently I made a prayerful decision to let go of a goal, for whatever time God leads me to do so. God gave me guidance in a number of ways…all culminating in a moment when the blur and strain of various responsibilities, emotions and concerns I’d been carrying over the past few months came into focus.

God spoke to my heart in the grocery store, when a fairly simple task felt like a big challenge. The motorized cart I used to gather the groceries for Thanksgiving dinner was full (and I had a few groceries already setting around my feet) and I couldn’t seem to find the frozen turkeys. People pointed here and there as they guessed where the turkeys were kept, but none of their guesses were anything more than a wild goose chase. I wanted to finish and go pick up my mom from her appointment, but I needed to find the turkey first. For a moment, I felt like pulling over and crying. Instead, I prayed, “Please help me, God.”

Finally, I asked the woman at the deli where they kept the turkeys, and whether someone could help me get the turkey to the check-out stand in the front of the store. She pointed at a freezer “island” in the back of the store, and she paged someone to help me. Before the customer service woman arrived to help, a nice young man working in produce (his first day on the job) picked up the 20 lb. turkey I pointed to, and he gladly carried the turkey up to the check-out stand where I took my place in line.

I am thankful for how God spoke an important truth to my heart as I rode the motorized cart around the store, and finally got the turkey and other groceries loaded into my van. Like that cart, my life had gotten too full recently. Health issues and major life transitions of loved ones, the recent loss of a beloved family member, and various other concerns all weighed heavily on my heart.

As I prayed more about all of this, I sensed God showing me that He saw the impact of all that. He is always glad to be with us and treats our weaknesses tenderly. With all of these major life events going on in our extended family in recent months, I realized I really need to create some space for what matters most. To do that, I needed to be willing to put a personal goal on hold, and trust God with this decision and the eventual outcome.

When I shared this decision with a friend, she commented that in Psalm 46:10, “Cease striving and know that I am God,” the language means to release something, to let go and to relax. In releasing this desire to God, I felt such genuine peace. I slept better. I felt able to be more emotionally present again. Offering love and practical support to loved ones began to feel natural again. My own health benefited from this letting go as well. Living with multiple sclerosis is more challenging than I often acknowledge. I try to live in light of eternity, but being realistic about my limitations and my own needs helps.

Sometimes a goal or focus takes on a life of its own, and we begin to work with singular focus towards reaching that goal. But as it says in Ecclesiastes 4:6, “One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after the wind.” Christ calls us to learn the unforced rhythms of grace as we yoke up with Him and find our burdens lighter because of His power and strength.

When God calls us to do something, we apply ourselves and put our heart into this task. Yet, when God leads me to let go of that same goal or task (even for a time or season), I want to obey without hesitation. When love motivates me to set something aside, I can trust God’s timing, His heart and His leading.