Surviving or Thriving?

Today I asked myself am I thriving or surviving?

This little question sparked some pondering. After all, it’s been a fulfilling year in so many ways and I lean toward a thriving answer! Why, even somber reflection illuminates where I have certainly walked in thriving shoes, even during some difficult times. But there’s that nagging question about the moments and issues where “survival” is the operative mode.

“How can I better do ‘survival‘ in the future, Lord?” I ask.

Isn’t “survival” the place we go when we don’t know what else to do? Some of us fuss, complain, and get irritated or maybe we trust and hope that we will make the right choices and reach our hand out for strength, wisdom, mercy and grace.

…The hand. The extension of an arm…a connection…help.  David speaks of the hand in Psalm 139:7-10.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens you are there, if I make my bed in the depths you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea – even there your hand will guide me your right hand will hold me fast.

Hold me fast?” What does that mean?
Another translation (NLT) says “your strength will support me.”   – Yes! Your strength will support me!

Support.  Oh let’s take it, friends. When we walk in survival mode can’t we trust that his hand, his right hand,will hold us fast and support us?

Isn’t the journey from surviving to thriving the path of those who thrive?  As long we have his support we can hope in a positive direction.  Is that not where grace and mercy are brilliantly evident?

There are times when everything is wonderful and “thrive” is the name of the game, but there’s no shame in the survival areas of my life. They spur me toward greater satisfaction and fulfillment and gratitude if I let them and if I remember the “right hand that holds me fast”.

Sincere prayers that you cling to the supporting “right hand” whether it’s a thriving or surviving day! ~Madge

Goodbye, Hello, and Thank You

Saying goodbye to an old friend is not fun – even when it is necessary and desirable.

A recent farewell to my faithful van of 15 years was…believe it or not…a sad event. My highly modified van is a dear friend!
– It took Brent and I everywhere we went for our first eight years together.
– My mom rode next to me on the way to chemo treatments until she used a wheelchair and rode in the back.
– My precious former canine assistant, Murray, perched himself in the front seat as we went to work each morning; he flirted with other drivers the whole time, of course he curled up behind me in the back seat after a long day at the office.
– Tahoe, on the other hand, sticks with me and rarely hops on the seat when he rides.

So many memories..

Goodbye van
Although excitement is brewing with the thought that I will soon wheel around town in a new accessible sports car (aka a minivan), a few tears ran down my cheek as I watched my big old gem take its final trip from our home.

Isnt it funny how we hang on to the old in lieu of the new?

My recent ‘goodbye-hello’ experience sits smack dab in the midst of two bible studies – one from Deuteronomy and another from Exodus. OK,  I really appreciate it when the bible whacks me on the head! I knew this was a season of change in many ways….and like the Israelites during their journey from Egypt to the Wilderness to Canaan, I resist, don’t listen enough and take provision for granted…

…add an illness and a busy schedule and I might enter the land of complaint.

‘Hold up!’ I tell myself! I can live in the land of thanksgiving instead of the land of complaint.

The land of thanksgiving is full of provision. It may be quail and manna or it may be milk, honey, fruits and grains…but there is always provision.

Praying you choose the land of thanksgiving during your seasons of change.

– Madge

Here’s a short, but powerful verse for my scripture memorizing friends.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  
1 Chronicles 16:34

New Seasons on the Horizon

The current temperatures and beautiful September sunshine is no indication that we are approaching a new season..but the calendar shouts of autumn’s approach and so do football enthusiasts! Spring and summer have always been my favorite seasons, and honestly a twinge of dread usually grasps my heart about this time of year.

New opportunities, new school years and new studies begin and events are planned that lead to joyous holiday celebrations, yet along the way comes my nearly constant companion – the cold natured chill. It’s the nagging ever-present, teeth grinding chill that sends me to want to sit in front of a space heater…permanently.

My challenge with the cold started right after my accident. It seems no amount or type of clothing can effectively do the trick…merino wool and hot water are my dear spinal cord injured winter friends!

All this to say, I am purposing to raise the bar on my heart of gratitude in preparation for the change in the weather. Although it’s not my favorite time, I CAN appreciate every season’s unique beauty and dynamics with a heart of thanksgiving!

My upcoming discomfort and grief will not prevent the power of gratitude to my Lord who gives me strength and joy.

My grateful heart opens the door to experiencing His presence more richly. So, as summer soon sets, my praises will rise on the wings of the dawn of autumn breezes and I will give thanks.

Praying an increase in gratitude for all my friends….as I know your new seasons may bring challenges that demand the amazing medicine of thanksgiving for your body, soul and spirit.

Scripture memory #17 potential verses:

– Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes. 5:15

– Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4.

Tahoe Loves His Dad

In honor of our next-door neighbor’s little 12 year old canine, Pepper, I am doing a dog post today. Pepper went to doggie heaven this week and we grieve the loss of our neighbors sweet pup. Tahoe will miss running to the fence and visiting with you Pepper!  I always get ‘doggy contemplative’ whenever a friend loses a beloved four-legged friend.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a woman, or because I’m just weird, but on occasion my thoughts drift to what it would be like without my Tahoe or without Brent. My gratitude for Tahoe and Brent is more intense in these times. Brent is such a wonderful doggy dad and neither he or Tahoe can be taken for granted.

You know, I might not be married to Brent if it were not for my former  ‘Brent magnet’, I mean ‘helper dog’, Murray. Brent is attracted to all canines and they are attracted to him. Let me just illustrate how much Tahoe loves his dad and how much his dad loves him!

When we travel Brent is with Tahoe and me almost 24/7 and Tahoe spends so much quality time with him you might think he’s his helper. He snuggles up for a nap at the Lodge when we visited Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA.

…when I go for a swim, Tahoe and Brent relax.

Brent is the best at taking a cat-nap, or should I say ‘dog-nap’, to recharge for ten minutes.  Brent needs his naps because I inevitably disturb his sleep at night…more than once.  Yes, he is a saint.

It must have been a long night for both of them.

Brent always calls Tahoe to come join him at nap time.

Tahoe snuggles up after his after bath.

It’s not just Tahoe who loves Brent – all dogs love Brent.  Here’s our neighbor’s dog, Zeek, visiting with Brent’s size 15 feet.  He is 6’6″ after all.

Dogs are good judges of character.
I’m jealous on the rare occasion it snows because I can’t roll around very well to play,(or tolerate the cold for long) so I watch and drink hot cocoa!  There’s enough Tahoe love for both Brent and me.

After a tough day running around town with me, picking up my pen, keys or cell phone one more time, and fetching his Kong with us, Tahoe’s sleepy and snuggly…and doesn’t care how silly he looks.

At night Tahoe gets himself all snuggled to me, believe it or not…it’s probably because I don’t move or snore like his dad.

Tahoe has a ‘pink’ nose in the winter – it’s black in the summer.  Precious Tahoe and Brent, my blessings, make me smile.

As the year comes to a close we regroup and refresh our goals – living each day with gratitude is a continued goal for 2012. We work together on family direction in different areas like health, finances, ministry, marriage, travel, home improvements, etc.  In my personal life, fostering my gratitude attitude continues to be on the radar in every area.  Sometimes it’s harder than others to refrain from complaint and discontent – it’s worth the effort to thank, even when I don’t ‘feel’ like it. Today it’s easy to be exceeding grateful -Tahoe and Brent rank at the top of my blessings!

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes. 5:18

What are you most thankful for in 2011?  Are you ready for 2012?