Wednesday, September 28, 2016

179: process of time

Let us resolve that our sanctification has happened at this rate for good reason, even if it was because we weren't ready earlier. That regret has no place where sincere God-seeking has existed. That we will be grateful for how far grace has led us instead of submitting to self-deprecation that we didn't get there faster. To submit ourselves to the process, with joyful abandon to the One who is in charge of our timelines. To never stop running towards the goal, towards the prize which is in Christ Jesus. Glorying in what He has worked because He makes everything beautiful in His time.

Monday, September 19, 2016

178: death does not negate life

My grandma died on Friday at 2:45am.

She had been in the ICU for about a week, which wasn't anything new. My grandma had been to the ICU many times and come out ready to take care of her dog, her two cats, and the cat across the street.

But this time my mom, who has been taking care of my grandma's health for awhile, wasn't so sure if she was going to make it. So, with my mom and my younger niece, I went to visit Grandma on Wednesday.

I got to visit her alone first. Almost immediately, she started telling me that she loved all of us and that she would miss all of us. Then she started telling me I could have the platters in her china cabinet, and if I wanted any of her dishes or furniture, I could put them in storage for when I have a home of my own.

How do you sit by someone and pre-suppose they are going to die when you don't want to assume they are going to die? When they are still alive? When you have seen them bounce back so many times before?

How do you listen to someone you love tell you they are going to miss you?

She was in so much pain. Her breathing was labored.

I stayed through my niece's portion of the visit and then we left to let her eat dinner.

The next day I went to work. I was supposed to leave at noon for another Homeschool Alumni reunion in Oregon but decided to wait to leave til the next day so I could visit her again in the afternoon. Around 9:30 I found out the doctor said she might only have a couple hours. Do I wait until noon as planned or do I try to get someone to cover for me now? Because I work at a school that values people over convenience, I was able to finish giving the week's spelling tests and then head south to the hospital where my mom, aunt, and brother-in-law were waiting. My grandma was sleeping, but my mom encouraged me to wake her up.

She didn't act like she was going to die. Her breathing wasn't labored. We were able to just hang out. She was thirsty and wanted ice to chew, so I fed her ice. Quality time. I got quality time with my grandma.

Then we left to let her sleep.

Hours later, we went home as she continued to sleep.

By morning, she was gone.

I have never lost someone I was that close to. How does one deal with death? I don't know.

The feeling reminds me of a break-up. The dark cloud that just hovers over you, the feeling of dread.

But this isn't a broken relationship, is it? It is a separation, yes, but only a physical separation.

Her death, the end of her life, does not negate all the LIFE she lived.

We may never again experience her physical presence, but we have all the memories of the love and laughter and, yes, even quirks she poured into us time and time again, and death does not taint that or take it away or cancel it out.

Death sometimes is horrific. But I keep reminding myself that she lived a full, good LIFE. Everyone that knew her loved her.

Death does not negate her life. It simply puts a time-stamp on the end-side of it.

I want to thank those who prayed for us when I texted before my grandma passed. I want to thank those who have prayed and extended their heartfelt condolences since she passed. I want to thank my two friends Naomi and Bethany who have gone above and beyond the call of friendship. Naomi, for being my wise counselor when I was trying to decide whether to stay home or go to the reunion (and visit you!), and then being my sounding board through text and phone since you've experienced it too. Bethany, for not only being the best "wingman" ever, but for also being willing to put feet to our friendship (offering a meal, saying I could hang out even though your sister was visiting) and for being my sounding board even if I just needed to gab.

Sunday night my mom and I drafted the words for my grandma's gravestone. It will read "Her legacy lives on in those she loved."

Thank You, God, for 31 years with a present, loving, giving Grandma.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Book Review: Good & Angry

I've spent the last couple days entrenched in this book, and today I realized I am impressed by how balanced it is. And content-full. But backing up...

Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness by David Powlison is a book about, you guessed it, anger. I would say it's about how we deal with anger, but Powlison makes it clear that anger is not an "it" that you "deal with," as if it is separate from your being (see Chapter 5, or page 46, for more about that). Anger is our assessment of a situation. It says "That matters . . . and it's not right" (p. 39, or Chapter 4). What is unique about this book is that the author argues that to never feel anger is also a problem because anger "is the justice emotion. Anger is the deliver-the-oppressed-from-evil emotion" (p. 63).

"Your anger is both brilliant and appalling. The shifting line between good and evil plays out when it comes to your anger, like everywhere else. Your anger is Godlike to the degree you treasure justice and fairness and are alert to betrayal and falsehood. Your anger is devil-like to the degree you play god and are petty, merciless, whiny, argumentative, willful, and unfair."
--David Powlison, Good and Angry (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2016), p. 65-66 (Chapter 6!)
Powlison then delves into what he calls the "constructive displeasure of mercy," which to me, honestly?, has been rather confusing. But, in summation, when you feel angry, you can do anger well by responding with 1) patience, 2) forgiveness, 3) charity, and 4) constructive conflict, each of which he explains in detail. I thought his description of patience especially noteworthy:

"You struggle within yourself so that you don't react immediately in the wrong way. You bear with difficult people and events, not out of indifference, resignation, or cowardice. You hang in there because you are driven by a different purpose. . . . [Patience] is how to be purposeful and constructive in the face of great difficulties. . . . By definition, patience means that what's wrong doesn't change right away." (p. 78, Chapter 7)

I love that Powlison repeats over and over that mercy is not saying that what someone did was okay. "Jesus gathers up our angers, not to neuter our sensitivity to evil, but to redeem how we respond" (p. 72, emphasis mine).

I am only 100 pages into this 243 page book, but so far I have gleaned a lot and done much self-inspection. I have learned that I don't have to lump all my irritation/impatience/frustration/mad issues into one lump and say "that's bad, I need to be more patient." This is SO helpful, because some things are worth getting stirred up over (p. 31). Because the author makes that differentiation, he can then provide Biblical tools for how to handle that justice emotion constructively.

I'm hoping in the second half of the book Powlison will deal more with the less-godly side of anger, like irritation when someone doesn't understand what you're talking about on the first go-through, or doesn't hear you even tho you've yelled from the bathroom three times already, or the drawer sticks when you're in a hurry because a wooden spoon is wedged in there and when you jerk the drawer free your whole body feels jarred. I think he will though since one of the upcoming chapters is called "The Everyday Angers."

So far, this book gets 5 out of 5 stars for being so balanced, Biblical, and not trying my patience by being slow to get to content. (Trying my patience...impatience....anger...get it? *silly joke* But seriously, each chapter is packed full of content.)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for a timely review.