Being all that I can be

Today’s guest blog post is written by my great friend Debra Dickey. I’m always thankful for her thoughtful reflections and beautiful contributions to my blog. Debra is definitely more than enough, and I’m thankful she’s in my life. 

In my prime, there was no limit to how much I could take on and accomplish – I was raw energy and adrenaline in motion.   If you grew up at my house, everybody had responsibilities, and we started early!  There was a lot to be done, so our days ran from early morning to late, or into, the night.  I enjoyed it!  Tired, pshaw.  I‘ve always been a consummate  ‘accomplisher’, so I stuck with it until the job was done.  Now….not so
much.

time-839884_1280

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

There was value placed on hard work and doing what you saw that needed to be done, therefore, there was a sense of pride connected to accomplishing as much as you were capable of on any given day!  It felt like “down time” was ‘time not well-spent’.  I used to believe that if I wasn’t actively doing something productive at all times, that I was performing below par, that I was less than I could be.  Now….not so much.

From early on, my space of choice to be was outside.  I loved doing whatever called me to the out-of-doors — I’ve hoed beans, hauled hay, driven tractor, tended animals, (yes, milked cows!) shoveled feed lots, run the lawnmower, gardened  . . . you name it, I did it! And it was great!   Manage a busy office?  Plan a big get-together?  All at the same time!  No problem!  I’m very good at it.  Work two jobs, four jobs?  Why not!  Used to be so much fun sluicing from one crazy busy thing to another!!  Now…. not so much.

Little by little, my service to the world has begun to narrow as natural physiology and temporal physicality hands down imperatives to ‘stop’!  Although I still crave  that ‘rush’ of accomplishment that comes from having so many things on my plate, and competently juggling them all to successful completion, my physical limitations now intrude much too quickly, and as such, my day-to-day to-do lists have become much more calculated in priority. So how can I be all that I am supposed to be????

  1. 1. I’ve determined that ‘down time’ is nothing to feel guilty about. It’s inescapable, so I wrestle with it much less than I used to.
  2. I’ve acknowledged that I am in control of nothing, therefore I do the best that I can with the tasks that God has assigned me, then pray wholeheartedly about the things that are not mine to handle.
  3. If it concerns family, there is no question or hesitation. I’ll be there, or, you are welcome here.
  4. I treat people with respect and consideration; everyone has dignity, and it is important to recognize the contributions of others.
  5. I praise God every day for the extraordinary children He has given me, and pray for them every day. We did a good job. Family and friends are on that prayer and praise list too.
  6. I try to honor and glorify Him in everything I do, pray to seek His will, acknowledge His many blessings with exultation, and trust in Him for all things.
  7. By the grace of God, I endeavor to give my best every day, in every way, and for everybody.

Yes, perhaps my house is a bit dusty, and often my yard is probably too ragged, but maybe, just maybe, I am the person that God wants me to be for now, ‘planted’ exactly where He needs me to be, and I am doing just what God wants me to do today.   And isn’t that the very best that anyone can hope for . . . . . in this moment, assuredly being all that I can be, now    …. a whale of so much!

The ticking of the clock

Today’s post is by Debra Dickey, my friend and frequent contributor. 

Lately, I’ve begun to experience an unusual development of emotions that is difficult to describe.  When I tried to put a finger on it, the only thing I could come up with was the ticking of my ‘biological clock’, only in reverse.

With children who are now grown-ups, on their own for the most part, and in their first stages of getting established in jobs and careers and with lives of their own, a healthy marginalization has been aptly carved out.   Yet much more than classic separation has invaded my heart – a sudden perception of inevitable mortality has begun to creep its way into my psyche, lending itself to the reality that my time on earth, and therefore, with my children, is day by day, becoming more limited.

Clock 1The truth is, no matter how long I have, it will never be enough time to spend with my children.  From the very first moments of their lives, I have wanted to be a part of who they are and share in the known quantity of their lives. Because of the extraordinary people they both are, not just my children, our journey together has been one of joy and appreciation.

With the challenges and harsh trajectory that our lives have taken, the three of us had to become a unit.  Knowing what was at stake, I intentionally created a mindful environment to foster family connections that would ultimately lead to the homogenous family nucleus that, hopefully, will endure for the rest of our lives.  I was on the right track — it’s working!   So well that I cannot imagine it any other way and, never want to let it go!

Although I whole-heartedly loved my children the first 20 years of their lives, we were all so busy being  pretty overwhelmed and mostly in survival mode, our relationships were less symbiotic and more parent/child, as they only could have been.  But grown up children are real people–and mine are really wonderful people–people I absolutely love spending time with, am inspired having conversations with, thrill at sharing moments with, have trustingly created equality and affinity with, and simply enjoy laughing and planning and being with.

Petulant, my clock is on a nostalgic countdown.   How many more years can I possibly have with them?  Ten, fifteen??  That is not nearly enough!  Not nearly enough to cram all the love and fun and delight and heart songs that they bring, into my life.  Not nearly enough to make them understand how much they mean to me and how indelibly they have impacted everything that has ever had meaning.  Not nearly enough to see them smile, hear their voices and their laughter, to celebrate their successes, and to know them as they develop all their talents and become even more incredible people than they already are.  I don’t want to miss a thing!

Sentimental that it is, the ticking of the clock is the beating of my heart, with the message to make every minute count and to focus on the things that matter most – don’t ever take these two amazing gifts for granted.   I won’t.  I just hope that the Good Lord gives me exactly the right amount of time, perfectly synched, full of Grace, for all three of us.

Star-spangled moments

*Today’s post is by my friend Debra Dickey, a frequent contributor to this blog. I’m thankful for Debra’s courage to share her own journey in writing because each time she does, I learn and grow.*

 

1)  A weighty concern regarding the possibility of an expensive vehicle repair — gratefully, did not need to happen.

2)  Frozen, burst water pipes — managed by the appropriate people with no liability to us.  Another Alleluia moment!

3)  A friend’s frozen water issues — easily thawed with an inexpensive heater at minimal inconvenience.  Yay!

4)  My brother, rushed to the hospital with potentially life-threatening symptoms.  Five frightening days of waiting, watching, and wondering.  Again, through the Grace and Power of the Almighty, he was safely carried through the danger, and recovery is imminent.  Praise God!

5)  A dog . . . . a skunk  —  a 10-second imagination-run-wild episode that turned out to be quite comical!

6)  Add to that a treacherous 25-mile drive home on ice-slick roads that can only be described as ‘harrowing’, yet, in its finality, by the Grace of God and one hour later, concluding safely.

7)  And to top off this mere three-week time span, exhausting illness x 2, plus a major health concern of another sort, and a family situation en crises, presently in the hands of God:  starbursts of amethyst and gold — moments in waiting!

FireworksStar-spangled moments.  Decipherable moments of Exquisite Presence.  Moments of gratefulness.  Joyous moments.  Praise-filled moments.  Laughable moments.  Challenging moments.  Gut-wrenching, heart-numbing, fear-gripped  moments.  Humble moments.  Moments of fireworks and awe.  He is in them all.  He answers my prayers, thankfully sometimes even before I know to pray them.

I experience all these kinds of moments and more, almost on a daily basis.  So not only am I grateful for the blessings of things that do happen, I am most often even more grateful for the blessings of things that don’t happen.  Those particularly worrisome events that somehow seem to juuusst barely sideswipe my wee crotchety life as they eek past on their little slippery skates of uncertainty.  Yes, I hear God in the still.  I see God in the small.  And I feel God in each moment.  There is no possible way that I could deflect nor withstand even a fraction of everything that comes at me without Help – I’m not the victor in those wrestling matches – but God is, so it doesn’t matter if I am or not!

My word for 2013 was ‘miracles’, and there have been so many!  What I have come to know is that often before you get to the miracles, that there are a colossal amount of challenges, stumbling blocks, and hurdles — virtual tidal waves of worry, heartache, fear and concern — which require an enormous amount of personal strength, effort, fortitude, and prayer to be able to walk through all the scary situations, the soul-searching days and nights, and the miry swamps of the unknown, before you get to those star-spangled moments, those miracles!!  Those precursors are fiercely and incredibly draining, at times leaving me broken, battered, bruised, and bleeding in the dust.

But because I know that God is the Author of the miracles that I seek, then I also recognize that I must possess strength, courage, and endurance to travel the road that is before me, and to navigate the sometimes perilous journey that will lead to those miracles.  So I shall ever seek His Promises of strength and protection, always by my side in Perfect Love, so that I can get back up and keep going.

His Word assures me:  “He will shelter you with his wings….He will order His angels to protect you…they will hold you up with their hands…  The Lord says I will protect those who trust in My Name.”  Psalm 91:4-12

*I continually pray for God to build a hedge of protection around me and my loved ones, a sphere of God’s glory that carries a vibration of Heaven that will hide us and keep us safe when principalities and powers may threaten our spiritual realm.  Let us commit our lives to God and strive to stay in the center of His Will, so that the enemy will not have access to what has been given to us according to that promise.  Thank You for Your Divine Protection in Jesus’ Name.   Amen.   [missionariesofprayer.org]

I eternally acknowledge the Divine Intervention that is evidenced within the subsistence of my life throughout each moment of my being.  Moments of forever.  Moments of now.  Moments of Grace and Strength and Love.  Small moments, enormous moments, amazing moments, unexpected and surprising moments.  Moments without end.  So many star-spangled moments!

Day 28: Happy Thanksgiving!

*I’m thankful today for my pastor, Paul Seay, who wrote Day 28’s post for the Dear Gratitude project.*

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”—Philippians 4:6 NRSV

Dear Readers,

Pastor Paul at my daughter's christening, March 2013

Pastor Paul at my daughter’s christening, March 2013

I don’t know why I am a reluctant blog writer, but for whatever reason, it is difficult for me to take the time to write what’s on my mind.  I do have my own blog, “Circuit Writing,” but I write more for “Daily Dose of Gratitude” than I do my own.  I think it’s because Bethany gives me a deadline that I have to meet.

Since my assignment is for Thanksgiving Day, I have had the opportunity to read many of your ‘thank you’ letters here and have been reminded of things for which I am thankful.  So thank you, dear readers, for opening your hearts and sharing a little about your lives with us.

Paul Seay and his wife, Rebecca, at the River Jordan

Paul Seay and his wife, Rebecca, at the River Jordan

First of all, I want to thank my wife, Rebecca.  When we married she didn’t realize that being the wife of a United Methodist pastor was going to be in the cards, but she has supported my ministry in more ways than most people realize.  I certainly have not been the perfect husband, but I try to do better every day.  She has forgiven me more than seventy times (or seventy times seven as the King James Version reads), and I am grateful for that.  Earl Thomas Conley and Emmylou Harris sang a song, “We Believe in Happy Endings,” and I think that is how Becca and I believe about our marriage and our life together.  Our children, Ed and Jeff Seay and Allison and Jeff Chandler are special also.  I am proud of the success they have had in their lives and in the ways that they have helped others.

Most of all, I am thankful for God’s Grace.  Without His Grace it would have been impossible for me to be doing what I do today.  I was called to ministry as a teenager, but ran from my call for nearly 30 years before giving up on myself and allowing God to be God.  There were many times that He could have given up on me but our God is a loving and forgiving God who allows us to make mistakes, to fail, and to even turn our back on Him.  But as the Apostle Peter discovered as he was trying to walk on water and began to sink, all he had to do was cry out, “Lord, save me!” In our desperation, God is always there, through His Son, Jesus Christ, to reach out and pull us from the deep.

Harold Bales, a retired United Methodist pastor in North Carolina writes a “Daily Nugget” that I read on Facebook each day.  This past Sunday he wrote, “Every person is a preacher of one sort or another.  How we are observed living is the most genuine indicator of the gospel we embrace.  This isn’t only true of clergy.  It is true of everyone.  Our value systems are always on display.  And Thanksgiving is a good time to reflect on these values, give thanks to God for our abundance, and push the reset button on our lifestyles.”

So, Dear Readers, on this Thanksgiving Day as you take a moment to be thankful for the ways you have been blessed.  Be thankful for those who God has put into your path for you to influence, and I pray that you influence them in a good way.

In Christ,

Pastor Paul

 

Day 7–Amazing grace (and love)

*Thank you, Pastor Paul Seay, for serving as today’s guest writer. Paul is my very own pastor and also a pretty fun guy. Check out our church if you’re in the area.*

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now, I see.”—
John Newton (1725-1807)

 

My pastor, Paul Seay

My pastor, Paul Seay

When you wake up one morning and realize you’re on the other side of sixty years old and have been asked to write something about gratitude and love it can be a little frightening.  Beth had asked me to write a post for Daily Dose of Gratitude a few months back but I never found the time to put anything down on paper.  If I had written something earlier, Beth might have decided not to invite me. Since I work better with a deadline maybe this will be a little easier.  I will say that I am grateful to Beth and Jimmy–for their friendship and what they mean to Central Avenue UMC.

I think it’s important when we are talking about gratitude that we look to those folks who have influenced us over the years in such a way that we have arrived where we are today.  First of all I am grateful for my family. Several years ago I went through a very tumultuous time in my life.  I had made too many mistakes; I had allowed sin to take control.  In my testimony I say that I lost everything but my trust in God and my family, and I was fortunate that they didn’t turn their backs on me too.  But God doesn’t turn His back on you, and amazingly my family must be godly too because neither did they.

 

The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:1: “My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted.”—NRSV.

Actually, there were a lot of people, especially the Dardanelle First United Methodist Church, that lived Galatians 6:1 for me during that time.  I’ve often heard you find out who your true friends are when you fall on hard times, and I believe that’s true.  One thing I have learned is that it is easier to forgive others when you realize how much you have been forgiven.

 

I often mention that we need to be aware of how we influence people when we may not realize that anyone is paying attention.  I understand the importance of how we are influenced because I know how it has affected me over the years.  Unfortunately, I have not always been influenced in the way God would have wanted but today I want to remember those who influenced me properly.  There have been Sunday school teachers like Veda Dale and Mozelle Hays when I was a child at Simmons Chapel Methodist Church.  There have been pastors like Benny Harmon, Ed Matthews, and Steve Johnson.  Authors like Max Lucado and Adam Hamilton.

 

But I think the most important influential people are those common, everyday people who have done things that made me want to be a better person. One example is Joe Grimes of Dardanelle, Arkansas. Joe is an Air Force veteran who retired back home to Dardanelle and bought a neighborhood gas station/convenience store.  Although most people wouldn’t say that he was a particularly religious man, Joe is one of those men who is as honest as the day is long, has integrity, and believes in giving second chances.

 

I began this post by quoting the first verse of the great hymn, “Amazing Grace,” because the thing I am most grateful for is the grace of God.  I know that without His grace I would not have my family, my life as a pastor, or really my life at all.   I still remember kneeling beside my hospital bed in Little Rock and praying, “Please, God, let this be the bottom. I can’t survive if I fall any farther.” I know that although I had given my life to Christ at the age of 12, I had spent my life wandering around lost and blind.  I see now only because of God’s forgiving love and grace.