Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Holey Sheets

When Will and I got married three and a half years ago we were given two sets of bed sheets as wedding gifts.  I feel like most adults probably have more than two sets of sheets for their primary bed, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend money on more sheets when we had two perfectly good sets.  So I set out to make these sheets last as long as possible, and this went pretty well until April 2015.

Several weeks ago I decided that it was time to finally cover the visible box spring with our most worn fitted sheet.  I didn’t realize until after it was already on that we had accidentally used the newer sheet instead of the more worn one.  I don’t know if you have ever tried to fit a regular sized fitted sheet onto a box spring, but let’s just say that the sheet is staying there for the rest of it’s life.  This left the more worn set of sheets to go on the actual mattress, which didn’t bother me.  After all, no one can even see the sheets. 

Things continued to go well for me and my sheets until one night Will got out of bed and I heard a ripping sound.  Apparently his “toe got caught” on a worn spot in the sheet and it tore. Let me stop here and say this—Will is what I would call a “hard mover”.  When he comes home he closes the door so hard that things shake.  He “places” glasses on the counter so hard that I’m nervous they will break.  If he stubs his toes they bleed.  If he turns over in his sleep it’s with enough force to pull the blankets completely off of me.  So when I heard that ripping sound I knew it was going to be bad.  We checked it out and indeed there was a substantial hole in the sheet.  So what did we do about it? Why nothing, of course. 

Over the course of the next couple of weeks the hole grew and grew.  It went from a substantial hole, to a big hole, to a huge hole.  Eventually it completely extended from one side of the mattress to the other.  Our feet and our dog would get caught in it.  At this point I had to take some action, but I still didn’t buy new sheets.  I just took the top sheet, tucked it in tight, and continued to ignore the problem. 

Why didn’t I just get new sheets? I had several reasons at the time.  I didn’t want to drive to the store to get them.  I was busy.  I didn’t want to spend money on something you can’t even see.  Mostly, I think the situation didn’t bother me until I was actually trying to go to sleep, so it was easy to keep ignoring. 

As I’ve thought about my sheet dilemma, I am reminded of how we sometimes handle small problems in our lives.  I’m talking about small things that we are dissatisfied with and that we can realistically change.  I’m thinking of issues with organization, time management, getting enough rest, eating habits, and other little things like that.  Sometimes it’s easy to ignore these things because they aren’t a big deal.  Other people can’t see them, and they don’t consistently bother us enough to force us to make a change. 

I finally broke down and got new sheets three weeks ago, and they are what I would call a Game Changer.  Here are some of our reviews on them: “Wow! I can’t believe how great these sheets are!”, “I love this bed!”, “I feel like I’m sleeping so much better!”, “I feel like we are sleeping in a fancy hotel bed!”, and “Do you think we’ll ever stop talking about these sheets?”  Sometimes we get complacent and don’t realize just how much a problem is affecting us until we’ve fixed it.  This goes for holey sheets and life. 

What are some easy changes you can make today to make life easier and more pleasant?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Beauty for Ashes

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  Romans 8:26 

I suppose I have known of this verse for a long time, but it wasn’t until January 2011 that I really understood what it meant.  January 11, 2011 was a rare snow day in Clinton, MS.  My graduate school classes had been cancelled and I was at my then-fiancĂ©-now-husband Will’s apartment with a couple of other friends watching the college football national championship when my mom called.  I didn’t answer the first time, but I was worried that something might be wrong when she called back immediately.

“Whitney. Your daddy has had some sort of a spell.  You need to come home right now”, she told me in a voice that didn’t belong to her.  Absolute panic raced through my mind and body and I had a thousand questions that she couldn’t answer.  “It doesn’t look good.  You just need to come right now.  Give the phone to Will”, she told me. 

All I remember about that moment is that I wasn’t able to coherently speak to my friends to explain what had happened, nor could I coherently think.  A moment like this will make you realize what your faith is really made of, and I am forever grateful that my first instinct was to run into Will’s room and fall onto my knees.  I tried to pray and I felt like I was, but later my friends told me that I wasn’t speaking real words but just making noises.  When I look back at that moment, I am certain, absolutely, supernaturally certain, that the Holy Spirit was there, interceding for me when I could not pray real words for myself. 

My friends got me up and Will drove me two hours south to Forrest General hospital in Hattiesburg, MS.  When we got to the hospital we found out that my dad had suffered a massive heart attack known as the Widow Maker, a type of heart attack that immediately kills 9 out of 10 people.  He had been without a pulse when he got to the hospital, without oxygen to his brain for 45 minutes, and shocked over a dozen times before he somewhat stabilized.  The doctors at the hospital in my hometown of Picayune, MS had told my mom that he probably wouldn’t survive the ambulance ride to the cardiac unit an hour north in Hattiesburg, but that he definitely wouldn’t make it if they didn’t try.

Luckily, this story ends in the happiest way possible.  After the doctors told us that he likely wouldn’t make it, my dad started making tiny improvements and miraculously woke up a couple of days later.   That morning my mom woke my sister and I up from the bed we had crafted from ICU waiting room couches.  We ran, me accidentally barefoot, into his room where he was able to recognize us right away.  He left the hospital 7 days after arriving, rode his motorcycle for the first time 6 weeks later, and went back to work at the beginning of the summer.  He walked me down the aisle at my wedding that September, and I don’t know if there has ever been a bride more thankful to have her dad beside her.  Today he is healthier than ever with no lasting damage at all. 

My dad looking fine as ever!

If you happen to be looking for a Christian magazine, I recommend that you head to your nearest ICU waiting room because they are full of them.  I remember picking one up, while my dad was still unconscious, and reading “For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 

This is another verse that I’ve known of for a long time, but it didn’t really become personal to me until the months following that night.  For several different reasons those months were HARD, probably the hardest of my life so far.  Despite being so happy and thankful that my dad was ok, life suddenly seemed unpredictable, out of my control, and terrifying.  If something this terrible could happen what else could happen? What if it didn’t turn out so well the next time something bad happened? For months I suffered from crippling anxiety plus guilt for feeling the anxiety.  Nothing seemed to be going right and it was hard for me to find “the good” in my situation.

What good things did I eventually find?  Most significantly, after a lifetime of sometimes doubting my salvation, my faith took a very real turn that night.  It didn’t happen quickly, but I can look back and see that it was the turning point. The anxiety I experienced finally resulted in me turning to scripture as a last resort, and this changed a lifetime of knowledge about God into a real relationship with Him.   Second, spending many months in counseling helped me to be able to connect to the desperation that some of my clients feel the first time they meet with me—I wouldn’t understand that feeling if I hadn’t experienced it myself. Third, I now have a story to share that may encourage someone else.  

Why am I telling you this story? Because sometimes it seems impossible to find the good right away.  Let me be very clear about this—I am in no way trying to compare my experience to whatever painful thing you have gone through.  My dad made it, but someone out there has a dad who didn’t and that is a pain that I can’t pretend to understand.  Someone lost a baby.  A marriage.  A dream.  A job. Maybe you’ve made a big mistake.  Maybe you haven’t lost anything, but maybe you are just disappointed with life and with God about the things that haven’t worked out the way you hoped.  Each of us has had different experiences and we can’t compare our hurt to another person’s.

But whatever your trouble is, know this—as long as you’re living, God has a good plan and a purpose for your life.  God brings purpose from the good things—your talents, experiences, and successes--but He also redeems and brings good from your hard times and mistakes too.  It may not be in the way that you expect or hope, but God, in His timing, will bring something good from your deepest pain.  We can count on this promise, today and always. 

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.  In their righteousness they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My Favorite Video

Have you seen this video yet? I bet you already have.  Because I am ALWAYS the last person to know about anything that is popular on social media.  But even if you have, I think it's worth watching a second time.  I personally have watched it four times so far, and I'm sure I will be on to round 5 soon.  I absolutely love what Joanna Gaines says about purpose here.

If you have a few minutes, I especially loved this devotion about Ephesians 3:14-21 as well.  It was so encouraging to me, and I bet you will like it too.

I've got a couple of new posts up at Mississippi Women Bloggers, one about dealing with stress and one about the real meaning of home.  I do hope you'll check them out!